Connecticut Community Foundation has launched a General Operating Support (GOS) Program that will distribute multi-year, unrestricted grant awards to four organizations whose missions align with the Foundation’s strategic priorities. Addressing the pronounced disparities in opportunities, outcomes, and well-being among Greater Waterbury and Litchfield Hills residents based on race, income, age, gender, geography, and other characteristics is a critical element of these priorities. In selecting grantees, the Foundation prioritized organizations that had a grant history with the Foundation and showed sound financial management, organizations led by or serving people of color, and organizations that have demonstrated robust community engagement with programs and initiatives informed by resident voices. Each of the selected grantees works to change systems and offer programs and services aimed at ensuring equitable access to opportunity for Waterbury residents.

The decision to implement a three-year core support grant program stemmed from years of research and key learnings from an earlier GOS pilot program at the Foundation. Implementing unrestricted, multi-year, flexible funding aligns with the Foundation’s trust-based approach to philanthropy. This funding strategy recognizes that organizations working in the community—who must stay agile to address shifting circumstances and needs—know best how to use their resources to serve their constituents. General operating support grants reduce the power imbalance between the grantee and grant maker by enabling nonprofits to devise their own solutions based on their considerable experience in the community and field.

“Providing multi-year general operations support frees up nonprofits from the need to continuously raise money or report on specific programs with defined outcomes” says Wanda Correa, vice president of community impact at Connecticut Community Foundation. “Instead, organizations can free up time to build a stronger infrastructure to provide programs and services that are more in tune with the local community and will have the greatest impact. In addition, when we make longer-term, open investments, it enables us to forge closer ties with nonprofits by allowing more open communication regarding significant challenges impacting systems change and how we may support them more effectively throughout their journey”.

The following Waterbury organizations will each receive $50,000 annually for three years from 2023 to 2025:

  • Madre Latina Organization Inc. – Madre Latina’s mission is to educate and empower generations of Latinas. For the past 11 years, the organization has been providing resources to educate, connect and empower the Latino community.
  • Neighborhood Housing Services of Waterbury – Neighborhood Housing Services of Waterbury’s mission is to build strong neighborhoods and communities of choice through affordable and comprehensive housing development, financial education, and furthering home and community ownership.
  • Save Girls on FYRE’s – Save Girls on FYRE’s mission is to motivate, inspire and empower girls of color to become Future Young Educated Role Models (FYER). The organization provides a safe environment for powerful enrichment and development programs that challenge the internal and external barriers denying girls of color agency and the right to live full lives.
  • Waterbury Bridge to Success (BTS) – Fiscal Sponsor: United Way of Greater Waterbury – Bridge to Success works to eliminate systemic inequities and improve lifelong outcomes for marginalized youth and families, particularly Black and Latinx. The organization facilitates cross-sector partnerships, builds community capacity and power, and co-creates equitable systems from cradle to career.

Research in the field of philanthropy in recent years has demonstrated multi-year, unrestricted general operating support funding supports recipient organizations’ long-term viability; promotes innovation, risk-taking, and action; and encourages grantees to make wise investments to address changing needs.

These grantees were among eight organizations invited to apply based on their strong records of impact in Greater Waterbury and Litchfield Hills. Applicants that were not selected to receive multi-year funding will each receive a $5,000 general operating support grant.