CCP Members Respond to Calls for Racial Equity and Justice

Publication date: 
June, 2020

Funders are responding to calls for racial equity and justice in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and in the midst of a global pandemic revealing stark racial inequities. CCP has compiled member statements of support and commitments to action.

Bank of America | Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation | Boehringer Ingelheim | Comcast | The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven | The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut | Connecticut Community Foundation | Connecticut Health Foundation | Dominion Energy | The Donaghue Foundation | Everyday Democracy | Fairfield County’s Community Foundation | Foundation for Community Health | William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund | Harvard Pilgrim Health Care | Hartford Foundation for Public Giving | Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford | The Leever Foundation | Lincoln Financial | Main Street Community Foundation | MetroHartford Aliance | Nellie Mae Education Foundation | NewAlliance Foundation | Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation | Perrin Family Foundation | Tauck Family Foundation | The Tow Foundation | Travelers | Tufts Health Plan Foundation | United Way of Central and Northeast Connecticut | United Way of Coastal Fairfield County | United Way of Western Connecticut | Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut | Valley Community Foundation | Webster Bank  


Bank of America

Bank of America announced today that it is making a $1 billion, four-year commitment of additional support to help local communities address economic and racial inequality accelerated by a global pandemic. The programs will be focused on assisting people and communities of color that have experienced a greater impact from the health crisis.

“Underlying economic and social disparities that exist have accelerated and intensified during the global pandemic,” said CEO Brian Moynihan. “The events of the past week have created a sense of true urgency that has arisen across our nation, particularly in view of the racial injustices we have seen in the communities where we work and live. We all need to do more.”

The work builds on economic mobility and workforce development programs Bank of America already supports in local markets, but will sharpen the focus of that work, accelerate the resources, and add a particular emphasis on health services during the pandemic. The announcement is aligned with the company’s commitment to responsible growth for clients, shareholders, employees and communities.

Areas of focus will be: 1. Health, 2. Jobs/Training/Reskilling/Upskilling, 3. Support to Small Businesses, 4. Housing.

The programs will be executed through the company’s 90 local U.S. market presidents and non-U.S. country executives to help develop the opportunities to execute on these commitments in areas that include:

  • Virus testing, telemedicine, flu vaccination clinics, and other health services, with a special focus on communities of color.
  • Partnerships with historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions in the United States for hiring, research programs, and other areas of mutual opportunity.
  • Support to minority-owned small businesses, including clients and vendors.
  • Career reskilling/upskilling through partnerships with high schools and community colleges.
  • Operating support and investment for affordable housing/neighborhood revitalization, leveraging our nearly $5 billion in Community Development Banking.
  • Further recruitment and retention of teammates in low-to-moderate-income and disadvantaged communities to build on work the company has already done to serve clients locally.

This work builds on steps the company has already taken, including an additional $100 million to support its nonprofit partners across its communities, and $250 million to assist with lending to the smallest and minority-owned businesses through its support to community development financial and minority depository institutions.

Link to Statement >>  

Bank of America, Commits $25 Million in Funding to Launch Smithsonian “Race, Community and Our Shared Future” Initiative >>   


Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation stands with people everywhere protesting persistent injustice and violence against Black Americans.

Our job right now is to listen and learn, to identify conditions that perpetuate racist systems and oppression, and to help end them. One way to learn together is through the visionary work of BRIDGE, a minority- and women-led organization co-founded by one of the leaders in the Black community, Gwendolyn VanSant. Their webinars, action labs and community conversations are helping to imagine a more equitable future. We are grateful for this important resource. 

We have work to do as a community and a foundation, and we commit ourselves to it. This fight is our fight.

Link to Commitment >>  


Boehringer Ingelheim

George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many others. All beloved family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers who died due to unnecessary force and actions. The recent and senseless acts of racism, discrimination and violence represent a powerful disease plaguing our country and to eradicate it, we must stand together more than ever.

Now is not the time to be silent. We must evolve from being bystanders to upstanders for ourselves and more importantly, for our colleagues of color who continue to suffer at the hands of unacceptable, systemic societal racism and discrimination. This also includes being an upstander for the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers who keep us safe and who reject the brutality displayed by police officers such as in the senseless killing of George Floyd.

We want you to know that your mental and physical health and safety are of the utmost importance. We understand what is happening right now across the U.S. is frightening, disheartening and traumatic, and recognize that these are not things that can be compartmentalized or separated from daily work life. Our managers and employees in the field should feel empowered to make informed decisions about working in environments or locations they feel are unsafe. Take the time you need, proceed with caution and do not take any unnecessary risks.

To our Black and African-American colleagues and friends, we hear you, we see you and we stand by you. We commit to having challenging conversations and listening with an open mind and open heart as we continue our work to create and sustain our culture of belonging. We have an opportunity to learn from each other and truly understand the depth of this disease to begin the healing process. Being there #ForEachOther is the first true step.

At BI, we strongly believe in creating an inclusive culture where each and every one of our employees feels a sense of belonging. We condemn all acts of racism, discrimination and violence and we believe the fight for racial and all equality is everyone’s battle. To that end, BI is taking immediate action.

BI recently hosted a moderated discussion with guest speaker, Deb Munster of Diversity Best Practices of Working Mother Media, where she asked us to consider whether passively denouncing racism and discrimination is really enough. It is not, and that’s why the choice to be an upstander versus a bystander could not be more needed than now.

Today is #BlackoutTuesday, in which BI is participating and going dark on all of our social media channels to take a moment to stop and reflect on long-standing societal racism and inequality that exists in our country today. We have also produced a powerful piece of content debuting tomorrow that reinforces how we stand side by side with our Black and African-American colleagues throughout this painful time. In the coming weeks, BI will also host panel discussions, courses and sessions on inequality for deeper understanding and will continue to explore options that can better address our efforts through healthcare inequalities.

We will stand together in this. Be safe. Be well. Be #ForEachOther.

Link to statement >>  


Comcast

Racism, injustice and violence have no place in our society and cannot be tolerated. Yet we continue to be unable to make enough progress in this country – so at this moment it is critical to step back, face the hard subjects and try to reflect.

I have talked with many employees and share their feelings of anger, frustration and outrage following the senseless killing of George Floyd, and other instances of violence against Black people. These atrocities run counter to everything our company stands for.

It is heartbreaking and tragic that in 2020, we find ourselves still struggling with issues that are so core to human dignity. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has also hit communities of color particularly hard, it is more important than ever that we be united, and yet it feels as if the opposite is the case.

At Comcast, we aspire to build better lives for all of us. We strive to have a diverse employee population and recognize that only by interacting with, and listening to people of all races, backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientations and abilities can we hope to truly understand and appreciate one another. And we are committed to using our platforms across the company to educate, inform and inspire the public.

I want to thank our courageous journalists at NBCUniversal for risking their safety to shine a light on what is happening, as well as our Comcast Cable field technicians and retail store employees who continue to put themselves on the frontlines to support our customers in even the most difficult circumstances. You make us very proud.

Honest dialogue is critical, as is fighting injustice wherever it exists. We are committed to being a champion for equality as we continue this journey together. Stay safe.

Link to Statement >> 


The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

Over the last three months we have been deeply engaged in supporting our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to work with various organizations and leaders to address the virus’s devastating impact on every aspect of our lives from education to economic security, to mental well-being, housing, food insecurity and all points in between. We are unwavering in our commitment to helping vulnerable members of our region navigate this unprecedented crisis. We realize, however, that many of the COVID-19 disparities we now face result from longstanding challenges that aren’t relegated to the past.

Today, as uprisings erupt in cities across our country, we unequivocally reject the pernicious evils of racism and indifference that have defined the life chances of many in our country for far too long. As the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. admonishes us, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” We issue this Call to Community because none of us can afford to remain silent any longer.

The recent deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia remind us of the tremendous work that needs to be done to affirm the inherent worth and value of every member of our community. That work requires that we acknowledge the myriad ways structural racism shapes everyday interactions such as birdwatching in a park, jogging in a neighborhood, studying in a common area or simply sitting in our own home. The repeated assaults on the psyche and well-being of African Americans and other people of color erode the bonds that are necessary to move our region forward; together. Quite simply, all lives cannot matter until every person in our country is able to pursue her purpose without fear of harm simply because of the color of their skin, where they live or whom they love.

Our Call to Community is built on the belief that the work that must be done does not just fall on the shoulders of those who have been harmed. Rather, it requires an intentional commitment from all of us to do the work today, of building a stronger and safer tomorrow. Not just for some of us, but for all of us.

At The Community Foundation we envision a future of increasing opportunity where justice, equity, and freedom can flourish. The successful pursuit of that vision requires both conversation and dedicated action across the lines that traditionally divide us. We encourage members of the Greater New Haven region to join this Call to Community by:

  • LISTENING to the concerns and fears of those whose experiences may differ from our own.

  • LEARNING from what’s happening across the country and across our region to better confront our challenges here at home.

  • LEVERAGING our talent and resources to amplify the voices and experiences of those who are traditionally overlooked.

  • LEADING on issues of mutual concern and progress.

We hope you will join us in answering the Call to Community.

Link to Statement >>  


The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut

We are heartbroken and outraged about the long history of police brutality against African Americans in the United States. We grieve with the survivors of systemic racial violence in this country.
 
We stand with all who condemn racism and violence in all its forms, starting with the trafficking, torture and enslavement of Africans some 400 years ago. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the racial inequities that are the result of a deeply entrenched racist and unjust system. The school-to-prison pipeline perpetuates injustice, discrimination and state-sanctioned inequality. Twice as many black children as white live in poverty and are, from the beginning, set up for a life of poor health and education, and few opportunities. This does not paint a picture of a democratic society.
 
We want to be part of the solution. As a board and staff, we have embraced principles of equity and social justice in our work. We are committed to learning from community members of their experiences and seek their wisdom to advance our work in a way that intentionally addresses inequities. We continuously educate ourselves on the history of this country, its legislation, and the cost of privilege to understand the reasons for such inequity. We support advocacy initiatives intended to level the playing field. We support mentoring collaboratives and school partnerships to address the immediate needs of students in vulnerable circumstances. We convene thought partners and provide grants to organizations that have the values, knowledge, commitment and capacity to bring about positive change in our community.
 
We need to do more. We need to seek out, nurture and support local grassroots organizers and activists. We need to be present at rallies, vigils, hearings and community gatherings and support “Black Lives Matter” and other organizations calling out for social justice and racial equity. We need to support youth activism. 
 
We need to act and be present, unequivocal and unapologetic in our support for equity and social justice. We need to lend our voice and our name where it matters. We need to share the power of philanthropy to advance basic human rights. 
 
We pledge to do all this and more. We are guided by our values to work harder towards our vision of a healthy, thriving, sustainable Eastern Connecticut with greater equity for all.

Link to Statement >>  


Connecticut Community Foundation

Images of police brutality, along with the testimonials of countless people whose real experiences of violence and racism weren’t captured by cameras, are gripping us as people and as a community. All at once, it is shocking, yet far too familiar.

The deep social fractures visible in our streets and on our screens are inflamed by brutal acts like the killing of George Floyd, but they are grounded in centuries of racism and unjust systems that reflect who is valued more, and who can expect to be treated better. Pernicious values — inherited, protected, and enshrined in policy and practice across decades and generations — lead not only to the violent deaths of people of color, but also to everyday inequities. The COVID-19 crisis offers just one particularly current example: As the epidemic of the coronavirus has collided with the epidemic of racial inequity, we have seen people of color disproportionately harmed not only by the virus itself, but by other aspects of the pandemic’s fallout, including job displacement, poor access to health care, and unequal access to education during distance learning.

We can and must do better. If we hope to move forward as a community and as a society, we cannot keep standing still. Change will come only through the collective efforts of people of all races who have declared — in the streets, in their homes, in their hearts — that enough is enough. It will take work, and it will take all of us. At Connecticut Community Foundation, despite the violence and strife in the streets, we choose to see hope in this moment. We pledge to use our privilege and work alongside our neighbors toward sustainable change that advances racial equity throughout Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills. Now is the time to move forward — together.

Link to Statement >> 


Connecticut Health Foundation

Like many of you, I have struggled with a deep sense of anger, frustration, and sadness in the days following the death of George Floyd – just the latest in a series of horrifying and unjust killings of black Americans at the hands of police.

At times like this it can feel easy to despair. There have been so many of these terrible killings that have led me to think, “Isn’t this enough? When will something change?” Yet we continue to see the deadly consequences of the racism that underlies our society.

Racism takes many forms. While many people immediately recognize when racism occurs in interpersonal situations, it also occurs on deeper levels that affect all of us. Many of the structures and systems in our society have roots in policies that discriminated by race and now produce unequal outcomes. Even if you do not subscribe to racist views and commit interpersonal racism, many of us still benefit from the effects of systemic racism and the advantages it confers to white people.

As a foundation, we focus on health – a field in which the effects of racism are clear in the stark disparities that exist. On average, black and Hispanic Connecticut residents live in poorer health than white residents, and black residents die younger. These disparities reflect different levels of access to resources including health insurance, a regular doctor, stable housing, nutritious food, transportation, income, as well as to the effects of more direct forms of racism – unequal treatment within medicine and the psychological and physiological effects of living with the stress of discrimination.

It would be a mistake to view the health effects of racism as separate from the ways racial injustice affects nearly every other sector – including education, housing, employment, and the justice system. The racial disparities we see in nearly every part of society are not accidents, nor are they because there is any fundamental difference between people of different races or ethnicity. They are the result of racist systems that privilege white people and impose burden after burden on people of color.

We must do better. We cannot accept this. We must demand change.

All of us come to this conversation from a different starting point. For many, there is value in furthering our own education on the roots and impact of racism and how we can actively fight against it. Here are three resources that can be helpful starting points:

As a foundation, we grieve and acknowledge the deep injustice and loss. We stand with the black community and will not waver in our resolve to fight racial injustice and build a better, healthier Connecticut.

Link to Statement >>

Related CTHealth Blog: Facing racism: A call to action for Philanthropy >>  


Dominion Energy

Dominion Energy and its charitable foundation are committing $5 million to help community reconciliation and rebuilding across the company's 20-state footprint. The funds will support non-profit organizations advocating for social justice and equality. Grants will also be designated to help minority-owned and small businesses recover from recent disruptions to their businesses.

Said Thomas F. Farrell, II, the company's chairman, president and chief executive officer:

"At Dominion Energy, we have a saying that 'Actions Speak Louder.' We share the anger of our communities at the unjustified deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. Our communities are grieving. Words can evoke empathy, compassion and understanding, but actions truly speak louder. So, we are investing in recovery and reconciliation, and in the vital work of overcoming years of debilitating actions, attitudes and abuses of authority that have traumatized our country."

Additional resources for community support are expected to come from the foundation's matching gifts program – which matches, dollar-for-dollar, personal donations employees make to qualifying nonprofit organizations – and the Dollars-for-Doers program, which encourages employees to volunteer by making grants to charities of their own choosing, based on the number of volunteer hours recorded.

Link to Statement >>  

Dominion Energy Commits $5 Million to Social Justice, Community Rebuilding Efforts >>  


The Donague FoundationThe latest examples of racism and police brutality are a sharp and painful reminder that we still have so much work to do to live up to the ideals of our nation. We know that opportunities for optimal health, a good education, economic prosperity, and - as has been shown most recently - even life itself are not equally shared. To achieve full equality in our society, we have to attend to it in every setting of our personal lives, our communities, and our workplaces. For the Donaghue Foundation, an organization whose mission is to fund research that will improve health outcomes and health care, we recognize that structural racism in education and academic institutions creates barriers for researchers of color to have the same access to resources for their work, and we will work with other organizations to reduce these barriers. We will continue to identify and welcome people of color and other individuals from under-represented groups to engage with us as advisers, incorporate work by and about the health concerns of diverse communities into our grant portfolio, and correct elements of our grant programs that may unintentionally exacerbate health inequality.  Finally, we will strive to ensure that we reflect the goals of optimal health for all in our programs.  


Everyday Democracy

Standing Together in the Pain of Crisis and the Hope of Transformation

We have a profound desire to bring forth words of healing, hope and encouragement.  But it is difficult to find those words, when we and so many around our country are in anguish at the tragic killing of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
 
As a network of organizations committed to creating a more just society, it is both enraging and frustrating to find ourselves here, in 2020, amidst a backdrop of a global pandemic that laid bare inequities we long knew existed -- one whose toll has fallen most heavily on those whose lives are valued the least -- standing together in the pain of what seems like a never-ending string of senseless killings.
 
As we ponder the incomprehensibility of our current condition, faced with the deeply ingrained racism of this country, we take courage from all those who bravely stood for justice before us, and from all those who are working for justice in this time.
 
Our organizations are firmly grounded in what we have learned from decades of deep dialogue with community members, colleagues, scholars, activists, teachers, organizers, public servants. We have seen that it is possible for people of all backgrounds and walks of life to listen deeply to each other, to honor each other’s full humanity, and to understand how structural racism has hollowed the promise of our democracy. And we have seen the power of people working together to deprogram their communities and to share power to create more equitable places for everyone.    
 
We take courage from all those – in our networks and beyond -- who wake up every morning on a mission to bring people together, to lift up the voices of those who have been oppressed, and to advance the pace of progress towards justice.
 
In the midst of this crisis, we reaffirm our shared commitment to pursue an equitable and just democracy and work together for changes that are way beyond overdue. We’ll move forward not with the patience of those who would delay justice but with the persistence of those who are desperate for it. We stand with all of you who are working for this transformation – together, may we find the hope, courage and wisdom to make it happen.  
 
Everyday Democracy and Anchor Partners

Read statement >>      


Fairfield County’s Community Foundation

The repeated image of George Floyd being murdered haunts me, as do the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and the violent deaths of so many other black and brown people. It brings back all the feelings of fear and terror of 1968, when death, destruction and assassinations dominated the media. Forty years later, we celebrated the election of our first African American president and some of us became complacent thinking we had finally turned the corner on racial inequity in America. But others knew that we still had a long way to go, pointing out the disparities in education, health, and economic well-being that still existed.

The COVID-19 pandemic shined its light on the ugly disparities that still remain. We see the disproportionate number of deaths among the Black and Latino communities due to the same lack of access to basic needs — food, shelter, healthcare, education and safety. At Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, we have pursued our mission and goal to close the opportunity gap in Fairfield County by promoting philanthropy as a means to address the most critical issues facing our communities and ensuring that our most vulnerable populations gain access to these basic human rights.

Racial inequity is the most pressing issue in our communities, our state and our country today, as it has been for several centuries. However, the events of the past week have been a clarion call to action. We have received scores of calls and emails asking “what can I do?”. And we have been asking ourselves exactly the same question. So, building on what we have learned from building relationships with our nonprofits, our community leaders and our donors over the years, and while facing the COVID-19 pandemic we will:

Listen and Learn — from our community residents and leaders their pain and their needs

Educate and Inform — our donors and funders to understand the pervasive nature of racism

Convene — our neighbors and partners from all sectors-public, private, nonprofit, to share truth and create systemic change

Advocate — for just laws that remove barriers and empower every individual

Provide funds and resources — to organizations that effectively champion racial equity and social justice

We know that this battle for equity and justice requires courage, intense commitment and the collective will to change the system so that together we can all thrive. We invite you to join us in creating the future.

Link to Statement >>  


Foundation for Community Health

“We at the Foundation for Community Health join with those in mourning the inhumane death of George Floyd — the latest in a series of horrifying and unjust killings of black Americans at the hands of police — and in demanding that it is time for local and national government, to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter and begin the hard work of change. Change that reorients power so that is shared with marginalized communities, and builds new systems that honor our shared humanity and acknowledges the value of all experiences and perspectives.”

Racism is a Public Health Issue George Floyd’s last words will be forever seared into my memory of this particular time in history. For me, they are not only a heartbreaking reminder of Floyd’s death and the many other black American’s who have died as result of longstanding structural and systematic racism within our justice system, but they are also a reminder of how the COVID-19 pandemic — a disease that also makes it difficult to breathe — has highlighted the racial disparities that persist in America.

The convergence of these public health crises has strained and tested all aspects of our daily lives. Together they have revealed the weaknesses of our public health infrastructure, our disjointed health delivery system, and more importantly, how the endemic inequalities in our society affect us all. Racism has had a direct impact on all aspects of what we in public health refer to as the social determinants of health: man-made conditions such as housing, economic opportunity, resources needed to eat, live, work, play, as well as access to quality physical, mental and oral health care.

What we know from health data is stark and irrefutable. The Connecticut Health Foundation reports that Black and Hispanic residents experience different levels to health access while also dealing with “…the effects of more direct forms of racism – unequal treatment within medicine and the psychological and physiological effects of living with the stress of discrimination.” The New York State Health Foundation concurs.

Here at the Foundation for Community Health we have always focused our mission, “…to improve the health and wellbeing of our most vulnerable residents”. However, in recent years we have begun to take a harder look at how to apply an equity lens in service to this mission. While our service area is primarily rural and less diverse than most communities, we know that by working more closely with those who have not had equal opportunities to thrive, we can become more effective in addressing the health of our community. We’re committed to being part of the change that we are demanding of our local and national government and in the coming months will be examining more closely how we can reorient our power and role in the community so that it contributes to a more equitable and just society.

What can you do? Here are a few Anti-racism resources compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein to get you started. We also suggest reading Connecticut Health Foundation’s publication: Health Disparities in Connecticut: Causes, Effects and What We Can Do to learn more about the challenges in achieving health equity in Connecticut.

Link to Statement >>  


William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund

America's Problem: A Call to Action to Our Peers in Philanthropy

The William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund believes unequivocally that Black Lives Matter.

The William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund calls upon our peers in philanthropy to join us in acting swiftly and consistently to put racial justice at the center of everything that we do. We invite critical feedback about how we can better live into our equity mission and recommit to being a part of the larger circle of philanthropies actively working to radically address the white supremacy inherent to philanthropy. This is not only a statement addressing the hideous atrocities committed by our public servants and fellow citizens against African Americans and other marginalized communities, but a call to action.

Although the Memorial Fund intentionally chose a Mission focus addressing racial equity five years ago, we know that we have a long way to go in our journey to redress oppressive systems which we participate in and influence with our dollars and decisions.

We recognize that institutional philanthropy exists as a result of racial injustice. Racial oppression and racial violence are the foundation and continued source of American wealth. Any steps which philanthropy takes which do not redress America’s debt to people of color, especially Native American and African American people, is only further reinforcement of the racial hierarchy that flows from a system of concentrating wealth in the hands of people whose privilege is defined, in part, by their white racial identity.

As the William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund continues to activate our equity agenda, we know that we must ground our decisions in the needs and lived experiences of people who are oppressed by the white supremacist and capitalist systems we benefit from and sustain with our choices. This includes our investments of most of the wealth that we hold in oppressive structures causing the very problems we say we want to remedy. We are working to reinvest our money in communities and in ways that promote racial, educational, and environmental justice and human rights.

Our equity grants support work by communities of color to redress the social determinants of education disparities (housing, health, political access, basic needs, etc.) and to directly transform education and all systems affecting how disadvantaged communities are able to benefit from education as a liberatory process.

Our frames for doing so are focused on:

1) building the power of the communities most impacted by systemic inequity

 2) supporting work that disrupts inequitable systems

 3) transforming key systems as a way of achieving equity

In this current crisis, we are also increasing grant support to our core grantees, supporting basic survival with grants for food, safety and health for disadvantaged communities. We are also working to increase support for advocacy with grants and to develop a comprehensive strategy to more effectively leverage our voice in solidarity with the communities most targeted by racism and poverty. We are seeking to support communities while working for the systemic, structural change that is needed.

We will not shy away from addressing these issues because of the violence which has erupted in the streets along with the protests against police violence and oppression. We are reminded that Dr. King said,

"Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned . . . But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? . . .it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. …And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention."

Access the full speech here: https://youtu.be/dOWDtDUKz-U

Our responsibility is to stop the greater violence of white supremacy that has led to these protests. Our call to action implicates our responsibility to listen, learn and leverage our privilege and power in solidarity with the unheard. We also publicly commit to the complex work of changing the traditional power dynamics that have existed between foundations and grantees. Our grants are designed so targeted communities are supported in being heard and being engaged in the changes which directly impact their communities and destinies. Philanthropy must ground itself in intentional anti-racist practices if we are to make change; if we do not, we only reinforce the systems of racial oppression.

We seek partnership in this call to action so we can share our learning and support each other’s growth. We know and expect these partnerships to be challenging: the work of anti-racist transformation requires tenacity to stay engaged through the disruption, discomfort, and critical reflection. But we must let go of the white supremacist status quo which has harmed billions of people around the world and hundreds of millions in our hemisphere alone.

We need you to be with us in this work - to hold us to account and to be held to account. Together, and in service-partnership with communities, we can make the changes to realize educational and racial justice.

We call on our siblings in philanthropy to join with us in:

  • Moving our endowments and holdings into socially responsible & mission aligned investments
  • Actively addressing our internalized white supremacy at every level of our organizations
  • Funding community-based solutions
  • Making long-term commitments to community organizers & their agendas
  • Working to create more equitable relationships between Foundations and those we are serving
  • Demanding state and local government center basic needs, human rights, and the demilitarization of communities most impacted by racism, poverty, and Covid-19

None of us can do this alone; together we can.

We look forward to continuing the partnerships that we have developed which are committed to equity and hope to build even more as we strive to be a part of the solution. Please join us and Maryam Elahi of the Community Foundation for Eastern CT and Laura McCargar of the Perrin Family Foundation on June 29th at 3pm for a call to take the next step in doing the anti-racist work we must do. Please RSVP to Patti Faustini at pfaustini@wcgmf.org and please engage a trustee to join your CEO/ED on this call. More details are coming soon.

The Board and Staff of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund

[1] https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/7/1/18715513/philanthropy-people-of-color-racial-wealth-gap-edgar-villanueva  



Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

Harvard Pilgrim and its family of companiers--within its cire values--stands for inclusion, empathy and respect for difference and equality and--within its mission--stands with the diverse communities it seves and supports.

The COVID-19 pandemic has tragically and disproportionately impacted Black/African American communities with higher levels of COVID-19 infections and deaths than in any other community. While the impacts of this pandemic continue to persist, we are experiencing an inexcusable continuation of injustice and racism in our black and brown communities.

Harvard Pilgrim does not tolerate injustice, racism, or discrimination anywhere or from anyone and activiely speaks out against it. Personally, and on behalf of Harvard Pilgrim, I ask everyone to stand up for and speak out in support of stern, immediate, and peaceful change. Our neighbors need it, our communities need it, and our world needs it.  


Hartford Foundation for Public Giving

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving stands in solidarity with those who are exercising the constitutionally protected right of people to protest against the ongoing structural racism and injustices, which have once again added another name to the long list of persons of color who have needlessly and unconscionably been killed by the hands of these forces.

The events of the past weeks also serve as painful reminders of the inequities and disparities that remain so prevalent in our country. Although these most recent tragedies did not occur in our immediate backyard, the same underlying issues surround us.  At the Hartford Foundation, our strategic framework centers on those underlying issues which include greater racial/ethnic, geographic and economic inclusion.

Unless and until an ever-increasing number of our fellow citizens acknowledge this insidious problem and persistently act against the status quo, we are destined to repeat this vicious cycle: a cycle which erodes our country and society in ways that none of us will be able to escape. Each of us can and must do more.

Those actions can take many forms, including giving of your time, talent and treasure.

  • Donate to nonprofits and groups you support.  
  • Donate to organizations advancing racial equity.  
  • Donate to police reform efforts.
  • Donate to COVID-19 relief efforts, especially those focused on people most impacted by the pandemic.  

We are making slow and painful progress; as Dr. King admonished us, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Link to Statement >>   

 


Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford

On this Juneteenth, the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford declares its solidarity with the Black community and supports its just struggle to eradicate the racist elements and structures in our society that have prevented the Black community from achieving economic and social equality, security and justice – and have caused unimaginable grief and incalculable deaths of its people.

We hear the voices and see the pain of the Black community, and honor the peaceful protests taking place in the wake of recent tragedies.

The commitment to pursuing justice and elevating human dignity are cornerstones of our sacred Jewish values. Our Torah repeatedly commands us to be kind to -- and actively champion -- the oppressed. It also proclaims that every individual is created B’tzelem Elohim, in G-d’s image.

The Foundation pledges to support efforts to realize meaningful societal change and will be making grants to further racial justice. We encourage our community and neighbors to join with the Black community in this growing movement to root out racism and fashion a more equitable country.


The Leever Foundation

Last week, George Floyd was murdered in broad daylight in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The pain, anguish, exhaustion and anger resulting from the senseless killing of yet another Black person by police has us hurting for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, Tony McDade and countless others who have been killed due to racial and police violence.

Tragically, the useless brutality against Black, Indigenous and People of Color by law enforcement has become all too commonplace in this country. Likewise, the confluence of current health, economic and social crises has exposed not only the shortcomings of our institutions but also the inherent biases and ongoing injustices that Black people, Indigenous communities and immigrants suffer daily; it is as if the system was designed to get us to this point. 

The Leever Foundation understands that the 400 year legacy of discrimination and racially biased systems  that lead to police brutality and other abuses of power are real barriers for African-Americans of all ages in Waterbury. Additionally, the Foundation believes that Black lives matter and supports the collective voice locally and nationally that is rising up against these injustices – especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that disproportionately impacts the Black community.

The Foundation is committed to continued dialogue, learning, reflection and action to combat the racial discrimination that specifically impacts children and youth in Waterbury. May our ever evolving work contribute to the fight against racism, injustice and systems of oppression locally and nationally.  


Lincoln Financial

“The recent events across our country have made plain that systemic racism remains pervasive in our nation and cannot be ignored. It is clear, that as a society, we have a long way to go.

“Our namesake Abraham Lincoln said, ‘the struggle of today is not altogether for today—it is for a vast future also.’ Lincoln Financial Group is proud of our connection to our 16th president and we recognize that this is a learning opportunity for all of us. We are hopeful the awakening that has come from these tragic events will result in a better ‘vast future’ for America, and Lincoln is committed to help advance that goal in the interest of our employees, our customers, our partners, our communities and all of America.

“The unrest caused by institutional discrimination, the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn have distressed and discouraged us all -- but particularly the African American community. Ultimately, we will prevail over these serious challenges. But to help improve our world for the better and to promote equality and belonging for all of us, we must speak out against racism and discrimination and renew our efforts to find empathy and bring comfort to each other whether we work in the private sector, government or our communities.

“I was moved by the words of Allison Green Johnson, Lincoln’s Chief Diversity Officer describing the ways large and small that recent events have affected her. I, along with the entire Lincoln community, must be and will be guided by her words and those of others in the black and brown community as we move forward. While I am proud of Lincoln’s work to instill a culture where every employee should come to work every day, feeling safe, respected and valued, it is clear that there is more that we must do both inside Lincoln and in our communities to reach that goal.”

Link to Statement >>  


Main Street Community Foundation

Main Street Community Foundation was founded on its commitment to use the charitable dollars entrusted to us to make our local communities a better place for all, without influence of bias or inequality. We can think of no better time than now to reaffirm our unwavering support and extend our compassion to all those affected by the pain and suffering caused by the historic acts of racial violence plaguing our nation. These types of tragic, unjust events have taken place over and over for generations, and it is time for change.

It is our responsibility to listen and learn from our Black friends and neighbors and hold space for what they are feeling in this moment. We must acknowledge that the unjust power structures in place provides for a system of privileges to some and not to others. This antiquated system perpetuates oppression and stands in the way of opportunities to build thriving communities. We hope you will join us as we examine ourselves, our beliefs and our actions and commit to doing better. There is no place in our community for racism, bigotry, and hatred. We call upon you to use your sphere of influence to condemn these social inequities to create an inclusive and just society for all.

We stand together with our local communities and our nation at large to create opportunities for conversations. Whether in our own homes or throughout local neighborhoods these conversations will lead to more understanding, empathy and lasting change. In the words of Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” We are listening and we know we can do better.

Link to Statement >>  


MetroHartford Aliance

The MetroHartford Alliance shares the anger and frustration over the countless violent acts perpetrated across the United States against our black and African-American community, most recently exemplified by the senseless killing of George Floyd. The energy coming out of this tragedy has created an opportunity for progress. We need to seize the opportunity to create the change our region and this country needs. The entrenched discrimination that has long plagued our country, and our region, must be recognized and corrected. Each of us has a role to play in correcting the centuries of injustice; we can no longer look to someone else or some other organization to carry the mission forward.

The MetroHartford Alliance has a stated mission to attract jobs, capital, and talent to the Hartford region—the fundamental basics of economic development. At the heart of this mission is a recognition of who we are as a region, to celebrate it and invite others to participate in what we have built as a community. The strength of our region is in the diversity of its residents, but our weakness is in our failure to create economic opportunities for all our residents.

Racism and discrimination and the associated social inequities that stem from them directly affect our region’s ability to achieve true economic growth. For at the core of economic development is the goal of improving ALL residents’ quality of life.

Our role at the MetroHartford Alliance is already defined: inclusive economic growth. While we may not have a concrete plan on how to accomplish this goal, we know we need to listen to the people most affected and more actively engage the organizations that have been fighting for change for years. Our organization, with the help of our investors and partners, must bring meaning and real action to inclusive economic growth for our region.

Link to Statement >>  


Nellie Mae Education Foundation

At the time we’ve reached the unthinkable milestone of 100,000 deaths as a result of COVID-19, we’ve also witnessed the murders of too many Black Americans at the hands of violence and white supremacy: George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor. These are merely a few of the names of Black individuals that have died at the hands of racism — there are unfortunately many more that have gone unnoticed and unheard of by the public. Racism is a virus too.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened the racial inequities that are foundational to our country. In Wisconsin and Michigan, the percentages of affected residents who were Black were more than twice as high as the proportion of Black people living in those states overall. Here in Massachusetts, the highest per capita rates of infection reside in working-class immigrant cities like Chelsea and Brockton, who both have high concentrations of people of color.

How our society moves forward depends on our ability to understand why these inequities exist, and the actions we take to address them. As Merlin Chowkwanyun so rightly notes in an analysis of these statistics in the New England Journal of Medicine, “disparity figures without explanatory context can perpetuate harmful myths and misunderstandings that actually undermine the goal of eliminating health inequities.” False narratives around Black people being able to tolerate higher levels of pain, for example, date back to slavery. That explanatory context is something that white people love to sweep under the rug — the pervasiveness of whiteness and violence in our country.

COVID-19 is only exacerbating what has been so ingrained in our nation’s history for decades — the constant state of violence against Black people — in our economy, our justice system, our health system, our education system.

As an organization, we wholeheartedly stand against anti-Black racism, and are committed to ensuring that we can take the steps to becoming an anti-racist organization. We are committed to supporting our grantee partners who are on the front lines of racial equity work in public education, by supporting organizations led by and serving people of color through general operating support grants, and supporting community organizing groups that are working to ensure that young people of color have a seat at the table in educational decision-making, to name a few. As an organization, we will continue to do our own learning around white supremacy, our complicity in upholding this system as a philanthropic entity, and we will take action to dismantle it. As a white leader, I am committed to holding myself — and other white people — to do better.

White people must step up and take action, and hold each other accountable. It is our responsibility to examine how we are complicit in the spreading of this virus of racism, and how we benefit from it every day. Silence is complicity. This moment calls on us to reflect on the type of society we want to build and take action. Our future depends on it.

Link to Statement >>  


NewAlliance Foundation

“We deal here with the right of all of our children, whatever their race, to an equal start in life and to an equal opportunity to reach their full potential as citizens. Those children who have been denied that right in the past deserve better than to see fences thrown up to deny them that right in the future.”   –Thurgood Marshall

NewAlliance Foundation’s signature support of literacy and public libraries reflects its core values and its fundamental, ongoing commitment to helping both children and adults attain literacy fluency and competency. Fluency gives both children and adults the ability to learn, discern and question. Competency helps develop critical skills important toward leading full lives. Both are vital to reaching the potential that Justice Marshall so cogently envisioned.

We sadly acknowledge the structural racism in our country, which has both visibly and invisibly impeded and endangered its black citizens, and which is insidiously abetted by challenges children face in attaining and maintaining grade level reading when they are not in school. Those challenges leave them further behind when school resumes, and that situation has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus-driven early closures of schools in March.

NewAlliance Foundation’s READy for the Grade summer reading program, run by public libraries, aims to diminish the literacy loss that K-3 students from low-income families often experience in the summer months. We are steadfastly committed to these libraries and their READy for the Grade programs in the months and years ahead.  These programs will be supporting children who have experienced significant reading loss since the closing of schools, which has disproportionately affected children of color.

We are committed to doing our part and support tearing down the fences that Justice Marshall described with our pledge to help eradicate the pernicious and systemic racism that can feed on and perpetuate illiteracy. We will also look for opportunities in our grant making process that seek to end educational and health disparities as well as support inclusion and outreach to our minority communities. These efforts to end institutional racism are intrinsically consistent with NewAlliance Foundation’s long held values which inspire us going forward.

Our voices will be heard by our action and commitment of continuing to support our non-profit partners in their crucially important work in the arts, in community development, in health & human services, and in programs for youth & education.

Link to Statement >>   


Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation

For the past several months, the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation has dedicated itself to addressing the crisis in our communities created by the corona pandemic. Our philanthropy exists to lift up and embrace ALL community members, especially in times when our help is needed most.

The Community Foundation's support comes with the realization and acknowledgement that minorities, immigrants, and disadvantaged populations have disproportionately suffered from the affects of the pandemic. Their sickness, death and economic loss has laid bare a long standing national culture of racial oppression and discrimination that highlight the unyielding disparities that perpetually confront them.

In light of the shattering and heartbreaking events in Minneapolis, Louisville, Tallahassee and Brunswick, GA, the Community Foundation is reaffirming its long-standing commitment to philanthropy and public policies that advance inclusion, equity, social justice, and diversity in our communities.

We unequivocally stand against racism, discrimination in any form, social injustice and the structural oppression that has suffocated the breath of equal opportunity in education, housing, health outcomes, safety and economic security for generation after generation of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, and LGBTQ+ community members, people with disabilities, and so many other underserved community members.

We pledge to promote, fund and advocate for -- through our grant-making and business practices -- programs and policies designed to eliminate bias, provide equal access to services and supports, and champion social equity for each and every citizen in Northwest Connecticut.

This country is built on the hope and aspirations of all Americans and the promise of equal opportunity that embodies our democracy. Now is the time for systemic change-one that finally guarantees that a promise made, is a promise kept. To succeed, each of us must reflect on our role in achieving that outcome, and the contribution each of us can make to re-imagine and reinvent a more just, equitable, diverse and compassionate Northwest Connecticut.    


Perrin Family Foundation

Over the weekend, young people across Connecticut planned and led mass actions that brought out thousands and thousands of protestors – collective action of an unprecedented scale and scope in our home state.  The young people at the helm had clear, bold and strategic demands calling for systemic reforms that cut across multiple systems, from removing police from schools to reducing and reallocating municipal police budgets.  Young people are unapologetically challenging anti-black racism and working to dismantle manifestations of white supremacy embedded in the systems, structures, culture and fabric of so many facets of our lives.  To the young people putting it all on the line: we see you, we believe you, and we stand in solidarity with you.  

PFF has held a commitment to supporting youth activism for fifteen years.  Eight years ago we went all in, putting youth-led social justice and organizing at the core of our mission.  The leadership that young people are demonstrating now is not new, nor has it appeared out of thin air.  It draws oxygen, energy and life from the work of ancestors, adult allies, and other young people that honor, value, and create space for youth to lead boldly and with power.  It is fueled by an ongoing commitment by young people, to develop their political and critical consciousness.  And it is sustained through community-led groups, networks, coalitions and organizations that translate vision and momentum into action and sustained change.  
 
Just as our grantee partners hold a commitment to advancing justice on the front lines, we hold a commitment to organizing philanthropy to follow their lead.  We urge our philanthropic colleagues to join us in moving resources to organizing efforts led by young people of color, and stand ready to help you in doing so.  We stand ready to share our own learnings, unpack how institutional racism is codified in Connecticut’s laws and policies, and engage our peers in naming and challenging how bias and power dynamics within our sector undermine the momentum of social and racial justice movements.  
 
Though many protests have invoked justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor we recognize that our calls for justice must also begin at home, in our state, where Jayson Negron, Anthony Jose Vega Cruz, Mubarak Soulemane, and hundreds of others have been killed by or suffered violence at the hands of police in Connecticut.  We know their stories are not widely covered in the press, and when they are, accounts often reinforce a racist narrative that associates black people and people of color with criminality and danger rather than humanity and dignity, or suggest that protection of property matters more than violence against people.  Much of the outrage that people are rightly expressing over the murder of George Floyd is conditioned on the premise that police actions were grossly unwarranted.  Implicit in that is a suggestion that police force and violence are justifiable in other contexts; we must be relentless about interrogating the underpinnings of those rationalizations, as they stem from, and reinforce, ideologies that are rooted in racism and white supremacy.  Why has violence become a socially and institutionally-accepted way to enforce “law and order”, and who is defining those standards? 

As our partners at the William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund so powerfully articulated, we humbly acknowledge that we, as a foundation, as well as the broader philanthropic sector we are part of, must reckon with the institutional and structural racism which we participate in, benefit from, and perpetuate.  We are pleased to work with the Memorial Fund and the Community Foundation for Eastern Connecticut to advance anti-racism in our own sector, and we welcome other local foundation leaders and trustees to join us for an upcoming conversation on taking next steps.      


Tauck Family Foundation

The tragic murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many other Black men and women before them, are the most recent events in a long history of entrenched racism in our country. The protests in Bridgeport and other cities and towns throughout the country reveal the raw grief, pain, anger, loss, and frustration that many feel, as well as demonstrate a collective need and desire for systemic and institutional change. These events occur amid a public health pandemic and global economic crisis which are also disproportionately affecting communities of color.  Our nation, our communities, our families, and our students are hurting.

The Foundation’s Board and staff stand with our partners, the entire Bridgeport community, and beyond, whose work to support Bridgeport students and young people to thrive and reach their full potential is now more important than ever. 

As a learning organization, we will continue to approach our mission’s work with humility and respect; engage with and listen to Bridgeport students, families, and community members to better understand their lived experiences; include and elevate the voices of those most impacted by structural oppression and racism; and seek to be actively anti-racist in all facets of our work, both internally and externally.  We will continue to invest in efforts that support diversity, equity, and inclusion; restorative practices; and family and community engagement which align with our desire to promote anti-racism in education. We will look within our own organization to educate ourselves, better understand and address our privilege, have uncomfortable conversations, and simply do better. 

We want to express our solidarity with the Black community, all communities of color, our partners in Bridgeport, and those around the country standing up for justice and equity. Your voices matter. We are listening. We are with you.  


The Tow Foundation

The Tow Foundation stands in solidarity with the Black community and its allies to dismantle the systems that have contributed to the racial injustice and deep, violent oppression in our country. We encourage our peers in philanthropy to do the same, using both their words and actions. Staying silent is not an option. The Tow Foundation is committed to highlighting the work of our grantee partners in support of a more safe, just and equitable society for all.

Link to Statement >>  


Travelers

The Travelers Companies, Inc. has commitment of $1 million to assist nonprofits dedicated to advancing racial equality across the United States and rebuilding damaged businesses in Minnesota, where the company has had a significant presence for more than 165 years.

The donation will be allocated among organizations such as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Urban League, YWCA Minneapolis, and the We Love Midway fund established by the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the City of St. Paul.

“The gravity of this moment demands meaningful action, and Travelers has a long history of helping our communities in times of need,” said Alan Schnitzer, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Travelers. “Two ways we are stepping up right now are by supporting the important work of advancing racial equality and rebuilding our communities in the Twin Cities, where so many of our colleagues live and work.”

Link to Statement >>  


Tufts Health Plan Foundation

A reflection

I am broken but not beaten...exhausted but not finished. Words fail me right now. Mostly because there are no words.

No words to describe the senseless loss of life we are seeing, at the hands of those who are sworn to preserve the peace, in place to serve and protect.

No words to describe the despair and anxiety we are all experiencing on one level or another, and more so for those who are sick or taking care of the sick or have lost someone because of this virus.

No words to explain what got us to this place, so will share the words of someone far wiser who warned us decades ago. In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote:

"I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action'; who paternalisticaly believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a 'more convenient season.' Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will."

We are hopeful still, that this moment will pass, that we will hold to the lessons, that we will grow in fairness and justice. That we will be accountable to one another...with goodwill toward all.

As a foundation, we will continue to listen to our communities and our partners; to promote social justice; to keep at the heart of our work equity, inclusion and what matters to community. We pledge we will continue to grow and to learn so we can be strong advocates for a just and equitable future.

Remembering that whatever the solution, it should be one that happens with community and not to community, that we honor the past, and that we get beyond talking and move to action.

Finally, as we see protesters around the country respond to persistent and unjust treatment, and they themselves being treated unjustly, I consider again Dr. King's wisdom. He said:

...America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear...that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met.

May we work every day. . .for one nation, indivisible, with freedom and justice for all.  


United Way of Central and Northeast Connecticut

On Thursday, June 4, George Floyd was being remembered and honored in multiple memorial services. While the tributes are deserved, his death was not. What happened to George Floyd and countless other black men and women over generations is horrific and unconscionable.

We’re at a critical inflection point as individuals, families, members of faith communities, and as leaders of government, businesses and nonprofits. And that includes this United Way.

Our mission is to mobilize people and resources to ensure opportunity for all children and all families. It’s founded on two primary beliefs: respect, diversity and inclusion make us stronger; and equity in education, economic mobility and health are only possible if there is equal access to justice.

Mr. Floyd’s murder, the deaths of countless black men and women, the on-going discrimination of people of color prove that we can, and we must, do more and do better.

While some of us may be struggling with giving voice to what we are personally feeling, it’s critically important that we stand up and speak out against racism and discrimination. Let’s come together individually and collectively to hold up and take positive action on this truth: Black Lives Matter.  


United Way of Coastal Fairfield County

Our Promise to Fairfield County in the Wake of George Floyd's Murder

George Floyd’s murder, and this moment in history, have once again shaken us to our core. We are sad, exasperated and angry. We work with families like the Floyds every day, and our hearts break for them as they grieve their loss. The continued bloodshed and systemic injustice black men and women suffer must stop, now. 

Those who haven’t experienced racism can’t imagine what it’s like. As such, we are committed to taking time to learn, understand, and open ourselves up to new perspectives. We are not afraid to engage in conversations about systemic racism or the need for equity and accountability - at all levels.

Our United Way has spent years working closely with communities of color, working hand-in-hand to better people’s lives.  In fact, one of the core missions of our work is to keep children safe from violence, and remedy the systemic inequality that grips far too many. Through our work, we seek to empower people who are being disenfranchised by a lack of access to health care, education, employment and housing.

While statements are necessary, we strongly believe that this is a time for action. So, what will we do?

  • We will seek accountability and transparency in all institutions of government, including the police, and on a local, state and federal level.

  • We will continue to advocate for justice, support organizations advancing equity, and promote completion of the census and nonpartisan voter registration. Change will come more swiftly when citizens’ voices are heard and they are empowered to exercise their right to vote.

  • We will continue our work to create healthy support systems around children so that they can thrive. This begins by working together to build safe and secure communities with access to quality health care that looks at the whole of a child, including mental health; early childhood development and literacy; and equal access to quality curriculum, particularly STEM.

  • We will engage in further training to understand our own conscious and unconscious biases as we work hard, every day, to support those who are experiencing it.

  • We will practice the change we seek to realize, which is found in the integrity of the work we do every day in our Fairfield County, Connecticut community – in the way we interact with and treat each other and seek to continually learn and open ourselves up to different perspectives.

  • We will embrace the rich variety of voices that represent the communities we serve by continuing to diversify our staff, board and committees. We will continue to make a concerted effort to provide equal employment opportunities.

While we will work hard to be a constructive part of the larger societal conversations, we recognize that we have a responsibility to play our part here at home, at the local level, especially when the spotlight isn’t on us. That’s where you will find us – working to bring as much light, love and hope to those living in the shadows of our systems. The struggle continues, and our work must as well -- every moment of every day.

Link to Statement >>  


United Way of Western Connecticut

“You don’t change the world with ideas in your mind, but with the conviction in your heart.”—Bryan Stevenson

At United Way of Western Connecticut, we acknowledge the anger, pain and grief suffered by Black Americans as a result of the murder of George Floyd. It comes in the wake of the senseless killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other acts of violence in the recent past – and, indeed, since the formation of our country. Let this finally be a wake-up call. We can no longer settle for words or cries of righteous indignation: it’s time for deep change.

Every person is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect – this includes equal treatment and access to justice. These incidents are abhorrent and run counter to everything that United Way, its volunteers and professionals value, live, and fight for every day.

Our United Way is focused on the 40% of our community members who struggle to pay their bills, a population we call ALICE®. We know that Black Americans disproportionately suffer the impact of low wages, and their economic vulnerability has been exacerbated by the pandemic. It is the intent that all our work on behalf of ALICE will help struggling, hardworking people to prosper. Part of that work is to acknowledge the systemic racism that has had profound economic effects on Black Americans.  

We are committed to addressing community needs while dismantling and undermining inequities that hold back marginalized racial communities, not only in greater Danbury, greater New Milford and Stamford, but across our country. We can, and will, do more as community conveners to amplify the work of other organizations and voices that advocate for justice to keep our communities strong and vibrant.

In the coming weeks, months, and years, we will work with our community partners, residents, and faith leaders to incite change. We will start by listening, learning, and reflecting. And then, United, we will act to improve the lives of all people, especially victims of injustice and people of color, in our region. We will move forward, as Bryan Stevenson says, with conviction in our heart.

Link to Statement >>  


Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut

Universal Health Care Foundation of CT has fought for health justice for 20 years, but that fight isn’t just about health care. There is no justice of any kind without racial justice.

Racism has long been the true public health crisis the U.S. faces, and we will continue centering anti-racist work and anti-racist voices in our fight for health care. We join in demanding from national, state, and local policymakers and other decision-makers that Black and Brown lives matter.

The people are rising up because at all levels our health, justice, education, political, and other systems are built on racist and exclusionary ideology, and they cannot take the assault on their humanity any longer.

The call is for eradicating the systems of oppression that continually keep Black and Brown people poor, disenfranchised, and in danger, and transforming them inside-out to systems that honor and build humanity, dignity, health, and prosperity.

Universal Health Care stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters and will continue to work for justice for all.

Link to Statement >>  


Valley Community Foundation

Like many of you, we have experienced strong feelings over the past several days and have tried to collect our thoughts. With so many raw emotions and demonstrations from coast-to-coast, we acknowledged the true narrative of these events – that there are stark disparities and inequities among the people of our country. It is after much reflection, we would like to share our perspective with you.

The recent events that have transpired as a result of George Floyd’s death have been an attack on humanity. Despite still being in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we have all seen a nationwide groundswell protesting pervasive racism, injustice, and multi-generational inequities. We have heard about the racism and the inequalities in our communities, but to bear witness to a police officer who has total disregard for a human life should cause all of us to pause and consider the collective reality – not just our own.

These times are incredibly divisive. Those belonging to socioeconomically disenfranchised communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, arguably based on circumstances and determinants beyond their control. In response to recent events, news networks have also seemingly furthered politically polarizing agendas by focusing on either peaceful protests at formal demonstrations or anarchists who are looting and destroying property. As a community, we must not lose sight of the systemic problems that brought us here. We sincerely hope that this point in time can serve as a catalyst for meaningful action where we can all listen mindfully to better understand one another, instead of either listening to simply respond or standing steadfast and tone deaf.

For us to take an honest look at our Valley, our Connecticut, and our country, we must all look in the mirror. Are we doing all that we can do to treat each other fairly, equitably and with kindness? Are we raising our children and grandchildren to show respect to others and to treat everyone as they would want to be treated? If you witness someone being mistreated, are you as outraged as if it was your friend, your child or parent? We can learn and relearn the effects of our biases. We can listen, and learn from one another of the failings of some of our systems and help to change them.

During times of crisis, we often find ourselves talking about making it through these events with the goal of returning back to the way things were. The message has never been clearer, we need to question whether that place is worth going back to, and, more importantly, how we can move forward, together, towards something new. As such, we would encourage you to read this memo from Kathleen Enright, CEO of the Council on Foundations.

VCF strives to work equitably as a connector, convener, and community investor. With certainty, this is a turning point for our country and, please know that our door is always open. This year has undoubtedly brought many questions – most of which are incredibly complex. In order to move forward and create change, we first need to take responsibility for our homes, neighborhoods, communities, and our Valley. While we may not have the answers, it is our shared opportunity to find the solutions together.

Link to Statement >>  


Webster Bank

I reach out to you at a time of great challenge for our country, our communities and our bankers. The tragic and senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and other members of the black community have caused concern, anger and sadness for people across our nation. This has reminded all of us that there is much work to do in creating a society where all people, regardless of color, race or religion, are treated fairly and provided with opportunity to live a life free of worry for their safety. The cumulative effect of these events, the civil unrest that has followed, and a global pandemic that has impacted the health of our citizens and our economy, has challenged all of us. This is especially true for communities of color, which have been disproportionally impacted in every respect.

In the past few days, we've seen unrest in communities across the nation, including in our own footprint from Massachusetts to Wisconsin. There is a tremendous and immediate need for all of us to work together to support one another. As a community, we need to find additional ways to respect and appreciate our differences.

Racism, discrimination and intolerance, in any form, are unacceptable and we support the black community and the peaceful protests for a better future for our nation. As a values-based and community-minded bank, we are dedicated to respecting the dignity of every individual, acting with responsibility and ethical behavior. These values are at the core of who we are, and how we act both as individuals and as an organization every day. Importantly, at Webster, each individual has different experiences and unique perspectives, all of which make for a better company. Our diversity gives us strength and makes us the incredible organization that we are today. Together we can ensure that we have a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace for all our bankers.

It is important to continue to have honest and authentic dialogue across the organization. I encourage you to reach out to our new Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Officer with your suggestions and ideas. And as always, feel free to contact me directly with your feedback. During this stressful time, if you need personal assistance, please reach out to your manager or HR business partner. Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is also available for additional resources for you and your loved ones.

Thank you for all you do to cultivate and promote a safe and inclusive workplace. Together, living our values, we will continue to make sustained and meaningful change at Webster and in our communities.

Link to Statement >>

Webster announces $100,000 commitment to fight racial inequality >>