By: Kate Piotrowski, Senior Community Impact Officer, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving

Talk a little bit about your background/history and how you came to be at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving (HFPG).

In my earlier professional days, I was working in the nonprofit sector and contemplating a career in social work. I ended up working in operations and administration for an international anti-trafficking organization where I first found my stride in nonprofit management. Being born and raised in East Hartford, Connecticut and attending college in Hartford, I felt a lot of pride in my roots as well as the assets and strengths of my neighboring capital city. Working at a community foundation that supports my hometown region’s nonprofits and the ways in which they support Greater Hartford’s residents and communities felt like an organic way to marry all my vocational goals.

What is important to you about HFPG’s mission, and what are the ways that mission aligns with the Partnership’s mission?

The Hartford Foundation’s mission aims to create a more vibrant Greater Hartford region by helping dismantle structural racism and advance social and economic mobility for Black and Latine residents. At the center of our strategy, we acknowledge that access to social and economic opportunity in our region is inequitable due to persistent and systemically racist barriers to such opportunity. With data telling us that a resident’s access or trajectory towards upward social and economic mobility can be tied to living in communities with increased quality, affordable housing stock – and all the additional community and health benefits that come with increased safe and affordable housing – supporting the Partnership’s efforts to bring positive outcomes to the state’s housing crisis, and especially for communities experiencing a dearth of quality and/or affordable housing, is directly connected to the Hartford Foundation’s strategic priorities.

How long have you been in partnership with the Partnership? What have you found most inspiring or noteworthy about the work that we do?

The Hartford Foundation has supported Partnership for Strong Communities since the early 2000s, with a deepened funding partnership established perhaps more concretely in 2016. We are compelled by the Partnership’s ability to enlist statewide efforts to help educate and connect key state policymakers, local officials, broad housing constituents, corporate officials, and nonprofit organizations to effect positive change in state policies that impact core essential housing needs for the state and, of course, Greater Hartford: housing creation, affordability, stability, and choice. To us, the Partnership has established a track record of advocating for inclusive housing development and helping build consensus among housing constituents.

How do you measure success in the projects you support, and what outcomes have been most notable?

While national or local research in best practices or successful case studies can help point us in a direction to effectively support increased quality, affordable, and ultimately stable housing for Greater Hartford Black and Latine residents, we prioritize identifying how our nonprofit partners define and measure progress or success. The Hartford Foundation supports an array of activities apart from policy and advocacy work to increase affordable and/or quality housing across the region and in Hartford specifically. For some of this work, individual residents may feel the benefit immediately (e.g., programs to support homeownership and home closings, or programs that provide necessary home upgrades for health and safety), while other work may help contribute to sustained progress over time. In the latter, we see the Partnership’s advocacy and policy work to help support residents’ ability to choose their community and afford their chosen homes over an extended period of time. For us, observing an increased number of residents remaining in their homes, that are both affordable and quality, for a longer time is a measure of success.

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