Listening Tour Recap: Avon

On Tuesday, April 24, our GreaterTogether Listening Tour 2018 stopped at the Avon Free Public Library. Nearly 25 residents joined Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams for a thought-provoking community conversation. After a short introduction, the floor was opened to give those in attendance the opportunity to share what they love about living in Avon, as well as some of the challenges facing their community.

Here are a few things we learned throughout the course of the evening:

  • There was a robust discussion about mental health and the need for awareness and training, especially in schools and for first responders. This might go a long way toward reducing the stigma that still exists around mental health.

  • As in other towns, our grantmaking process generates questions and some misperceptions. We are often asked about our vetting process, our diversity policy and how grantmaking decisions are made. Some smaller nonprofits in Avon voice concerns that their organizations have trouble meeting our basic guidelines, such as our board diversity policy, and can get lost in the shuffle of larger nonprofits. Hartford Foundation staff encouraged folks to call the office and talk about the issue – we are here to help nonprofits succeed. Check out what we offer through our Nonprofit Support Program and resources available through other organizations, such as Leadership Greater Hartford that can help nonprofits build their board diversity. 
  • Changes to the tax law are on the minds of some folks, as well as the affect it will have on charitable giving. We are discussing and planning for these changes, and watching changes carefully to be alert to ways we can engage and inspire donors in these changing times. One participant mentioned our Board of Ambassadors and wondered if they could act as liaisons to the Foundation about issues in their towns. While our ultimate goal is to have all 29-towns in our region represented, the program is still new; we are steadily building toward full representation. 
  • Some are aware and concerned about diversity in Avon. More diversity brings a new way of thinking, and the challenge for Avon is to bring people of color and disabilities into the community. When thinking about diversity, many only consider race. However, in Avon, there is also economic diversity and a surprising number of folks who are not economically secure. One person pointed out that a recent report from United Way shows that about 30% of Avon residents fall within the report’s definition of “ALICE” - Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

Thank you to everyone who attended our fifth Listening Tour event! If there are any additional ideas you would like share, please email them to We would love to hear from you! Our next stop is the Early Childhood Learning Center in East Hartford on May 8. Visit for more information on how to register!

Live Doodle: Avon

Constanza Segovia of Veo Veo Design created this drawing based on the conversation at our AvonListening Tour event.

Click here for larger view

Video: Full Event

Event Photos: