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CCSU Opens Doors To Displaced Students

by Cindy Pena

Connecticut schools are preparing for an influx of students who are escaping the dire conditions of their previous homes and schools that were destroyed by recent natural disasters. Schools primarily expect an increase in enrollment of Puerto Rican residents with ties to Connecticut.

Central Connecticut State University’s new fundraising initiative, the CCSU-Ana Grace Project Relief Effort, aims to address the needs of those schools.

CCSU introduced the new project in an email sent to all students and faculty. In the email it states:

“All contributions collected will then be channeled to the CCSU-Ana Grace Project Relief Effort in support of: 1. Scholarship funds available to eligible individuals from the disaster areas who wish to pursue educational opportunities at CCSU. 2. Space in CCSU’s Institute for Technology & Business Development to house a Welcome Center, which will provide support and services for families enrolling their students in the district. 3. Continued support of the eleven elementary schools under the Ana Grace Project umbrella and the Welcome Center.”

The initiative is something President Dr. Zulma Toro takes pride in.

“When I was in Miami last week to pick up my mother who had just left Puerto Rico, the sight of all those who had traveled with her was overwhelmingly sad. I recognized immediately that the families displaced by this catastrophe will need our help when, as expected, many of them reach Connecticut. This fundraising initiative is one way that Central can step up and serve as a resource for our communities,” Toro stated in the email.

CCSU students expressed their gratitude in taking steps to help those impacted.

“The Ana Grace Project has been a welcome and valuable addition to the CCSU campus. The values and mission of this organization are directly in sync with the vision that President Toro has for our university,” said Matthew Papapietro, a social work student at Central. “Ours is a campus of compassion, and this is reiterated in the relief efforts that The Ana Grace Project has displayed. There is a great opportunity for students, faculty, administration and university staff to become engaged and affect social change. I would encourage all to inquire how they can get involved with not only the Ana Grace Project, but support all CCSU efforts to help those in need.”

Furthermore, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Mark Ojakian presented a proposal that would allow college students displaced from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to attend a community college or university in the CSCU system and pay in-state tuition.

“This is an extremely difficult moment and as the state and country coalesce to offer help, we want to do our part to support our extended community while they repair and rebuild,” said Ojakian in the announcement of the proposal.

Central started to collect donations at Homecoming on Oct. 7. You can donate online at:

The CCSU Foundation stated that they will match the first $10,000 raised.

Ultimately, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and the earthquake in Mexico had a costly effect in those places hit. Its ripple effect can be felt in Connecticut. CCSU and CSCU hopes with these new initiatives, they can help relieve that burden.