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DECEMBER 17, 2021 — The Community Foundation’s new Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth is pleased to announce its first round of grants, totaling $200,000 to eight organizations. The fund, supported by pooled contributions from the Foundation and individual donors, was created as a complement to the Foundation’s existing workforce strategy, by adding a focus on supporting existing small businesses and individuals with entrepreneurial aspirations. We believe that strengthening small businesses and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in our region is an imperative as we endeavor to create a community where everyone has access to economic opportunities.
Over the past year, philanthropy has begun to reimagine its role in supporting small business, recognizing that the quest for economic justice includes creating an environment where small business ownership and entrepreneurship is a viable path for all individuals. Locally, programs that introduce youth to entrepreneurship are being developed and implemented. Additionally, more resources to support existing business owners and entrepreneurs, particularly BIPOC founders, are emerging, which will help these businesses—and the communities in which they operate--achieve sustainability and economic success.
“The emergence of the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth is a key next step in the formalization of opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs in the Richmond Metro Area. The wide range of programs focused on entrepreneurial education and support currently available, and growing, reinforces both the progress and the potential of RVA, as a hotbed of innovation and small business growth for all.”
~ Art Espey, member of the Fund’s Advisory Committee
Guided by an advisory committee of experienced local entrepreneurs, the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth identified three areas of focus: support for small business owners, entrepreneurial programming for youth, and opportunities to expand and diversify the start-up incubation and acceleration ecosystem. Through an invitation-only grants process, the first round of grant recipients are listed below.
The Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth has announced its second round of grant funding, with $317,500 awarded to 9 local organizations critical to building a strong and connected entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region. This includes programming that starts early, helping area public school students learn and adopt an entrepreneurial mindset through mentors, career exploration, business planning and pitch contests. Other grants will help to expand resources for small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs including access to capital and technical assistance.
Beyond funding, the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth has experienced success in helping to cultivate new and deeper connections between many of the organizations, particularly as they begin to view their work in the context of a larger system of opportunity. Nonprofits providing youth entrepreneurial programming met twice at the Community Foundation over the past year to share best practices and to learn more about each other’s programs. In several instances, they have expressed an intent to work together in 2023 and their desire to create pathways for inspired youth to continue to fuel their interest in entrepreneurship when moving from elementary to middle to high school. In the small business and entrepreneurial ecosystem space, organizations are diligently working in coordination to create a “resource hub” for small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs to find the types of support they need more easily.
The Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth was established by the Community Foundation through a seed gift of $500,000 and has attracted another $500,000 in donations from individual donors. While philanthropy typically has not had a significant role in supporting business and business owners, this fund was created to reverse that thinking.
“In just two grant cycles, we have been very impressed by the deep commitment and earnest engagement of our grantee partners working in the entrepreneurial space,” said Scott Blackwell, Chief Community Impact Officer at the Community Foundation. “Their combined reach, results, and drive to further strengthen the pipeline of support for the aspiring to the seasoned business owners further strengthens our belief that the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth has great potential to provide a growing stream of opportunity for investment in economic empowerment and opportunity creation.”
See the latest grant recipients of the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth:
Support and Resources for Local Small Businesses
Bridging Virginia: $75,000
To create a Small Business Capital Access Resource Hub at 1717 E. Main Street (where Start Up Virginia and Lighthouse Labs are located), in partnership with the Metropolitan Business League. This hub will provide a central space for small business owners to access capital and technical assistance.
Jackson Ward Collective Foundation: $30,000
To support a part-time program coordinator to help run the Community Business Academy, which is a program designed to bolster basic business skills of approximately 40 Black small businesses owners and would-be entrepreneurs who have not had access to this foundational level of business knowledge.
Entrepreneurial Programming for Youth
Boys & Girls Club of Metro Richmond: $25,000
To support entrepreneurial programming for 100 students over the course of the year, as well as a 6-week Summer Entrepreneurial Experience for 10 youth working alongside small business owners and participation in the Career and Business Exploration Project that engages an additional 400 youth.
Chesterfield Education Foundation/MADE Program at Meadowbrook High School: $25,000
To provide continued support for students enrolled in Chesterfield's MADE (Meadowbrook Academy for Developing Entrepreneurs) specialty center to participate in the VCU Entrepreneurship Academy. Students gain graduate student mentors, earn micro credential digital badges and a certificate, and pitch new business ideas in Shark Tank fashion to local judges.
Girls for a Change: $30,000
To support and expand the Immersion Lab program, which is an immersive entrepreneurial experience for Black high school girls and recent graduates that includes networking and business plan development and execution.
Metropolitan Business League (MBL) Foundation: $30,000
To support the Youth Entrepreneurship Program, which is an after-school program from middle and high school students in Richmond and Petersburg Public Schools. The goal is to increase youth awareness and aspirations to explore self-employment as a potential lifetime career path.
NextUp RVA: $30,000
To pilot a program that combines a variety of entrepreneurial enrichment activities with financial literacy and business building training for 60 middle school students in the Richmond Public Schools.
YMCA of Greater Richmond: $42,500
To expand a program for 4th and 5th grade students in the Richmond Public School system designed to build an entrepreneurial mindset. All sessions are led by trained facilitators, and the program culminates in a showcase event where the students present their business ideas.
Diversifying and Strengthening the Local Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
Start Up Virginia: $30,000
To offer scholarship access to the Entrepreneur Certificate Course through community partners including Metropolitan Business League (another grantee), Virginia Union University, Virginia Community Capital, as well as scholarships for under-represented entrepreneurs to attend the Idea Factory and Incubator programming.
To learn more or to give to the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth, please visit www.cfrichmond.org/feg. New gifts will help to increase the number or size of grants awarded in the next grant cycle to be conducted in Fall 2023.
DECEMBER 17, 2019 — 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.
MAY 20, 2020 — 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.
FEBURARY 14, 2022 — In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, SisterFund and Ujima Legacy Fund were honored by Virginia Union University (VUU) during its 44th Annual MLK Jr. Community Leaders Celebration with the “Beloved Community Economic Justice Award.” The two giving circles were recognized for their “unwavering and long-standing commitment to continuing Dr. King’s legacy of uplifting the ‘beloved community’ here in the Commonwealth.”
In a recognition video produced by CBS 6 and VUU, leaders Derrick Johnson and Jill Coleman share how the giving circles are living out Dr. King’s legacy by making a difference in the lives of young people in the community and by “demonstrating the collective impact a few can have on many” by bringing together financial resources to have a greater impact.
The circles were also recognized for their partnership with the Community Foundation for creating the Amandla Fund for Economic and Racial Justice, which mobilizes long-term investments to strengthen the Black community and achieve racial justice.
Watch an interview with the leaders below.
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
NOVEMBER 19, 2020 — 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.”
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