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Seven Organizations Receive West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund Awards

West Hartford Fellowship Housing is located on Starkel Road in Bishops Corner. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving’s program has awarded $25,000 in grants to West Hartford nonprofits in its inaugural cycle.

By Ronni Newton

The West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund, which announced in January plans to award the first $25,000 of grant money to local nonprofits, announced Wednesday that seven organizations have will receive awards in the inaugural cycle.

The program, formed by The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and administered by an all-volunteer advisory committee of town residents, considered applications for grants to fund projects that would “improve or enhance the quality of life in West Hartford or otherwise contribute to address a direct need” in the town, the committee said in a news release announcing the grants.

Grant amounts provided to each organization range 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 grant application process began in February 2021, and concluded in April.

The largest award, $5,500, was awarded to West Hartford Fellowship Housing, and will be used “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 ($3,950) – to fund hiring of BIPOC 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.

“Throughout this process, we learned anew what a diverse and dynamic community West Hartford is, and the impressive array of nonprofit organizations that contribute to the quality of life,” Danielle Moghadam and Leah Chapman, co-chairs of the West Hartford Community Fund, said in the release. “This was a wonderfully collaborative effort, with every committee member involved and working diligently to develop a process to evaluate applications and provide grants that will impact our community. We are proud to award grants to seven dedicated and deserving organizations, and look forward to what’s ahead.”

The community funds were established by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving in 2019 for each of the 29 towns in the organization’s region. Each community received $100,000, half of which is intended to be used for current projects and the other half which is endowed to be available for future projects. An advisory committee of residents to administer the grant process was selected for each of the towns that was intended to be “inclusive and reflective of all of the residents of that community.”

The West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund Advisory Committee was selected and began operating in the fall of 2020.

According to the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving website, the committee members, who were selected following an extensive outreach process, are: Abby Alter, Ana Davis, Bernard Kavaler, Chris Clarke, Danielle Moghadam, John Decina, Karen Bachman, Leah Chapman, Lynn Thomas, Michael Corrente, Michelle Sullivan, Natalie DeLaCruz, Rachel Garron, and Wanda Williams McCormack.

“When the Hartford Foundation began developing the Greater Together Community Funds initiative, it was based on the recognition that community residents are keenly aware of the needs their town’s face, and that they should be supported and empowered to select projects that respond to these needs,” Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams said in the release. “We knew that by setting up an initiative rooted in inclusion, participatory decision making and led by community residents, the work would be both rewarding and challenging. This was true even before the impact of COVID; however, the hard work, dedication and enthusiasm of our town residents to benefit their respective communities is evidenced by the array of grants that the Committee in West Hartford has awarded.”

When the next round of applications begins, “Any nonprofit registered as a 501(c)(3) organization that serves the residents of West Hartford is eligible to submit a letter of intent,” the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving’s website states. “Nonprofits do not need to be headquartered or based in West Hartford, but must serve and benefit West Hartford residents.” The timeframe for that process has not yet been finalized.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving’s community fund program also creates an opportunity for organizations and individuals to make tax-deductible contributions to the West Hartford Community Fund. All donations are welcome and will be utilized in support of West Hartford residents.  For additional information, email [email protected].

Those interested in applying to be a member of the West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund Advisory Committee, to serve a two-year term beginning in October 2021, should email [email protected] or visit the website at  https://www.hfpg.org/donors/ways-to-give/community-funds/west-hartford for more information.

For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org  or call 860-548-1888.

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