Community. Innovation. Grant.
Each of these words holds special significance for Robins Foundation and for the top 5 finalists for the fourth E. Claiborne and Lora M. Robins Community Innovation Grant (CIG): Capital Centers of Virginia (dba Urban Baby Beginnings), Commonwealth Catholic Charities, Girls for a Change, Goodwill of Central and Coastal VA, and project: HOMES.
Community. For Robins Foundation and our CIG top 5, community is not just a group of people with common interests living in a designated area. It is fellowship, partnership and taking ownership of our collective mission to help address our community’s unmet needs. The CIG top 5 already excellent track records of doing this in the communities they serve and are aligned with the Foundation’s vision of advancing the greater Richmond community through strategic partnerships, collaborations, and education. These efforts serve as a model for creating an environment of fairness and providing the opportunity for everyone to thrive.
Innovation. Addressing the issues our region has been facing for decades means more than just making things better. As issues become more complex over time, we must work to find unique approaches, fresh perspectives and visionary creativity to solve them. In other words, innovation. For Robins this means taking chances on new ideas and working through the process collaboratively to make a lasting impact on our community. For the CIG top 5, this means applying research and their familiarity with the communities they serve to create actionable knowledge needed to devise and implement innovative, long-term. sustainable solutions.
Grant. As a philanthropic organization, grantmaking is an important part of what we do. This involves organizing resources to make the most significant impact in line with our mission and vision. Making this impact requires long-term funding. For Robins, grantmaking is about partnering and collaborating with organizations like the CIG top 5 over the course of several years to build the innovation, implement it in the community, let the community embrace it, and then measure and report the results. For the non-profits we fund, the grant is what makes the difference between innovative ideation and effective transformation.
“This grant is an opportunity to think bigger and differently about challenges facing our community,” said Kelly Chopus, President and CEO, Robins Foundation. “Throughout this grant cycle, it’s been thrilling to get to know these organizations better. Each is enthusiastically committed to serving children and families through projects that could deepen, sustain and transform community impact. Our board of directors has a tough decision ahead of them.”
The Top 5
Capital Centers of Virginia (Urban Baby Beginnings [UBB]) – Building Successful Outcomes for Maternal and Child Health aims to increase access for Medicaid-eligible and uninsured pregnant women, ages 15-44, to UBB’s community-based care program to improve pre-term birthrates, and maternal and infant mortality rates. Over 1,000 individuals may be directly impacted by this project which also has the potential to impact 50,000 to 100,000 more individuals who will anecdotally share what they have learned with others and continue to create foundations that affect life expectancy tied to healthy lifestyle and the infant trajectory.
Commonwealth Catholic Charities’ Youth Housing Stability Project is an all-inclusive, young adult-led process and program innovation that addresses the need for a consistent, trauma-informed, youth-centered hub for young people to access a holistic set of resources, connections with peers and adults, and opportunities to contribute to a broader community effort to end youth housing instability. This project will impact the community in three primary ways. First, building a collective network of community resources to support youth will help them avoid the trauma of housing instability or homelessness. Second, it will develop our community’s ability to achieve the benchmarks set by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness which include the ability to identify the often-invisible population of youth experiencing house instability. Finally, it will foster a space where innovative ideas can be incubated and cultivated among providers and youth committed to ending youth housing instability.
Girls for a Change – This community development organization’s project, GFAC TECH/Entrepreneurship Immersion Lab, focuses on the economic and educational empowerment of black girls and other girls of color residing in the Richmond metro area. The project addresses work readiness, entrepreneurship, tech training, skill development, elevation of higher salary academic and career choices, connections, mentoring and leadership training. The proposed Lab provides potentially life-changing opportunities for a population that benefits from relatively few target interventions and will change the perception of how black girls and other girls of color are viewed as well as how they view themselves.
Goodwill of Central and Coastal VA’s project, Center for Building and Construction Trades (Trades Center), has the potential to transform how workforce development programming is offered by creating a holistic system of care that empowers unemployed and underemployed individuals with high-demand, high-paying employment opportunities. The Trades Center will leverage Goodwill’s workforce expertise and partnerships with regional community colleges to increase employment and career advancement opportunities for individuals seeking pathways out of poverty. It is anticipated that this project will impact 150 jobseekers and 25 employers, in addition to the impact it will have on several ongoing initiatives, including job training and certification assessments for more than 1,000 job seekers annually in the Greater Richmond region.
project: HOMES’ Reimagining Richmond’s Mobile Home Parks project addresses the unmet needs of underserved populations in Richmond’s manufactured/mobile home parks. The primary issues addressed by the project are the lack of high-quality, affordable housing; the ability of low-income families living in challenging circumstances to grow wealth; the severe health and safety concerns resulting from substandard manufactured housing; and the unfortunate social stigma of mobile home parks. The program will directly impact the homebuyer families for which homes will be built. This project will also indirectly impact the whole community by providing a safe and affordable solution that is durable and requires minimal maintenance, through the cost savings and health of residents, and by improving the living conditions of children growing up in manufactured homes.
About the CIG
The CIG provides a unique opportunity, and a $500,000 award, for Richmond’s non-profits to propose actionable solutions that will have a meaningful and measurable impact on complex issues that our region has been wrestling with for generations, including homelessness, housing instability, education, workforce development and health.
The CIG cycle started in October 2018 with proposal submissions. Organizations were invited to present ideas to the Robins staff and the CEO of the previous CIG winner. Following those presentations, ten non-profit proposals were invited to host site visits to bring their proposals to life. Next, a committee of the Robins Foundation Board will meet the top five to determine the top two finalists. The recipient of the CIG will be announced by Robins Foundation March 5th.