WORCESTER, MA - The Greater Worcester Community Foundation‘s first-ever virtual Annual Meeting featured a keynote address from Congressman Jim McGovern, a video message from Massachusetts' First Lady Lauren Baker and an update on recent initiatives by Chair Carolyn Stempler and President and CEO Barbara Fields. It was the Foundation's 45th annual meeting.
The meeting highlighted the Foundation's recent achievements and its efforts to provide relief during the COVIS-19 crisis, with a focus on re-imagining Worcester in the coming months and years.
“As we work to combat the virus, the inequalities of American society have been laid bare,” said Fields. “Recent events demonstrate that while we may all be in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat.”
In her video message, Mrs. Baker, who recently launched the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, lauded the collaborative approach of Worcester Together. “You coordinated all the philanthropic efforts in the region to have an even greater impact and that work really set an example for the entire state,” she said.
Congressman McGovern shared an update on his advocacy for Worcester County and the Commonwealth from his office in Washington D.C. McGovern noted that “The Worcester Together fund's success is an example of the Greater Worcester Community Foundation's proven strength in leading impactful local initiatives that improve the community.”
In her remarks, Stempler announced that Worcester Together will receive $1 million in funding from the statewide fund in the coming days. She thanked the Foundation staff for their efforts in helping to raise over $6 million, and quickly making over $1.5 million in grants to buttress local non-profits throughout the county. The fund is a joint effort between the Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the United Way of Central Massachusetts, in collaboration with the City of Worcester.
Fields reflected on her first several months leading the Foundation and the important changes and successes in the previous year. “While our focus remains on the health and safety of our community during the COVID-19 outbreak, we are glad to be able to come together and celebrate the Foundation's major accomplishments of the past year,” she said.
According to the 2019 Annual Report, GWCF distributed a total of $6.9 million in grants to over 250 non-profits and $686,450 in scholarships to 397 students. The Foundation also worked closely with community partners to raise $4.9 million in gifts towards a wide variety of causes. Other highlights included:
- The Foundation's co-chaired the City's first ever Cultural Plan. This work was recognized by Boston's Barr Foundation, which doubled its support for Worcester by committing $1 million for work that will our creative sector.
- An investment of nearly $700,000 in scholarships to help 400 local high school students pay for college. GWCF also celebrated the 20th anniversary of its youth-driven philanthropy program, YCI, which trains a cohort of high school students each year in the art of investing grants back into the community, and;
- Expanded efforts in advancing the well-being of children and in the area of mental health by emphasizing careers in the area of behavioral health
Fields remarks focused on the future of the Foundation's role in the community, and in shaping the major changes that will result from COVID-19.
Fields continued: “In the new “normal”, we must work together to find a way to shrink the gaps in educational attainment, the disparities in our health care system, to provide better housing for those who need it, and much, much more.”
“This crisis has given us the opportunity to build anew,” she added.
The Foundation also celebrated years of dedicated service by retiring Corporators and members of the Board: Tracy Craig of the firm Mirick O'Connell, Alison Kenary, a community volunteer and Hilda Ramirez of the Latino Education Institute. Warner Fletcher of the firm Fletcher Tilton was recognized for his over 20 years of service to the Foundation, including 17 on the board, by being named the group's first ever “board member emeritus.”
“Warner‘s 20 years of exemplary service more than qualify him for this honor,” said Stempler.
The Foundation also welcomed new additions to its Board of Directors and Corporators: Michael Angelini of the firm Bowditch Dewey, Lisa McDonough, a community volunteer, Sonia Paulino of Worcester Public Schools, and Eric Torkornoo from T.D. Bank.