Giving Voice to Fuel Change: Celebrating Black Philanthropy Month in Fairfield County
AUG 29, 2017
Photo: Les Treize, a Bridgeport-based giving circle, gives back to the community by awarding scholarships to African-American youth.
August is globally recognized as Black Philanthropy Month – a time to celebrate the collective power of African-American communities and their allies to transform lives through the power of giving, and to raise awareness to inspire and strengthen this work.
It’s a conversation that is deeply meaningful in Fairfield County, where growing disparity between wealth and poverty have created the nation’s largest opportunity gap. In the face of this challenge, many African-American philanthropists are actively investing their time, talent and treasure to build more equitable, inclusive neighborhoods and address the most pressing needs of our communities.
We are grateful to not only these featured African-American philanthropists, but the many others working in our communities to break the trajectory of poverty, increase access to quality education, create pathways to careers and build up Fairfield County as a place where every individual has the opportunity to thrive.
MEET THREE AFRICAN-AMERICAN PHILANTHROPISTS SHAPING THE FUTURE OF FAIRFIELD COUNTY
The Carver Foundation of Norwalk, Inc.
As the executive director of the Carver Foundation of Norwalk, a Connecticut nonprofit that is the city’s largest private provider of afterschool and summer programs, Novelette Peterkin is committed to partnering with both parents and public schools to “build lifetime achievers.” She is a member of the National Black MBA Association, has served as a panelist for the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute and the Fairfield Leadership Development Roundtable, and received the Women of Distinction Award in 2013 from the Darien YWCA.
“I am passionate about giving every advantage to the most disadvantaged youth in Norwalk today. I can only hope that this important work will contribute in some small way to gradual social change tomorrow. As a Jamaican immigrant who came to the United States as a child, you might assume my passion arises from my ethnic heritage. It does not. I am just as passionate for the success of our Hispanic youth, and white youth, and Asian youth, as I am for our black young people. The alignment of my passion and purpose, and how I sustain that passion day-in and day-out, depends on my honoring and responding in-kind to the passion my students have for embracing Carver’s mission of Building Lifetime Achievers.
Our work to help close the achievement gap in Norwalk is financially under-valued and too often ignored as an impossible dream that no other city of Norwalk’s size and diversity has ever achieved. The transformative potential of giving is witnessed in the lives of Carver kids every day. Generous and believing people and institutions such as Fairfield County’s Community Foundation are changing Norwalk, if not society, from the inside out. I have the privilege of witnessing this transformation every day. We can absolutely close the achievement gap in Norwalk. Given the wealth in Fairfield County, the excellence of our teachers, and most importantly, the capacity of our young people to overcome serious challenges to achieve their dreams, Norwalk is the nation’s best chance at being the first to finally close the achievement gap and much more. Generous and even sacrificial giving is essential to make this happen. Giving already, each day, changes lives and is already influencing positive change for generations to come. That is the power and promise of giving.”
~ Novelette Peterkin