PCSE Seed Grants in Action: Report #1 from Cardinal Kids

Each year, the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship awards three $5,000 seed grants to fund the launch or early-stage growth of a project, program, or venture. Cardinal Kids, run by George Perez ’20, Katie Murray ’19, Jenny Chelmow ’19 and Mariel Middlebrook ’20, was one of this year’s winners. This is George’s first report since receiving funding from the PCSE in March 2018.


This is from our first Cardinal Kids community meeting where we workshopped our program’s design with former Green Street families. Pictured from the left, Monica and her son Anthony, Carmen and her son Andy, and Ashley the mother of Green Street student Malia (unpictured).

In the months since we received the PCSE seed grant, we have been preparing for our program’s debut this coming fall. Throughout Wesleyan’s fall academic term, we will be offering art, science, language arts classes, musical mentoring, and daily homework assistance. Our program’s semester tuition is $450 and covers five days of classes per week. We will have a scholarship fund, operating on a rolling basis, that subsidizes 50% of this tuition for students on free or reduced lunch. Two classes will be offered each day  (10 seats per class) A musical mentoring program (15 seats) will run daily as well.

We have hired four administrators, Jenny Chelmow, Mariel Middlebrook, George Perez, and Katie Murray. Thus far these administrators have been preparing our website for a launch this June, and reaching out to former Green Street student staff. We are contacting former staff who have expressed interest in teaching a class at Cardinal Kids. We are also negotiating our first local partnerships, some of which will incorporate former Green Street community relationships.

Our website, which will launch by the end of June, will function as both an enrollment and payment system, as well as a blog with weekly announcements. The website will allow us to begin enrollment in August, so that we will have seats and teachers accounted for by the start of the semester.

Presently, we are working with ten former Green Street student workers interested in teaching in our program. The classes they are interested in teaching range from ballet to computer programming. They are presently preparing course descriptions that will be posted to our website by the end of June. Once posted, parents will be able to view course descriptions and enroll their children accordingly.

This picture is of a class taught at Green Street by one of our administrators (pictured dancing on the right) Katie Murray.

We are excited to be working with our community partners next semester. In the fall we will be running our musical mentoring through the longstanding community arts center, Oddfellows, and in the spring we will be running musical mentoring alongside Prof. David Nelson’s course in the Music Department, “Teaching Music to Children”. We have also been able to place ourselves under the umbrella of Wesleyan’s Office of Community Service, which allows us to pay students through work study and allows us to provide another great on-campus opportunity for students looking to get involved  with the community. Moreover, OCS will help us reserve on-campus spaces for our programming and provide us with accounts to manage our program’s finances. We are also working with Wesleyan’s radio station’s Middletown Youth Radio Project (MYRP), who plan on offering a class where students can learn about and host radio shows. We hope to expand our relationships with the community. We hope to partner with Wesleyan’s new education certificate program so that we can provide teaching experience for those pursuing an Education Certificate. We also plan on collaborating with the Middletown Green Community Center (a new local organization) and their youth engagement mission.

Come August, we will be completing enrollment, and will then start hiring teaching assistants and homework tutors. In September, during freshman orientation, we will be hiring freshman and providing mandatory training for our teachers, TAs, and tutors.

We would like to thank the PCSE selection committee for awarding us with the seed grant that has made all of this possible. We are eagerly awaiting next semester, the start of Cardinal Kids, and the meaningful, creative, sustainable, high quality youth programming it will bring.