Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and Merrill Lynch Join Forces

Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and Merrill Lynch organized a fun, interesting and enlightening evening to encourage millennials to increase their engagement in philanthropy and social impact investing for the second year in a row. This year, the backroom at Louie’s Italian Restaurant hosted an energetic mix of young adults interested in philanthropy from throughout Fairfield County, along with three experienced and passionate grant makers and three nonprofit organizations that were poised for a Philanthropy Pitch and Panel.

Kim Paris, Impact Investing Director for Merrill Lynch opened the program with a clear vision of the importance for millennials to consider employing impact investing to make their own personal difference. Paris stated, “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. With impact investing, your investments can generate social and environmental impact alongside the potential for financial returns.”

Fairfield County’s Community Foundation transitioned the evening’s discussion to feature local philanthropy highlighted by a Philanthropy Pitch and Panel.  Kristy Jelenik, Development Director of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and co-organizer of the event said, “With the evolution of the millennial generation, it’s more important than ever to educate young adults on different ways they can create an impact on their community.”  Jelenik continues,  “Many thanks to Merrill Lynch, the Per and Astrid Heidenriech Foundation, the Tauck Family Foundation, and Social Ventures Partners CT as well as the millenials who attended this event. Our strategic partners and dedicated community members together make Fairfield County thrive.”

The Philanthropy Pitch and Panel offered a glimpse into the nonprofit grantmaking process, while allowing attendees to hear quick pitches from three impactful organizations that have strong passion and vision for their work in the local community.

The nonprofits that pitched their funding needs to the audience included Food Rescue, CT for a Dream and Rebirth Arts Collective. The grant makers and close partners of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation that share a goal of creating a stronger Fairfield County 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.

Those millenials 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.


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