Comcast, CRIS Radio and Southern Conn. State University Team Up with Hartford Teachers Comcast Presents CRIS Radio with $16,000 Award for Children’s Programming

Comcast, CRIS Radio and Southern Conn. State University Team Up with Hartford Teachers Comcast Presents CRIS Radio with $16,000 Award for Children’s Programming

Published on May 17, 2016

A unique collaboration with a nonprofit radio station, a cable TV provider, state university and community school to improve student reading was celebrated on Monday, May 2 at Kennelly School in Hartford.

Teachers and students from Kennelly School joined representatives from Comcast, CRIS Radio, and Southern Conn. State University to recognize a year-long effort to improve student reading for students who struggle to read due to various disabilities.

“CRIS Radio has given our students access to grade level curriculum, using exciting assistive technology,” said Mary Lou Duffy, Kennelly School principal. “This opportunity allows our Kennelly students to answer questions, participate in class discussions, and succeed on assessments, after listening to assigned texts that CRIS Radio has recorded.  We are fortunate to have benefitted from this partnership.”

In support of CRIS Radio’s children’s programming, Comcast, which previously supported CRIS Radio with its initiative to provide audio versions of children’s magazines to each patient room at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, presented CRIS Radio with a$16,000 grant award at the reception.

“Comcast supports a wide range of community partners, leveraging their local expertise to deliver maximum impact locally; and providing products and services thatare easy for customers with disabilities to use is also a priority,” said Kristen Roberts, vice president of public relations and community investment for Comcast’s Western New England Region, which is headquartered in Connecticut.  “CRIS Radio is a very special organization and we’re proud to provide them with this grant, which will help to get the word out about the great work they do here in the state and continue their mission to make printed material accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to read it.”

A portion of the Comcast award includes televising public service announcements to promote the CRISKids for Schools program statewide.

Students and teachers have been participating in a Southern Connecticut State University study of CRISKids™ for Schools, which provides an extensive audio library of recordings of classroom print materials featuring human narration. Recordings were produced by CRIS Radio with the help of its volunteer readers.

"Research is clear that a child reading below grade-level by 3rd grade is far less likely to graduate from high school and will face so many more obstacles,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin. “That’s why programs like CRISKids for Schools, working to improve early childhood reading levels through innovative programming and a partnership with SCSU, are really important.  We're grateful to Comcast, CRISKids, and SCSU for collaborating to improve instruction and learning for kids who need that support."

Preliminary study results demonstrated that as a result of CRISKids, students’ comprehension improves as they gain competence in reading (word identification, fluency, vocabulary), said Michael Ben-Avie, a senior research analyst at SCSU. “[Students] increase their independence in learning, sharpen their focus on academics, catch up or stay at level with their classmates, and engage in text-dependent classroom discussions,” he said.

Ben-Avie added that the study also demonstrated that the vast majority of students overwhelmingly preferred human narration offered by CRISKids compared with computerized text to speech programs.  

“Since students who feel competent in their reading and class work tend to be more engaged and less disruptive in class,” Ben-Avie said, “CRISKids impacts not only the students who are unable to access written texts, but the learning environment of all the students in the classroom.”

In addition to the study, an important aspect of the collaboration recognized that assistive technology by itself is insufficient in promoting students’ learning—an instructional strategy is also necessary, he said. The instructional strategy was provided throughout the school year for Hartford Public School teachers by Regine Randall, SCSU graduate reading program coordinator. 

Hartford Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez applauded the collaboration. “I would like to thank CRIS Radio and Southern Connecticut State University for their partnership with the Hartford Public Schools to provide innovations that support students who struggle in reading,” she said. “Achieving grade-level reading skills is key for our children’s success in school, in college and beyond. Congratulations on receiving this well-deserved recognition from Comcast.”

“The ongoing teamwork between CRIS Radio, Hartford Public Schools, Comcast, and Southern Conn. State University illustrates that when organizations work together, they make an important difference in the communities they serve,” said Paul Young, chairman of the CRIS Radio Board of Directors. “We are very appreciative to count so many organizations as committed partners in the state.” 

About CRIS Radio
CRIS (Connecticut Radio Information System) is a 38-year-old nonprofit based in Windsor and is Connecticut’s only radio-reading service providing audio access to news and information for people who are blind or print-handicapped, including those unable to read due to physical, learning, intellectual or emotional disabilities. In addition to CRIS Radio, which broadcasts 24/7 articles featured in 50 newspapers and magazines, CRIS is the only service in the nation with a dedicated stream of children’s magazines and Spanish-language newspapers and magazines. CRIS operates with approximately 300 volunteers at its broadcast center in Windsor and four satellite studios located in Danbury, Norwich, Trumbull and West Haven. For more information, visit, connect with us on Facebook at

About Comcast Cable

Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. Comcast has invested in technology to build an advanced network that delivers among the fastest broadband speeds, and brings customers personalized video, communications and home management offerings.  Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company.  Visit www.comcastcorporation.comfor more information.

About Comcast in Connecticut Comcast is committed to providing an unparalleled entertainment experience to residents and businesses in the 83 communities the company serves in Connecticut.  Comcast’s Western New England Region, which includes five states, is headquartered in Berlin, Connecticut, and customers are served by a team of more than 1,200 Connecticut employees.  Comcast also boasts a call center in Enfield, Connecticut, service centers throughout the state, and seven state-of-the-art Xfinity Service Centers where customers can experience Comcast’s Xfinity products and services firsthand. Comcast’s popular Xfinity brand is also featured on the Xfinity Theatre, one of Hartford’s premier music venues.  The company helps to strengthen the communities where its customers and employees live and work by supporting local nonprofit organizations.  In 2015, Comcast providedmore than $2 million to community partners in the state,in the form of Comcast Foundation grants, sponsorships, volunteer hours, courtesy services and in-kind donations.

Cutline: Teachers and students from Kennelly School in Hartford celebrated a grant award and preliminary study results on CRISKids today with representatives of CRIS Radio, a nonprofit radio service for people who are blind or print disabled, Comcast and Southern Connecticut State University. Pictured in the back row, from left, is: Mary Lou Duffy, Kennelly School principal; Paul Young, CRIS Radio chairman; Diane Weaver Dunne, CRIS Radio executive director; Kristen Roberts, Comcast vice president; Karen Perhnam-Lippman, Comcast manager of community investment; John Bairos, Comcast regional senior manager; Saif Malik, Comcast director of financial planning and analysisand CRIS Radio board director; and kneeling with students, Kennelly School teacher Lauren Lieberman, CRIS Radio’s 2015 Educator of the Year.

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