Press release from New Canaan Community Foundation:
June 24, 2021
The New Canaan Community Foundation (NCCF) recently announced $545,528 in grant investments supporting a total of 76 nonprofit organizations in New Canaan and our neighboring communities.
The Foundation’s annual grant process distributes funds raised from donors across the community, who give at all different levels to pool their collective resources and make their community a better place. Together, with the Foundation’s other grantmaking programs, NCCF will invest more than $2 million in the community this year.
Every year, NCCF’s grantmaking goal is to provide impactful funding for a range of programs serving our community. This spring’s 76 grants support five categories, in pursuit of the following results:
Human Services – Community members are able to meet their basic needs
Arts, Culture & Community Resources – Community members benefit from New Canaan’s cultural, recreational, and other community resources
Youth & Education – Youth have the academic, social, and financial support they need to succeed
Health – Community members have the information and access to services they need to stay
Seniors & Special Needs – Older adults and persons with special needs achieve and maintain a high quality of life.
This year, the Foundation chose to place additional focus on several key areas – including COVID-19 response and, for the third year in a row, behavioral health.
The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund was launched in March of 2020 with the mission of mobilizing private resources to: support the emergency financial needs of New Canaan families and workers; help nonprofit organizations adapt to changing client needs, as well as shifts in operations; and support critical services in lower Fairfield County. Since its launch, the fund has rapidly invested over $680,000 in community partners.
Behavioral health is a broad category that includes mental health as well as substance misuse issues. For the past three years, the Foundation’s Behavioral Health Committee has overseen this strategy. Together with this spring’s awards of $87,500 to 8 organizations, the Foundation has invested over $250,000 throughout the last three years. “Throughout the stress of COVID-19, and in the context of increasing national focus on mental health, the Foundation is especially pleased to continue grant making, collaboration, and community leadership work in the area of Behavioral Health,” says Laura Dobbin, the Foundation’s Board Chair. The Foundation and more than 40 local partners also recently launched “Let’s Talk About It New Canaan,” a local campaign to increase visibility and reduce stigma associated with behavioral health. The campaign coincides with the re-launch of a website, www.LetsTalkAboutItNC.org, which offers resources and information for New Canaan residents.
By dollar amount, the largest portion of this year’s resources is invested in Human Services. This year, the Foundation’s four remaining focus areas are funded in roughly equivalent dollar amounts. Per award, grants that fell into the Health focus area received the largest amount of money at just under $10,500 per grant on average – this is closely followed then by Seniors & Special Needs ($8,250 per grant average) and Human Services ($7,600 per grant average). Lauren Patterson, the Foundation’s President & CEO, commented on how this year’s funding was more evenly distributed than ever between the Foundation’s five impact areas, with each area receiving close to 20% of the total grant-making budget. “It goes to show how important each and every one of our focus areas is in supporting New Canaan and our broader community.”
Also notable, new grantees for the Foundation’s investments this year include: New Canaan CERT,
Sustainable CT, and New Canaan Public Access, Inc. (NCTV-79).
Total grants this spring were made as follows. An asterisk (*) indicates co-investment by a donor-advised fund, a partner organization, or the Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund:
Human Services – $159,750 to 21 organizations, ensuring community members feel safe and are supported to get their basic needs met.
Building One Community*: To support its Workforce Development Program, which addresses the need to integrate immigrants into the workforce by providing programs that are proven to help them gain the English language and job skills that increase their employability leading to self-sufficiency.
Child Advocates of Connecticut, Inc.: To expand volunteer advocacy services for abused and
neglected children in Fairfield County in three areas: Court Appointed Special Advocacy volunteers
to advocate for abused children; Probate Court Volunteer Advocates; and Community Advocates
for Children and Youth, a program where volunteers work on-on-one with vulnerable children.
Circle of Care: To support the Lifeline Emergency Fund, a financial assistance program that
alleviates some of the financial difficulties families experience when their children are undergoing
treatment for cancer. With 70% of families experiencing a financial crisis during treatment, and 50% of those the organization supports living below the poverty level, Circle of Care provides help by paying for expenses directly, like mortgages or utility bills, so that no parent has to choose between caring for a sick child and providing for their family.
Community Resources for Justice: To support the organization’s Re-entry, Domestic Violence, and Youth & Family Programs which support the safety and self-sufficiency of families impacted by crime, violence/abuse, and incarceration.
Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants: To support affordable, high-quality
immigration legal services to low-income immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and naturalized
citizens, with a focus on victims of domestic violence and other serious crimes in the Stamford area.
Domestic Violence Crisis Center: To support the expansion of the Youth and Family Counseling
program to better provide trauma-informed child and parent-child specific therapy as well as
support groups for the children of their clients.
Exchange Club Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse of Southern CT: To support the mission of HELP for Kids, which is to stop the cycle of child abuse by providing education and support services to families in Fairfield County, strengthening parenting and life skills of the parents/caregivers so as to improve the health, wellbeing and safety of the children. The families served typically face a variety of risk factors, such as lack of basic needs, domestic violence, mental health, substance use issues, challenges in handling problem behaviors of children, poverty or work-related issues that can increase stress. They are served without regard to economic status, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, etc.
Fairfield County House: To support a new program developed this year to provide a five-day
respite program for hospice patients and their families. This is an opportunity for patients to have a change of venue and experience away from their caregivers, and for families to get a much-needed break from caregiving so they can continue the important work of caring for a loved one and preserve their own health. Funds will make this program available to people who could not
otherwise afford it.
Filling in the Blanks*: To support the organization’s core Weekend Meal Program, which provides food on weekends during the school year for students facing food insecurity, as well as their Summer Meal Program which serves students while school is out.
Food Rescue US*: To support the organization’s volunteer-driven, community-based food rescue platform in Fairfield County, rerouting surplus food that would otherwise be thrown away to organization’s serving food insecure people. This year’s grant would be used to expand their team in order to support new initiatives as well as the increased demand for their services due to Covid.
Human Services Council: To support Children’s Connection, a Nationally Accredited Child Advocacy Center, which provides wrap-around case coordination, support, education and treatment services to children who have been sexually and/or physically abused and their family members. Services are available completely free of charge to individuals who live, work or were victimized in the communities of New Canaan, Norwalk, Wilton, Weston and Westport.
Inspirica: To support both Residential Programs, which include emergency, transitional and
affordable housing and Non-Residential/Support Services, including children’s services, job training, counseling and other support services. Inspirica’s mission is to shelter the homeless and to fundamentally break the cycle of homelessness by addressing not just the physical component, but also its underlying root causes. To this end, they have developed a unique two-generation approach to ending family homelessness that addresses all components of the family: adults and children alike.
Kids In Crisis: To support Safe Haven for Kids, which operates 24/7/365 to serve New Canaan and CT children (newborn – 18) who are unsafe at home, primarily as the result of severe family conflict, mental health issues, physical/emotional abuse or neglect, domestic abuse, parental substance abuse, family emergencies and family homelessness. Safe Haven for Kids comprises three 24-hour services at no cost: the Crisis Helpline, Crisis Prevention and Intervention, and an Emergency Shelter Program.
New Covenant Center: To support the operations of two core food programs, the Soup
Kitchen/Cafe, a soup kitchen open 365 days a year, and Food Pantry, which supplies food to
households to prepare 3 meals per day, as well as its smaller collaborations with Insprica Women
and Children’s Center and Saint Joseph’s Parenting Center, among others. Their goal is to reduce
food and economic insecurity among the neediest in greater Stamford.
Open Door Shelter: To support case management, housing and behavioral health services for
individuals in the shelter seeking stabilization and housing and support the organization’s overall mission to effectively address the causes and complexities of the homeless and working poor. Open Door provides shelter, food, clothing, case management services, treatment services, transitional planning for short and long-term goals, subsidized housing, education, employment, health services, and a path towards independence and success.
Pacific House: To support the emergency shelter’s meals program, which has seen a dramatic
increase in the number of meals served in the past year. In FY 2020, 263 people utilized emergency
shelter services and Pacific house prepared and served over 55,000 meals.
Pro Bono Partnership: To support free legal services to nonprofit organizations serving Fairfield
County, including many Foundation grantees.
Saint Joseph Parenting Center: To support the organization’s General Parenting Program (GPP) in English and Spanish, whose mission is to strengthen families at-risk of abuse and neglect by
providing parent education and support. The GPP involves a 28-course curriculum, facilitated by
volunteers, covering direct childcare and life skills.
Tiny Miracles Foundation: To support services for families with premature babies. These include: personal mentoring of families, provision of supplies, maintenance of family resource rooms, financial assistance, support groups, educational forums, after the NICU resources, and after-care programs.
Voices Center for Resilience: To support general operating for the organization’s mission that focuses on assisting communities in preparing for and recovering from tragedy, and provides long-term support and resources that promote mental health care and wellness.
Women’s Mentoring Network*: To support the E to the 4th POWER Program (Employment,
Education, Economic Security, Empowerment), which provides the foundational tools for low-
income women and their families to find better employment and educational opportunities
resulting in increased financial security. Women’s Mentoring Network offers one-on-one
individualized sessions in addition to weekly Life Skills Workshops. Services and programs are free and focus on job preparedness, financial literacy, digital & computer literacy.
Health – $125,500 to 12 organizations helping community members have the information and access to services they need to stay healthy. As part of this total, $87,500 specifically addresses behavioral health:
Americares Free Clinics: To support the Bob Macauley Americares Free Clinic of Norwalk, ensuring that low-income uninsured patients are able to receive medical care.
Family Centers: To support for the Den for Grieving Kids, which provides bereavement programs that enable children ages 3-18 and their families to process and cope with their grief resulting from the loss of a parent, spouse, sibling or friend.
The Rowan Center: To support the Center’s mission to provide counseling and support services to victims of sexual assault and eliminating sexual violence through community-wide education
Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County: To support hospice and palliative care for New Canaan and Fairfield County families facing financial hardship.
Child Guidance Center of Southern CT: To support high-quality mental health services for children and teens in New Canaan and surrounding communities, regardless of their families& ability to pay.
Laurel House: To support the salary of Resource Specialist, who can be contacted through its
website, www.rtor.org, to provide personalized service to families and individuals. The ultimate
goal of www.rtor.org, and of the Resource Specialists who support it, is to close the gap between
detection of the first signs of emerging mental health problems and engagement in effective care
and treatment. Laurel House clients are primarily in Fairfield County, are at or below 50% of the
Area Median Income and nearly 100% receive some form of disability benefits.
Liberation Programs: To support general operating, including inpatient treatment programs,
outpatient services, and resources for youth, adults, and families struggling with substance use.
Mid Fairfield Child Guidance Center: To support general operating, including comprehensive
behavioral health services to children and families.
New Canaan CARES*: To support the operational expenses that enable us to maintain and grow
our high quality, curated programming that reaches youth and parents at all ages and stages.
New Canaan Parent Support Group*: To support the organization’s mission to provide support for parents of loved ones struggling with substance use disorder or in early recovery; and to raise awareness about addiction, mental health and recovery in our community.
New Canaan Public Access, Inc. (NCTV79) – Podcast: To support Talking About It, a monthly
community podcast from New Canaan, CT dedicated to: reducing the stigma around behavioral
health issues our community members face, preventing abuse, and promoting healthy
New Canaan Recovery Corps: To support the operation and marketing of New Canaan Recovery
Corps, a group of local recovery professionals offering free, confidential support to town residents
looking to address existing or potential problems with drinking and/or substance use. Funds will be used primarily to generate awareness of the service, to make recovery services visible and to
reduce stigma which prevents people from accessing these services.
Seniors & Special Needs – $57,800 to 7 organizations ensuring older adults and persons with special needs achieve and maintain a high quality of life.
Family & Children’s Agency: To support FCAs Home Care programs that provide services to seniors that allow them to remain safe and independent as they “age in place.” Programs include Personal Alert Services, Home Health Aides, Assisted Transportation, etc.
GetAbout: To support the organization’s mission of providing transportation services to seniors and anyone with special needs in the New Canaan community.
Meals on Wheels of New Canaan: To support meal delivery services for the growing number of
New Canaan seniors aging in place.
New Canaan Mounted Troop: To support the Super Troopers equine care and adaptive riding
therapeutic programs, which are dedicated to serving children and adults with special needs who
reside in the local community.
Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs: To support their Arts & Movement program, which includes music, art, movement, and theatre, for children and young adults with special needs. Regular participation in the arts gives individuals with special needs the opportunity to participate more fully in the community.
Staying Put in New Canaan: To support the Staying Put Scholarship Fund, which will provide
membership to those who have limited financial means and/or physical and emotional disabilities. Staying Put provides its members with hands-on support, including access to medical and life-planning advice and transportation to appointments. A primary goal is to support social interaction, which is a major factor in being able to lead a happy and healthy life.
Waveny Care Center, Inc.: To support new technology improvements for The Village.
Arts, Culture & Community Resources – $108,728 to 18 organizations working to preserve, expand, and use New Canaan cultural and recreational resources.
Earthplace: To expand Harbor Watch’s water quality monitoring program in the Five Mile, Noroton and Rippowam Rivers in New Canaan and for support of experiential learning programs for high school and college students, including New Canaan students. Water quality monitoring will provide municipal officials with the data necessary to locate and fix pollution sources. Due to budget limitations, most municipalities do not have the funding, laboratory space, or qualified personnel to collect this critical data.
The Glass House: To support Glass House Presents, a flexible event platform that includes lectures, conversations, and other gatherings that sustain the site’s historic role as a platform for creative activity. Glass House Presents brings together lectures and conversations by notable architects, artists, curators, scholars, and others who explore issues related to the built environment and contemporary culture. In the coming year, and in response to the Covid crisis, Glass House will present 10 programs via Zoom.
New Canaan CERT: To provide funds to purchase critical training and operating supplies.
Community Emergency Response Team, a national organization under the auspices of FEMA, trains citizens in disaster response skills such as fire suppression, first aid and disaster medical operations. New Canaan CERT members must pass a national certification course and recently supported town efforts related to COVID and Tropical Storm Isaias, and regularly provide assistance at local events.
New Canaan Museum & Historical Society*: To support research and work with an exhibition developer to create a show and narrative to relate the history of slave and free black people in New Canaan, for display in fall/winter 2021-2022.
New Canaan Nature Center: To support the organization’s mission of inspiring people of all ages to respect, protect, and enjoy the world of nature through environmental education, stewardship of natural resources and service to the community and to support the salary cost of a part-time grounds keeper to ensure the upkeep and maintenance of the Nature Center.
New Canaan Public Access, Inc. (NCTV79) – Equipment: To support the purchase of equipment and the cost of community programming, including more original programming.
New Canaan Society for the Arts – Carriage Barn: To contribute, along with approved funds from the town, to the renovation of the Carriage Barn, which will update systems and expand the
capacity of the facility.
New England Dance Theater: To support their Arts Accessibility Program offered through NEDT In the Community and NEDT Dance! This includes: the Annual Nutcracker Benefit show; their dance demonstration series and participation in community events; classes for Carver Center and STAR, Inc.; and their Spring 2021 Carnival of the Animals inclusive ballet.
Norwalk Symphony Orchestra: To support (Not) Just For Kids, a free music education program.
Their mission is to bring the beauty and power of orchestral music through live performances and
music education programs to audiences of all ages. In the past few years, they have been able to
present 24 classes to after school programs for underserved youth and libraries. Six presentations
annually have been held at the New Canaan Library.
Save the Sound: To support the Restoration of the Norwalk River at Merwin Meadows Park in
Wilton. The goal of the project is to remove a derelict dam in order to enable fish to reach critical
habitat, eliminate a significant flooding hazard, and improve a community resource. Funding this
year is to support the construction phase of the project.
Shakespeare on the Sound: To support the launch of the Shakespeare Teen Troupe in fall 2021,
initially recruiting students from Norwalk and Brien McMahon High Schools (and then others from the area, if necessary) for half a dozen or more weekends of training and rehearsal under the
guidance of the Director of Educational Outreach, with planned performances in the winter/spring.
Silvermine Guild of Artists: To support general operating, including adjustments based on the
pandemic’s impact on the art institution.
Stamford Symphony Orchestra:To support two new initiatives that are planned to be launched in 2021: 1) a partnership with New Canaan Public Schools which will begin with master classes and
activities around the Symphony’s orchestral concerts at Stamford’s Palace Theatre, and 2) a series
of free community concerts, which will start with performances at Grace Farms and the Carriage
Barn Arts Center.
Summer Theatre of New Canaan: To support a professional outdoor theatre season for New
Canaan in 2021 by contributing to the replacement of the roof of its tent. Summer Theatre of New
Canaan has presented the past 13 seasons successfully outdoors under its tent. A new roof will
enable the tent to be used for another 10 years.
Sustainable CT: To support one Fellow, a college student, to be placed with the Western CT Council of Governments to work directly with New Canaan, Darien, Norwalk, Stamford and Wilton. The mission of Sustainable CT is to provide municipalities with resources and tools to help them become more sustainable and to certify and recognize municipalities for their on-going
Town Players of New Canaan: To support the expansion of the Powerhouse Theater Lobby. The
expanded Lobby will improve the safety and comfort of patrons and create access to two new ADA
compliant restrooms. This will attract and increase the number of individuals with disabilities and
seniors who will be able to attend live theater. The Town of New Canaan will contribute to the
project with the remainder coming from private donations.
Waveny Park Conservancy: To provide funds to initiate a feasibility study to convert an existing
structure to a publicly accessible restroom facility at Waveny Park. The Town of New Canaan
Department of Public Works will provide matching funds. Usage of the park has increased
dramatically in the last year and the need for this restroom has been the improvement most
Wildlife in Crisis*: To fund the construction of a staircase for intern access to the facility.
Youth & Education – $93,750 to 15 organizations helping youth build the academic, social, and financial support they need to succeed.
ABC House of New Canaan: To support the mission to support minority students who, because of their desire to learn and participate in a strong and successful secondary education environment, will bring their talent, energy and diversity to the high school and to our community as a whole.
Carver Foundation of Norwalk: To support the after-school Youth Development Program, which
takes place at the Carver Community Center, Norwalk’s four middle and two high schools, and at Side by Side Charter School and provides hands-on, personalized learning experiences for students who are economically challenged and/or academically at risk.
Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County*: To support its early childhood education (birth to five years old) and support services for low-income families in Stamford and lower Fairfield County.
Domus Kids: To support the Work & Learn employment readiness training program, which exposes young people to paid, hands-on work in a supportive environment so they can demonstrate improved skills in their chosen youth business and successfully complete the employment-readiness skills they need to find and keep a job. Domus generally targets disengaged and disconnected youth between the ages of 12-25 in Stamford and surrounding towns.
Future 5: To support the organization’s mission serving motivated, low-income high school students in Stamford, so that they graduate with an actionable plan and the necessary resources to move on to a four-year or two-year college, trade school, professional job, or the military.
Grassroots Tennis & Education: To support year-round, out-of-school time youth development, based on the organization’s mission to build strength of character and a foundation for success for children and youth through tennis and education. While they will still play tennis, as may permitted in the current environment, middle school and high school students receive help, both in person and remote, with homework, tutoring, and support in college and career pathways.
Horizons at New Canaan Country School: To support the organization’s mission of transforming the lives of underserved children and youth from Stamford and Norwalk through year-round academic and enrichment programs to inspire learning, encourage success, and close the opportunity gap.
Specifically, this year’s grant will fund programming costs for their new Team model of school year support that will increase the number of K-8 and high school students that can be reached.
INTEMPO: To support (1) the organization’s Music School 1 program, an afterschool music-
education program that provides free instrumental music lessons and tutoring in reading to those
with reading skill deficits and (2) a new guitar and choral program for to the US/English Language
Learners at Turn of River Middle School in Stamford. Intempo provides high-quality music
education to low-income children predominantly from immigrant or first-generation backgrounds and from communities underrepresented in the arts, helping them build critical emotional, cognitive, and behavioral skills.
LiveGirl: To support: (i) Confidence Clubs for middle school girls, which provide girls with a positive adult role model and a BRAVE SPACE to develop self-esteem and social emotional intelligence, the building blocks of a confident leader; (ii) Camp LiveGirl, a week in the summer of leadership development and teamwork for middle school girls; and (iii) She Works, for high school seniors and college-aged women, a career-readiness program aimed to equip diverse young women with career readiness skills and connect them with internships.
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk: To support expansion of the Aquarium’s suite of online programming, aligned with Next Generation Science Standards, for students in pre-K through 12th grade. Additionally, the Aquarium is a leading provider of STEM education in CT and its education department will develop 10 new virtual STEM programs and provide 120 programs, free of charge, to approximately 3,360 students who attend schools in New Canaan, Norwalk and Stamford public schools. Funds will also support the cost of purchasing technology, such as cameras, lighting, and microphones, so that classes can be broadcast from the Aquarium.
Mercy Learning Center*: To support a variety of programming for women, including part-time
tutoring, full-time classroom instruction, technology education, employment and life skills training, family literacy programs, and enrichment. Holistic support services including case management, childcare, legal counsel, nursing, citizenship application assistance, food, and diapers are freely available to all program participants.
Norwalk Community College Foundation: To support the Summer Bridge Math Intensive Program, which prepares students who have placed into remedial math for college-level courses.
STAR, Lighting the Way*: To support and expand the early intervention program for young children with intellectual/developmental disabilities including autism (birth to five, with additional services up to age 8). Funds will pay for services of professional therapists not otherwise covered by insurance, Medicaid, etc., to provide the intensity of services each child requires, regardless of the ability to pay. The program goal is for children to enter school developmentally on-track in literacy
and social, emotional and intellectual skills with a personalized transition plan.
Stepping Stones Museum for Children: To support the Youth Enrichment at Stepping Stones
program (YES2) and the Mutt-i-grees program, which is an integrated part of YES2. YES2 offers
participants, age 11-18 years old, enrichment opportunities and skills in leadership, workplace
readiness and positive social/emotional development. Participants are provided with real-world
hands-on work experience at the museum and through mentor guidance. The Mutti-i-grees
program is unique in its bridging of humane education and the use of shelter animals with the
emerging field of Social and Emotional Learning.
United Way of Western Connecticut: To support the Stamford Cradle to Career Initiative, a
community-wide partnership working to collectively align resources to ensure that all youth
succeed in education, career and life. The initiative is housed at the United Way of Western
Connecticut and involves many leaders of local nonprofit organizations.
This press release was produced by the New Canaan Community Foundation. The views expressed here are the author’s own.