December 8, 2020

Doubling Down on Supporting Families

We are excited and humbled to announce that the Richmond Resilience Initiative (RRI), which was launched by the City of Richmond on October 29th in partnership with Robins Foundation, will receive an additional $500,000 for expansion.

These additional funds will add up to 37 additional families to the pilot program. Richmond is one of 30 cities across the nation whose families in need will benefit from a $15 million donation by Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, to help fund the Mayors for Guaranteed Income Initiative (MGI) among partner cities.

The initial launch of RRI was funded by a $120,000 contribution from Robins which was matched by the City. It is the first and only program as part of this initiative to launch fully funded.

The program is part of a larger national movement to foster economic security in a data-driven, research-tested capacity and is modeled after successful pilots in cities like Stockton, California and Jackson, Mississippi.

Current national and local partners are Family Independence Initiative, the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and Richmond, Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, the Center for Guaranteed Income Research with the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice, and Virginia Excels.

In addition to supporting hardworking families and providing the data needed to design policies that promote economic security and mobility, the program will uplift narratives that dismantle negative and unwarranted stereotypes about individuals and families living in poverty.

“No one wants or chooses to live in poverty,” said Tyonka Rimawi, Robins Program Officer, Community Partnerships. “To improve educational outcomes and other complex social issues, we must address root causes such as economic security and mobility.”

The pandemic has brought to light that for many families just a few hundred dollars can be the difference between keeping or losing access to basic necessities, like food and shelter. But even before the onset of COVID-19, the Federal Reserve Bank found that 40% of all American families cannot afford a $400 emergency.

Direct family assistance like that provided by RRI and other programs is meant to supplement the existing safety net which is designed to protect families from losing financial security or derailing long-term financial goals because of enduring poverty or an unexpected event like a global pandemic, severe recession, or personal tragedy.

Research has proven that when families receive supplemental assistance, they prioritize spending on what they need most: rent, groceries, transportation, and childcare. It also has revealed that direct cash assistance shows positive impacts on health and education outcomes with negligible effects on the labor market.

“We have learned that economic security among families is at a crisis point. Individuals, families, and communities know their needs best, and initiatives like this recognize their dignity and freedom to best meet those needs,” said Rimawi. “Through these strong partnerships and others we hope to see develop across the region, we can expand this initiative so even more families can thrive through direct support and policy change.”

“Led by Tyonka, our team has done extraordinary work to find and thoroughly research an initiative that supports the work the Foundation has been doing for more than 60 years,” said Juliet Shield-Taylor, Chair of Robins’ Board of Directors.

This program joins others, including eviction diversion, and the Family Crisis fund, which was launched in April in partnership with the City of Richmond. The Family Crisis Fund – a crucial element of the region’s response to economic hardship resulting from the pandemic – provided direct cash assistance to more than 2,600 families in the greater Richmond region.

In addition to RRI, through numerous partnerships with regional funders and nonprofits, Robins Foundation and the City of Richmond have given give $1,314,500 to 2,629 families in the region in 2020. Those funders and nonprofits include Richmond Memorial Health Foundation (RHMF), Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, Richmond native and professional football player Clelin Farrell, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and Richmond Flying Squirrels, along with other individual and corporate donors.

May 20, 2020 

We are excited to partner with The Metropolitan Business LeagueWells FargoCommunity Foundation for a greater Richmond and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Virginia to launch The Metropolitan Business League Small Business Recovery Fund.

This grant opportunity has been created to assist small, women- and minority-owned businesses financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MBL Small Business Recovery Fund grant application is now available. Apply today!

Application Closing Date: Friday, May 29, 2020 at 5:00 PM EST.

Visit, for more information on The Metropolitan Business LeagueSmall Business Recovery Fund Grant.

May 13, 2020

The CARES Act, passed by the Congress in March, was an important first step toward helping our communities and organizations provide sick and family leave, prevent layoffs, and offset significant revenue lost because of COVID-19. Now, as the pandemic and its economic consequences have intensified, it is imperative that consideration is given to significant additional support.

To help ensure that all Virginians receive the support they need to weather this crisis and thrive in recovery, Robins Foundation has joined more than 100 nonprofit and philanthropic organizations across the Commonwealth to make specific requests to Virginia’s Congressional Delegation for the next phase of relief legislation.

These requests include:

  • Earmarking emergency loan programs for nonprofits of all sizes
  • Protecting self-insured nonprofits
  • Strengthening charitable giving incentives
  • Increasing emergency funding
  • Bridging the digital divide
  • Additional funding for states and local governments

The full letter which details the requests is available HERE.

Today we share some inspiring updates and information from our friends at Community Foundation for a greater Richmond.

Thank you for your generosity!

Over the past several weeks, we have seen tremendous support from individuals and organizations across our region stepping up to help our neighbors in need. To all those who have contributed to the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund, or directly to area nonprofits, and to the many organizations coordinating or providing much-needed services, we thank you and we celebrate you!

Here are the latest updates from the COVID-19 Response Fund, including recent grants, creative community participation, and stories from the field, including an update from the River Counties Community Foundation.

Grants from the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund now exceed $2M

An advisory committee from the philanthropic, business and public sectors is reviewing and distributing grants from the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund on a rolling basis. With a new round of grants awarded this week, total grantmaking from the fund now exceeds $2 million to 51 organizations and localities in the Central Virginia region.

The fund has continued to focus on early response efforts to mitigate the health impacts of the pandemic —including food access, health care and shelter. The latest grants are helping to expand food distribution to more rural jurisdictions and address increased need for mental health services and housing support.

View all grants.


The Power of Collective Giving

Total Giving to COVID-19 Response Funds

  • As of this week, the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund has raised $4.65 million from hundreds of individuals, foundations and businesses in the region.
  • Our three regional affiliates – Gloucester, Mathews and River Counties Community Foundations – are coordinating similar response funds and efforts. Those funds have raised a combined $443,000 so far to support organizations in the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck.

Community Foundation Fund Participation

  • Community Foundation donors are committed to the well-being of our region, providing generous support to nonprofits throughout the year. In response to the pandemic, they are giving in multiple ways — whether through contributions to COVID Response Funds, grants to fulfill specific COVID-19 related requests, or grants to nonprofits of their own choosing. Thank you for your partnership.
  • If you would like to make a gift to the Response Fund by check, with other assets or through your donor-advised fund, please contact Community Foundation for assistance.

 Creative Community Giving

  • United Way has been a valuable partner in boosting the Central Virginia Response Fund with a $100,000 matching pool for gifts made through their website — and they’ve reached the match! We hope to keep the momentum going. Donate online
  • NBC12 created a “Virginia Strong” campaign by sharing inspiring stories from organizations receiving support from the Fund and by selling t-shirts. Proceeds from t-shirt purchases go to the fund, and over 800 have been sold so far. More about “Virginia Strong”.
  • Virginia Green gave $5,000 to the fund and launched a “Share the Love” social media campaign, which asks their customers, friends and community members to make a heart in their yard and take a photo of it. The lawn care company will donate an extra $10 to the fund for every picture tagged and shared. Participate in the campaign.
  • The Richmond Flying Squirrels held two “Opening Day” campaigns, raising more than $40,000 for COVID-19 relief organizations, including the Response Fund. Read More.
  • Several Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School students are providing virtual book clubs, trivia, math and yoga classes for children through “ProjectEngageRVA.” All net proceeds will go to the Response Fund. Visit their website.

Volunteer Opportunities


  • HandsOn Greater Richmond is working with community partners to expand their DIY and virtual volunteering opportunities, while still connecting people to critical in-person opportunities. See how you can volunteer
  • Want to sew masks for Richmond’s essential workers? HandsOn has partnered with Studio Two Three to get homemade masks where they are critically needed. Learn more & sign up.

Partner Stories

Helping those who need it most in the River Counties

In March, River Counties Community Foundation launched the River Counties COVID-19 Response Fund in partnership with the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund to support nonprofit partners addressing critical needs in the community, as well as organizations that will be crucial to the ongoing support and long-term recovery. Read More.

Thousands of volunteers support RPS meals program

Many students at Richmond Public Schools (RPS) depend on the meals they receive at school, so when school buildings closed in March as a precaution against COVID-19, RPS knew they needed a system to ensure kids still had access to the food they need. So far, over 2,000 volunteers have stepped up to help. Read more.



Q&A with Dr. Vivian Bruzzese, CrossOver Healthcare Ministry

Dr. Vivian Bruzzese is an infectious disease specialist who serves as the Director of HIV Programs with CrossOver Healthcare Ministry – a nonprofit organization that operates two charitable healthcare clinics in the Richmond region. We heard from Dr. Bruzzese to learn a little more about her position and how CrossOver is responding to the needs of their clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the Q&A

Celebrating the Sector

  • The Artists for Hope initiative returns, offering another chance for participants to purchase beautiful art pieces and support local nonprofits at the same time. More
  • The City of Richmond and Henrico County launch programs to feed first responders and aid local restaurants in the process. More
  • Local K-12 students are documenting their reflections on how the coronavirus is affecting their lives for The Valentine’s new project, “Richmond Stories from Richmond Kids.” More
  • With support from Verizon and Sam’s Club, Virginia LISC has launched the Small Business Relief Grant program to provide the emergency assistance that many small businesses need at this time. More
  • Communities in Schools of Richmond is finding new ways to connect with their students and ensure they have the academic and emotional support they need. More
  • With funding from a Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund grant, Feed More has hired seven local chefs to help prepare meals for residents in need. More

April 24, 2020

An update on the Family Crisis Fund

Thanks to the generosity of our partners and the greater Richmond community the Family Crisis Fund is now positioned to deliver $500 individual payments to 2,360 families in our region. And the $1,180,000 fund continues to grow.

The Family Crisis Fund was launched on April 3rd and within days, disbursement of direct payments began, allowing for immediate and direct relief for families with children.

The is also open for individual donations. If you wish to donate, please follow these instructions to do so using your credit or debit card:

  • Visit
  • Select your donation amount.
  • Under “Location Preference,” (1) select “Other” and (2) write in “Richmond, VA.”
  • Enter your billing and contact information and press “Submit Donation.”

We continue to work with multiple partners and localities (Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield and Petersburg) to identify families in need, disburse funds, and make sure recipients don’t have to navigate barriers associated with technology and financial literacy in order to receive much-needed support.

Family Crisis Fund partners include Henrico Education Foundation, Chesterfield Education Foundation, Family Lifeline, City of Richmond, Enrichmond Foundation, Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, Flying Squirrels Charities, and individual donor, Clelin Ferrell.

No commitment is too small when addressing a situation of this magnitude. At Robins Foundation, we are thankful for the strategic, adaptable, and collaborative efforts between philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, our local government partners and individuals to engage in innovative philanthropy that inspires solutions to our community’s greatest challenges.



April 15, 2020 Updates

The Family Crisis Fund, launched earlier this month in partnership with the City of Richmond, is now accepting individual donations.

If you wish to donate, please follow these instructions to do so using your credit or debit card:

  • Visit
  • Select your donation amount.
  • Under “Location Preference,” (1) select “Other” and (2) write in “Richmond, VA.”
  • Enter your billing and contact information and press “Submit Donation.”

You will receive an email acknowledging your donation at the address provided in the “Billing and Contact Information” section.

Read more about the Family Crisis Fund, below.

Unprecedented Times Call for Bold Action

Tyonka Rimawi, Robins’ Program Officer, Community Partnerships, writes about how providing direct cash assistance to families in need as a result of job loss due to COVID-19 required an unparalleled level of due diligence and internal reflection, in this article published today in Nonprofit Quarterly. She also offers thoughts and guiding questions to other foundations considering new approaches during this unprecedented time.

Read the full article HERE.

April 8, 2020 Update

Last week we announced the launch of the Family Crisis Fund, in partnership with the City of Richmond, and have been sharing information since the COVID-19 States of Emergency were declared in Richmond and Virginia about other organizations and programs providing critical support and services during this time.

Here are direct links to those programs. We’ll continue to update this list as more information becomes available, so please check back here or on our social media channels for updates.

Family Crisis Fund

Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund – Community Foundation

RVAStrong – City of Richmond

For the latest information about how to protect yourself from COVID-19 and what to do if you are sick, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


April 3, 2020 Update

Robins Foundation, in Partnership with the City of Richmond, Launches $1 Million Family Crisis Fund

Families with children are in direct and immediate need of support during the current states of emergency in Richmond and Virginia due to job loss from the COVID-19 pandemic.

To mitigate the impact on our most vulnerable children and families, Robins Foundation, in partnership with the City of Richmond has launched a Family Crisis Fund. Seeded with matching $500,000 contributions by Robins Foundation and the City of Richmond, funds from this initiative can be disbursed to families soon as April 7-8th, allowing for immediate financial relief for families and immediate impact on the local economy. This will meet critical needs while families and local communities prepare for the federal stimulus to be activated within the next 60 days.

In partnership with Family Independence Initiative (FII), this stimulus program is being launched on a platform that allows us to work closely with three of our four strategic partner communities who continue to work with children and families during this crisis – Richmond, Chesterfield and Henrico.

Through an innovative public-private partnership, The Enrichmond Foundation and the City of Richmond’s Office of Community Wealth Building will coordinate one-time family stimulus gifts for families with children in the City of Richmond.

Chesterfield Education Foundation and Chesterfield County Public Schools will also implement the initiative as will Henrico Education Foundation in partnership with Henrico County Public Schools Office of Family Engagement. The platform also allows us the flexibility to add other nonprofit partners as opportunities are identified moving forward.

Our actions are motivating peer funders and individuals to get involved as well. These donors are pledging to join the initiative and invest in this family-focused, place-based effort to support families during this unprecedented time of crisis while stimulating our economy.

Every commitment makes a difference in addressing a situation of this magnitude. We are thankful for the strategic, adaptable and collaborative efforts between philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, and our local government partners to contribute to relief efforts across Richmond and the Commonwealth through initiatives like this and the many others that have launched in response to the impact of COVID-19.

If you are interested in learning more about the Family Crisis Fund and other ways our community has come together to provide a quick, coordinated response to the needs of the greater Richmond Community resulting from the COVID-19 crisis, please continue to scroll through the updates to our COVID-19 response page, below.

March 27, 2020 Update

Robins Foundations Launches the Family Crisis Fund

In service to our neighbors and in line with our founders’ values, we are doing everything we can to address the impact of the COVID-19 crisis for children, families and the larger community we are so proud to serve and call home.

This includes contributing to the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund, and easing restrictions on grants from 2019 and in 2020, by allowing funds to be used for general operating expenses.

There is still one group in our community hit particularly hard by the current COVID-19 crisis and in need of immediate help in the form of direct financial assistance: families with children.

To address those needs, Robins Foundation today launched the Family Crisis Fund.

Robins has contributed $500,000, and many of our peer funders and individuals will also contribute. We hope to work with over 1,000 families.

Funds from this initiative will be disbursed to families soon as April 7th or 8th, allowing for immediate and direct relief for families and immediate impact on the local economy while our neighborhoods and communities prepare for the federal stimulus and state unemployment benefits to be activated within in the next 60 days.

Every commitment makes a difference in addressing a pandemic of this magnitude. We are thankful for the strategic, adaptive and collaborative efforts between philanthropy, the nonprofit sector and our local government partners to contribute to relief efforts across Richmond and the Commonwealth through initiatives like this and the many others that have launched in response to the impact of COVID-19.

More information about the Family Crisis Fund, its benefits, our partners, and how families can access these funds, please stay tuned for updates, to be announced on Friday, April 3rd. #VirginiaTogether

March 23, 2020 Update

Board approves $500,000 Contribution to The Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund

As the greater Richmond region works together taking unprecedented action to flatten the infection rate for COVID-19, many institutions, organizations, and businesses are adjusting their practices, or closing altogether. While this will help reduce or slow the spread of the virus it will also create challenges for our most vulnerable children and families. We continue to focus on how that will impact the children who attend area public schools, especially those who attend Richmond Public Schools.

The Robins Foundation board has approved a $500,000 contribution to The Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund – a regional emergency response fund that will support the immediate and ongoing needs of local nonprofit organizations as they respond to the implications of COVID-19 in our community. The fund was activated by The Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, in partnership with the Emergency Management Alliance of Central Virginia and PlanRVA.

The fund will be administered as a public/private partnership between philanthropy, local government, and the nonprofit sector. Seeded with a $500,000 contribution from the Community Foundation, the fund has quickly grown to $3 million (as of this posting) with additional contributions from Altria, Atlantic Union Bank, Bank of America, The Cabell Foundation, Capital One, CarMax Foundation, Dominion Energy, Genworth, Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, VCU Health System, Wells Fargo and several individual donors.

For more information about the fund, please CLICK HERE to read the full announcement released by the Community Foundation.

The board made other decisions as well.


Robins Foundation’s Spring/Summer Competitive grant cycle of 2020 to open on Friday, May 1, 2020.

In light of needs that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic, Robins Foundation is opening our grant cycle to proposals that respond to new needs within the education continuum.

Please note that approved grants from this cycle will not be deployed until September. For assistance with immediate needs related to COVID-19, please find information about the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund, here.

Our competitive grants cycles are for organizations seeking funding for programs and projects that make the Richmond region the best place for children to learn, grow and thrive.

Grant applications will be available one month before the submission deadlines below.

2020 Submission Deadlines:

Monday, June 1 at 5:00 pm
for notification in September

For more information please visit HERE.

March 18, 2020 Update

We want to be as responsive to our community as possible during this time. As we continue to gain a greater understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on our region and what we as a Foundation can do to support our partners and neighbors, we will provide important updates frequently. We invite you to do the same.

Navigating a pandemic is unfamiliar territory for all of us, but what we’ve already seen come together is the leadership, innovation, and collaboration among community partners, grantees, colleagues and community members that we need in order to find effective solutions to the educational, social and economic issues that are coming to light each day.

We are thankful to be a partner in a community that is working, with fierce determination, to mitigate immediate harms facing our communities, while also looking ahead to the work we need to do to ensure more equitable and just solutions to these issues which predated the pandemic and left unchecked will continue in the future.

While our staff is working from home, we are together in spirit and resolve as we work together to respond to the multitude of questions, concerns, and suggestions we are receiving. We continue to plan with our community partners for the solutions needed for relief, recovery, and rebuilding of our community from what we anticipate will be far-reaching impacts of COVID-19.

To our grantee partners: we stand ready to work with you to support the community and your capacity to do it. We will be in touch as soon as we have confirmed our next steps. Until then please check out the opportunities for capacity and emergency funding via the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund at the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond.

To our peers in philanthropy: we salute your ongoing efforts and remain committed to our work together.

Feel free to contact any of our staff by email and we will reply to you as soon as we are able.

And please click here for links to helpful COVID-19 resources, including up-to-date information from our area’s school systems.

Please take care of yourselves, and each other and we will do the same.

-The Board and Staff of Robins Foundation


March 13, 2020

With the latest developments related to COVID-19, the greater Richmond region is taking unprecedented action to flatten the infection rate. This means that many institutions, organizations, and businesses may be closed for an unforeseen amount of time. This is likely to reduce or slow the spread of the virus but will also create challenges for our most vulnerable children and families.

At the Robins Foundation, we are dedicated to upholding the values of our founders, Lora M. and E. Claiborne Robins. They were compassionate, empathetic and accessible leaders who valued integrity, ethical practices and generosity. As thoughtful philanthropists and visionaries, they used their wealth to improve the quality of life for residents of the Richmond community, especially the most vulnerable.

Areas of Impact

Given the emerging regional approach to COVID-19, and the newly declared State of Emergency in Virginia there is increasing conversation about how to mitigate the economic impact on companies and workers. There is however one group being hit hard by this crisis which needs direct and immediate help: families with children. We are anticipating the region’s schools moving to virtual (remote) learning. We are focusing on how that will impact the children who attend area public schools, especially those who attend Richmond Public Schools.

We believe there are several inter-related areas of potential action that require swift collaboration and equitable solutions to support all children and families and ensure they continue to thrive:

  • Education – The change in educational format and access to resources (such as a laptop, broadband internet) can put academic progress at risk
  • Childcare – Many families rely on schools and afterschool programs to provide safe environments for their children while they work
  • Transportation, Sick Pay and Lost Wages – Parents may not be able to work due to lack of childcare, businesses closing, transportation not being available, or more widespread containment measures such as quarantine
  • Food security – A significant number of students receive two free meals daily at school
  • Healthcare – Maintaining or increasing access to medication, urgent and primary care, and even basic supplies that can help fight the spread of infection, are dependent on being able to maintain employment

The Community Response

Together with our philanthropic partners, we will continue to learn more about the emerging needs of our community and do our best to respond as quickly as possible.

We are also determining the necessary steps to develop a common fund all partners can contribute to in order to deploy financial resources quickly into the community as needed.

We ask members of the greater Richmond community to consider taking one of the following actions:

  • Contact local school districts or youth organizations directly to see how you can be helpful in this time of need
  • Identify ways in which your organization or company can help address these unforeseen needs of children and families
  • Contact us if you’d like to contribute to the common fund once up and operating

We will continue to be in close contact with our key philanthropic and nonprofit partners, and share more updates to our progress, as we have them.