The Hour reports on Carver's partnership with Underground Factory to win Fairfield County's Giving Day

Local recording studio partners with Carver Center

By Kaitlyn Krasselt, Wednesday, March 8, 2017

See the article at The Hour HERE

NORWALK — Kenneth Shuler, also known as the rapper FNX, credits much of his success — in music and in life — to Norwalk’s George Washington Carver Center, an organization he says kept him off the streets and in school.

Now, in yet another effort to give back to the organization that shaped his life, Shuler is co-hosting with Norwalk’s Factory Underground a live telethon featuring several other Carver alumni and a number of local musicians.

“The simple truth is that without the influence and mentoring I received at the Carver Center, I wouldn't be where I am today,” Shuler said. “I'm actually only one of a thousand success stories of the George Washington Carver Foundation. As a child, I remember sleeping on the floor of a church, often not knowing where our next meal was coming from, and who would have bet that I would have stayed in school, all the way through to a Master's Degree in Business? The Carver bet on me, and now I'm giving back. The way I see it, supporting Carver is investing in the future of Norwalk.“

The event, which will be broadcast live from the Carver Center from 5-9 p.m. Thursday on Facebook, is part of the effort to raise money during the Fairfield County Community Foundation’s Giving Day, a 24-hour county-wide crowdfunding effort.

The 24-hour Giving Day is an annual competition among more than 400 Fairfield County nonprofits to raise as much money as possible, with prizes given to those organizations that raise the most. The Carver Center, which came in fourth last year, is hoping the live telethon and arts collaboration will give the organization the boost it needs to raise more money than ever this year.

“At Carver, we have many alumni who got their inspiration for their art here," said executive director Novelette Peterkin. "We love to add the arts whenever we can, and we have many events where we will showcase arts, so we’re very fortunate for the collaboration with Factory Underground and local artists."

The event is free and open to the public in addition to being streamed online. Performers include Steve Lou (also known as DJ Connect), FNX, Tom “The Suit” Forst in collaboration with Gabbie Pierre-Louis, Frankie Candullo, Ethan Isaac and Joel Kelly of the rock band EDISUN, Che-Val, Erick Northrop, Brian Larney, Francesco D’Angelo and Berdine Joseph, a Carver alumna and competitor on “The Voice,” among others. Lou, Pierre-Louis, FNX and Joseph are all Carver Center alumni.

The event streaming will be handled by AIM For a Better Tomorrow, another Fairfield County nonprofit that helps existing public service and nonprofit providers maintain or expand community art programming and art educational/therapeutic help for homeless and other “at risk” populations.

This isn’t the first time Factory Underground has gotten involved at the Carver Center. The collaboration began when FNX was approached by the organization in an effort to engage alumni. The effort spawned the fundraiser, Hometown Love, and an ongoing partnership with the recording studio.

Marc Alan, director of marketing for Factory Underground, said FNX’s story and the studio’s desire to give back to the Norwalk community has motivated him and the rest of the FU team to do what the can for the nonprofit.

“FNX is a Carver success story,” Alan said. “There’s hundreds of those. He got his philosophy from Carver and we’re lucky to have him at Factory Underground. We’re doing this because we believe in their mission and we just wanted to help these guys continue their mission. We're doing Hometown Love again in May, but in advance of that we wanted to help with Giving Day.”

Tom “The Suit” Forst’ isn't a Carver alum, but as a former teacher the organization's mission hit close to home. 

“What they do here is so important,” Forst said. ”Without education many of these kids wouldn’t have a chance. So to be a part of this is a great opportunity.”

Forst recently released his his first solo album, “On Fire,” through Factory Underground. The album features the single “Women of the World,” which he will perform with Carver alumna Gabbie Pierre-Louis at the telethon.

The Carver Center is the largest provider of after school programs for middle and high school students in Norwalk. The organization serves nearly 800 students annually through it’s programs at the Carver Center and off-site programs present in all of Norwalk’s public schools. All of the money raised by the Carver Center during the Day of Giving will be put toward programs and scholarships for Carver Students.

“To give to the Carver Center is to give to Norwalk Public Schools," said James Schaffer, director of Development for the Carver Foundation.; 203-354-1021; @kaitlynkrasselt