The Canaan Child Care Center in northwest Litchfield County received grants from the Northwest Corner COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to help cover tuition payments for vulnerable families and renovate its space for social distancing. Photo: John Dolan    
Program, Philanthropy & Leadership Highlights 
Helping Neighbors in Crisis: For more than a decade, our Neighbor-to-Neighbor funds have awarded emergency grants for health services, food, utilities, short-term housing costs and other critical needs to residents facing sudden financial distress. These flexible resources are directed by trusted social workers to where they are needed most throughout our four-county region. When the pandemic struck, these funds were already in place and ready to support our neighbors in need. Since the inception of Neighbor-to-Neighbor, and thanks to the generosity of our donor community, we have distributed over $2 million to hundreds of residents, including $370,000 during the COVID-19 crisis. Many of these emergency grants have been utilized for housing costs over the past six months, particularly for newly jobless residents who need assistance with mortgage and rent payments.

Supporting Nonprofits: Many of our area fund committees are currently accepting grant applications from nonprofits impacted by the pandemic. The Northeast Dutchess Fund (due Sept. 8) and the Fund for Columbia County (due Sept. 30) will provide unrestricted general operating support to organizations serving vulnerable residents and their families. In Berkshire County, both the William J. & Margery S. Barrett Fund for Adams, Cheshire and Savoy (due Sept. 15) and the Central Berkshire Fund (due Oct. 10) will consider applications for the critical needs of nonprofits in this grant cycle. 

Business Accelerator: Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Berkshire County, our partnership to help drive inclusive economic growth, has selected 12 businesses to participate in its second yearlong accelerator program that begins the week of Sept. 7. This group of local entrepreneurs from Becket, Lanesborough, Lee, North Adams, Pittsfield and Williamstown will receive training, mentorship and access to an extended professional network as they build their businesses. One participant, Purple Valley Sustainable Connections of Williamstown, won both the $1,000 first prize and the $500 fan favorite award during EforAll's virtual pitch contest last month. The team's business idea is to connect investors and startups committed to environmental, social and governance practices through a platform that promotes financial growth and environmental sustainability.

Economic Opportunity: Our Community Development Collaborations initiative awarded $8,200 to four previous grantees to extend projects that promote and strengthen the conditions for economic opportunity and town center development in our region. Foundation for Norfolk Living will pursue its proposed cluster of new net-zero energy homes and encourage affordable housing through community outreach. The Northwest Hills Council of Governments will continue to support two pop-up community hubs in Cornwall and Warren, which are providing services like Wi-Fi and a farmers market during the pandemic. Philmont Beautification will host virtual meetings to advance its project to increase small-business ownership of mixed-use storefronts, with affordable housing on the upper floors. Hudson River Housing, as co-leader of the Tri-Town Coalition, will work to promote solutions for affordable housing in Amenia, Millerton and Pine Plains.
Board, Staff & Committee News 
Democracy and Philanthropy: Board member Suzette Brooks Masters wrote an opinion piece for the Chronicle of Philanthropy in which she argues for philanthropic investment to strengthen institutions during unprecedented times. She is an expert on immigrant and refugee integration policy who provides strategic advice on the topic to foundations, nonprofits and corporations.

New Committee Chairs: Board members Elizabeth Hilpman and Jodi Rathbun-Briggs are the new chairs of our investment and finance committees, respectively. Liz has over 30 years of investment management experience, and Jodi has two decades of experience in the banking sector. We thank outgoing board members Thomas Quinn and Ellen Kennedy for their leadership in these roles.  

New Area Fund Co-Chair: Sarah Stack of Clinton Corners is now the co-chair of the Northeast Dutchess Fund, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for residents of northeast Dutchess County. She joined the fund's advisory committee in 2016 and served as the BTCF board chair until her term expired in June. Gloria Callen, longtime chair of the Northeast Dutchess Fund, is now co-chair with Sarah.

Staff Member on Region One Task Group: Betsy Maury, our community engagement officer for community philanthropy, participated in one of nine task groups to help advise the reopening plans for the Region One School District in northwest Litchfield County. 

Grants in the News
Housatonic River Documentary: Aaron Kalischer-Coggins received a Martha Boschen Porter Fund grant last year to create a short documentary that tells the story of the Housatonic River in Western Massachusetts and the grassroots activists who have fought tirelessly for 30 years to clean it up. His film is featured in the Berkshire Eagle.

Theater Program for Seniors: Thanks to support from the Fund for Columbia County, PS21 in Chatham provides a free theater arts program for elderly residents of a Ghent nursing center. The program is continuing remotely, as noted in the Register-Star.

Assisting Artists in Need: The Northwest Connecticut Arts Council, with support from our Northwest Corner COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, provided 27 grants to local artists in financial distress due to the pandemic. Details on data collected from the application process can be found in the Winsted Phoenix.

Scholarship Recipients: Recipients of the Honorable James P. Dohoney Scholarship are highlighted in the Berkshire Edge.

Coming Up
Art Exhibit: Kara Smith received a Martha Boschen Porter Fund grant to complete a mixed media exhibit that investigates the codes and patterns of player piano music rolls. Her work is on display at the Avalanche Art Space in Great Barrington Sept. 3-5 and by appointment.

Berkshire Drum Fest: Tamarack Hollow will host the 11th Annual Berkshire Drum Fest on Sept. 26 with support from the Central Berkshire Fund. Limited in-person classes require masks, and virtual classes will be held simultaneously.

Optimistic Aging: The Clinton Community Library's Optimistic Aging program, which encourages seniors to stay active and healthy, is now remote. Virtual chair yoga classes are held every Friday at noon. The program is funded by the Northeast Dutchess Fund.