Taft's Red Rhino Fund awarded $8,130 in grants this week to five local nonprofit organizations. The awards were made during Morning Meeting, and reflect the culmination of a months-long process designed to support groups working to impact the lives of children in the Greater Waterbury community. It is also the largest award total in the Fund’s history.
“In addition to using the endowment spending-plan funds or draw,” says Grants Committee Co-Chair Henry Horne ’20. “we also raised the Spring Fling ticket price last year, effectively increasing Fund income and allowing for a more generous grant budget.”
The Red Rhino Fund is an endowed, charitable fund run by a nine-member student board with faculty advisors. The Board typically sets a budget at the beginning of the academic year, which includes grants and marketing costs on one side, and income generated through events like Denim Day and Spring Fling on the other. The full Board reviews and votes on the merits of each organization’s application for support. And while Fund by-laws preclude any one organization from earning grant dollars in consecutive years, the 2019 grantees did include eligible organizations recognized during prior grant cycles, including the Childrens Community School (CCS), a nonprofit organization which providing an educational alternative for low-income families living in the Waterbury area. CCS offers a unique, high-quality, private education experience, owing largely to its legion of volunteers.
“One of the things that made the greatest impression on me was the contract that all guardians at the Childrens Community School sign,” says Grants Committee Chair Maggie Robertshaw ’20, who conducted a site visit at the school as part of the application review process. “The contract is a commitment to be involved in all aspects of school life. It fosters a sense of community that is so important to the school, but also aligns with all that the Red Rhino Fund represents, and with our understanding of the importance of involvement and building community.”
CCS will use their grant dollars, Maggie says, to purchase Chromebooks, Chromebook chargers, and carts to house the technology.
“Access to Chromebooks can help limit the digital divide CCS students sometimes face,” Maggie notes. “Standardized testing in the state of Connecticut is now done on computers. For students without access to technology, those test results may reflect a lack of digital literacy, rather than intellectual ability. Putting this kind of technology in their hands can help bridge that divide.”
Henry visited the Mattatuck Museum during the review process. Located in the heart of Waterbury, the Museum’s offerings include programs geared toward local children and families, from Community Free Days and Black History Month celebration and kick-off events, to Story Time for Toddlers and programs for schools, scouts, and community groups. They welcome nearly 10,000 school children each year, including every third-, fourth- and fifth-grade Waterbury Public School student.
“Our grant will help fund a really interesting and new hands-on learning experience,” Henry explains. “Children can look through suitcases filled with historical memorabilia and personal items to learn about different cultures and experiences—they can literally ‘unpack history.’ It is a great way to learn about immigration and the immigrant experience in the city across its history.”
In making their awards, the Red Rhino Fund board considers things like the breadth and impact of an organization's reach, their overall mission, and how they plan to spend the grant dollars. The 2019 grant winners are:
Mattatuck Museum, $1500
Girls Inc., $2000
Waterbury Symphony Orchestra, $2000
Watch the full Red Rhino Fund Morning Meeting video here.
Learn more about the Red Rhino Fund here.