By SHERIDAN CYR
The Community Foundation of Greater New Britain in 2017 awarded three grants to Southington organizations totaling $42,500 in aid. From 2012 to 2017, CFGNB has provided Southington, either to organizations directly in town or to organizations outside of town with a local impact, with more than $2 million in financial aid.
CFGNB services humanitarian, educational and cultural organizations in New Britain, Berlin, Plainville and Southington. In 2017, CFGNB provided a total of $422,000 in grants and initiatives across the four-town region.
In 2017, Southington Community Cultural Arts was granted $25,000 to expand All Access, an arts program that provides accessibility to all, but especially to people with disabilities.
JASON Learning, a professional development program for Next Generation Science Standards, was granted $10,000.
The Southington-Cheshire YMCA was granted $7,500 for their LIVESTRONG Program.
“We look to give grants that will help community organizations meet a need in order to help others,” said CFGNB President, David Obedzinski. Organizations that wish to apply for grants are asked to send a letter of intent to the board of directors. The letter is reviewed and the board decides if the organization meets qualifications. “They focus on what is important about the group, and what the impact will be.”
CFGNB, one of the oldest community foundations in the nation, invests and administers more than 130 funds with a market value of more than $30 million, annually distributing approximately $1 million in grants and initiatives to their four-town region. Philanthropic partnerships with local community businesses and individuals make this possible.
Obedzinski became president last August after longtime president Jim Williamson retired. He hit the ground running with several goals and ideas for the foundation that he had been volunteering with for 12 years.
“I was leading fundraising at the Hospital of Central Connecticut when the opportunity came about for a professional role doing something I’ve been doing my entire career,” said Obedzinski. He has since developed three initiatives at CFGNB.
First is to inspire philanthropy. “We need to make an effort to educate young people about philanthropy and what opportunities are available to get involved in one’s community,” said Obedzinski.
Second is to prepare aid for natural disasters. Obedzinski said he was impressed and inspired by community foundations in Texas responded when Hurricane Harvey hit in August. Those foundations’ websites provided detailed, updated information storm information, donations needed, and quick web access to offer monetary donations.
The third initiative is to expand capacity building for nonprofits.
“It’s a challenging time right now for nonprofits under the new tax plan in 2018. They are feeling a lot of uncertainty,” said Obedzinski. Their uncertainty makes CFGNB’s influence that much more important.
CFGNB is working on a number of ongoing projects and services. Through a partnership with American Savings Foundation, they will offer a series of six in-depth capacity building workshops to strengthen local non-profits from March to October. Up to 15 non-profit organizations can enroll. A $2,000 grant will be rewarded at the end of the series to those who attended at least four of the workshops.
CFGNB also initiated a Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico Relief Fund. Established within 48 hours of the hurricane hitting the island, the fund has collected $41,428 in gifts and grants from individuals and organizations. An additional $7,500 was granted and designated by the Foundation for local efforts raising the total amount to $48,928. This fund is ongoing.
The Foundation is actively looking for people to join in the 16th year of the Catalyst Fund. Each member makes a $250 contribution to investigate an issue that needs to be addressed in the four-town service area.
The group collaborates three times to discuss ways to combat the issue through a non-profit organization. The organization then receives a $10,000 grant to address the issue. The Catalyst Fund has donated $150,000 in grants in the last 10 years.
“The Catalyst Fund gives philanthropists the opportunity to learn something about the needs of the community,” said Obedzinski. “We pool our resources and make a local difference in something that is meaningful to us.”
The first Catalyst Fund 2018 meeting is on Thursday, June 7 at the Hospital of Central Connecticut. The public is welcome.
To learn more about CFNGB, visit www.cfgnb.org.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.