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Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology Seedling Foundation



ConnCAT asked for filming volunteers from among the students admitted to the first phlebotomy cohort of 2013. The three African American males who joined this class all agreed to film; but all dropped out of the program. In the end, footage gathered by five students was included in the video segments documenting the phlebotomy course. A student from a previous cohort is featured in the segment on black men.


  • Omar Downer
  • Kosha Gardner
  • Stacey Goldiamond
  • Melissa Jones
  • Constance Morton


Tailored combination of self and professionally filmed footage. We facilitated self-filming by the students and two key staff of the phlebotomy course, from the time the classroom phase began. On several occasions our producer filmed class and lab interactions, and interviewed ConnCAT staff. We also interviewed a few graduates of the two previous cohorts, to capture the full ConnCAT trajectory. For the final segment to the challenges of recruiting and retaining black men, we filmed a group discussion of the issue.


Convey to potential funders and partners what makes ConnCAT distinctive and valuable, and to increase awareness of the program in the broader community. And to provoke a conversation about the challenges of empowering unemployed or underemployed black men to reach for a better future.


ConnCAT commissioned the videos, with support from the Seedlings Foundation.

Editorial Control

Purple States selected the students from among those recruited by ConnCAT. ConnCAT determined the framework and signed off on the content of the videos.


  • Executive Production by Cynthia Farrar
  • Produced and directed by Alissa Shapiro
  • Filmed by the featured students and staff and Alissa Shapiro
  • Video editing by Cinnamon Kennedy

Beating the Odds

ConnCAT has difficulty recruiting and retaining African American men. The CEO of ConnCAT convened a small group of acquaintances to start an honest conversation about why. The discussion continued on WNPR's Colin McEnroe Show.

The ConnCat Story

Reaching for a better future. The story of ConnCAT as told by its staff, and by students in the phlebotomy program. Unemployed, underemployed, or in dead-end jobs -- these adult learners try to master a difficult skill that will open the door to a promising career.

Profile: Kosha

Kosha loved her work as a hospice aide. She was scared to draw blood, but persevered because she wants to be a nurse.

Profile: Melissa

Melissa enrolled in ConnCAT after losing her job as a certified nurse’s assistant. She is upgrading her skills so she can support her three children.

Profile: Stacey

Stacey was holding down several jobs to make ends meet. Now she’s determined to launch a career in health care.