Community Mediation helps people, organizations, and communities transform conflict into constructive solutions through mediation, facilitation, and training.
Thirty five years ago, a few dedicated mediators established the Fair Haven Community Mediation Program, now known as Community Mediation, Inc. (CM). Given the deep divisions and violent conflicts in this world, the conflict resolution work of CM remains as important as ever in bringing people together to work creatively on resolving problems instead of fighting with each other and making those problems worse. CM's services help people to overcome these divisions by building and transforming relationships.
We envision inclusive communities whose members collaborate to resolve conflict effectively and our core values are:
Current programs include:
School and Youth Based Training – Workshops for all school and youth-serving organization staff and youth in conflict resolution, mediation and Restorative Justice.
Juvenile Review Board (JRB) Mediation & Restorative Conference Training – providing training for statewide JRB staff and volunteers to provide a forum for victims and first-time juvenile offenders to discuss the conflict and reach agreement.
Veterans Mediation Program – Providing training for veterans and experienced mediators to assist veterans in the community to resolve conflicts with others integral to their successful transition into the community.
Mediation services – Providing mediation services for all residents of CT on a sliding-scale fee basis.
Facilitation services – Providing facilitation services for groups to clarify problems and create Action Steps
Training – providing a variety of training in Mediation, Facilitation and Restorative Practices for individuals, municipal agencies, non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses.
Training in the CT Juvenile Training facilities. CM staff members have been training all staff members of two secure training schools in Restorative Circles, Restorative Conferencing and Mediation so that they can create healthier and more empowering environments for the youth under their care.
Through contracts with the City of New Haven and the United Way of Greater New Haven, CM continues to provide public schools in Hamden and New Haven with peer mediation and Restorative Justice workshops for both youth and staff members.
The Tow Foundation continues to fund our work with statewide Juvenile Review Boards. CM staff members have been training Youth Service Bureau staff members, volunteers and local youth-serving nonprofits in Restorative Justice and mediation.
CM provided trained staff and volunteer facilitators to conduct community dialogues both for the Yale CARE program for a discussion about health disparities and the American Heart Association around food security. CM also provided facilitation services for a nonprofit organization founded by a surviving family of the Sandy Hook tragedy.
In 2016, CM continues to provide its standard mediation, facilitation and training programs in addition to the above:
CM provides low-cost sliding-scale mediation services to people who are experiencing conflict with their families, neighbors, co-workers and clients.
CM continues to work as a contract trainer for the Judicial Branch’s Court Support Services Division. CM staff members provide workshops for Family Support Center case managers and clinicians in mediation so they can use it as one of their tools in assisting families to stay together and live in happy/healthy homes.
CM has had its share of adversity in the past few years and dealt with these problems directly and expediently. As a result, the organization is making a comeback and looking a little different than in the past: smaller and more focused.
In July 1, 2013, the E.D. and Board made the decision to end all funding from the state for housing financial assistance programs. This was not an easy decision to make since a significant portion of CM’s funding throughout the years had stemmed from these programs. Losing financial resources actually gave CM a chance to become more mission-focused and concentrate of the needs of the community rather than the needs of the organization. Since there are numerous agencies in New Haven that provide housing assistance, CM board and staff members believed it was time to give those agencies an opportunity to pick up the programs that they had the resources to handle more effectively. CM is now solely focused on conflict resolution through the use of mediation, facilitation, youth development, effective communication training and restorative justice.
Through the assistance of The Community Foundation of Greater New Haven (CFGNH), CM was able to move a part-time staff member to full time, who assists with mediation intake, oversight of volunteers and interns; and training youth. As a result of this staff members’ contributions, the E.D. was able to spend more time identifying customers and collaborators in CT. CFGNH also assisted our organization with a survey of our strengths and weaknesses. Due to this assistance, CM held a staff/board member retreat in February, 2013 that led to a distillation of CM’s focus in the coming years. It also laid the ground work for a comprehensive and collaboratively created strategic plan that all board and staff members can support.
The board and staff members are passionately pursuing carrying out these goals of this strategic plan in 2016. CM continues to struggle with grant-funding, since most foundations are focusing on basic needs and often do not understand mediation and its long-term benefits to individuals and communities. CM has expanded its fees for service, which now makes up 27% of its total budget and is focusing in this area to compensate for the lack of foundation and governmental funding.
As the context for our work is changing, we are working to strengthen our existing programs and broaden our areas of engagement to sustain and increase our mission impact.
· We are about making empowering and transformative interventions to create healthy communities through effective communication.
· We educate, build skills and provide services in mediation, facilitation and training to transform conflict into positive outcomes for individuals and organizations.
· We sustain a growing group of volunteers, trained and skilled in conflict resolution, to supplement the work of our paid staff. They are also ambassadors for our transformative mission, spreading awareness of our work widely, including to communities where few alternatives exist.
· We rely on the generosity of our funders and donors to bring our services to people, organizations, and communities in Connecticut struggling with conflict, regardless of their ability to pay.
I join my fellow board members in gratitude for the opportunity to support this work in a world that at times seems resistant/reluctant.
CM offers mediation services to all community members with a sliding-scale fee. We provide impartial mediators to help guide clients through a process in which they can tell their story, clarify issues, brainstorm options and create mutually satisfying agreements. Some examples of issues that we mediate are: neighborhood issues, tenant/landlord disputes, workplace conflicts, family issues including parent/teen and parenting plans, juvenile and school disputes, public policy disputes, and interpersonal conflicts.
80% of mediations end with an agreement. 75% of participants report that they better understood the perspective of the other party.
CM does not currently track long-term success for this program. It is generally the philosophy in the mediation field that as impartial third parties, we do not have an interest or stake in the outcome of the mediation, nor do we contact parties once they are no longer using our services. They must take full ownership of their own agreements and responsibility for the follow-through.
Case notes indicate whether an agreement was reached; CM administers post-mediation evaluations from which we collect information about the client’s experience during the session.
Generally, we have an 85% success rate with agreements and 80% of clients report understanding the perspective of the other party. One of our success stories was when we held 7 mediation sessions between representatives of the New Haven Board of Education (BOE) and the parent advocacy group, Teach Our Children (TOC). The relationship between these two groups had become so rancorous, that the mayor suggested mediation. The New Haven Independent reported on June 30, 2010, after the sessions had ended, “In past years TOC has been at loggerheads with the Board of Ed on issues such as translation, suspensions, and bullying. After a seeming impasse, six months ago TOC and the board submitted to institutional marriage counseling by Community Mediation. The results have been real. Aponte said communication has improved greatly and a sense of partnership around the translation issue has supplanted sometimes acrimonious conftrontation.”
CM offers mediation, facilitation and conflict managment trainings and shorter workshops. CM offers local agencies, businesses, communities and schools mediation, communication, problem-solving, anger management, decision-making, leadership, workplace conflict and other trainings. We have a cadre of professional, experienced staff and consultant trainers with many years of experience in the field. These trainings are tailored to both youth and adults and available to anyone in the New Haven area and beyond.
80% of participants will report that they were “satisfied” or “more than satisfied” with the training. 80% of participants will report that their needs were met by the training.
CM does not currently track long-term success for our training services. Not sure how appropriate it is to call people one year later and ask if they are still using the skills that they learned in the training, however, it is a possibility.
CM administers post-training evaluations to collect information about the client’s experience during the training.
CM provides assistance to groups who want to host large group discussions. Whether the subject is race relations, improving a neighborhood, or youth/police dialogue, CM can provide technical assistance to create agendas, form appropriate questions, and arrange for venues and other issues to host a successful dialogue. CM also provides trained, volunteer and staff facilitators to provide impartial guidance through the process.
In 2010, as a result of a comment from a youth to one of our volunteers, CM organized as series of dialogues with a group of neighborhood youth to discuss their concerns about the local police. The youth had opportunities to: identify the issues, imagine how they would feel in the shoes of the police and brainstorm constructive ways to solve the problems. Parallel to these dialogues CM staff met with the Chief of Police and the District Manager, who both agreed to come to the last session of the dialogues and talk with the youth.
At the beginning of this last session, the youth were nervous and the chief’s assistant and the District Manager were not clear about what was going to happen. Within minutes after the introductions, however, the youth started asking questions and the adults answered calmly and honestly. One of the youth, a girl who had felt very anxious about this session, turned out to have the most questions and even asked the Chief at some point why he made such a grumpy face, as if he wouldn’t want to be here, to which he answered “Oh no, that’s just my face! I’m Irish-Scottish and my entire family looks like this. I am very happy to be here with you and have this conversation.” Soon the conversation was rolling with a respectful exchange among all participants. In the end, the youth had a better understanding of the police and the police had an opportunity to create a bond with the neighborhood youth.
· Of those 25 JRB youth, 4 were re-arrested on charges unrelated to the first arrest. Which means 84% experienced no further arrests.
· 52 (96%) participants reported no further issues.
· 27 (93%) of complainants reported that they have found closure.
· All 54 participants reported an understanding of alternative ways to deal with conflict.
· All 54 participants found Mediation to be helpful, here are some of the comments
CM is now markedly focused on its mission and will only seek funding for programs that are truly aligned. CM has also been expanding geographically to help increase revenues, bringing our training and impartial services to a greater number of towns and cities in CT.
We have already begun this expansion through a contract with the Court Support Services Division of the Judicial Branch to provide mediation training for its employees who work in Family Service Centers around the state. We are also training and providing technical assistance to Juvenile Review Boards and Juvenile Training Facilities in several different regions and towns.
CM has begun a close and ongoing relationship with Hamden Middle School to attempt to address the issue of disproportionate minority contact and general student success. Already, we have trained a core group of teachers who are working specifically with at-risk students in Restorative Circles, which both the staff and students are embracing. We will be training a group of youth leaders in peer mediation this fall and hope to receive a grant from the Graustein Foundation to continue our Restorative Practice training and add teacher-led meditation training as well as school-sponsored dialogues on institutional racism. We are hoping that this school will serve as a successful pilot program and beacon to other schools facing similar issues.
Executive Director, Community Mediation Inc., New Haven, CT 2010 - Present
Fundraising/Marketing – state, municipal and foundation grants; special events
Coordinate collaborations with other nonprofit organizations
Create and manage agency budgets
Cultivated relationships with new and existing donor base
Associate Director Community Mediation Inc., New Haven, CT 2007 - 2010
Recruited, trained & evaluated program staff, interns & volunteers
Program implementation; reports; outreach; grant writing; program & general budgets; staff development
Staffed Board’s Program & Volunteer Committees
Mediator - Community Mediation Center, Charlottesville, VA 1996-2006
Mediated over 200 Civil and Family cases
Planned & implemented Community Police/Mediation Program
Certified Mentor for mediators in training
Facilitated Community meetings for a Regional Visioning Initiative
Created/implemented trainings for youth, woman’s prison inmates, community members
Supervising Coordinator 1998-2000
Vice President, Connecticut Mediation Association Founding Board 2013- Present
Workshop Presenter, CT LIST Conference, Southern CT State University, New Haven, CT 2013
Workshop Presenter, America Year Abroad, Local Collaborators’ Conference, Washington, D.C. 2013
Workshop Presenter, America Year Abroad Local Collaborators’ Conference, Panama 2012
Panel Speaker, CT Bar Association, Speziale Conference, Quinnipiac School of Law, Hamden, CT 2012
Workshop Presenter. CT Bar Association, Speziale Conference, Quinnipiac School of Law, Hamden, CT 2010
Advisory Board Member, New Haven & Hamden Juvenile Review Boards 2009- 2014
Adjunct Faculty Southern CT State University, New Haven, CT 2007- Present
Special Education Teacher Massachusetts/Virginia 1989-1995
Wheaton College, Norton, MA 1983-1989
MA – History; BA – History/Education, Magna Cum Laude
In the past 2 years, CM has provided services to and/or collaborated with the staff and clients of the following agencies:
All staff members, including our Office Manager, have received a minimum of 32 hours of Basic Mediation training and most members have received additional training in the conflict management field up to 400 hours.
Brenda Cavanaugh, Executive Director: Ms. Cavanaugh has been in the field of mediation for almost 20 years with over 400 hours of training in mediation, facilitation, and restorative processes. She has mediated over 250 general and family cases. She is the Vice President of the CT Mediation Association Board and an adjunct faculty member of Southern CT State University.
Jacques Lewis, Intake Coordinator, Volunteer & Intern Coordinator & Trainer: Mr. Lewis handles all calls for mediation and has also been instrumental in arranging meetings with various municipal officials in surrounding towns, helping to further our mission outside of New Haven. Mr. Lewis also coordinates and supervises all volunteers and interns. Furthermore, Mr. Lewis assists with training youth, both in the New Haven public schools and within youth-serving organizations such as Music Haven.
Kathy Benoit, Office Manager: Ms. Benoit has been an employee of CM for 12 years and is an indispensible member of our organization. Ms. Benoit knows our donors well and is constantly imagining new ways to raise and save money.
In September, 2014, the CM board created a new Nominating Committee. The function of nominating new board members had been residing in the Development Committee, but it was determined that we needed a more focused and concerted effort to recruit passionate and diverse members. This committee has been extremely active, meeting bi-monthly for the past two years.
This year, the Nominating Committee has formalized a new board member on-boarding policy, a new board member profile and is working to edit the existing board member pledge. The committee has also adopted the policy of exit interviews and conducted its first interview in September, 2016 with a member who had resigned due to personal and professional constraints.
The work of this committee is not only strengthening the procedures for recruiting new board members, but also informing the general workings of the board to create more engaged and helpful members.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Although CM has had to reduce its staff, move to less expensive offices and reduce other expenses, it has also become more distilled and diverse in its service delivery. CM now works with towns and cities in many areas other than the New Haven region, which had been its geographic focus for 30 years. Mediation is still a fairly new field of practice in the United States. It is our belief that by educating the public and community stakeholders about the financial and emotional long-term benefits of mediation, CM will begin to grow again in the next few years.
This profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by the Foundation. Financial information is inputted by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. The Community Foundation is continuing to receive information submitted by the organization and may periodically update the organization’s profile to reflect the most current financial and other information available. The organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.
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