Report to Our Community 2021-22
The two crisis years of the COVID-19 pandemic have brought dizzying changes, not only to how we all live and work but also to what we need to do to build the community of opportunity and equity that we envision.
Great thinkers and leaders from Albert Einstein to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King have long emphasized that crisis can and must be the impetus for positive change. Surely, this is true of our time. In 2020-22, amidst tragic losses and glaringly revealed inequities, our deep social and racial divisions have been so inescapable as to lead many to commit to do more and to do things differently.
This can be a time of transformation. Whether we all make it so here in Greater New Haven will determine much about the future of our community. For The Foundation, these last two years
have been about transforming what we do and how we do it, both to continue to address the urgent needs and deep inequities stemming from COVID-19 and to more fully “inspire, support, inform, listen to and collaborate with the people and organizations of Greater New Haven” in the words of our mission statement.
Transformation means many things at The Foundation. We are centering racial equity across all of our work. We are advancing economic as well as social solutions to the community’s challenges. We are engaging community members more broadly and deeply, listening in new ways to those close to the issues we seek to address and empowering them with the authority and resources to act on their ideas.
We are building a culture that embraces innovation so we can respond better to the rapidly changing dynamics in our community. The many ways in which these changes are reflected in our work are described throughout this annual report. At the same time, the pages that follow detail how The Foundation is building on our proud 94-year legacy of work with local donors and nonprofits, including receiving the largest gift in The Foundation’s history this past year for the benefit of four vitally important local organizations.
In addition to doing things differently, we are doing more. With the continuing extraordinary support of our donors and the unprecedented supplemental extraction from certain of our endowments under our Stepping Forward initiative, The Foundation will have an incremental $15 million in discretionary resources in 2021-23 to address the impacts of COVID-19 and to advance racial equity. Stepping Forward launched in early 2021. Its impact is reflected in all that is described in the pages of this annual report as well.
In 2022, The Foundation is reviewing our plans and strategies and considering adjustments we may need to make in order to most effectively support meaningful transformation in our community going forward.
As we do so, we see clear signs of genuine and important transformation. This annual report details three examples:
- While New Haven has long taken justifiable pride in the theatrical, musical, artistic and historic assets that make our area the cultural capital of Connecticut, the focus is shifting today. A movement to prioritize artists, creatives and different cultural traditions is beginning to transform how we think about our cultural life. Today, our community is increasingly about “cultural equity.”
- A new generation of leadership voices is emerging in our community. Bringing diverse perspectives and new ideas about what equity really looks like, these changemakers are challenging traditional ways of thinking and beginning to set a new agenda.
- With New Haven growing and private investment increasing, the public/ private agenda in our community is increasingly focused on ensuring that the benefits of our growth are widely shared. “Inclusive growth” is beginning to replace “economic development” on the short list of our community’s major priorities.
These changes are at an early stage. Sustaining transformation will require that people and institutions across our community recognize the transformative changes that are happening and embrace them in ways that transcend longstanding divisions. That is how our community can build a future of greater opportunity and equity.
In 2022, as always, the work of community in Greater New Haven is rooted in connection, generosity and long-term commitment. The Foundation is deeply privileged to work with so many in our community who personify these values.
Yet today, the work of community is also different — it is about transformation too. This is now the work of The Community Foundation. We invite you to join us.
Flemming L. Norcott Jr.
Board of Direcors Chair
William W. Ginsberg
President & Chief Executive