A Northwest Corner COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund grant helped the Fishes and Loaves Food Pantry in North Canaan serve an increase in residents due to the pandemic. Photo: John Dolan
Program, Philanthropy & Leadership Highlights 

Speaker Series: Join us for the four-part Bridging Divides, Healing Communities speaker series exploring some of the forces and trends creating disparities and division, and how to take action locally to build common ground and solve problems together. Registration is open for the first two sessions on April 13 and April 20 at 7 p.m., which we are hosting with The Berkshire Eagle and Berkshire Bank. The series expands on our new grant program that awarded nearly $50,000 to 21 local groups earlier this year to bring people together for the purposes of exploring shared interests, addressing a problem through dialogue and action, or considering an issue through a range of perspectives.

Recovery and Rebuilding: Nonprofits are responding to unprecedented challenges to their missions, finances and operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, many are facing increased demand for services from residents in need. Organizations are being asked to do more with less, and make decisions about program delivery and resource development while adapting to constantly changing environments. That's why Berkshire Taconic has initiated funder partnerships in each of our four counties to deliver support for individual nonprofits, to staff and board leaders, to collaborations, and to the sector as a whole. Read early results and updates on these efforts by county in a blog post by Tim Wilmot, our director of strategy, evaluation and learning.

Access to Healthy Food: Hawthorne Valley Association, a grantee of our Fresh and Healthy Food for All initiative, is focused on continuing to expand the services of its Hudson-based Rolling Grocer 19 grocery store into New Lebanon this year. Residents can currently place orders for pickup or delivery on Mondays in New Lebanon using a tiered pricing system that makes fresh food affordable and supports local and regional farmers and producers. Rolling Grocer 19 is also providing fresh meal kits in New Lebanon for a new virtual family cooking class that the Sylvia Center launched this week in partnership with the New Lebanon Library. The Fresh and Healthy Food for All initiative is the result of two generous anonymous donors who strive to help create a more equitable food system in Columbia County.

State Funding: Berkshire Taconic received $200,000 this month from the state of Massachusetts to support area nonprofits that are helping individuals and families who are experiencing severe economic hardship due to the pandemic, including those within immigrant communities not eligible for governmental assistance. We distributed the funds, which were augmented by other donors, to Berkshire Community Action Council, Berkshire Immigrant Center, BRIDGE, Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, Construct, Community Health Programs, and Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires. The state awarded funds to 14 community foundations throughout Massachusetts.
Board, Staff & Committee News 

Operational Relief for Nonprofits: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the committees of the Northeast Dutchess Fund and the Fund for Williamstown are focusing their spring grantmaking on providing unrestricted general operating support to help established nonprofits maintain ongoing programs and allow for planning and recovery.

DEI Study Group: BTCF board member Eleanore Velez was appointed by Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer to participate in a diversity, equity and inclusion study group for the city and school district. The group's initial plan is outlined in the Berkshire Eagle. Eleanore is an admissions counselor and coordinator of the Multicultural Center at Berkshire Community College.

New Committee Member: Bart Miller has joined the Lee Fund for Educational Enrichment committee. The fund's committee members awarded $5,700 in grants this month to projects that will enhance the educational experience of students and teachers in the Lee-Tyringham School District. 
Grants in the News

Small Town, Big Talk: Thanks to a Bridging Divides, Healing Communities grant, the David M. Hunt Library in Falls Village is hosting an interactive art exhibit called “Small Town, Big Talk” that features stories and portraits of residents with diverse experiences and identities. Read an article about this project in the Compass arts and entertainment section of The Lakeville Journal and The Millerton News.

Early Literacy: Talk Read Sing Columbia—a partnership of local leaders led by Columbia Opportunities and Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood, and funded by Berkshire Taconic—distributed $20,000 in grants to eight Columbia County organizations that aim to boost early literacy and encourage lifelong learning. The Register-Star highlights the work of many grantees in an in-depth article. 

Sustainability Speaker Series: The Berkshire Eagle spoke with two Mount Everett Regional High School students who received a Berkshire Environmental Endowment Fund grant to organize a free virtual Sustainability Speaker Series featuring a lineup of local and national leaders. 
Coming Up

Virtual Institute: There is just one week left to register for the 2021 Virtual Institute for Trustees, which will be presented by Berkshire Taconic and Essex County Community Foundation from April 7 to May 15. Building on the success of BTCF's inaugural Board Leadership Forum and designed for board members and executive directors, the event features 24 virtual workshops from leading nonprofit experts and powerful discussions and connections with hundreds of peers equally committed to their leadership roles. Nonprofits can sign up their full boards for a discounted rate of $500. For a board with 10 members, the cost of each workshop works out to slightly over $2 per attendee. Learn more and register.

Comedy Show: Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Berkshire County, our partnership to help drive inclusive economic growth, is collaborating with 1Berkshire for a virtual comedy program on April 1 at 5:30 p.m. to benefit the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County. We launched the fund last year in partnership with the Berkshire United Way, Northern Berkshire United Way and the Williamstown Community Chest. 

Honoring James Mars: Salisbury School students—in partnership with the Church of Christ Congregational, Norfolk, and the Norfolk Historical Society—will host a day of celebration on May 1 to honor James Mars, the last slave bought and sold in Connecticut. This project is supported by a Bridging Divides, Healing Communities grant.