At Darien Event for Millennials: How to Think About Giving to Worthy Causes

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A mix of young Fairfield County adults interested in philanthropy met recently at a Darien restaurant to hear about engaging in philanthropy and social impact investing.

It was the second year in a row that the event took place — this year in the back room of Louie’s Italian Reataurant at the corner of Tokeneke Road and the Post Road. The meeting was organized by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and Merrill Lynch.


— This article is slightly adapted from an announcement from Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.


Also at the event were three experienced grant makers and three nonprofit organizations that participated in a “Philanthropy Pitch and Panel” run by the foundation to show the young adults how grant makers discuss requests for money and what they consider.

Pitch night Fairfield Co's Comty Fdtn 07-21-17

Photo provided by Fairfield County's Community Foundation

From left: Front row: Jeffrey Infusino, Social Venture Partners CT; La-Toya Washington, Rebirth Arts Collective; Karen Brown, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation; Mirellise Vazquez, Tauck Family Foundation. Back row: Michael Chambers, Heidenreich Family Foundation; Tenisi Davis, Rebirth Arts Collective; Lucas Codognolla, CT Students for a Dream; Patrick Wayland, Davies Wayland & Associates, Merrill Lynch; Kevin Mullins, Food Rescue and Kristy Jelenik, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.


Kim Paris, Impact Investing Director for Merrill Lynch opened the program, talking about the importance for millennials to consider employing “impact investing” to make their own personal difference.


“Impact investing allows us to expand the dialogue from what goals do you want to pursue for your life to include what goals do you want to achieve for the world around you,” Paris said. “With impact investing, your investments can generate social and environmental impact alongside the potential for financial returns.”

Demonstration Offers Glimpse into Grantmaking

In the “Philanthropy Pitch and Panel,” attendees were able to hear quick pitches from area organizations pitching their funding needs, including Food Rescue, CT for a Dream and Rebirth Arts Collective.

The grant makers and close partners of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation  included Michael Chambers from the Per and Astrid Heidenriech Foundation, Mirellise Vazquez from the Tauck Family Foundation and Jeffrey Infusino from Social Ventures Partners CT.

The grantmakers engaged the young adults in assessing the pitches, and shared their insight into their strategic evaluation processes. Food Rescue won first place and received a $1,000 grant award from Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, with the remaining nonprofits receiving $500 grant awards.

Millennials in attendance were encouraged to explore different pathways to get involved in local philanthropy, and to incorporate philanthropic values and actions into their personal and professional lives.

About Fairfield County’s Community Foundation

Fairfield County’s Community Foundation promotes philanthropy as a means to create change in Fairfield County, focusing on innovative and collaborative solutions to critical issues impacting the community.

Individuals, families, corporations and organizations can establish charitable funds or contribute to existing funds. The Community Foundation is in compliance with the Council on Foundations’ national standards and has awarded over $212 million in grants to nonprofits in Fairfield County and beyond.

As a nonprofit partner and thought leader, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation brings together community organizers, business experts and philanthropists to solve our region’s challenges. Our goal is to create a vital and inclusive community, where every individual has the opportunity to thrive.


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