Community Foundation report focuses on education, women and girls, arts, environment

The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut has released its 2016 annual report, a summary that president and CEO Maryam Elahi feels is all about saying, "Look at what great nonprofits we have in the region."

The report highlights some of the organizations to which the Community Foundation gave grants last year, including New London Community Meal Center, Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Connecticut and High Hopes Therapeutic Riding.

"Every year, we try to be more impactful, and that is because of the people who've been committed to helping the community become a better place," Elahi said.

In 2016, the Community Foundation received $9.2 million in contributions, increased its net assets by more than $6.7 million, and established 27 new funds, bringing the total to 470.

The Terry Manning Aleman Pomfret Community School Scholarship Fund, for example, honors the 20-year teacher at the school who died in 2015. The Matthew and Denise Shafner Fund focuses on education, health, music and environmental preservation.

From 2015 to 2016, revenue increased from $9.4 million to $12.6 million while grants and scholarships fell by $636,608, to $12.6 million. Elahi said the reason for this is that some grants are multi-year and some are donor-advised, so timing varies.

One grant in 2016 allowed four Norwich Free Academy students to participate in the five-night Ocean Camp through Project Oceanology. Another supported the hiring of a youth organizer for FRESH New London.

Four Women & Girls funds last year collectively awarded $149,395.

"They're all with a vision of addressing women's equity in our communities, and addressing violence against women and empowering women, etc.," Elahi said, "so all of that is continuing to grow, and we're doing more and more ground-making in that area."

The Community Foundation is working on a report on the status of women in Eastern Connecticut, which Elahi said will be out by early November.

Looking forward, Elahi said that Community Foundation is trying "to focus on larger grants, to think about multi-year grants to organizations that have the capacity to bring about real impact in the community."

This year, the organization also is trying to place a greater focus on community leadership, whether it's talking with New London school officials about closing opportunity gaps or working with the Governor's Prevention Partnership on the new Eastern Connecticut Mentoring Collaborative.

The Community Foundation's goal is to increase assets from $70 million to $100 million by 2020, Elahi said. She also spoke of the importance of collaboration with local nonprofits, especially amid budget uncertainty.

The Community Foundation serves 42 municipalities, a result of the 2010 merger between the community foundations of Southeastern Connecticut and the Tri-County Area.

To read the report, visit bit.ly/CF2016Report.

e.moser@theday.com

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