UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences Nets $93 Million
AMHERST — UMass Amherst announced that, as part of Robert and Donna Manning’s recent historic $50 million gift to the University of Massachusetts, $18 million will endow the newly named Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences. At the same time, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a $75 million commitment that will enhance and expand the college’s facilities. The state grant, which will be allocated over the course of multiple future capital plans, is backed by a $30 million commitment from the campus for the expanded physical footprint of the college. These combined investments will allow the college to continue to grow and fuel new discoveries in computing research. It will attract top faculty, increase access to its nationally ranked program, and offer scholarships, bridge programs, and peer mentoring to foster a diverse and ethical future workforce. Since 2018, the college has committed to doubling the amount of undergraduate and graduate students, and the gift and grant will help accelerate that goal. The Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences ranks among the top 20 computer science programs in North America and boasts the 11th-ranked artificial intelligence (AI) program. United around a revolutionary vision for computing research and education, known as Computing for the Common Good, the college is driving scientific discovery in key areas such as healthcare, sustainability, cybersecurity, quantum information systems, and human-centered technology. Its research is focused on some of the most demanding challenges of today, including ensuring that AI is equitable, safe, and applied in positive ways, creating technologies that protect personal privacy and safeguard children from online predators.
Eastern States Exposition Receives Shuttered Venue Operators Grant
WEST SPRINGFIELD — Eastern States Exposition (ESE) President and CEO Eugene Cassidy was joined by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Robert Nelson, director of the Small Business Assoc. (SBA) Massachusetts District Office, on Oct. 25 to announce that ESE is the recipient of a Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG). These federal grants are given to venues in the entertainment realm such as concert halls, theaters, and other attractions that suffered significant losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Big E, North America’s fifth-largest fair in 2019, did not take place in 2020. “For more than 100 years, the Eastern States Exposition, home of The Big E, has welcomed millions of visitors to enjoy exhibits, entertainment, and agriculture,” said Neal, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “Due to the pandemic, the Big E was forced to close its gates for the 2020 season, resulting in extensive loss. I advocated fiercely on their behalf to the Small Business Administration for swift approval of the Big E’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application. Today, just weeks after almost 1.5 million people visited the 2021 fair, we celebrate the authorization of $9 million to the Big E. Congratulations to Gene Cassidy and his team for this tremendous award.”
Country Bank Opens New Office in Tower Square
SPRINGFIELD — Country Bank opened a business office on the 17th floor of Tower Square in Springfield at the end of October to support its continued growth in the markets it serves. The new business office will support local businesses and allow the Country Bank team to become ingrained with the companies and nonprofits in Springfield. Bringing more than 20 years of commercial banking experience, Senior Vice President Ben Leonard will lead the Springfield team. He has spent more than a decade fostering relationships in Western Mass. with both community and business leaders while he was with Wells Fargo. Leonard serves on the board for Revitalize CDC in Springfield. In 2018, he was a BusinessWest 40 Under Forty honoree and is a graduate of Wells Fargo’s Credit Management Training Program. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Texas.
Level Two Studios, LLC Opens in Springfield
SPRINGFIELD — Level Two Studios, LLC a new all-inclusive production facility, recently opened in Springfield, offering an optimal environment for professional, full-scale video production and photography. Located on the second level of 155 Brookdale Dr., the studio’s expansive, 2,000-square-foot space accommodates creative media production with numerous amenities. The many features of Level Two Studios include a 25-by-11-foot white or green screen corner cyclorama wall — the only one available in the region — as well as blackout walls for seamless filming. The studio also boasts flexible standing sets that provide endless customization options, sound suppression, full lighting, a state-of-the-art video-editing suite and audio studio for post-production, a green room, and ample accommodations for private wardrobe, makeup, meetings, and other preparation. The facility can accommodate production crews of all sizes and is available for both full- and half-day rentals.
Barron & Jacobs to Move Office Location
NORTHAMPTON — Barron & Jacobs Associates will move its offices in November from Old South Street in Northampton to 420 North Main St. in Leeds. After 17 years in its current location, the company has decided to move to a new spot. The existing building was purchased by the company’s prior owner from Historic Northampton, and Barron & Jacobs restored the home to its original glory. Company owner Chris Jacobs said the new site offers a great location, is well-suited for the business, and is more energy-efficient. Barron & Jacobs is a full-service design/build remodeler. In business since 1986, the company’s projects include kitchens, baths, porches and decks, attic and basement conversions, whole-house renovations, exterior work, and more. For more information or to schedule a design consultation, visit barronandjacobs.com.
Angels in Adoption Honors Friends of Children
HADLEY — U.S. Sen. Edward Markey is celebrating Friends of Children as a 2021 Angels in Adoption honoree for its outstanding advocacy for foster-care issues. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), which coordinates the Angels in Adoption program, honored Friends of Children on Oct. 20 in a virtual gala. According to Markey, Friends of Children was nominated as an honoree this year due to its relentless advocacy for children despite the challenges of the COVID pandemic. “Even in our nation’s darkest hour, as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, you have fought tirelessly for the children and families impacted by foster care and involvement in the juvenile justice system and have shown great fortitude in the face of adversity,” Markey said. Jane Lyons, executive director of Friends of Children, said accepting the nomination shines an important light on the invaluable work the organization provides. “To be recognized by the CCAI with this award is really exciting and underscores the value placed on our independent child advocacy for kids in the foster-care system.”
Lesser Presents $1,000 Earmark to Springfield Science Museum
SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums welcomed state Sen. Eric Lesser on Oct. 25 to announce a $100,000 earmark from the Commonwealth to help fund the International Space Station exhibit in the Springfield Science Museum. The Springfield Museums is constructing a fully immersive representation of the International Space Station module Destiny. The gallery will have an ‘airlock’ entrance and dynamic view of Earth from the exhibit’s bay-window cupola. The vestibule is nearing completion and will include a facsimile astronaut suit as well as interactive features that help visitors better understand the science of space exploration. Plans are also underway for a facilitated, roving ‘space cart,’ which will include items from an astronaut’s gear that visitors can touch. A facilitator will be available to answer questions and share information about space travel. Currently on view outside the gallery is an interactive screen donated by NASA. Visitors can touch the image of the International Space Station to find out more information about its function.
Country Bank Supports Ride to Remember
WARE — Country Bank recently supported the Ride to Remember, the 100-mile bicycle ride in tribute to fallen police officers and firefighters. This year, the event was rerouted to include a round-trip ride from Springfield to Worcester to pay tribute to the lives lost by the Worcester Police and Fire departments. Country Bank President and CEO Paul Scully, who previously participated in the ride, presented a $10,000 donation to the Ride to Remember with funds directed to the Manny 267 Foundation in Worcester. The Manny 267 Foundation was established after the city of Worcester suffered the loss of officer Manny Familia, a five-year veteran who responded to the 911 call of a 14-year-old boy in distress at Green Hill Pond. Unfortunately, neither Familia nor the boy survived. The goal of the foundation is to raise funds to provide rescue tubes for every police cruiser and, with the collaboration of the YMCA, provide proper training for police to perform water rescues. In addition, they want to offer swimming lessons and water-survival skills for kids and teenagers in the Worcester community. Finally, their goal is to donate a ‘Manny tube’ to every police department in the U.S. and to prevent this type of tragedy from ever happening again.
Excel Dryer Renews Support for Square One Program
SPRINGFIELD — For the fifth consecutive year, Excel Dryer is lending its support to Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom initiative, donating $5,000 to provide supplies and meals to the agency’s preschoolers. “We are proud to support Square One and their ongoing efforts to provide early-education services to children in our area,” said Denis Gagnon, president of Excel Dryer. “This organization is a vital part of our community, providing a safe and educational space for young children. We hope our donation can help provide much-needed meals and resources for these students.” Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom program is part of the agency’s Campaign for Healthy Kids, a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment.
MSB Asks Community to Vote for Their Favorite Nonprofits
MONSON — With the season of giving right around the corner, Monson Savings Bank (MSB) is reaching out to the public and requesting they submit their votes for the bank’s 2022 Community Giving Initiative. For more than a decade, MSB has been seeking the help of the community to plan the bank’s community-giving activities by inviting members of the community to vote for the organizations they would like the bank to support during the upcoming year. Everyone is welcome to participate and can cast their vote at www.monsonsavings.bank/connect/community-giving.html. Voters may provide the names of up to three organizations they would like the bank to donate to in 2022. The only requirements are that the organizations be designated a nonprofit and that the organizations provide services within the bank’s geography. Voting ends on Friday, Dec. 31 at 3 p.m. Monson Savings Bank pledges to support the top 10 organizations that receive the most votes. The 10 organizations will be announced by mid-January, and donations will then be distributed.
American Eagle Supports Asnuntuck Food Pantry
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — American Eagle Financial Credit Union (AEFCU) revealed the recipients of $25,842 in total donations from the latest round of the credit union’s popular Cash Back to the Community program. The third quarter’s winners — three nonprofit organizations from AEFCU’s service area that earned the most community votes — will each receive $8,614 from American Eagle. The latest winners are the Asnuntuck Community College Food Pantry in Enfield, the Southington Girls Softball League, and Our Piece of the Pie in Hartford. Through the Cash Back to the Community program, American Eagle has donated $76,571 to local organizations in 2021 alone, and $162,996 since the program first launched in January 2020. AEFCU donates 1% of its credit- and debit-card interchange income to three nonprofit and/or 501(c)(3) organizations each quarter through the Cash Back to the Community program. In addition to American Eagle’s donations through the Cash Back to the Community program, AEFCU employees donated $3,461 to the United Way and $8,339 to the American Eagle Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. AEFCU employees have provided $33,827 in total donations in 2021. Funds are generated through voluntary payroll deductions throughout the year and distributed to local organizations that American Eagle and its employees support on a quarterly basis.
BHN’s Kamp for Kids Receives $5,000 Grant from Westfield Bank
WESTFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) announced it has received a grant of $5,000 from Westfield Bank’s Future Fund Program to benefit Kamp for Kids, the organization’s summer day camp for children and young adults with and without disabilities. Westfield Bank, a longtime supporter of BHN’s Kamp for Kids, established the Future Fund in 2002 as a response to overwhelming community needs and the shrinking sources of corporate philanthropy. It prioritizes funding to 501(c)(3) educational, recreational, cultural, and social-service programs that serve Westfield Bank’s market area. Grants made to Kamp for Kids provide camperships to youth with or without disabilities to ensure that all children, regardless of family income, are able to attend camp.