The Coalition for New Britain’s Youth

coalition-new-britain-youthIn 2001, New Britain was one of 50 communities selected by The William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund for an innovative initiative to promote educational systems change throughout the state called Discovery.  New Britain’s Discovery project grew into The New Britain Early Childhood Collaborative and was instrumental in creating and developing a community coalition to improve educational outcomes for New Britain’s children.

Aa a result of the Collaborative there was a marked increase in preschool participation among New Britain’s children.  In 2002 just 47% of kindergartners had a preschool experience. Through much hard work that rate has grown to 81% in 2014 on par with most Connecticut communities.  This work was spearheaded by the New Britain Early Childhood Collaborative in partnership with the School Readiness Council, area childcare providers and the school district.  The Collaborative brought together these partners along with parents,  the medical community, social service agencies and philanthropy to work together to address issues of children’s health and early learning.  In 2009 the Collaborative completed an 18-month community planning process and published a Blueprint for Improving the Lives of New Britain’s Young Children Birth through Grade 3.  The Blueprint identified five citywide indicators of child wellbeing, presented data on current trends and then proposed strategies and action steps to change those trends for the better.  It was the basis for countless collaborative efforts throughout the city to address issues that negatively impacted young children, including the successful launch of a children’s mental health initiative and the establishment of a centralized Family Literacy Center.

In 2010, based on the work that had gone into the Blueprint, the Collaborative was invited to launch Connecticut’s first community led campaign for third grade literacy.  Since then, a strong relationship has been built with the school district, Central Connecticut State University, local service providers, the mayor’s office, local foundations and the United Way.  This advance work building a committee structure, reviewing data and developing strategies positioned New Britain to start implementing its plans right away.

In January 2015, The Coalition for New Britain’s Youth emerged as a merged entity of New Britain’s most influential collaboratives: the New Britain Youth Network, the New Britain School Readiness Council, the School Board’s Health and Wellness Committee, and the Coalition for New Britain Children.  Rather than working independently, the partners all agreed to join forces to increase the impact they can collectively have on our youth’s lives.  The Coalition for New Britain’s Youth includes parents, educators, government officials, health and social service agencies and others as members.  Partners use community data to develop strategies to help ensure local children have the skills they need to be successful in life.  The Coalition is now the backbone organization for New Britain’s more than 26,000 youth ages birth-24.

Recently, New Britain has been recognized as a leader in innovative practices to combat the challenges of the achievement gap and summer learning loss. Members of the Summer Enrichment Experience Steering Committee have been invited to national out of school time conferences to speak about the New Britain summer and after school initiatives, and New Britain presented at the National Summer Learning Association and National Afterschool Association.  In addition, we are very proud that this past fall the New York Times highlighted our continuing work on Chronic Absenteeism, we won the 2015 New York Life Excellence in Summer Learning Award, and the Grade Level Reading Campaign once again named us as a 2016 Pacesetter community (one of 38 nationally, and one of only seven who were recognized in all four categories).  Our work on childhood obesity was also highlighted on the Robert Wood Johnson website. Lastly, in June of 2016, New Britain was named an All American City by the National Civic League in recognition of the important cross sector collaboration happening in the city and the resulting outcomes for children.

Currently the Executive Director of The Fund is the Coalition Chair.

To learn more about The Coalition, please go to http://www.coalition4nbyouth.org/

Early Childhood Education Funders Collaborative

In June 2011, fourteen funders established the Connecticut Early Childhood Funder Collaborative (ECFC) to support the state’s legislatively-mandated two-year planning process to create a coordinated system of early care and education. The legislation provided a long-awaited opportunity for state-level, systemic improvement in early care and education, and the two-year timeline provided a catalyst for the funders to act together pooling funding and knowledge in an effort to advance fundamental changes in the way Connecticut supports young children and their families.

ECFC includes funders from across the state including community, private and corporate foundations. It was formed under the auspices of the CT Council for Philanthropy which serves as fiscal sponsor and a critical link to national philanthropic networks and knowledge.

From June 2011-June 2013, ECFC partnered with the state on many aspects of the planning process that ultimately led to the creation of the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) in May 2014. Philanthropy’s access to knowledge networks and its ability to provide timely assistance were essential in bringing national experts to help identify options for structuring state programs and services. Based on the information developed by the ECFC supported consultant, the state chose to establish a separate independent office bringing together programs and staff from five different state agencies in an effort to align services for the benefit of young children and their families.

Recognizing that OEC was only one part of an evolving early childhood system, the funders decided to continue to work together on an ongoing basis. The mission of the Collaborative was established at that time: “To bring the collective voice and resources of philanthropy to build and sustain a comprehensive early childhood system that works for all children, families, communities and the workforce in Connecticut.”

Currently the Executive Director of The Fund co-chairs the ECFC with Elysa Gordon from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

To learn more about the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative go to https://www.ctphilanthropy.org/collaborative

Connecticut Council for Philanthropy

The Fund for Greater Hartford is a member of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy. In 1969, the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy was started as the Coordinating Council for Foundations, serving the Greater Hartford community, by Jack Riege of the Knox Foundation, William Connelly of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Sam Fuller with the Answorth Foundation at Hartford National Bank, Bill Graulty at Connecticut Bank & Trust Company, Allyn Bernard of United Bank, Dick Suisman of the Suisman Foundation, and Jerry Bartholomew of the Howard and Bush Foundation.

They were quickly joined by the Barnes Foundation, the Auerbach Foundation, the Koopman and Schiro Funds, the Hartford Courant Foundation and the Hartford National Bank.

Bob Merriman was the organization’s executive director, and the first-year budget was $25,000 funded by grants from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the founding foundations.

Their foresight in seeing the need for such an organization was rewarded when, shortly thereafter, the Tax Reform Act of 1969 was signed into law by President Nixon as a response to reports of foundation misuses of business holdings, failures to distribute funds for charitable purposes, self-dealing and other abuses. The act had a major impact on private philanthropy. It introduced a new classification system that sharply distinguished between ‘private foundations’ and other charitable organizations. For private foundations it also introduced a new regulatory system, new regulatory sanctions, a new tax on investment income and new restrictions on the deductibility of property gifts.

The newly created Council enabled its members to act as a group to make sure that negative observations of the foundation field would not apply to them, and that requests for funding would be answered quickly and equitably. In 1997, with support from the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, the United Way of Greater New Haven and others, the Council expanded to serve Greater New Haven, and in 1999, the Council changed its name to the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, recognizing its statewide service.

Despite all the changes over the years, some things remain the same. The public sector is still calling for accountability and transparency for private foundations and the Council is still providing a voice for philanthropy and a place where funders learn from each other and work together.

Exponent Philanthropy

The Fund for Greater Hartford is a member of Exponent Philanthropy. Exponent Philanthropy is the country’s largest association of funders—nearly 2,200 members strong—and the only one dedicated to serving foundations with few or no staff, philanthropic families, and individual donors. Their network has in common lean operations and a style of philanthropy motivated by personal passion, community needs, and the strong desire for better outcomes. They provide high-quality and cost-effective programs, resources, and connections that maximize our members’ dollars and time for the benefit of diverse communities and causes.