Partnering to make a lasting impact

Featured Initiative

Robert Johnson's Story

One of our homeless initiative success stories is that of Robert Johnson. No longer homeless, the disabled masonry worker has a happier, more stable life at one of five area apartment complexes for formerly homeless people built with help from $1.8 million in Hampton Roads Community Foundation grants.

The Hampton Roads Community Foundation has many goals for southeastern Virginia region and its people.

But two are at the top:

  1. Helping residents lead good lives today while planning for an even better future.
  2. Connecting charitable residents with important causes and organizations to make a positive difference.

The community foundation has many ways to achieve these goals. Among them are stewarding charitable funds, advising generous people, running a robust grants program, equipping nonprofit staff members to excel and providing college scholarships. Each of these are key components to long-lasting impact on the lives of Hampton Roads residents.

But sometimes a leadership initiative is the best approach

The community foundation is not afraid to take "deep dives" into impact work and initiatives that may take years of effort to accomplish. We often team up with our other community leaders, funders, nonprofits and government agencies as well as our own donors. Our role is often as a convener, collaborator, "incentivizer" and funder. Thanks to our community partners and generous unrestricted, field-of-interest and donor-advised fundholders, we are able to:

  • identify pressing regional issues
  • consider solutions and paths to implement them
  • find resources to fund needed work
  • make long-term commitments to success

Over the years collaborative efforts have ranged from stabilizing the arts to re-energizing our region's economy and reducing homelessness.

Minus 9 to 5 is an early care and education initiative that is a perfect example. It began in 2015 when our board challenged us to find the single best investment we could make for our region's future. At the time we were launching Reinvent Hampton Roads, a multi-year initiative focused on growing the region's economy and bringing more higher-paying jobs. The timing was right to incubate another major initiative.

Research and interviews with more than 100 families, education experts and community leaders challenged us to focus on getting our youngest residents off to good starts in life. The reason? Nearly half of area children under age 6 live in households earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line. More than 30 percent live in single-parent homes and 68% have both parents in the workforce. Many families struggle to give their children quality early care and education since they lack options, can't afford tuition or have transportation issues.

So, in 2016 the community foundation launched the early care and education initiative using a collective impact approach. It is funded in large part by our Batten Educational Achievement Fund, a donor-advised fund created by philanthropists Frank and Jane Batten in 2003. Batten funding helps us support the "backbone" of this fledgling initiative by employing Jane Elyce Glasgow, Ph.D. as executive director, and Beth Parker, M.S.Ed as program coordinator, and covering initiative start-up costs.

This new initiative is harnessing the power of experts from around our region -- educators, parents, grandparents, health professionals and child-care providers -- to propose and implement system changes to help all area children from pre-natal to age 5 have positive starts in life. In early 2017 the initiative was named Minus 9 to 5 to focus on families with children from conception to kindergarten.

Thank you

Like all our community foundation's work the initiatives highlighted in this section are made possible by the generosity of people -- particularly those who have established charitable funds with us. Such generosity includes contributions of time, ideas and money to making a difference in the lives of area residents these generous donors may have meet. For that, we say thank you!

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