News & Event
The Greater Richmond region and communities across the nation are confronting two crises during 2020: the COVID-19 global pandemic that continues to disproportionately impact people of color; and an awakening of systemic racism that has afflicted our country since its founding. This moment in our history has caused the local philanthropic sector to act with greater urgency to find collaborative and innovative ways to solve complex issues related to racial equity and social justice. There is a desire to drive charitable investments to core issues and root causes, as well as to connect historically disjointed services.
This summer, leaders from two of the region’s Black Giving Circles - SisterFund and Ujima Legacy Fund - came together with the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond to launch the Amandla Fund for Social and Racial Justice. Pronounced “ah-MOND-la,” the fund derives its name from the word for "power and strength” and was a popular rallying cry in the days of resistance against apartheid in South Africa. The Amandla Fund is the first collaborative, Black-led endowment in Greater Richmond on target to mobilize long-term investments to strengthen the Black community and work towards racial justice on a local scale.
“Community foundations are at the center of charitably-minded individuals, nonprofit partners, policymakers and business leaders,” shares Dr. Pamela Royal, the Community Foundation’s first African American board chair. “We have a responsibility to use this position to build, connect and leverage diverse sectors, voices, and organizations to harness collective influence that can create long-term, sustainable change.”
“During 2021, we will focus on donor outreach and engagement to meet our overall funding goals, building the new fund’s organizational infrastructure and finalizing strategic investment priorities,” said Evette Roots, who serves on the leadership committee of the Amandla Fund. “As new donors join this network, we are eager to use our extraordinary combination of financial and human capital to evolve the landscape of philanthropy. With intention and persistence, we will invest in ways that will empower the Black community while creating more equitable systems that will result in greater access to opportunities across the region."
As part of Altria’s initial $5-million commitment in 2020 to address systemic racism faced by Black Americans and advance social and economic equity, the company contributed $500,000 to the Fund. “This is a new investment area for us. We will listen and learn from local organizations and leaders to support meaningful solutions,” said Jennifer Hunter, Senior Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, Altria Client Services. “The Amandla Fund brings more and different community voices to the decisions driving community change, and this is an important shift in building a stronger, more inclusive Richmond.”
The Community Foundation and Dominion Energy also contributed $200,000 each, and other corporate groups and individual donors gave $100,000 to reach an initial investment goal of $1 million. “This initiative will help promote community reconciliation and rebuilding and make a real difference in the communities we serve,” said Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy Virginia. “We recognize how much more work there is to do and are committed to being part of the change taking place.” Right now, the Fund’s leaders aspire to raise $10 million. Companies and individuals are also invited to contribute to the Amandla Fund to help create more equitable possibilities for everyone in our community.
“This is Richmond’s opportunity to demonstrate how to make sustainable investments that address systemic inequities. As the former Capital of the Confederacy, it seems appropriate that we show the way forward,” said Derrick Johnson, also an Amandla Fund committee leader. “We hope all Richmonders will feel compelled to contribute to this Fund as we strive to remove existing barriers and lift up new opportunities so everyone in our community can thrive.”
The Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund continues to grow with an outpouring of support from individuals and businesses from across the region, including contributions of stimulus checks and from individuals who have fought COVID-19 themselves. Notably, the fund received a significant boost through recent gifts from two national companies with a local presence – The Humana Foundation and Facebook.
Providing a generous gift of $500,000, The Humana Foundation has designated Richmond as one of its 11 Bold Goal communities across the country. Through this program, they have adopted a population health strategy to improve the health of local residents by investing in programs that address food insecurity and social isolation among seniors – two areas of focus for the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund.
“The Humana Foundation understands the far-reaching strain the pandemic has placed on many organizations working on the frontlines to provide healthcare, food and employment for those disproportionality affected by the COVID-19 health crisis, and our aim is to remove barriers and help them respond, recover and rebuild,” said Walter D. Woods, Chief Executive Officer of The Humana Foundation. “We are supporting the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond because of the role they play in helping Central Virginia community organizations and public agencies assist people most affected by COVID-19.”
Facebook awarded $100,000 to the COVID-19 Response Fund as part of its overall response to the pandemic. This is in addition to their $250,000 investment in the RVA Small Business Relief Fund, established in partnership with Chamber RVA, and a grant of $280,000 to Henrico County Public Schools through the Henrico Education Foundation. Facebook has been part of the greater Richmond community since breaking ground on their data center in 2017.
"Henrico is our home, and we are invested in the long-term vitality of the community,” said Amber Tillman, Community Development Regional Manager, Facebook. “We are happy to be a part of the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund and to help provide resources to those who need it most during this difficult time."
As a demonstration of what a community can do when it comes together, the Fund has now raised in excess of $5.5 million dollars. Since its launch in mid-March, it has also distributed $2.5 million in grants to approximately 80 local nonprofit organizations and government agencies. An advisory committee from the philanthropic, business and public sectors are reviewing and distributing grants on a rolling basis.
Established in partnership between the Community Foundation, the Emergency Management Alliance of Central Virginia and Plan RVA, the fund was created with the dynamic nature of disaster situations in mind and, therefore, was designed to remain flexible to changing needs. Early phase grants from the COVID-19 Response Fund focused on emergency response strategies to ensure the health and safety of our community. However, as the region begins to reopen, the fund is expanding its scope to include longer term recovery, primarily through grants to organizations providing eviction prevention remedies, rental assistance and employment support services.
“While the fund will continue to accept emergency requests related to food and health care, we are beginning to look at the longer term, economic impact on individuals and families,” said Scott Blackwell, Chief Community Engagement Officer for the Community Foundation. “Philanthropy often plays a significant role in in lifting up people who face barriers to financial stability, but the pandemic has only amplified and exacerbated the need. Through partnerships with contributors like The Humana Foundation and Facebook’s Henrico Data Center, we are in a stronger position to help residents in need remain in their homes and return to work.”
While challenges continue and new needs emerge, the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund continues to demonstrate a deep commitment from all sectors to remain attentive, collaborative and solution oriented. The fund is anticipated to continue providing support to local organizations for several more months, or until funds are depleted.
Individual online donations to the fund are processed through United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. United Way also provided $100,000 in funds to encourage online donations, a milestone that was reached last month.
“Our region’s needs are increasing, but so is the community’s response,” said James Taylor, President & CEO of United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. “I am glad to see the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund expand to meet a broader range of needs and am grateful for the additional support from The Humana Foundation and Facebook’s Henrico Data Center.”
To view a full list of grants awarded to date, click here. To learn more about the fund or to donate, go to www.togetheroneregion.org.
Richmond, VA – October 25, 2017 -- The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia (TCF) and solar power company Secure Futures have partnered to support local governments and K-12 public school systems seeking to transition to solar energy. TCF donors established the RVA Solar Fund out of their common interest in advancing solar energy in the Richmond region. The fund will provide grants of up to $100,000 to support administrative costs, education and training, and related sustainability initiatives for public entities going solar.
Each grant recipient will engage in a solar power purchase agreement with Secure Futures to finance, install, own, and operate an estimated 15,000 solar panels at the recipients’ sites, for a total local investment of approximately $12 million. The public entities will pay no capital or maintenance costs for the equipment and will enjoy reduced total electricity costs by using the power generated by the panels. Together, this initiative represents an innovative public-private collaboration to build five megawatts of clean solar power – enough to power 700 homes — and avoid the equivalent CO2 emissions from burning 5 million pounds of coal per year.
“The Community Foundation is delighted to help local donors achieve their charitable goals by facilitating meaningful investments in clean energy,” said Sherrie Armstrong, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Community Foundation. “We believe solar energy will bring positive, long-term benefit to our community, our environment, and local taxpayers.”
The RVA Solar Fund provides a unique opportunity for public agencies in the 13-county, 4-city Richmond region to generate solar power on-site and save money at the same time.
All area K-12 public school systems and local governments are urged to apply as soon as possible. The $200,000 fund will be distributed among multiple grantees, with a maximum single grant amount of $100,000. Interested applicants must submit a non-binding Notice of Interest through The Community Foundation’s website by November 17, 2017.
“The Richmond region is well-positioned to become a national leader in sustainability and innovation, and the cost of clean energy is no longer an obstacle,” says Anthony Smith, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Secure Futures, a Virginia-based Certified B Corp recognized for its commitment to exacting standards for social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. “Solar’s time has come. And with this initiative, we can jump start local schools’ and governments’ transition to clean solar power while saving them money for decades to come.”
To assist with outreach throughout the Greater Richmond region, Charlottesville-based non-profit organization Generation 180 is collaborating on the project.
“We are dedicated to supporting a cultural shift in energy awareness and advancing the transition to clean energy,” says Tish Tablan, National Organizer, Generation 180. “And there is nothing more powerful for shifting mindsets in the future than children seeing solar energy being used in their own schools. We hope to see this partnership in the Richmond region spread to communities around the country who are dedicated to a healthier, cleaner future with a workforce prepared for the 21st century economy.”
Two additional non-profit organizations are supporting this effort: The Richmond Region Energy Alliance (RREA) and the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED). They are helping with outreach to prospective grant recipients and curriculum and training for schools, respectively.
About The Community Foundation
The Community Foundation is a public charity that serves its donors and community in Richmond and Central Virginia. Since 1968, TCF has been solving problems, preserving legacies and building permanent endowments. In the intervening years, TCF has granted more than $800 million to hundreds of local nonprofits with more than 900 funds of all sizes.
About Secure Futures, LLC
As a market and policy leader, Secure Futures builds, owns, manages and funds affordable US made Resilient Solar Solutions® for public purpose entities. Headquartered in Staunton, Va., the Company combines state-of–the-art solar technology with an innovative business model to make commercial scale solar readily affordable in Virginia, helping customers to realize the economic, environmental, and community benefits of solar energy. In 2017, Secure Futures became a Certified B Corporation®, having met the exacting standards for social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability established by the nonprofit B Lab®.
About Generation 180
Generation 180 is a non-profit committed to advancing the transition to clean energy and supporting a cultural shift in energy awareness through original content, digitally enabled campaigns, and an empowered volunteer network. We help people understand the trends that are moving us toward a more energy aware lifestyle, and the specific actions we can take to advance clean energy in our homes, schools, businesses and communities. Generation 180 helps schools across the country take advantage of the benefits of going solar with current research, resources and community volunteers.
Learn about giving through TCF
Members of the Ujima Legacy Fund – a giving circle created by and for African American men – announce two new grants of $20,000 each to The Literacy Lab and FRIENDS Association for Children. They will honor the recipients at a celebration on December 19th at the 1717 Innovation Center located at 1717 E. Cary Street.
The grant to The Literacy Lab will fund the first full school year (2019-20) of its Leading Men Fellowship in Richmond. The Fellowship recruits, trains and coaches local young men of color to serve as pre-K literacy tutors in high-need classrooms.
With seed funding from the mayor’s office, The Literacy Lab launched the Leading Men Fellowship in Richmond in Spring 2019. Fellows become full-time literacy tutors in pre-K classrooms across Richmond, providing daily research-based and evidence-proven interventions to 75 children who are not on track to be ready for Kindergarten. Each Fellow is embedded in a single pre-K classroom for the entire school year to implement a multi-tiered instructional strategy by providing one-on-one, small group and whole group literacy interventions. Before the school year, Fellows attend a 40-hour summer training institute led by Early Literacy Coaches with extensive experience in early childhood literacy. They also receive an additional 50 hours of professional development throughout the year along with ongoing coaching and classroom observation.
The grant to FRIENDS Association for Children (FRIENDS) will provide new kitchen appliances so the organization can continue serving meals in their centers for the next decade, ensuring that hunger is never a barrier to learning.
FRIENDS operates nearly 250 days per year, serving 3 meals to nearly 200 students each day, resulting in over 130,000 meals per year. Currently, the appliances at both centers are decades old and well beyond their life expectancy. Funds will be used to replace and upgrade equipment in the kitchens with high quality, energy-efficient, industrial kitchen appliances that will increase meal service efficiency, reduce kitchen operating costs and eliminate the risk of catastrophic failure. Additionally, the grant allows FRIENDS time to implement a life-cycle plan that includes 5, 10, and 15-year replacement objectives, along with the opportunity to secure funding for future upgrades.
Derrick Johnson, President of Ujima said, “These two organizations are great examples of the kind of nonprofits Ujima was created to support. Each in different ways exists to create a better world for the populations they serve. The men of Ujima are proud to fund projects that will positively impact underserved youth.”
In 2013, The Ujima Legacy Fund was launched to make philanthropy engaging and accessible for African American men in the Richmond region. Ujima is named after the third day of Kwanzaa and means collective work and responsibility. One of three giving circles created in partnership with the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, Ujima members pool contributions of $1,100 each to generate greater community impact. Together, they select at least one local nonprofit organization annually that they feel best demonstrates the ability to empower youth through education-related initiatives, with an emphasis on underserved youth. Since inception, membership has grown to 50 men and has awarded a total of $248,000 to 12 organizations.
As the new school year begins, Richmond Public Schools is making moves toward a bright year and an even brighter future thanks to a generous grant from the Community Foundation and a partnership with innovative clean energy company Secure Futures Solar. RVA Solar Fund, a component fund of the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, recently committed the $100,000 award to support a new Sustainability Associate position for RPS, as well as the purchase and installation of energy monitoring systems at selected school sites.
“Achieving excellence means that we must take a long-term approach, collaborate with community partners, and innovate,” said Jason Kamras, RPS Superintendent. “This power purchase agreement, and the generous supporting grant, will help us do all three, while also providing engaging opportunities for teaching and learning with clean energy technology.”
The energy information and control systems will connect with solar panels to be installed in 2019 by Staunton-based Secure Futures with no upfront capital costs to RPS. Under a 20-year power purchase agreement, the company will own and operate the solar arrays on several campuses with a total capacity of 2.59 megawatts, selling 100% of the solar power produced to the school division at a savings.
“We are always interested in connecting donors to organizations and causes that inspire them to give,” said Lisa O'Mara, Community Foundation Vice-President of Donor Engagement. “In this case, we were able to convene donors who expressed interest in growing the understanding and use of solar energy in our region. By exploring the possibilities together and pooling their charitable dollars, their impact will be greater. I know that the donors are excited that their grant will help the school system realize sustainable energy savings and bring additional educational opportunities to students at RPS.”
This initial venture into solar arrays could create more opportunities for clean energy throughout RPS moving forward.
“Our board is committed to upgrading and modernizing our school buildings as outlined in the Facilities Plan,” said Chairman Dawn Page, District 8 School Board representative. “This project will allow us to integrate solar power at some of our schools and study its impact. With a significant number of RPS construction projects on the horizon, this could potentially pave the way for a much more energy efficient and modern RPS facility portfolio, at a long-term savings to the city’s taxpayers.”
District 1 School Board representative, Liz Doerr, who wrote the grant is eager to witness the cost and energy savings that are anticipated from this partnership.
“I am so excited that the School Board voted unanimously to move forward with the RVA Solar Fund and a plan to put solar panels on select Richmond Public Schools, saving the district approximately $2M in energy costs over the next 20 years,” said Doerr. “This is a win-win-win: we save money, we obtain fantastic curriculum and hands-on teaching opportunities in green jobs, and we reduce carbon emissions.”
Learn more about RVA Solar Fund
The Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund, created by the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond and the Emergency Management Alliance of Central Virginia, has raised $4.1 million to date with support from 18 lead foundation and corporate partners, as well as generous donors in our region.
But with the impact from the COVID-19 crisis likely to stretch out for weeks and months, the need is just beginning. Philanthropic organizations are coming together to raise money and are calling on local individuals and organizations to make donations.
“The best way to get through this crisis is to do it together,” says Sherrie Armstrong, CEO of the Community Foundation. “That’s how we’ve overcome challenges of the past, and it’s how we will build resiliency for our future. As we gain greater understanding of the immediate effects of this public health crisis, while also anticipating what is yet to come, we are asking the community to help with a gift of any amount to the fund.”
United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg is providing $100,000 in matching dollars to incentivize new donations made through United Way’s website from individuals. Donors may also make gifts of cash, securities or other assets through the Community Foundation.
“Bringing communities together to solve big problems is a fundamental part of who we are,” said James Taylor, president & CEO of United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know local nonprofits and the vulnerable populations they serve need our help now. I believe the Central Virginia COVID-19 Fund is the best way to provide that help, but we need the entire community’s support. Please donate today.”
The Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund is the first activation of a coordinated, regional disaster response campaign to mobilize and deploy as many resources as possible in times when the community needs them most. Currently, the COVID-19 Response Fund is looking to provide rapid support to nonprofit organizations and public agencies providing health-related crisis response services and meeting the needs of individuals and families most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The fund is designed to be flexible in focus as needs change over time, and to complement other resources and responses at the national, state and local levels.
“Over the past year, we have worked closely with the Community Foundation to establish a regional disaster preparedness and response fund to ensure there would be a way for people to give if a disaster were to hit our region,” said Ben Ruppert, finance chair of the Emergency Management Alliance of Central Virginia. “That shared commitment to planning and coordination is paying off now as we come together to tackle a crisis at a scale few could have predicted.”
Informed by those with emergency management expertise and on-the-ground insight, an advisory committee is currently reviewing requests and will plan to announce an early round of grants soon. The fund will be used initially to support essential services such as health care, housing, food access, childcare and senior care. They are also working with schools and government agencies to support the procurement of food and safety supplies for scaled distribution.
Learn more about the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund and make your contribution at www.togetheroneregion.org
COVID-19 Response Fund Founding Contributors
Just weeks after the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond and the Emergency Management Alliance of Central Virginia activated the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund as a way to rapidly raise funds and align resources where they are needed most, the fund announces its first round of grants totaling $1.1 million to 25 organizations providing immediate support to those most impacted by the pandemic.
While the region is in the early response phase of this crisis, the fund is initially focused on ensuring support for those most likely to contract the virus or those whose health could be further compromised during this time because of barriers to food access, healthcare or stable shelter.
“While the pandemic has impacted the operations of virtually every organization in our community,” says Scott Blackwell, Chief Community Engagement Officer at the Community Foundation, “We are currently targeting those on the frontline that need to pivot and adapt quickly to an ever-increasing demand for their services. Some organizations have repurposed their buildings, others require additional staffing to make up for fewer volunteers, and others need to purchase additional cleaning supplies and PPEs to ensure the safety of their staff and clients.”
An advisory committee from the philanthropic, business and public sectors are reviewing and distributing grants from the COVID-19 Response Fund on a rolling basis. The first round of grant recipients includes:
For a full list of grants awarded thus far, click here.
“By working in collaboration with local officials and our many fund partners, we are tapping into deep community knowledge to ensure we are doing the most good for the most people throughout every phase of this crisis,” said Ben Ruppert, finance chair of the Emergency Management Alliance and a fund advisory committee member. “As funds are available, we will remain flexible to the evolving needs as the situation continues to unfold.”
To date, the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund has raised $4.25 million in contributions from foundations, businesses and individuals across the region. This includes a $100,000 matching grant from the United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg to incentivize new donations made through their website.
“Organizations stepping up to help will continue to need funding,” said James Taylor, President & CEO of United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. “We are pleased to support this first round of grants, but we know there is a lot more to do. I encourage everyone in our region to join our local United Way in donating to the COVID-19 Response Fund.”
The campaign to raise funds and enlist support from the public continues as the impact from the crisis will likely stretch out for weeks and months. To learn more about how the fund works and how you can help response efforts, please visit www.togetheroneregion.org
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