Read stories of people making life here even better, learn about BTCF's financials and investments, and more.
In challenging times, our vision is clear: everyone should have the opportunity for economic mobility and a high quality of life.
Events of the last few years have shown us that coming together is the only way to ensure that everyone thrives. That’s especially true as we focus our shared efforts on our region's young people, our growing communities of color and immigrant communities, and other neighbors whom our economies too often leave behind.
We are pleased to report that Berkshire Taconic’s long-term investments in our three strategic priorities—community engagement, educational attainment and economic opportunity—are yielding important outcomes that are moving us closer to that vision.
Residents have come together to explore our divisions and seek local solutions, including through the unifying power of art. Early childhood and scholarship programs are reaching students with great potential, as we work to lower barriers to participation and achievement. And dozens of diverse entrepreneurs with promising ideas to build businesses and drive local economies are gaining the skills and networks they need for success.
Meanwhile, through funder partnerships in all four counties, we have leveraged resources to bring nonprofits expert guidance on management and governance, and to support adaptive change in unsteady times. BTCF is bolstering these efforts with strategic planning grants, and our area funds are making grants for general operating support to sustain critical nonprofit partners. Our network of education enrichment funds help students and school communities focus on social-emotional learning and healing. Many of our funds continue to meet basic needs of residents who experience persistent hardship.
We are grateful to all of you—those who give, act and stand with our neighbors when they need us most—as we build more just and equitable communities. From all of us at Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, thank you.
Peter Taylor, President
People are the power behind community foundations. We are a staff and board committed to our region, made stronger by hundreds of volunteers who provide local leadership and make grantmaking decisions, which in turn sustains nonprofits as they improve communities and lifts up students as they connect to opportunities. Donors join us in building the resources to help communities thrive, and many other partners—government, nonprofits, other funders, community leaders and more—collaborate with us to tackle our most pressing challenges and pursue a more just future for all. Here are just a few of the stories of people making life here even better.
While McKenna Burzimati has been making dogs bark for their (all-natural) biscuits since 2020, her brick-and-mortar business did not materialize until this past May.
“EforAll helped me to come out of my shell and gain confidence, both personally and professionally,” the owner of Roxie’s Barkery in North Adams said of her participation in the fall 2021 accelerator program for entrepreneurs, funded in part by BTCF as part of our focus on economic opportunity. The program offers a unique combination of immersive business training, mentorship and access to an extended professional network.
The brains behind the biscuits cites meeting other businesspeople, who come poised to tap participants’ hidden potential, as the program’s biggest asset. “My mentors were definitely the best,” Burzimati said of a trio with whom she remains in ongoing conversation.
Beyond giving back herself (she recently judged an EforAll pitch contest in Adams), Burzimati’s business attennas are always up.
“When I take a vacation and see a bunch of dogs everywhere but no dog bakery … I think about adding more locations.”
This past year marked the fifth for The Early Literacy and Learning Network’s participation in “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” — a national campaign aimed at increasing literacy skills and kindergarten readiness beginning at birth. This effort, which is funded in partnership with anonymous BTCF donors, brings together providers, parents and other trusted messengers to promote early learning across the county.
"Delivering actual in-person programming and early learning activities via direct contact was a great place to land,” said Joan Hunt, executive director of Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood, the network's lead organization. To date, they have served over 200 children through a Hudson-based early learning program and at other sites, such as libraries, countywide.
“We know that early-learning opportunities are scarce in our community,” said Hunt, underscoring the approach: introducing children to a structured classroom space and committed educators tasked with building rapport among families.
Modeling parents as teachers and having caregivers and children engage with the campaign's materials has been transformative, Hunt noted. "There’s a different level of impact."
At St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Amenia, an extraordinary community response to rising hunger is underway. In July alone, 1,654 neighbors (from 470 households) visited the parish’s Food of Life/Comida de Vida Pantry, funded in part by grants from BTCF and its Northeast Dutchess Fund.
“We’re very, very blessed to be able to do this work,” said Rev. AJ Stack, noting that funding for general operating expenses is instrumental in cultivating the community of radical hospitality he leads.
Beyond keeping the lights on, these dollars enable nonprofits to employ highly qualified staff — like St. Thomas’s new pantry manager, Daniel Hutnick, a trained social worker.
“We hired someone who is unbelievably skilled, which has made our connections to the local community even deeper,” said Stack.
At the height of the pandemic last year, parishioners endeavored to “share the stimulus” — an effort matched by an anonymous BTCF donor — which ultimately translated to cash cards for individuals whose tax or immigration status prevented them from receiving government relief.
Last year, BTCF and three other northwest Connecticut foundations funded an adaptive leadership program for smaller nonprofits designed to help staff and organizations flourish in the face of challenge and prepare for change. Participating in the group proved an important step for the Sharon Playhouse’s plan for growth as an institution — one that Associate Artistic Director/ Director of Education Michael Kevin Baldwin considers a positive experience across the board.
“It was really profound … to put our pencils down and pause,” said Baldwin of the opportunity for Playhouse staff and board members to begin effecting comprehensive change in how the organization is run — imperative among small nonprofits who often lack time and funding for professional development.
Over the course of six months, Baldwin noted, the team created systems and structures that will not only show up in future Playhouse programming, but will also foster a culture of positivity, inclusiveness and equity for all.
“It was fascinating and beneficial to hear from all organizations about how they run a successful business,” said Baldwin, highlighting the impact of sustained collaboration.
Our focus on board leadership development, part of our community engagement strategic priority, continued in 2021. We joined Essex County Community Foundation in presenting the 2021 Institute for Trustees, an annual conference inviting nonprofit leaders to gather for educational workshops and networking opportunities. The event featured 24 virtual trainings from leading nonprofit experts on topics including racial equity, endowment building, crisis planning, governance, advocacy, finance and much more. More than 120 board members and executive directors from the BTCF region participated.
With support from our generous communities, our regional scholarship program of 70 funds awarded more than $690,000 last year to students pursuing their academic and vocational dreams. This was a 6.6% increase from 2020. Awards ranged from $1,000 to $25,000. The majority went to students whose families were expected to be able to contribute $10,000 or less toward college, and nearly 25% to households unable to provide students any financial support.
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. The Bridging Divides, Healing Communities initiative launched in 2021 with two rounds of competitive grants to support community-building efforts that can bridge differences and drive positive change at the local level. A four-part speaker series 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. In a partnership with the Civic Life Project and the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative, a 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.
Around the region, BTCF is partnering with our area funds, nonprofits, schools and employers to strengthen the opportunities for students as they transition from school to successful careers. The Fund for Columbia County has awarded multi-year grants to five organizations for programs that develop skills in entrepreneurship, film and media arts, the building trades and more. NEDCorps, a program of our Northeast Dutchess Fund, is collaborating with North East Community Center to expand its workforce program and its role as a convener for school-to-work activities in the region. Our Northwest Corner Fund is focusing even earlier on the age continuum by funding a pilot summer enrichment program for Litchfield middle school students to cultivate curiosity in learning, develop high school readiness and strengthen social relationships. Funding from our South Berkshire County Fund has helped create a new career readiness coalition, underwrite a new career counselor for the Central Berkshire district, and sponsor over 100 apprenticeships and internships in a range of work settings.
Generous donors have entrusted their philanthropy to Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation for 35 years. Strong investment performance amid changing economic times is a hallmark of our program. We take seriously our responsibility to steward resources with prudent, long-term strategies that maximize grantmaking and preserve and grow philanthropic capital for the future.
At Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, we use a collaborative approach to philanthropy and offer a variety of charitable funds that allow donors to give now or through their estates. We are grateful to partner with all the fundholders who established new funds last year.
Angels of St. Anthony Fund, in Memory of Florence, Mildred and Joseph Sasso
Berkshire Choral International Fund
Berkshire Inspired Educational Fund Scholarship Fund
Billy Evans Memorial Scholarship Fund
Carroll Family Fund
Columbia Paper Journalism Initiative
Elizabeth F. and Wynn A. Sayman Fund
Elizabeth "Mum Bett" Freeman Monument Fund
King/Cruey Family Fund
Millerton Community Park Endowment Fund
Monument Mountain School Center Fund
New Marlborough Village Association Maintenance Fund
Skylar Cantarella Memorial Fund
Taconic Hills Student Travel Fund
Taste of Salt Fund
The Jane Laning Fund
William S. and Patricia G. Linscott Fund
We welcomed the new funds listed above in 2021.
We thank the professional advisors who work with us to help fulfill their clients' charitable visions.
Harris N. Aaronson
Molly Ackerly, Esq.
Paula K. Almgren
Andrea Doyle Asman
Alexander W. Bloomstein, Esq.
Jennifer M. Boll, Esq.
Louise F. Brown, Esq.
J. Peri Campoli, Esq.
Matthew Chester, CFP
Janice J. Cook, Esq.
Thomas A. Curtin
Jason Dohaney, MBA
Edward F. Downey
Keith J. Flint, Esq.
Mark S. Gold
Pamela R. Green
Mitchell I. Greenwald
Devon W. Grierson
Perley H. Grimes, Jr.
Sherwood Guernsey II, Esq.
Allyson M. Holmes
Martin L. Huban III
Ellen Janis, MBA
Ira J. Kaplan, Esq.
Katherine Kiefer, Esq.
Richard P. Koskey
John J. Martin, Esq.
William E. Martin, Esq.
Ronda G. Parish
James J. Sisto, Esq.
Susan M. Smith, Esq.
David R. Stack
John N. Umlauf
Charles C. Vail
Donna D. Vincenti
Carl G. Whitbeck Jr., Esq.
Douglas F. Wicks, Esq.
We thank the legacy donors below who have made a commitment to strengthen the future of our region by supporting the causes they care about, and have chosen BTCF as the vehicle for their generosity.
The funds below are designated to receive a bequest from a generous donor.
Dr. Bernard and Eleanor Auge Family Fund
BTCF Community Fund
Crofut Family Fund
Dorsoduro Family Fund
Fund for Columbia County
Fund for Mt. Washington
McCarthy Family Fund
Pine Grove Cemetery Fund
Whistler's Brother Fund
Our board members care deeply about our communities and bring knowledge, passion and commitment to their work.
We welcomed Bryan House of Housatonic, Mass., and Trey Muldrow of Taghkanic, N.Y., in 2021. Gregg Osofsky of Millerton, N.Y., and Dan Sternberg of North East, N.Y, joined our board this year.
Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation serves the area where New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts meet, 2,200 square miles of natural beauty and small-town charm that is home to nearly 230,000 people. Working in four counties for 35 years, we have helped mobilize nearly $200 million to help our communities thrive by funding education, health services, basic human needs, the arts and environmental protection.