Philanthropy and Public Policy Come Together to Advance Equity in Fairfield County

May 21, 2024

Dear Friend,

Grantmaking will always be central to our work in creating an equitable Fairfield County. But we achieve much more when we also use our voice and influence to advocate for smart public policies that advance equity and justice and strengthen our partners’ advocacy.

Through our work during the most recent Connecticut Legislative Session, we did just that – helping advance several policies that will increase opportunities for residents in Fairfield County and across our state.

Post-Secondary Education Access

We are proud to have been a lead champion of a bill that moves our state closer to making post-secondary education accessible to all students, regardless of income.

As a foundation that has a robust scholarship program to help Fairfield County students pursue higher educational opportunities, we believe colleges and universities in our state should not reduce financial aid awards to students who earn merit-based scholarships. This practice — called scholarship displacement — disproportionately affects students who face financial hardships.

Thanks to the leadership of its Higher Education and Employment Committee, the Legislature approved a bill requiring Connecticut colleges and universities to disclose their scholarship displacement policies.

With this new law, students will be able to make informed financial decisions about whether to apply for scholarships. Even better, we believe mandatory disclosure may help push colleges and universities to change their displacement policies.

Increased Opportunity for Workers

During this year’s legislative session, we also provided funding to nonprofits that successfully advocated for several other bills that will increase opportunity and advance equity in our state.

We helped fund the important work of CT Voices for Children and She Leads Justice, which successfully advocated to extend mandatory paid sick days to all workers in Connecticut over the next three years.

We provided financial support to Educators for Excellence, Faith Acts for Education, and ConnCan, which pushed for a bill that streamlines our state’s teacher certification process.

This will help reduce Connecticut’s teacher shortage by making it easier for professionals with at least five years of experience to teach certain courses and give elementary schools more flexibility in making teacher placements.

We are extremely thankful for the great work of the grantee partners who built coalitions and backed these bills — and who are working tirelessly on behalf of our communities to create systems-level change.

Pressing Forward

And while we are proud of what we accomplished together, we must keep pressing forward.  As in most years, the list of policy changes that still need to be made is longer than the list of policy wins.

Specifically, lawmakers failed to act on several critical measures that would address Connecticut’s housing crisis, create a permanent child tax credit, and make school meals accessible to all children.

Fairfield County’s Community Foundation will continue to fund efforts to move these and other important measures forward.  We will continue to raise our voice through direct outreach to lawmakers, public advocacy, and op-eds — and to fund partners organizing on the ground.

The journey to regional equity is a long one, but together with our government and nonprofit partners, we are making progress.

In Community,

Mendi Blue Paca