Historic Gift Caps Remarkable Family Legacy of Public Service, Community Commitment & Generous Giving
The James D. English Bequest
Largest Gift to The Community Foundation Supports Four Greater New Haven Nonprofits Providing Services in Arts, Culture and Mental Health
New Haven, CT (June 15, 2022) – The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven (The Foundation), the permanent endowment and largest grantmaker in its 20-town service area in south central Connecticut, is pleased to announce receipt of approximately $35 million from the estate of New Haven native James (Jim) Dana English. The bequest is the largest outright gift ever received by The Foundation and establishes the James D. English Fund, a permanent endowment that will provide annual support to four area nonprofits with which the English family was deeply involved: Clifford Beers Community Care Center (10%), Neighborhood Music School (10%), New Haven Museum (40%), and New Haven Symphony Orchestra (40%).
“The James D. English gift is one of the most extraordinary acts of philanthropy in our community’s history. Mr. English’s choice of these four organizations as the beneficiaries of this generosity reflects his confidence in how each of us can make life better for the residents of Greater New Haven far into the future,” said William W. Ginsberg, president and CEO of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.
James (Jim) D. English (d. February 3, 2021) was born in New Haven on March 15, 1932, the first son of the late Philip H. and Katharine D. English and older brother of Richard. Jim grew up and was educated in his early years in New Haven at Foote School and Hopkins. He graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford and later from Yale University in 1954. He worked locally as a Librarian at Quinnipiac College (now Quinnipiac University) and is remembered for attending many local concerts. He was a resident of New Haven and surrounding area throughout his life.
Jim English’s great-grandfather, James Edward English (1812-1890) set the stage for his descendants’ remarkable philanthropy through his extraordinary success as a businessperson, property owner and investor as New Haven grew in the 19th Century. He also launched the family tradition of civic leadership. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and served two terms as Connecticut Governor. As a member of Congress, he broke from his party in 1865 to cast an important vote in favor of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery.
James Edward English’s heir, his son Henry Fowler English (1851-1947), established the English family as leading local philanthropists. He played central roles in the establishment of the New Haven Colony Historical Society (now the New Haven Museum), the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and the New Haven Parks Commission.
Henry’s second son Philip Henry English (1893 – 1985) was a World War I veteran who returned from France to work in the family’s New Haven Clock Company until its closure in 1956. Like his father and brother, Philip served on the Board of Park Commissioners for nearly 25 years. He also served on the City’s Board of Education, Board of Library Commissioners, and Board of Airport Commissioners and on the Proprietors Committee for the New Haven Green. He served as president of the Quinnipiac Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Philip married Katharine Dana English and they had two sons, Richard and James.
Katharine Dana English (1896 – 1986) was the daughter of Arnold Guyot Dana (1862 – 1947), who is remembered for establishing Sleeping Giant State Park, among other civic contributions. Katharine was both civically-minded and musical; she was a gifted cellist who performed with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. Katharine served as president of the board of directors of the Neighborhood Music School and the New Haven Colony Historical Society (now New Haven Museum). She was also the director of the local YWCA from 1922 – 1945, working with teenaged girls.
Richard L. English (1935 – 2011), Jim English’s younger brother, continued the family’s philanthropic legacy by giving his time, talents and treasure. He too loved music and was interested in the study and preservation of birds. Until his death, he had been the longest standing member of the New Haven Bird Club, serving as its president in the 1960s. He was also a member of the CT Ornithology Association’s Rare Records Committee. Richard established two permanent designated funds at The Foundation upon his death, supporting three of the same nonprofits as his brother Jim: New Haven Symphony Orchestra, the New Haven Museum and the Neighborhood Music School; the fourth beneficiary is the Connecticut Yankee Council, Inc. Boy Scouts of America. The second fund established by Richard supports the New Haven Bird Club.
“The English family’s multi-generational community contributions and philanthropy are without equal in the history of our community,” added Ginsberg. “Their philanthropic legacy will live on through their funds at The Community Foundation.” Over 76 years, the English family established a total of 6 funds at The Foundation, including this new one by James English. These funds have an estimated value of approximately $70.8 million and grants to the community over the years from these funds have exceeded $11.4 million.
“The extraordinary generosity of Jim English as well as his late brother Richard and his ancestors over several generations stands as a shining example of the good that community philanthropy can do,” said Will Ginsberg. “At the same time, this gift is emblematic of how wealth and civic power have been overwhelmingly white in our community throughout our history. The work of The Community Foundation is advancing racial equity in many different ways. The James D. English bequest will enable us to strengthen and deepen our racial equity commitment as we move forward and the four beneficiaries of the James D. English bequest are thinking about this gift in similar ways.”
“Neighborhood Music School is thrilled to be the recipient of the generous bequest from James D. English. The English family has a long history of philanthropy in New Haven and was associated with Neighborhood Music School for more than 80 years,” said Noah Bloom, executive director at Neighborhood Music School, the largest non-profit community arts organization in Connecticut and one of the ten largest in the country. “We are keenly aware that a gift of this size is extremely rare. This incredible gift will allow us to further strengthen our financial commitment to equity and access. This fall, in addition to strengthening our core programs, we will launch a new Institute for Creative Youth Development focused on centering student voices and creating original works at the intersection of the arts and social justice. Programming includes youth leadership development, an after school arts academy in partnership with New Haven Public Schools, a new recording studio, a record label, and training for emerging teaching artists focused on culturally relevant pedagogy.”
“This generous bequest is consistent with the English family’s long history of philanthropy and civic engagement,” said Rochelle (Ricci) Cummings, Clifford Beers Community Care Center Board President. “Clifford Beers Community Care Center looks forward to using these funds to further our mission of helping our children, families and community flourish by providing equitable, accessible, integrated trauma-informed mental health care. We are deeply appreciative of James D. English’s faith in our mission and our work, and will do our very best to continue to be worthy of that confidence.”
“Mr. English was a cherished honorary director-in-permanency and an ardent supporter of the Museum and its mission,” said New Haven Museum (NHM) Executive Director Margaret Anne Tockarshewsky. “For more than a decade, he was also a dedicated volunteer in the Museum’s Whitney Library, where he used his background in library science to index the entire Dana scrapbook collection and make it more accessible to researchers by providing, with his brother Richard, requisite funds to digitize the collection.” NHM has long been focused on elevating the stories and voices of women and historically underrepresented communities and making collections, programs, outreach, and research more accessible. Mr. English’s gift will allow the Museum to expand and enhance the different ways it creates access to the history, resources, culture, and experiences of New Haven for its residents and visitors.
“So much of Jim English’s life was devoted to the arts and ensuring access so others may participate.” Tockarshewsky continued. “I know he would be pleased that his gift will be used to eliminate barriers to participation and learning—whether you live across the street or across the globe—and to open dialogues with more community residents that will result in greater collaboration and co-creation in programs, exhibitions, and outreach, and significant representation in the Museum’s collections.”
New Haven Symphony Orchestra CEO Elaine C. Carroll said, “This remarkable gift from James English will propel the Symphony even farther down the road of being an anti-racist, artistic force for a more just and inclusive cultural landscape in New Haven. In response to ongoing community dialogue, the Symphony will invest in its artistic workforce and the Harmony Fellowship program, specifically towards the creation of a Cultural Advocacy Fellowship. This Fellowship will engage a new generation of diverse, non-profit leaders and create a shared resource that will drive greater collaboration and the creation of music that lifts all voices.”
Launched in 2017 with the orchestra’s flagship Fellowship for Underrepresented Musicians, NHSO Harmony Fellowships provide opportunities across the musical, administrative, and board levels of the NHSO for traditionally underrepresented groups in the classical music industry. To learn more, visit NewHavenSymphony.org/Harmony.
About The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven in Connecticut is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the U.S. and was established in 1928 as the permanent charitable endowment for New Haven and its surrounding communities of: Ansonia, Bethany, Branford, Cheshire, Derby, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Milford, North Branford, North Haven, Orange, Oxford, Seymour, Shelton, Wallingford, West Haven, and Woodbridge. In 2020, The Foundation began implementing a 5-year strategic plan and enacted new mission and vision statements toward expanding opportunity and equity in Greater New Haven. In 2021, it launched Stepping Forward, a $26 million commitment to addressing the impact of COVID-19 and advancing racial equity. The Foundation’s mission is to inspire, support, inform, listen to and collaborate with the people and organizations of Greater New Haven to build an ever more connected, inclusive, equitable and philanthropic community.
For more than three generations, generous local donors have built The Community Foundation’s endowment by establishing permanent funds or making gifts to existing funds that distribute grants to a broad variety of issues and organizations. These donors, past and present, make their gifts to ensure that programs and causes that matter most to them will be supported today and forever. As of December 31, 2021, The Foundation’s assets were valued at more than $871 million after distributing more than $35 million in grants and distributions into the community that year. For more information about The Foundation visit www.cfgnh.org or follow @cfgnh on facebook and twitter.
About the Neighborhood Music School
Neighborhood Music School (NMS) is the largest non-profit community arts organization in Connecticut and one of the ten largest in the country. Founded in 1911 as part of the settlement house movement serving new immigrants to New Haven, NMS now serves more than 2,400 students from 80+ cities and towns annually. Students of all ages receive individual and group instruction in music, dance, drama, and film, and participate in over 100 weekly ensembles. In addition, NMS houses an arts-integrated preschool and an independent, theatre-based middle school. NMS provides close to $500,000 in financial aid and tuition support to more than 500 students each year. Learn more at nmsnewhaven.org.
About Clifford Beers Community Care Center
Clifford Beers Community Care Center (CBCCC) is a nationally recognized nonprofit provider of trauma-informed mental health care for children, adolescents, and adults with a respected 100+ year history of serving the greater New Haven community. CBCCC serves as the safety net for children and families in the greater New Haven area who cannot afford or gain access to private mental health care. Today, Clifford Beers Community Care Center continues to develop and implement innovative mental health and wellness programs at its outpatient clinics, schools, homes and in the community. Services provided by CBCCC include outpatient mental health services, emergency mobile crisis services, care coordination services, and numerous community support services. Last year, Clifford Beers served over 5,000 children/caregivers and provided professional development training to over 3,000 individuals in Connecticut and beyond. Formally known as Clifford Beers, Clifford Beers Community Care Center is now an affiliate of Clifford Beers Community Health Partners. To learn more, visit cliffordbeersccc.org.
About the New Haven Museum
The New Haven Museum, founded in 1862 as the New Haven Colony Historical Society, is located in downtown New Haven at 114 Whitney Avenue. The Museum collects, preserves and interprets the history and heritage of Greater New Haven and through its collections, exhibitions, programs, and outreach brings more than 375 years of the Elm City’s history to life. For more information visit www.newhavenmuseum.org or facebook.com/NewHavenMuseum or call 203-562-4183.
About the New Haven Symphony Orchestra
The fourth-oldest orchestra in America, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra’s exceptional and accessible performances and education programs reach more than 40,000 audience members and 20,000 students each year. Innovative programming and a dedication to the commission of new works inspires deeper audience engagement and meaningful artistic and educational collaborations. Through the nationally-acclaimed Harmony Fellowship program, as well as numerous award-winning education and community engagement programs, the Symphony strives to be a leader for racial equity in the arts. To learn more about the NHSO, visit NewHavenSymphony.org.
The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven