In 2014, Jack Baker, then the chair of the Connecticut Community Foundation's Board of Trustee's, had a vision: What if the current and former trustees who had led and served the Foundation over the decades pooled their experience and resources and created a fund that would complement the grants the Foundation makes every year throughout its 21-town region?
From that idea, the Connecticut Community Foundation Trustee Fund was born. The members of the fund decided they did not want to make traditional competitive grants, but instead wanted to offer an annual award that would recognize organizations and people in the community whose work truly embodied partnership and collaboration, core values of the Foundation. "We wanted to highlight efforts that set an example to others by putting aside competition, egos, and differing interests to come to one table and to do important things that any one group or person couldn't do effectively alone," explains Baker.
On August 20, 2015, the Trustee Fund honored the two recipients of its first-ever Trustee Fund Award: River Smart CT, a collaboration of several local environmental organizations and land trusts, and Almost Home Summer Camp, an educational and recreational summer program created this year for children in Waterbury's WOW Neighborhood.
River Smart CT engages residents and business owners near the Aspetuck, Pomperaug, Naugatuck, Housatonic, and Farmington Rivers in land use practices that can help improve the health of these rivers and waterways throughout the surrounding watersheds. River Smart CT is a collaboration of Housatonic Valley Association, Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition, Kent Land Trust, Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, Farmington River Watershed Association, Steep Rock Association, Warren Land Trust, and Lake Waramaug Task Force.
"Coming together has enabled us to combine the river and water expertise of HVA, PRWC, Rivers Alliance, Lake Waramaug Task Force and the Farmington River Watershed Association, with the landowner expertise of local land trusts. This collaboration literally created the RiverSmart campaign from the bottom up," observes Lynn Werner, Executive Director of Housatonic Valley Association.