A Father’s Love: The William J. McMillian Fund
The Prosperity Foundation (TPF) believes that by creating a participatory philanthropic vehicle focused on improving the lives of Connecticut’s Black communities, real change will happen. Supporters of TPF will realize the potential of how community philanthropy addresses critical social and economic issues facing the Black community. TPF is an avenue for learning and connecting the community, expand financial resources to the community’s health, education, and economic development, and, ultimately, enhance the lives of vulnerable Black children.
Through the leadership of an Advisory Committee, in partnership with The Community for Greater New Haven Foundation, the "Urban Prosperity Fund" was established. Committee members included Elizabeth Hilton, Chair, and several community leaders, including Orsella Cooper, Nancy Hill, Howard Hill, Tamiko Jackson-McArthur, Carol Reid, Stacy Risco, Ferdinand Risco, Gary Tinney, and Roslyn Williams. The idea of the Urban Prosperity Fund has evolved into The Prosperity Foundation. In 2015, The Prosperity Foundation earned its 501c3 designation serving as an independent Community Foundation in the state of Connecticut. The current Board of Directors are:
Orsella Hughes, Executive Director
Howard K. Hill, Founder/President
Larry Conaway, Vice-President
Cathy Graves, Board Secretary
Brian Cook, Treasurer
A strategic planning process shaped the launch of TPF. A feasibility study, which engaged Black professionals and others throughout the state, not only underscored the importance of TPF, but also highlighted the action steps necessary to establish TPF and ensure its long-term success. As expected, there was not universal agreement on all aspects of TPF; that said, the majority of respondents agreed that an ambitious effort with substantial resources was needed to affect significant impact. Moreover, many of those interviewed stressed the importance of improving economic and educational opportunities in the community and saw TPF’s potential to support those organizations that have been successfully addressing those issues. Informed by these suggestions, a TPF working group and Marga Incorporated, a New York City-based consulting firm providing strategic advice and research to philanthropic initiatives and community partnerships, began mapping the pathway toward TPF’s creation. As part of that effort, focus groups across the state provided further input from Connecticut's Black communities into the development and implementation of TPF.
Despite numerous challenges facing the Black community in the state, Connecticut is home to many generous Black residents with substantial giving capacity. Moreover, philanthropy has been central to Black communities, with traditions of sharing “time, talent, and treasure” through assistance to families, churches, schools, and other vehicles. However, the Black community's giving spirit has not been adequately channeled in such a way that allows for significant impact in addressing overall community conditions.
TPF fills voids in our communities by creating a vehicle that allows donors in Connecticut’s Black community to work together to make their philanthropy more communal, more effective, and more powerful. TPF is a crucial new space through which donors can: combine their efforts with like-minded peers through such means as giving circles; continue their existing giving through new donor-advised funds; or give to endowed funds designated for specific nonprofit agencies or issues of interest.
The Prosperity Foundation provides several options for donors to realize their philanthropic goals, including unrestricted, donor-advised, scholarship, preference, and designated funds, among other options. TPF allows donors a variety of opportunities to achieve their community philanthropy goals in support of Connecticut’s Black community.