Stepping Forward

Addressing the Impact of COVID and Advancing Racial Equity

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven Announces Stepping Forward: A Three-Year, $26 Million Commitment

Funding to Address COVID Impacts and to Advance Racial Equity

New Haven, CT, January 13, 2021. Calling the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial inequity “fundamental challenges to people’s lives in Greater New Haven,” The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven (The Foundation) today announced Stepping Forward, a commitment of $26 million to address these issues.


Stepping Forward will include both a major increase over the next three years in The Foundation’s grantmaking and other current spending as well as new monies for endowed funds. The Foundation anticipates that Stepping Forward will increase its spending in 2021 through 2023 by $15 million over current levels and will add $11 million to its permanent endowment to create three new permanent funds.

Stepping Forward is being funded through an unprecedented supplemental extraction from The Foundation’s discretionary endowments and through donor contributions.

While The Foundation both increased and accelerated its 2020 grantmaking to meet the challenges of COVID, Stepping Forward will go well beyond what was done in 2020.

“COVID’s impact continues to be devastating,” said William W. Ginsberg, CEO of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. “It poses existential challenges to our local nonprofits and the services they provide. Even beyond that, COVID’s economic impact has greatly increased the numbers of those among us who are vulnerable to hunger, eviction and suffering, and COVID has also exposed the tragic health and education inequities in our community.”

Ginsberg continued: “The racially disparate impacts of COVID together with brutal incidents of anti-Black violence this past year have unleashed powerful new energy for advancing racial equity here in Greater New Haven as elsewhere. The challenges of 2020 have shown us that old ways of doing things are not adequate. To help our community move forward in these uniquely challenging times, Stepping Forward will support both the change makers and the service providers.”

“When The Foundation was created 93 years ago, its founders wisely envisioned that extraordinary circumstances might arise in the future that would necessitate extraordinary extractions from the endowment,” said Flemming L. Norcott, Jr., Chair of The Foundation’s Board of Directors and retired Connecticut Supreme Court Justice. “Our Board unanimously believes that we are at such a moment in our community today, and that Stepping Forward strikes the right balance as we seek both to meet today’s urgent needs and to serve the community in perpetuity.”

“The Community Foundation is about promoting greater opportunity and achieving greater equity for the people of our region,” Ginsberg added. “In light of all that has happened in the last year, addressing COVID’s impacts and advancing racial equity are the essential steps that need to be taken today to expand opportunity and equity in our community for the future.”

Foundation donors are responding generously to Stepping Forward, with nearly $6 million already contributed both for current spending and for new endowments. The Foundation is launching three new permanent endowments as part of Stepping Forward: the Racial Equity Fund, the Basic Needs Fund and the Civic Awareness and Engagement Fund.

With Stepping Forward The Foundation’s traditional grantmaking programs will be expanded. To meet the changing needs in the community, Stepping Forward will also involve important changes in grantmaking priorities and processes as well as capacity building trainings for nonprofits. New grantmaking priorities will include:

  • grants for immediate COVID relief,
  • grants and leadership development support for nonprofits led by people of color,
  • grants to those working, advocating and organizing to change racially inequitable systems in health, education, employment, housing and civic participation, and
  • arts grants that advance racial equity and community healing from COVID.

Information about The Foundation’s 2021 grantmaking processes and schedules will be announced during a Grantseeker Webinar on January 14 at 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. Interested parties can register for the webinar via The Foundation’s website; a recording will be available to access afterwards.

Stepping Forward will evolve over the next three years as community needs change in response to the changing dynamics of COVID and racial equity. “For us to be as impactful as possible with these additional resources, we know that we need to understand all that is happening in our community,” said Christina Ciociola, the Foundation’s Senior Vice-President for Grantmaking & Strategy. “This means understanding the data. It means listening to those who are on the front lines in battling COVID and in advancing racial equity. It means partnering with others, both new partners and those we have collaborated with for years. It means supporting organizations that we have not traditionally known of or reached. This is how we approached our COVID response in 2020 and it is our commitment for Stepping Forward as well.”

In implementing Stepping Forward, The Foundation will work with the volunteer leaders of its Community Fund for Women & Girls and its Progreso Latino Fund, and also with United Way of Greater New Haven on COVID relief and with its affiliate Valley Community Foundation in the Lower Naugatuck Valley.

A panel discussion and community conversation about Stepping Forward has been set by The Foundation for February 1, 2021 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. The virtual event will explore the needs and opportunities inspiring this unprecedented commitment and serve as one of many listening sessions on how our community can collaboratively emerge from the pandemic stronger and heal together. The event will be live streamed and recorded for later access; to register visit

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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. Its 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, 2020, The Foundation’s assets were valued at more than $720 million.

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