Fairfield County Forward FAQs
Fairfield County Forward, the Community Foundation’s new strategic plan, deepens our partnership with the Fairfield County community.
Fairfield County Forward is a partnership between Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and organizations and individuals throughout our community to create a Fairfield County where every person has an equitable opportunity to thrive.
Together, we have the power to change systems and dismantle the structures that have created racial inequities in Fairfield County to create a stronger, more prosperous community.
We are uniquely positioned at the intersection of wealth and community need. Because of this, we have the responsibility and the relationships to partner with those who are working to create an equitable Fairfield County.
Fairfield County Forward extends the Community Foundation’s previous work, which was centered on closing our community’s opportunity gaps. This new initiative, however, brings more focus and intentionality to the work to achieve greater impact. We are concentrating on the root causes of inequities and working to change systems and dismantle the racist structures that have perpetuated these inequities throughout our history.
Ultimately everyone who calls Fairfield County home will benefit from a more equitable community.
Opportunity does not have to be a zero-sum game where some people win and some people lose. Research has shown that removing structures that disproportionately favor one group over another ultimately means that there is more opportunity for everyone.
Fairfield County Forward will build a stronger economy. It will create a larger skilled workforce. It will promote safer and healthier communities.
For Nonprofit Partners
Grant agreements with nonprofit organizations that are currently engaged with the Community Foundation will continue without interruption.
Moving forward, our work will shift to prioritize our grantmaking around efforts that are centered on equity and aim to change the systems and structures that are at the root of inequities in Fairfield County.
Specifically, we will shift to a grantmaking model that supports programs and partnerships that advance the following goals:
- All Fairfield County residents have equitable access to workforce, entrepreneurship, and employment skill-building opportunities to achieve and maintain financial self-sufficiency and build assets.
- All Fairfield County residents have equitable access to high-quality, culturally competent physical and mental health services.
- All Fairfield County students graduate with a high school degree and are prepared for post-secondary education and/or employment.
- All Fairfield County residents have safe, stable and affordable housing in communities of opportunity.
As we adopt a more systemic and intersectional approach to our work, we are phasing out some of our single-issue or single-population funds, including the Immigrant Success Fund.
We will continue to support the success of immigrant communities across all of our focus areas: education, workforce, income and asset building, housing and health.
Organizations serving immigrants, particularly at the intersection of our target populations — youth ages 16-25; women and girls; and Black, Indigenous and People of Color — should seek funding through the portfolio that best aligns with the focus of their work.
Our next grant cycle opens in January 2023. We are hosting an informational webinar about grantmaking changes on November 3, 2022.
As we move forward, we will host opportunities to have conversations with Fairfield County nonprofits that will inform our future grantmaking. We anticipate that we will move farther down a path of “trust-based grantmaking” — putting faith in the people and organizations who are closest to the problems and challenges in our community to develop and carry out the most promising approaches to structural change.
This means the Community Foundation will closely consider nonprofits’ needs, streamline our application and grantmaking processes, provide longer-term and unrestricted grants, and simplify reporting requirements.
Donors who have donor-advised funds will continue to have discretion to make grants through their funds in accordance with their priorities. While we encourage donors to align their philanthropy with our strategic priorities, they are free to make their own decisions about grants from their own funds.
We will provide our fundholders with information about our priorities and more opportunities to learn about the region’s inequities and needs as well as consultation on how they can ensure that their grantmaking is achieving the greatest possible community impact.
We welcome donors who have a variety of interests and give to nonprofits locally, nationally, and globally. Moving forward, we will offer current and prospective donors more opportunities to learn about conditions in our community — as well as innovative and effective nonprofits and partnerships that are contributing to creating a Fairfield County where every person has an equitable opportunity to thrive.
We also invite Fairfield County donors and philanthropic partners that are interested in the Fairfield County Forward vision to explore how they can support the work of community nonprofits that are working to change systems and dismantle the structures that have created disparities in our region to create a stronger, more prosperous community where every person has an opportunity to thrive.
The Community Foundation is embarking on an effort to align its investments with its mission and values — an effort that we expect will increase investment choices for donors.
The Community Foundation has about $250 million in assets for which it has investment discretion. We intend to activate these resources in ways that will help advance our mission.