Hartford Foundation’s Record-Breaking Grantmaking Topped $38 Million in 2018

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the community foundation for 29 communities in Greater Hartford, awarded more than $38 million in grants to the region’s nonprofit agencies and educational institutions in 2018. “At a time when our state and many of our communities face significant fiscal challenges, the Hartford Foundation was able to award a record breaking number of grants this past year,” said Hartford Foundation president Jay Williams. “We continue to look for ways to work together with our donors, nonprofits, and community partners to ensure Greater Hartford residents have access to opportunities that enrich their lives and secure a better future for our region.”

According to the latest estimated, unaudited numbers, the Foundation ended 2018 with total assets of $933 million in 1,230 funds. The Foundation received gifts totaling $13.1 million and opened 22 new funds.

“Greater Hartford is fortunate to have so many generous residents who truly want to make a lasting difference in their community,” Williams said. “The historic amount of resources we have been able to provide to hardworking and dedicated nonprofit organizations is a testament to our donors’ level of commitment to the region and the work the Hartford Foundation supports.”

Officials noted that the Foundation’s 2018 grantmaking - with a total of 2,708 individual grants made - was based on the recognition that "a vibrant and strong Greater Hartford region requires that all residents, especially those with the greatest need, have equitable access to opportunities to achieve and flourish." The largest percentage of grants were in education (33%), followed by family & social services (25%), communication and economic development (13%), and arts & culture (11%).

Among the grants, in each program area:


  • Hartford Student Internship Program - The Foundation awarded a $200,000 grant to Capital Workforce Partners to provide 150 Hartford rising high school juniors and seniors with internships and other work-based learning opportunities. The Foundation’s support extends opportunities to students with a variety of backgrounds, including students who have become disconnected from school.
  • Summer Learning Programs - In an effort to enhance summer learning and youth development, the Foundation provided $805,300 to support 34 campership, nine tutorial, nine Counselor-in-Training and five enrichment summer programs. Foundation funding supported free and reduced-cost access to summer programming, as well as targeted support for literacy, parent engagement and other enhancements for nearly 11,000 youth from across the region.
  • Early Development Instrument - The Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to East Hartford Public Schools to support projects based upon the findings of the 2018 Early Development Instrument (EDI), a population-based measurement tool that assessed the school readiness of East Hartford kindergarten students. Foundation funds will pay for the Transition to Kindergarten Campaign; an EDI Olympics for 8 elementary schools; capacity building of community and home day care providers; and project materials.

Family and Social Services

  • Community Safety Coalition - With a $160,000 grant from the Foundation, five local nonprofit agencies have created the Hartford Community Safety Coalition (CSC) as an organic response to the rising incidence of violent crime in Hartford. The coalition’s mission is to create healthy communities by collaborating on strategies to reduce urban violence and trauma in Hartford.
  • Center for Children’s Advocacy -  With the support of a three-year $260,000 grant, the Center for Children’s Advocacy is expanding its services to adolescents and young adults from Greater Hartford transitioning out of justice-system confinement or Department of Children and Families involvement. Foundation funds support a portion of the salaries for two project attorneys and a case manager. A portion of the grant can be used to support the Center’s administrative advocacy work with state agencies including the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Education and the justice system.

Community and Economic Development

  • Get Out the Vote - This past August, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving awarded thirteen grants totaling $116,565 to area nonprofits dedicated to informing and engaging underrepresented voters in Greater Hartford. This nonpartisan effort focused primarily on young adults, Latinos and Black residents and people living in high poverty neighborhoods. Over a three-month period, these organizations reached out to several thousand Greater Hartford residents, registering over 1,000 new voters and receiving 1,500 pledges to participate in the November 6 elections.
  • LISC Hartford - The Building for Health Project is focused on coordinating housing quality improvements (including lead remediation, energy efficiency, asthma triggers and others), providing technical assistance and grants to affordable housing builders/managers to help implement healthy practices in the buildings they manage. The Foundation provided a three-year, $313,000 grant to support Building for Health, which is a collaborative effort that came out of one of the Foundation’s 2017 innovation planning grants. The project involves a partnership between utilities, hospitals, community development corporations and nonprofit lenders to build the connections between health and housing.

Arts and Culture

  • TheaterWorks - TheaterWorks strives to bring in a more diverse audience, one that is more representative of the community at large and more inclusive of Hartford residents. TheaterWorks commissioned a market study in 2017 that found gaps in the arts programming available in the Hartford area, specifically in the areas of music, dance, film and spoken word. To support its ongoing strategic planning process, TheaterWorks was awarded a planning grant to develop, test and evaluate new pilot programs that would help diversify its audience while also filling these gaps.
  • Hartford Stage Company - The Hartford Stage Company’s Breakdancing Shakespeare program provides students between the ages of 14 and 18 with the opportunity to be part of a unique program that combines the text of a classic Shakespearean play with the language of hip-hop, rap and breakdancing. With the support of a $15,000 grant from the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation, students participated in a six-week rehearsal process, taking master classes with guest artists, developing skills related to the program’s first-ever production of Twelfth Night.
  • Connecticut Historical Society - The Cheney Family Fund at the Hartford Foundation provided a $3,000 grant to the Connecticut Historical Society to support “Facing War: Connecticut in World War I.” The exhibit displays hundreds of photographs from 1917-1919, many displayed for the first time and many in life-size, as well as letters, diaries, propaganda posters, clothing, uniforms and equipment. The exhibit focuses on the personal stories of 12 Connecticut individuals, including George W. Cheney, who served on the front lines in France for nine months.


  • Newton C. and Elsie B. Brainard Fund - For more than 50 years, families have been able to avoid financial ruin caused by medical bills with support from the Newton C. and Elsie B. Brainard Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. The Brainard Fund benefits residents of Greater Hartford who have assets to preserve, but who face medical and health care costs that would otherwise have devastating financial consequences.  In 2018, 21 families’ medical cases were supported by grants totaling nearly $224,328.
  • Hockanum Valley Community Council - In response to a growing demand for substance abuse treatment, the Foundation awarded a three-year, $127,752 grant to the Hockanum Valley Community Council (HVCC).  HVCC established a Medication Assisted Treatment program (MAT) in 2013 for residents of Vernon and nearby towns with opioid addiction. As one of the few providers offering this service regardless of a patients’ ability to pay, HVCC’s program has reached full capacity, growing from 32 to 52 clients in the past year alone. This grant is being used to support the hiring of an advanced practice clinician, which will allow HVCC to increase the number of clients served while increasing the quality of care and improving patient outcomes.

Nonprofit Capacity Building

  • The Nonprofit Support Program (NSP) - The Foundation’s Nonprofit Support Program helps strengthen nonprofit organizations in our region by providing tools and knowledge for agencies to build strong boards, plan for their futures, evaluate programs, improve finances and update technology. In 2018, 49 staff and board teams participated in the Social Enterprise Accelerator, 15 agency teams took part in the Fundraising Training Program, 13 teams completed the Financial Management Training Program, 23 nonprofit teams received strategic technology training, 17 agency teams completed the Building Evaluation Capacity Program, and 39 executive directors and staff leaders participated in leadership development programs. In addition, 73 grants totaling $2 million were awarded to support technical assistance (such as strategic planning and board development), strategic technology, financial management, and evaluation within our local nonprofits.  Eight nonprofits successfully transitioned to new leaders with support from the Executive Transition Program.  In total, NSP provided services to over 1,000 individuals representing over 450 nonprofits during the year.
  • Small Agency Grant Program - In 2018, the Foundation expanded grants to small and minority-led organizations through its Small Agency Grant Program. Eleven organizations successfully completed the Building on Success program that helps smaller nonprofit organizations grow to their next strategic level. Through the Small Agency Community Partners component, the Foundation has worked with 14 other nonprofit support organizations to increase the number and access to resources available to help strengthen small organizations.  Highlights include a new “Board Member Bootcamp” with Leadership Greater Hartford and Hartford Public Library, and a “QuickBooks Basics for Nonprofits” with the Small Business Administration and Hartford Public Library. 

Since its founding in 1925, the Foundation has awarded more than $758 million in grants.

Hartford Foundation Growth Responds to Community Needs

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the community foundation for 29 communities in Greater Hartford, awarded more than $33 million in grants to the region’s nonprofit agencies and educational institutions in 2015, according to the organization’s newly released annual report. The Foundation’s 2015 grantmaking was based on the recognition that "a vibrant and strong Greater Hartford region requires that all residents, especially those with the greatest need, have equitable opportunities to achieve and flourish," the report stated.  In order to make this possible, the Foundation provided support to nonprofit and public entities that "work to ensure everyone has access to the resources and services they need to thrive."

horiz HFPGThe Foundation invested 30 percent of its grants in education from birth through high school, and new and renewed college scholarship, according to the report. Grants for family and social services received 20 percent; health – 11 percent; arts and culture – 11 percent; community and economic development – 19 percent, general – 5 percent and summer programs – 4 percent.

“Thanks to the support of our generous donors, the Hartford Foundation, working with our many community partners, is leading and participating in collaborative approaches to harness resources and increase community impact,” said Linda J. Kelly, president of the Hartford Foundation.

The Foundation received gifts totaling $17.5 million and established 29 new funds, including a new giving circle, the “Black Giving Circle Fund,” to address issues facing Greater Hartford’s Black community.

“Our newly adopted strategic plan, with its focus on equity and opportunity, prioritizes learning from birth through college, vibrant communities and family economic security,” Kelly said. “We look forward to amplifying our efforts to address community needs to meet the broad-based and changing issues in our region, and create pathways to opportunity for all residents.”

The annual report highlights the wide variety of work the Foundation has supported throughout Greater Hartford, including:

Alliance District Grants (Bloomfield, East Hartford, Windsor): More than $1.5 million was awarded to three Greater Hartford school districts to establish or deepen each district’s partnerships with family and community, to improve student outcomes and promote equitable educational opportunity throughout the region.29 towns

  • Bloomfield was awarded a grant to significantly expand Bloomfield Public Schools’ family and community partnerships supporting an extended school day and increasing yearlong support of student learning.
  • East Hartford Public Schools received a grant to develop a new Teaching and Learning Center and other strategies that will enable it to support children’s learning, development, and success through increased family, school, and community partnerships.
  • Windsor Public Schools received a grant to establish a new Office of Family and Community Partnership to develop families, school staff, and community partners’ knowledge, skills, and other capacities to engage in productive partnerships focused on student success.

The Hartford Foundation has approved $3.95 million over three years in grants and technical assistance to support the Career Pathways Initiative, a collaborative, crosscutting approach to providing residents with education and workforce training that places them on a trajectory to ascend a career ladder in industries that have job openings. The initiative targets low-literate and low-skilled residents of the Capitol Region, including single parents, at-risk youth, immigrants, homeless heads of household, former offenders, and others who need a broad range of coordinated services to be successful. The initiative enhances or expands existing programs and pilots new approaches.HFPG 2015

Journey Home was awarded a three-year, $199,197 grant to support the region’s Coordinated Access Network, a collaboration of services providers whose goal is to establish a coordinated region wide placement and referral system for homeless individuals and families.

The Nonprofit Support Program continues to be a critical source of capacity building and knowledge sharing among our region’s nonprofit organizations.  In 2015, 218 nonprofits were awarded 96 grants totaling $1.74 million. These grants included support for technical assistance, strategic technology, human resources, board leadership development, executive transition, financial management and evaluation capacity.

Metro Hartford Progress Points, a partnership between the Hartford Foundation and eight other regional entities, launched the second edition of the Progress Points Report which focused on access to better schools, better jobs and stronger neighborhoods.

Since its founding in 1925, the Foundation has awarded approximately $654 million in grants.

Greater Hartford Residents Prefer Focus on Vibrant Communities Over Recruiting Businesses

In a time of reduced resources and stark choices for policy makers, a survey of Greater Hartford residents suggests that investments aimed at creating vibrant communities, with the focus on local schools, transportation options, walkable, attractive physical environment is preferred to devoting greater resources to recruiting employers. In a survey for the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving as part of the Metro Hartford Progress Points effort, and conducted by Inform CT, residents of Hartford and Tolland County, by 57 percent to 43 percent, said that investing in communities was a better approach than recruiting businesses.HartfordFoundation

The findings reaffirm one of the key goals in the new three-year strategic plan of HFPG, launched earlier this year, developing vibrant communities.  The plan states that “All of our region’s residents should have the opportunity to live and contribute to strong, safe vibrant communities,” and calls for a “focus on people and places with the greatest need by engaging and supporting partners who promote meaningful civic engagement, safe affordable housing, quality health and mental health care and a rich diversity of cultural and other experiences to improve the quality of life.”

mapThe data from the survey reflect a difference of opinion among older residents of the region.  Individuals over age 46 took the opposite view from younger residents, with a majority expressing a preference for spending skewed toward recruiting companies.   The reversal was dramatic, with two-thirds of those age 36-45 preferring investing in communities, by a margin of 67%-33%, and individuals age 46-55 expressing a preference for resources to be aimed at recruiting companies, with two-thirds holding the opposite view, 63%-38%.

Across all age groups, a majority of homeowners preferred that the emphasis be on vibrant communities, 52%-48%, and an even larger majority of respondents who are not homeowners, 64%-36%, shared the same view.

The preference for policy to be targeted more towards assuring vibrant communities than recruiting companies was consistent across a majority of respondents of various education levels and among white, black and Hispanic residents of the region, according to the survey.  A majority of survey respondents who are currently employed full-time, as well as those working part-time, and those unemployed all expressed a preference for investing in communities rather than recruiting companies.

The Greater Hartford survey results are not inconsistent with data gathered elsewhere.  A March 2014 national survey by the American Planning Association (APA) found that Millennials and Baby Boomers want cities to focus less on recruiting new companies and more on investing in new transportation options, walkable communities, and making the area as attractive as possible. The national survey found that 65 percent of all respondents and 74 percent of millennials believe investing in schools, transportation choices and walkable areas is a better way to grow the economy than investing in recruiting companies to move to the area, according to the APA.mhppLogo

A 2013 study in Michigan, posing similar questions, brought similar results.  In the statewide survey, 64 percent of Michigan citizens said they believed the most important thing state government can do for job creation is to “provide quality education, good roads and transportation, good public services like safety, water, fire, parks and libraries that create an environment in which people want to live, work and run a business.”  This contrasts with 29 percent who said the most important thing state government can do is to “cut taxes for individuals and businesses.”

Earlier this month, at the annual Municipal Collaboration Summit organized by the Hartford Business Journal, one of the session’s was devoted to an exploration of “Building Vibrant Communities,” with observations from representatives of Connecticut Main Street Center, the Partnership for Strong Communities and the Connecticut Economic Resource Center.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving serves 29 towns, hundreds of nonprofits and more than 750,000 residents in the Greater Hartford region.  As Greater Hartford’s community foundation, HFPG brings together members of the community to “share information, understand local problems and put resources behind effective solutions.”Print

Developed by a group of key regional stakeholders, Metro Hartford Progress Points is a periodic 'check-up' to build greater understanding about issues facing the Greater Hartford community. The second edition of Progress Points, released late last year, takes a deeper look at key issues impacting our communities and how they are connected, with a particular focus on access to better schools, better jobs and stronger neighborhoods.  Along with the Hartford Foundation, partners include the Hispanic Health Council, MetroHartford Alliance, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, Urban League of Greater Hartford, Capitol Workforce Partners, Capitol Region Council of Governments, the Center for Urban and Global Studies at Trinity College and the City of Hartford.

The survey was conducted for the Foundation during the 4th quarter of 2015 by Inform CT.