Cynthia Dewi Oka of New Jersey is the 30th recipient of the Amy Clampitt residency. She is focused on her poetry during a nearly one-year stay at Clampitt’s former home near Lenox. "This has been the first time in my life that I have been able to concentrate on my art without any distractions, and really explore my ideas," she said. Photo: John Dolan
Program, Philanthropy & Leadership Highlights 

Virtual Board Institute: For the second year, we are joining Essex County Community Foundation to present the Institute for Trustees, an annual conference inviting nonprofit leaders from throughout our four-county region to gather virtually for educational workshops and networking opportunities from April 11 to May 26. Participants can sign up for any number of 25 total workshops, which will be available to view both live and on demand. These sessions will cover topics ranging from strategic planning and fundraising to diversity and board development. Registration opens on Feb. 1. The discounted early bird rate of $110 is available until March 11. After that, registration will cost $130. Full board registration is available for $500. The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and SouthCoast Community Foundation have joined us in presenting this year's event.  

Bridging Divides: We have distributed nearly $35,000 to 14 organizations through the second round of our Bridging Divides, Healing Communities grant program, which supports community-building efforts to bridge differences and drive positive change at the local level. Learn about these projects in Berkshire, Columbia, northeast Dutchess and northwest Litchfield counties on our blog.

New Funds to Note: The Columbia Paper and Berkshire Taconic launched the Columbia Paper Journalism Fund so that donors can support local reporting that contributes to the civic, cultural and economic vibrancy of Columbia County. In Berkshire County, State Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli and a group of local leaders are raising funds for a statue in Sheffield through the Elizabeth "Mum Bett" Freeman Monument Fund that will honor the former enslaved woman whose lawsuit for freedom helped abolish slavery in Massachusetts.
Board, Staff & Committee News 

New Board Member: Elizabeth M. Hewitt has joined the BTCF board. She is chief investment officer and senior vice president at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and she serves as a member of our Investment Committee. Elizabeth is a trustee of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., where she lives part-time.

New Committee Members: We welcome AnnaMaria Assevero of Stockport and Tanu Kumar of Chatham to our Fund for Columbia County advisory committee, which supports projects and services that have a lasting and positive impact on the residents and seniors of Columbia County. We thank outgoing members Sheldon Evans and Ed Hoe for their leadership and service.

Staff Member Joins Local Board: Kelly Sweet, our community engagement officer for philanthropic services, now sits on the board of the Berkshire County Estate Planning Council. The organization provides educational and networking opportunities for estate planning professionals throughout the county.
Grants in the News

Youth Film Challenge Winner: Yonah Sadeh, a student at Bard College at Simon’s Rock from Falls Village, Conn., received first place and $2,000 in the Bridging Divides, Healing Communities Youth Film Challenge for his film on affordable housing, “In Our Backyard.” Read interviews with Yonah in the Litchfield County Times and Berkshire Edge.

4-H Program for Students: Thanks to an immigrant support grant from the Northeast Dutchess Fund's NEDCorps program, students at the Dover Union Free School District participated in after-school 4-H sessions focused on agriculture. Read more in the Northern Dutchess News on Page 8.

Grant to Food Pantry: Berkshire Taconic's Northwest Corner Fund awarded a grant to the Fishes and Loaves Food Pantry in North Canaan to purchase items and reach out to households in need, as announced in The Lakeville Journal on Page A2. The grant was made in partnership with the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation. 

Free Diapers: The Central Berkshire Fund awarded $3,500 to the Berkshire Community Diaper Project to provide free diapers to families who need them. The grant was announced in the Berkshire Eagle.
Coming Up

Apply for Learning Cohorts: Programming from the Massachusetts Community Foundations Partnership continues with an invitation for Berkshire County nonprofits to join one of two learning cohorts on critical topics: Centering Equity, and Strategic Thinkers & Planners. These free programs are available to 30 participants each, who will engage in guided discussions and activities. Each cohort will meet five times over the course of 3-5 months. Learn more and apply by Feb. 4.

Optimistic Aging: The Clinton Community Library hosts weekly online chair yoga classes as part of its Optimistic Aging program, which is supported by the Northeast Dutchess Fund. The next class is Friday, Feb. 4, at 11 a.m.

Ethical Wills Workshop: Berkshire Taconic is proud to sponsor the Berkshire County Estate Planning Council's "Introducing Ethical Wills to Clients" workshop for professional advisors on Tuesday, Feb. 8, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Registration is required.

Free Acting Class: Williamstown Theatre Festival is hosting a free acting class via Zoom on Wednesday, Feb. 9, at 4:30 p.m. as part of its COMMUNITY WORKS program, which has received grants from the Fund for Williamstown and our Arts Build Community initiative.

Berkshire County Survey: Berkshire Benchmarks is conducting a survey to better understand the issues that affect Berkshire County residents, such as economics, education, the environment, local government, health, housing and transportation. Participants will be entered into a drawing for one of 10 $50 gift cards. The survey closes on Tuesday, Feb. 15.