This Giving Tuesday, you have the power to shape a better future for Fairfield County

Nov 21, 2017

by Juanita T. James, President & CEO
Fairfield County’s Community Foundation
As published in Hearst News

We live in tumultuous times. When we pick up the paper, turn on the television or check our social feed, it’s all too easy to find cause for anxiety: ongoing division, social safety nets in danger, and more uncertainty to come.

But if we look, it’s also possible find inspiration. Today, I see a growing number of people answering the call to get involved in creating vibrant, equitable, inclusive neighborhoods. And as the holiday season arrives, it’s a golden opportunity for each of us to reflect on how we choose to give back in our community.

Right now, the need is great: with the combined impact of budget challenges and increased demand for social services, Fairfield County nonprofits are relying on donor support more than ever. Potentially, more neighbors will go hungry; libraries will close their doors; seniors and those in need of mental health services may lose access to quality healthcare. Data from Fairfield County’s Community Wellbeing Index, published last year, shows that these are already pressing challenges in many neighborhoods across our region.

But together, you and I have the power to shape a happier future. Tapping into that power will take neighbor caring for neighbor. If funding for solutions is not in our tax bill, it can come from people’s hearts – through gifts large and small, and through dedicated advocacy.

I’m heartened by the knowledge that our community has a rich history of generosity. When a group of local philanthropists founded Fairfield County’s Community Foundation in 1992, they hoped to build a stronger community by addressing the region’s most pressing needs. 25 years later, our mission remains the same; and thanks to the commitment of donors and partners, the Community Foundation has been able to accomplish more than anyone could have imagined at the organization’s founding in 1992.

Today, hundreds of adult students in Fairfield County have graduated from community college with degrees that can lead to living-wage careers, thanks to the help of the Family Economic Security Program (FESP), supported by the Community Foundation’s Fund for Women and Girls, now the largest women’s fund in New England.

Every year, more than 400 students across Fairfield County receive scholarships through the Community Foundation, which administers the largest program in the state. That number is climbing even higher, thanks to a fund set up this year by Grammy-winning musician John Mayer to honor his father, a longtime Bridgeport educator. Now, more Bridgeport students who want to be teachers will have a real shot to pursue their dream, and give back in their community. This adds to the other hundreds of scholarship funds created by loyal donors from the Greater Bridgeport Area Foundation and other communities.

And since 2014, tens of thousands of community members have come together each year for Fairfield County’s Giving Day, a 24-hour fundraising event spearheaded by the Community Foundation that brings in more than $1 million annually in donations to support hundreds of Fairfield County nonprofits.

All of these things have been made possible by the compassion and generosity of people like you. Our next Giving Day, set for March 1, 2018, is poised to be another record-breaking day of philanthropy, with more than a hundred nonprofits already registered to receive donations through

We also have a chance to make a difference this very week, on Giving Tuesday – November 28, 2017. This global day of giving, started six years ago in New York City, invites each of us to find a way to support our community, whether by volunteering or donating to a cause we care about.

It’s a message that I believe in, and that I’m thrilled to see taking root in Fairfield County. This week, I encourage you to get out and do something for your favorite organization. Donate to a nonprofit you care about. If you don’t know where to give, you can visit to make a contribution that will support our region’s most pressing needs.

But even more than that, I encourage you to make every day Giving Tuesday. In a time when advocacy and philanthropy are more important than ever, it will take all of us to keep this movement growing. So many nonprofits need our support. By taking action every day, big or small, we can help make Fairfield County a healthy, thriving place.

And each time we do, it’s a chance to write a better future for our community. It’s a chance to replace fear and anxiety with the happiness and peace that can be found in acts of kindness.

From all of us at the Community Foundation, we wish you a holiday season filled with the joy of giving.

Together We Thrive!