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Solidago is a nimble and creative philanthropic foundation that supports social justice organizations. “Solidago”, the botanical Latin term for the goldenrod plant, means, “to strengthen and make whole.” Inspired by this widespread and strong-rooted plant, the Foundation seeks non-traditional and creative approaches to deep-rooted social problems that address institutionalized disparities. Since launching its work in 1996, Solidago has promoted justice, equity, sustainability, and enfranchisement for all through its charitable grantmaking. It has joined with progressive funding partners across the country to support work for fundamental, transformational social change.
Solidago is a 501C3 charitable foundation. Its sister organization, the See Forward Fund, is a C4, with similar goals and programs focused on supporting work on independent political power and progressive governance. See Forward is operated by the Solidago staff, as is the Frances Fund, an endowed private family foundation that supports Solidago.
The primary beneficiaries of support are progressive community-based organizations and networks that represent low-income communities of color. Solidago has helped to build capacity and empower community infrastructure and institutions, while also creating economic development strategies and policies that have helped to reverse the growing gap between wealth and power.
As a progressive philanthropic organization, Solidago has offered a range of support, from general operation support to technical assistance, applied research and leadership development. The organization has played a critically scarce funding role, enabling many grassroots organizations to thrive and have greater impact.
The board has long positioned the organization to sunset after 25 years, so it will spend down its endowment by 2023. Through a recent strategic planning process, the Solidago Board of Directors concluded that, at this critical moment in history, the timing is right to maximize its impact. With this in mind, the organization has narrowed its focus over the next three years on supporting work on civic engagement and representative government.
With two experienced program staff and a small administrative support team, Solidago enters its final three years with a sharp focus and clear intentions. Solidago is led by a small board of directors and has a dedicated staff of six. The organization’s annual budget is $3 million.
Now in its 42nd year, the Hispanic Health Council was formed to improve the health of Hartford’s Latino population by addressing issues of health equity and access to care. Compelled by widespread barriers between the Latino community and the healthcare system, a small, highly motivated group of health researchers, healthcare providers and community activists came together to establish an organization that would address these concerns. Thus, the Hispanic Health Council was founded in 1978.
Today, the Hispanic Health Council is a large, multi-faceted Latino-community based organization employing 85 staff members using four core strategies to improve the health and social well-being of Latinos and other diverse communities. In addition to its reputation for excellence in delivery of a wide range of community health, clinical and other services directly to community members, the Hispanic Health Council is distinguished by its use of community-based research, policy and system advocacy and provider training. In addition to its downtown Hartford site, there are offices in Meriden, Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven. Services are provided at sites throughout Connecticut and in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The organization’s mission, vision and values have shaped every aspect of the Hispanic Health Council since its founding. These include:
- Forging relationships of trust and respect with the community;
- Establishing and maintaining strong partnerships;
- Ensuring a social justice perspective;
- Adhering to a standard of excellence; and
- Providing services to all populations regardless of culture, race, ethnicity, legal status, sexual orientation, or other dimensions of diversity.
To expand its programs and services, the Hispanic Health Council merged with Mi Casa Family Services and Educational Center and Hispanos Unidos of Meriden and New Haven in 2013. By joining with these two community-based organizations, the Hispanic Health Council further developed critical programs targeting youth, focusing on behavioral health, and strengthening its HIV prevention and support services.
Achieving health equity for Latinos and other diverse communities requires intentional policy and advocacy work, which are major commitments of the Hispanic Health Council. To develop a higher level of cross-cultural and diversity awareness and communication skills among local and regional healthcare and human service providers, students and faculty, the Hispanic Health Council offers participatory training modules that develop new skills, knowledge and insight.
With its multi-strategy approach, evidence-based service programs, robust partnerships, strong community network and highly skilled, dedicated staff, the Hispanic Health Council is poised to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.
Among the most compelling of these opportunities are:
- To strengthen organizational infrastructure that supports current and new programs;
- To develop and diversify the revenue stream to draw upon new sources of income;
- To increase the organization’s visibility and national profile; and
- To create a plan to expand and replicate programs across a broader geographic area.
The Hispanic Health Council is a powerful and effective agency with a diverse and dedicated staff. With its many productive affiliations throughout Connecticut and beyond, there is significant potential for additional collaborations, both with current and new partners.
Programs and Services
The wide range of programs and services offered by the Hispanic Health Council in prevention/health promotion and chronic disease management currently serve diverse populations across the life span.
Current programs and services include:
- Nutrition education
- Behavioral health services
- Breastfeeding education and support
- Parenting support
- Prenatal case management
- Youth development and academic enrichment
- HIV/AIDS management and risk reduction
- Cancer early detection and longevity support
- Violence prevention
- Community-based participatory research
- Policy and system advocacy
- Provider training
- Immunizations outreach program
About the Organization
For almost three decades, True Colors has offered unique resources to address the risks associated with sexual and gender minority status for youth. In its work with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual and Transgender Youth, True Colors provides young people and their families and those who serve them with critical mentoring, education, social and emotional support.
Founded by executive director Robin McHaelen, True Colors evolved from a concept she developed in 1992. As a graduate student in Social Work at the University of Connecticut, she proposed holding a conference called “Children from the Shadows,” as part of her field work. Once it was approved by her department, the conference attracted widespread interest and support.
As a highly valued and uniquely targeted event, the conference quickly gained the support of the Connecticut State Department of Children and Families, The Department of Education, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, both Connecticut Teachers’ Unions, and more than 30 grassroots community organizations. At its initial gathering in 1994, the conference attracted widespread interest and a modest audience. Since then, it has become an annual event that in 2018, drew 3500 attendees from across the nation. It is the largest youth conference of its kind in the country.
True Colors has become nationally known not only for its groundbreaking conference, but for the expertise of its staff members in training, outreach, partnership cultivation and program design. Training modules offered by True Colors reach a wide range of professionals across many disciplines and have won recognition across the country.
Over the past 15 years, True Colors programs expanded to include youth leadership development; foster parent recruitment; group and individual mentoring; advocacy activities; and year-round recreational activities for LGBTQ+ youth.
True Colors stands for full equality for LGBTQ+ youth, adults, and families, and is committed to the work of social justice as an anti-racist organization. Today, True Colors works with schools; families; communities of faith; municipal, state, and federal agencies; and policy makers across the state of Connecticut. With a budget of almost $700,000, True Colors is supported by a volunteer board of directors, four full time staff, numerous student interns, scores of volunteers, donors, and private as well as corporate funders. The organization trains more than 6,000 people each year building capacity for those who work with and serve LGBTQ+ youth.
True Colors is fiscally well-managed and occupies a unique niche and a central position among LGBTQ+- related organizations. In addition to its tremendous growth over its 26-year history, the organization has a strong record of building the capacity of its partner organizations.
Today, True Colors offers six programs in pursuit of its mission.
True Colors provides Connecticut’s only lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ+) youth mentoring program and one of only two in the nation. The program provides one-on-one mentoring in addition to weekly group activities that provide an opportunity for healthy peer interactions and social development.
The True Colors annual conference attracts young people, educators, social workers, clinicians, family members and clergy, who are drawn to the 250 workshops, films, and activities that take place over two days. School groups from more than half of Connecticut’s communities attend, as well as individuals from across the country.
Youth Leadership Development
GSAs (Gay/Straight Alliances) are found primarily in the United States and Canada. These organizations are student-led or community-based and are intended to provide a safe and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ children and youth as well as their cisgender heterosexual allies. True Colors has directly or indirectly, assisted in developing most of them. Over the organization’s 20+ years of existence, staff have conducted dozens of summits, forums and trainings for youth, helping them to launch and maintain programs in their schools
Safe Harbors Task Force/Foster Parent Recruitment
Supported through a Personal Service Agreement with the State Department of Children and Families, this program involves a state-wide task force managed by True Colors, whose members focus on the needs of LGBTQ+ youth in out-of-home care (foster care, congregate care and juvenile justice). Foster parents are recruited for teens of all orientations and genders, and the program locates homes for those in need.
Cultural Competency Training
True Colors has developed nationally recognized values clarification and cultural competency training curricula used in its work with some 6,500 youth-serving professionals annually.
Launched in 2009, this program focuses on the spiritual needs of LGBTQ+ youth, with a primary mission of providing safe and affirming spaces for youth to explore these interests.
The staff and board of True Colors have developed a superior organization that meets the needs of young LGBTQ+ individuals at risk and the professionals who work with them nationwide. The organization has developed dynamic partnerships that ensure the organization’s impact now and in the future. With programs and training that continue to influence educators and social workers, health care providers, and agencies serving young people, True Colors has gained the respect of professionals in New England and beyond, and has a unique opportunity to build upon its current reputation and stature in the years ahead.