Help Make Middlesex County a Bully-Free Community.


Buddying Up For Positive Change in Middlesex County

When is a bench so much more than a bench? When does a bench have the power to connect people of all ages and experiences and create a community of upstanders? When it is a Buddy Bench built by at-risk youth from Rushford Academy in Durham. Thanks to 34 individual donors and the countless contributors to two Funds at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, the residential teen students are learning positive life skills and giving back to their community. The students at Rushford Academy are building wooden benches for local schools to use as a social inclusion tool. The benches are clearly labeled “Buddy Bench” and strategies for use are provided to school staff and students with each installation.

The initial idea for the bench building project came from a Rushford Academy resident supervisor’s desire to engage the young men recovering from substance abuse. He was looking for an interactive activity that would foster teamwork, commitment, and useable skills. The “Buddy Bench” project was the perfect opportunity – adding purpose and a community service benefit to the young men’s efforts and providing a conduit for grade school children to “buddy up” with those who may be feeling isolated during recess or other free play activity times. All that was missing was the money to cover the cost of materials. Through a grant application to CFMC’s At-Risk Boys Fund, the project came to the attention of the Community Foundation. CFMC’s Council of Business Partners Fund, a group of local business owners supporting positive youth development programs throughout the year, immediately agreed that the project met both Funds’ missions, and the residential teens at Rushford Academy received a grant to produce the first four buddy benches. With one bench in production, the project took on new life and funding expanded to include benches for all elementary schools attending last year’s Rally For Bully-Free Communities, an annual event organized by the CFMC Council of Business Partners.

After the first Buddy Bench installation at Spencer Elementary School in October, interest and support for the program grew exponentially, with individual Community Foundation donors stepping up to fund enough Buddy Benches to cover all elementary and lower-middle schools in Middlesex County and beyond. To date, donor funded benches have been presented to Deep River Elementary School and The Country School in Madison. The increased production demand also created a need for more supervisors and mentors to work with the Rushford Academy students. At-risk men from Rushford’s Stonehaven program answered the call and are now volunteering their time as part of their recovery and community service work, underscoring the concept of “Buddying Up for Positive Change.”


(as submitted to

2017 Bully-Free Rally Retrospective

October 9, 2017 • Events,Pressroom
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We would like to thank everyone – students, adults, volunteers, Council of Business Partners, and CFMC Board of Directors – who made the 2017 Campaign for Bully-Free Communities Rally a great success. This year we were joined by over 400 youth and adults to spend a morning participating in team-building activities, supporting incredible speakers sharing their personal stories, and affirming our commitment to be UP-Standers by taking the Bully-Free Communities Pledge.

Take a look at some of the fun we had this year:   Continue Reading »

Spotlight on “Kindness Counts”

Spotlight on “Kindness Counts” – one yummy taste at a time!

Bravo, Munson’s Chocolates!

Cynthia Clegg, Dave Director, Jim Florence, Karen Munson

The Community Foundation of Middlesex County’s Council of Business Partners is delighted to present its “Spotlight Award” to Munson’s Chocolates, a third generation family-owned business, based in Bolton, Connecticut.

The Spotlight Award is given to organizations who take a proactive role in encouraging our young people to be “Upstanders, not Bystanders.” It is awarded by the Council of Business Partners, who established a Fund at the Community Foundation with the mission to stand up to bullying and all mean-spirited behavior.

Munson’s Chocolates fits the bill in so many sweet and delicious ways with its “Kindness Counts” school project. They asked Connecticut elementary and middle school students to come up with a design for a chocolate bar wrapper that conveyed a positive message encouraging everyone to treat all with respect. The winning label, reading “Kindness Counts”, was created by Ashford, Connecticut student, Anna. Not only did Anna’s school receive a $500 grant, but Munson’s Chocolates went the extra (sweet) mile by donating part of the proceeds of the sale of Kindness bars to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Connecticut.

Munson’s Chocolate has a history of supporting our young people and our schools. They are extremely proud to provide “first job experiences to many young people.” Now they can add “Upstander” to their many acts of kindness.


Read more about the Spotlight Award HERE from the Hartford Courant.

 “13 Reasons Why” Netflix Series: Creating A Community Dialogue

The controversial Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” has highlighted the need for continued awareness and education on the factors that can lead to teen suicide, and how to recognize and respond to those who are struggling.  Working with RUSHFORD, a Hartford Healthcare Partner we have compiled additional information and guides for your use within your school community:

13 Reasons Why: Considerations For Educators

13 Reasons Why: How School Counselors Can Help

Tips For Parents: Talking About 13 Reasons Why

Campaign for Bully-Free Communities Featured on WTNH CT Style

October 13, 2016 • In the News: TV and Radio,Pressroom
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Nick Blue, Cynthia Clegg (CFMC), and David Maloney, CT Association of Schools joined CT Style to talk about National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, the Council of Business Partners WTNH CT Style SegmentCampaign for Bully-Free Communities, and how to be an Agent of Change in our community.

Watch the segment HERE – WTNH CT Style, October 12, 2016


October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month



It is bullying if: Continue Reading »

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