City Missionary Association of New Haven Fund

Est. 2022 by the City Missionary Association

LEAP Youth Program
Leadership Education and Athletics in Partnership (LEAP) is a New Haven youth development nonprofit supported by the City Missionary Association.

The roots of the City Missionary Association of New Haven date back to the early 1900s, when it began as a mission on Orange Street. It was a place where hungry people could find sustenance in its soup kitchen, or could stay if they found themselves without a place to live. During World War II, the mission house was sold, and the association purchased land in North Branford to create a camp where children who lived in New Haven could spend time during the summers.

When the camp was later sold, the City Missionary Association of New Haven used the proceeds to create an endowment that for decades has provided grants to about 20 New Haven area charities and nonprofits annually.

“Each year the association has given away $100,000 to $150,000 to local charities that provide for basic needs of people – food, shelter, mental health care, and programming for young people,” said Association President William Colwell. Organizations receiving grants of up to $5,000 include Columbus House, New Reach, LEAP, and the Clifford Beers Community Care Center.

Colwell, a partner in the law firm of Parrett, Porto, Parese & Colwell, P.C., has a connection to the City Missionary Association that goes back a generation; his father served on its board in the 1950s. Colwell joined the board of directors 20 years ago, and within a year was asked to take on the role of president.

Each year, Colwell sends out letters to nonprofits asking for grant proposals. Directors of the nonprofits come in to talk with the board about the work they are doing. Colwell and other board members visit the nonprofits and have opportunities to meet the adults and children who benefit from them.

“Even though the charities had to apply each year, they could budget for this money,” Colwell said. “They knew they would be getting something from us, and that helped many small organizations from a financial point of view.”

In recent years, as the City Missionary Association board members retired and others passed away, Colwell said the board decided to turn the endowment over to The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, and they established the City Missionary Association of New Haven Fund.

A former board chair of The Community Foundation, Colwell also served on The Foundation Board’s investment committee. He said he knew the endowment would be in capable hands.

“I’m optimistic that the money we have transferred over to The Foundation will grow, and the Fund will be able to continue to give substantial amounts of money to local charities forever,” he said.