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Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, Inc. to oversee Sandy Hook School Support Fund

 Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, Inc. to oversee Sandy Hook School Support Fund

The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, Inc. (The Foundation) has been formed. The role and responsibilities of the foundation will include oversight of distribution for the money raised by the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.

Immediately following the tragedy on 12/14, The Sandy Hook School Support Fund (SHSSF) was created, by United Way of Western CT and the Newtown Savings Bank. The fund was established to receive undesignated 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. No fees or expenses have been taken for the administration of the SHSSF.

The Foundation was formed at the request of United Way of Western Connecticut
and Newtown Savings Bank, to receive the Sandy Hook School Support Fund (SHSS) dollars. The United Way desired that a locally controlled and separate organization be responsible for how the monies ultimately would be distributed.

A Transition Team of community members created the organizational documents for the Foundation after consulting with national experts and conducting research on what other communities faced following mass tragedies.

There were some lessons learned and best practices shared:
• A community needs to be inclusive in their decision making, so those most impacted have a voice.
• The character of our community distinguished it from many other tragedies, as the victims were so young, the school had a strong sense of community, and that people know their neighbors and it impacted many in a personal way.

The Foundation will oversee the distribution of financial assistance to those affected by the tragedy, be it individuals or groups, or the community itself. It will do so by establishing and reviewing the work of distribution committees. The SHSS Fund is the first fund under the Foundation’s authority, which will establish a distribution committee. Other funds may come under the foundation’s umbrella.
The SHSSF distribution committee membership will be decided after soliciting input from representatives of the various affected groups (families who have lost someone, families of survivors, first responders, teachers, etc.). . There are currently no set designations or limitations on funding to neither potential recipients nor amount of assistance it can provide.
While the Foundation has established a Board of Directors, the membership of the SHSSF distribution committee has not yet been established.
The Board of Directors are:
• Benjamin B. Spragg, former Town Finance Director,
• Monsignor Robert Weiss, St. Rose of Lima Church,
• Dr. Charles Herrick, Chair of the Psychiatry Department at Danbury Hospital,
• Attorney Anne Ragusa, and
• Joseph DiCandido, CEO of Nutek and former Legislative Council member.

In addition, there are three nonvoting, ex officio Directors: Kim Morgan, CEO of United Way of Western Connecticut, John F. Trentacosta, President and CEO of Newtown Savings Bank, and Will Rodgers, Selectman and local attorney.

In the next weeks, members of the Foundation board will begin meeting with the affected groups to determine how their interests and priorities can be represented on the distribution committee. Once the distribution committee members are appointed, a further public input process will take place to determine how the accumulated funds should be distributed.
We hope that the first disbursements of funds can be made within 30-45 days following the initial meeting of distribution committee.
The Foundation intends to keep the community advised of its actions and intentions as it moves forward. A website and phone number will be established and shared shortly.