Connecticut Community Foundation has awarded a total of $13,000 to four Waterbury-based organizations working to engage people in historically marginalized communities through sharing information, opening new avenues for cultural expression, and growing opportunities for active civic participation.
The Foundation awards these community organizing grants to residents of Waterbury and to nonprofit organizations based in the city that have annual operating budgets less than $150,000. Through grantmaking in support of community organizing efforts like those described below, the Foundation aims to 1) grow equitable efforts to revitalize communities, influence local systems and foster youth leadership, and 2) develop robust networks of multi-generational Waterbury residents working together to achieve shared goals. Julie Loughran, president and CEO of Connecticut Community Foundation, said, “People know best what their community’s needs are and what potential solutions may exist, yet they often are disconnected from the systems and structures required to create change—especially if they have been marginalized over time. Our investment in fostering connections and organizing efforts in these communities—particularly among youth—is grounded in our firm belief that grassroots leadership is critical to the future of Waterbury.” Projects prioritized for funding through the Foundation include community events that strengthen bonds between people, organizing and advocacy efforts to effect change at the neighborhood level, non-partisan voter engagement, educational campaigns on how to engage local systems, and youth-led projects. Among the four new grants, $3,000 was awarded to the Rainbow Diversity Club at the University of Connecticut, Waterbury. Thalia Palacios, president of the club, said, “With this grant, we will be able to reach a larger audience to promote LGBTQ+ safety and inclusivity through the use of various fun-filled events. We want to provide an educational, nonjudgmental, and accepting environment for the queer population and its allies. With the aid we have received, we can progress towards a more cooperative future.” The new grantees include:
- Neighborhood Housing Services received a $4,000 grant to support black and African-American women who are starting a Waterbury chapter of GirlTrek with stated goals to: 1) lace up their sneakers and walk each day as a declaration of self-care, 2) heal their bodies, inspire their daughters, and reclaim the streets of their neighborhoods, and 3) re-establish walking as a healing tradition in black communities as a tribute to those who walked before them.
- Granville Academy was awarded a $4,000 grant to support 25 students and 12 chaperones on a trip to Alabama to learn about the civil rights work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to tour several historically black colleges and universities in the state. (The Priscilla Whittemore Travel Scholarship Fund at Connecticut Community Foundation made much of this grant possible.)
- The Rainbow Diversity Club at UConn-Waterbury received a $3,000 grant to support the university’s first official LGBTQ student organization, whose work will include LGBTQ Awareness Day, workshops on gender and sexuality, educational efforts on mental health and community history, a queer prom, and other events. All events will be open to the public.
- Let’s Go Youth received a $2,000 grant to support its “Our View” podcast, a nonpartisan political podcast produced and designed by youth of color who meet at WOW (Walnut Orange Walsh) NRZ Community Learning Center in Waterbury. The podcast focuses on discussions of current political, local, national and global events and the dynamics of the U.S. government, and provides community members with a platform for expressing their views and learning from others.
Read more about the Foundation’s grassroots grants. Top photo: Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Waterbury hosts GirlTrek walks in downtown Waterbury for African-American women and girls to encourage self-healing, women’s empowerment and healthy living. Photo courtesy of NHS.