Stepping Forward in the Lower Naugatuck Valley


Like so many other communities since the onset of the pandemic, the Valley has experienced social and economic impacts in the areas of jobs, small businesses, healthcare and education. Stepping Forward is a region-wide commitment that extends across the five communities served by The Community Foundation’s affiliate, the Valley Community Foundation (VCF). VCF is aligning some of its work from 2021 to 2023 with Stepping Forward through its own initiative called Stepping Forward in the Valley. The two foundations are working together on an integrated plan that advances the goals of addressing the impact of COVID-19 and advancing equity in Ansonia, Derby, Seymour, Shelton and Oxford. The plan will continue to evolve as needs and opportunities change.

Areas of joint focused investments include:

  • Access to COVID-19 relief and recovery resources
  • More resources for new and existing joint grantmaking programs
  • Joint capacity building programs that support nonprofits in adopting best practices and policies regarding equity
  • New equity strategies to create new processes and structures in the Valley that help close existing equity gaps

Team staff loading food supplies. CREDIT: Team Inc.

“The biggest needs when the pandemic came crashing down was a food need. We more than doubled the output of Meals on Wheels because of the pandemic, but also the network of food pantries that TEAM works very closely with saw more than a 30% increase of people coming in fast. In addition to that, formula for infants and toddlers and a diaper need spiked more than 200%,” says David Morgan, President and CEO of TEAM Inc.

The human services agency serves a high percentage of low-income and vulnerable populations in the five communities served by VCF and neighboring towns. Fifty-three percent of individuals receiving TEAM services live below the federal poverty level. One in four individuals accessing TEAM's services is of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish Origins. Seventy percent of those accessing energy assistance are young children under 5 years of age, seniors aged over 60 and individuals with disabilities. Nearly 1 in 3 seniors accessing Meals on Wheels is aged over 90, and 1 in 2 are living below 150% of the federal poverty level.