Frequently asked questions

How is the Hampton Roads Community Foundation different from other foundations and grantmaking organizations?

Rather than being started by a single family or corporation, our community foundation is comprised of hundreds of endowments that are in essence "mini-foundations." Each charitable fund was established by one of your neighbors to benefit life in southeastern Virginia. People from all walks of life -- from a telephone operator and seamstress to well-known business leaders -- are united through our community foundation. One individual might choose to protect local waterways. Another may opt to help their place of worship or their alma mater. Other families may focus on preventing homelessness, supporting the arts or providing scholarships for college students. As a result, a community foundation reflects a variety of wishes for a better community.

We encourage people's philanthropy with a goal of enhancing life in our region of Virginia. We strive to be a catalyst linking community leaders, donors and organizations focused on making our region the best -- now and in the future.

Which key facts and statistics should I know?

Here are just two:

  1. We manage approximately $310 million in assets, mostly charitable funds and endowments started by individuals, families, businesses and foundations.
  2. As southeastern Virginia's largest grant and scholarship provider we distributed nearly $15 million in 2015; $250 million since 1950. Each year more than 150 different nonprofits and 400 college students benefit from our donors' generosity.

What geographic area does the Community Foundation serve?

Primarily the South Hampton Roads region of Virginia: Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach, as well as Franklin and Isle of Wight County. We have an affiliate community foundation on the Eastern Shore of Virginia -- the Eastern Shore of Virginia Community Foundation. We helped start this community foundation with a challenge grant and manage its endowment.

Who governs the Foundation?

Our 19-member board of directors establishes all policies, hires the CEO and approves all grants and scholarships.

Can I give to the Community Foundation?

That would be wonderful. You can make a gift of any size for nearly any issue in Hampton Roads. Or you can establish your own endowment with a minimum gift of $25,000. The best starting place to learn more is our Giving Your Way section.

Which types of funds can I establish?

We offer six flexible and effective options for creating a named endowment for the purpose you select. They include:

  • Unrestricted funds, which allow us to meet changing needs in the region over time and support an array of area nonprofits doing great work.
  • Field-of-interest funds, which address the specific areas of concern you name, such as the arts or healthcare. We will find the best initiatives and nonprofits working in the fields you name and award them grants.
  • Designated funds; you name one or more nonprofit organizations to receive grant support each year.
  • Scholarship funds help students pay for their college educations.
  • Donor-advised funds are for the person who wants to be actively involved in recommending nonprofit grantees each year.
  • Organizational funds allow nonprofit organizations to add benefit from being part of the community foundation's managed assets and have the option of receiving a distribution each year.

Can I make a memorial gift or a donation that honors a specific person?

Yes. You can make a gift of any size to any existing fund at the community foundation, including our family of community funds that help provide grants to many nonprofit organizations. You can send a check or make your gift online. Let us know the name of the person you are memorializing or honoring and whom to notify, and we will let them know of your thoughtful gift. Your name and their name will be listed in our next annual report in the donor section.

Can I apply for a grant?

Yes, if you work with a 501 ( c) 3 nonprofit in southeastern Virginia. We offer quarterly grant cycles for qualified nonprofits. Please check our grant guidelines for details. You should find it helpful to sign up for our monthly Grant Seekers Gazette, a free e-newsletter with timely news & updates for nonprofits. We also have monthly drop-in days for nonprofits and we regularly offer training for nonprofits.

Who can apply for scholarships?

You can if you meet our scholarship criteria. Most of our scholarships are for full-time college students from southeastern Virginia, but many fundholders have added special criteria: scholarships for medical students, specific high schools, favorite professions, and more. Visit the scholarship section to see if there's an opportunity for you or someone you know.