In 2018, the Hartford Foundation embarked on a listening tour to hear from the residents of the 29 towns the Foundation serves. Residents were eager to share what they loved about their communities, what challenges they face and how the Hartford Foundation might help. After 16 stops meeting residents from 23 towns, one common theme emerged; residents understand the challenges they face in their communities but are often constrained by a lack of resources. This lack of resources included the need for more opportunities to meet with one another, share concerns and work together with all members of the community to develop solutions, as well as funding.
In response to these community conversations, the Hartford Foundation has made an initial investment of $2.9 million to create the Greater Together Community Funds, which was announced at the Foundation’s Greater Together 2018 annual event. This effort establishes 29 separate $100,000 community funds, one for each of the towns in the Foundation’s region: Andover, Avon, Bloomfield, Bolton, Canton, East Granby, East Hartford, East Windsor, Ellington, Enfield, Farmington, Glastonbury, Granby, Hartford, Hebron, Manchester, Marlboro, Newington, Rocky Hill, Simsbury, Somers, South Windsor, Suffield, Tolland, Vernon, West Hartford, Wethersfield, Windsor, and Windsor Locks. The purpose of the Greater Together Community Funds is to support communities as they identify and address the unique needs in their own towns.
“Over that past year we asked Greater Hartford residents to imagine what they might be able to do in their community if they had more resources,” said Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams. “We asked what they thought they could accomplish if they came together to find ways to make their towns even greater places to live and raise a family? After hearing from our residents, the Hartford Foundation felt compelled to respond. By providing access to funds as well as expertise in grantmaking and a commitment to supporting civic engagement, the Foundation is committed to promoting broader and more inclusive resident collaboration across our region, and we look forward to strengthening our relationships with each of the communities we serve.”
The Foundation has developed a model for community-based participatory decision-making projects specifically designed to work for all of the unique communities in Greater Hartford. From spring 2019, each Greater Together Community Fund will begin to receive $100,000, over two years. Half of the fund’s money will be available to grant once a community’s advisory committee is in place. The other half of the fund is endowed, meaning a percentage of those dollars will be available every year to grant, following the Hartford Foundation’s spending policy. To learn more about the Greater Together Community Fund, log onto www.hfpg.org/communityfunds.
Each community fund will be handled by an advisory committee of town residents that must be inclusive, representative and reflective of all of the residents of that community. In order to establish the initial advisory committee in each town, the Hartford Foundation will conduct broad outreach to town residents informing them of the opportunity to be a part of this advisory committee. The advisory committees will identify the greatest needs in their communities and design a grantmaking process aimed to ensure that the community funds can have the greatest impact for the benefit of town residents. Hartford Foundation staff will provide guidance on topics such as participatory decision making, grantmaking and fund development, as needed.
“We ask our residents to imagine what their communities can do with a fund like this,” said Williams. “What kind of projects can benefit their communities for years to come? How can they come together, work together to make their towns even more vibrant for all? This is a tangible way how we can all be greater together.”
Four more listening tours are scheduled in January and February of 2019. More information is available online at www.hfpg.org/GreaterTogether
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $720 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit https://www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.