This Funder Works In 42 Different Communities in Connecticut

Dmitrijs Kaminskis/shutterstock

Dmitrijs Kaminskis/shutterstock

While some community foundations focus their efforts on a single city, others work across many communities that each have their own challenges and assets.

With a mix of rural areas, small towns and cities, there are many things going on in the state of Connecticut right now. One of the most looming issues is the state’s fiscal crisis, and this is on top of the huge racial divide and vast wealth and income disparities here. Low- and middle-income families are struggling to access the services they need, politicians are debating how to resolve pension and debt obligations, and rising tax rates threaten to drive wealthy homeowners out of the state.

The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut is well aware of these issues, and in the past year, partnered with five other community foundations to support a six-part series by the Connecticut Mirror, a nonprofit media organization, to examine the state fiscal crisis and its impacts.

CFEC has a big stake in how these challenges play out around Connecticut. This is the largest community foundation in the state, making grants in 42 communities in Eastern Connecticut. Its four main goals are empowering youth, promoting basic needs and rights, preserving the environment, and advancing animal welfare. Donors have set up approximately 144 funds at CFEC to make these grants possible, and the year-to-date total of community investments is now up to at least $3.7 million. 

The foundation gave nearly $2 million locally in its most recent round of grantmaking.

One of CFEC’s largest shows of support was a $50,000 grant to Sustainable CT “to support eastern Connecticut towns in conservation planning with an equity and social justice lens.” This grant is considerably larger than most that the funder awards, indicating a deepening commitment to an equity focus that we discuss frequently at IP. Meanwhile, more modest grants were awarded to the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, Sankofa Education and Leadership, and Groton Animal Foundation.

Animal welfare is a significant interest of this foundation, which is something that we don’t see very often among community funders. In addition to grants to the occasional animal group, the foundation was also involved in an animal welfare advocacy event with panel discussions earlier this summer. Locals gathered at New London’s Lyman Allyn Art Museum to discuss trends and opportunities on the topic of animal welfare and ultimately emphasized the need for more resources for spay/neuter programs, animal welfare education, and advocacy efforts for animal shelters.

Youth has also been a big interest for this funder lately, with $183,650 in grants going to youth programs in Eastern Connecticut a few months ago. Services for economically and socially disadvantaged Norwich youth have been a top priority, with many youth grants ranging from $2,150 to $15,000 each.

CFEC awards mini grants, women and girls grants, and regional impact grants as well. The communities in focus for this funder are as follows: New London, Windham and Tolland Counties: Ashford, Bozrah, Brooklyn, Canterbury, Chaplin, Colchester, Columbia, Coventry, Eastford, East Lyme, Franklin, Griswold, Groton, Hampton, Killingly, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon, Lyme, Mansfield, Montville, New London, North Stonington, Norwich, Old Lyme, Plainfield, Pomfret, Preston, Putnam, Salem, Scotland, Sprague, Stafford, Sterling, Stonington, Thompson, Union, Voluntown, Waterford, Willington, Windham, and Woodstock.