Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut

OVERVIEW: This community funder supports 42 communities in the eastern third of Connecticut. Topics of funding are youth, environment, animal welfare, and basic needs and rights.

FUNDING AREAS: Youth, environment, animal welfare, basic needs and rights

IP TAKE:  Here’s a funder that has a hand in grantmaking in many small communities. Interestingly, some the largest recent grants have been going for environment and animal causes.

PROFILE: The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut (CFEC) is based in New London, Connecticut, and is the community funder for the eastern region of the state. The foundation was established in 1983 and serves 42 communities.

CFEC typically provides $4 million to $5 million in grants and scholarships annually. They completed an 18-month strategic planning process in 2015 and established new giving priorities: empower youth, basic needs and rights, preserve the environment, and animal welfare. Grantmaking here goes to early childhood education, mentoring programs, job readiness, experiential learning and physical and mental health for youth. Other grants address homelessness, domestic violence, food security, and economic security. Environmental grants aim to protect land, waterways, and wildlife habitats, and to engage youth in nature. Animal welfare grants go to adoption, spay and neuter services, wildlife rehabilitation, and therapeutic connection between animals and humans.

More funding opportunities go through Regional Impact Grants, Environmental and Animal Welfare Grants, and Women and Girls Fund Grants. In women’s giving, four women-centric funds with an endowment of more than $3.6 million have awarded over $1.7 million in grants. Regional Impact Grant funds include Ossen Fund for the Arts, Preston Community Fund, Willimantic Welfare Bureau, Southeast General, and Norwich Youth. CFEC also offers mini-grants as a follow-up to its “Thriving Community” conversations. A list of recent grantees is on their website.

CFEC offers convenings, continuing education programs, and professional development opportunities. It assists with agency endowments and planned giving strategies for nonprofits. The foundation has over 496 permanent and pass-through charitable funds, controlling over $82 million in assets. Current financial data can be viewed here.

Basic needs grants are usually between $5,000 and $30,000, youth grants between $5,000 and $15,000, self-sufficiency grants between $5,000 and $10,000, and animals and wildlife grants between $5,000 and $50,000. The application process begins with a letter of inquiry, except for applications for specific funds that don't require LOIs.

To apply for a CFEC grant, you must serve at least one of the communities in New London, Windham and Tolland Counties, including: Ashford, Bozrah, Brooklyn, Canterbury, Chaplin, Colchester, Columbia, Coventry, Eastford, East Lyme, Franklin, Griswold, Groton, Hampton, Killingly, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon, Lyme, Mansfield, Montville, New London, North Stonington, Norwich, Old Lyme, Plainfield, Pomfret, Preston, Putnam, Salem, Scotland, Sprague, Stafford, Sterling, Stonington, Thompson, Union, Voluntown, Waterford, Willington, Windham, or Woodstock.

General questions can be directed to or (860) 442-3572. The address is 68 Federal Street, New London, Connecticut 06320. Maryam Elahi is the president and CEO, Jennifer O’Brien is the program director, and Deb Battit is the program officer. Keep up with foundation news and events here.


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