Connections Newsletter: Special Edition 2017

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

View or download the newsletter here.

2017: A Time to Act

Community, Now More Than Ever

Photo iStock

"In 2017 more than ever before, our community needs to come together and act together. At a time when some of our most cherished values and most needed programs could be in jeopardy, our community connections grow ever important. As The Foundation has reached out broadly across our community and reassessed our plans this year, we have seen definite signs of a strengthened sense of activism and civic engagement. Reflecting these times, you will note a new look to our quarterly newsletter, now called Connections. Our message — COMMUNITY, NOW MORE THAN EVER — reinforces the values that have sustained The Foundation since 1928 and imparts a new sense of urgency to the work we all do together. Please visit our blog #NHVCares and share your reflections on how our community is responding to the challenges and opportunities before us.

2016 Report to Our Community

Highlights the work donors like you helped make possible

In Greater New Haven, we have learned that progress is only possible when we come together and act together. The growth of The Community Foundation over the last 89 years is a reflection of this truism. We invite you to read The Foundation's 2016 Report to our Community for highlights of the work donors like you helped make possible in 2016. In it you will find highlights of our leadership activities, community convenings and grants awarded as well as a message from our leadership on the importance of coming together, now more than ever. Read more

Mobile Dental Clinic Saves Teeth

Services Free to Those Unable to Afford Them

A free, two-day dental clinic held in New Haven's Hillhouse High School provided important dental services to approximately 1,000 people from around the state. Patients seeking dental work lined up around the block for services ranging from root canals and fillings to X-rays and more. More than 1,000 volunteers, including approximately 100 dentists and technicians provided care to those who could not otherwise afford it. The tenth annual event was funded with a $30,000 grant from The Foundation's Health Services Fund, established in 1979 by Grace E. Marvin in memory of her parents John and Adella, and The Anne Hope Bennett Fund, established in 1943 by Ms. Bennett as a preference fund for health matters. Both funds were established by bequest. Read more in the New Haven Independent.

A Responsibility to New Haven

Then, Now and Forever

Cold winter nights were unsettling for the late Burton Levey, founder of Levey, Miller, Maretz real estate brokerage firm. Winter storms prompted him to leave his warm Woodbridge home and head to downtown New Haven to distribute heaters to people without heat. Burton's daughter, Patricia Levey Lebow, says helping people was just part of her dad's DNA. "If he had food on his plate, he had to make sure other people had food on their plate too,” adds Burton's wife, Diane. In 2016, the Diane and Burton Levey Family Fund was established by Patricia at The Foundation to continue, in perpetuity, the support her parents gave to the community for so many years. "We felt that we wanted to have a permanent fund established in memory of our father and in honor of our mother,” she says. Though she no longer lives in the area,” we will always carry New Haven, Orange and Woodbridge in our hearts.” Read the entire story here.

Food, Shelter and Compassion

Silverthau and Mixter Funds Support Milford's Homeless

Beth-El, the only provider of emergency shelter and food services in Milford, is a place where families, single men and single women in crisis receive services to start rebuilding their lives. Beth-El was founded in 1981 by a handful of local churches that wanted to do something about the growing number of homeless people showing up on their doorsteps looking for help. In addition to providing temporary shelter, the Beth-El Center and other agencies are placing clients in permanent housing and providing services — such as financial literacy classes and connections to drug and mental health counseling — to help them stay there. Beth El has received grants funded by the Caroline Silverthau and George Mixter preference funds at The Foundation.

Konopacke Fund Aids Animal Shelters

New Competitive Grants Process Created

A Thanks to Lillian and Henry Konopacke, there's a new competitive grants process at The Foundation specifically for the benefit of nonprofit animal shelters in the Greater New Haven area. Grants of up to $7,500 are available year-round for eligible applicants. The Lillian and Henry A. Konopacke Fund was created in 2013 by bequest of New Haven native and North Haven resident Henry Konopacke, who worked as a machinist at the Winchester Repeating Arms Factory. Area nonprofit shelters can apply for project support (for a specific new or existing project), for capacity building such as board development, strategic planning or evaluation, or for capital expenditures such as equipment, building renovations or relocation. Learn more here.

We Hear You!

Donors and Grantees Give Suggestions for Doing Better

The Foundation surveyed its donors and grantees this past year and learned a lot. 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 percent of peers for knowledge of community issues. Donors advise we can do more to be better known among peers, and grantees suggest changes to the length of the application process. Thank you for your feedback; it is always welcome.

Living "Inside the Box"

Foundation Sponsors Solitary Confinement Cell Project

As part of The Foundation's strategy to help formerly incarcerated persons reintegrate into our community, reducing crime and recidivism takes changes to our criminal justice system. In January, The Foundation co-sponsored an event to bring a replica of a solitary confinement cell to New Haven and the state capital. The public was encouraged to sit inside the 10-foot by 12-foot cell and think about what it would be like to live there, sometimes for years. The goal? To help increase empathy and understanding of the challenges faced by the formerly incarcerated when they return home. The Foundation also hosted a special program featuring a screening of the documentary film "Worst of the Worst: A Portrait of a Supermax Prison” (Yale Visual Law Project 2012), followed by a panel discussion with solitary confinement survivors and survivors' family members.

Honoring A Legacy of Learning

Bishop Family Fund Pays Tribute to Father's Sacrifice

"Education is such a gift, and such an opportunity,” says Susan Whetstone, Foundation donor and former Board chair. That's a key life lesson she learned from her father, Morris Norvell Bishop, who died at the age of 90 after devoting 30 years to the field of Education as the Milford school system's Director of Guidance. Susan set up The Bishop Family Fund in 2005 in honor of her father, whose life-long love of learning inspired her and her four siblings to want to give back. "I wanted to really honor my dad and the sacrifices he made to get his own education so he could provide us with a better life.” Susan chose a donor advised fund at The Foundation because of its flexibility. "I wasn't exactly sure how I wanted to give the money away. I just knew that I wanted the funds to be available to help people who needed support. I've really appreciated The Foundation's support in helping me steer at least some of the direction of the Fund.

Integration Strategy Update

Foundation Support Advances Statewide Campaign

Under its Immigrant Integration Strategy, The Foundation recently awarded a $60,000 grant to the CIRA (Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance) to advance a statewide campaign that helps communities provide "know your rights” education materials to immigrants and identify attorneys who can serve as legal observers, assist detained individuals and help with guardianship needs. Earlier in the year, The Foundation joined others in signing a joint statement developed by GCIR (Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees) supporting the role and contributions of immigrants and refugees in our society.

Making Impact: How DAFs Work

Opening a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) at The Community Foundation allows you or your family to make gifts at any time, then remain actively involved in how your gifts are used. As a donor advisor, you will have access to:

  • Personal service to meet your goals and build your giving plan
  • In-depth information on the nonprofit sector in our region
  • Special briefings on the critical issues facing our community
  • A network of people dedicated to strengthening Greater New Haven
Learn more about DAFs here or call 203-777-7067.

Learn How Immigrants Experience our Community

"No Matter What it Was, We Helped Each Other Out"

“Three years ago, we arrived from Oaxaca, Mexico, where my wife was in an education-based social movement. We had recently lost our first baby. So we came with a real spiritual thirst for community. When we first arrived to a Unidad Latina en Accion meeting we found kindred spirits. We came to a place where people talked about their stories and talked about their struggles. No matter what it was, we helped each other out. See more immigrant stories here on our Instagram page, @immigrantexperiencegnh.

A Place to Learn, Share and Create

Libraries Evolve to Meet Needs of the Community

At the New Haven Free Public Library, a line forms at the Ives Main Branch before the doors open in the morning. Each floor is a hub of activity nearly all day long, from children and teen programs, to job-seekers searching for employment on library computers, to events for special exhibits. Libraries throughout the region are supporting life-long learning and skill-building for the 21st century economy by re-imagining their spaces. Step out and see the transformation that is happening, in part, thanks to grants from unrestricted funds at The Foundation. Read the full story here.

Where Your Money Goes: NHLA (New Haven Legal Assistance

Fighting for Justice

The only thing standing between many families and a descent into homelessness and poverty is trained legal representation — the kind New Haven Legal Assistance (NHLA) provides. In courtrooms every day, the fight for basic human needs is played out against landlords who have served eviction notices, employers that have withheld wages and other civil matters. Yet unlike in criminal court, there is no constitutional right to an attorney in a civil suit, which puts people who can’t afford representation at a severe disadvantage. Thanks to donors like you, The Foundation awarded a $100,000 multi-year grant to NHLA in 2016. Read the full story here.

The Great Give 2017

Local Nonprofits Inspire a Giving Spirit

Months of preparation and hard work paid off for Greater New Haven nonprofits during The Great Give® 2017. Nearly $1.3 million was raised during the 36-hour online giving event to a support a broad range of organizations working in the arts, basic needs, education, environment and other sectors in The Community Foundation’s 20-town service area. Read the full story here.