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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, 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 Community Foundation is excited to announce this year’s recipients of the Giving Black RVA Legacy & Ingenuity Awards: Robert L. Dortch Jr. and Collective 365. These awardees are recognized for their instrumental efforts in strengthening grantmaking institutions and advancing philanthropy as a means of social change, especially for Black communities.
Robert L. Dortch Jr. is a nationally recognized philanthropic thought leader, specializing in leveraging innovation, equity and partnerships to make catalytic place-based philanthropy accessible in the board room, philanthropic institutions and the nonprofit sector. He focuses on bringing about equitable results through advocacy and systems change that empower and strengthen the lives of children, families, and communities. His current philanthropic endeavors include being a co-founder of the Ujima Legacy Fund giving circle and serving as the current chair of the Board of Trustees for Philanthropy Southeast.
“To whom much is given, much is required. I am grateful for my parents and grandparents who made it possible for me to be here today and who taught me that if there is a problem, we have a responsibility not to complain about it, but to find a solution,” Robert said. I’m also thankful for the brothers who came together to figure out how we could show people the commitment that Black men are making in their communities. The majority of Black men are out here coaching, supporting, and giving back, and that’s what Ujima represents – collective work and responsibility. We celebrate the men who are coming together to make a difference in our community.”
Collective 365 was established with the intent to unite individuals who want to invest in, learn from, and celebrate Black and Brown communities. This giving circle is made up of people who are combining their resources to support positive change and sustainability in communities of color in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Collective 365 is reimagining philanthropy by removing barriers for individuals to become philanthropists and for those seeking funding, and by providing Black and Brown communities the platform to define their needs and solutions.
“At Collective 365, we are doing things a little differently. For example, we recognize that the mom who serves as the neighborhood resource is intricately connected in her neighborhood in a way that’s often been overlooked. Collective 365 is about investing in people like her who are doing the work,” said Fatima M. Smith, founder of Collective 365. “I ask everyone to join us in reimagining philanthropy and centering Black and Brown people as thought leaders and decision makers. It’s not enough to just dream of the day when we have unlimited funding – it’s time to act and create that funding.”
These awardees were honored at the 4th annual local celebration of Black Philanthropy Month, held each year in August by the Community Foundation. This event highlights the breadth and depth of Black giving in Greater Richmond through storytelling, education and giving initiatives. To join the mailing list for future Black Philanthropy Month events, contact us at email@example.com.
A generous $20M bequest will support nonprofits in Richmond and Mount Airy, NC.
James M. (“Jim”) Frye died in April 2015, leaving a philanthropic legacy to the communities he loved. The $20 million bequest to The Community FoundationServing Richmond and Central Virginia endows an unrestricted fund that will enhance local grantmaking, as well as restricted endowments that will provide ongoing support to over 30 eligible organizations in Richmond and Mt. Airy, NC. In addition to the bequest to The Community Foundation, his estate provided direct charitable bequests to a number of organizations.
At age 84, Jim looked back on a life of singular accomplishment. He rose from depression-era poverty in Mount Airy, North Carolina to become Director of Government Relations for Phillip Morris, one of the world's largest and most profitable public companies. After retirement in 1988, he served the company as a consultant for 19 more years, completing a remarkable 55 years of service. Jim and the many leaders who worked alongside him helped build the company into the leader in the tobacco industry.
Jim was known for his deep friendships, his good humor, and his integrity in business and in life. He graduated from the University of Richmond in 1953, gaining admission on a football scholarship. Then he joined his lifetime employer as a management trainee, earning an MBA from Richmond while working full-time. He served his country two years in the Army, including a year in Japan right after the Korean Conflict.
His potential for leadership was recognized in 1966 with a posting to the Brookings Institution as a Public Affairs Fellow, and there he served Congressman Gerald Ford, who would go on to be America's 38th President. That relationship would result in a lifelong friendship. The President's balanced and unselfish approach to problems influenced Jim in business and philanthropy.
Jim knew that both organizations and community needs change over time. This made him reluctant to set aside significant capital for a cause unless he could be assured that the organization would be monitored and his committed funds managed professionally. Jim learned of The Community Foundation in 1997 and, true to his creed, investigated it. He crafted a careful plan to give nearly all of his savings to charitable causes after the death of he and his wife, Virginia Nash Frye. In the meantime, he gave generously and always anonymously each year. His plan included meaningful capital gifts to selected charities including St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church (his church), Virginia Home for Boys and Girls (board member for 15 years) and others in Mount Airy.
The balance of his estate was gifted to The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia to fund endowments for ongoing support of his chosen causes, but with 25% reserved to address community needs as identified by the Foundation. Of particular importance to Jim Frye was the duty of the Foundation to monitor the organizations selected and to move endowment support to other organizations if they failed to perform effectively or if the need served dwindled.
Always a very private person, Jim requested toward the end of his life that the details of his plan be publicized after his death. This was not for his aggrandizement ("After all I won't be around," Jim said with typical wry humor) but to encourage others to give.
Frye’s philanthropy was influenced by his life experience – growing up during the Depression when basic things were scarce; mentors during his life who coached and encouraged his talent and leadership; the loss of loved ones due to health considerations; and, his faith. His legacy of philanthropy is captured in the themes of helping children, promoting the dignity and well-being of less fortunate persons, supporting health and expressing faith through community outreach. Jim’s wife of 47 years, ‘Lucky’ as she was known to her close friends, died in 2010. In addition to his charitable gifts, Jim Frye left meaningful bequests to his and Lucky's extended family members and a few close friends.
During the time Jim worked with Philip Morris, the company was making its first charitable grants. Today, the company’s philanthropic legacy spans 50+ years, setting a corporate culture of giving and community engagement by company leaders and employees. Jim was fully invested in Philip Morris, and contributed significantly to the company’s strong performance during his career. In his eulogy to Frye, long-time friend Bill Leidinger exclaimed that “Jim just didn’t work for Philip Morris. Jim was Philip Morris! He was Philip Morris personified.”
Friends report that Frye never sold a share of Philip Morris and he would acquire the stock whenever he could. The Philip Morris Companies (now Altria) investment story has been an amazing one in its own right. A $360 investment in just 10 Altria shares in 1970 would have grown to more than $500,000 today, with reinvested dividends. But it was Frye’s investment acumen and discipline that Jim brought to actively managing his own money in retirement that proved to be brilliant and produced the wealth that enabled his philanthropy.
Jim’s loyalty to Altria, his entrepreneurial spirit and his compassion for others translated into millions for the communities he loved and will now benefit countless people through this bequest to The Community Foundation.
Organizations benefiting from Frye’s Estate are as follows:
Learn more about establishing a fund at The Community Foundation.
Photo credit: Scott Elmquist
NOVEMBER 15, 2019 — In celebration of National Philanthropy Day, the Central Virginia Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) honored ten awardees at a luncheon on November 14 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, recognizing those who have made an extraordinary impact on the quality of life, cultural vibrancy, and fabric of our region. Since 1996, AFP has honored more than 100 philanthropists, businesses, and volunteers in the community.
The Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, Altria, the City of Richmond and the Robins Foundation were collectively nominated by NextUp and awarded the “Transformational Philanthropy Award,” which honors those who have created powerful change and compelling outcomes by significantly transforming the reach and scope of an organization.
Through a synchronized vision, coordinated funding efforts and joint planning, this partnership has created greater access to high-quality Out-of-School Time (OST) programming for youth in the City of Richmond. This joint investment has added nearly 1,000 afterschool slots across RPS elementary and middle schools and community-based centers, and continued coordination and funding will ensure growth and sustainability for these programs.
“As partners, we know that creating a coordinated OST system that provides access to consistent, high-quality afterschool experiences improves academic achievement, workforce readiness and social, emotional and physical health among RPS students,” said Scott Blackwell, Chief Community Engagement Officer at the Community Foundation. “This is an example of collaboration at its best. However, this is not a ‘get a win and move on’ strategy. The stage is now set for additional work.”
In the coming year, this collaborative partnership is putting together a community-wide OST Steering Committee to help guide strategy. Work groups will be formed to collect critical data from key stakeholders, create additional professional development opportunities for instructors, and continue the conversation around key barriers such as transportation access.
“Many people have seen the value and are committed to a long-term sustainable shift that will result in better social emotional health and academic outcomes for our children,” said Blackwell, “and we are proud to be a partner in this work to have greater impact and ultimately bring our community to a more prosperous place.”
SEPTEMBER 28, 2021 — The Community Foundation for a greater Richmond is pleased to announce a significant commitment to increasing affordable housing in the region with two new grant awards of $1 million each to Better Housing Coalition and Maggie Walker Community Land Trust (MWCLT). Funding will support construction of over 600 new affordable apartment and housing units in the region, as well as financial coaching and wrap-around support for residents.
The Community Foundation is highly focused on investing in long term solutions that close racial wealth gaps and provide opportunities for residents to achieve upward economic mobility. Its emphasis on housing is based on the belief that quality, affordable housing affects nearly every aspect of a person’s life and that it is fundamental to a thriving and economically competitive region. With this newest commitment, the Foundation and its donors have invested over $10 million to local housing efforts since 2018.
“While the Community Foundation has invested in housing for years, the Richmond Regional Housing Framework allowed us to align to something bigger and more consequential for our region – a collaborative action plan that calls on all residents, local government, business and philanthropy to unite around solutions that will make Richmond stronger with a variety of housing options for all,” said Sherrie Armstrong, CEO of the Community Foundation. “As a partner and catalyst in this work, we hope our grants can instill a sense of confidence and urgency for others to join us in investing their dollars as well.”
The grant to Better Housing Coalition is part of a $10 million campaign, which has also secured significant contributions from Altria and The Cabell Foundation. These gifts will leverage development of rental units and single-family homes for individuals who are at 40 to 60% of the average median income, as well as seniors, in Richmond, Chesterfield and Henrico.
“We’re fortunate that elected officials, leaders of our local business, and philanthropic organizations are recognizing that affordable housing can help address social and racial equity disparities in our region in a significant way. By allocating the majority of this generous grant to capital for affordable housing, the Community Foundation will accelerate our ability to produce 1,000 additional units over the next three years,” said Greta Harris, President & CEO of Better Housing Coalition.
Established in 2016, Maggie Walker Community Land Trust is already considered among the top 10% of community land trusts in the country, having constructed 50 owner-occupied homes as of January 2021 and projecting 50 more in the next two years. Following a $1 million grant in 2018, this is the second large commitment from the Community Foundation to support the continued acquisition and subsidy of new properties that create permanently affordable home ownership opportunities for people of low- to moderate-income and who typically work in essential jobs like teachers or first responders.
“One of the most hopeful developments in recent years is far greater alignment of the public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors—all leveraging their assets to meet the housing needs of our neighbors. The recent Community Foundation grant of $1M to the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust is an excellent example,” said Laura Lafayette, Immediate Past Chair of MWCLT. “The City of Richmond provided 15 tax delinquent parcels to MWCLT, and the Community Foundation’s grant will support the development of 38 new, permanently affordable homes. MWCLT will seek to recruit buyers of color for these units, as home ownership is a key element in any effort to close the racial wealth gap. The Community Foundation’s leadership on this front and its strategic generosity will change lives for generations to come.”
Through its model, homes are sold to eligible buyers while the trust retains ownership of the land, which creates a permanent subsidy and ensures that the homes will remain permanently affordable. MWCLT estimates that by 2060, 228 households will have been stably housed in these homes, securing the benefit of building wealth through ongoing home equity.
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