Hartford Foundation Announces More Than $540,000 in Grants to Support Efforts to Dismantle Systemic Racism and Increase Equitable Social and Economic Mobility

Guided by both its mission and commitment to dismantling structural racism and increasing social and economic mobility for Black and Latinx residents of Greater Hartford, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving launched its Access Grants initiative in March 2021. This opportunity includes two rounds of Access Grants in 2021, with applications accepted on a rolling basis. From among the more than 50 applications received in the first round, the Hartford Foundation has approved 16 grants totaling more than $540,000.

“The Hartford Foundation continues to look for new ways to support and engage with nonprofit partners, old and new, in the effort to dismantle structural racism and enhance social and economic mobility for Black and Latinx residents in our region,” said Hartford Foundation Director of Community Impact Grantmaking Megan Burke. “Through these grants, we aim to respond to nonprofits who may be new to the Hartford Foundation or not as familiar with Foundation procedures, with a focus on organizations with leadership and staff that are reflective of the community and that are serving and having deep relationships in communities of color or other traditionally marginalized communities.”

Foundation staff considered requests of up to $50,000 over a period of one year. Grant award size is based on the scope of the proposal, the agency’s capacity to implement the work, and its expected impact.  These proposals support both new projects and existing efforts, including operating support for organizations with a mission that is dedicated to dismantling structural racism. While initial grant awards cover a one year period, work to dismantle racism and advance equitable economic and social mobility will require sustained efforts, beyond one year. As such, Access Grant recipients that are able to demonstrate progress towards and the potential for impact during and beyond the grant period will be considered for continued support in subsequent years.

Organization Name

  Project Description   Grant

Achieve Hartford!


Summer Transition and College Persistence programs: In partnership with Capital Community College and Manchester Community College, assist graduating seniors from 6 alliance districts to enroll and persist in post-secondary education. Expanded Summer Transition program to target 900 students and serve up to 700 low-income, first generation students of color from Hartford, Bloomfield, Windsor, East Hartford, Vernon & Manchester this summer to enroll in CCC or MCC. College Persistence program to serve 360-400 new students at these schools in Fall 2021.



ActUp Theater, Inc.  

ACTIVATE - Sibling School Program: In-school programming for facilitated workshops with students from CREC Greater Hartford Academy & Simsbury High School; students to alternate locations for each workshop. Participants to learn roles in advocacy in constructive and solution-oriented manner, broaden engagement within the community. Encourage courageous conversation and awareness of systematic discrimination and structural inequities through guided reflections & artistic expressions; Convene safe space to increase empathy. 

Blue Hills Civic Association  

Families Building Wealth (FBW): A multi-generational financial literacy program to develop skills to build wealth and to open a savings account with $1,000 of emergency funds. 25 families, approximately 100 individuals in total to complete the training and have a savings to cover expenses for 3-6 months. Participants will create and maintain a family budget for one year; have an insurance plan in place for their families and register to vote.



Center for Children's Advocacy  

Advocacy and organizing to reform systems in Hartford that perpetuate racial and ethnic disparities including in school discipline, juvenile justice reform and by facilitating Youth SPEAKS- Black and Latinx youth organizers. Goals include progress on eliminating suspensions and expulsions of children in K-2nd grade and systemic reforms requiring police to collect and report race and ethnicity data of youth stopped. Decreased disciplinary incidents and arrests at juvenile detention, justice and youth shelters center; Expanded educational options for Hartford students attending underperforming city schools; Youth members of CCA’s youth organizing group engage in systems change campaigns & increase knowledge of the law and advocacy skills.

Connecticut News Project, Inc.  

Amplifying Community Voices has three interrelated components: diversify sourcing, create a community editorial board, and build trust in communities of color. Effort will create more diverse sourcing; create interest in participating in the Community Editorial Board; encourage increased social media references to work, particularly among organizations engaged in issues with historic disparities (housing, health, education, justice, economic opportunity).  

Five Frogs, Inc.  

Brave, Bold Leadership Convening Series- four sessions for 15-20 leaders, followed by small group leadership coaching in cohorts of 4-5 leaders.  Participating Capitol Region leaders will 1) strengthen their leadership skills and practice, learn to lead more effectively for change to benefit diverse communities; 2) learn more about racism, equity, and social justice; 3) build confidence in talking about racial equity; 4) learn from other leaders with different perspectives; 5) build political power that shifts from passive to active 6) connect/collaborate at a deeper level with social impact peers, get feedback, reflections, and perspectives from diverse peers and expand their network. 

Goodwin University  

Entrepreneurial Network (ENet) Program: Wrap around supports for 20 returning citizens to complete certificate program and startup costs to launch small businesses. Goals include successful completion of first semester courses; successful completion of academic requirements of the entrepreneurial certificate program; completion of business plans and presentation of business plans at a culminating pitch event. Launch of business models and ultimately, launch entrepreneurial ventures by May 2022.

Hartford Interval House   New Beginnings at Interval House: Provide 30-50 Black and Hispanic clients over the coming year with financial and other support for essential needs in the areas of housing, legal advocacy, child care, transportation, and meals. Success measured by clients who enter a new living situation upon safe house exit & do not return to the abuser.
Hartford Performs   Interdisciplinary Middle School Residencies: Teaching artist of color for each of HPS’ neighborhood middle schools (Burr, McDonough, Milner and MLK) during the 2021-22 school year. Program goals include increased student exposure to artists of color from community, improved academic outcomes; ability to express knowledge in creative ways; increased confidence; success working collaboratively with peers and adults. Program also provides longer-term, better-compensated work for local artists of color.
Hartford Stage   Staff Hiring and Skills Development Initiative: promote DEI within and recruit diverse staff & volunteers as they reopen in the Fall. Work to support theatre’s efforts to develop anti-racist practices and contribute to welcoming community. New recruitment and hiring practices to draw from a diverse candidate pool & yield a diverse body of staff and volunteer members.
Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice   Expand "Building leadership and community organizing" program in Hartford, developing leadership skills of organizers, primarily women of color, and supporting emerging social justice campaigns, particularly around criminal justice reform. Program will train more than 250 in the Hartford Area in community organizing theory and practice; Build, with key partners, a robust, data-driven community organizing and campaign infrastructure that can segment and communicate with key audiences, and move them to action; Increase local civic engagement in Hartford neighborhoods and surrounding towns.
Know Thy Neighbor   Know Thy Neighbor:  Dismantling Structural and Systemic Racism in Hartford through neighborhood level dialogue to build relationships between residents, police and others that increase social cohesion. Includes evaluation component. Resume in-person neighborhood dialogues in Frog Hollow and Clay Arsenal; Explore adding additional neighborhood. Hold community driven neighborhood activities, community conversations with Hartford Police Chief, Superintendent of Schools, and City employees, and elected officials.   $18,000 
Make the Road Connecticut   Building Language Justice in Hartford Schools: Support for a parent-led campaign to promote language justice and access within the Hartford Public Schools. To have parents and students who do not speak English as a first language be able to fully participate in the school systems in Hartford. This work includes engaging parents that speak languages other than Spanish; collaborations with other community groups; increased number of parents trained as campaign leaders, leading meetings with school officials, talking to other parents, and development of campaign tactics and strategies.  
Second Chance Reentry Initiative Program   Core support and technical assistance to develop program for returning citizens, using cognitive development technique combined with professional and career development activities, to reduce recidivism. Programs not only reduce recidivism but the workplace development program connects individuals to long-lasting careers. Efforts focus on job placement and retention and expansion of additional partners to ensure more diverse job placement.
Student Loan Fund Borrowers' Collective   Student Loan Fund Borrowers' Collective: Create a sustainable organizing committee in the Hartford region to address education equity issues, including student debt cancellation and free postsecondary education. Program to recruit and develop 15-20 leaders working collectively in Hartford to address higher education justice issues; identify and champion specific policy change and reach up to 500 participants in public accountability sessions.
The Farmington Libraries   Advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Phase I - staff and Board DEI training and a public forum & Phase II- DEI audit of programming & development of community programming with partner organizations. Program seeks to create a more inclusive organizational culture within the libraries that is more inclusive; develop goals to make programs, services and collections more responsive to diverse needs of community; transform the libraries into forums and central meeting places where everyone can come together and talk about issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

The Foundation is now accepting applications for the second round of Access Grants. Nonprofits and community organizations with ideas to advance our mission are encouraged to learn more and submit a proposal before the second round deadline on Monday, August 16, 2021. To learn more about Access Grants and fill out an application, go to https://www.hfpg.org/nonprofits/access-grants. Questions may be directed at any time to: applications@hfpg.org