Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut makes inaugural grants through $1 million from the Connecticut Social Equity Council

The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut announces 18 grants made through the Connecticut Social Equity Council’s (SEC) Community Reinvestment Pilot Program, an initiative to reinvest revenues from the State’s new adult-cannabis industry in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the “war on drugs.” In Eastern Connecticut, the SEC’s Disproportionately Impacted Areas (DIAs) of focus are New London, Norwich, and Willimantic/Windham.
“We are thrilled to have been selected and entrusted by the SEC to distribute funds equitably. These resources enable us to expand services for those most harmed by the “war on drugs” and increase youth programming that will positively expand horizons,” said Jennifer O’Brien, Program Director at the Foundation.

Grant guidelines require a focus on reentry/reintegration programs that support formerly incarcerated individuals and their families, and on enrichment programs that promote well-being for young people.
Seven grants for formerly incarcerated residents of the New London, Norwich and Willimantic/Windham communities support housing, basic needs, job training, fatherhood initiatives, mental health and recovery, legal services, and record expungement:
Alliance for Living $75,000
Connecticut Legal Services $40,000
Connecticut Pardon Team $5,000
Madonna Place $80,000
NAACP of Connecticut $75,000
New London Homeless Hospitality $85,000
Perception Programs $100,000
Jason Malcolm, Program Manager for Fatherhood program run by Madonna Place, noted in receiving the grant, “We are grateful for the Social Equity Council’s support of our Fatherhood Initiative. It allows us to expand much-needed support of formerly incarcerated fathers in Norwich, New London, and Willimantic in developing more positive involvement and interaction with their children and partners or co-parents.”
Eleven grants support a range of youth development activities in the three towns including workforce skills, mentoring, arts, sports, and social justice:
Big Brothers Big Sisters of CT $20,000
Castle Church $50,000
Community Level Up $50,000
Eastern CT State University Center for Community Engagement $65,000
Hispanic Alliance of Southeastern CT $30,000
New London Youth Affairs $50,000
Norwich Youth & Family Services $25,000
Project Imo $50,000
Public Library of New London $25,000
Sankofa Education & Leadership $40,000
STEPS $35,000
Community Level Up is using their grant to expand programming for New London youth. Executive Director Miles Daniels stated: “The grant has allowed us to add more staff to our evening enrichment programs. We now average around 30 students per night. We will be hosting a free basketball and track league for 200 students next spring, and we’re increasing our presence inside the local schools and through a Sunday community study hall. Our mission is to build better communities, one leader at a time. The Social Equity Council grant is helping us do that!”
The Community Foundation is one of six intermediaries across the state that received funding to re-grant reinvestment funds into our local communities.
See full list and program descriptions for CFECT CT SEC Grants: 2023 CT Social Equity Council Grants
About the Connecticut Social Equity Council (SEC)
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The Social Equity Council was created to make sure the adult-use cannabis program is grown equitably and ensures that funds from the adult-use cannabis program are brought back to the communities hit hardest by the "war on drugs." The SEC oversees the verification of equity applicants, creates new programs to support cannabis businesses and businesses in other industries, and manages the more general community investments derived from the cannabis tax revenue. To learn more about Social Equity Council announcements, upcoming meetings, and adult-use cannabis information, visit Social Equity Council (
About the Community Foundation
Serving 42 towns and comprised of over 600 charitable funds, the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut’s vision is a healthy, thriving, sustainable Eastern Connecticut with greater equity for all. We collaborate with partners to put philanthropy into action to address the needs, rights and interests of our community in Eastern Connecticut. The Community Foundation manages a permanent community endowment and has awarded more than $93 million in grants and scholarships to nonprofits and students since its founding in 1983. To learn more, visit