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Community Foundation Releasing $4 Million To Victims

The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation announced April 9 the release of $4 million to be disbursed by an interim advancement committee to 40 families most severely impacted by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. The 40 families are those of the 26 victims, the families of 12 surviving children from classrooms directly involved in the shooting, and the families of two people injured in the tragedy.

The interim advancement committee will also consider disbursements to address immediate needs of first responders and teachers/school personnel in its funding decisions.

The foundation is a nonprofit group designed to oversee the distribution of the more than $11 million that the Sandy Hook School Support Fund has received to date. The Sandy Hook School Support Fund is a charitable fund established jointly by United Way of Western Connecticut and Newtown Savings Bank to support the Newtown community following 12/14.

In the first week of March 2013, United Way of Western Connecticut transferred all funds currently raised by the Sandy Hook School Support Fund to the foundation. All subsequent donations also will be transferred to the foundation on a monthly basis, ensuring that 100 percent of the money contributed to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund will be transferred to the foundation.

The foundation also announced a schedule of its planned activities and meetings, including the appointment of a volunteer executive director and a series of meetings to solicit input and feedback from families, first responders, teachers, and others impacted by the tragedy of 12/14.

“This initial release of funds and our schedule of activities in the next two weeks reflects the board’s intention and efforts to balance a thoughtful, transparent process with the appropriate sense of urgency to meet the needs of the community,” said Anne Ragusa, a member of the foundation’s Board of Directors. “To date we have held three meetings, with another six scheduled with victims’ families, survivor families, injured teachers, first responders, teachers and school personnel over the next two weeks.”

One goal of the meetings with affected stakeholder groups is to get their input on how to best represent their views in the work of the foundation’s distribution committees. The members of the interim advancement committee will be named based on the feedback received at these meetings. 

“The reality of the approach that we have adopted is that having a dialogue with those impacted in the community requires time, particularly when so many are in the midst of responding to trauma. The board will move as quickly as possible to bring relief to the families while also ensuring decisions are made thoughtfully for the future,” said Dr Charles Herrick, a member of the foundation’s board of directors.

This first advancement of funds does not preclude families or others from receiving other money in future disbursements. It allows the foundation to look at their needs and additional community needs over the next several weeks with public input.

The next meeting of the board of directors is Friday, April 12, and an announcement of an interim executive director is anticipated to be made on April 15.

According to a timeline published by the foundation, much of March was spent dealing with regulatory items tied to its formation and plans for distributions. From March 18 until April 5, the foundation met with responders representing the Newtown Police Executive Board, leadership of Newtown’s five fire companies, Newtown Ambulance, and EMS leadership.

Then, between April 10 and 12, foundation representatives met with all 26 families who lost loved ones, Sandy Hook School teachers, and 12 additional families directly affected.

By May 20, the foundation is expected to make further announcements about releasing funds, with the first full allocations being announced by May 29, according to the timeline.

For further information, the foundation is requesting individuals to e-mail info@nshcf.org.

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