The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the community foundation for 29 cities and towns in Greater Hartford, awarded more than $52.7 million in grants to the region’s nonprofit agencies in 2020.
“In the middle of March, the world changed. Along with every other organization, we were suddenly and unexpectedly thrust into the worst global crisis of our generation,” said Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams. “The COVID pandemic at once, converged with and exacerbated, the long-simmering racial pandemic in our country. In the midst of this chaos, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving emerged as a more resilient, relevant and impactful community foundation. In light of the overwhelming response from our donors and reallocation of resources, the Foundation was able to nimbly, flexibly and effectively respond to the greatest demand for assistance that our communities have experienced in any of our lifetimes.”
According to the latest estimated, unaudited numbers, the Foundation ended 2020 with total assets of $1.125 billion. The Foundation received gifts totaling $26.7 million and opened 40 new funds. Since its founding in 1925, the Foundation has awarded more than $837 million in grants.
While the public health crisis required a significant and immediate response, most notably the creation of the Hartford Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund, the Foundation continued to make progress in all of its strategic priority areas focused on dismantling structural racism and improving social and economic mobility for Black and Latinx residents throughout Greater Hartford. This work included significant investments to increase the number of Hartford residents living in higher opportunity neighborhoods; increase stable employment opportunities for adults and youth in the region facing barriers to employment; basic human needs, including strengthening the safety net for people experiencing food, housing insecurity and lack of health access; support to arts and culture in our region, with a focus on people of color, who are underrepresented in Greater Hartford’s art workforce; and support to civic and resident engagement. The Foundation’s donor-directed grantmaking supported a wide array of organizations that respond to community needs, and a significant number of these grants aligned with the Foundation’s strategic priorities.
“As the year progressed, the urgency and importance of the strategic priorities of the Foundation, and the necessity of re-organizing ourselves for greater impact was never clearer,” Williams said. “The events of 2020 confirmed our commitment to prioritize our resources to dismantle structural racism and improve social and economic mobility for Black and Latinx residents. In 2021, the Foundation will continue to respond to the impact of the pandemic and support our region’s recovery.”
The Hartford Foundation 2020 grant investments included:
COVID-19 Response Fund
The Hartford Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund has made more than 200 grants, distributing nearly $9.5 million through the end of 2020. The fund initially focused on basic human needs as a result of health and economic impacts of the pandemic, and then transitioned to supporting a wide variety of nonprofits to provide services safely, including personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning costs, technology and minor building enhancements.
Providing Free, City-Wide WIFI to Hartford Residents & Businesses
In July, the Foundation, the City of Hartford and Dalio Philanthropies announced a partnership that will install a network of wireless access points across the city, providing a minimum of LTE-standard speed throughout the city at all times and at no cost to residents. Once completed in 2021, all city residents and businesses will have free high-speed WIFI access.
Connecticut Institute for Youth and Police Relations in Hartford
The Foundation and the Travelers Championship are co-funding a three-year, $400,000 police training initiative led by the University of New Haven’s Center for Advanced Policing and Tow Youth Justice Institute. The program will enhance training delivered to officers in Greater Hartford to assist them in balancing the demands of public safety and the best interests of Black, Latinx and other diverse youth. The institute will build bridges between the police and communities they serve. The first cohort of the program launches this spring.
Initiative for a Competitive Inner City
The Foundation brought to Greater Hartford this nationally-recognized second stage business development program supporting growth among small businesses owned by people of color and women. Key partners include City of Hartford, local CDC and CDFIs and the Hartford Chamber of Commerce. With COVID, the program moved online and established a resource center to help businesses navigate the relief resources available. The curriculum has been completely adapted to help businesses survive the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program offers Spanish translation services to increase inclusion. The two classes included 120 businesses, with 57 percent being women-owned businesses and 69 percent of the businesses owned by people of color.
Hartford Small Business Emergency Grant Program
The Foundation, in collaboration with multiple nonprofit and corporate partners, launched a $1.375 million Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program to provide more than 150 Hartford businesses with grants of up to $10,000. The Foundation’s contribution was earmarked for small businesses owned by women and people of color, including home-based child care providers.
Get Out the Vote/Get Out the Count
The Foundation awarded 20 grants totaling $448,400 to support voter engagement and Census participation activities in 2019 and 2020. Projects focused on underrepresented residents in hard-to-count areas in Hartford and inner ring suburbs, including mobilizing opportunity youth in census completion. Despite COVID, grantees continued to do their work, contributing to Connecticut’s ranking among the best-counted states in the nation with a 99.9% enumeration rate.
Artists of Color Advisory Group
The Foundation convened artists of color to discuss the findings from a 2019 study designed to better understand the dynamics of the Greater Hartford’s arts industry. Subsequently, we decided to formed an Artists of Color Advisory Group to provide thought leadership ensuring that the Foundation maintains a focus on artists of color in our arts sector work. The 14-member Artists of Color Unite made recommendations for the allocation of $400,000 in Foundation-directed grant dollars to support a COVID relief fund, arts projects and capacity building directed to artists of color. The group also supported a grant for Hartford’s Black Lives Matter mural, providing stipends to the artists. The Foundation then provided similar support for murals in two other towns.
Greater Together Community Funds
The Hartford Foundation has continued to engage local communities and progressed toward grantmaking from our Greater Together Community Funds. Despite COVID-19, 23 towns have established an advisory committee whose role is to set up a grantmaking process to benefit town residents. The Towns of Ellington and South Windsor have launched their request for proposals, calling for applications for their town fund; Glastonbury has launched an open call for letters of interest in applying for the town’s grant. Grants from these towns will be made in the first quarter of 2021. Each advisory committee has a Foundation staff liaison as well as a toolkit of resources that support the group in establishing a grantmaking process. The inclusion component of the program, combined with 2020’s broader reckoning on race, has led to in-depth discussions on diversity, inclusion and equity within advisory committees.
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 $837 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.