Published April 11, 2020
By The Day Editorial Board
On the first day of April, when his daily pandemic press briefing included the sorrowful announcement of the state's first infant death related to the COVID-19 virus; a welcomed 60-day grace period on insurance premium payments; and new rules for social distancing in retail stores, Gov. Ned Lamont also announced the establishment of the Connecticut COVID-19 Charity Connection — to be known as 4-CT.
Amid the breaking news of the latest casualty numbers and strategies to "flatten the curve," the governor's announcement of a nongovernmental ally received little notice outside fundraising circles. In essence, however, Lamont went with a tactical preference of his, joining forces with private philanthropists for financial and strategic support. It is a strategy he has put to use for the Partnership for Connecticut, whose mission is to benefit public school students.
The 4-CT effort joins the work of the state's 18 local community foundations and its United Way chapters to attract donations specifically to address the effects of the pandemic. And Connecticut needs all the help it can get, particularly with the dire lack of medical equipment and supply support from Washington. Economically, the federal government has begun to arrange assistance through the CARES Act, revving up the Small Business Administration's loan capacity and creating certain tax breaks and filing delays to aid individuals and companies, including non-profits.
Still, the needs are growing far faster than one state alone can keep pace with. Every business that closes down creates a pool of unemployed workers who need to get in line for benefits that may be weeks off. Meanwhile, the usual sources for food sharing and other assistance get more pleas for help, but the ability of the public to donate is affected by loss of income. It is a genuinely vicious cycle.
The mission of 4-CT, itself a non-profit, is "to raise new support for the state’s nonprofit organizations that are serving those impacted by the pandemic." The organization's founders, entrepreneurs Don Kendall and Ted Yang, launched with $10 million raised; the total as of April 9 was about $13 million, according to Yang. Currently, 4-CT is supporting the Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare, and child care for the families of health care workers.
Locally, the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut is working on a $200,000 match challenge that will yield $400,000 if successful. Chelsea Groton Foundation, CorePlus Credit Union, family foundations and individuals have been responding generously with gifts that will be put to use regionally, the foundation reported.
On its website, 4-CT pledges to unite projects with donors statewide, set priorities for greatest impact, and ensure transparency and accountability. The site also has links for direct giving through community foundations across the state, including the local foundation's Neighbors for Neighbors appeal.
Since the COVID-19 crisis muted politics as usual at the state level, Lamont has proven to be effective at martialing available resources both within and beyond state government. The governor is by experience and temperament an executive whose managerial style works best when he's free of the need for political bargaining and second-guessing. He is compassionate, which the people of Connecticut have responded to by largely cooperating with his executive orders. And he knows what friends he can call on, including fellow residents of wealthy Fairfield County, which has been hit hard by the virus.
In announcing the 4-CT effort, the governor expressed gratitude to the long-haul organizations — the community foundations, United Way of Connecticut, and individual donors — who, as he said in a statement, support the work of nonprofits that provide critical services across our state every day as well as during this time of crisis. He is counting on teamwork and expecting that 4-CT will expand the available resources.
Yes, Connecticut needs all the help it can get. Visit https://www.4-ct.org or https://www.cfect.org/Donors/Giving-Options to join the effort.
The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.