Thanks to the generous support of its donors and proceeds from the successful “Community Dinners for a Cause” series last spring, The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) is awarding $620,000 in large grants to 24 nonprofits serving Darien, Norwalk and Stamford to fund a broad spectrum of needs including at-risk youth, homelessness prevention, food insecurity, mental illness and more. Earlier this year, TCF also awarded $14,500 in small grants and $13,500 in grants allocated by its Youth Community Fund, bringing this year’s total to $648,000 in funding for 30 local nonprofits. The $620,000 large grant funding includes $40,000 in incremental COVID-19 relief funding to some of the organizations that have been most affected by the pandemic, particularly those addressing hunger, homelessness and providing emergency assistance.
Local nonprofits receiving TCF large grants are: Abilis, Americares Free Clinics, Building One Community, Carver Center, Child Guidance of Mid Fairfield, Child Guidance of Southern CT, Children’s Learning Centers, The Depot, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Family & Children's Agency, Family Centers, Inc., Filling In the Blanks, Food Rescue US, Future Five, Inspirica, Kids In Crisis, Laurel House, Liberation Programs, New Covenant Center, Open Door Shelter, Pacific House, Person-to-Person, STAR, Lighting the Way and The Rowan Center. Small grants were given to ABC Darien, Darien YMCA, Food Rescue US, Horizons at NCCS, Norwalk ACTs, Norwalk Grassroots Tennis and Education, and Stamford Cradle to Career.
Each nonprofit that receives a grant is thoroughly vetted by TCF staff and trained local volunteers, ensuring that donor contributions are allocated where they will have the greatest benefit. Grant panels of 6-7 volunteers, composed of over 60 residents from Darien and neighboring communities, review and visit 2-3 local nonprofits each year to ensure that TCF is investing in the most effective nonprofit organizations. This past spring, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the grant review panelists conducted their research and site visits to the nonprofits virtually. Despite the changed format, the grant review volunteers were able to learn about each organization and determine the most critical needs of our community. Kate Haviland, Director of Development at Child Guidance Center of Southern CT noted, “From my own experience with TCF, it is clear that (the) team takes a thoughtful approach to really try to understand program nuances and community needs.” To learn more about volunteering as a grant panelist in the spring, an estimated 10-20 total hour commitment, please contact Grants Director Lisa Haas at email@example.com.
The TCF grants address 12 areas of need including hunger, homelessness, substance abuse and domestic violence, mental health, early childhood education, and after-school programs. The largest amount of this year’s grant funding supports youth mental health and the greatest increase in funding since last year is directed towards programs preventing hunger (up 126%). “Our partnership with The Community Fund of Darien is so important to us,” said Shari Shapiro, Executive Director of Kids in Crisis. “There is no doubt that the TeenTalk Program will be more important than ever as our young people navigate the new normal.” TCF funds the in-school counseling support program at Norwalk and Brien McMahon High Schools.
Recent grants have provided early childhood education to more than 1,100 children in Stamford, funded a work preparation and placement program which taught skills for 389 low-income immigrant clients to earn a living wage in the first six months of the program, and funded a free clinic in Norwalk that serviced approximately 650 patients a year for approximately 2900 medical visits.
The Community Fund of Darien also encourages youth to be a part of the grant allocation process. Its Youth Community Fund (YCF), with over 60 high school students members, learns about philanthropy and the role of nonprofits in our community. Members participate in a variety of volunteer projects at different local nonprofit organizations throughout the year and raise money through different community fundraisers, such as a bake sale and a rally towel sale before the annual Turkey Bowl football game. They participate in their own grant review process to determine which nonprofits should receive funding. YCF granted this year’s allocation of $13,500 to A Better Chance Darien, Building One Community, Carver Center, Children’s Learning Centers, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Filling in the Blanks, Kids in Crisis, Inspirica, New Covenant Center, Open Door Shelter and Person-to-Person.