What is Stepping Forward?

The Community Foundation is taking a series of unprecedented steps to address the community-wide devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and to advance racial equity in Greater New Haven. Collectively, these steps comprise Stepping Forward, a multi-year, $26 million dollar commitment and series of actions by The Foundation.

Stepping Forward adds to The Foundation's current grant making and distribution spending through the combination of an unprecedented extraction from The Foundation’s discretionary endowments and from generous donor contributions.

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: the Basic Needs Fund, the Racial Equity Fund and the Civic Awareness and Engagement Fund.

Stepping Forward will evolve in response to the changing dynamics of COVID-19, racial equity and the related community needs.

Where is Stepping Forward Occurring?

Stepping Forward is a multi-million dollar commitment occurring in The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven’s service area, which includes New Haven Connecticut 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

How Long is Stepping Forward?

Stepping Forward is a three-year, $26 million commitment by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven that will occur over the years of 2021, 2022 and 2023. As community needs and opportunities change, Stepping Forward activities and duration may be reevaluated; the work to reduce disparities of equity will be ongoing so long as there is a need.

What Makes Stepping Forward Unprecedented for The Foundation?

Both the amount of money The Foundation is distributing under Stepping Forward for immediate use and the manner in which The Foundation has raised money for Stepping Forward is unprecedented. The Foundation is exceeding the typical spending rate of its endowment to extract additional resources from unrestricted and preference funds in order to respond to this extraordinary crisis.

Where Is The Money Coming From for Stepping Forward?

  • A special appropriation from unrestricted and preference funds is being used as collateral to take a low-interest loan that will be paid back over time.
  • Additional resources from endowment and community support is committed to establish three new endowed funds. The new funds are:
    • Basic Needs Fund - To support organizations serving Greater New Haven that provide people living in poverty and distress with material basic needs.
    • Black Futures Fund - To advance racial equity in Greater New Haven and to tackle the structures that contribute to racial disparities in our community.
    • Civic Engagement and Awareness Fund - To advance civic awareness and engagement in Greater New Haven.

How Will Stepping Forward Funding Be Used?

  • To expand existing grant programs, increasing the funding available to nonprofits through all Foundation grant programs.
  • To address the lasting impact of COVID-19.
  • To advancing racial equity and dismantle racism and gender inequity.
  • To make grants and investments that promote inclusive economic growth, such as
    • for career pathways, education and training,
    • for building an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem,
    • for supporting minority- and women-owned businesses.
  • To support arts grants that advance racial equity and community healing from COVID
  • To provide cohort training for nonprofit BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) leaders and grants to the organizations they represent.
  • To support those working, advocating and organizing to change inequitable systems and structures in our society.
  • To fund grants and peer support for Black-led mentoring and leadership programs for girls.
  • To increase funding for the NAACP homeownership program.
  • To expand the Foundation Fellowship Program, which is focused on issues of racial equity in philanthropy and developing the pipeline for the next generation of nonprofit leadership.
  • To promote opportunity and equity through public awareness building and community conversation events.

Why is The Community Foundation Launching Stepping Forward; Why Now?

The devastating impact of COVID-19 demands “all hands on deck” to help the individuals, families and the region recover. Stepping Forward is responding to this demand, as well as seizing on the historic momentum generated by the racial justice movements in 2020 to create systemic changes that advance equity.

Inspiring others to build an “ever more connected, inclusive, equitable and philanthropic community” is central to The Foundation’s mission. As the community endowment for Greater New Haven, The Community Foundation has the resources to offer leadership and create space for residents to participate in the collective effort that is needed to foster equity of opportunity.

For early data used to help inform The Foundation's Stepping Forward activities, scroll to the bottom of this page; data is continually being collected and studied by The Foundation throughout the duration of Stepping Forward.

Why is Advancing Racial Equity Central to Stepping Forward?

Stepping Forward is rooted in The Community Foundation’s strategic plan to create opportunity and equity for all people in Greater New Haven. This need has never been greater as COVID-19 has exacerbated longstanding racial disparities in income, health, education and other measures across society. Unless deliberately addressed as the region recovers and rebuilds, racial inequity will continue to cause harm to individuals and families in our community, and hurt our region’s prospects for economic growth and opportunity. Watch our panel discussion:

What Does Advancing Racial Equity Mean To The Foundation?

Advancing equity is about fairness and justice. It means consciously designing and supporting policy and practices so that racial and gender disparities in educational, health, financial and other outcomes no longer exist.

Why Should Everyone Care about Racial Equity?

It’s the right thing to do to achieve a united community – one in which all people share a sense of common destiny and have the support and connections needed to build successful lives. And, from an economic perspective, everyone benefits. When we eliminate gaps in equity, we expand opportunity for all to participate in the workforce, earn higher incomes, start businesses and build wealth. This creates a ripple effect of increasing economic activity and growth for all of Greater New Haven.

How Can the Goals of Stepping Forward Be Achieved?

Together. The lasting, long-term change we seek will require partnerships among philanthropy, civic leaders and the major institutions and businesses in our region.

How Can I Step Forward Too?

Everyone has a part to play in our community’s recovery from COVID-19 and advancing racial equity, whether in interpersonal relationships, the workplace or at home.

There are many ways to get involved with The Foundation:

Are you looking to step forward in the Valley Region? Connect with our philanthropic partner, The Valley Community Foundation.

The Foundation invites your feedback. Please share your thoughts about Stepping Forward and tell us how you might like to engage in this work with us.

How Can We Help?

Dotty Weston-Murphy, CAP®

Sr. Vice President, Development and Donor Services


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Christina M. Ciociola

Senior Vice President for Grantmaking and Strategy


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