Programs Vie for Catalyst Funding

Programs Vie for Funding to Address Youth and Family Homelessness

Catalyst Fund Members Hear Proposals; $10,000 Grant to be Awarded in November

New Britain, Conn., September 19, 2016 – With youth and family homelessness on the front burner as one of the most pressing challenges facing communities attempting to assist the homeless population, three local  programs recently made presentations to members of the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain’s Catalyst Fund in hopes of securing a $10,000 grant targeting the issue.

Mary Ann Haley of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness Addresses Catalyst Fund members.

Mary Ann Haley of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness Addresses Catalyst Fund members.

Those in the running for this year’s Catalyst Fund grant are Family Promise of Central Connecticut, the Friendship Service Center and the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. Representatives of each program made their cases before a gathering of Catalyst Fund members on September 15 at the Stanley Center for Innovation and Training.

Family Promise of Central Connecticut (FPCC) is new to the Connecticut non-profit scene, having been established in 2015 to help alleviate the issue of child and family homelessness in Central Connecticut. FPCC is the first Connecticut affiliate of a national network of 200 Family Promise programs in the country.

“Family Promise has a terrific track record of identifying homeless families, placing than and transitioning them throughout the country,” said Skip Collins, head of recruitment. “We have 19 churches and houses of worship here in Central Connecticut that have agreed to be part of our effort, and we have amassed a small army of people committed to the program. We feel like we can be a whole new alternative in our collective effort to address this issue.”

Also presenting was Barbara Lazarski, Director of Development for the Friendship Service Center in New Britain which has been at the forefront of assisting New Britain’s homeless population since 1968. Lazarski called youth and family homelessness the preeminent emerging issue for those addressing homelessness.

“At the Friendship Service Center we are already well entrenched in the effort to address this issue,” she said. “Our challenge is to identify new resources to support the many projects we have in progress that are specifically targeting youth and family homelessness.”

The Friendship Service Center, Lazarski said, is in the process of renovating its third floor specifically for homeless youth, a number of whom are LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) and require a safe haven devoted to their needs. The Center is also building a new permanent supportive housing facility on North Street as part of the Mayor’s Building Hope Together project.

“This funding will help our outreach efforts in identifying and establishing relationships with homeless youth in need,” she said. “We want to be ready when these projects are completed.”

The third program seeking funding is the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. The program would use the Catalyst funding to support Connecticut’s 2017 Youth Count and Engagement Project, which will play a critical role in statewide efforts to address the issue.

“Our goal is to end youth homelessness by 2020,” said Mary Ann Haley, deputy director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. “Connecticut has already proven itself a leader in ending veteran homelessness and chronic veteran homelessness, and we are on target to end overall chronic homelessness by the end of this year.

“We want to apply that knowledge and that experience to the youth homelessness issue, and identifying this difficult-to-identify population is key.”

Catalyst Fund members will meet again on November 10 to choose a 2016 awardee.

The Catalyst Fund is a group of local citizens interested in improving the quality of life in Berlin, New Britain, Plainville and Southington. Members make a modest $250 investment per couple or individual each year. Three times per year, members gather to learn about a member-chosen issue facing their community, and to consider funding requests from charitable organizations addressing this issue. The year concludes with a collective vote to award a $10,000 grant to a chosen grantee.

In its 13 years of existence, Catalyst Fund members have awarded more than $130,000 to a variety of programs meeting important needs and addressing difficult challenges in the community.

Established in 1941, the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain is “Where Good Begins” in Berlin, New Britain, Plainville and Southington. The Foundation works to inspire philanthropy, manage permanent charitable assets effectively, and partner to address key community issues through strategic leadership. For more information, visit