November 8, 2019

Cameron Foundation awards over $800,000 in grants, celebrates 15-year anniversary

With 2019 marking The Cameron Foundation’s 15th anniversary of work in the community, the organization hosted its annual meeting and reception on October 24 to celebrate the milestone with community partners. October also culminates the Foundation’s second of two responsive grant cycles for the year, which has resulted in $801,050 in new awards to 26 nonprofit organizations providing programs to residents of the Tri-Cities area.

During its ceremony, Board Chair Pam Martin Comstock announced that the Foundation’s cumulative giving now exceeds $91 million. The figure represents 1,207 awards to 316 different organizations through responsive grantmaking, proactive initiatives, and capacity-building investments with nonprofits. At its 15-year mark, Comstock emphasized collaboration as a key strategy to the Foundation’s work. “Our responsive grants program remains a vibrant resource for this region, and at the same time, our proactive grantmaking is becoming increasingly important, with collaboration often forming the backbone of these initiatives,” she explained.

J. Todd Graham, President of The Cameron Foundation, highlighted the Foundation’s activities over the last year, including proactive initiatives in several areas ranging from health equity to neighborhood revitalization and workforce development. “It was a year when we made great strides launching a new initiative in workforce development, and had success in breaking ground on a long-time initiative to provide housing and state-of-the-art facilities for the arts community,” he noted.

For the responsive grant awards decided in the October cycle, the full list includes:

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond – $58,000
CARES, Inc. – $49,350
Children’s Home Society of Virginia – $12,500
City of Colonial Heights Department of Recreation & Parks – $43,715
City of Hopewell Fire and Rescue – $62,500
Colonial Heights Food Pantry Inc. – $52,000
Crater Community Hospice Inc. – $50,000
Downtown Churches United Inc. – $37,025
Equal Justice America Inc. – $7,000
Family Lifeline – $35,000
First Baptist Church of Petersburg – $20,000
Gateway Homes Inc. – $40,500
GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program (GRASP) – $15,000
Lucy Corr Foundation Inc. – $10,000
Merchants Hope Episcopal Church – $11,000
Metropolitan Richmond Sports Backers, Inc. – $12,700
Petersburg Area Art League Inc. – $15,000
Petersburg Library Foundation Inc. – $42,000
Petersburg Preservation Task Force – $36,000
Pretty Purposed – $9,660
Rawls Museum Arts Inc. – $10,000
Serenity – $50,000
Southside Transformation Opportunities for Residents and Youth (STORY) – $25,600
St. Joseph’s Villa – $58,500
Swift Creek Mill Theatre Inc. – $25,000
Virginia Dental Association Foundation – $13,000

Each year, the Foundation hosts a guest lecturer at its annual meeting as part of the Cleveland A. Wright Lecture Series. With a focus on workforce development, this year’s anniversary celebration featured national expert Michael Gritton. Gritton is Executive Director of KentuckianaWorks, the workforce development board for Louisville and its six regional counties. In addition to speaking at the meeting, Gritton met earlier in the day with community stakeholders working locally in workforce development to learn more about the challenges they encounter in the field, and to share some of his success stories.

Gritton’s tenure at KentuckianaWorks has been marked by award-winning innovations that create opportunities for individuals to improve their economic competitiveness. Some examples include a national, award-winning summer jobs effort that helped over 6,900 16-21 year-olds find work in the Louisville region this year; a cutting-edge effort to train and place new software coders into tech jobs at an average wage of over $40,000 a year; the first College Access Center in the nation to be run by a workforce development board; and, a national, award-winning Kentucky Manufacturing Career Center that is training and placing hundreds of new manufacturing workers in the “stackable credentials” recommended by the National Association of Manufacturing.

During his remarks to introduce Gritton as the 2019 Cleveland A. Wright Lecturer, Cameron’s Vice Chair J. Tolleison Morriss, VI explained, “The topic of workforce development is an important one to not only philanthropists, but also to business leaders in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors, and local governments.” According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2018 annual unemployment rate for Virginia was 3%, with nearly every locality in Cameron’s service area having a higher rate of unemployment, including one example where it reached more than double the state rate. “For our part in this, The Cameron Foundation seeks to help unemployed and underemployed individuals move into living wage jobs,” Morriss said.

In his lecture at the Cameron ceremony, Gritton underscored the importance of “relentless experimentation” as well as involving employers by sector – a model The Cameron Foundation is piloting in the field of manufacturing in partnership with the Community College Workforce Alliance, Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia, and four companies. “If you don’t treat the employers as your customer, you ultimately just aren’t going to do very well by job seekers,” Gritton said.

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