Innovation Fund 2022: Traverse Square

Wesleyan students from a range of majors and interests – all with shared interests in utilizing resources in innovative ways to positively impact the greater Middletown community – applied to the Student Innovation Fund.  The fund provided up to $750 for projects that prioritized:

  • Collaboration between student groups, faculty/staff, and/or community partners.
  • Investigation of the impact of our civic engagement efforts.
  • Sharing of ideas and learnings in civic engagement on campus and beyond.

Sophie Williamson ’22, Sam Kurlender ’22, Abigail Maymi ’22, Sofia Chartrove ’24 and Kayla Penza ’24 coordinate Traverse Square After School Program:


A Center Celebration

This semester the Traverse Square Afterschool program used the Innovation Fund to sponsor a community gathering. With the funds we were able to cater a community event, purchase craft supplies including drawstring bags to decorate and bracelet making supplies. We wanted to host this event to celebrate the end of our program’s first in-person year since COVID began. Our program really struggled to operate remotely and so returning back in person and even stronger than before was incredibly important. We also wanted to reach out to the larger Traverse Square community, and not just the kids who usually attend our program. 

The event was a huge success, with over 30 people attending. Not only did the regular program attendees come, but their families, some new children, other community members and even the JCCP staff came by! The crafts were a huge success and no food went to waste as everyone devoured the delicious food from Merengue and Red. The only challenge we faced was that the food was a little late, but the wait was worth it in the end. The Innovation Fund allowed us to create a positive impact that will hopefully carry over to when we return in the fall. 

For anyone who wants to get involved with the greater Middletown community, our advice would be to research and contact all the amazing student groups on campus. Also, talk to your friends and other Wesleyan students to see how they get involved, word of mouth is an incredibly helpful way to get involved. Each group is so unique and does such amazing work that it will be easy to find the right one for you. We would not be the same people without working together at Traverse Square. It enriched our Wesleyan experience and will forever have a huge impact on our lives.