Northwest Building Healthier Communities Fund awards $295,400 in grants

The Northwest Building Healthier Communities Fund, a fund of the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation, has awarded grants to five area nonprofit organizations, totaling $295,400 during the first half of 2019.

The grants were awarded in support of the fund’s focus areas: Education, Health and Healthcare, Neighborhood and Environment, and Economic Stability and Growth.

“The commitments being announced here are not only significant in upholding the purpose of The Northwest Building Healthier Communities Fund – every penny will make a difference in the lives of those served by these programs,” said Brian Mattiello, The Northwest Building Healthier Communities Fund, Chairman.

“We exist to improve the health and welfare of citizens of the greater Torrington and Winsted areas, and as we continue our work we will build upon the investments announced here and in furthering the spirit and intent behind this fund.”

Grants Awarded:

EdAdvance - $57,500 to support a collaborative expansion and coordination of existing home visitation programs to increase scope, depth and penetration in the Greater Torrington and Winsted Areas

This grant submitted was a collaboration between Torrington Public Schools, Family Strides, and EdAdvance and is aimed to build and strengthen the entire existing home-visitation system that serves local families experiencing homelessness, poverty, underemployment, trauma and other circumstances that negatively affect health.

“We feel this collaborative effort is critically important to address the issues that face our community,” said Michelle Anderson of EdAdvance. “We will be also creating an effective and efficient model of regionalization and shared services.”

High-quality home visitation programs offer vital support to parents as they deal with the challenges of caring for babies and raising children. Rigorous evaluation of high-quality home visiting programs has also shown positive impact on reducing incidences of child abuse and neglect, improvement in birth outcomes, such as decreased pre-term births and low birth weight babies, improved school readiness for children and increased high school graduation rates for mothers.

New Beginnings of Northwest Hills Litchfield County, Inc. - $45,000 to support the cost of a full-time coordinator for The Gathering Place

The Gathering Place, located in Torrington, helps homeless people access the skills, resources and services they need to obtain and maintain housing. The coordinator will connect The Gathering Place clients with available health care services and resources.

“…[hiring] a coordinator for The Gathering Place will allow us to be open on a consistent and daily basis and, more importantly, focus on making healthcare resources and services more accessible and available to the homeless,” said Nancy Cannavo of New Beginnings.

The Gathering Place serves as the local point of entry for all homeless people and near homeless people, serving all 26 towns in Litchfield County. Open every weekday, it provides services ranging from bathrooms with showers, access to washing machines, and help securing housing for individuals and families.

Each week representatives from various agencies meet at The Gathering Place to provide onsite assessments of needs for healthcare, mental health and substance abuse services, assistance completing applications for housing, entitlements, insurance and entry to supported employment programs with the ultimate goal of helping people obtain the skills, resources and services they need to stabilize or obtain and maintain housing.

Providing resources to support a coordinator enhances the level of service and opportunity and increases the positive impact of The Gathering Place.

Northwest Hills Council of Governments - $42,900 to support a produce prescription pilot program for 150 participants in Torrington and Winsted to mitigate diet-related health conditions

Participants who suffer from or are at risk of developing a diet-related health condition will be given a prescription for fresh produce. They will be provided with a box of fresh produce weekly. The project will serve low-income households.

“Doctors and dietitians have found that access to affordable fresh produce is a barrier to the health of their clients leading to diet-related health conditions that require medical intervention,” said Jocelyn Ayer of Northwest Hills Council of Governments.

Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board - $100,000 to support an industrial sewing job training program for 25 people

Despite a strong labor condition, a disconnect persists between job seekers and available jobs. Job training programs work well when they confirm job vacancies with employers before training is designed. This grant will enable the design and implementation of a job-training program for the industrial sewing industry in Torrington.

“This program is designed to bridge the gap between the skills the employer partners need and those that job seekers have, and thus enhance the scope and depth of the commercial sewing industry in the Greater Torrington and Winsted areas,” said Catherine Awwad of Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board.

The Northwestern Regional Workforce Board has identified a current and future need for employees with in the commercial sewing industry in Torrington and Winsted. This grant will provide training to unemployed and underemployed individuals with at least one barrier to employment, such as childcare, transportation, or language skills. Participants will earn a certificate through Northwestern CT Community College and receive job placement in Torrington or Winsted.

Torrington Public Schools - $50,000 to support a Career Academy initiative for 50 at-risk high school juniors and seniors

Career Academies—school‐within‐school programs—in high schools offer curricula based around a specific career path or theme. By providing students with employment experience through school‐employer partnerships, career academies help at‐ risk students prepare for post‐graduation employment.

Initially geared primarily toward students at high risk of dropout, Career Academies have since broadened their focus to include other students as well.

Most Career Academies have similar features. They operate as: “small learning communities” (SLCs) to create a more supportive, personalized learning environment; combine academic and career/technical curricula around a career theme to enrich teaching and learning; and establish partnerships with local employers to provide career awareness and work‐based learning opportunities for students.

“This support expedites strategy implementation and creates additional momentum for our community which is experiencing a large skills gap especially within the manufacturing field,” said Donna Labbe of Torrington Public Schools.

Contact your Community Foundation staff at: (860) 626-1245 to discuss your charitable giving options and goals.