More than fifty residents of East Windsor, Ellington, Somers, South Windsor and Tolland joined the Hartford Foundation in our first Greater Together Community Fund working session on September 10. The purpose of the gathering was to begin an inclusive process to enable town residents to establish selection committees that will be responsible for creating community fund advisory committees. It was an energetic time of looking ahead and planning next steps. We are grateful to everyone who attended and volunteered to support the Funds going forward.
After comments from Foundation President and CEO Jay Williams and a presentation of how the Community Funds program will work, participants sat with their respective town neighbors and began the process of defining individual roles, planning the building of an inclusive selection committee, and thinking who might want to serve on the advisory committee . A Foundation liaison will be working with each town to help make those selections and answer other questions that may arise along the way.
Inclusivity is a critical component of the Community Funds program. The most successful efforts value and incorporate different perspectives and experiences, and practice inclusion. Each town will ultimately benefit from having an advisory committee that reflects all of the town residents and a decision making process where all town residents can have a say in what the town’s needs are and how to address them. When asked, “Who is not here?” the five groups came up with a long list of people to connect with over the coming weeks and months:
One common area of concern was how to connect with people who are not already involved. How do we make sure to bring in new voices? How do we avoid the same population who are called upon or volunteer for everything? Attendees recommended everything from press releases and social media to handing out flyers at farmers’ markets and local Foodshare events. While the Hartford Foundation can share best practices built by other community funds across the country, it will be up to each town’s committee to determine and implement what works best for them.
The evening ended on a high note. People from each town were exchanging contact information, planning their next conversations and promised to stay in touch.
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is excited to support each of the 29 towns in our region through the Community Funds. We appreciate learning from you as this process moves forward.