The Valley Community Foundation(VCF) is aligning efforts in 2021 and beyond with its partner The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven(TCF) in Stepping Forward to help the Valley recover from COVID-19 and to expand equitable opportunities. An integrated plan is evolving and will continue to do so as community needs change in response to the changing dynamics of COVID-19 and racial equity.
Enhanced Grant & Capacity Building Programs
An area of focused investments involves VCF’s grantmaking and capacity building offerings for nonprofits.
VCF and TCF are exploring and implementing new efforts to strengthen their joint responsive grants program and to enhance capacity of nonprofits to adopt best practices and policies regarding equity. More resources are available through the joint responsive grant process with TCF. New grant programs have also been introduced.
New Equity Strategies
New equity strategies are strategies to create new processes and structures that help close existing equity gaps by being more inclusive of people of color and individuals from other under-represented groups. Plans for this work include facilitating community conversations and listening to the voices of those impacted by the pandemic and racism.
VCF's Board is exploring options such as creating a DE&I advisory committee to serve as VCF’s equity outreach and engagement partner. This committee would assist with facilitating community conversations, identifying and making formal and informal connections with community groups, associations and organizations that are led by under-represented groups, analyzing data and co-designing the details of the investment strategy.
COVID-19 Response & Recovery Fund
In response to COVID-19, the Valley Community Foundation (VCF), Valley United Way (VUW), Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce (GVCC), and the Valley Health & Human Service Council (Council) came together to establish the Valley Community COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. The Fund has rapidly deployed flexible resources to organizations throughout the Valley that serve the Valley region, especially to those who are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and the economic consequences of the outbreak.
In addition, the Greater New Haven COVID-19 Community Fund, a joint effort The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and United Way of Greater New Haven, provides flexible support for organizations working to respond to issues resulting from the pandemic. Eligible applicants will be organizations that are working on the frontlines with those individuals most severely and disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis in the 20-town Greater New Haven region, which includes the five towns served by VCF. There is a particular interest in supporting organizations led by and/or partnering with people of color and/or those living in poverty.
Pre-COVID Valley residents were facing the following challenges. These have only been exacerbated by the pandemic and recent events.
According to the 2019 Valley Community Index:
- The share of low-income students, measured by eligibility for the Free and Reduced Price Meals program, has increased to 40%.
- 21% of Valley residences are low-income.
- 8% live in poverty.
- 36% of Valley households are cost-burdened; 15% are severely cost-burdened.
- 35% of Valley residents have two months or less of household expenses in savings.
- 43% of Valley households are considered below the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) income threshold, which is $80,364 for a family of four.
- 30% of children under five identify as a member of a racial or ethnic minority.
- From 1990 to 2017, the population identifying as a racial or ethnic minority grew from 6 to 22 percent.
- Between 1990 and 2017, the number of immigrants calling the Valley home grew from 9,086 to 15,868 — a 75 percent increase.
In addition, Ansonia and Derby are among the top 5 most distressed municipalities in the state of Connecticut and have been so since 2018. (Source: State of Connecticut)
By stepping forward together, we can make progress for the Valley as a place of opportunity.