Sandy Hook

United Way of Western Connecticut
Response to the December 14 Tragedy

United Way continues to extend our most sincere condolences and prayers to all the families affected by the devastating events in Newtown/Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

Sandy Hook School Support Fund
  • Immediately following the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy on December 14, 2012, United Way of Western Connecticut and the Newtown Savings Bank created the Sandy Hook School Support Fund (SHSSF).
  • The SHSSF was established to receive financial donations, with the intent that the money raised would support families impacted by the tragedy, first responders, teachers, and the Newtown community in both the short and long-term.
  • On December 26, 2012, a Transition Team of community members was formed. That group took on the task of developing a structure and an organization that would serve as the community-based board responsible for the administration and management of the Sandy Hook School Support Fund. The United Way requested that a locally controlled and separate organization be responsible for how the monies ultimately would be distributed.
  • The Transition Team created the organizational documents for the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation after consulting with national experts and conducting research on what other communities faced following mass tragedies.
  • The SHSSF raised approximately $12 million.
  • United Way of Western Connecticut did not take any fees or overhead expenses for the administration of the SHSSF. 100% of what was raised for the SHSSF has been transferred to the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation.

Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation

  • On February 20, 2013 The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, Inc. (Foundation) was formed to distribute and provide oversight to the money raised through the SHSSF.
  • The Foundation is comprised of a board of local Newtown residents and leaders. To see a current list of Foundation board members,
  • On March 6, 2013, United Way of Western Connecticut (United Way) began transferring the SHSSF to the Foundation. 100% of all donations received by United Way for the Sandy Hook School Support Fund been transferred to the Foundation.
  • On April 24, 2013, after research on multiple communities who had been through mass tragedies, the Foundation allocated $7.7 million to the 40 families most affected by the elementary school shooting. This group of beneficiaries includes the 26 families who lost loved ones, the 12 families of children who survived but were in the classrooms where other children and educators were killed, and two individuals who were injured but survived the tragedy.
  • A distribution committee was put in place to advise the allocation of the $7.7 million. Members of the committee are: Chair of the committee Judge Alan Nevas, Dr. John Woodall, and Joe Smialowski. Per the families’ request, Ken Feinberg, a victim compensation master with a national reputation, was asked to advise the committee and assist in the actual claims/distribution process.
  • This distribution was originally scheduled to be completed in May, but was temporarily paused while meetings were held at the request of the CT Attorney General George Jepsen.
  • On May 30, 2013, the Foundation received clearance from Connecticut’s Attorney General, George Jepsen, to move forward on the allocation. In that letter the Attorney General states, “…based on the information provided to date, it appears that the actions and decisions of the transition team and the Foundation, and the Fiduciaries’ support of those decisions, have been reasonable and compliant both with donor intent as well as the Foundation’s governing documents.” Click here to read Attorney General Jepsen's letter dated May 30, 2013. Click here to read the response to Attorney General Jepsen's letter dated May 30, 2013.
  • On July 11, 2013, the Foundation met with the families to re-initiate the process of distributing the $7.7 million. The Foundation also held a public forum to gain input on the draft protocol for distributing the $7.7 million.
  • Disbursements to the 40 families were made in August 2013.
  • On August 7, 2013, the United Way and the Foundation received a follow up letter from Connecticut's Attorney General, George Jepsen, confirming that after a detailed examination of contributions to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund by his office he, once again, validates that the United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC) consistently honored the intent of donors. Click here to read Attorney General Jepsen's letter dated August 7, 2013.
  • Once the initial $7.7 million was distributed, the Foundation engaged the community to determine the allocation of the remaining funds to address long-term needs of the Newtown community.
  • A separate distribution committee with representation of those most impacted (victims' families, school families, school staff, first responders, residents, etc.) has been created to assist in the allocation and timeline of the remaining funds going forward.
  • PLEASE NOTE: Future contributions received for the Sandy Hook School Support Fund will be forwarded to the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation and will be directed to the community distribution process. Correspondence or donations for the SHSSF can be mailed directly to NSHCF, 19 Church Hill Road, Newtown, CT 06470. For more information on the Foundation or the SHSSF, please visit

Additional Community Support
In addition to the work around the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, United Way of Western Connecticut also provided leadership and support to many special initiatives following the tragedy, including:

School Support

  • Solicited and secured the in-kind donation of a complete two-way radio/emergency communication system for Sandy Hook Elementary School (SHES) which was relocated to the Town of Monroe following the tragedy.
  • Acquired donated hotel room for interim SHES Principal for 6 months
  • Arranged for 17 children’s authors to visit the children of SHES, and the 3 other elementary schools in Newtown for a healing event.
  • Arranged for SHES students’ participation in a Broadway event held for the families and the community
  • Committed financial support to teachers union for wellness activities identified as a need by SHES teachers via survey.

Volunteer Support

  • Solicited and secured all technology needs for the Newtown Volunteer Task Force (NVTF) call center, created to respond to all incoming gifts, service donations and phone calls in response to the tragedy.
  • Provided staffing support and volunteer management assistance for 11 weeks to NVTF.
  • Connected NVTF with UW board member for pro-bono technology support.
  • Funding for local mental health services, including:

Newtown Youth and Family Services
Family & Children’s Aid
Healing Hearts
Kids in Crisis
SHACK- therapy dog program

Support for Newtown Youth

  • Provided a grant to Newtown Youth Academy in support of their community healing events.
  • Coordinated sporting/celebrity events for the children of SHES, first responders and the Newtown community.

Support to the Town of Newtown

  • Connected town with Harwood Institute.
  • Provided financial support towards school planning process.
  • Provided financial support towards rental space for GE loaned executives.
  • Provided 6 months of high-level communications support services towards managing large donors, sports and celebrity offers coming into the town.
  • Participated on fund committee to help coordinate multiple funds.

Community Support

  • Helped fund and staff a regional vigil 5 days after the tragedy at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU).
  • Connected multiple groups and residents to resources and other organizations through Symposium of Hope and Resiliency hosted at WCSU.
  • Provided leadership and coordination among nonprofits in first 8 weeks.
  • Participated on weekly conference calls with mental health coordinating council.
  • Provided financial and mental health support to residents via a separate immediate needs fund.
  • Created streamlined process in partnership with Rotary and Office of Victim Services for residents’ immediate needs.

Support for First Responders

  • Serve as processor for Sandy Hook Workers Assistance Fund (SHWAF); UWWC will not charged any fees or overhead expenses for the administration of the SHWAF.
  • Connected Police with Heart 911, a post 9/11 organization run by former first responders and building trades people who focus on emergency response to disaster stricken communities, facilitation of mental health and build housing for wounded returning veterans.
  • Providing grant for mental health, trauma and PTSD training.


United Way of Western Connecticut advances the common good, creating opportunities for a better life for all by focusing on the three key building blocks of education, income and health. United Way creates long lasting community change by addressing the underlying causes of problems that prevent progress in these areas. LIVE UNITED is a call to action for everyone to be a part of the change. Contact Us

United Way extends our most sincere condolences and prayers to all the families affected by the devastating events in Newtown/Sandy Hook.  We would like to thank our loyal donors and our corporate partners who support our year-round work, which allowed us to be in a position to respond to this unforeseen tragedy.

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