Hot Plate Brewing Co. Receives National Recognition
PITTSFIELD — Hot Plate Brewing Co., a Latina-owned brewery opening in downtown Pittsfield in early 2023, was selected as one of the Imbibe 75 in the January/February 2023 issue of Imbibe. According to the magazine, the Imbibe 75 features “individuals, organizations, and businesses that are dedicated to creating a more positive, sustainable, inclusive, and equitable drinks world.” As a BIPOC- and women-owned business, Hot Plate was selected by Imbibe because of the company’s mission to make the craft-beer world more accessible and inclusive. According to the Brewers Assoc., less than 1% of all American craft breweries are owned by women of color, which makes Hot Plate stand out in a crowded, maturing marketplace. Beyond representation, Hot Plate also seeks to leverage its founders’ professional skillsets to execute on their brand promise in a data-driven way. With almost 40 years of combined experience in market research, brand development, and data analysis, founders Sarah Real and Mike Dell’Aquila plan on implementing tools and best practices to reach, inspire, and engage historically underrepresented consumers. In addition to its beers and marketing plans, Hot Plate also intends to make a tangible, positive impact in the Berkshires with its Community Line, which will feature collaborations with a rotating list of mission-aligned nonprofit organizations and raise money for a variety of causes; proceeds from these collaborative beers will go directly to the charitable organizations with whom they are partnering.
PeoplesBank Donates Record $2.3 Million in 2022
HOLYOKE — For a second year in a row, PeoplesBank set a new annual record for donations to civic and charitable causes. The bank tallied $2.3 million in donations for 2022, which is $1 million dollars more than last year’s record. Since 2011, the bank has donated well over $13 million to area causes. “Supporting the community is essentially what we were set up to do,” said Tom Senecal, president and CEO of PeoplesBank. “We are a mutual bank, chartered to serve our customers and the communities they live in. As a mutual bank, we do not have stockholders who would divert profits. Therefore, we are able to significantly support nonprofits and other community causes.” As a large regional employer whose values include community service, Senecal added, PeoplesBank is able to increase its support to the community and social-service organizations through volunteerism. “We have a lot of talent in our organization, and because of that, we have a significant presence on area nonprofit boards of directors. We also look for opportunities to roll up our sleeves and serve, and we spend thousands of hours each year doing that.”
Tighe & Bond Acquires WorldTech Engineering
WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond, a Northeast leader in engineering, design, and environmental consulting, announced it has acquired WorldTech Engineering, a full-service transportation and civil-engineering firm. This strategic acquisition aligns with the firm’s vision of being a trusted advisor by offering clients a comprehensive, single-source solution to their engineering, design, and environmental-science needs. The addition of WorldTech’s staff bolsters Tighe & Bond’s transportation services across a complementary client base. Tighe & Bond’s current offices in Eastern Mass. offices are now augmented by WorldTech’s Woburn office, bringing the total number of offices to 13 across Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Maine.
MassDevelopment, PeoplesBank Complete Financing Package for New Girls Inc. Facility
HOLYOKE — The new Girls Inc. of the Valley headquarters and program center is one big step closer to reality thanks to a new financing package developed by MassDevelopment and PeoplesBank. Girls Inc. recently announced the closing of financing on a $2,275,000 MassDevelopment revenue bond for the new program center in Holyoke. PeoplesBank was the purchaser of the bond, continuing the bank’s longtime support of Girls Inc. of the Valley. MassDevelopment enhanced the bond with a $455,000 mortgage insurance guarantee. The newly renovated, 16,000-square foot facility will allow the organization to consolidate its programs at one location. It will include a cutting-edge STEM makers’ space, a library, two multi-purpose rooms, a teen lounge, a kitchen and dining area, and administrative offices.
ILI Awarded Five-year Grant for Free English Classes
NORTHAMPTON — In mid-December, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced the results of its competitive grant program to fund free English classes for immigrants and refugees across the state. The International Language Institute of Massachusetts (ILI), located in Northampton, was on the list. “We were thrilled to get the good news,” said Macey Faiella, director of ILI’s English programs. “The pandemic shed new light on the disparities that face immigrants and refugees, and we reassessed our program to include greatly expanded offerings. DESE responded positively — all to the benefit of the students.” For 34 years, ILI has partnered with the state to provide free English classes in Western Mass. The new award extends the partnership for an additional five years and funds about two-thirds of the overall program. ILI is responsible for the remaining costs, raised primarily from individual donors and local businesses and foundations.
Country Bank Grants $30,000 to Revitalize CDC
WARE — Country Bank, a full-service financial institution serving Central and Western Massachusetts, announced a $30,000 grant to support Revitalize Community Development Corp. (CDC) in Springfield. Revitalize CDC performs critical repairs, modifications, and rehabilitation on the homes and nonprofit facilities of low-income families with children, elderly military veterans, and people with special needs. In 2022, the organization served 826 households with 2,309 individuals across Springfield, Holyoke, and Chicopee, and completed 75 home repairs, nine owned by military veteran families.
AIC Receives Second Grant to Expand Scope of DEIB Objectives
SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) announced it has received a $35,000 grant from the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation to support the college’s commitment to embracing diversity and fostering a sense of belonging. The grant will assist in establishing an Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) on campus to expand the breadth and scope of activities and initiatives that support the College’s DEIB objectives as outlined in AIC’s newly released five-year strategic plan, “AIC Reimagined.” On Dec. 6, the college also received a $30,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts to support the establishment of this office. With these grants, the creation of the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging will help AIC create and sustain an organizational environment and culture that readily acknowledges and celebrates DEIB by achieving a more diverse and inclusive undergraduate and graduate student body, faculty, and staff.
Bank of America’s Support for Massachusetts Food Relief Tops $1,175,000 in 2022
BOSTON — Bank of America announced a $275,000 donation to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the Greater Boston Food Bank, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, and the Worcester County Food Bank to help address food insecurity in the state. The donation is part of a unique program to encourage bank employees to support the health and safety of their teammates and help address one of the most critical needs facing communities: food insecurity. As part of this program, Bank of America donated $50 to local hunger-relief organizations on behalf of employees who got their annual flu shot and an additional $50 donation for those who received and recorded their coronavirus vaccine booster before Nov. 23. The $275,000 donation builds on the bank’s first phase of the vaccine campaign, which resulted in $575,000 raised earlier this year. Along with other financial support, Bank of America has given more than $1,175,000 to help fight hunger in Massachusetts in 2022. The overall commitment is part of the bank’s longstanding efforts to address hunger relief and support the health and safety of its employees and community. As a result of these efforts, Bank of America has committed nearly $19 million to local hunger-relief organizations across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, as well as to the World Central Kitchen and World Food Programme globally.
STCC Awarded $1.17 Million to Expand Adult-education Services
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) received $1,174,200 in state funding to expand adult-education services after submitting for a competitive grant. The Baker-Polito administration announced historic funding amounts to STCC and 73 other adult-education providers and seven correctional institutions in the state. The awards total $250 million over the next five years. Statewide, adult education services will expand to new programs not currently funded and provide 5,000 total seats for adult basic education students and more than 16,000 for adult English learners. The Workforce Development Center at STCC provides free adult education through the Springfield Adult Learning Center. The community can take classes to further their education by obtaining a high-school equivalency certificate, which includes preparing for a GED or HiSET exam; developing computer, email, or internet skills; learning English as a second language; or enrolling as a student at STCC after earning a high-school equivalency certificate. STCC will receive funding for fiscal 2024, which starts July 1, 2023.
Westfield State Receives $1 Million in Community Project Funding
WESTFIELD — Westfield State University was included in community project funds secured by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal. Of the $20,367,800 included in the final 2023 appropriations government-funding package for the 1st Congressional District of Massachusetts, $1 million will go toward supporting Westfield State University’s training capacity for nursing and health science students and providing a space for healthcare practitioners from both academia and practice sectors to explore, design, and prototype solutions to current healthcare gaps. Funding will be used to expand and enhance Westfield State’s simulation spaces, including the development of a new ‘Easy Street’ simulation space that will allow healthcare students to apply concepts of home-based and community care in their learning.
Franklin-Hampshire CASA Receives $31,000 Grant
NORTHAMPTON — Franklin-Hampshire CASA has been awarded a $31,000 needs-based grant from the National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian Ad Litem Assoc. for Children (CASA/GAL). Franklin-Hampshire CASA recruits, trains, and supports volunteers who advocate for the best interests of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. The national CASA/GAL needs-based grants are designed to help sustain the capacity of local programs to recruit, screen, train, supervise, and retain CASA/GAL volunteers while maintaining quality advocacy and supporting initiatives to increase the number of children served. The $31,000 grant will enable Franklin-Hampshire CASA to focus on sustaining service to qualifying children in Franklin and Hampshire counties. Friends of Children was formed as a nonprofit child-advocate organization in 1990 to address the needs of high-risk children who are not readily supported by systems designed to protect them and encourage their full participation in society. Friends of Children has provided child-advocacy services to more than 15,000 children, 99% of whom are low-income.
STCC Receives $75,000 State Grant to Help Close Achievement Gaps
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) received a $75,000 state grant to increase the faculty’s core equity competencies and knowledge about racial equity, social justice, and structures that have an impact on student success. The Massachusetts Higher Education Innovation Fund grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education will support professional development for 20 faculty members. The goal of the project is to help underserved and underrepresented students — especially students of color — succeed along their academic journey, from applying to STCC to graduation. With the funding in hand, STCC plans to recruit faculty who will join a core coaching group known as Equity Leaders & Guides who will train in equity-minded practices. At the conclusion of their work, they will share their discoveries with STCC colleagues. The faculty will work together to discover new teaching techniques and will attend workshop training with the Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton. In addition, they will engage in a virtual book club, among other tasks. STCC, which has a technical focus in all its programs, is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution. About 30% of the student body are Latino, Latina, or Latinx.
HCC Grant to Expand Outreach to Formerly Incarcerated
HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been awarded an $81,605 Bridges to College grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to expand community outreach to adult learners who have been previously incarcerated. Specifically, the money goes to Western Mass CORE, an HCC program that works in partnership with the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department to facilitate pathways to education for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals. CORE stands for community, opportunity, resources, and education. The program was founded in 2019 by two HCC professors, Nicole Hendricks (criminal justice) and Mary Orisich (economics). The Bridges to College grant will allow Western Mass CORE to expand office hours, advising services, and information sessions at the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department’s AISS facility, located in the WW Johnson Life Center on State Street in Springfield. AISS stands for Al Inclusive Support Services (formerly After Incarceration Support Services). The grant will also support the hiring of a new community-navigator position to lead this outreach work. This is Western Mass CORE’s third Bridges to College grant as project lead. The grant also will provide funding for Western Mass CORE to host a series of community events, including a monthly children’s story hour at the Holyoke Public Library for parents who have been previously incarcerated and their children, and community coffee hours at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute on Race Street. In the meantime, Western Mass CORE will continue its work inside the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow and the Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center in Chicopee. This spring, at the Ludlow jail, Hendricks will teach a criminology course, while Orisich will lead an economics class. HCC theater professor Patricia Sandoval will teach a fundamentals of acting class at the women’s jail.