A non-profit organization established three years ago after a gunman opened fire in Newtown, Connecticut, will shut down in December 2025 when the youngest students who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School at the time of the mass shooting graduate from high school.
The Sandy Hook Community Foundation was launched in February 2013 to allocate donations that poured into the community from around the world in the wake of the tragedy on Dec. 14, 2012. The gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators inside the school.
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“It has always been the foundation’s intention to be time-limited,” said Executive Director Jennifer Barahona. “The time line was based on the desire to provide continued support to the community and those most impacted for a period of 10-15 years."
The foundation will focus on the development of partnerships with organizations and groups in the community who are expected to support and sustain recovery efforts in the long-term.
Families of the 20 children and six educators killed each received almost $300,000 of the $11.9 million collected in donations by the Sandy Hook School Support Fund. There were also two people wounded in the shooting, and a dozen children who witnessed the horror; they also received grants. But there were many more teachers, neighbors, cousins, friends, churchgoers, store clerks, and first responders whose lives drastically changed.
The foundation was created to develop a locally-controlled and separate organization from the banks that were dealing with financial donations. The group reserves funds for long-term, unexpected needs, keeps local control over the distribution, and infuses the process with public input.
Ten families that were affected by the shooting filed a lawsuit in December against Bushmaster for making, distributing, and selling the AR-15 rifle. The action alleges negligence and wrongful death.
In January, the parents of two children who died in the shooting took legal action against Newtown and the Newtown Board of Education. They allege inadequate security at the building where the gunman opened fire. Both families also are included in the lawsuit against Bushmaster.