It was easy.

She put The Community Foundation in her will. Her fund will support local nonprofits that match people who are homeless with life-changing resources.

Shelly and more than 130 others follow the example of Nettie Dayton. In 1928, Dayton established the first fund at The Community Foundation by bequest. The Foundation’s Nettie J. Dayton Circle honors those who have performed this simple act of generosity. Will you join them?


  • It doesn’t require a gift now
  • You can take care of your family and friends, and give back to your community
  • You can remain anonymous

Your Simple Acts Could Include:

It is because of our Nettie J. Dayton Circle members that New Haven and surrounding communities will have the philanthropic resources they need in the coming years—to solve problems and seize opportunities to strengthen the New Haven area as a vibrant, socially and culturally enriched, place to live and work. Thank you for considering your membership in the Nettie J. Dayton Circle.


Inspiring Stories

of Nettie Dayton Circle members who plan to support or have already supported our community

Dive Into The Issues

An Estate Plan that Keeps Her Values Alive ›


Learn why one woman has named The Community Foundation in her will to carry-out her wishes.

A Shared Inspiration and Purpose ›


Stewardship is among the reasons this couple chose to create funds at The Community Foundation and join the Nettie J. Dayton Circle.

Not now, but eventually ›


During a recent grant from The Community Foundation, The Word worked with 16 different public school classes and about 100 English Language Learners.

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Who was Nettie J. Dayton?

Nettie J. Dayton is The Community Foundation’s first donor. Because of her $128,000 bequest “for general purposes,” she is a leading figure in the development of the institution. But as an unmarried woman born in the 19th century who lived most of her life without the right to vote, Dayton is a mystery whose most lasting act was her bequest. She lived comfortably but not grandly at 169 Dwight Street in New Haven. She was only 53 when she died. If it were not for her relationship to The Foundation, she would be truly lost to history. We have searched, but never found, a photo of her.