We live in extraordinary times! In March 2020, at the outset of the pandemic, we reached out to you. Despite the onset of uncertainty, we pledged that we would do our best to support members of our community most likely to suffer from the impact of COVID-19 and called on you to join us.
We established the Neighbors for Neighbors Fund. And together, we forged ahead! You lit the way for us to journey on this unforeseen path. You joined our “Circle of Kindness” and provided nearly $1.5 million to nonprofits and municipalities working in Eastern Connecticut to ensure that our community would not collapse, and that the needs and rights of our neighbors could be met. We were nimble, strategic, caring and responsive.
And now we are focused on rebuilding better. The American Rescue Plan Act provides us with a historic moment to address inequities and build a thriving Eastern Connecticut. We are working with elected officials, school superintendents and nonprofit leaders to ensure that our recovery is transformative and equitable.
There is much that we have learned in the last year. We all now understand so much better the importance of safe and affordable housing, food security, accessible and affordable health care, childcare, access to technology, early childhood education, and of course a caring and supportive ally to help navigate complicated paths. In the last months, we have reached out to experts – locally and nationally – to better understand the wisest and most strategic way to direct the funds coming to towns through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to transform our communities into a thriving region. The guidance has been unequivocally clear.
- Early childhood care and education;
- Mental health and wellness;
- Affordable and safe housing.
These three intertwined policy and strategic investments would turn around our communities in measurable ways. Eastern Connecticut towns will receive over $240 million dollars. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to lift-up our most vulnerable neighbors and open doors for all to excel and thrive. All our children should receive the best care so that they can attain their dreams. All adults should have the support they need to best contribute to their community. And, we pledge to you that we will do our very best to bring our community leaders together with experts so that we get it right.
The Community Foundation has embarked on a campaign. We are calling on all our municipal leaders and superintendents to invest “30% plus” of the ARPA funds into these three areas. The entire recovery package is intended to fund equitable and transformative recovery. We are working closely with our Councils of Governments who have endorsed our call to action. Many mayors have reached out to us stating their enthusiasm for this initiative. Together, we can do this.
So, we are asking that you join us in this call to action. Please reach out to your elected municipal leaders and superintendents and ask that they join our efforts. We are bringing experts to the table in conversations to help identify the next steps. We are all in this together. This is a rare moment in history which can dramatically change the trajectory of many lives for the better and tilt “the arc of the moral universe” closer to justice.
In the last year, we proved that we can surmount any challenge if we work hand in hand. I am asking you to join us in our advocacy efforts. We are one community. When we stand strong together, we are resilient and we can create a healthy, thriving community for all of Eastern Connecticut.