Promoting Shared Understanding and Greater Opportunity

Giving Circles allow groups of people who want to support the community to work together, study a topic, and decide how to direct funds to support important solutions. The Hartford Foundation offers three collective philanthropy opportunities: The Catalyst Endowment Fund, Latino Endowment Fund, and Black Giving Circle Fund.

Typically, these groups meet separately, each taking on an issue that is particularly relevant to their Circle. This same process took place in 2016, but only after all three Giving Circles came together to form a shared understanding of Greater Hartford’s most pressing issues.

On January 27, 2016, all three Giving Circles attended a joint workshop that examined access to opportunity in Greater Hartford, using Metro Hartford Progress Points as a guide. The 2015 report explored our imbalances as a region and asked how we can build on our strengths, fully utilize regional assets, and reduce imbalances to provide access to opportunity for all.

“Building this shared understanding among the Giving Circles was very important to both their unique efforts in 2016, and the mission of our Giving Circles as a whole,” shared Deborah Rothstein, vice president for development at the Hartford Foundation. “While each of these groups has a special focus, all of them are tasked with advancing a stronger, more vibrant, and more equitable Greater Hartford.”

Fittingly, each of the Giving Circle grants awarded in 2016 seek to remedy a disparity and move a vulnerable population towards wellness and wholeness.


The inaugural grant awarded by the Black Giving Circle Fund focused on the importance of early literacy proficiency for Black children, particularly from birth through eight years old.

“As we were learning about literacy proficiency for Black children, time and time again, the role of parents as a child’s first teacher was emphasized,” said Dr. Tekisha Everette, a member of the Fund’s steering committee. “The committee therefore chose Catholic Charities’ Parker Memorial Family Center as its 2016 grant recipient.”

“Parker Memorial Family Center is doing incredible work through its Fatherhood Initiative by helping fathers and children connect while developing a child’s literacy proficiency at the same time,” continued Dr. Everette. “We are proud to award this $10,000 grant to enhance their work in Hartford’s North End.”


In 2015, the Catalyst Endowment Fund awarded a grant to Hartford Interval House, a domestic violence shelter, to evaluate and enhance two programs that help both mothers and children dealing with the long-term effects of domestic violence. Through the evaluation process, the organization identified extensive behavioral health needs caused by the trauma of family violence, many of which could not be met through current group activities.

It was this insight and need that led the Catalyst Endowment Fund to award its 2016 grant to the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center to address the mental health consequences of exposure to trauma. This $50,000 grant will enable the Injury Prevention Center to bring on-site, one-on-one behavioral health care to women and children living at Hartford Interval House. The new on-site services – the first its kind in Connecticut – will respect how different cultures view mental health, and will actively connect individuals to other community-based services.


The Latino Endowment Fund granted $20,000 to the Center for Children’s Advocacy. The Center will use this support to provide legal representation for undocumented minors who may qualify for a special immigrant juvenile status available to abused, neglected or abandoned children.

Read more about this grant and the many ways the Foundation has supported immigration issues over the years.

“The members of the Latino Endowment Fund always seek to support organizations and initiatives that serve some of our most vulnerable residents,” said Nelly Rojas Schwan, chair of the Fund’s steering committee. “We are proud to support the Center for Children’s Advocacy’s effort to support immigrant children who have suffered a great deal and have come to our country to have a new start in life, and need a wide variety of supports necessary to live happy, healthy, stable and productive lives.”

We are grateful to all our generous and thoughtful Giving Circle members. Your philanthropy, awareness, and voices are truly making a meaningful difference in Greater Hartford.