Here is an extensive magazine article about Carver.
In 1918, nationwide compulsory education was put into place. In 1938, Norwalk parents, concerned citizens, clergy and other community leaders came together to provide underprivileged youth with extra opportunities to learn, grow and prepare for their careers. The Carver Foundation of Norwalk was established to provide educational, cultural, social, and recreational opportunities and programs for its members and to encourage and promote understanding, cooperation and friendship among all members of the community.
The first permanent place for the center was on Ann Street in South Norwalk. This volunteer-driven organization soon became a vital part of the life of many low-income families in the Norwalk.
Major fundraising efforts resulted in a building being dedicated to Carver in 1949 at 25 Butler Street. The building, which still stands today, soon became a social and cultural center for many of the citizens of Norwalk. Carver events and sports teams were the talk and focus of the community.
Rev. Sewall Emerson served as Carver’s first board president to be succeeded by Currier Lang. Under the leadership of a variety of directors, including Porter Charles Raysor and Dr. Leroy Vaughn, Carver continued as an all-volunteer initiative until 1969. Under the direction of Fred Tennie, Carver hired its first full-time director, Jacques Meyers IV, a young man from Hampton, Virginia with an ambitious vision.
Out of this era came Carrver’s association with the former NEON, Inc. and the local United Ways. Funding from NEON created Carver’s Youth Development Program (YDP). One of Carver’s better known activities, this program was designed to motivate minority students toward higher education at a time when less than 1 in 10 minority students were even seeking a college education. Through program activities, which included the College Tour, almost 100% of program participants have gone on to college or some form of post secondary education. Included in this group of Carver graduates are prominent Norwalk residents, including Carver board members.
Under the leadership of Dr. Doxey Wilkerson and the energy and vision of Jacques Meyers, and with the cooperation of the community, including the City of Norwalk and CL&P, the current multi-purpose community center was completed on Academy Street in 1975.
During the seventies and eighties Carver became a multipurpose center, including expanded programs for the elderly, the mentally frail, after-school youngsters and teen drop-ins. Also during this period Carver became a vital part of the social, cultural and social service network of the Norwalk community providing a meeting place and help with a variety of community issues.
Former Executive Director Richard N. Fuller, Sr. took the helm in 1978 after serving on the Board of Directors and as Summer Camp Director for four years. He initiated the CASPER Club program in the early eighties to provide after-school care and academic support to elementary school children at the Carver Center. Shortly following Mr. Fuller’s death in July 2011, the City of Norwalk gave Academy Street the honorary name, “Richard Fuller Way.”
Novelette Peterkin, Executive Director since 2004, strengthened Carver’s traditional programs, storied athletic leagues, college tours and relationships while carefully expanding Carver’s acclaimed after-school programs into Norwalk Public Schools (NPS).
In 2009, Carver introduced its after-school Youth Development Programs to two of Norwalk’s middle schools reaching an additional 100 youth. Beginning in the fall of 2010, Carver partnered with each of Norwalk’s four middle schools and Norwalk High School reaching 195 more middle and 22 more high school youth. Carver continues to reach middle and high school youth at the Carver Center and continues to support Carver graduates now attending college. By the close of the 2010-2011 academic year, Carver’s Youth Development program reached a total of 435 middle and high school students. In the 2011-2012 academic year, Carver reached an additional 176 students, expanding into Brien McMahon High School and introduced later busing. In the 2012-2013 academic year, Carver is reaching 817 youth through its Youth Development Program. Along with many other innovations, Carver adds summer transition programs for students entering high school and middle school in recent years.
Mr. Richard Whitcomb, the former long-time headmaster of St. Luke’s School in New Canaan and for just as long a Carver volunteer, is helping Carver to design, articulate, share and financially support Carver’s new vision. Supporting Mr. Whitcomb and Novelette Peterkin in Carver’s expansion is a Strategic Planning Group of community leaders, the Carver Board of Directors, volunteers and parents, and the enthusiastic cooperation of Norwalk Public Schools.
Carver’s mission not only withstood time, it ignores it. Its mission, to help children reach their greatest potential, is as timeless today as it was in 1938.