Two Hartford Teachers Win Dalio Foundation/DonorsChoose Gifts for Education

Two Hartford Teachers Win Dalio Foundation/DonorsChoose Gifts for Education

On October 18, 2018, Barbara Dalio of the Dalio Foundation and’s Founder & CEO Charles Best joined Connecticut educational leaders and local officials in visiting five teachers in their school communities to learn how they intend to use the $10,000 in funding credits to benefits students.

Teacher Laura Munafo of M.D. Fox School and teacher Liz Matthews of Hartford Public High School each won $10,000 with of DonorsChoose credits to help their students .

Our teachers were joined by their principals, students, teachers, and leaders, Mayor Luke Bronin, Alberto Vazquez Matos, Deputy Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools, and Dr. Sarah J. Barzee, the Chief Talent Officer from the CT State Department of Education.

As part of the Connecticut Opportunity Project, Thursday’s event celebrated the inspiring work of teachers and students to increase student engagement in Connecticut.

The partners for the Connecticut Opportunity Project school visits were:

The Dalio Foundation: The Dalio Foundation is a Connecticut-based family foundation created by Ray and Barbara Dalio. The Foundation’s giving reflects the diverse philanthropic passions of the Dalio family. Barbara leads the Foundation’s work to strengthen public education in Connecticut through collaboration. In 2016, Barbara and her team initiated the Connecticut Opportunity Project, a collaborative endeavor involving teachers, counselors, non-profit leaders, mentors, mayors, and young people to unleash the tremendous untapped potential of young people who are disengaged or disconnected from high schools in Connecticut. As an independent non-profit organization, is one of the nine founding program partners of the Connecticut Opportunity Project. is an online platform that helps public school teachers secure resources for their creative ideas and classroom projects.

The Raben Group: The Raben Group is a nonpartisan strategic communications firm that works with non-profits, foundations, unions, and public school systems across the country. The Dalio Foundation has engaged the Raben Group to help raise awareness of the Connecticut Opportunity Project and the promising and inspiring ways teachers and students are working together to increase student engagement.

● and 5 public schools throughout Connecticut:

Hartford Public Schools’  M.D. Fox Elementary School and  Hartford Public High School

LEARN in Norwich’ s Three Rivers Middle College Magnet High School

Bridgeport Public Schools’ Fairchild Wheeler High School and  Warren Harding High School.

What is the Connecticut Opportunity Project?

● In 2016, the Dalio Foundation launched a research project to study the needs of youth who are disengaged or disconnected from high school in Connecticut. The research culminated in the release of an independent report, Untapped Potential: Engaging All Connecticut Youth, highlighting the needs and potential of high school students.
● The report found that 39,000 high school-aged youth – more than 1 in 5 high school students – are disengaged or disconnected from school in Connecticut. This is an issue that affects nearly every community in the state.
● Helping disengaged and disconnected youth connect to success would spark a virtuous cycle for both these young people and the state as a whole: stronger schools, higher employment, fewer individuals becoming involved with incarceration or addiction, healthier and more prosperous communities, and more rapid and sustainable economic growth.
● The Dalio Foundation initiated the Connecticut Opportunity Project in response to these findings. By working together, the Opportunity Project seeks to develop innovative solutions to improve the life opportunities and educational outcomes of youth in Connecticut.
● Through the Opportunity Project, the Dalio Foundation is partnering with to encourage teachers to design solutions to increase student engagement. In 2017-18, in response to a statewide design challenge, 267 teachers created at least one project, resulting in 428 projects funded and launched for the benefit of thousands of students across 49 schools and 21 districts in Connecticut.
● Last month, five public school teachers were selected by a diverse panel of educators, school administrators, and community leaders to receive $10,000 in funding credits for having created one of the most promising and inspiring projects modeling the themes of personalization, relationships, and connections in support of Connecticut’s students. Each teacher may use the funding credits however he/she deems best to increase student engagement in Connecticut.

The winning teachers and their projects are:

● Laura Munafo of M.D. Fox Elementary School in Hartford created Seeing Ourselves in the Stories to help meet the individual learning needs of her students by giving them a voice in what they read and learn.
● Liz Matthews of Hartford Public High School created Books We Want to Read to provide books that her students find interesting and relevant.
● Pamela Santerre of Three Rivers Middle College Magnet High School in Norwich created How to Tell a True Crime Story to engage students in persuasive writing.
● Jeremy Susi of Fairchild Wheeler High School in Bridgeport created Boxing Gear for Improved Social/Emotional Health to provide a positive way for students to relieve their stress through exercise.
● Sheena Graham of Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport created Rainy Days Bring Attendance Down! to improve student attendance by helping her students walk to school safely during bad weather.

Barbara Dalio and Charles Best also made a special and very exciting announcement with statewide implications.  DonorsChoose was matching x10 any donations made to Connecticut High Schools.

To see all event photos from the Hartford Public High School ceremony, click here.