Lou Finston-Fox of Monterey, Mass., received a McLaughlin-Wilson Scholarship last year to pursue a degree in theater at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. The deadline for 2021 applications via our common application is March 15. Photo courtesy Lou Finston-Fox
Program, Philanthropy & Leadership Highlights 

Immigrant Support: Berkshire Taconic’s Northeast Dutchess Fund awarded $25,000 to nonprofit organizations that are developing new programs and expanding services for immigrants living in northeast Dutchess County. The fund's NEDCorps 2.0 program is prioritizing programs to support the growing immigrant community in navigating support systems, gaining skills and promoting engagement in their towns. In addition, the fund is currently working with social workers to distribute donor-funded cash cards to residents facing extreme financial hardship, including immigrants who may be ineligible for government assistance.

Economic Opportunity: EforAll Berkshire County continues to assist residents as they seek to turn their promising ideas into successful businesses. Thirteen entrepreneurs were selected to participate in the spring accelerator program, which gives them access to mentors and specialists. A five-week digital business survival course will be held from March 12 to April 16, and monthly workshops continue with a marketing course on March 15. EforAll is supported by a group of committed local funders, including Berkshire Taconic.

Early Literacy: Talk Read Sing Columbia—a partnership of nonprofit, education and government leaders funded by Berkshire Taconic—distributed $22,500 in grants to eight Columbia County organizations that aim to boost early literacy and encourage lifelong learning. These projects advance the work of the partnership's Talking is Teaching public awareness campaign, which provides parents and caregivers with the tools to talk, read and sing more with children from birth to age 5 to better prepare them for school.
Board, Staff & Committee News 

Remembering John Hoyt Stookey: We mourn the death of alumni board member John Hoyt Stookey, a community leader who sat on our board from 2007 to 2013. He maintained his connection to the foundation as a member of our Audit Committee until his death. One of his many philanthropic contributions was making it possible for Berkshire Taconic to acquire its Sheffield office from Landmark Volunteers, a nonprofit he founded to connect students to learning opportunities around the world. He channeled his passions for the arts, education and the Berkshires into nonprofit leadership and service on over 60 boards.

Education Workshop: Amy Taylor, community engagement officer for education, participated in a virtual workshop earlier this month that brought together regional educators, cultural leaders and state legislators to address pandemic-related challenges for school communities. Amy facilitated a work group that discussed ways to use learning experiences from the pandemic to improve education and communication in schools. The event was led by the Collaborative Care Team of MACONY Pediatrics and Dr. Deborah Buccino, Austen Riggs Center, Community Health Programs and the Berkshire Hills Regional School District. This Collaborative Care initiative is partially supported by donor advised fundholders of Berkshire Taconic.

Ferris Burtis Scholarship: We remember fund holder Herbert Burtis, who died this month at age 90. Together with his late husband and fellow musician John Ferris, he made annual scholarships to support high school seniors planning to study classical music. To date, the fund has granted nearly $100,000 to aspiring musicians. The first of those students was concert violinist Yevgeny Kutik, who is currently hosting a docu-recital series sharing music and stories from his family's immigration experience.
Grants in the News

Rallying for COVID-19 Relief: With support from individual donors and funders, including the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County, the Berkshire Immigrant Center has helped more than 160 immigrant households in the Berkshires and surrounding communities through its pandemic relief efforts. Read more in the Berkshire Edge.

Common Ground Conversations: The Scoville Memorial Library in Salisbury is in the midst of a series of virtual conversations that aims to create understanding and build common ground, with support of the Bridging Divides, Healing Communities grant program. Main Street Magazine and Robin Hood Radio take in-depth looks at this project.

Police Reform: Another Bridging Divides, Healing Communities grant is helping engage Hudson residents of different perspectives in the work of a committee that oversees police reform, as reported in the Register-Star.
Coming Up

Virtual Institute: BTCF has joined Essex County Community Foundation as a partner in presenting the 2021 Virtual Institute for Trustees from April 7 to May 15. Building on the success of BTCF's inaugural Board Leadership Forum and designed for board leaders 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. The early bird rate ends March 7. Learn more and register.

Recovery and Rebuilding: We are partnering with community foundations across the region to offer a series of free training webinars for area nonprofits. Upcoming programs for Berkshire County organizations are "Capstone: Telling Your Organization's Story for Impact" on March 9 and "Marketing Your Mission and Services in a Distracted, Digital World" on March 18. Register and view recordings of past sessions.

Sustainability Speaker Series: With support from the Berkshire Environmental Endowment Fund, students in the Southern Berkshire Regional School District have organized a free virtual Sustainability Speaker Series featuring a lineup of local and national leaders. The first event is tonight, Feb. 26, at 5:30 p.m.

Small Town, Big Talk Exhibit: Thanks to a Bridging Divides, Healing Communities grant, the David M. Hunt Library in Falls Village will host an interactive art exhibit called “Small Town, Big Talk” from March 12 to May 28. Photographer Rebecca Bloomfield and interviewer Adam Sher will share stories and portraits of residents with diverse experiences and identities.

Artists Will Donate to COVID-19 Relief: All artists participating in the current Guild of Berkshire Artists exhibit have pledged to donate a minimum of 25% of sale proceeds to our COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County and regional nonprofits. The show runs through April 30.