By Michelle Warren

The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut recently awarded area non-profits nearly $43,000 in grants.

"We look forward to increasing partnerships with municipalities and statewide advocacy organizations to realize gains in eastern Connecticut," Community Foundation Program Director Jennifer O'Brien said in a press release. "We believe our investments in both policy and grantmaking will contribute to a more equitable region."

A total of $42,800 in grants were issued to nonprofit organizations in the area. Those grants are among the $2,084,418 in grants recently awarded by the foundation.

The goal of the grant awards is to advance greater equities in four areas: youth empowerment, basic needs and rights, the environment and animal welfare.

"The foundation has been advocating for systemic changes that will address inequities in early childhood education and childcare, mental wellness and safe, affordable housing with municipal leaders and legislative representatives," the release states. "By convening community members and promoting advocacy around policy changes, the foundation intends to leverage the impact of grantmaking and help create greater awareness of these critical issues.

The grantees are: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Norwich, was awarded $2,500 for rental assistance support; the Commercially Licensed Cooperative Kitchen in Windham was awarded $5,000 for its culinary development program; the Connecticut Food Bank/ Foodshare was awarded $5,000 for its mobile pantry program; the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic was awarded $ 4,000 for general operating expenses; Grow Windham was awarded $5,800 for its "Community Table" program; Holy Family Home and Shelter in Willimantic was awarded $ 5,000 for general operating support; Thames Valley Council for Community Action was awarded $2,500 for senior nutrition services in Windham; the Salvation Army in Willimantic was awarded $2,000 for its emergency services program; Windham Area Interfaith Ministry was awarded $5,000 for general operating expenses; and Windham Region No Freeze Project was awarded $6,000 for its diversion program.

The grant awarded to CLiCK will fund food safety training for restaurant workers and food entrepreneurs with limited income in the Windham area.

Other recent grant awards include a $50,000 grant to Connecticut Forest & Park Association, which will be used to connect Windham Middle School students to Goodwin State Forest in Hampton; a $ 20,000 grant to Hispanic Alliance of Southeastern Connecticut to support the AYUDA Emergency Relief Program and a $24,500 grant to the Health Education Center in Norwich to train community health workers towards building a workforce reflective of the region's demographics and eliminating racial inequities in care.