The social-emotional connection and relationship between parents and children plays a critical role in the literacy proficiency of children, particularly from birth through eight years old. Catholic Charities’ Parker Memorial Family Center’s Fatherhood initiative, which has been working to support fathers in Hartford’s North End, has just received a $10,000 grant from the Black Giving Circle Fund to provide fathers with the education and supports they need to build strong social-emotional connections with their children in order to ensure that their children are reaching literacy proficiency.
This is the first grant awarded by members of the Black Giving Circle Fund at the Hartford Foundation. At the beginning of 2016, Black Giving Circle members chose the importance of early literacy proficiency for Black children, birth through third grade as this year’s focus. Members hosted two informational sessions to learn from local and national experts about the issues surrounding literacy proficiency for Black children. One critical factor mentioned by several experts was the invaluable role parents play in nurturing a child’s literacy skills.
“As we were learning about literacy proficiency for Black children during the critical years of birth through third grade, time and time again the role of parents as a child’s first teacher was emphasized,” said Dr. Tekisha Everette, a member of the Black Giving Circle Fund’s steering committee. “The Black Giving Circle Fund is proud to award this grant to Parker Memorial Family Center. They are doing incredible work by helping fathers and children connect while developing a child’s literacy proficiency at the same time.”
With the support of this grant, Parker Memorial Family Center’s fatherhood and healthy relationship/co-parenting groups will be integrated with the Dinner and a Story program in 2017. In addition, the Center has identified five fathers to receive coaching, training and mentoring from center staff to become Dinner and Story co-facilitators.
The Dinner and a Story program begins with a free dinner where facilitators share information about the importance of having regular time to eat as a family, along with tips on how to prepare affordable, healthy meals at home. The facilitators also use this time to build relationships with families, get them more involved in the Family Center, as well as providing referrals to community resources. After dinner, families read together with fathers receiving coaching from the facilitators using proven reading techniques.
The mission of Black Giving Circle Fund is “to create sustainable change in the Black community by leveraging the philanthropic efforts of donors and celebrating Black philanthropy.” This year’s inaugural grant is representative of the Black Giving Circle Fund’s commitment to support programs that have a positive impact on the Black community in the Greater Hartford region.
Membership to the Black Giving Circle Fund is open to everyone. Donations from members (at least $365 annually per membership) are pooled together in a dedicated endowed fund at the Hartford Foundation. Members of the fund examine issues facing the Black community in Greater Hartford and, collectively, recommend grants to nonprofit organizations that work to address needs in the Black community.
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. In 2015, the Foundation celebrates 90 years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by gifts from thousands of generous individuals, families and organizations. It has awarded grants of more than $620 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.