FAIRFIELD — Innovative ideas for an app to revolutionize the scope of social, platonic meet-ups and a wearable, infrared bone densitometer to easily detect weakness in bones were the grand prize-winners of Fairfield University’s Business Plan Competition. The FU undergraduates behind those ideas took home $7,000 (venture track) and $5,000 (social track) in prize money respectively at the April 14 finals at the Charles F. Dolan School of Business.

Plans for a golf course management system and a website to donate textbooks to help students who can’t afford them were the runners-up in the venture and social tracks, receiving $3,000 and $2,500 each in the process.

The venture track consisted of new business ideas with a commercial focus. The winners were “VentureOut” — an app to enable young professionals to gain access to microcosms of platonic, social meet-ups so that they can cultivate new friendships and network. The student team members were seniors Jennifer Le, Gina Biondi and Jessica Mendes.

The social track consisted of new organizations that attempt to resolve a pressing social problem that markets have failed to resolve. The winner was BoneSmart — a wearable, wireless, non-invasive medical device that will measure bone density and blood flow. Team members are Robert Garrone, Ralph Belfiore, Bernardo Navarro, Stephanie Sutherby and Michael Raymond. The device is also being developed for the School of Engineering’s Senior Design course.

 Students will have open Gateway to Albertus Magnus




NEW HAVEN — While some students are happy to be admitted to one college, those who choose a special community college-university pipeline program will gain admission to two institutions of higher learning simultaneously.



Albertus Magnus and Gateway Community colleges have announced an agreement that allows qualifying students guaranteed enrollment in the four-year institution to pursue work towards a bachelor’s degree after successfully completing educational requirements for an associate’s degree at Gateway. The dual-admission program also makes available financial assistance to qualifying students.



“[T]he Dual Admission Program will raise students’ awareness that Albertus is within their reach,” said GCC President Dorothy Kendrick. “It will encourage our students to set ambitious goals and, more importantly, to plan how to achieve them.”



Students in the program who enroll at Albertus within a year of graduating from Gateway will be eligible for up to $12,000 annually in Dual Admission Merit Awards. In addition, special academic and social support will be available to the dual students.




“[A]cademic advisors from Gateway and Albertus will support Dual Admission students in selecting their courses so that the credits they earn toward their associate’s degree will apply to the Albertus bachelors’ degree of their choice,” said Wilson Luna, Gateway’s dean for student affairs.


In a 2008 report, the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance noted barriers to attaining a bachelor’s degree at key points in the educational progression of a community college student who plans to ultimately graduate from a four-year college. The point of transfer is among those important variables. Potential hindrances are even more impactful for low- and moderate-income students.



“Students encounter barriers at each stage [enrollment, persistence and transfer] that often prevent them from attaining a degree, barriers that fall into five categories: academic, social, informational, complexity, and financial,” the report states. The report suggests a number of practices that “reduce barriers, and in doing so, enable enrollment, ensure persistence and facilitate transfer.”



Among the practices noted in the report are the implementation of “learning communities” — groups of students taking the same bundle of courses from the same instructors, offering courses in different formats and on different schedules, and ensuring quality remediation to help build needed skills.



“Community college students are a diverse population and face a number of unique barriers to persistence,” summarizes the report. “Due to this fact and the ever-fluctuating nature of state funding, institutions and states need to take comprehensive approaches to ensure persistence by re-evaluating institutional and state objectives and refocusing efforts in order to develop a workforce suitable for the 21st century.”



Gateway and AMC administrators hope that their program will accomplish that.



“Our goal,” says Lorrie Gardella, Albertus’ vice president for professional and graduate studies, “is for Dual Admission students to feel at home at Albertus from the start of their Gateway career.”


 NEW HAVEN — The Liberty Bank Foundation has awarded a $3,000 grant to Christian Community Action to support Parent Leadership Training programming in New Haven. The People Empowering People (PEP) program will be offered free of charge to the community. PEP is a ten-week personal and family development program that builds upon individual life experiences and strengths to encourage growth in communication and problem solving skills, parent/family relationships and community involvement.

Founded in 1997, the Liberty Bank Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for low- to moderate-income people by investing in education, affordable housing and nonprofit capacity building.

Christian Community Action is a faith-based not-for-profit ecumenical social services agency that provides emergency shelter and transitional housing, food, advocacy and leadership education and training and other support to those who are poor, in particular families that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.