The annual Margaret Derwin Scholarship awards $100,000 to a Housatonic Valley Regional High School junior toward college expenses and $5,000 to that student and one runner-up for a community service trip. From left, Derwin scholars Maggie Bickford (2020) and Nichole Aguilar (2021), and runners-up Henry Lopez (2020) and Natalie Wadsworth (2021).
Photo: John Dolan
Program, Philanthropy & Leadership Highlights 

Columbia County Grants: The Fund for Columbia County awarded more than $83,000 to 21 nonprofits for projects that address local needs, strengthen communities and provide services in arts and culture, education, health and the environment. For the second time, the committee dedicated a portion of its total grantmaking—nearly $20,000 this year—to programs that benefit the county's growing senior population. In addition, the committee also granted more than $36,500 through the Quailwood Fund to organizations that support the Red Rock area of Columbia County. 

Art Summer Symposium: We are proud to help sponsor the MCLA Institute for the Arts and Humanities for its third annual summer symposium. MCLA will host and facilitate a series of virtual conversations, panels and workshops with guest speakers on this year’s theme of art and accountability. The series begins on June 1 at 2 p.m. with a conversation about community care and public engagement with Dr. Brea Heidelberg, facilitated by BRIDGE's Gwendolyn VanSant. Three more sessions on June 8, 15 and 17 will explore anti-racist theatre work, regional culture and community in response to systemic and collective trauma in the arts, and experiential poetry. The symposium is hosted in collaboration with BRIDGE, Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Berkshire Cultural Assets Network. Learn more and register for all four sessions.

Nonprofit Learning: Berkshire County nonprofits can apply for a spot in the Nonprofit Strong Cohort Learning Program in one of three tracks: Centering Equity, Strategic Thinkers & Planners, and Virtual Nonprofit Operations. Each cohort will meet virtually for five 90-minute sessions over the course of 5-6 months for facilitated discussion and learning with peers, as part of our collaboration with the Massachusetts Community Foundations Partnership. Learn more and apply by June 6.

Fund Anniversaries: Two Berkshire Taconic funds are celebrating their 20th anniversaries this month: the Friends of Beckley Furnace Fund, which works to preserve the Beckley Furnace in Canaan and other sites on the Northwest Connecticut Iron Heritage Trail, and the Benjamin-Cherkis Family Fund, a donor advised fund. We thank them for their continued partnership and generosity.

Speaker Series Recordings: If you missed our four-part Bridging Divides, Healing Communities Speaker Series, recordings are now available. Noted speakers discussed race, social cohesion, the media’s role in polarized times and promising local engagement efforts.
Board, Staff & Committee News 

Education Enrichment: The dedicated volunteer committees of our education enrichment funds continue to fund projects that support social and emotional well-being for students during this period of transition. The following funds awarded grants for projects covering a range of topics, including art, music, science, math and nature: Sustaining Education Enrichment and Development (SEED) Fund for the Pine Plains Central School District, $7,400; Lee Educational Enrichment Fund for the Lee-Tyringham School District, $5,700; and Chatham Education Foundation for the Chatham Central School District, nearly $27,000.

We're Hiring: Berkshire Taconic seeks a Finance Associate with experience in accounting and Excel, and an Administrative Coordinator to maintain office and building operations and provide database and special project support. Learn about these positions on our website.

Longtime Partner Joins Museum Board: Lael Locke, former BTCF board member and current Fund for Columbia County committee member, has joined the Shaker Museum board of trustees. She also serves on the boards of the Crandell Theatre in Chatham and the Neighbors of Northern Columbia County.

Remembering Simone Joyaux: We note with great sadness the death of the singular champion of nonprofits everywhere Simone Joyaux. In a relationship spanning nearly two decades, we partnered with Simone to build the capacity of organizations around our region. In her inimitable way, she helped BTCF grow as a resource for nonprofits and nonprofits adopt best practices and become more effective.
Grants in the News

Bridging Divides: Salisbury School students hosted a ceremony earlier this month to celebrate the life of James Mars, the last enslaved person bought and sold in Connecticut. This project was supported by a Bridging Divides, Healing Communities grant and hosted in partnership with the Church of Christ Congregational, Norfolk, and the Norfolk Historical Society. Coverage of the event was featured on the front page of The Lakeville Journal.

Food Pantry: The James and Robert Hardman Fund granted $3,000 to the MCLA Food Pantry, which will use the funds to increase its fresh food offerings, purchase carts, hire student employees and update its resource page. Read more about the pantry's work providing food and supplies to MCLA students in iBerkshires.

Student Intern: Housatonic Valley Regional High School senior Perla Lopez is completing a photography internship with the Sharon Historical Society thanks to the Frances Kelly Young Photographer's Fund. The Register Citizen spoke with Perla about her internship and shared samples of her photography.

Innovative Art: Sculptor Chalice Mitchell of North Adams recently studied her craft at a studio in West Rutland, Vt., with support from a Martha Boschen Porter Fund grant. Her photo was featured on the cover of the Rutland Herald.
Coming Up

Entrepreneur Showcase: EforAll Berkshire County, our partnership to help drive inclusive economic growth, will celebrate the participants of its intensive spring business accelerator on June 9 at 6 p.m. Ellen Kennedy, Berkshire Community College president and former BTCF board member, is the keynote speaker. 

Recovery and Rebuilding: Staff and board members from nonprofits in Columbia and northeast Dutchess counties can sign up for a free interactive webinar on "Making DEI Real in Your Nonprofit—Countering Micro-Aggressions and Bias to Build an Anti-Racist Culture" on June 16 at 2 p.m. Register today and view recordings of previous training sessions we have presented in partnership with the Hudson Valley Funders Network.

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 final three sessions will be held on May 28, June 4 and June 25 at 5:30 p.m.

Accessible Healthy Food: The North Adams Farmers Market launches its outdoor season on June 5 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The market will double SNAP purchasing power by up to $30 per week with funding from the James and Robert Hardman Fund and the Green Pastures Fund.