August 8, 2022

Cameron Foundation approves nearly $1.1 million in June grant cycle

The Cameron Foundation has approved $1,098,474 in new funding as a result of its latest responsive grant cycle. The awards were directed to 26 nonprofit organizations and one local government agency.

Cameron’s Board Chair, J. Tolleison Morriss, VI, noted, “Over the last several years, The Cameron Foundation has transitioned its strategy to balance investments in direct health care services with those addressing some of the social determinants of health. This grant cycle highlights some great examples of that broader work in action.”

Social determinants of health are those community factors outside of traditional healthcare and public health. Some determinants include food access, safe and affordable housing, educational attainment, income and improved work and neighborhood environments.

Illustrating Morriss’s point, the largest grant this cycle was made to Better Housing Coalition for $150,000 towards construction of the Colbrook Community Center, the capstone of a new 147-unit affordable multi-family development on 10 acres along Route 1 in Chester. At 3,000 square feet, the accompanying state-of-the-art community center will provide outreach, program delivery and event space for residents as well as those living in the surrounding community. Construction of The Colbrook, including the rental units and community center, is expected to begin in 2023.

Better Housing Coalition is the Richmond region’s largest nonprofit community development corporation, providing innovative and collaborative efforts to address affordable housing. In 2020, The Cameron Foundation had provided $50,000 to support predevelopment, planning and community engagement activities for The Colbrook.

“This new funding commitment builds on that earlier investment in a project that has a unique role in preserving the legacy of the old Colbrook Motel, and, at the same time, in building new, affordable housing to enhance the quality-of-life for residents,” Cameron’s Grants Committee Chair, Jeff Geisz, said.

The Colbrook is located on the site of the former Colbrook Motel, noted for its inclusion in the “Green Book” as a safe space for African-American travelers during segregation. Better Housing Coalition is working with The Dialogue Group, an organization of African-American Chesterfield residents, on ways to honor the history of the motel in the context of this new development. Plans for the community center include an interpretive gallery, an informational mural, exhibit cases for motel artifacts, an interactive digital exhibit, and a catering kitchen inspired by the historic Colbrook Diner that was located in the motel.

Also this grant cycle, first-time recipient Waymakers Foundation was awarded $31,500 for its mobile food pantry project. The organization was formed during the pandemic in response to COVID-19’s effect on the Latino and Hispanic communities and their lack of access to food. It provides immigrant families the foundation of a healthy lifestyle by developing culturally responsive programs that address their needs in the areas of food, health, education, finances, art and culture. Waymakers Foundation operates a food distribution center and a mobile food pantry for delivery in communities that have transportation barriers. Cameron funds will support mobile food pantry distribution at three local sites, two in Petersburg and one in Hopewell.

In rural Sussex County, $61,000 in Cameron funds awarded to the Community Coalition of Sussex, Virginia will assist with completion of a walking trail and track as part of a larger undertaking to renovate the former Jefferson Elementary School, located in Jarratt, into the Millard and Florence Stith Community Center. Development of the paved trail around the edges of the property also includes the addition of two exercise stations, gazebos, and water fountains.

“All of these endeavors help to realize healthy, vibrant communities across the region, which is central to Cameron’s mission,” said J. Todd Graham, Cameron’s President.

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