Community Currents: Fall 2016

The latest news and stories about our Greater New Haven Community.

View or download the newsletter here.

"Never Been More Important"

CEO Declares Urgency to Stay Together, Act Together

"There is an urgent need for all of us to recommit ourselves to the work of the community," said Will Ginsberg, President & CEO of The Community Foundation at its Annual Meeting in November. "This is the work of creating and strengthening connections, of reaching out to and welcoming those among us who need our support, and of envisioning a future where the many and not just the few can share in the opportunities that are being created. It has never been more important to stay together and act together as a community." Ginsberg encouraged the community to build on its economic strengths, "particularly in the biomedical sector," and to create a "compelling new educational vision," for preparing students to succeed. Read Will Ginsberg's complete remarks here.

Walking in an Urban Oasis

New Signs Guide Visitors through Meadow's Treasures

During the summer, you are almost guaranteed to see an osprey on a walk through the 35-acre Quinnipiac Meadows Preserve. And if you're really lucky, you might spot a Diamond Back Terrapin, a threatened species of turtle that lives in brackish waters along the East Coast. But even if these creatures are elusive during your visit, you can learn about them and other wildlife from the newly-installed signs posted along the two loop trails.
The signs, which provide visitors with an overview of the history, ecology, wildlife and terrain of the preserve, were created through a partnership between the New Haven Land Trust and the Yale Peabody Museum, and funded with a grant from the Quinnipiac River Fund. Read the full story here.

New Haven Teacher Gives Back

Mary Established a Fund in 2016 to Honor Her Parents

Mary Lowery says "it was given" she would go to college. Though her parents were not college-educated, they thought education was very important for their only daughter. And that education was the beginning of her thirty-five year tenure as a New Haven teacher and administrator. The Lowery Family Fund, established by Mary in 2016 in honor of her parents, will support the New Haven Scholarship Fund. As a teacher, Mary knows the value of the all-volunteer organization that provides college scholarships for New Haven students. Mary chose The Foundation to carry out her wishes in perpetuity on the advice of her attorney, Chris Edmonds. Recalling her tenuous start as a premature baby (she was only three pounds at birth), Mary says, "I was lucky to be born and I've been lucky with my career and a family inheritance. I feel my fortune requires I give back." Read the full story here.

Jean Lovell's Dream Makes Brighter Futures Possible

The New Haven Scholarship Fund (NHSF) Helps Graduating Seniors Pursue Education

The New Haven Scholarship Fund (NHSF) helps New Haven high school graduating seniors to pursue their post-secondary education. Not limited to top achieving students, NHSF believes that all students deserve an opportunity to fulfill their potential.
NHSF was founded in 1959 by Jean Paton Lovell, a mathematics teacher who had students with great academic potential but without the finances to further their education. The all-volunteer board of directors, several of whom were themselves recipients of NHSF scholarships, advance Mrs. Lovell's vision; since its beginning, NHSF has awarded over $7.5M to over 7,500 students.
NHSF will receive grants from the Lowery Family Fund which is among the 163 funds at The Foundation that support specific nonprofits in perpetuity. Last year, over 300 grants totaling $7.7M were made from designated Foundation funds with a collective value of over $80M.

Fighting for the Rights of Those Who Served

CT Veterans Legal Center Continues to Grow

A recent Department of Veterans Affairs study found that when homeless veterans are asked to prioritize their unmet needs, they rank legal services higher than food, clothing, medical care and even housing. The Connecticut Veterans Legal Center works to help fill this gap. The nonprofit started seven years ago with its largest support from The Community Foundation. It has since grown from one full-time employee to nine, and last year it worked on 876 cases, according to Executive Director Margaret Middleton. Working out of a small office in West Haven, the legal center serves veterans from all over the state. Many of its cases are common to poverty law such as evictions, custody support payments and consumer debt. However, it is the only clinic in the state with practice areas that specialize in helping veterans modify discharge statuses and in making VA disability coverage compensation claims. Read the full story here.

Donors and Grantees Give Suggestions for Doing Better

The Foundation checked in with its major constituents this year and the results of surveys to grantees and donors gave important insights for the work going forward. Results reflect the view that The Community Foundation has a strong knowledge of and impact on our local communities. Grantees rate The Foundation higher than the typical funder for its understanding of the community, and donors rate The Foundation in the top 20% of peers for its knowledge of community issues. Donors advise we could do more to be better-known among their peers, and grantees suggest changes to the length of the application process.

Foundation Empowers Neighborhood Leaders to Make a Difference

Condo Owner Organizes Neighbors to Reactivate Dormant Board

Jacquelyn Pheanious bought into a condominium association where an out-of-town management company was unresponsive and the board of directors had not met in years.
So she took it upon herself to begin the process of forming a new board with her neighbors. To help develop her relationship building and organization skills, she enrolled in the Neighborhood Leadership Program at The Foundation. The program also provided her with a small grant to pay for meeting refreshments. "It helped me build a level of trust with my neighbors," Pheanious says. "I'm now able to get us organized so we can connect with the right people.

The Neighborhood Leadership Program is for residents of New Haven, West Haven, East Haven or Hamden who have demonstrated a commitment to making a positive difference in their neighborhoods. During the eight-month training program, participants learn relationship building and organizational skills. Each participant designs and implements a pilot project that has a positive community impact, and has the opportunity to apply for a grant to support the project.

Applications to participate in the Neighborhood Leadership Program are due by Noon on January 20, 2017.

Read the full story here and learn more about the Neighborhood Leadership Program here.

Chip Long Leaves Profound Board Legacy

Foundation Welcomes Joseph Gordon

We say goodbye to Board member, Charles "Chip" Long, as he completes his seven year term. Chip was appointed by Yale President Richard Levin in 2010 and has served on the Executive, Investment, and Community Strategies and Knowledge Committees. Chip has also chaired the Finance Committee establishing the spending rate and developing annual grants and operating budgets. "Chip led the way in fashioning our early community knowledge work and our diversity and inclusion work; he has been a trusted advisor, a friend and a true mentor to for me," says Will Ginsberg, Foundation president & CEO. In 2017 we welcome Joseph Gordon who was appointed by Yale President Peter Salovey. Gordon is the recently retired Deputy Dean of Yale College and Dean of Undergraduate Education.

Turning Tragedy into Triumph

Axtmayer Cancer Fund: Five Years Later

Alfredo Axtmayer's world changed in November 2008 after learning he had Hodgkin's lymphoma. The high school and college athlete now faced a different kind of opponent — a cancer attacking his body's immune system. After being declared in remission, Axtmayer sought ways to raise awareness of his disease and funding for research to help others. One of his first feats was to captain a relay team on a 190-mile overnight marathon from Branford, CT, to Boston, MA. Shortly afterwards, he established the Axtmayer Cancer Fund at The Foundation. In five years, the Fund has made grants to CancerCare, the Tommy Fund for Childhood Cancer and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

Donor Advised Funds are Powerful Force for Giving

"As a cancer survivor, I'm passionate about funding patient education, patient services, patient treatment and research in cancer. A donor advised fund allows me to select the local and national projects and services that have the most potential and impact," says Alfredo Axtmayer. Friends and family are all too eager to support the Fund's work through donations commemorating special events, like Alfredo's 7-year remission anniversary in 2016. Some facts about Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) at The Foundation:

  • 75% of current DAFs are endowed funds
  • 21% of current DAF donors have also included an estate gift
  • 44% of current DAF donors have also made a gift to another fund
  • When no longer advised, 70% of current DAFs will become funds for flexible purposes
  • 75% of grants made from DAFs are to organizations in CT
  • There are 13 permanent funds that were started as DAFs. Seven are designated for specific organizations and six are flexible for flexible purposes.
Learn more about DAFs here or call 203-777-7067.

State Budget Cuts Deliver a Wallop to Nonprofits

Community Foundation Awards $2.3 Million to Help Locally

Out of $3.1 Million overall, The Foundation awarded $2,365,000 in general operating support (GOS) grants through its largest annual competitive grant cycle in 2016. Reductions in state support together with the prospect of continuing state budget woes led to the prioritization, says Christina Ciociola, SVP of Grantmaking and Strategy. A survey conducted by The Foundation in October showed that over 50% of organizations have experienced state funding cuts of $50,000 or more and some of $500,000; additional cuts are expected. To manage these cuts, organizations are taking drastic measures including reducing services (49%), reducing staff (42%) and closing programs (20%). The Foundation makes more GOS grants than its peer funders around the country, and has increased GOS grants by 25% over the last year to better support local nonprofits.

Boys in Motion

Elm City Dance Collective Builds Community Through Art

Last fall, middle school boys at Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School learned the high kicks, spins, and quick dance moves of the Brazilian martial art Capoeira. The after-school workshop, supported with a grant from The Foundation is part of the Elm City Dance Collective’s Girls in Motion/Boys in Motion, which brings dance and movement to middle schools. Youth education is just one facet of the dance organization’s mission to build community and connection through art. Read the full story here.

2016 Community Progress Report Released

Report Offers Regional Well-Being Snapshot

Three years ago we introduced Calibrating the Community: Data to Strengthen Greater New Haven to further our collective understanding of how people within our region are doing and how our region is doing as a whole. The new 2016 Community Progress Report, published in November, continues this ongoing work. Using the latest economic, demographic, educational, health and well-being data, this report provides benchmarks that identify strengths to build on and challenges that need to be addressed; it draws from the Greater New Haven Community Index 2016 which offers a statewide and regional picture of a variety of issues. Click here to view it online or call 203-777-2386 receive a hard copy.

Mark Your Calendars

The Next Great Give® Will Take Place on May 2-3, 2017!

As in year’s past, there will be plenty of incentives to give to your favorite local nonprofits and to discover new ones. Mark your calendars, tell your friends and family and visit® to read about the invaluable services local nonprofits provide our community.