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Opportunity + Equity: A Time of Transformation

May 9, 2022

The two crisis years of the COVID-19 pandemic have brought dizzying changes, not only to how we all live and work but also to what we need to do to build the community of opportunity and equity that we envision.Great thinkers and leaders from Albert Einstein to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King have long emphasized that crisis can and must be the impetus for positive change. Surely, this is true of our time. In 2020-22, amidst tragic losses and glaringly revealed inequities, our deep social and racial divisions have been so inescapable as to lead many to commit to do more and to do things differently.This can be a time of transformation. Whether we all make it so here in Greater New Haven will determine much about the future of our community. For The Foundation, these last two yearshave been about transforming what we do and how we do it, both to continue to address the urgent needs and deep inequities stemming from COVID-19 and to more fully "inspire, support, inform, listen to and collaborate with the people and organizations of Greater New Haven" in the words of our mission statement.Transformation means many things at The Foundation. We are centering racial equity across all of our work. We are advancing economic as well as social solutions to the community's challenges. We are engaging community members more broadly and deeply, listening in new ways to those close to the issues we seek to address and empowering them with the authority and resources to act on their ideas.We are building a culture that embraces innovation so we can respond better to the rapidly changing dynamics in our community. The many ways in which these changes are reflected in our work are described throughout this annual report. At the same time, the pages that follow detail how The Foundation is building on our proud 94-year legacy of work with local donors and nonprofits, including receiving the largest gift in The Foundation's history this past year for the benefit of four vitally important local organizations.In addition to doing things differently, we are doing more. With the continuing extraordinary support of our donors and the unprecedented supplemental extraction from certain of our endowments under our Stepping Forward initiative, The Foundation will have an incremental $15 million in discretionary resources in 2021-23 to address the impacts of COVID-19 and to advance racial equity. Stepping Forward launched in early 2021. Its impact is reflected in all that is described in the pages of this annual report as well.In 2022, The Foundation is reviewing our plans and strategies and considering adjustments we may need to make in order to most effectively support meaningful transformation in our community going forward.As we do so, we see clear signs of genuine and important transformation. This annual report details three examples:While New Haven has long taken justifiable pride in the theatrical, musical, artistic and historic assets that make our area the cultural capital of Connecticut, the focus is shifting today. A movement to prioritize artists, creatives and different cultural traditions is beginning to transform how we think about our cultural life. Today, our community is increasingly about "cultural equity."A new generation of leadership voices is emerging in our community. Bringing diverse perspectives and new ideas about what equity really looks like, these changemakers are challenging traditional ways of thinking and beginning to set a new agenda.With New Haven growing and private investment increasing, the public/ private agenda in our community is increasingly focused on ensuring that the benefits of our growth are widely shared. "Inclusive growth" is beginning to replace "economic development" on the short list of our community's major priorities.

Understanding vaccine hesitancy through communities of place

November 19, 2021

This UK-US collaborative study examining vaccine engagement highlights the importance of tapping into local knowledge and leadership in efforts to improve Covid-19 vaccine take-up. It explores levels of vaccine engagement in four locations: Oldham and Tower Hamlets in the UK, and the cities of Boston and Hartford in the US.

Connecticut Town Equity Reports

September 9, 2021

This series of reports is designed to inform local-level efforts to improve community well-being and racial equity. These reports disaggregate data from the 2020 Census, American Community Survey microdata files, DataHaven Community Wellbeing Survey record-level files, and other federal and state sources to create relevant town-level information that is not typically available from standard public databases.DataHaven has published a town equity report for all 169 towns in Connecticut. We have also created these reports on request for custom-defined geographic regions, such as agency service areas.

Opportunities in Health Care: Evaluation of Career Connections Program at Norwalk Community College

May 1, 2019

The Career Connections program was a career pathways program at Norwalk Community College (NCC) aimed at connecting opportunity youth in Fairfield County, Connecticut to high-demand allied health care jobs in the local labor force. The term "opportunity youth" in this program refers to youth, aged 18 to 25, who have graduated from high school or the equivalent, are not pursuing postsecondary education, and are not making a living above minimum wage. The program design was conceived of by Fairfield County's Community Foundation ("The Community Foundation"), as part of its Thrive by 25 initiative. The Community Foundation also funded Career Connections. The Community Foundation, NCC and the NCC Foundation jointly selected Philliber Research & Evaluation as the third-party evaluation consultant for the program.Because of the many challenges these youth face, the program was designed to provide full coverage of the cost of NCC's allied health care certificate programs, as well as offer additional supports, such as workforce readiness training, internships, academic advising, job development, and subsidized transportation. An NCC Job Developer worked with employers to help place students in Fairfield County allied health care jobs. Career Connections, housed in NCC's Continuing Education and Workforce Development Division, launched in winter 2017 and concluded in fall 2018. 

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven 2018/19 Annual Report

April 25, 2019

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven 2018/19 Annual Report.

The Evolution, Expansion and Evaluation of the Family Economic Security Program

October 1, 2016

In 2008, the Fund for Women & Girls of Fairfield County's Community Foundation created the Family Economic Security Program (FESP). The goal of the program is to assist low- and moderate-income working students – particularly women who are single parents – in securing postsecondary educational degrees that can lead to careers offering family-sustaining wages and benefits.This paper reviews the research that prompted the original design of FESP; examines the results of the initial pilot demonstration at one community college; and highlights current efforts to test an expanded, enhanced version of the FESP initiative at a second community college in Fairfield County. The paper also discusses the broader local and national context within which these efforts have been occurring.

Reaching the Tipping Point: Insights on Advancing Competency Education in New England

October 1, 2016

This paper explores K-12 competency-based education policy and practice across six New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.This paper explores the core concepts of competency education, detailing the limitations of the traditional system, and how competency education is designed explicitly for equity and student success. Author Chris Sturgis then dives into why and how the New England region embraces competency education. She provides insights into policy strategies being used across states and analyzes the impact of competency education on quality, equity, scaling and sustainability. The Appendix offers a synopsis of each state strategy, complemented by short case studies of a few districts and schools.

It Takes a Village: Diversion Resources for Police and Families

June 27, 2016

Police frequently encounter youth running away from home, violating curfew, skipping school, and chronically disobeying adults—misbehavior that can often stem from family conflict and that do not require justice involvement. When alternatives are not available, however, these behaviors can lead to arrests or detention. Families dealing with difficult youth behavior often unwittingly send their youth into the justice system by calling the police because they feel they have nowhere to turn for help. For police, encountering these kinds of situations can be frustrating because they feel limited to suboptimal choices: either ignoring the problem behavior or criminalizing it.This brief explores the creative, collaborative, and community-focused work being done in Nevada, Connecticut, Nebraska, Michigan, Illinois, and Oregon to find productive responses to youth "acting out."  The juvenile assessment resource centers, crisis response centers, and crisis intervention teams in these jurisdictions address the needs of youth and connect families to resources and services without the need for juvenile justice involvement.

Co-Creation: Viewing Partnerships Through A New Lens

May 1, 2016

Collaboration remains an on-going discourse throughout the funder community, but little has been written about explorations or innovations into different ways of working collectively, beyond what was established decades ago.The Connecticut legislation calling for a greater coordination of efforts to improve early childhood outcomes explicitly invited "philanthropic organizations" to partner in the development of new policies and a systematic approach for supporting young children and families. The Connecticut Early Childhood Funder Collaborative emerged as the platform for philanthropy to do this work.Similar to other funder collective endeavors, the Collaborative and the state can claim short-term success. They not only had tangible results, but each valued their ability to coalesce to achieve those results. The difference in this effort was the melding of knowledge, networks and funding in a new paradigm. The more difficult question is whether the short-term endeavor creates the necessary conditions to sustain their efforts long enough to realize true systems change and improved outcomes for children and families.For large-scale systems change, co-creation may be a more fitting approach; it acknowledges self-interest, existing alongside shared goals and purpose, as necessary to sustain voluntary efforts. Co-creation is predicated on the notion that traditional top-down planning or decision-making should give way to a more flexible participatory structure, where diverse constituencies are invited in to collectively solve problems.Co-creation doesn't give priority to the group or the individual, but instead supports and encourages both simultaneously. In co-created endeavors, a shared identity isn't needed; members continue to work toward their own goals in pursuit of the common result. Co-creation enables individuals to work side by side, gaining an understanding of the goals, resources, and constraints that drive the behaviors of others, and adjusting accordingly to maintain a mutually beneficial gain.The partnership of the Connecticut Early Childhood Funder Collaborative, the State, and the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy was not originally structured to be an example of co-creation. It does, though, possess many of the attributes of successful co-creation endeavors. Recognizing these similarities in structure and purpose holds much promise to help the public and private sectors understand not only what to sustain, but how best to organize and continue working to achieve the long-term goal.

Children's Health Spending: 2010-2014

May 1, 2016

Children's Health Spending: 2010-2014 examines spending on health care for children covered by employer-sponsored insurance from 2010 to 2014. For the first time, HCCI analyzed children's health care spending trends at the state level, reporting on Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.Key TakeawaysPer capita spending on health care for children grew an annual average of 5.1% per year between 2010 and 2014, reaching $2,660 in 2014.Rising prices were the chief driver of growth in spending for children's health care in 2014.At the same time, there was a general decline in the use of health care services between 2012 and 2014.Among the states studied, Arizona had the lowest per capita spending ($2,151 per child in 2014), while Wisconsin had higher per capita and out-of-pocket spending than the national average in every year studied – reaching $3,017 per capita in 2014.

A Qualitative Study of Student-Centered Learning Practices in New England High Schools

April 1, 2016

In early 2015, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF) contracted with the UMass Donahue Institute (UMDI) to conduct a qualitative study examining the implementation of student-centered learning (SCL) practices in select public high schools in New England. This study extends lines of inquiry explored through a prior (2014) project that UMDI conducted for NMEF. The 2014 study employed survey methodology to examine the prevalence of student-centered practices in public high schools across New England. The present study builds upon the investigation, using a variety of qualitative methods to further probe the richness and complexity of SCL approaches in use across the region. Specifically, this study was designed to address what student-centered practices "look like" in an array of contexts. The study also addresses the perceived impacts that SCL approaches have on students, staff, and schools. Additionally, it highlights the broad array of factors within and beyond school walls that reportedly foster and challenge the implementation of SCL practices. This study seeks to help NMEF understand the intricacies of SCL and provides strategic considerations for how Nellie Mae can promote the adoption and development of student-centered practices in the region.Nellie Mae organizes student-centered learning by four tenets: (1) learning is personalized; (2) learning is competency-based; (3) learning takes place anytime, anywhere; and (4) students take ownership.Specifically, the study addresses five research questions:What are the characteristics of student-centered practices in relation to the four SCL tenets? How are SCL approaches implemented?What are the salient contextual factors (e.g., systems, structures, policies, procedures) associated with the implementation of SCL practices? How do they support, impede, and otherwise shape the adoption, development, and implementation of SCL approaches?How are schools with moderate and high levels of SCL implementation organized to foster SCL practices? What mechanisms are in place to promote student-centered learning?What is the role of SCL approaches in schools and classrooms? In what ways, if at all, are they embedded in the goals and practices of schools and classrooms?What is the quality of SCL instructional practices in study schools? What relationships, if any, do administrators and educators perceive between these approaches and student learning?

Coordinating Collaboration To End Homelessness: A Mid-Point Learning Assessment Of The Reaching Home Campaign And Opening Doors-Connecticut

July 29, 2015

The Reaching Home Campaign was launched in 2004 with the goal of ending chronic homelessness in Connecticut. Through the adoption of the federal Opening Doors framework in 2011, the Reaching Home Campaign expanded its focus to build the political and civic will to prevent and end all forms of homelessness in Connecticut. The report identifies some key elements that have helped us sustain the Campaign over the arc of many years: the Campaign has energized and motivated a diverse group of stakeholders to work together to respond to a significant social problem, established strong internal structures to direct this energy, and kept its focus on advancing change in a few distinct strategy areas. As the report notes, three key actions that have made the Campaign a success so far are a) finding a clear shared purpose and defining clear goals to guide the Campaign, b) nurturing strong relationships with state officials, and 3) speaking with one voice in advocating for solutions. The report also highlighted areas the Campaign can build on, including further refining its collaborative structure, amplifying its communications, and expanding engagement of staff working at the front lines of service delivery and people who have experienced homelessness.