Edit ModuleShow Tags

Taking on the Tough Issues



Photograph by Stefanie Timmermann

It seemed all of Fairfield County wanted to do something—anything, really—when tragedy struck Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School last December. But what would have a lasting, meaningful impact after the news trucks took down their satellite antennas?

Juanita James, executive director of the Fairfield County Community Foundation (FCCF), contemplated that question, thinking, as she often does, about the big picture. First things first: There were victims’ families, some of whom solicited the foundation’s staff for advice on enduring philanthropic memorials; things that would do good works for the long haul. For example, the family of art-loving six-year-old Grace McDonnell established a fund in her name, while school psychologist Mary Sherlach’s survivors directed memorial gifts to an established FCCF health and wellness fund.

And then there were the complex, pervasive questions raised about mental health after the senselessly brutal shooting of twenty-six children and educators by an obviously troubled gunman. “It’s a systematic and long-term problem that extends far beyond Newtown,” says Juanita. So, the FCCF organized a January symposium that brought Connecticut legislators and representatives of key nonprofits with mental health expertise to the table to brainstorm on these prescient topics. “These are big questions about what happens in the long-term if we ignore these issues. Our role is to be a convener, to start the conversation,” she explains.

This focused approach to problem-solving is typical of the foundation’s philanthropic style. FCCF has been best known in its twenty-one-year history for shepherding an endowment of approximately $140 million to support a network of carefully screened Fairfield County nonprofits. Since Juanita assumed the FCCF’s leadership in October 2011, there’s been a parallel emphasis on addressing specific regional needs; things such as affordable housing, long-term unemployment and the educational achievement gap. While advancing philanthropy is still paramount, she explains, “Connecticut is an unusual state in that we don’t have a county government. So we’re in a unique position of seeing the big picture and then….being the catalyst for change.”

To that end, the Norwalk-based foundation is increasingly committed to taking on seemingly unwieldy regional problems and finding substantive ways to make a difference.

Juanita likes to break dilemmas down into manageable parts. Take education. It is a prime example of the FCCF’s knack for addressing a need in a way that achieves quantifiable results. Through its research, FCCF discerned there was a potentially disastrous shortage of qualified educators positioned to assume principals’ roles at schools in Bridgeport, Norwalk, Stamford and Danbury; urban centers striving to attain achievement parity with their more affluent, suburban neighbors. It was estimated that ninety-two of those cities’ principals were poised to retire by 2012. “If you don’t have great leaders, how can you have great schools?” Juanita asks. “We decided one way to tackle the problem was from the top down.”

The FCCF convened a yearlong Urban School Leaders Fellowship, which mentored sixty-three up-and-coming educators, with an emphasis on enhancing their abilities as dynamic urban school leaders. An exciting postscript was Juanita’s recent attendance at the Greenwich-based Lone Pine Foundation’s ceremony honoring three urban Fairfield County public schools for significant achievement advances. On the staff of one of those honored schools (Stamford’s Springdale Elementary) was an assistant principal mentored through FCCF’s fellowship project. “But what’s even more exciting is to think of the leaders who are poised to become principals when there’s a need,” Juanita says. As always, her eyes are fixed on the big picture.

www.fccfoundation.org

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

 

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Greenwich Agenda

  • 6th Annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival & Santa’s Workshop

    2014.11.28

    Santa and his LIVE reindeer - Dancer, Dasher, Prancer and Blitzen, are coming back to town for the 6th Annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival &...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • Flinn Gallery Art Opening

    2014.10.30
     @ Flinn Gallery 2nd floor

    "IN FOCUS" OPENING RECEPTION -  Thursday October 30, 2014 6-8pm. "IN FOCUS"features seven artists' visions in...

  • Antarctica: Photographs by Diane Tuft

    2014.10.28
     @ Bruce Museum

    October 28, 2014 - February 1, 2015 Selections from Gondwana, Images of an Ancient Land Bruce Museum, 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich, CT...

  • The Best of 2014: Cecile Chong, David, Ruth Hiller, David Licata, Loanne Mattera, Jill Parisi, Kristen Thiele

    2014.11.08
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY I Dates: November 8 – December 22, 2014     Opening Reception: November 8, 6:30 – 8:00 PM Public Invited THE BEST OF 2014:  Cecile...

  • Exhibition: Northern Baroque Splendor

    2014.09.20
     @ Bruce Museum

    Northern Baroque Splendor. The HOHENBUCHAU COLLECTION from: LIECHTENSTEIN. The Princely Collections, Vienna September 20, 2014 - April 12, 2015...

  • Exhibition: Native American Pottery from the Bruce Museum Collection

    2014.11.22
     @ Bruce Museum

      Generously underwritten by Gabelli Funds and The Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund Over the years, the Bruce Museum has...

  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

    Imagine Candy located in Scarsdale Village- Winner of 2014 Best West of Westchester by Westchester Magazine- holds a Belgian Chocolate and Candy...

  • Christmas Tree and Wreath Sale for Charity

    2014.11.29
     @ First Congregational Church of Greenwich

    O, Christmas Tree; O Christmas Tree Buy your tree and help those in need this Christmas! It’s time for the annual Christmas Tree and...

  • "Paper & Stone" an exhibition by Ellen Gordon & Sary Backer at the Loft Artists Gallery

    2014.11.01
     @ Loft Artists Gallery

    Paper and Stone” An exhibition by Sary Backer & Ellen Gordon November 1 - November 30th Artists’ reception: November 8th from 4 – 6 PM...

  • Family Gallery Tours

    2014.10.26
     @ Bruce Museum

    Designed for children ages 6-10 and their families, these tours will provide an interactive, discussion-based tour of the museum’s current...

  • Tuesday Toddler Tours

    2014.11.04
     @ Bruce Museum

    Children ages 3-5 and their adult caregivers are encouraged to come explore the Museum’s collections and exhibitions through picture books...

  • Greenwich Gives

    2014.12.02
     @ Greenwich Avenue

    Looking for a fun way to complete your holiday shopping and give back to your community?    On December 2, 2014, local non-profits...

  • Breast Cancer Alliance Holiday Gift Boutique

    2014.12.02
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    More than 40 skilled artisans, designers, and purveyors of finely crafted goods and provisions will showcase their wares at the Breast Cancer...

  • Holiday WOW At Your Front Door!

    2014.12.02
     @ Garden Education Center of Greenwich

    Beautify your entrance way with luscious holiday evergreens, berries, pinecones and more, sure to last throughout the dreary winter...

  • Exercise as Treatment for Chronic Pain

    2014.12.02
     @ Noble Conference Room Greenwich Hospital

    Presented by Greenwich Hospital and Orthopaedic & Neurosurgery Specialists Exercise as Treatment for Chronic Pain Tuesday, 12/2/14 at...

  • Israeli Film Series | Bethlehem

    2014.12.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    Join us throughout the year for award-winning films direct from Israel that will show you Israel through the lens of a movie camera. Following each...

  • Holiday Della Robbia Wreath

    2014.12.03
     @ Garden Education Center of Greenwich

    Create a lavishly decorated live wreath for your home this holiday season with Maureen FitzPatrick. Using a variety of real...

  • Picture This with Authors Lisa Barr & Gabrielle Selz

    2014.12.03
     @ The Drawing Room

    Authors Lisa Barr & Gabrielle Selz Bring Their Stories of Passion, Chaos & Intrigue from the World of Modern Art to Greenwich...

  • Holiday Tea

    2014.12.04
     @ Garden Education Center of Greenwich

    Back by popular demand!  An elegant multigenerational holiday tea party featuring a delightful afternoon tea, delicacies and a gift...


Show More...
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular Articles

  1. Watch Your Back, Lulu
    YOGASMOGA’s got a new active wear line that’s coming in hot
  2. BCA Annual Luncheon + Fashion Show
    Hyatt Regency Greenwich
  3. Greenwich Restaurant Week Opening Night Kick-off Party
    Miller Motorcars
  4. AmeriCares Airlift Benefit
    Westchester County Airport
  5. Antiquarius Patron Party 2014
    The home of Suzanne and Ramsey Frank