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Community Fund Looking to Award $50K to Enhance Quality of Life in West Hartford

Hartford Foundation for Public Giving Greater Together Community Fund. Courtesy image (we-ha.com file photo)

The West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund will hold virtual information sessions on July 21 and July 28, to provide details about the upcoming grant process.

Participants in a program at the Bridge Family Center work in their garden, a project funded by a grant from the West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund. Photo courtesy of West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund (we-ha.com file photo)

By Ronni Newton

The West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund – one of 29 town-specific funds seeded by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving in 2019 to provide grants to nonprofits to improve the quality of life in the towns or address a need in the community – is beginning the process of awarding a second round of funds, and will double the overall sum of money being granted.

The West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund Advisory Committee plans to award 10 grants of $5,000 each, a total of $50,000, by October 2022.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving seeded each of the funds with $100,000, and in the first round, a total of $25,000 was granted to seven West Hartford nonprofits. Grant amounts provided to each organization in 2021 ranged from $1,850 to $5,500, with the amount of the award determined after review of the scope and focus of the project proposals.

“The Committee was conservative in its total award amount in the first year in order to ensure sustainability,” said Tracy Wu Fastenberg, co-chair of the West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund Advisory Committee. “While all funds were seeded by Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, West Hartford was incredibly fortunate to receive a generous gift from an anonymous donor. This, coupled with a second year of funding from Hartford Foundation, allows us to provide more to the community while still responsibly ensuring that we are able to do so for subsequent years.”

Applications for the current round of grants are due by Sept. 2, 2022, and is open to any nonprofit registered as a 501(c)(3) that serves the residents of West Hartford. The nonprofit does not need to be physically based in or headquartered in West Hartford. Grant applications can also be made by groups of town residents in partnership with a registered nonprofit that will act as a fiscal agent for the project – and the Town of West Hartford is also eligible as a fiscal agent, the advisory committee said in an announcement.

“This year, we have streamlined the process quite a bit,” Mike Fournier, one of the Advisory Committee co-chairs said. “There is no Letter of Intent prior to being invited to complete the application; all interested organizations are invited to complete the full application, which is available online through an easily accessed Google Form. We are focusing on organizations and projects benefiting specific populations with smaller operating budgets as we believe the $5,000 grants will have more impact.”

According to the announcement of the opening of the grant application process, funds “may be used for, but not limited to, efforts to improve access to current projects or programs, innovative new initiatives or enhancements of current projects or programs. Partnerships, collaborative efforts, and inventive ideas to create change are encouraged. Priority will be given to organizations with an operating budget not exceeding $1 million and for projects or programs specifically supporting youth, seniors and traditionally marginalized/underserved communities. Funding is reserved for projects or programs that serve and benefit residents of West Hartford.”

Two virtual information sessions will be held in advance of the application deadline. Pre-registration is required, and can be done through the following links:

“The sessions are an opportunity to learn more about the Greater Together Community Funds, West Hartford’s specific process and areas of focus for this cycle and, more importantly, a forum for questions and answers. Like in all things, if one person has a question, likely someone else does, too,” Co-Chair Bre Lamoureaux. “Grant-making can sometimes seem mysterious, particularly to smaller or newer organizations. We hope this provides transparency and equitable access to information, and we will make a recording available for those who cannot attend.”

Grants will be awarded by the West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund Advisory Committee. The 14 volunteer members of the Advisory Committee, which was formed in 2022, are West Hartford residents Esam Boraey, Leah Chapman, Michael Corrente, Ana Davis, John Decina, Tracy Wu Fastenburg, Mike Fournier, Bre Lamoureaux, Wanda Williams McCormack, Justine Mitsock, Danielle Moghadam, Obi Nwafor, Evan Piccioli, and Penny Smith. Fastenberg, Fournier, and Lamoureaux serve as co-chairs.

The largest award in 2021, $5,500, was awarded to West Hartford Fellowship Housing, “to further expand existing nutritional program to encourage healthy choices for seniors 62 and older, in partnership with local farms and the University of Connecticut,” the advisory committee said in an announcement.

Grants were also awarded to the following organizations for the purposes listed:

  • West Hartford African American Social and Cultural Organization ($5,000) – to purchase and install a commemorative plaque in honor of Lemuel Haynes, the first ordained black minister in the United States.
  • Copper Beach Institute ($3,950) – to fund hiring of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People Of Color) facilitators to develop a podcast focusing on daily mindfulness practices to support BIPOC communities.
  • Golden Door: A Center for Immigrants ($3,700) – for the Building Bridges Book Club, an intercultural book club that meets at the West Hartford Public Library. Participants will receive English language learning support, while building relationships, sharing cultures and exchanging thoughts. The program is accessible to all West Hartford immigrants.
  • Bridge Family Center ($3,000) – to support the West Hartford Teen Center garden project; add a raised bed, create rainwater catch and irrigation system and build a greenhouse; gift card to teens who support program; free produce distribution.
  • Noah Webster House, Concerned Parents of Color of West Hartford, First Church West Hartford and WHAASCO in collaboration with the Witness Stones Project ($2,000) – to purchase benches for Unity Green to support comfortable viewing of the Witness Stones project.
  • Autism Families Connecticut ($1,850) – to support Friday Night Teen Socials by providing supplies and materials for virtual teen nights.

Applications must be submitted through the following form: 2022 Application.

For additional information, email [email protected], or visit the West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund website.

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