Black Giving Circle Fund Announces Grants to Ensure Equitable Access to Health Services and Support Creation of West Hartford Monument

In November, members of the Black Giving Circle Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving held a virtual meeting to review and vote on proposals from local nonprofit organizations applying for a 2021 grant from the Fund. After considering a wide variety of programs aimed at supporting Greater Hartford’s Black community, the members chose two proposals, one to engage residents in the development of a state strategic plan for dismantling systemic racism within the public health system and the other one to create a memorial in West Hartford to recognize the historic contributions of Lemuel Haynes.

The Black Giving Circle Fund awarded a $27,500 grant to Health Equity Solutions (HES) to support its effort to train and empower residents to advance implementation of Senate Bill No. 1, An Act Equalizing Comprehensive Access to Mental, Behavioral, and Physical Health Care in Response to the Pandemic. Enacted this year, the bill was created in response to the significant racial disparities in healthcare access and delivery that became more pronounced during the pandemic. The legislation declares racism a public health crisis; creates a cross-sector commission to create a strategic plan for dismantling systemic racism as it impacts public health; standardizes how race, ethnicity, and language data are collected; and takes other steps to address the impacts of racism on health.

This grant will support HES as it seeks to transform Connecticut’s healthcare system to ensure equitable access to comprehensive mental, physical, and behavioral health for Connecticut’s most vulnerable residents. This work will include offering guidance to members of new commission, mobilize and train Connecticut residents to self-advocate for timely implementation of Senate Bill 1’s goals and hold lawmakers and public officials accountable for the rollout and implementation of the initiative.  These efforts will rely on engaging and receiving input from residents who are directly impacted by racialized health disparities. This will include hosting listening sessions and community conversations, training, and resource-sharing. HES will engage key stakeholders via outreach, coalition memberships, state-run workgroups and commissions, and advisory boards.

“At the core of our work is organizing and centering the voices and experiences of Connecticut residents impacted by racial disparities in healthcare access and delivery,” said Health Equity Solutions Executive Director Tekisha Dwan Everette. “This support from the Black Giving Circle Fund will contribute to developing a long-term, permanent strategy for engaging Connecticut residents and stakeholders to inform public health policy and create plans that strengthen healthcare access and delivery and improve long-term health outcomes in impacted communities.”

The West Hartford African American Social & Cultural Organization has been awarded a $2,500 grant to fund a pedestal, installation, and a plaque comprised of an image of the Reverend Lemuel Haynes and important biographical information about his life. The plaque will be displayed in West Hartford and is a part of a broader effort that includes introducing curriculum about Haynes in the local schools.

Haynes was born in West Hartford in 1753. During his early years he was an indentured servant, but having fulfilled his indenture at age 21, he joined the militia and fought in the Revolutionary War serving in campaigns in Roxbury, Lexington and Ticonderoga. Upon completion of his military service, Haynes taught school in Bloomfield, CT as he studied to become ordained as a Congregational minister. He was the first person of African descent to be ordained by a white denomination, serving white congregations in Vermont, Connecticut and New York. In 1804, Haynes was awarded an honorary Master of Arts from Middlebury College, the first such honor for an African American.

“We thank the members of the Black Giving Circle Fund for supporting this project,” said WHAASCO President, Earl Exum. “For years, West Hartford elementary school students were given various options to study and do presentations on historical figures from our state, unfortunately none of these figures had been people of color. WHAASCO wanted to contribute something to address this omission. The Lemuel Haynes project will help spark interest and create inspiration to learn more, and then do more, to foster the type of community to which West Hartford aspires.”

The mission of Black Giving Circle Fund is “to create sustainable change in the Black community by leveraging the philanthropic efforts of donors and celebrating Black philanthropy.” Membership to the Black Giving Circle Fund is open to everyone. Donations from members (at least $365 annually per membership) are pooled together in a dedicated endowed fund at the Hartford Foundation. Members of the fund examine issues facing Greater Hartford’s Black community and, collectively, recommend grants to nonprofit organizations that work to address them.

For more information, or to join the Black Giving Circle Fund, visit or call Chari Anderson at 860-548-1888.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding towns. Through partnerships, the Foundation seeks to strengthen communities in Greater Hartford by putting philanthropy in action to dismantle structural racism and achieve equity in social and economic mobility. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $849 million since its founding in 1925. For more information, visit or call 860-548-1888.