New Haven Ecology Project (Common Ground)
358 Springside Ave
New Haven CT 06515
Contact Information
Address 358 Springside Ave
New Haven, CT 06515-
Telephone (203) 389-4333 x
Fax 203-389-7458
E-mail kcartwright@commongroundct.org
Web and Social Media
Common Ground connects Farm, Forest, and City

Mission
Common Ground's mission is to cultivate habits of healthy living and sustainable environmental practice within a diverse community of children, young people, adults, and families. We accomplish this mission through:
  1. The nation's oldest environmental public charter high school, creating the next generation of successful college students and powerful environmental leaders
  2. An environmental education center, connecting city residents to the natural world and the sources of their food
  3.  An urban farm, modeling sustainability and contributing thousands of pounds of fresh, local produce to the community 
At A Glance
Year of Incorporation 1990
Organization's type of tax exempt status Public Supported Charity
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years Yes
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Melissa Spear
Board Chair Robert Parker
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired, former principal
Financial Summary
 
Projected Revenue $4,848,502.00
Projected Expenses $4,847,908.00
Statements
Mission
Common Ground's mission is to cultivate habits of healthy living and sustainable environmental practice within a diverse community of children, young people, adults, and families. We accomplish this mission through:
  1. The nation's oldest environmental public charter high school, creating the next generation of successful college students and powerful environmental leaders
  2. An environmental education center, connecting city residents to the natural world and the sources of their food
  3.  An urban farm, modeling sustainability and contributing thousands of pounds of fresh, local produce to the community 
Background

From the start, our founders and supporters aimed to break new ground and change lives in our community.

In the 1980s, community members and educators came together with shared purpose: connect city residents to the natural world, grow healthy food in our community, and change the way we educate our children.

In the 1990s, on 20 acres of city park land, Common Ground’s founders cleared tons of garbage and rebuilt a historic farmhouse.

They planted the state’s longest-running community farm, and launched a wide array of community and environmental programs – including a summer camp, after school programs, green jobs opportunities, and workshops for families.

In 1997, our founders opened the nation’s first environmental charter school, now a leader among the 300+ environmental public schools across the country. In 2008, the students of Common Ground began six years of dramatic test score gains -- including the largest of any Connecticut high school in 2010.

In 2010, Common Ground convened a broad group of students, parents, and community partners to design a plan for the use of this unique 20-acre site. The resulting plan for our future imagined Common Ground could change more lives and step forward as a national leader.


Common Ground completed its building expansion in 2016 with a newly built national model of an environmentally friendly school and community building.  More than 15,000 people visit annually, for an innovative high school experience, for standards-aligned field trips, and for adventurous play in the outdoors.  
Impact

Planting seeds, growing leaders, cultivating community. The diverse Common Ground community of children, young people, and adults is doing transformational work on many levels in New Haven. Last year, the four-year graduation rate at Common Ground High School surpassed the state average by 5 points and 92% of our graduates were accepted to college. When the children in our after-school programs and summer camps go home, more than 50% are more willing to try new, healthy foods, and more than 90% demonstrate new sustainable behaviors, according to surveys of their parents. We see our 20 acre site -- an urban farm, at the base of a forested state park, within a city -- as an irreplaceable community resource, and as a catalyst for community change. More than 13,000 people visited Common Ground for an educational program last year.


We are compelled by our mission and values to step into the larger New Haven community, to create partnerships and leverage other nonprofits' strengths to build a model that can help strengthen others around the country. For example, Common Ground's School Garden Resource Center has worked with All Our Kin to plant educational gardens at home child care providers, and provided deep, ongoing support to educational gardening efforts in more than a dozen New Haven and Bridgeport public schools. We work with CitySeed to sustain New Haven's mobile farm market, bringing food to senior centers, public housing projects, and food insecure neighborhoods across the city. We have joined with the Urban Resource Initiative, Audubon Connecticut, the City, New Haven Public Schools, and other strong partners to create a matrix of "urban oases" across our city -- designed to provide rich habitat for wildlife and human communities, and recently designated as one of the country's first urban wildlife refuges.
Needs
1. Continue to develop our site as a critical community resource. Common Ground's site is at the root of all we do. Recognizing this, we developed a 10-year master site plan to steward and develop this unique place.  Six years later we have completed most of the physical improvements and are now working to solidify a new set of strategic priorities that will take advantage of the new buildings and improved ecosystems on the site.  The rate of expansion requires us to upgrade our internal systems, such as talent management, communication tools, and evaluation systems, to keep pace with the increased demands for more high quality work.

2. Ensuring that our students succeed in college. Common Ground students have made remarkable strides -- reflected in college acceptance and graduation rates. Yet, getting these students into college is not enough. Our students need support during the college admissions process, and as they transition to college -- requiring a $750 investment in each graduate.

3. Sustaining growth and diversity of our community environmental programs. Offering life-changing environmental learning experiences to all children and families requires financial commitment. For instance, it costs $150 to fund each of the 250+ classrooms of students who visit for school field trips each year. 

4. Moving healthy, local food from farm to table.  The 8,000 pounds of produce we grow each year is a real investment in food security and community education. Ensuring that this food gets to those who need it most, and that it has the maximum educational impact, requires $150,000 in the next year.
CEO Statement

As I sit here in my office this morning, the spring sun is shining and a cool wind blows through the branches of the white pine outside my window. Over by our educational wetland I see a class of 5th graders from a New Haven Public school who are here for a field trip. One of Common Ground’s Environmental Educators is about to lead them up the hill into West Rock Ridge State Park to see first-hand the forest ecosystems they have been learning about in their classroom. Another group of New Haven Public School students is up in the educational gardens, about to visit our worm bin to learn about decomposition and soils. Further up the hill in our Outdoor Classroom I can picture the 20 Nature Year kids who spend one day a week with us throughout the school year busily engaged in an outdoor immersion experience. Nature Year kids spend all day outside engaged in a program designed to reinforce the work they do in their classrooms the remainder of the week. Meanwhile, our own Common Ground High School students are hard at work making art, studying science, practicing math and writing papers in preparation for life after high school – well, with the exception of the Documenting New Haven class that is out touring New Haven neighborhoods today for direct experience with the city they are learning about in depth as part of their educational experience.

Whether it is on our farm, in the park, in a New Haven neighborhood or in one of our classrooms, the work we do at Common Ground is about learning. Our site and our programs are designed to actively engage people of all ages with their environment, with their communities, and with each other, in ways that increase knowledge, skill, confidence and understanding. We use our urban farm, the surrounding forest, and the city of New Haven to engage our community in a unique learning experience, one that is both conceptual and experiential, one that changes thinking and behavior, one that is challenging and joyful, one that is often transformational. I see the joy every day on the faces of school children visiting our sites. I watch the transformation of our high school students as they engage with our site, and with their community. I hear from parents how meaningful participation in Nature Year has been for the lives of their children. Transformative learning comes with meaningful engagement and connection. At Common Ground this is what we strive for – creating meaningful, joyful experiences that contribute to learning for all who come to our site and join in our programs. Come see for yourself…you would be welcome!

Board Chair Statement

Before the No Child Left Inside, the No Child Left Behind, the school gardens, the food deserts, school lunch politics, farm to table dinners, and the healthy foods non-profits, an idealistic bunch of young and not so young teachers, farmers, and environmentalists believed they could make students better stewards of the planet and of their own bodies. Earnestly deploying maxims like “there is no away” and imbuing classes with lessons in culinary capitalism, the believers helped students to see the impact their choices had on the city of New Haven and their own personal health. And it wasn’t long before they were convincing others too through summer camps, community programs, and finally a charter school. 

Today’s culinary landscape is structured by food studies research, rich with edible options, and politically highly evolved. There is incredible range of resources now devoted to supporting a healthier planet, healthier bodies, and tastier meals. Yet there is still incredible need particularly around food choices and health, and that reality assails us everywhere. Committing to Common Ground is a promise for future generations: I’ll try to make healthier choices now for a better planet later. It is the carrot over the cookie as often as possible. Or at least the carrot along with the cookie. It is a commitment to the early believers at The New Haven Ecology Project who dreamed of Common Ground and to a city that made it possible and where those healthier options and that rhetoric should be inescapable.

Common Ground is, once again, growing something new, despite major public policy challenges and a difficult funding environment. With a brand new school building built with more than $2 million in private support and $8 million in public support, Common Ground has the physical facilities needed to meet the increased demand for its programs. Now, despite major financial obstacles, we remain idealistic. Together with students, their parents, and our wider community, we are tackling not just the threats to the natural environment, but the threats to our community posed by structural racism and other systems of oppression, to ensure that all members of the Common Ground community and New Haven are engaged, feel safe, and are valued in the important work of the organization.

Service Categories
Primary Organization Category Education / Secondary & High Schools
Secondary Organization Category Environment / Environmental Education
Tertiary Organization Category Food, Agriculture & Nutrition / Agricultural Programs
Areas Served
Ansonia
Bethany
Branford
Cheshire
Derby
East Haven
Guilford
Hamden
Lower Naugatuck Valley
Madison
Milford
New Haven
North Branford
North Haven
Orange
Oxford
Seymour
Shelton
Shoreline
Wallingford
West Haven
Woodbridge
Common Ground is a resource for Greater New Haven. High school students come from 14 towns, and community program participants are even more geographically diverse. We are particularly committed to New Haven's most vulnerable residents, and to serving a diverse urban community. Nearly 50% of our high school students qualify for free/reduced lunch, as do about 75% of children's program participants.
CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Programs
Description
At our Environmental Education Center, community residents explore the natural world and build habits of healthy, sustainable living. Our after-school programs for grades K-8 build environmental leadership and understanding through outdoor adventures, hands-on science, work on the farm, and opportunities for service. Through school field trips, we aim to get every child outside: providing New Haven elementary students with first-hand experiences in the farm and forest, connected to educational standards. Our Green Jobs Corps links high school students with work opportunities, leadership and career development, and academic supports. Our summer ecology camp gets kids out into the natural world – exploring and playing, learning and growing. Community programs for families teach about gardening and composting, help city residents access nature, and build capacity for healthy living. With your help, we are growing the community engaged by these programs from 8,000 to 15,000 or more.
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) / Families / Adults
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service. - 15,000+ community program participants will demonstrate increases in environmental understanding, commitments, and behaviors each year.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.
- All members of the New Haven community will demonstrate habits of healthy living and sustainable environmental practice: e.g., through healthy food choices, use of neighborhood greenspaces and parks, and acts of environmental leadership.
 
- All New Haven children will experience direct connections to nature and the sources of their food, leading to healthier food choices, better physical health, and deeper commitment to the natural world. 
 
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.

- # of program participants; demographic data on these participants.

- % of community program participants demonstrating increases in environmental understanding, commitments, and behaviors.

Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success. Participation in Common Ground's community environmental programs has grown steadily for the last 10 years -- this year reaching more than 15,000 community members, up more than ten-fold since 2003. Children are a particularly crucial audience for these programs; this  year, nearly 5,000 elementary students participated in school field trips and day-long programs, and more than 120 children participated in extended after-school programs for grades K-8. Program participant diversity has also increased substantially over the last three years -- for instance, the percentage of young people of color in after-school programs increased from 17% in 2008 to nearly 50% in 2012. Program evaluations make clear that these program participants are (1) connecting with the natural world, (3) building environmental understanding, and (3) developing concrete health and sustainability skills.
Description Common Ground High School was founded in 1997 as the nation's first charter high school focused on the urban environment. It is a small college prep high school, where students experience a combination of individual support and high expectations that help them achieve academic success. With only 175 students, Common Ground can challenge and support each individual, linking them with on- and off-campus opportunities that push them as far and fast as possible. We use our three campuses – the forested ridge of West Rock State Park, our 20-acre educational farm, and the city of New Haven – to engage students and provide challenging, relevant learning experiences. Our students master state standards as they design new green buildings on our site, partner in the research of university scientists, launch environmental business ventures, and create outdoor museum exhibits. The Campaign for Common Ground will help us offer learning opportunities like these for 225 high school students per year. 
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years) / /
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.
- 100% of our graduates will be accepted to college or another appropriate post-secondary educational option. 

- 100% of our students will demonstrate mastery of state standards -- as measured by continued gains on state tests and other assessments.

- 100% of our students will demonstrate increased capacity as environmental leaders -- as measured by school-wide assessments and their performance during significant "acts of leadership."
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.
- 100% of Common Ground students will succesfully graduate from college or another appropriate post-secondary educational option.
 
- 100% of Common Ground graduates will demonstrate the capacity and commitment to be effective environmental and community leaders.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.

- % of students demonstrating proficiency on state-wide tests, showing improvement on common formative assessments, and reaching proficient/goal on school-wide benchmark assessments.

- % of students demonstrating significant growth in environmental leadership, as measured by benchmark assessments and school-wide performance rubrics.

- % of students graduating on time, accepted to college, and graduating within 4 years.

Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success. Our students often enter with significant educational disadvantages – but four years later, nearly 100% are accepted to college. Over the last five years, the percentage of our students earning "proficient" and "goal" scores on state tests has doubled or tripled in every subject area. Academic gains are not the only indicator of our students' growth; in the last three years, these same young people have designed more than 20 outdoor interpretive exhibits, planted nearly 300 urban street trees, written and used a $100,000 grant to fuel campus-wide sustainability efforts, helped to lead educational programs for more than 1400 elementary students, and taken on more than 150 paid environmental job work placements. We are genuinely creating the next generation of successful college students and environmental leaders.
Description Our urban farm and 20-acre site is the only resource of its kind in New Haven, and a unique model for urban sustainability. Our farm supports local food security, growing 7000+ pounds of produce for free school lunches and farmers markets. It is the incubator for student-generated business ventures -- using farm produce to create healthy local products for sale. It is a gateway to West Rock Park for city residents -- strengthened through 20+ new interpretive exhibits. It is a model for sustainable practices -- solar power, organic food production, and more -- brought to an entirely new level by a student-led sustainability planning effort involving a team of local architects and planners. It is also the classroom and laboratory for our work: the location for community programs, the textbook for our courses. The Campaign for Common Ground will help us double farm production, and ensure that every serving helps to create a healthier, stronger community.
Population Served Families / Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) / Adults
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.
- Grow 8,000+ pounds of healthy, organic produce in the coming year. Provide free lunches, using ingredients from our farm, to every Common Ground student. Distribute approximately half of this harvest to low-income community members through mobile markets, our high school family CSA, farmer's markets that accept public benefits, school lunch, and other strategies.
 
- Incubate at least 10 student-led business ventures using produce from the farm. Employ at least 35 high school students as members of our Green Jobs Corps, using work on our farm to teach employability skills, generate family income, and build pathways to green careers.
 
- Offer at least five courses that use the farm as a learning laboratory.  Through these courses, provide authentic learning experiences, rooted in our 20-acre site, that help more than 90% of Common Ground’s 155 students move on to college, and ensure that more than 75% achieve proficiency on every section of the state CAPT test.
 
- Engage at least 15,000 children and adults in community environmental programs on Common Ground’s farm – including extended after-school programs focused on the farm, school field trips, weekend workshops, seasonal festivals, and summer ecology camp. Measurably increase understanding of healthy habits and sustainable environmental practices among the participants in ongoing Common Ground community programs.  
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.
- Increase food security and economic vitality, using Common Ground-grown produce as an engine.
 
- Increase student achievement through authentic learning rooted in Common Ground's urban farm.
 
- Develop habits of healthy living and sustainable environmental practice through community educational programs on our farm.
 
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.

 - Pounds of organic produce contributed to the local food system; % of produce going to free student lunches, city farmers markets, and food insecure New Haven residents.

- # of small environmental ventures (youth- and adult-run) incubated; number of green jobs created; $ contributed to the local economy through these efforts.
 
-# of courses in which course, unit, and lesson plans demonstrate that the urban farm is fully integrated as a teaching resource; % of these students demonstrating mastery of state standards through pre- and post-assessments, school-wide benchmark assessments, and CAPT tests.
 
-# of participants in community educational programs, including school field trips, after-school programs, summer camps, weekend workshops, and seasonal festivals, that use the farm as an educational resource; % of educational program participants demonstrating measurable gains in environmental understanding, healthy habits, and sustainable environmental practices as measured through end-of-program and follow-up surveys.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success. Last year, Common Ground grew more than 7,000 pounds of produce -- up from just over 5,000 pounds in 2010, contributing about 35,000 servings of healthy local vegetables to our shared community. The first use of this produce is to provide free lunch to every Common Ground High School student. The rest goes to fuel food security and economic vitality in the Greater New Haven community. For instance, it is shared through a mobile farm market, co-operated with CitySeed, that focuses on New Haven's lowest-income and most food insecure neighborhoods. This harvest also fuels a new Community Supported Agriculture project, providing the families of Common Ground High School students with local produce on a weekly basis, priced based on family income. It is, just as importantly, the raw material for our community environmental education programs -- cooking and gardening classes for families, summer camps, school field trips, and more -- that last year engaged nearly 15,000 of our neighbors.
Description

Common Ground's Schoolyards Resource Center works with more than 16 New Haven Public Schools helping design and build school gardens and bird habitats that can be used as outdoor hands-on educational laboratories. The Center partners with nonprofits in other urban areas of CT to provide technical assistance statewide.

Common Ground and the Green Village Initiative came together in 2012 to launch a comprehensive School Garden Resource Center. In 2015 CT Audubon joined the coalition in support of developing schoolyard habitats for birds and other animals. The Center supports the effective educational use of edible gardens and schoolyard habitats throughout Connecticut. The Center makes it possible for champions of educational gardens and habitats to build and sustain schoolyards that are deeply integrated into the curriculum – leading ultimately to a garden in every school in the state and a strong, cohesive community of garden educators.
Population Served / /
Description

Our vision for Teach Our Cities is that urban public high schools across our region mobilize active, authentic learning experiences, rooted in urban environmental issues, to help students develop mastery of challenging state and national academic standards. They work with community organizations and residents to turn the urban environment into a textbook, classroom, and “teacher” for city students. These schools and their students will become engines for addressing issues related to urban waters, air quality, toxins, and other environmental justice challenges. Students at these schools will climb clear and varied ladders to environmental careers, creating pathways out of poverty and allowing them to thrive as life-long environmental stewards, creating a generation of environmental leaders that reflects the racial, economic, and cultural diversity of our urban communities. We aim to model a regional approach to capacity-building through this learning community.

Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years) / /
CEO/Executive Director
Ms. Melissa Spear
Term Start Nov 2009
Email mspear@commongroundct.org
Experience In addition to over 14 years of executive management experience in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors, Melissa Spear brings an abiding interest in building understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the environment to her position at Common Ground. During 8 years as an environmental consultant, Melissa worked with large and small corporations on improving environmental performance and adopting sustainability as a core principal of their operations.  Melissa left the for-profit sector to work for The Trust for Public Land, a land conservation organization. As Connecticut State Director, Melissa had responsibility for all aspects of the state operation including budgeting, personnel, strategy, and advocacy.  Melissa forged close ties with the broad array of conservation organizations operating in Connecticut as she worked to improve the effectiveness of the environmental movement through coalition building.  Melissa was a classmate of Oliver Barton, Common Ground's previous Executive Director, at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Science, and had followed his work at Common Ground with great interest.  Melissa greatly admired the close ties Common Ground has to the local community, and the diverse population it serves.  She often lamented that the environmental movement appeared to primarily benefit the wealthiest members of society, and despite the importance of it mission, failed to engage or serve large and important segments of society, particularly those located in urban centers.  Upon hearing that Oliver would be leaving Common Ground, Melissa jumped on the opportunity to fill the position with enthusiasm. Melissa also serves on the Steering Committee of the Working Lands Alliance and of the CT Food Systems Alliance.
Staff
Number of Full Time Staff 41
Number of Part Time Staff 14
Number of Volunteers 350
Number of Contract Staff 100
Staff Retention Rate 84%
Staff Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 9
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 41
Hispanic/Latino 5
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Staff Demographics - Gender
Male 20
Female 35
Unspecified 0
Former CEOs and Terms
NameTerm
Oliver Barton Jan 2002 - July 2009
Mr. John Champion Jan 1997 - Sept 2001
Senior Staff
Title Director of Common Ground High School
Title Director of Development and Community Engagement
Title Director of Business Administration
Title Director of Community Programs
Title Director of Development
Experience/Biography Hired as Capital Campaign Manager for Common Ground in 2012, Kimball worked in development for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England for seven and a half years prior to working for Common Ground.
 
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Semi-Annually
Collaborations

Common Ground's work is rooted in community -- and in ongoing, results-driven partnerships with others that share our commitment to New Haven. For example:

• Common Ground's Green Jobs Corps places young people in paid leadership and work experiences at Solar Youth, New Haven Farms, CitySeed, and the Urban Resources Initiative -- fueling these organizations' work and supporting young people's development.
• Common Ground is the lead organizer on Rock to Rock -- New Haven's largest Earth Day celebration, raising support for two dozen different local environmental groups. Last year, 1100 riders raised more than $150,000.
• Common Ground is an active partner in efforts to promote food security. For instance, Common Ground is working with CitySeed to operate a mobile farm market reaching food insecure communities across New Haven.
• Common Ground has built partnerships with Southern Connecticut State University, Yale University, Elm Shakespeare, and other partners to provide supports to our high school students.
•  The CT School Garden Resource Center -- a program of Common Ground -- is supporting educational gardens and schoolyard habitats in dozens of schools and child care providers across the state. 

Awards
Award/RecognitionOrganizationYear
National Conservation Achievement AwardNational Wildlife Federation2008
Green Prize in Public Education NomineeNEA Foundation2009
ING Unsung Hero Award - National Top Prize WinnerING2010
Major Feature in NYT Education SectionNew York Times2008
National Green Prize in Public EducationNational Education Association/National Environment Education Association2011
Presidential Innovation Award in Environmental EducationEnvironmental Protection Agency/Presidential Council on Environmental Quality2012
National Green Ribbon Schools AwardU.S. Department of Education2013
School of DistinctionCT State Department of Education2013
National "Beating the Odds" list - top schools for low-income studentsNewsweek2014
Board Chair
Robert Parker
Company Affiliation Retired, former principal
Term Sept 2016 to Sept 2018
Board of Directors
NameAffiliation
Wendy Battles-Plasse Health Coach
Michael Doolittle Photographer
Monique Frasier CGHS Teacher
John Jessen New Haven Free Public Library
Beth Klingher Self-employed
Jane Lee Yale University Business Operations
Kerry Lord CT Center for School Change
Claudia Merson Yale Office of New Haven and State Affairs
Babz Rawls-Ivy Parent Representative; Inner City News
Melissa Spear Executive Director, Common Ground
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 5
Asian American/Pacific Islander 1
Caucasian 5
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 3
Female 8
Board Co-Chair
Wendy Battles
Company Affiliation Yale
Term Sept 2016 to Sept 2018
Email wendy.battles@yale.edu
Standing Committees
Audit
Education
Executive
CEO Comments
The diversity of Common Ground's board -- and its ability to represent the constituencies and communities we serve -- has always been an enormous strength. Representatives of our high school parents, community program participants, and teachers have played important roles on the board for many years. We have strengthened a commitment to effective governance by bringing on new board members with other key capacities: financial expertise, strategic planning, school leadership, communications, and fundraising.  Ad hoc task-focused committees allow us to engage Board members and other volunteers together in high level strategic discussions.
 
 
Financials
Fiscal Year Start July 01 2016
Fiscal Year End June 30 2017
Projected Revenue $4,848,502.00
Projected Expenses $4,847,908.00
Spending Policy N/A
Credit Line Yes
Reserve Fund No
Other Documents
Other Documents 3
NameYear
Gratitude Report 20152015View
Gratitude Report 20142014View
Detailed Financials
Prior Three Years Revenue Sources ChartHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201620152014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$1,048,893$990,068$1,591,279
Government Contributions$7,764,091$5,256,377$2,776,403
Federal----$95,000
State----$2,603,952
Local------
Unspecified$7,764,091$5,256,377$77,451
Individual Contributions$18,575$12,114--
------
$777,837$728,948$674,516
Investment Income, Net of Losses$4,564$5,513($4,118)
Membership Dues------
Special Events------
Revenue In-Kind------
Other$157,417$158,848$121,634
Prior Three Years Expense Allocations Chart
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$4,173,186$3,969,722$3,835,173
Administration Expense$255,913$236,258$234,477
Fundraising Expense$229,704$215,964$208,397
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses2.101.621.21
Program Expense/Total Expenses90%90%90%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue3%3%5%
Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities Chart
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$14,073,710$10,778,768$5,517,755
Current Assets$1,864,456$5,020,980$2,285,407
Long-Term Liabilities--$1,751,492$6,962
Current Liabilities$1,400,923$1,467,063$680,504
Total Net Assets$12,672,787$7,560,213$4,830,289
Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountThe Peter & Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation $325,000The Peter & Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation $300,000CT Dept. of Education $2,603,952
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountCT Teacher's Retirement Board $288,799CT Teacher's Retirement Board $261,861The Peter & Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation $275,000
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountDalio Foundation $250,000Dalio Foundation $200,000Gould Family Foundation $100,000
Solvency
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities1.333.423.36
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%16%0%
Capitial Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes
Comments
CEO Comments In recent fiscal years, Common Ground's operating budget shows large surpluses. The surplus exists because Common Ground is in the midst of a major capital campaign; this surplus reflects campaign commitments.  The current year shows a small projected deficit, equivalent to 1/2 of 1% of revenue.  Some of our capital campaign contributors are paying off multiple year pledges, and do not anticipate making additional commitments this year. Common Ground has forecast year-end projections conservatively as a result.
Foundation Staff Comments

This profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by the Foundation. Financial information is inputted by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. The Community Foundation is continuing to receive information submitted by the organization and may periodically update the organization’s profile to reflect the most current financial and other information available. The organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.

 

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Provide Quality Education

Educate a child and you change a community. For the child, a good education means better career opportunities and higher lifetime earnings. College graduates enjoy better health and are more inclined to volunteer and vote. For the community, supporting our youths’ educational goals results in a stronger society.

Protect the Environment

Stewardship of our natural resources is essential if we wish to guarantee that present and future generations enjoy clean water, good air quality and open spaces. When you support organizations that protect the environment you address immediate need today while ensuring a greener tomorrow.