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ConseRVAtion Fund supports partners for a greener Richmond region
By The Community Foundation / February 1, 2021
ConseRVAtion Fund supports partners for a greener Richmond region

“The only way we can make an impact on the effects of climate change is by thinking locally — by asking ourselves, ‘What changes can my community make?’” Christie Silverstein said.

To support organizations in Greater Richmond who are finding answers to this question, Christie and several other donors came together with the Community Foundation to develop the ConseRVAtion Fund. This donor advised fund supports initiatives that improve our environment, conserve natural resources and enhance regional sustainability. 

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, a recent grantee of the ConseRVAtion Fund, creates educational programs where Richmond students can learn about the factors that affect the health of the James River.

The donors involved have a wide range of personal interests and backgrounds, but they all share a passion for environmental sustainability.

“I grew up in the 1970s, so I remember people waiting in long lines for gas during the energy crisis, and I don’t want something like that to happen again,” said Ron Felmus, a ConseRVAtion Fund advisor. “I think it’s important for people to learn at a young age that everyone can be a part of finding solutions for sustainable energy.”

“So many people don’t have the opportunity to enjoy outdoor spaces. It’s easy for each generation to accept another level of environmental degradation because they haven’t known any different, and they’ll never see the long-term changes,” said ConseRVAtion Fund advisor Ann Samford. “It’s important for us to take a look around and say, are there things that we can do now to alleviate our negative impacts on the environment, or even to create positive change for the future?”

Not everyone lives within reasonable walking distance to parks or green spaces. Support from the ConseRVAtion Fund has helped Capital Region Land Conservancy continue their work to increase the number of parks in underserved communities. 

Last year, the fund granted a total of $91,000 to three local organizations:

“What makes this grant process exciting for me is seeing the different ideas that the community can come up with,” Ron said. “We try to give applicants a lot of room to get creative in finding new solutions for environmental sustainability.”

In previous years, this fund was known as the RVA Solar Fund, and its first collaborative grant programs encouraged the deployment of solar energy systems at nonprofit and public facilities. During this time, the fund supported the installment of solar arrays on 10 Richmond Public Schools sites (projected to save the school district about $2 million in electricity costs over 20 years) and the new CARITAS Center (projected to save CARITAS more than $400,000 over the next 25 years).

With a total capacity of 2.9 megawatts installed on 10 RPS campuses, the schools' solar panels will produce enough electricity to cover 24% of their electricity needs

This article was published in February 2021. The Conserve the Future Fund (as it is now known) is now accepting Letters of Introduction for their 2021 grant cycle. The deadline for submissions is February 19 at 5:00 p.m. Click here for a list of past grants and instructions on how to apply.

If you are interested in supporting the Conserve the Future Fund, you may download an overview or click on the donate button below.

Give to the ConseRVE THE FUTURE Fund

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