Quarterly Update
May 2, 2017
The Nature Institute
Craig Holdrege at the Nature Institute's protected wetlands
Secluded off a dirt road in Ghent, N.Y., the Nature Institute sits surrounded by 27 acres of forest and marsh. Walking trails zigzag around moss-covered trees. A boardwalk gently traces over miles of wetlands. Birds call to one another from across the grounds, while squirrels rustle through leaves and dodge puddles. A playground for all who are curious, the institute draws researchers and students from around the world to study and connect with the environment. 

Co-founded in 1998 by Director and Senior Researcher Craig Holdrege, the Nature Institute serves as a local and global forum for scientific research and education, with a focus on creating healthy interactions between people and the environment. This year, the Nature Institute received a grant from Berkshire Taconic's Green Pastures Fund for a project to provide best practices in organic composting to farmers and gardeners. 
Read more
Nonprofit Learning Program
Staff and board members from three of the eight participating nonprofits

Through the generosity of individual donors and five Berkshire Taconic area funds, nonprofit staff and board members from eight organizations throughout the region are participating in the 2017 Nonprofit Learning Program, an intensive training course on best practices in governance, management and fund development. Led by internationally recognized nonprofit management consultant Simone Joyaux, this program includes five group training sessions, 12 hours of private consultation with Simone, a $2,000 grant at the program's conclusion to implement lessons learned and a comprehensive resource manual. 

Click here to view a full list of participants.  
Early Childhood Development
A recent training session at the West Cornwall Library

For the second year, Berkshire Taconic and EdAdvance are working together to boost early childhood development and parent engagement in northwest Litchfield County through trainings and professional development for the region's nonprofit child care providers.

In 2016, professional staff from the nonprofit daycare centers in eight towns - Canaan, Cornwall, Falls Village, Kent, Lakeville, Salisbury, Sharon and Warren - began receiving hands-on training to help them meet state and national standards for the delivery of high-quality, research-based instruction.

In the year ahead, directors and teachers will expand their use and understanding of the Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards, which were introduced in April 2014 and developed after years of study by a state-appointed advisory council to improve services for Connecticut's estimated 200,000 children from birth to age five.  Read more
Grants from the Artist's Resource Trust Fund
An illustration by Amy Jean Porter of Bethany, Conn.

At the end of the year, the Artist's Resource Trust Fund awarded $138,400 to 20 individual artists and eight organizations in New England, Columbia County, N.Y., and northeast Dutchess County, N.Y.

Established in 1996, the A.R.T. fund supports mid-career visual artists, aged 35 and older, and nonprofit organizations that purchase, exhibit or commission their work. View the full list of recipients here.
BTCF Tops $3 Million in Spring Grantmaking
The Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies received a 2017 grant from the Oppenheimer Environmental Fund

In its first round of 2017 grantmaking (which includes end-of-year 2016 grants), Berkshire Taconic distributed nearly $380,000 to individuals, nonprofits and school communities in the four-county region it serves, and over $2.7 million in grants from donors with charitable funds at the foundation.

Through our competitive grantmaking process, Berkshire Taconic awarded grants from the Alice & Richard Henriquez Memorial Fund/Youth World Awareness Program, Artist's Resource Trust Fund, Crane Family Fund, Fund for Columbia County, Margaret Derwin "Blue Sky" Scholarship Fund, Oppenheimer Environmental Fund, Quailwood Fund and eight education enrichment funds.

Grantees include: Town of Dover Lions Club ($1,000) to cover annual vision screenings for Wingdale Elementary School students; Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York ($2,000) to provide food for underprivileged children; Berkshire Botanical Garden ($2,000) for an agricultural-based youth development program; and Art School of Columbia County ($2,600) to offer art programs to individuals with disabilities at Coarc and Camphill Ghent.

View a full list of grants and grant recipients at www.berkshiretaconic.org/springgrants.
Quick Links
President's Message
Graduation season starts in about a month. Through the pomp, circumstance and awarding of diplomas, graduations are celebratory milestones for students and their families. They also serve as critical markers of educational achievement and attainment in an increasingly competitive economic landscape.

Education attainment, among other things, is a pathway out of poverty and contributes to economic security. That's especially important in light of national studies that suggest we are experiencing a decline in economic and social mobility: 43% percent of Americans raised in the bottom quintile for family income remain stuck in the bottom as adults, while the 40% raised in the top quintile remain at the top as adults (Pew Charitable Trusts, 2012). Simply put, there is an "opportunity gap" for lower-income kids.  Read more  
First Fund Facts
As we continue marking our 30th anniversary (technically, it falls in December), we look back at a few milestones at Berkshire Taconic: the first funds of varying types established by local residents who were determined to improve lives in their communities. 

Donor Advised Fund
Berkshire Taconic founder Robert Blum, of Salisbury, established the very first donor advised fund, the JB 2 Fund, with a gift of one dollar. (The fund has gone on to make over 600 grants). Blum was a major booster for community foundations, serving and giving locally through lifetime engagements with three of them. Today, the JB 2 fund is managed by Blum's two children, Alice Yoakum and Jack Blum. Both are active leaders and stewards of their family's generous legacy, as well as legacies of their own. 

Scholarship Fund
Dave Dery established the J. Edward Dery Scholarship Fund in March 1990 as a tribute to his late brother. The award goes annually to a student headed to Berkshire Community College from one of Pittsfield's two high schools or Wahconah in Dalton. Last year's winner, Dina Bilotta, is an honors student studying astronomy. 

Area Fund
The William J. & Margery S. Barrett Fund for Adams, Cheshire and Savoy is a multi-million dollar fund, permanently dedicated to supporting the people and institutions of three North County towns. It all started back in 1995 with a generous act from a local teacher. Read more from the fund committee's current chair, BCC president Ellen Kennedy.

Education Enrichment Fund
In 1996, a steering committee of local residents, led by former board member Mark Gold, formed the Sustaining Educational Excellence (SEE) Fund for Mount Greylock High School. A new robotics club and a book club are among the projects currently supported by the fund, which has awarded nearly $250,000 in grants to date.

Field of Interest Funds
From the beginning, field of interest funds have helped donors to help their communities in ways large and small. One of the first such funds, the Mary Blackwell Memorial Fund, provided the resources for holiday lights in Great Barrington before the town took over that happy task. In Salisbury, the Madeleine B. Wildes Fund, established in 1993, has provided over 100 grants to neighbors in need.
Upcoming Grant Deadlines
Investment Returns as of 3/31/17

Based on preliminary performance, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation's portfolio appreciated 5.1% in the first quarter of 2017, outperforming the policy benchmark* by 70 bps. Comparisons to the benchmark* are favorable over all standard trailing time periods ended March 31, 2017, indicating both favorable asset allocation and solid manager performance. Over the latest 1-year period, the portfolio returned 12.6%, soundly outperforming the custom benchmark*, which returned 10.2%. Since inception in August 1999, the portfolio has generated an annualized return of 6.6%, outperforming a global blend of assets (65% MSCI AC World Index/35% Barclays Global Aggregate Index) by approximately 200 bps per year with substantially less volatility. In addition, for the calendar year 2016, the portfolio's performance remained in the top quartile among its peer community foundations.  Read more

Total managed pool assets exceeded $123.0 million at March 31, 2017, with a distribution of 59.1% global public equity, 6.6% global private equity, 25.3% flexible capital, 1.1% inflation hedging, 7.0% global fixed income and 0.9% liquid capital.  

For more information on the foundation's investment performance and managers, please visit our website or contact Vice President for Finance and Administration A. J. Pietrantone  by email or 413.229.0370.

*The Managed Pool benchmark is calculated as a weighted average of standard financial industry 
indices in each assert class and appropriate to individual managers based on objectives.

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