Valley Community Foundation Announces 12 New Funds

The world was a far different place when the Recreation Camp in Derby was founded in the midst of World War I — and so were ideas about philanthropy.

To fund operations, every year the camp’s founder, Irving Peck, would invite Valley businessmen and professionals to a lobster dinner at his home. Then he would lock the door and wait for pledges.

“No one could leave until he made his budget,” Jamie Cohen, president of the Valley Community Foundation, related Monday.

Since then fundraising for the camp has gotten a bit less compulsory: An endowment to ensure the camp’s future was one of a dozen funds created in 2011 by the Valley Community Foundation and announced Monday at the foundation’s annual meeting at Ansonia High School.

The new funds announced Monday were:

  • Recreation Camp Endowment Fund
  • Monty Blakeman Fund — Named in honor of a Shelton developer who died last April, the fund will benefit causes Blakeman supported, like Center Stage and health-related disease prevention programs.
  • Edward and Laura Lane Family Fund — Created by the Lanes’ children to commemorate their parents 50th anniversary, the fund will support literacy programs in Ansonia school and training for the Ansonia Fire Department.
  • Shelton Education Endowment Fund — Created to support student awards and scholarships, teacher creativity and innovation, career and college exploration, and parent-community engagement, the fund received a $100,000 bequest from Dr. Herbert Clark, an SHS alumnus from the class of 1936.
  • Jones Family Farms Fund for the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station — To support the nation’s first agricultural experiment station, created in 1875.
  • Town Of Seymour Endowment Fund — Started with a $10,000 donation by AT&T, which needed an easement across the Chatfield School property, then-First Selectman Paul Roy initiated the fund, which will benefit the Chatfield-LoPresti School.
  • Arthur Hayes Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund — Named in honor of a former Oxford resident who served as an FDA Commissioner under Ronald Reagan, the fund will provide $5,000 to a worthy Oxford High School graduate every year.
  • Sophie and Robert W. Rapp Family Fund — Named in honor of long-time Valley restaurateurs, the fund will benefit organizations to which they were committed, including the Derby Historical Society and the Boy Scouts.
  • Kaplan Family Fund — Created to memorialize the “giving spirit” of Valley residents Harry and Faye Kaplan, the fund will benefit Derby Public Library and Griffin Hospital, among other groups.
  • Bernice Nicolari-Howard Gura Fund — A scholarship fund created in honor of Nicolari and Gura, Shelton High School girls basketball coaches.
  • Sterling Opera House Endowment Fund — To benefit and assist in the building’s maintenance and longterm repair.
  • Health Initiative For Men (HiM) Fund — Begun with a $100,000 in contributions from Frank and Judy Michaud, the fund will support programs at Griffin Hospital on men’s health issues.

Cohen began Monday’s meeting by noting some “magical” numbers the foundation has achieved this year: it has nearly 100 funds under its management, and $13,256,021 in total assets.

In addition, Cohen announced Monday the sale of the Yudkin Homestead, a property donated to the foundation in 2010.

The proceeds — $450,000, Cohen announced — will go to the Selma L. and Harold B. Yudkin Fund and provide about $40,000 annually in grants.

The foundation raised $5.22 million in 2011, according to an Annual Report distributed after the meeting. It appropriated $1.161 million in grants last year, up just over 64 percent from last year.

The foundation’s director of donor service and grantmaking, Carla Supersano Sullivan, also detailed some new funding methods initiated by the foundation, including a “Revolving Response Grant Program” whereby local organizations with emergencies or other programmatic requests under $5,000 got prompt attention.

The foundation handed out 14 such grants totaling $51,500 last year. One such grant helped a Seymour High School music teacher buy iPads to teach students music theory.

And under the terms of a new agreement between the foundation and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, the Valley Community Foundation’s board of directors for the first time assumed the lead role in distributing grants to several nonprofits serving the Valley.

There were 19 such grants last year, totaling $595,500.

The funds and new activities detailed at Monday’s meeting tallied up to provide an “absolutely remarkable year” for the foundation, Cohen said.

Board of Directors Chair Greg Stamos assured all those gathered they’d be in good moods after the program. “I challenge anyone to go home tonight with a negative thought,” he said.

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