Impact Fairfield County kicked off its sixth year of grantmaking with a virtual gathering of over 100 women from every corner of Fairfield County.
Existing, new and prospective members alike joined on Zoom to hear from Impact Fairfield County’s 2020 grant winners about their transformative programs, learn about Impact Fairfield County’s new Core Mission Grant direction, and discover the various ways to get involved this year.
Katharine Lumby, Co-President of Impact Fairfield County, welcomed the diverse group of women who gathered with one common purpose, to “learn about the needs in our community and collectively make a positive difference.” She emphasized that the goal at Impact Fairfield County of allowing local non-profits to “dream big” and create significant change right here in our local community is now more critical than ever.
Impact Fairfield County is a collective women’s giving circle whose mission is to empower women to engage in local philanthropy through deeper knowledge and active participation in grantmaking.
The organization unites women by pooling membership funds to provide large, transformational grants to non-profit organizations across Fairfield County.
In its first five years of giving, Impact Fairfield County has awarded over $1 million of grant funding to non-profit organizations throughout Fairfield County, including eight $100,000 Impact Fairfield County Grants for new programs or the significant expansion of existing programs, smaller general operating grants to its Finalists, and one 5-Year Anniversary Core Mission Grant of $50,000.
The 2020 Core Mission Grant was a pilot launched in response to non-profits not always being in the position to grow, especially now, but rather wanting to focus on strengthening their core programs to be sustainable long-term. The pilot “educated and inspired us to broaden what we will fund in 2021,” explained Impact Fairfield County Co-President Steviann Martines.
Before introducing Impact FFC’s 2020 Grantees, Martines and Lumby briefly recapped the inspiring work of Impact Fairfield County’s 2019 grant winners, Center for Family Justice (CFJ) and Kids in Crisis, both 12 months into their two-year grant period. Describing how Impact’s $100,000 investment enabled CFJ to provide 110 victims of domestic abuse with pro bono legal support, Martines emphasized that “it is because of 100 Impact women that we have changed lives for these victims who are fighting for child custody, restraining orders, financial support and safety for themselves and their children.”
Impact Fairfield County’s investment in Kids in Crisis to provide a mental health counselor on-site at the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich has been successful from day one, with kids (and sometimes parents) lining up outside the counselor’s door daily to receive much-needed support. Even amidst the pandemic, the counselor continued to provide virtual support to BGCG kids at home.
“Thanks to 100 Impact women,” Lumby added, “we have changed the lives of these children and their families, who are now a step ahead in learning how to battle mental health issues.”
Leaders from 2020 grant recipients All Our Kin of Danbury, Career Resources Inc of Bridgeport, and Building One Community of Stamford each spoke passionately to their rapt listeners about how they are eliminating barriers for their constituents, what winning an Impact Fairfield County Grant means for their organization, and how Impact Fairfield County’s funding is making transformational change in our community.
Building One Community, which provides services to the immigrant community of the greater Stamford area and won Impact Fairfield County’s inaugural $50,000 Core Mission Grant, was represented by its Executive Director, Anka Badurina, who spoke about the professional development program funded by the Grant to train their 30 diverse employees to better serve their community long-term. Expressing her “elation” at this “investment in our people,” Badurina thanked the women of Impact Fairfield County and welcomed them to “engage with us and learn more about the challenges facing the immigrant community by volunteering.”
All Our Kin, which won a $100,000 Impact Fairfield County Grant for expanding the quality, availability, and sustainability of family child care in Danbury, was represented by CEO Jessica Sager, who passionately voiced the powerful impact they are poised to make with the Impact Fairfield County Grant by “reaching 125 family childcare educators and a group of over 1,000 children.” In this pandemic year when “it is projected that half of all childcare businesses will be lost,” the grant will enable them to expand their work licensing new programs, coaching educators to provide high quality learning, all the while focusing on a whole new set of skills and supplies around health and safely, childcare business sustainability, and the social emotional well being of children and caregivers.
Career Resources Inc, also a $100,000 Impact Fairfield County Grant winner for funding a staffing agency to help citizens being released from prison gain employment training and access to jobs, was represented by Director Lisa Tella.
Tella was brought on board to lead the program, which provides critical structure and dignity to the lives of the formerly incarcerated through employment. Explaining that CRI had dreamed about this program for ten years, Tella palpably conveyed CRI’s relief and joy on winning the Impact Fairfield County. “It was a huge moment, not just for us but for the people we serve,” she said.
Thanking all of the 2019 and 2020 Impact Fairfield County members who invested in these organizations through their Impact membership, Lumby assured the women gathered, “Whether you play an active role or not, your membership contribution and your vote matter.” Leaders from Impact Fairfield County’s Membership, Events, Communications and Review Committees presented various opportunities for member engagement and encouraged all to go to their website, www.impactffc.com, to join if they hadn’t already and to find more information about ways to get involved on the website’s volunteer page.
The bottom line, as expressed by all Impact Fairfield County leadership: “Help us, join us, and be a part of this impactful journey.“
Martines concluded the event with a call to action, saying, “We are committed to continuing our work, and we need your help to do that.”
Stressing the need in Fairfield County, one of the most economically unequal places in the country where the disparity has only been exacerbated by the Pandemic, Martines said there is a lot of work to be done.
Judging from the 71 wide-ranging and compelling grant applications Impact FFC received this month, the need has never been greater.