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Dismantling structural racism has never been a more urgent priority for our country and our community. For many years, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has been working to eliminate persistent disparities affecting Black and Latinx residents. The past year has exacerbated and laid bare the generational disparities in our region and throughout the country. The Foundation was compelled to sharpen its focus and confront the structural racism that has erected countless barriers for communities of color.

Last month, the Foundation launched the Action Fund for Racial Justice, a new fund to supplement the organization’s immediate ability to support nonprofits and build upon the Foundation’s long-term commitment to racial justice. The Action Fund is providing approximately $60,000 to supplement the Foundation’s endowment dollars on a broad array of grants that focus on supporting communities of color including youth employment, small business lending, college persistence, family wealth building, reduction in school discipline and expulsions and more inclusive libraries.

“We launched the Action Fund for Racial Justice to engage our donors in supporting local organizations on the front lines of advancing racial justice,” said Hartford Foundation Vice President for Development Deborah Rothstein. “These grants are just the beginning of our work to provide additional resources for efforts to help disrupt existing systemic racism in Greater Hartford and to encourage building new, more equitable systems.”

Grant dollars from the Action Fund are available for current use to address immediate and ongoing community needs; grants from the Fund will be awarded to nonprofit organizations that are working to dismantle barriers to opportunity for communities of color, rebuild more equitable systems, and/or support those adversely affected by systemic racism. This work must be informed by those most affected by inequity, and preference will be given to organizations working in collaboration with others to address long-standing needs.

The following organizations and programs have received grants from the Action Fund for Racial Justice:

Capital Workforce Partners – 2021 Summer Youth Employment and Learning Program (SYELP): In collaboration with the City of Hartford, Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL), and other partners, the program prioritizes Opportunity Youth defined as youth ages 16-24, not in school and not working. SYELP provides work-based learning and internship opportunities for youth with multiple barriers to educational and career pathway achievement. Action Funds will support the participation of 114 Hartford youth, approximately 50 percent Opportunity Youth and 50 percent other priority of service youth.

HEDCO, Inc. – Comprehensive Organizational Assessment: Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) such as HEDCO exist to reduce barriers to accessing financial and social capital for small business owners of color to achieve success through more accessible lending, paired with coaching, technical assistance, mentorship and training. Given HEDCO’s significant role in this sector through lending and technical assistance, its increased capacity is critical to better outcomes for Hartford area small businesses.

Achieve Hartford! – Summer Transition and College Persistence programs: In partnership with Capital Community College and Manchester Community College, the program will assist graduating seniors from six alliance districts to enroll and persist in post-secondary education. The expanded Summer Transition program will target 900 students and serve up to 700 low-income, first generation students of color from Hartford, Bloomfield, Windsor, East Hartford, Vernon and Manchester this summer to enroll in CCC or MCC. The College Persistence program will serve 360-400 new students at these schools in Fall 2021.

Blue Hills Civic Association – Families Building Wealth (FBW): A multi-generational financial literacy program will develop skills to build wealth and to open a savings account with $1,000 of emergency funds. 25 families, approximately 100 individuals in total, that complete the training will have the savings to cover expenses for 3-6 months. Participants will create and maintain a family budget for one year, have an insurance plan in place for their families and register to vote.

Center for Children’s Advocacy (CCA) – Youth SPEAKS: The program employs advocacy and organizing to reform systems in Hartford that perpetuate racial and ethnic disparities including in school discipline, juvenile justice reform and by facilitating Black and Latinx youth organizers. Goals include progress on eliminating suspensions and expulsions of children in Kindergarten-2nd grade and systemic reforms requiring police to collect and report race and ethnicity data of youth stopped. The project will engage staff to decrease disciplinary incidents and arrests at juvenile detention, justice and youth shelters center. The program will also seek to expand educational options for Hartford students attending underperforming city schools. Youth members of CCA’s youth organizing group will engage in systems change campaigns and increase their knowledge of the law and develop advocacy skills.

The Farmington Libraries – Advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: This program seeks to create a more inclusive organizational culture within the libraries; develop goals to make programs, services and collections more responsive to diverse needs of community; transform the libraries into forums and central meeting places where everyone can come together and talk about issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion. Phase I: staff and Board DEI training and a public forum; Phase II: DEI audit of programming and development of new community programs with partner organizations.

Donations can be made to the general Action Fund or to one or more of the Foundation’s strategic outcome areas:
o Increased number of Hartford residents living in higher opportunity neighborhoods.
o Increase stable employment opportunities for adults and youth in region facing barriers to employment.
o Address basic human needs, including strengthening the safety net for people experiencing food or housing insecurity and lack of access to health care.
o Support arts and culture in our region, with a focus on people of color, who are underrepresented in Greater Hartford’s art workforce.
o Support civic and resident engagement.

“We believe that racial justice starts with each of us,” said Rothstein. “The Hartford Foundation is asking members of our community to contribute to the Action Fund and partner with the Foundation to create equitable communities and systems that will allow all Greater Hartford residents to lead safe, secure and fulfilling lives.”

To learn more about the Action Fund for Racial Justice, log onto

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding towns. Through partnerships, the Foundation seeks to strengthen communities in Greater Hartford by putting philanthropy in action to dismantle structural racism and achieve equity in social and economic mobility. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $849 million since its founding in 1925. For more information, visit or call 860-548-1888.