Peter Kaye, host for K-LOVE Radio (106.9 FM) in Hartford recently spoke with CRT’s Dr. Leslie Giordano, Director of Early Care and Education. They talked about the importance of early childhood education, and how it helps young children get ready to learn and succeed when entering kindergarten and beyond.

Give a listen to this “Closer Look” interview.

Note: This interview originally aired on June 20, 2021, and has been replayed multiple times this summer.

The Community Renewal Team (CRT) will honor the legacy of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (#RBG) and other remarkable women leaders with a massive public mural at the Women’s Empowerment Center in downtown Hartford.

Local, award-winning artist Micaela Levesque began painting the mural this week. She spoke with NBC Connecticut about why this new mural featuring iconic women leaders is so important, and what it means to her.

Learn more about this new mural project.

Local, award-winning artist Micaela Levesque selected to complete massive mural at 330 Market Street in Hartford

Hartford – The Community Renewal Team (CRT) is sponsoring the creation of a massive public mural that will be painted on the side of its multi-service center in Hartford (330 Market St.) to honor the life-long commitment to women’s rights and social justice of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, along with other remarkable women leaders. The artist chosen to complete the work for CRT is East Hartford resident Micaela Levesque, whose vibrant artistic vision and skilled portrait work will make this mural a landmark for downtown Hartford for years to come.

“After a long, and rigorous search process, CRT is thrilled to have chosen Ms. Levesque to complete this important mural on our behalf,” said CRT’s President and CEO, Lena Rodriguez. “We can think of no better way to honor RBG’s legacy than to ensure that her memory lives on through the work of CRT’s Women’s Empowerment Center. Justice Ginsburg’s accomplishments will be felt for decades to come. We know that all women in our community today – especially the next generation that is coming of age now – are better off because of her.”

In addition to prominently featuring Justice Ginsburg, the mural will also showcase the following female leaders:

  • Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris;
  • Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor;
  • Former First Lady Michelle Obama; and
  • Ella Grasso, the first woman elected Governor in Connecticut and in the United States.

In addition to the five portraits that will be featured in the mural, the artist plans to add a variety of painted symbols that will add to the depth and complexity of the finished work of art.

Ms. Levesque previously won the “Best in Show” award at CRT’s 2020 National Arts Program show in Hartford for a painting of her self-portrait.

“The ideas of this mural align perfectly with my own artistic vision,” said artist Micaela Levesque. “When I learned that this RBG-inspired mural would be on the side of the building for CRT’s Women’s Empowerment Center, I knew I wanted to be involved. I am so excited to bring a visual representation of these iconic women to Hartford. You will see that I am going to put myself completely into this project and will be so proud to stand behind the finished work.”

The building where the mural will be painted houses CRT’s Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Women’s Empowerment Center in Hartford, which offers a safe and open space for women from Hartford and Middlesex Counties to develop the skills they need to reach their full potential.

The goal of CRT’s Women’s Empowerment Center is to encourage women to find stable careers, establish financial security, and commit themselves to life-long personal growth and success. The Center provides specialized and holistic case management, support groups, financial literacy and personal development classes, intensive one-on-one mentorship, entrepreneurship, and leadership training to help women thrive.

The Center also offers members networking opportunities to meet successful women from various backgrounds and careers. These opportunities are essential to bridge gaps derived from economic barriers and other social determinants. Relationships developed through these networks build pathways to better futures.

CRT’s Women’s Empowerment Center meets a critical regional need. Of the female-headed households living in Hartford, 46.6% do not have a spouse or partner present (source). Additionally, 29% of females living in Hartford are living below the poverty line (source). CRT has a history of offering female-centric initiatives (e.g., helping women gain employment skills, leave abusive circumstances, decrease substance use and recidivism, and enabling grandparents, particularly grandmothers, to raise their grandchildren). CRT’s Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Women’s Empowerment Center represents the culmination of these efforts.

Work on this massive mural – it is expected that it will be visible to passing cars on I-91 – began on August 17, 2021, and Ms. Levesque anticipates completing the project in approximately five weeks.

While it will be possible for the public to see the work being done to complete the mural over the next five weeks, a public unveiling and celebration of this tribute to RBG and other women leaders is being planned for mid-September (exact date to be announced).

This mural was made possible by a Neighborhood Beautification grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.


Editor’s Note: Artist Micaela Levesque is available for media interviews, upon request. It is anticipated that Ms. Levesque will be on-site painting six days a week, from 10 am – 7 pm each day, with a one-hour break per day.

Additionally, high resolution files of conceptual sketches by the artist depicting what the mural may look like upon completion are available for publication.

Rhaili-Em Lowe was one of more than 85 young adults who spent time this summer as an intern working with CRT’s Summer Youth Employment and Learning Program. This summer, the students dedicated their time to helping to educate others in the community – especially their peers – about the need for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Her efforts were featured on the front page of the Hartford Courant this past weekend.

As she told the paper: “I’ve been a remote learner for one-and-a-half years. I’m trying not to have it happen again,” said Lowe, a rising junior at the Connecticut IB Academy in East Hartford.

Lowe and the other young adults in the program worked to promote COVID-19 vaccine awareness through projects like creating hundreds of yard signs distributed citywide. They also hosted a Zoom panel discussion about vaccine hesitancy among teenagers and misinformation spread through social media.

As she went on to say: “We all miss each other,” she said of her friends. “I want to experience my junior year in some type of normalcy.”

Read the complete article in the Hartford Courant online.

Photo above: Rhaili-Em Lowe, 16, of Hartford, spent her summer interning with CRT’s Summer Youth Employment Program to promote COVID-19 vaccines to teenagers in the Hartford area. Photo by Sofie Brandt/The Hartford Courant.

More than 80 students enrolled in CRT’s Summer Youth Employment and Learning Program took part in a civic engagement project this summer to educate fellow students and people in Hartford about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. They created 370 handmade lawn signs that have been distributed throughout the city to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Other signs were created to let people know about the availability of rental assistance through Unite CT.

According to an article in the Hartford Courant this past weekend, “The signs are now spread across the city, including areas around Stonington Street, Market Street, Main street, and the Blue Hills neighborhood.”

CRT Program Manager Cynthia Baisden said the ongoing increase in COVID-19 cases inspired the vaccination campaign.

“The COVID vaccination is something that I truly feel very passionate [about] that our youth need to be vaccinated, especially now that Connecticut has become a hot spot,” Baisden said.

Read the full article in the Hartford Courant online:

Hartford youth cover the city in signs in campaign to boost vaccination rate

Photo above: Rhaili-Em Lowe, 16, of Hartford, spent her summer interning with CRT’s Summer Youth Employment Program to promote COVID-19 vaccines to teenagers in the Hartford area. Photo by Sofie Brandt/The Hartford Courant.

The Community Renewal Team (CRT) spoke with Julia LeBlanc from Fox 61 about opportunities to join the agency as a driver for our Meals on Wheels program in Central Connecticut.

If you’re qualified, and want to help serve your community, please apply today!

Do you want to support homebound seniors in need in your community? The Community Renewal Team (CRT) is hosting its 20th Annual Meals on Wheels Golf Classic on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021 at Tunxis Country Club in Farmington, CT to raise funds supporting the Meals on Wheels program for Central Connecticut.

CRT spoke with with Julia LeBlanc from Fox 61 about how people in the community can get involved in this annual event.

Find out how you can support CRT’s 20th Annual Meals on Wheels Golf Classic.

We’re in the middle of another summer heatwave here in Connecticut, so it is important to check in on the most vulnerable among us, especially homebound seniors. CRT’s Meals on Wheels program helps to deliver hot, nutritious meals each weekday and provides valuable wellness checks to make sure seniors in our community are safe.

CRT spoke with Julia LeBlanc from Fox 61 about this important program.

More information is available on the Fox 61 website.

To find out how you can support CRT’s Meals on Wheels program, please visit the Donate page.

At this time, Connecticut doesn’t require financial literacy courses for students in the state, but lawmakers may change that. However, you can become financially literate for free thanks to CRT’s annual Financial Literacy Institute. On the last day to sign up for the class taking place this fall, CRT’s Jason Black spoke with Dan Corcoran from NBC Connecticut about why it is so important to learn these valuable life skills.

The full report is available on the NBC Connecticut website.

More information about this valuable adult-learning program is available on the Financial Literacy page.

In the summer edition of CRT’s email newsletter, we highlight the upcoming Meals on Wheels Golf Classic that will be held on Monday, Sept. 13 at Tunxis Country Club in Farmington, Conn. This golf course was also the host for CRT’s 11th annual Tee Off with Women golf event benefiting CRT’s Women’s Empowerment Center in Hartford.

The newsletter also points readers to sign-up details for the next session of CRT’s Financial Literacy Institute. Registration for that class is taking place until August 9.

Read the summer newsletter now.

Featured photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash.