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West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund Looking to Expand

Donut Day at the Copper Beach Institute. Courtesy of West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund

The all-volunteer advisory committee, which last year awarded $25,000 in grants, is looking to add to its membership.

Hartford Foundation for Public Giving Greater Together Community Fund. Courtesy image

By Ronni Newton

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving in 2019 seeded 29 community funds with $100,000, tasking them with supporting nonprofits in their towns through grants for programs to improve or enhance the quality of life, and the advisory committee, which manages the decision making, grant funding, and operations of the West Hartford Community Fund is looking to increase its membership.

The all-volunteer advisory committee currently includes 14 members and is looking to add four more people. Committee member Ana Davis said the West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund committee “strives to be inclusive and reflective of all West Hartford residents.”

Committee membership is open to all West Hartford residents age 14 and older, other than those who currently hold elected office or who are running for elective office.

The Hartford Foundation launched the funds to “encourage broad and inclusive civic engagement,” and to support the community in taking ownership of identified needs. Half of the initial $100,000 is intended to be invested as an endowment for future projects, and in its inaugural grant cycle in 2021 the West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund awarded a total of $25,000 in grants to seven local organizations.

Building connections at the West Hartford Library through a Golden Door book group for immigrants. Courtesy of West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund

“We will make our next grant in 2022 and are working on the schedule as we speak,” said Davis. “Stay tuned! We look forward to spreading the word throughout West Hartford once the grant application is live,” she said.

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 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.

Participants in a program at the Bridge Family Center work in their garden. Courtesy of West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund

“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 when they announced the grants. They praised the process as a “wonderfully collaborative effort,” that involved all of the committee members who created the review process and selected projects to impact the community.

The Golden Door – A Center for Immigrants, has been holding book club meetings at the West Hartford Library. Courtesy of West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund

“This fund was uniquely conceived of by the Hartford Foundation to enable an advisory board to select projects that will contribute to the specific needs facing West Hartford and its residents,” said Davis. “We look forward to continuing this mission by recruiting new committee members and engaging with the breadth and depth of the West Hartford Community to make a difference where it is needed.”

Anyone who would like to apply to be a member of the advisory committee can apply online here. The form can also be completed manually and returned by email to westhartfordcommunityfund@gmail.com or mailed to West Hartford Community Fund, c/o Town Hall, Room 412, 50 South Main Street, West Hartford 06107.

Any with questions can email westhartfordcommunityfund@gmail.com. Additional information, is also available on the West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund webpage.

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