MassMutual Continues Support of Legal Clinic
SPRINGFIELD — MassMutual and the Hampden County Bar Assoc. (HCBA) announced MassMutual’s ongoing support for HCBA’s Hampden County Legal Clinic, including a $160,000 grant intended to support its expansion and continuation of legal services. The Hampden County Legal Clinic is a legal-aid program that provides pro bono services to individuals at no charge, most of whom have limited financial resources and who meet specific eligibility guidelines. The Legal Clinic provides services in the Housing, District, and Probate & Family courts in Hampden County. It also works with unrepresented individuals on issues regarding foreclosure, tenant, and consumer matters, and with regional attorneys to match their legal skills and expertise with pro bono opportunities. These opportunities provided by the Legal Clinic include general legal advice and services, limited-assistance representation, mentoring with students at local law schools, legal education programming, and other community outreach programs. MassMutual is continuing its support of the Legal Clinic at a critical time when a significant number of litigants in local courts are unable to afford legal representation. Currently, more than 85% of the cases in the Western Division Housing Court involve people who are without legal representation. The current grant brings MassMutual’s total financial support of the Legal Clinic to approximately $250,000. “MassMutual is proud to continue its support of the Hampden County Legal Clinic, which provides legal guidance and counsel for those in our community with low or no income,” said Michael O’Connor, MassMutual’s general counsel. “MassMutual has a long tradition of supporting the communities in which it does business, and this grant reflects our ongoing commitment to invest our time, talent, and resources to ensure access to legal services for all members of our community.” MassMutual began its association with the HCBA six years ago with grant funding, enabling the Legal Clinic to expand its lawyer-for-a-day programs and increasing the services it provided. The funding from MassMutual has enabled the Legal Clinic to become the centerpiece for pro bono services in Western Mass. Importantly, in addition to the financial support MassMutual has provided, its attorneys have participated in Legal Clinic programming for nearly 10 years. “We’re elated with MassMutual’s increased funding and their involvement in making the Legal Clinic an invaluable community resource,” said attorney Kevin Maltby, president of the Hampden County Bar Assoc.
Country Bank Supports QVCDC with $50,000 Donation
WARE — Country Bank announced it has donated $50,000 to the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., to assist the QVCDC in its commitment to economic development and helping small businesses grow and prosper in the Quaboag Hills region. The QVCDC offers many programs to help small businesses, including training programs such as computer courses, how to write a business plan, or individual consulting, in addition to offering small-business loans.
Berkshire Bank Foundation Awards Nearly $1.9 Million
PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank Foundation announced that it awarded a total of $1,862,265 in grants to nonprofit organizations operating in the bank’s footprint in 2016. The giving represents a 3% increase in contributions compared to 2015. The grants supported a variety of education and community-development initiatives, as well as health and human service and cultural programs. “Our philanthropic investments impacted millions of individuals in 2016, helping to enhance economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for members of our community,” said Lori Gazzillo, vice president and director of the Berkshire Bank Foundation. “We are so pleased to continue our support of so many community initiatives throughout our footprint.” In total, the foundation’s funding affected more than 5 million individuals who received programming support from nonprofit organizations in the areas of education, especially reading, as well as community and economic development, including affordable housing, downtown revitalization, and employment. In addition, the foundation also helped meet the basic needs of individuals through funding to various health and human services initiatives. Berkshire Bank Foundation recently announced changes to its philanthropic strategy, allowing it to continue meeting the growing needs of the communities it serves, while maximizing the impact of its contributions. As part of the transition, the foundation will continue to focus its funding in the areas of education and community/economic development, but will now seek specific outcomes associated with the programs it supports. In addition, the foundation plans to allocate a limited pool of funds to basic-need funding that will rotate each year to provide organizations doing good work, but that don’t necessarily fall within the foundation’s major focuses, the opportunity to receive funding.
Cambridge College Named a Best School for Latinos
SPRINGFIELD — Aside from purchasing a home, deciding where to attend college is one of the costliest, most long-term investments most individuals will make in their lifetime. Latino Leaders magazine identified the top 50 best colleges in the U.S. for Latinos, and two schools in Massachusetts made the grade, including Cambridge College. Increasingly competitive job markets demand the right academic credentials to more aptly begin a career track. Yet, for minorities like Latinos, only 15% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to recent data by the Pew Research Center. Yet, there are numerous reasons why some academic institutions better serve Hispanic students. They include the percentage of total Latino enrollment and the percentage of Latino faculty, the percentage of students who apply and receive financial aid, academic resources for minority students to acclimate to academic rigors of college life, and outreach efforts by schools to add to their overall diversity. Institutional information provided by universities, along with independent sources like the Hispanic Assoc. of Colleges and Universities, joined data by U.S. News and World Report and other reporting agencies to serve as the basis for the research methodology in compiling the top 50 universities for Latinos, institutions that have excelled in their performance, outreach, and academic level in their relation to the nation’s Latino student population.
STCC Offers Fast-track Customer-service Training
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College will offer a 16-week ‘fast-track’ customer-service certificate training program this spring that is designed to help students develop a range of skills, from interview techniques to job-hunting strategies. The fast-track option allows students to earn 24 college credits over two eight-week sessions that begin March 20. They can apply these credits directly to an associate degree in business administration. Four courses are offered per session, and classes are held Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. An STCC fast-track customer-service certificate allows people to become eligible for jobs in a number of different industries, including call-center operations, financial services, sales, hospitality, customer service for manufacturing operations, and retail and other organizations. “Customer-service employees typically are considered the face of the companies they represent. They need to have good problem-solving skills,” said Lidya Rivera-Early, GPSTEM (Guided Pathways to Success in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) project director at STCC. “Customer service is a great starting point for a career in any company.”
Rivera-Early said someone working in customer service will need a good foundation of skills in marketing, computer literacy, communication, and business etiquette to support the needs of both the customer and employer. Requested by area industry partners, the fast-track customer service essentials certificate program will help students develop essential workforce-readiness skills. The program will include speed-interview networking sessions and job-placement assistance. Students will hear from guest speakers and go on company tours. To enroll in the program, call the STCC Admissions Office at (413) 755-3333 or visit www.stcc.edu/admissions. Space is limited. The program is not free, but financial aid is available for those who qualify.
BHN Awarded $100K Mutual Impact Grant
SPRINGFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) has been awarded a $100,000 Mutual Impact Grant by MassMutual through the company’s Mutual Impact community-investment program. BHN will use this grant to bring the Elizabeth Freeman Center’s Money School program model to Springfield. These Mutual Impact funds will offer Money School to survivors of domestic or sexual violence who are also in recovery from addiction. BHN will provide participants with the skills and supports necessary to move out of poverty. Participants will be given individually tailored financial and career mentoring as well as intensive advocacy and support for their addiction recovery and healing in the aftermath of domestic or sexual violence. One in four women report experiencing domestic violence. In addition to physical abuse, domestic-violence survivors also experience financial duress, and almost half of domestic violence victims struggle with substance-use disorder. Mutual Impact is funded by the MassMutual Foundation, a dedicated corporate foundation established by MassMutual. The Mutual Impact program is completely driven by MassMutual employees. Employees choose cause areas and nonprofit organizations to receive funding, make donations which are matched dollar-for-dollar by the MassMutual Foundation to fund grants, and volunteer in support of the organization they select. “Corporate responsibility and community involvement are part of our DNA, and we take great pride in helping people in the communities where we live and work secure a better future,” said Dennis Duquette, head of Community Responsibility with MassMutual and president of the MassMutual Foundation board of directors. “BHN tirelessly devotes time and energy in support of families in our local community, and we are pleased to support them through the Mutual Impact program.” Mutual Impact grants were awarded to 21 nonprofit organizations for programs that fit within specific cause areas, including early-grade reading proficiency, food security, violence prevention, family economic self-sufficiency, returning veterans, successful advancement in school, child hunger, and education.
College of Pharmacy Hosts Visitor from Chinese Hospital
SPRINGFIELD — Dr. Yongfang Hu, director of Clinical Pharmacy at Beijing Tsinghua Chang Gung Hospital, recently visited the Western New England University College of Pharmacy to learn about clinical pharmacy education and the program-assessment process from university faculty and students. During the visit, Hu had a variety of discussions with College of Pharmacy administration and faculty, toured the college facility, and observed didactic lectures. Beijing Tsinghua Chang Gung Hospital, a comprehensive public institution, is the affiliated teaching hospital of Tsinghua University. As one of China’s most renowned universities, Tsinghua has become an important institution for fostering talent and scientific research. In 2015, Tsinghua University established the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, which stemmed from Tsinghua’s strong foundation in biomedical-related disciplines, including life science, basic medical science, chemistry, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, and material science.