Trio of Community Foundations in Connecticut Hires Cesar Aleman as New Director

Jun 23, 2021

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and Hartford Foundation for Public Giving collaboration is part of a national effort to dismantle systemic racism.

(Norwalk, CT) — For the past several years, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and Fairfield County’s Community Foundation have been working together on collective strategies to help dismantle structural and systemic racism and achieve equity in social and economic mobility in their communities. In January 2021, the three foundations were selected to collectively participate in the inaugural cohort of community foundations in NEON (Nexus for Equity + Opportunity Nationwide).

For the first time, this group of nine regional grant makers from across the nation will work to align goals, strategies, and outcome measures to increase the impact of each individual foundation and demonstrate the aggregate impact of community foundations on their local catchment areas. The NEON cohort hopes to catalyze nationwide progress and attract philanthropic support from individual donors and private foundations. The three Connecticut community foundations are focused on promoting equitable growth and opportunity in urban communities and the newly formed group will be known as the Connecticut Urban Opportunity Collaborative (CUOC).

“While our three community foundations have been working closely over the past several years to promote equitable urban opportunity in the communities we serve, the creation of the Connecticut Urban Opportunity Collaborative will allow us to more effectively collaborate and coordinate on shared priorities,” said Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams. “By working with community foundations from throughout the country, we can share what we are learning with an eye toward developing effective long-term strategies to begin to dismantle systemic and structural racism in our state.”

In support of these efforts, the trio of Connecticut community foundations have hired Cesar Aleman to serve as Director of the CUOC. In this role, Aleman will coordinate a team of community foundation chief executives and senior level staff to develop collective strategies to dismantle structural racism and advance social and economic mobility; aligning the strategic and programmatic efforts of the three foundations to create an actionable plan that builds on each organization’s individual strengths. This work will also involve developing a broad network of relationships with national, regional and local partners and manage collaborative investments including the development and distribution of grant applications, RFPs, monitoring and reporting.

“We all recognize the complexity and breadth of the systemic challenges we face are beyond any single organization’s ability to solve,” said Fairfield County’s Community Foundation President and CEO Juanita James. “By aligning our diversity of experience, talent, expertise and financial resources, we can put our learnings and ideas into action to achieve tangible and sustainable progress to truly achieve equity in our communities and society.”

“By working together with an urban focus, our three community foundations can write a new chapter in philanthropy in our state,” said Community Foundation for Greater New Haven President and CEO William Ginsberg. “Our work together will be to raise and distribute funds to promote greater opportunity and greater equity in Connecticut’s major cities.  With sufficient public and private investment, our cities can lead Connecticut’s economic recovery and create opportunities for our urban residents, particularly people of color.  CUOC’s goal is to help make that happen.”

Prior to taking in this position, Aleman was an organizer for the Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance where he developed relationships with diverse communities and organizations to build power and implement practical solutions to specific social justice issues that currently include: housing, education, gun violence, criminal justice, and healthcare. Aleman has also provided communications and advocacy consultation as an independent contractor for the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund and was a racial equity consultant and strategist for RE-Center, Race & Equity in Education.

“The state of Connecticut is consistently ranked as one of the wealthiest states in the union, yet we are home to urban areas whose residents have consistently been denied equitable access to resources and have suffered the effects of poverty for generations,” Aleman said. “This collaborative has an opportunity to build on the work of each foundation to make unprecedented changes in our state. I am committed to work with our communities, our foundations, and public and private partners across the state and the country to make Connecticut a vibrant and prosperous home for all our residents.”