Author Archives: Colleen Phelan

Going back six years, Shepherds started a mutually beneficial relationship with the Exchange Club of New Canaan. Shepherds mentor – student teams volunteer their time to work at the Exchange Club’s annual Christmas Tree Sale in New Canaan. It’s been a great community service activity for mentors and students at the time of year when giving back is most relevant.

The Exchange Club’s $6,000 funding this year will help support our study and social skills workshops, college exam prep, and college tours. Thank you, Exchange Club of New Canaan.


Order of Malta has been a long time generous donor to Shepherds’ mission of changing lives one student at a time. Over our 23 years, dozens of CT Malta members have been mentors and served multiple “tours” as Shepherds mentors.  Currently four of our 64 mentors for next year are members of the Order.

This year the Order met Shepherds’ full grant request (which rarely if ever happens in grant requests) to underwrite the purchase of Chromebooks and Ti-84 graphing calculators for ALL incoming KCHS and NDWH Shepherds students.  Thank you, Order of Malta!!

Shepherds has been a beneficiary of the Foundation’s generosity going back to our founding in 1998. ICF’s funding to Shepherds is relatively unique among our community and corporate foundations as it allows for funding for tuition expenses. Each year’s grants specifically goes to supplement tuition commitments we make to our partner schools.

Earlier this year after over thirty years of support to scores of charitable organizations in Fairfield County, the ICF Board decided to wrap up the Foundation’s mission and distribute its remaining assets.  This year’s funding is intended for multi-year deployment in support of 3-5 Shepherds students for their full four years of high school. Thank you Inner City Foundation for Charity and Education for this year’s grant and your many past years of generosity to Shepherds students. We hate to see you go!

Without support from organizations like Inner City Foundation for Charity and Education, Shepherds would be unable to achieve our mission of Changing Lives…One Student at a Time.

Jim Borger completed his first Shepherds tour this year with KCHS 2021 graduate Kevin C., who will be attending Fairfield University this fall. Jim provided us with these insightful and meaningful thoughts on his Shepherds’ experience.
“I really love the Shepherds program, especially given the current climate in our country. Shepherds help you focus on what matters – helping the kids get more opportunities than they would have otherwise and making them realize the sky is the limit.
I had it easy. My student Kevin was an incredible match to me and he was a good, genuine kid. I felt like I made an impact on him by being an adult male role model who took a strong interest in his well being. I helped him stay disciplined and focused on what matters. Positive feedback goes a long way to helping a student. By broadening Kevin’s horizon and helping him think outside his bubble, I feel like I made a positive contribution to his success.
It is clear to me that Shepherds Students have as much potential as any other teenager in Connecticut. What they may lack is a safety net and the OPPORTUNITY to succeed. The Shepherds program provides that opportunity and I am so glad to be a part of it with Kevin.”
Jim re-enlisted for his second Shepherds student starting this fall. Thanks, Jim, for all that you have done. We look forward to another four years with you.

Mike Donahue, a Notre Dame West Have alumnus, is a pro at being a Shepherds Mentor. This year Mike celebrated the NDWH graduation of his FOURTH Shepherds student. With that much experience, we asked Mike to share with us what makes him come back each time.

“When your student graduates from high school, you’ll look back on the past four years. It’s a great feeling knowing that your words of encouragement, “You’re doing a good job,” or the motivational effect of asking “What can I do to help you achieve your goals?”  helped your student achieve success in high school–a success that directly impacts his or her success in college and in life.  Being involved in the Shepherds program is an invaluable experience–for your student and for you.

When invited to become a Shepherds mentor again, it’s an invitation I cannot refuse and am happy to accept. “

Mike is picture here with his student Maicol, ND ’21. Maicol will be attending Fairfield University this fall.

director announcement


Perhaps it’s the post pandemic version of Newton’s Third Law of Motion* that makes this spring’s celebration of completing the school year and our seniors’ graduation that much more celebratory and joyous.

The forces of the health crisis, job disruptions, and hybrid school days that pushed us into isolation and worry generated the deservedly powerful rebound of our spirits and appreciation of what our 17 seniors in particular, and all of our Shepherds students accomplished this past year. The words “admirable resilience” understates the character, drive and perseverance of what we have seen from the graduating seniors and all of our Shepherds students.

This month we celebrated the seniors’ perseverance, hard work, their successes, and their futures.  They set a standard for their classmates to aim for. They set an example of what the rest of us can learn from.

The Shepherds organization congratulates our graduating seniors, their families, mentors, and school teachers, counselors and administrators for bringing home a success story that we’ll likely be telling for many years. 2020 – 2021 is the past… the future is unknown but we have learned that we as “team” are on the rebound for bigger and better things.

Lives have changed – our students’, our mentors’ and all of us around and with you for the past four years. Congratulations!

Have a wonderful and safe summer!


*Law of Action and Reaction (PS I had to Google this)

The Shepherds Class of 2021 is filled with 17 talented students: a salutatorian, a senior class president, many honor roll students, competitive athletes, engaged community members, entrepreneurs, and above all, high school graduates. These graduates have amazing plans for themselves post-graduation. Watch the video above to find out more.

Shepherds wants to continue to help close the opportunity gap in Bridgeport and New Haven. We are asking for your financial support to help us make an impact in your own backyard.

A donation in support of a Shepherds Student’s education TODAY will have a lasting impact on that student’s TOMORROW.

Please consider a donation in any amount. We are so thankful for you and so are our students.

director announcement

Dear Shepherds Friends,

The month of April normally brings many positive themes to our attention –  longer days, warmer sun, birds chirping early in the morning, and a budding optimism for the coming months. This year obviously brings all those normal occurrences but with the added cautious optimism of a world recovering from a pandemic health crisis.

For our Shepherds students and community, this spring also brings the opportunity to be back in the classroom more, to engage in team sports, and for students and mentors to see each other in outdoor settings.  We again congratulate our students, their families, mentors, our school partners for the good faith effort all put into making this past year as successful as one could hope.

With that renewed sense of optimism and self-confidence, it’s time to call upon on this collective strength of the Shepherds community to help build for the school year 2021 – 2022.  As you might realize from the financial and personal repercussions of the last year, the need for a quality education in a safe environment, for a positive role model in the life of a young person and the support of an organization where the 14 year old high school student is the “franchise player” has rarely been greater.

What I am asking is simply to invite our Shepherds family to spread the word about what Shepherds does, the opportunity it provides to underserved individuals, the impact it makes “changing lives”, and the rewards it bestows on students, mentors and donors alike.  Being part of the Shepherds team does require tangible effort and resources; the rewards, however, are immeasurable intangibles!

We are now interviewing over 15 students and expect more to be seeking to participate in Shepherds’ Class of 2025.  We are seeking mentors and financial resources to meet that demand. The Shepherds’ story sells itself. Thank you for passing it along.

With your assistance we can again prove that We are Better Together, in every sense and application of those words.

Long time partners, Shepherds and Notre Dame High School have teamed up once again to bring you a dynamic panel discussion sharing the ways mentoring can have a critical impact on youth in your community. To find out more about this event, including our guest panelists, please review our flyer.

To sign up for this free event, please fill out the contact information below. Please note: if accessing via mobile or tablet and you do not see “Submit” button, just hit “Enter” and your registration will be submitted and you will see a thank you screen.