Published in The Day on July 4, 2021
OpEd by Maryam Elahi

The American Rescue Plan Act provides us with a dream opportunity to build a strong, vibrant community in Eastern Connecticut by investing in our people.

For far too long, many have struggled in this state with its greatest wealth discrepancies. This historic recovery legislation is intentional in its purpose to rebuild our country in ways not imagined before. At its heart is its stated and clear guidance to invest in children, low-wage workers, health care and equity.

The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, together with many nonprofit partners, have reached out to all the municipalities in Eastern Connecticut to urge them to purposefully commit 30% or more of their rescue-act funds to create more thriving communities.

Our partners at the table include the LEARN Regional Education Service Center, New London Homeless Hospitality Center, Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut, Riverfront Children’s Center, TEEG, TVCCA, United Services and others with extensive expertise that is both rooted in and relevant to our communities.

Together, we have reviewed studies and spoken to experts. The collective assessment of our group of experts, similar to other groups nationwide, is that investing in the three interlinked areas of our human infrastructure – early childhood education and care, mental health and wellness, and affordable and safe housing – will ensure healthy children, adults, and families.

Now is the time to act and move forward as one. Eastern Connecticut is receiving over $240 million for recovery efforts. Let’s together rebuild better, stronger, more purposefully, and more focused on correcting past inequities. This is a moment to, with clear intention, use a windfall to transform our region and advance justice.

If we do, in less than a decade we will reap the seeds that we sow today. We will see greater prosperity and wellbeing in our communities. The economy will thrive when the people we serve are healthy and have the support essential to their wellbeing.

This can be the legacy of our elected officials. And the legacy of all of us residents, friends and neighbors. Now is the time for us to work together so that all our children have the opportunities we could only dream of yesterday.

Let’s get to work – now and together– to build a path to success for our children that will transform Eastern Connecticut.

Maryam Elahi, president and CEO, Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut.