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Author: dka

Engaging Your Board to Assist Your Fundraising Efforts

Engaging Your Board to Assist Your Fundraising Efforts

By Brian Thomas

I have been involved in some great boards in my professional career. Most have been knowledgeable, energetic, forward-thinking, and true assets to the organization they represent. However, there is one important aspect of board membership that few people are enthusiastic about – fundraising. Most of the time, they mistakenly think they are expected to personally ask all their business contacts, colleagues, friends, and family members for money. Once I explain that direct solicitation is not their role, most are relieved and are much more open to discuss what they can do to help. While a board member should not be expected to solicit funds, they do play several important roles in the fundraising process.

Be Visionary
One of the primary roles of your board members when it comes to fundraising is to be visionaries. They should provide leadership and help you develop the roadmap to your fundraising strategy. The board should help you assess your organization and prioritize which funding sources and programs to focus on and which should take a back seat. They should also assist you in identifying new sources and improvements to current programs that could lead to further funding.

Make Connections
One of the most important fundraising roles your board members play is as a connection maker. They should be opening new doors for you and making introductions to their connections that aren’t already invested in your organization. Your role is to cultivate that relationship, get them involved, and eventually get them to be a donor. Your board can be a huge help in expanding your network and building donor relationships.

Play a Supporting Role
Another role your board should play is as a supporter. Many board members like this aspect the most as it does not require them to make an introduction or ask but has the opportunity to make a great impact. This supporting role can include going along on fundraising meetings, making thank you calls to donors, and attending events to meet other donors in person.

Also, board members are expected to be donors as well. Some organizations require donors to give at a certain level, but most are expected to give according to his or her means. Either way, board donation is expected to be 100{4f7e8c1260e76ae5445ac5bed08504f741eb006adc242379decdc77c227c2bd6}. This shows potential donors, partners, staff, and volunteers that they are truly committed to the cause.

I have found it’s best to have conversations about fundraising roles one-on-one rather than in a group setting. It allows for more frank and honest conversations. Once board members understand what is really expected of them, most often it puts them at ease. Making your board feel comfortable with their role is key to maximizing your fundraising efforts.

About the Author

Brian Thomas serves as Connecticut Main Street Center’s Development Director, the first to hold the role dedicated to cultivating funder relationships in its 20+ year history. Brian began his development career after the loss of his cousin from cystic fibrosis, when he was inspired to leave the corporate world to serve as the first Executive Director of Outrun 38, a local non-profit organization focused on running, healthy living, and raising funds for the adult cystic fibrosis community. From there he moved to the Muscular Dystrophy Association of CT, raising funds for individuals and families affected by muscular dystrophy, before joining the American Cancer Society where he led the Relay For Life of Farmington Valley, the fourth largest Relay in the country, as well as working with community and corporate partners, and all-volunteer event leadership teams.

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Lighting for Equitable Revitalization

Lighting for Equitable Revitalization

By Mark Loeffler, IALD, IES, LEED Fellow and Edward Bartholomew, IALD, IES, LEED AP

Lighting is an essential, but often overlooked element of the revitalization of cities, towns, and neighborhoods. Well-designed, well-maintained lighting is welcoming and reassuring. Everyone deserves good lighting: visually appealing, environmentally responsible, and socially beneficial. However, historically neglected communities usually suffer bad and often excessive lighting, which is socially and environmentally unjust.

“Light Justice” is an idea rooted in the ongoing conversation between lighting designers Edward Bartholomew and Mark Loeffler about their mutual recognition of harmful disparities of lighting quality and inequality in the public realm. Edward, based in Cambridge, MA and Mark, located in the New Haven area, could simply look at their own cities to see the obvious and remarkable disparity of lighting quality between affluent and lower income neighborhoods. In an attempt to reduce crime, a misguided belief that “more light is safer” has gripped many municipalities. It is clearly visible in neighborhoods that were redlined in the early 20th century – often adjacent to downtown districts with attractively upgraded lighting – and that still endure infrastructural racism and neglect. The all-night glare of unshielded industrial lighting on buildings and utility poles is as ubiquitous as potholes, missing sidewalks, and poor drainage. Weaponized lighting for surveillance prioritizes property over people. Studies have revealed that exposure to excessive nighttime lighting is concentrated in communities of color. This has measurable impacts on human and environmental wellbeing. The rapid proliferation of overly-bright, cool white LED outdoor lighting has worsened global light pollution, damaging natural circadian patterns for animals. For people, it disrupts sleep patterns, harms psychological health, and lighting over-exposure has been shown to increase cancer rates in these impacted communities. Negligent lighting discourages enjoyable nighttime activities and beneficial social gatherings that build community identity and worth.

“Light Justice” is the practice of planning, designing, implementing, and investing in good lighting for under-resourced neighborhoods through a process of stakeholder engagement and community-supported placemaking. It closely correlates with the principles of the Design Justice Network which “rethinks design processes, centers people who are normally marginalized by design, and uses collaborative, creative practices to address the deepest challenges our communities face.” It also fits very well with Main Street America’s Four Point Approach to organization, promotion, design, and economic restructuring.

Join us for our webinar Light + Justice: How Your Main Street Lighting Reflects What – and Who – You Value

The remedy will require a change in how lighting is valued and prioritized by municipal planners and policy makers. Good lighting does not just happen, it has to be thoughtfully planned, designed, installed, and maintained. The Design Justice movement points the way to a new approach to inclusive engagement of community members as “citizen designers” to advise planning and design teams. The lighting industry has an enormous opportunity to provide expertise and knowledge to help municipalities understand the wisdom of investing in good lighting for everyone. Lighting designers need to be part of the initial planning process, not just as an expert, but as a listener and facilitator of stakeholder gatherings. The best public works, including the lighting, are inspired by a full understanding of the concerns and desires of the people who will live with the results.

There are excellent examples of partnerships that are improving lighting justice and the visual experience for previously badly lighted communities. The Chicago Smart Lighting Program upgraded more than 300,000 street and sidewalk luminaires, starting in South Chicago, employing local, minority-owned contractors. Baltimore’s Signal Station North project has developed a community engagement program that enables residents to play with light and express preferences that the design team has integrated into their plans and recommendations. New Haven’s Town Green District teamed with a local lighting design firm to plan lighting upgrades for urban pocket parks and underused pedestrian corridors, based on workshops with neighborhood residents to learn their concerns and questions. As funding becomes available, these improvements will focus on warmth, glare-prevention, and sparkle at pedestrian scale –   qualities of nighttime light preferred by neighborhood stakeholders. Good and equitable lighting is a worthy and valuable investment, especially when it benefits people who have always endured bad and unjust lighting.

About the Authors

Edward Bartholomew, IALD, IES, LEED AP is the principal of Bartholomew Lighting, a Black-owned design consultancy located in Cambridge, MA.  A lighting designer and educator for more than thirty years, he is a professional member of the International Association of Lighting Designers, a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society, and a LEED Accredited Professional. Currently, he serves on the IES Diversity, Equality, Inclusiveness, and Respect Committee as a founding member. Edward is an invited speaker on lighting technology, energy efficiency strategies, and social justice at regional, national, and international conferences. He also co-teaches graduate lighting classes at Morgan State University and at the Rhode Island School of Design.  In his practice and advocacy, Edward promotes Light Justice.

Edward Bartholomew, IALD, IES, LEED AP is the principal of Bartholomew Lighting, a Black-owned design consultancy located in Cambridge, MA.  A lighting designer and educator for more than thirty years, he is a professional member of the International Association of Lighting Designers, a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society, and a LEED Accredited Professional. Currently, he serves on the IES Diversity, Equality, Inclusiveness, and Respect Committee as a founding member. Edward is an invited speaker on lighting technology, energy efficiency strategies, and social justice at regional, national, and international conferences. He also co-teaches graduate lighting classes at Morgan State University and at the Rhode Island School of Design.  In his practice and advocacy, Edward promotes Light Justice.

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Downtown Light Pole Banners

Downtown Light Pole Banners

A Versatile, Effective Medium for Promotion, Wayfinding & Streetscape Enhancement 

Those colorful vertical banners that can be seen on light poles throughout many municipalities are known by several different names. These banners are commonly referred to as Light Pole Banners, Avenue Banners, Lamp Post Banners, or more simply, Pole Banners.

These banners are utilized by thousands of municipalities across the country for a variety of different purposes, including streetscape revitalization, wayfinding, and promotional efforts. Due to the high visibility of these vertical banners and the sheer number of poles in any setting, the impact of a well-designed light pole banner program can be quite significant.


Light Pole Banner programs can be used for promoting a variety of distinct aspects of not only the downtown area but also the community at large. The artistic and customizable nature of a light pole banner design offers the opportunity to highlight the unique characteristics, livability, attractions, and offerings of a community in a compelling message that is visually exciting and highly visible. Many downtown light pole banner programs incorporate a sponsorship opportunity where businesses, looking to promote their products or services, can have their business name and/or logo imprinted on the banner. Some banner programs are specifically designed to advertise and attract attention to downtown businesses with colorful artwork and welcoming messages such as “Shop, Dine, Unwind,” or “Eat, Drink, Play, & Shop.”

Here are some Downtown Banner designs, showing the various themes and messaging that communities have used. All these designs can be customized and/or modified to meet the requirements of any downtown banner initiative.


Because of the proximity of light poles and their visibility, many downtown settings utilize light pole banners with various wayfinding and/or directional messages. Depending on the scope of the project, some strategically placed light poles may bear colorful banners with arrows directing traffic to various locations, whether a specific retail area, parking, or a particular place such as a museum, Town Hall, or Shopping District, for example. These specific-use banners can be designed as part of an overall downtown banner project and can display the main design theme for continuity, with the addition of specific wayfinding messages where applicable. Many downtown districts utilize light pole banners for wayfinding purposes in lieu of the more common, generic aluminum printed signs, for their aesthetic appeal and ability to contribute to the character of a downtown setting.

Streetscape Enhancement 

Clearly one of the key initiatives in support of any downtown redevelopment or revitalization program is to promote the location to as wide an audience as possible, while attracting and increasing both local and visitor engagement. The “Shop Local” and “Small Business Saturdays” type programs are designed to increase awareness and promote the myriad businesses and their products and services available in a downtown setting. One aspect of this vital messaging campaign is to highlight all the features and benefits of supporting local businesses, such as keeping revenue dollars in the community, access to a wide range of unique products and services, and how such patronage can contribute to the livability, vitality, and sustainability of the community at large. Well-designed, high-quality light pole banners can play a key role in supporting this messaging campaign with high-impact and visually exciting designs that can inspire and add to the beautification of any downtown setting.

Types of Light Pole Banners 

Similar to online digital marketing efforts designed to attract as many “eyeballs” as possible, wherever there is a light pole, there is an opportunity to promote, advertise and attract “eyeballs” as well. Light pole banner programs are extremely cost effective, high-impact marketing tools that can deliver high return-on-investment outcomes. These popular banners are highly customizable and are available in several styles to fit every marketing campaign and budget.

Material Promotions, Inc., a specialty banner manufacturing company based in Waterbury, CT offers three styles of light pole banners to meet the needs of any downtown revitalization campaign. The company offers free consultation to its customers to guide them through the process of selecting and designing the most appropriate banner style for their needs. Customers can view a gallery of designs for ideas and inspiration and choose a specific design as a base template that they would like to have customized for their needs. Additionally, a banner design can be developed and created from scratch in collaboration with their in-house graphic designers.

Many downtowns, especially those that identify as “historic” districts often choose the more traditional, classic look of screen-printed canvas banners which complement the character and “feel” of these unique downtown settings.

For customers that want the same look and feel of traditional banners but have multiple full-color artwork designs, digitally printed canvas banners are an excellent option. For shorter-term banner programs, the less expensive, and more common digitally printed vinyl banners are available as well.

This information sheet compares the different banner styles while highlighting their features and benefits.


Light pole banners are an effective marketing tool for advertising, promoting, and enhancing any downtown setting.  They are highly customizable, cost effective and come in a variety of materials and styles to meet the needs of any campaign or budget.

About the Author

Peter Bove, President and founder of Material Promotions Inc., began his manufacturing career as the Operations Manager for the world’s preeminent custom sailmaking company, Northsails. After a long successful stint overseeing the production of high-tech racing sails for customers competing in world-class yacht racing venues, he transitioned to the printing industry. After many successful years managing operations for high-end printing companies, he opened his own company in 2007 and has never looked back!

Material Promotions Inc., a light pole banner specialty printing company, is available to consult and answer any questions you may have regarding either your own existing banner program or a brand-new banner program under consideration.  They can be reached by phone at 888-757-8908. To learn more about the company you can visit their website at

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Welcome to Downtown!

Welcome to Downtown!

I’m Carl Rosa, Connecticut Main Street Center’s new Field Services Director. This is a newly created position with a main responsibility that involves visiting with all current member downtowns as well as cultivating new communities into our CMSC family.

Prior to this role, for over 17 years, I had the privilege and honor of being the first Director and CEO of Main Street Waterbury. In that position, my responsibilities included administering the downtown program through the Main Street Four Points Approach and all of the challenges and rigors that come with that, leading it to the mature nationally accredited program that it is today. In fact, I’m pleased to say, from the first year of inception, Main Street Waterbury achieved accreditation status from Main Street America for 17 consecutive years.

This is an achievement that I am truly proud of and could not have been accomplished without the direct guidance, consultation and support of the Connecticut Main Street Center. In addition, in that role, I had the opportunity to travel to many downtowns across our beautiful state and visit with my colleagues as we shared similar stories about our challenges and hopes.

This is why I am so thrilled to be a new member of the CMSC team. I know firsthand the positive impact that CMSC has on downtowns across Connecticut. We are the “go to” for all things downtown.

We are the champion for best practices and standards that every downtown should aspire to. In my new role, as I meet with downtown practitioners and municipal leaders throughout the State, I plan to listen, learn, and offer whatever resources I can on behalf of CMSC to help your downtowns survive and thrive. My mantra is: Only Solutions!

About the Author

Carl Rosa serves as Connecticut Main Street Center’s Field Services Director. As a nationally certified Main Street Manager, Carl spent over 17 years directing Main Street Waterbury and their efforts to revitalize the City center. Carl has served on multiple Boards and committees in the greater Waterbury area including Waterbury Development Corporation Board of Directors, Waterbury Regional Chamber Public Policy Committee, The Arts and Culture Collaborative Waterbury Region Governing Council, and the North End Middle School Governing Council. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Connecticut.

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A Look at What’s Ahead in Education & Training at CMSC

A Look at What’s Ahead in Education & Training at CMSC

The work you do as leaders of your downtowns and Main Streets is transformative – changing not only the appearance and safety of a space but changing the attitudes, livelihoods, and quality of life of your constituents.

The Education & Training Director role at Connecticut Main Street Center was created to not only better serve our members but also to provide transformative learning experiences and opportunities that help our members be the leader their community needs.

Hi 👋my name is Kristen Lopez. I am CT Main Street Center’s new Education & Training Director.

Over the last 11 years I have had the privilege of tackling economic development from various positions and industries. But one consistent thread in all my roles was educating adults to reach their goals – whether it be obtaining a certification to reach their career goals or business training to build their dream business.

I have taught and advised hundreds of individuals pursuing their goals and there is nothing more rewarding than witnessing a “light bulb” moment. Transformative learning to me is more than educating on a topic or teaching a “how to,” it inspires and empowers the learner to take action they never thought possible before. In an ever-changing world, our main streets need bold leadership to take action never taken before.

I am so pleased to join the CMSC team and contribute to the mission of inspiring great downtowns throughout Connecticut. I’m looking forward to creating a robust education and training program that serves our members and supports our downtowns.

Photo Credit: Nick Addamo

Here’s what’s on the docket for this year and beyond…

  • More of the great webinars and programming you love that provide helpful insights and lessons learned from peers and subject matter experts on topics that matter most to you and your downtown. (Coming up next is our Food Halls & Public Markets webinar on February 22nd.
  • Building a robust on-demand library of workshops and tools you can access anytime to get the support you need when you need it.
  • And we’re most excited about developing a new Fellowship Program designed to increase our capacity to serve our members all around the state. Fellows will focus on economic development and historic preservation through a lens of sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion. We expect to launch this new program in 2023.

What are the topics you are most interested in learning more about? How can CT Main Street Center support you in your goals through training offerings? Do you have a case study or expertise that downtown leaders should hear? Please tell us in this short, anonymous survey. We want to hear from you!

About the Author

Kristen M. Lopez is Connecticut Main Street Center’s Education & Training Director. With over 11 years of experience in economic development from various roles and industries across the United States, she has always worked with adults to achieve their goals through education. Kristen is an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer alum, a StartingBloc Fellow, and Next City Vanguard Fellow. She holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Messiah University.

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The Women’s Business Development Council is offering grants of up to $10,000 to qualified women-owned small businesses in Connecticut

Applicants are required to provide a minimum 25{4f7e8c1260e76ae5445ac5bed08504f741eb006adc242379decdc77c227c2bd6} match (see link below for more details).

The deadline to apply is July 3, 2022

Find all the details here
Register for info sessions:  Thursday May 19  or  Monday May 23

CMSC Honors Main Street Working Group with Shannahan Award

CMSC was thrilled to present the 2022 Jack Shannahan Award for Public Service to the Co-Chairs of The Main Street Working Group of the CT State Legislature on May 3rd 

The Main Street Working Group is chaired by:

  • Jane Garibay, Assistant Majority Leader – serving Windsor & Windsor Locks
  • Jennifer Leeper, 132nd District – serving Fairfield & Southport
  • Quentin Williams, 100th District – serving the Downtown, Northend, South Fire District, Wesleyan Hills & Wesleyan University areas of Middletown

Formed in January 2020, The Main Street Working Group was created to address concerns about neglected areas in cities and towns, and the need to restore vitality, local connectivity, and sustainability in order to spur economic growth. Meeting regularly with downtown professionals, municipal economic development directors, and CMSC staff, the Main Street Working Group examines existing policies and identifies opportunities to support Main Streets across the state. This award recognizes their willingness to listen to the needs of our downtowns and to develop pragmatic, resourceful solutions.

CMSC’s Government Affairs subcommittee chair Kathy Nanowski welcomed the attendees to the presentation, and CMSC Vice Chair Ryan Bingham was also on hand to celebrate the award winners.

Afterwards, Representative Williams recognized the Working Group’s fruitful collaboration with CMSC and CMSC’s staff and work from the floor of the chamber at the start of the session.

CMSC 2022 Advocacy & Legislative Session Activities

CMSC brings awareness to the needs and benefits of, and advocates for, Connecticut’s downtowns and Main Streets.

  • CMSC participated in the review of applications for DECD’s CT Communities Challenge Grant program, which has awarded over $45 million to 12 communities. The purpose of the program is to improve livability, vibrancy, convenience, and appeal of communities throughout the state. This is a robust review process, which took 4-6 hours per week. Round 2 planned for Fall 2022.
  • Ryan Bingham has connected CMSC to DRS Commission Mark Boughton’s Deputy Program Advisor for Infrastructure, Steve Nocera. CMSC will help inform the Infrastructure Advisory Group to properly deploy Infrastructure Investment & Job Act Funds (IIJA) grant  funding, connecting these grants to Main Streets.
  • Congressman Joe Courtney requested a Letter of Support for Enfield Train Station Track Improvements Project grant application, a CTDOT proposal to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. CMSC provided this LOS and underscored to the Town of Enfield that CMSC is ready to help guide them to a comprehensive approach to the revitalization of Thompsonville Village (station location).

Update on Legislation impacting Main Streets

  • HB 5171-Abandoned & Blighted Property Receivership, eliminating the population threshold.
    • CMSC testified in support of this bill, stating “eligibility is currently restricted to those communities with populations of 35,000 or greater. This threshold limits the ability of 80{4f7e8c1260e76ae5445ac5bed08504f741eb006adc242379decdc77c227c2bd6} of Connecticut towns from accessing the receivership process. Less than 20{4f7e8c1260e76ae5445ac5bed08504f741eb006adc242379decdc77c227c2bd6} of Connecticut’s municipalities reach the existing threshold, despite the pressing need to address blighted properties.”
    • On 3/4/22, Planning & Development Committee Joint Favorable vote. On 4/6/22, referred by House to Committee on Judiciary. Legislation died this session.


  • HB 5271-Continuation of Outdoor Dining, extends to 4/30/23.
    • Public Act No. 22-1 signed by Governor.
    • Relaxes rules on outdoor dining, requiring municipal zoning commissions to permit restaurants to engage in outdoor food and beverage service as an accessory use of such restaurant’s permitted use.


  • RB 5429-Transit Oriented Development. Died in Planning & Development Committee.
    • CMSC believes that denser development around transit stations is critical for vibrant Main Streets. CMSC testified in support of the bill, stating “Connecticut has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in train lines and the CTfastrak bus rapid transit system. We should amplify these efforts by encouraging a vibrant mix of shops, businesses, and residences around transit stations. The approach proposed in R.B. 5429 will allow medium density zoning near transit, while affording municipalities the opportunity to determine the design and site plan for that density. At no cost to taxpayers, we could create thousands of affordable homes, jump-start economic growth, connect businesses and employees, and protect our environment.”
    • This summer, Kimberley Parsons-Whitaker & Carl Rosa will conduct a Transit Oriented Communities Listening Tour in communities where there are Metro North and/or CTFastrak Stations. We will use the information gained from this tour to inform revisions to a bill for next year’s session, sharing with the Main Street Working Group and Desegregate CT in the fall.


2022 Awards

  • Jack Shannahan Award for Public Service – Main Street Working Group Co-Chairs Representatives Jane Garibay, Jennifer Leeper, and Quentin Williams. Awards were presented on May 3, 2022 in the Hall of Flags at the State Capitol.
    • MSWG Co-Chair expressed desire to meet in the summer to begin planning for 2023 session



Our photo exhibit is up in the Lower Concourse of the LOB for the entire month of May. The exhibit features 150 linear feet of high-quality and arresting photographs that celebrate downtowns and Main Streets throughout Connecticut.

Sandy Hook Village Market Study

  • Newtown Calls in Pros for Sandy Hook Economic Recovery

Sandy Hook Village Market Study

In June 2013, the Town of Newtown selected a team organized by Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) to coordinate an economic recovery consultancy for Sandy Hook Village. CMSC collaborated with Arnett Muldrow & Associates of Greenville, SC, and with NetMark Associates of Canton, CT to work closely with the Town and the Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity (S.H.O.P.) to examine the market for Sandy Hook Village for shopping, dining and gathering, to engage more people to come to Sandy Hook, and to craft a marketing and promotion toolkit for the Village to better share its assets with residents, visitors, and investors.

The goal of this work was to assist Sandy Hook Village business and property owners with short-term steps to market the community alongside long-term initiatives to foster continued economic activity and investment in Sandy Hook Village. The branding and marketing strategy that resulted serves as a guide for helping the Village’s businesses market to their existing and expanded customer base, helping officials of the Town of Newtown and S.H.O.P. recruit additional investment to the community, and guiding decisions to continue to drive customer traffic to the village.

A Compassionate, Community-led Approach

The consultancy process began with a series of meetings in the community. CMSC worked with the consulting team and a steering committee comprised of Town Staff, Economic Development Commissioners, and S.H.O.P. representatives to discuss the scope of the project, directing the project from start to finish. The team also met with shopkeepers, stakeholders, School District and Town officials, and others to gather input and feedback. 

Through community input and market analysis, Connecticut Main Street team presented Sandy Hook with a market report and corresponding marketing and branding campaign along with other steps to implement the new branding campaign.

The resulting branding campaign is still in use by Sandy Hook Village. S.H.O.P. also joined the CMSC member network and remains an active member ten years later.

Interested in learning how we can help your community discover its unique voice?

Check out these helpful videos or learn more about becoming a CMSC member

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M&T Bank

With a community bank approach, M&T Bank helps people reach their personal and business goals with banking, mortgage, loan and investment services. A community bank at heart, M&T lives its commitment to local communities because they believe healthy communities are the foundation of successful businesses. Beyond banking, their M&T Charitable Foundation works in partnership with non-profit organizations that focus on improving the quality of life for their customers, employees and neighbors.

For more information on how M&T Bank can help you reach your goals, visit their website at

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P.O. Box 270, Hartford, CT 06141 | 860.280.2337