Beginning a New Chapter

In 2015, thanks to the dedication and support of advocates and partners like you, ConnCAN celebrated 10 years of advocacy. In 2016, with your help, we began a new chapter in our shared mission.

I was honored to step forward as ConnCAN’s new board chair in 2016, following in the footsteps of Will Heins. As a father of four young children and an advocate, I believe that my children, and every child, deserve the same opportunities that I had to reach their full potential and achieve all of their dreams. Like you, I believe that a great education is the key to success. It’s essential to preserving the American dream for all of us — we can’t make that dream a reality without access to a great education for all kids.  ConnCAN’s mission is to unlock opportunity by ensuring that every child has a high-quality education.  In the face of growing challenges, advocates like you haven’t backed down. You’ve stood up, raised your voice, and embraced opportunities to make a real difference for kids. Together, we’ve made progress.

I’m thrilled to lead ConnCAN as we begin this new chapter. But first, I’m excited to introduce our 2016 Annual Report to share with you the progress that you’ve made happen over the past year. Here are a few of our favorite highlights:

Increased access to high-quality public schools of choice

With your help, in the 2015-16 school year, 24 charter public schools serve more than 9,000 students in 11 cities across Connecticut. In our state, charter public schools are achieving strong results for kids and helping close opportunity gaps — proving that kids of all backgrounds can achieve at the highest levels when given the opportunities they need and deserve. For example, Elm City College Preparatory and Amistad Academy, two public charter schools in New Haven, were recognized by the state as schools of distinction in 2016. That means the schools rank in the top 10 percent of schools in the entire state. Both schools serve over 96 percent of students who identify as African American or Hispanic and at least 72 percent of students who live in poverty.

Increasing access to charter public schools means that, in the 2015-16 school year, more students have the opportunity to attend quality schools that will prepare them for the challenges ahead in college and career. Like you, we know that future success is critical for our kids and our state.

Improved preparation, recruitment, and retention of high-quality, diverse teachers and leaders

Great teachers and leaders change lives. Research shows that they are the top two factors impacting students success in school. That’s why it is so important that you supported and urged state leaders to pass Senate Bill 379, “An Act Concerning the Recommendations of the Minority Teacher Recruitment Task Force.” The legislation, now known as Public Act 16-41, will help improve efforts to recruit more high-quality teachers and leaders of color to Connecticut, where 45 percent our students identify as people of color but only eight percent of educators identify as people of color. The legislation also breaks down barriers to help districts hire qualified teachers and leaders from out-of-state.

Your advocacy also protected meaningful educator evaluations that include student achievement growth, helping to ensure our students have effective teachers in their classrooms and leaders in their school. You raised your voice to prevent Senate Bill 380, “An Act Concerning the Exclusion of Student Performance Results on the Mastery examination from Teacher Evaluations,” from passing. Positive results have been seen in school districts that link teacher evaluations to student achievement, including in New Haven. In Connecticut, home to some of the largest achievement gaps in the nation, valid and reliable measures of student achievement growth must be included among a balanced system of evaluation and support for teachers and leaders.

Empowered advocates

You made it possible for our community engagement team to go door-to-door to over 44,000 homes and identify 1,300 parents and community members who are interested in becoming advocates for their students. Thanks to you, we connected 55 parents and community members with the resources they need to serve as leaders in their students’ schools and their communities. You also helped us partner with 35 clergy leaders from across the state to raise awareness of the state of education in our communities and call for innovation and improvement in our schools.

Together, we achieved new policy wins, began a new phase of our community engagement efforts and helped create new opportunities for kids across Connecticut.

Now, our state has an unprecedented opportunity to make long-needed improvements to education. Your calls for action were echoed by Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher in the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell case. In September 2016, Judge Moukawsher issued a ruling in the CCJEF v. Rell case that called on the state to make bold changes to ensure a “rational, sustainable and verifiable” system to fulfill Connecticut’s constitutional obligation to students. The ruling caught the nation’s attention and called us all to action to make long-needed improvements for kids.

I hope you enjoy reading about what you’ve helped to accomplish in 2016. Together, we’ve made a difference. We could not have done it without you. Thank you for your commitment to this shared mission.

We now turn to the work ahead. In 2017, we face greater challenges and opportunities than ever. I know that, together, we can create new opportunities for all children to succeed. I look forward to partnering with you and leading ConnCAN’s efforts to providing a bright future for our children and for Connecticut.

Derrick Diggs
Board Chair, Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now


2016 At a Glance

The number of public acts signed into law in 2016 to increase access to high-quality, diverse teachers and leaders.
The number of students who in the 2016-2017 school year attend a charter public school, which in Connecticut achieve strong results for kids and help to close persistent opportunity gaps among student groups. This number represents a 5% increase in the number of students from the previous school year.
The number of research resources we released in an effort to inform and empower advocates and encourage state leaders to enact student-focused policies.
The number of homes we visited in our canvassing efforts to engage residents in communities impacted by inequities in education.
The number of advocates who submitted testimony in an effort to protect and advance student-focused policies that ensure great schools for all CT kids.
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The number of parents and community members we heard from who are interested in advocating for their children.
The number of meetings held with appointed and elected state leaders across party lines to build awareness of and support for student-centered improvements to education in our state.
The number of statewide clergy leaders whose advocacy was supported and amplified in an effort to raise awareness of the state of education in CT communities and call for equitable access to quality public education.
The number of bills you helped defeat that would have rolled back progress toward meaningful educator evaluations that include student achievement growth, ensuring students have access to effective teachers in their classrooms and leaders in their schools.
The number of parents and community members who were connected to training to develop their advocacy skills and were empowered to lead in their students’ schools and in their communities.
The total number of people reached when ConnCAN was mentioned in local, state, and national media.
The number times ConnCAN was mentioned in the media, including the Hartford Courant, New Haven Register, The Hechinger Report, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
The number of local contracts we reviewed in our newly redesigned and updated Teacher and Administrator Contract Database designed to increase transparency and help inform decision makers during local contract negotiations.
The number of unique visitors accessing ConnCAN's website from handheld, mobile, and desktop devices.
The number of community events at which we engaged communities and advocates to raise awareness of the state of public education in our communities.
The number of donations received — thank you for your generosity and commitment to improving education in Connecticut!

A Year of Results


Thank you for ensuring kids across the state have access to the great schools & education they need and deserve.

SINCE THE START: 10+ years contributors

H.A. Vance Foundation, Inc.
Mr. and Mrs. John N. Irwin III
JJJ Charitable Foundation
Lone Pine Foundation Inc.
The Darrell Harvey Family Foundation
The Furek Family Foundation
The Olson Foundation
Jonathan Sackler and Mary Corson
Shelly and Michael Kassen Philanthropic Fund

COMMITTED CHAMPIONS: 5+ years contributors

Jennifer Alexander
Andrew Ashforth
Kenneth Bartels and Jane Condon – In honor of Jon Sackler
Lee and Duane Bollert
Allen S. Church
Crumbine Family Fund
Ann Cohen
Emily Eisenlohr
Dick and Marissa Ferguson
Robin Golden and David Berg
Melinda Hamilton
Jonathan and Beth Hayes
Will and Judy Heins
Lianne and Lee Herdle
Alex Johnston
Richard Kalt
Kathryn Gabler Philanthropic Fund
Joseph Keeney
Erika Long
Matthew Hitchcock Merluzzi
Bruce and Diane Ritter
Beverly Sackler
Laura and Ken Saverin
Andrew and Erica Schwedel
Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation
The Grossman Family Foundation
The Myerson Wagner Family Charitable Fund
The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, Inc.
The Shumway Foundation
Steven and Valerie Wayne
The Witmer Family Fund
Lisa Whitfield


Achelis and Bodman Foundations
Steven Adamowksi
Gerald and Linda Alexander
Teresa and Michael Alexandru
AmazonSmile Foundation
Rev. Marjo Anderson and Mark Dollhopf
Lucy and David Ball Family Fund
Lucretia Bingham
Blue State Coffee
Nakitta Brown
Sharon Brown
Andy and Carol Boas
Bouncer Foundation, Inc.
Brookside Equity Partners LLC
Carl Marks Fund
Brandon Clark
Paula Cleary and Paul Farrell
Michael Crafter
Derrick Diggs and Rashida La Lande
Patrick Doyle
Audrey and Douglas Eisenlohr
Alan English and Gretchen Unfried-English
Kara Fallon
Dick and Marissa Ferguson
Paloma Fernandez
Sally Harris
Erika Haynes
James Hellman
Paul Holzer
Kaaren Janssen
Shirley Kenney – In honor of Bill and Kelly Kenney
Ronald LaMorte
Kristen Mallory
Sean Matteson
Byron McCauley
Yamuna and Brynn Menon
James Moher
Kenneth F. Mountcastle, Jr.
Christina Neafsey
Network For Good
Darryl Nicholson
Brian and Jill Olson
Paul Pandolfo
Kenneth and Holly Paul
Sydney Perry
Point72 Asset Management
Marilyn and Bob Rath
Kenneth Reilly
Robert and Bonnie Kreitler Charitable Fund
Katie Rosa
Anita Schmidt
Sharon Shofner
Michael Sullivan
Helen Taylor
Andrew Teixeira
James Thompson
The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
The Charter Oak Challenge Foundation Inc.
The Simmons Family Foundation Inc.
The Stanley Works Matching Gifts Program
The Vince & Linda McMahon Family Foundation, Inc.
David Tisdale
Anne Tofflemire
Mechelle Tovar-Olortegui
Hanna Wardell
Barry Waters
Jim Widman
William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund
Antionette Williams
Laurie and Richard Williamson



Revenue 2015* 2014*
Total Total
Contributions $2,021,304 $2,784,590
Special Events, net of direct expenses of $27,025 and $18,265 (8,825) 3,540
Service Fee Income 8,400 25,200
In-Kind Contributions 1,023
Other Income 10,321 7,355
Net Assets Released from Restriction

Total Revenue 2,032,223


Expenses 2015* 2014*
Total Total
Salaries & Related Expenses $1,535,767 $1,345,005
Professional Fees:
Informing the Public 596,087 556,262
Driving Policy Change 120,438 110,440
Interns 25,305 31,380
Legal and Accounting 41,172 42,764
Payroll 17,328 16,187
Occupancy 86,309 88,372
Travel 58,755 54,694
Office Related Expenses 60,371 55,569
Materials and Supplies 17,902 13,418
Meetings and Conferences 86,528 83,974
Information Technology 18,091 16,316
Insurance 11,332 10,991
Depreciation and Amortization 25,743 26,765
Miscellaneous Expenses 3,364


Total Expenses 2,704,492


Change in Net Assets $(672,269)


The financial statements were audited by O’Connor Davies; the auditors’ report and accompanying financial statements are available upon request.

*Year Ended December 31

2015 Functional Classification of Expenses

as reported in ConnCAN’s 2015 audited financial statement



Program Services include: education and public communication; research; and policy analysis and ideas for policy change.





Looking Ahead

I hope you enjoyed ConnCAN’s 2016 Annual Report. These accomplishments would not have been possible without you. For more than a decade, change-makers like you have joined together to stand up for what is right for our kids. Your tireless advocacy and passion for making the future bright for our kids was clearer than ever in 2016.

Together, our staff, friends, and partners continued making progress toward a shared mission of providing every child with a high-quality public education, regardless of race, zip code or family income. Through testimony at the capitol, community conversations, letters to the editors, op-eds or blog posts, you pitched in, stood up and spoke out for children. You helped to ensure that more than 9,500 students have access to quality public school options that will prepare them for the challenges of college and the jobs of the future. You helped to pass policies to make it easier for top-quality, diverse educators to work here in our state so that every child has access to transformative teachers and leaders. You helped to keep our state on the path to meaningful educator evaluation and support systems that include student achievement growth, ensuring effective educators get feedback, support, and recognition.

We are grateful to you and proud of what we’ve done together. And, we know that our work to secure a bright future for our children and our state is far from done.

This fall, we bore witness to a historic court ruling that laid bare the deep inequities in our education system. The CCJEF v Rell ruling called on us all to make bold and long-overdue changes to provide high quality educational opportunities that all Connecticut children need and deserve.  

I’m more optimistic than ever that, together, we can answer this call to action, even in the face of the steep budget deficits and deep political divides facing us.

I’m hopeful because together, we’ve spent more than a decade building a movement to improve education. In 2017, if you join with us to build on this progress, find common ground, forge partnerships and focus on what’s best for children, we can achieve breakthroughs, like a fair and sustainable funding system for all kids, regardless of where they live or what type of public school they attend. Together, we can establish a student’s right to a quality education at a public school option that works for them. We can maintain progress on high standards and accountability for results, access to quality early childhood education, turning around struggling schools, and supporting great teachers and leaders. And we can pass policies to help all students graduate from high school ready to compete in the 21st century economy.

We could not continue to work towards a better and brighter future for our kids and our state without you. Thank you for your continued commitment to ensure that Connecticut students have access to the great education they need and deserve. We look forward to partnering with you now and in the future.


Jennifer Alexander
CEO, Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now

ConnCAN CEO Jennifer Alexander