Why it Matters

Involvement in communities or organizations provides opportunities for people to act individually or collectively to address an issue or solve a problem by offering their time, skills and expertise. Research also shows that relationships and networks are strengthened through involvement in nonprofits, community initiatives or service to local government. In turn, those relationships and resources create far-reaching benefits, contributing to higher levels of trust and reciprocity among residents.

Desired Outcomes

  • Increased community engagement through arts and the creative process, especially among lower-income residents, communities of color, youth and immigrants
  • Increased community engagement in service and leadership activities in communities and through organizations

Arts Build Community

Berkshire Taconic launched the Arts Build Community initiative in 2017 to increase community engagement through a key regional asset—the arts and creative sector. With generous support from the Barr Foundation, BTCF is partnering with arts and cultural nonprofit organizations in Berkshire County and year-round residents to test new approaches to community engagement that use the proven power of the arts to build trust, cooperation and unity, while strengthening the arts as a sector.


Community-Based Research: To learn more about creative expression and barriers to engagement in the arts among historically underserved populations, BTCF funded a team of resident-researchers to conduct community-based participatory research via surveys, interviews and focus groups, reaching over 450 Pittsfield residents.

Grants Programs: Grants programs support innovative ideas to increase community engagement through the arts and creative process, especially among communities of color, immigrants, youth and other residents who wish to participate in the arts but face barriers such as cost, transportation and social discomfort. We seek to spur innovation among organizations as they launch new projects, expand existing ones and collaborate for impact.

Capacity Building: A group of arts and culture nonprofit organizations has participated in two intensive, yearlong training programs. The first addressed barriers to participation in the arts and how to experiment with new approaches, and the second was a cross-sector group of 30 county leaders from organizations committed to equity and inclusion.

Arts Education: Berkshire Taconic, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission joined forces to create a shared vision and blueprint for arts education that will ensure equitable access to cultural resources for all students and increase the use of arts-based strategies in student learning.

Donor Engagement: Like-minded donors are learning about our ABC work and exploring ways to strengthen the vitality and relevance of cultural organizations for diverse audiences.


Full-time residents from historically underserved populations engaged in programming


Organizations working to expand knowledge and strategies for serving diverse communities


Grants and other support to organizations


Gifts from donors to support this work

A group of residents conducted the research that launched Arts Build Community. They continue to participate in the initiative as part of the team reviewing all grant proposals.

  • 62 Center for Theatre and Dance at Williams College
  • Arts in Recovery for Youth
  • Barrington Stage Company
  • Berkshire Department of Children and Families
  • Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative
  • Berkshire Food Project
  • Berkshire Immigrant Center
  • Berkshire Museum
  • Berkshire Natural Resources Council
  • Berkshire Opera
  • Berkshire Pulse
  • Berkshire South Regional Community Center
  • Center for Peace through Culture
  • Chesterwood
  • City as Living Laboratory
  • Community Access to the Arts
  • Crosby Elementary School
  • Dalton Community Recreation Association
  • Downtown Pittsfield Inc.
  • Flying Cloud Institute
  • Goodwill of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont
  • Gould Farm
  • Hancock Shaker Village
  • I AM: International Foundation
  • IS183 Art School of the Berkshires
  • Jacob's Pillow
  • Living the Change
  • Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
  • Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
  • Multicultural BRIDGE
  • Norman Rockwell Museum
  • North Adams Public Schools
  • Railroad Street Youth Project
  • Rites of Passage and Empowerment (ROPE)
  • Roots Rising
  • Shakespeare & Company
  • Tamarack Hollow Nature & Cultural Center
  • The Christian Center of Pittsfield
  • The Mastheads
  • The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home
  • Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area
  • Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires
  • WAM Theatre
  • Westside Legends
  • Williamstown Theatre Festival
  • Word X Word
  • Youth Alive

Board Leadership Development

As a form of community engagement, nonprofit leadership is about community service and giving back, as well as making good decisions, tracking performance and ensuring accountability.

Berkshire Taconic has created a range of new opportunities for nonprofit leaders to learn, connect and find inspiration from experts and one another, building on our decades of strengthening nonprofit leadership.

We believe community engagement through board leadership can increase if nonprofit boards are high functioning and welcoming to new members, and residents have the awareness, training and support they need to meaningfully participate in board service.


Training & Networking: In 2018, we launched a daylong, multi-track Board Leadership Forum for the region’s nonprofit board members and executive directors. This event expanded as a statewide, virtual event in 2021 and 2022, in partnership with Essex County Community Foundation and other community foundations. We also offer a series of half-day seminars on critical topics such as a board’s role in effective fundraising and creating more diverse and inclusive boards.

Through our evaluation efforts, participants report they are putting the knowledge gained to use in their board work and feeling more effective and productive in their roles as leaders.


Board members and executive directors attended conferences and trainings


Organizations represented

Events like the Board Leadership Forum and Institute for Trustees bring board leaders together for learning and networking.

Art Omi

Art School of Columbia County

Basilica Hudson

Berkshire Art Association

Berkshire Athenaeum

Berkshire Botanical Garden

Berkshire Business & Professional Women

Berkshire Children's Chorus

Berkshire Community College

Berkshire Family & Individual Resources (BFAIR)

Berkshire Grown

Berkshire Immigrant Center

Berkshire Music School

Berkshire Nursing Families

Berkshire Pulse

Berkshire South Regional Community Center

Berkshire Theatre Group

Bindlestiff Family Variety Arts


Cadmus Lifesharing Association

Camphill Village USA

Canaan Child Care Center

Catholic Charities Community Services of Dutchess County

Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity

Chatham Area Business Alliance


Child Care of the Berkshires

Churchtown Fire Company

Clinton Church Restoration

Clinton Community Library

Columbia County Chamber of Commerce

Columbia County Historical Society

Columbia Land Conservancy

Columbia-Greene Community College

Community Access to the Arts

Community Action Partnership for Dutchess County

Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire

Community Health Programs


Cornell Cooperative Extension Columbia and Greene Counties

Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County

Cornwall Conservation Trust

Covenant to Care for Children

Dalton Community Recreation Association (Dalton CRA)

Dutchess Community College

Dutchess County Pride Center

Dutchess Outreach

Elsie K. Powell House

Everyday Democracy

Falls Village Community Development Corporation

Falls Village Housing Trust

Foundation for Community Health

Foundation for Norfolk Living

Friends of Hudson Youth

Friends of Oakdale Lake

Friends of Wethersfield

Gary Schiro & Associates

Geer Village Senior Community

Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center

Grace Immigrant Outreach

Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood

Greene County Council on the Arts

Greenwoods Counseling & Referrals

Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Connecticut

Hands In Outreach

Hawthorne Valley Association


Hoosic River Revival

Hotchkiss Library of Sharon

Housatonic Youth Service Bureau

Hudson Area Association Library

Hudson Parks Conservancy

Jacob Leisler Institute

Jacob's Pillow

Jewish Federation of Dutchess County


Kent Land Trust

Kite’s Nest

Laurel Hill Association

Leadership Greater Hartford

Lenox Public Schools

Litchfield Montessori School

Litchfield Performing Arts/Litchfield Jazz

Louison House

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

Mass Audubon Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries

McCall Center for Behavioral Health

Millerton Cinema Arts and Cultural Center

National Alliance on Mental Illness Berkshire County

New Beginnings of Northwest Hills Litchfield County

New England Air Museum

New Lebanon Library

Noble Horizons

Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires

Norman Rockwell Museum

North East Community Center

Northeast-Millerton Library

Northwest Community Bank

Northwest Connecticut Arts Council

Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation

NY Zen Center

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College

Perfect Ten After School

Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity

Railroad Street Youth Project

Roeliff Jansen Community Library

Roots Rising

ROOTS Teen Center

Salisbury Association

Salisbury Forum

Salisbury Visiting Nurse Association

Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Service

Salisbury Winter Sports Association

Samuel Harrison Society

Scoville Memorial Library

Shaker Museum

Sharon Historical Society

Sharon Playhouse

Sisters for Peace

SOAR School Enrichment Program

South Williamstown Community Association

Spencertown Academy Arts Center

Stanton Home

Stockbridge Library, Museum & Archives

Tapestry Health

The Artist Book Foundation

The Berkshire Museum

The Bidwell House Museum

The Chore Service

The Hotchkiss Library of Sharon

The Laurel Hill Association of Stockbridge

The Literacy Network of South Berkshire

The Mount, Edith Wharton's House

The Moviehouse

The Olana Partnership

The Poetry Foundation


United Cerebral Palsy Association of Berkshire County

Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires

WAM Theatre

Williamstown Theatre Festival

Women's Support Services

Bridging Divides, Healing Communities

In response to heightened political polarization and a pandemic that has magnified persistent racial and economic inequities, Berkshire Taconic is using grantmaking, convening and public events to help residents join together to build trust, strengthen relationships and pursue opportunities for healing.


Grants Program: A grants program is supporting community-building efforts that can bridge differences and drive positive change at the local level. We fund organizations and groups to build and strengthen relationships among residents, especially people who hold different views or come from different backgrounds. The aim is to create opportunities for productive engagement and building trust and reconciliation.

Speaker Series: A five-part speaker series has explored some of the forces and trends creating disparities and division, and how to take action locally to build common ground and solve problems together. It has brought noted speakers and local residents together to discuss topics of race, social cohesion, the media’s role in polarized times and promising engagement efforts underway locally.

Youth Film Challenge: In a partnership with the Civic Life Project and the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative, our youth film challenge encouraged young people ages 14 to 24 to submit a 6-minute film highlighting divisions and inequities in society, and how to tackle them in their families, schools and communities. The winning films tackled topics such as affordable housing, learning disabilities and food insecurity, and were screened at local venues.


Grants to organizations and collaborations


Projects funded around the region since 2020


Viewers of our public speaker series to date


Semifinalists produced student films on challenging topics