November 10, 2017

Cameron’s October awards represent 13th anniversary of grantmaking for Tri-Cities area

Celebrating 13 years of contributions to the Tri-Cities community, The Cameron Foundation approved new grant funding for 24 organizations in October. The awards total $916,228.

In the recent ceremony to celebrate its 13th anniversary, Board Chair Pam Martin Comstock announced that the latest funding from this October cycle brought the Foundation’s total giving to more than $83 million. The Foundation was formed in 2003 and began grantmaking in October 2004.

Comstock also noted that approximately 60% of the Foundation’s responsive grant dollars have gone towards health and human service causes this year. The balance of funds has been allocated across a wide range of programs in education, arts and culture, historic preservation and conservation, as well as community and economic development.

In the October cohort, the largest grant went to Petersburg Health Department for $125,000 in continued support for the agency’s teen pregnancy prevention program in Petersburg and Hopewell. The Foundation has funded the program since it began in 2009. Data over the last few years shows that the teen pregnancy rate has dropped considerably in both locations. In Petersburg, the rate changed from 66.7 per 1,000 in 2012 to 46.7 per 1,000 in 2015 (the most recent year reported), and in Hopewell, the rate has come down from 52.4 to 30.9 per 1,000 during the same period. When considering the lower numbers, Comstock underscored the need for continued philanthropic support, saying, “While both communities have seen significant drops in their teen pregnancy rates, the overall numbers remain high compared to Virginia’s rate of 12.0 per 1,000.”

Among its education grants this time, the Foundation approved $16,103 for Prince George County Schools to support creation of the Library Innovation Center at J.E.J. Moore Middle School. The project calls for renovations to the library that will better support the school’s shift to using Project-Based Learning in its teaching methods. The model, which is credited with helping students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, allows learners to investigate and address real-world problems through collaboration. The redesigned library will provide high technology learning opportunities for students to work in small, cooperative groups. Cameron’s Grants Committee Chair Jeffrey W. Geisz described the project as an “innovative first” in the Foundation’s service area. “This important investment can serve as a model for future Project-Based Learning initiatives in our region and beyond,” he suggested.

Also this cycle, the Foundation approved $24,000 to the City of Hopewell toward the conservation and preservation of the historic cedar trees lining Cedar Lane, which forms the gateway into City Point Park. “This is such a unique project that merits support based on its intrinsic value alone,” said J. Todd Graham, The Cameron Foundation’s president. “Additionally, this was one of the corridors identified for improvement in the Appomattox River Trail Master Plan, developed by Friends of the Lower Appomattox River earlier this year. The plan was funded by Cameron as a $100,000 proactive initiative. This conservation grant to the City of Hopewell illustrates how Cameron can enhance its community impact when a responsive grant is closely aligned with the Foundation’s proactive work,” he said.

The full list of responsive grants for the October cycle includes:

Art on Wheels – $15,000
Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond – $58,000
CARES, Inc. – $40,000
City of Hopewell – Department of Development – $24,000
Colonial Heights Food Pantry, Inc. – $54,000
District 19 Community Services Board – $22,500
Downtown Churches United, Inc. – $37,025
Family Lifeline – $40,000
Feed More. Inc. – $67,500
Gateway Homes, Inc. – $40,500
Greater Richmond SCAN – $20,000
Hopewell Downtown Partnership, Inc. – $30,000
Jarratt Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. – $42,000
Lucy Corr Foundation, Inc. – $12,000
Petersburg Health Department – $125,000
Petersburg Library Foundation – $55,000
Prince George County Public Schools – $16,103
Reach out for Life – $30,000
Serenity, Inc. – $8,000
Smart Beginnings Southeast – $58,000
Southside Transformation Opportunities for Residents and Youth (STORY) – $25,600
St. Joseph’s Villa – $58,500
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Bristol Parish – $25,000
Virginia Dental Association Foundation – $12,500

The Foundation 13th anniversary ceremony also featured David Dodson as the guest speaker. Dodson, President of MDC, was The Cameron Foundation’s 2017 Cleveland A. Wright Lecturer. His presentation centered on the importance of helping disaffected youth attain upward economic mobility. Graham also informed the audience of the Foundation’s plans to engage outside expertise to advise the Foundation on ways to increase the impact of its workforce development investments. He emphasized, “The connections between youth and workforce development are topics that are essential to our overall community health and vitality.”

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