Hartford Foundation, in practice and policy shift, gives to faith-based organizations

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The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has shifted practice and policy on funding faith-based organizations, finding that religious communities have been “essential partners” in responding to people’s needs during the coronavirus pandemic.

The foundation this week announced $300,000 in grants for its Faith Community Grants program. The money was awarded to churches, temples and other organizations throughout the area.

The foundation has supported religiously affiliated groups such as the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities, but the breadth of the new grants program is a change. Organization leaders, foundation spokesman Chris Senecal said, found that during the COVID-19 economic and public health crises, “it become clear that faith organizations are often the ones providing the on-the-ground support people need.”

Foundation representatives met last year with faith leaders to learn about needs among their congregants and resources needed to improve their efforts. Foundation leaders also heard how communities of faith “are catalyzing their congregants and the broader community around social and racial justice issues,” a news release said.

“Faith leaders see and hear the challenges of residents and their families across the life cycle — from birth to death,” Judy McBride, the foundation’s director of strategic partnerships investments, said.

Grants include:

  • $6,500 to Christ Church Cathedral of Hartford to provide people with personal hygiene products.

  • $5,000 to Congregation Beth Israel of West Hartford for a diversity, inclusion and equity assessment of the congregation.

  • $9,000 to Emmanual Lutheran Church of Hartford to support a wellness program for women of color.

  • $10,000 to First Church of Christ Congregational of Glastonbury to provide uniforms and other clothing for students at O’Brien STEM Academy in East Hartford.

  • $6,000 to St. John’s Episcopal Church of West Hartford to support Abraham’s Place on Farmington Avenue. The space will have benches, a small food pantry and a community message board.

  • $15,000 to The Cornerstone Foundation of Vernon to support job training for homeless and long-term unemployed people.

  • $15,000 to Unitarian Universalist Society: East of Manchester to support activities, including creative arts, for Black and brown children and youth in the Spruce Street and Squire Village neighborhoods.

Asked if the grant program will continue, Senecal said “the foundation will consider these types of grants from faith-based organizations as we are very pleased with the response and the depth and breadth of the proposals.”

Jesse Leavenworth can be reached at jleavenworth@courant.com.

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