The Willow Roots food pantry in Pine Plains received a Northeast Dutchess Fund grant to provide fresh food and basic necessities for community members in need. A team of volunteers makes deliveries and hosts weekly distributions at the home of co-founders Nelson and Lisa Zayas, pictured above. Photo: John Dolan
We have seen an extraordinary outpouring of generosity in our communities to keep nonprofits going this year. Through our emergency relief funds in our four counties—each just one link in a chain of astonishing goodwill—we have mobilized over $4 million in grants to nonprofits and businesses. In coalition with dozens of other community foundations and funders, we are also putting together resources and expertise to help stabilize, re-envision and rebuild the nonprofit sector in our region. All of this has been accomplished in partnership with our donors. We are filled with gratitude for every gift.

As we finally put behind us this year of hardship and uncertainty, we thank the nonprofit community for responding to the crisis with resolve and resilience. If your circumstances allow, please help recognize their extraordinary work by making generous contributions through your BTCF fund or directly. Let’s continue to be there for our nonprofits, just as they are there for us every day. 
Program, Philanthropy & Leadership Highlights 

State Funding: Berkshire Taconic received more than $355,000 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 our immigrant communities not eligible for governmental assistance. The state awarded funds to 14 community foundations throughout Massachusetts as part of its Partnerships for Recovery economic recovery plan.

Northeast Dutchess COVID-19 Relief: Thanks to the significant gift of a generous anonymous donor, our Northeast Dutchess COVID-19 Relief Fund is distributing $200,000 in cash cards to bring immediate relief to many northeast Dutchess County residents facing extreme financial hardship, including those who may not be eligible for government assistance. Social workers at our Northeast Dutchess Fund's NEDCorps 2.0 partner agencies—Grace Immigrant Outreach, the North East Community Center and the Community Action Partnership for Dutchess County—are preparing for additional waves of requests as residents reach out for support during the winter.

Kapteyn Prize: Dr. Tasia Cheng-Chia Wu, a music teacher at Berkshire School in Sheffield, has been awarded the 12th annual James C. Kapteyn Prize for excellence in teaching in an unprecedented year for the region’s educators and students. She will receive a $10,000 award for study or travel to enrich her teaching, and the school will receive a $2,000 grant in her name. Read more about her inspiring work on our blog.

End-of-Year Giving: The last business day of the year to make a charitable gift is Thursday, Dec. 31. Our Philanthropic Services team will be available by phone and email until 5 p.m. to help with any last-minute requests. We will also have a staff member in the office, although please keep in mind that visitors are not permitted. Learn more about ways to give on our website
Board, Staff & Committee News 

Remembering Virginia Stanton Smith: We note with sadness the death of former Berkshire Taconic board chair and cherished friend Ginger Smith. A trusted attorney and leader in the legal community, Ginger was a steadfast champion of Berkshire Taconic and advocate for the promise and possibilities of philanthropy.

Education Enrichment: The Eagle Fund committee reached out to the Southern Berkshire Regional School District to determine how the fund can best help address the challenges students face during this academic year. In response, the committee agreed to fund two programs: a safe after-school program with enrichment activities for students in grades K-12, and virtual academic enrichment camps during vacations in February and April for groups of elementary students.

New Committee Member: Maggie Buchwald, founding board member and past chair of the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, has joined the Arts Build Community committee.

New Staff Members: We welcome Controller Brenda Trierweiler and Grants Associate Caitlin Healy to our team. Brenda was previously the chief financial and operations officer for the Children's Study Home in Springfield, and Caitlin was the community investment manager at Greater Hartford Arts Council. Outgoing Controller Peggy Gearity is retiring this month, and outgoing Grants Coordinator Brandon Williams is focusing on his watch and jewelry repair business located in Pittsfield. We thank them both for their years of dedication with Berkshire Taconic.
Grants in the News

New Grant Program: Berkshire Taconic launched the Bridging Divides, Healing Communities grant program last month to support community-building efforts that can bridge differences and drive positive change at the local level. President Peter Taylor spoke about the program with Spectrum News 1.

Health Services: Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood is expanding its hours to offer services four days a week to its predominantly young, low-income and Medicaid-insured patients with support from the Columbia County COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. Read more in the Register-Star.

Food Pantry Expands: St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Amenia dedicated a new building for its food pantry with support from Northeast Dutchess Fund grants. Read more about the building, which holds 20,000 pounds worth of food, in the Millerton News.
Coming Up

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 nonprofits include "Bringing the Outside In: Engaging Communities in Priority Setting and Planning" on Jan. 12, "Fundamentals of Nonprofit Finance/Financial Bootcamp" on Jan. 26, "Organizational Change to Achieve Equity" on Jan. 27, and "Alternative Strategies for Fundraising Events - Designing the Event" on Jan. 28. Organizations in Columbia and northeast Dutchess counties may register for "Selecting a Donor Management System" on Jan. 14 and "Cybersecurity Basics" on Jan. 28. Register and view recordings of past sessions .

EforAll Virtual Event: Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Berkshire County, our partnership to help drive inclusive economic growth, will host a virtual Report to the Community on Friday, Jan. 15, at 9 a.m.

Closed for Holidays: Berkshire Taconic's office will be closed on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, and New Year's Day, Jan. 1.