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St. Croix Foundation Celebrates 30th Pearl Anniversary

By: DEANNA JAMES, PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
(TEL) 340.773.9898, (EMAIL) DJAMES@STXFOUNDATION.ORG
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SEPTEMBER 24, 2020

St. Croix, U.S.V.I. — St. Croix Foundation for Community Development is celebrating 30 years of service to the U.S. Virgin Islands community on September 24, 2020.

Since 1990, St. Croix Foundation has been advancing a unique, grassroots, and holistic model for philanthropy in under-resourced communities of color like the Virgin Islands. Established in the wake of Hurricane Hugo, today the Foundation continues its work in community development as a pathway to economic prosperity, self-sufficiency, and sustainability.

According to St. Croix Foundation President, Deanna James, “As the story goes, during the ideation process of conceiving the Foundation, our founders, Philip Gerard and Michael Neuburger, sat in the middle of Sunday Market Square debating the name of the Organization. Would it be St. Croix Community Development Foundation or St. Croix Foundation FOR Community Development? The latter won out as they determined that the mere word “FOR” demonstrated intention around our mission and our purpose.”

Although unendowed as most conventional foundations are, to date, St. Croix Foundation has served as the conduit of over $42 million private and public sector dollars invested into the Territory. Since its inception, the organization’s impact has netted national recognition in almost every priority area – from economic development and community revitalization to public health, education reform, and nonprofit development.

The overarching impact of St. Croix Foundation’s investments are reflected in some highly visible and noteworthy initiatives spearheaded throughout the Territory over the past three decades, including:

  1. Providing more than 1.2 million dollars in small business loans for the creation and expansion of over 60 small businesses
  2. Securing grant funding for the first Territory-wide security camera system some of which they maintained for over 7 years
  3. Repainting, resurfacing, and clearing brush from over 200 properties in Historic Downtown Centers Territory-wide through its Scrape, Paint, Rejuvenate Grant Program which the organization conceived and led for almost 10 years
  4. Being recognized by the US Small Business Administration for managing the nation’s top Women’s Business Center, which served to transition women into the workplace
  5. Spearheading the renovation of Sunday Market Square properties and Roadway
  6. Leading one of the most comprehensive educational initiatives in the Territory through which over 1 million dollars was invested into the Territory’s public education system. Through their Model Schools Initiative, the Foundation also drafted educational resources and white papers that continue to serve as references for policymakers and education stakeholders
  7. Launching one of the Territory’s first Small Business Incubators
  8. Raising, investing, and awarding 1.8 million dollars for civic-based recovery and resiliency efforts, including its Solar Workforce Development, Agro-Business, and Nonprofit Capacity Building Initiatives following Hurricanes Irma and Maria
  9. Being selected as the Territory’s new Kids Count Grantee by Annie E. Casey Foundation in early 2020

James also stated that, “St. Croix Foundation is proof positive that it’s not about money; it’s about will, innovation and collaboration, and for St. Croix Foundation, the results evidenced by the fact that we have done more in 30 years than many community foundations 10 times our size.”

Today, the Foundation remains grounded in the philosophy of its founders, who believed that functioning as a grassroots community-centric philanthropic entity was the single most effective format for a community with such significant needs and socio-economic disparities as well as scarce donor resources. Founders were also unwavering in their intention for the Organization to serve as a conduit rather than a container of philanthropic resources.

In honor of 30 years of leadership and service, the Foundation would like to extend its deepest appreciation to its longstanding sustainers, donors, sponsors, partners, and vendors; every volunteer, former board member, and staffer who has helped to lead the organization to this milestone.

The Foundation invites anyone interested in learning more and supporting its current projects to contact Deanna James at djames@stxfoundation.org.

St. Croix Foundation Continues to Foster Recovery and Resiliency Three Years After Hurricanes Irma and Maria

CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands— As the Virgin Islands community marks the third anniversary of Hurricanes Irma and Maria this September 19, St. Croix Foundation for Community Development wishes to update the Community on the status of projects it has led since Maria devastated the Territory 3 years ago. While our islands continue to recover from the incredible destruction wrought by the 2017 Hurricanes Irma and Maria amid the unimaginable impacts of Covid-19, the Foundation hopes its program updates will inspire the Community to continue to seek and leverage the inherent assets and innovative work that is being done throughout our Territory.

According to Deanna James, St. Croix Foundation’s President, “over the last three years, the Foundation has served as a catalyst, convener, and coordinator in the recovery process, helping to promote impactful collaborations across the nonprofit, private, and public sectors. Since the hurricanes, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to supporting an innovative and progressive recovery, uplifting the nonprofit sector, and reminding our Community of its innate resilience which will help us weather any future crises.” Five projects in particular which are currently being spearheaded by St. Croix Foundation are facilitating a holistic recovery.

  1. Creation and Completion of Pilot Solar-Supported Community Center Project and Workforce Development Initiative

Funded in partnership with the VI Department of Labor, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, GlobalGiving, and several other national philanthropic entities, the Foundation designed and implemented a creative workforce development pilot program that will solarize vital community centers. Nine students ages 18-28 completed a 6-month National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) course, received intense classroom instruction in NCCER Core Curriculum, Electrical Levels 1-4, Solar PV Installation, and workplace soft-skills and readiness training. Students then received on-the-job training installing Solar Photovoltaic Systems by completing the installation of a solar system on the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the VI facility in Frederiksted. The Foundation will next solarize Flamboyant Gardens and Mon Bijou Community Center. As an example of the Foundation’s approach to grantmaking, these centers will serve as community resiliency hubs and relief distribution sites during times of disaster. All nine students have been hired by local solar installation companies because of their participation in the program, providing a high impact community model at the intersection of resiliency, energy independence, and workforce development. To date, the Foundation has invested over $279,673 in this initiative.

  1. Bringing AmeriCorps VISTA to St. Croix’s Nonprofit Sector to Aid Capacity Building and Community Resiliency

In 2019, St. Croix Foundation was awarded a $340,157 grant by the Corporation of National and Community Service to assign 15 AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers to support eight St. Croix nonprofits with community engagement, fundraising, and other forms of capacity building. This is the first AmeriCorps VISTA team active in the Territory in over 20 years. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, St. Croix Foundation surveyed on the status of nonprofits and found that 70% reported an increase in demand for their services while 64% were operating on a limited basis or not at all due to loss of funding, facility damages, and staff relocation. In response, St. Croix Foundation identified the AmeriCorps VISTA project as a strategy to boost the sector’s ability to respond to the community’s needs. VISTA volunteers will support St. Croix Landmarks Society, Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition, St. Croix Montessori, Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the VI, St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group, Virgin Islands State Historic Preservation Office, and St. Croix Foundation.  St. Croix Foundation’s VISTA Project will directly benefit youth development, historic preservation, food security, green spaces, and relief and recovery services. Currently, six VISTA volunteers have been onboarded at five of these nonprofit organizations and the Foundation has recently received notification that it has been awarded its second year of funding.

  1. Bridging Disaster Preparedness, the Arts, and Economic Development with the Alexander Theater Disaster Safe Room Retrofit

Located in Sunday Market Square, the Alexander Theater was one of the Territory’s first indoor movie houses. It served as a center of economic activity in Christiansted town from the mid-1950s and operated until 1989 when it sustained catastrophic damage from Hurricane Hugo. After temporary repairs, the 12,000 square foot historic landmark became uninhabitable after damages suffered during Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. It was acquired by the Foundation in 1998 and has been a core component of the Foundation’s longstanding vision for the revitalization of the Sunday Market Square ever since. In May of 2019, the Foundation was approved for a Phase 1 FEMA Hazard Mitigation grant, which will enable the Foundation to renovate and retrofit the Alexander Theater. During blue skies, the Alexander Theater will serve as a performing arts center and convening space, helping to, once again, transform the Square back into an epicenter of culture, arts, and economic development. The Theater will also function as the only disaster safe room and shelter in historic Christiansted town for residents and tourists visiting nearby hotels at the time of a disaster. The Theater and adjacent buildings will be built to FEMA disaster safe room standards and will be used during times of crisis for years to come. This facility will have the capacity to safely house 300 or more people and will serve as a disaster supply distribution site when our community needs the Foundation and our recovery partners the most. Phase 1 of the project, including architectural design and planning, is currently underway and groundbreaking on Phase 2 construction is projected for 2021.

  1. Helping Local Farmers Expand their Businesses through the Farm Tienda Initiative

When St. Croix’s farmers were devasted by the 2017 hurricanes, it wasn’t a quick recovery. Crops were lost, and an entire growing season was delayed or abandoned due to damages to and losses of fields, irrigation, equipment, and supplies. Believing that local farmers are key stakeholders in our community’s resiliency and well-being, St. Croix Foundation launched the Farm Tienda Initiative as a strategic grantmaking and small-business development program in partnership with Coca-Cola Company, Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition, and the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture.

Farm Tiendas are durable and moveable farm stands made from steel containers that will be outfitted with solar panels, Wi-Fi, and potable water to allow farmers to expand their businesses while also providing community resiliency hubs in the aftermath of future disasters. To date, this innovative project has provided Farm Tiendas to seven local farmers on St. Croix to stabilize and strengthen their agriculture-based businesses. In testimony to the value of this project to farmers during blue skies, GLG Farm recently expressed they were, “extremely grateful that there are people working to support farmers in our community!”  And, Dale Brown of Sejah Farm, whose operation was severely damaged, stated that, “Thanks to St. Croix Foundation, my business has regained critical infrastructure that will allow us to stabilize and expand. We simply couldn’t have done it without you, and we pledge to be the resilient community hub our island needs and to pour passion into food security for all.”

  1. Philanthropy and Grantmaking

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, St. Croix Foundation also launched the CARE Fund to provide direct support to front-line relief efforts and holistic, long-term recovery strategies. Since then, the Foundation has raised and reinvested over $1.8 million to support strategic, high impact initiatives in the Virgin Islands for hurricane preparedness, resilience, and recovery, to local nonprofits and a number of charitable projects under St. Croix Foundation’s fiscal sponsorship umbrella. One of those projects, St. Croix LTRG, is providing essential coordination and recovery assistance for individuals and families in our community with nowhere else left to turn for help.  As of July, this grassroots organization has rebuilt over 73 homes and provided vital case management services for over 100 residents. The Foundation also stewarded an additional $275,000 in philanthropic resources from national funders that went directly to local recovery projects and nonprofit organizations.

Concurrently, the Foundation has made critical investments to grow the capacity of the nonprofit sector to meet the increased cultural and social services needs of our community as champions and facilitators of the Nonprofit Consortium, an impact-focused collaborative made up of 29 local nonprofit organizations. Today, the CARE Fund is a permanent Fund of the Foundation’s that is providing support for a targeted response to COVID-19 and will serve to support the Virgin Islands community through future disasters and crises.

According to Deanna James, “With COVID-19 upon us during a very active hurricane season, we know that now more than ever, the way forward for the USVI must be shaped by the unique assets and strengths of our community coupled with an unwavering commitment to equity. In the years to come, our community can count on the St. Croix Foundation to continue to do what we do best: leverage resources and cultivate deeply rooted local and national partnerships in order to catalyze holistic community development.”

For more information on the Foundation’s CARE Fund and disaster recovery work, visit www.stxfoundation.org or call 340.773.9898.

St. Croix Foundation Partners to Launch ‘Farm Tienda’

The St. Croix Foundation and the Coca Cola Company launched Farm-Tienda in partnership with local farmers on Friday at the Ann Abramson Pier in Frederiksted.

The project supports the agriculture sector on St. Croix by granting eligible farmers a durable and moveable “farm stand” for the expansion of their local business.

Read more

St. Croix Foundation hosts a week of community-building

The St. Croix Foundation is hosting a week of activities geared toward empowering organizations within the nonprofit sector and for the community at large to become change agents.

On Monday and Tuesday, the foundation will be joined by Tuesday Ryan-Hart, a systems change strategist who has worked with organizations and stakeholders engaged in community building. The Foundation enlisted Ryan-Hart, who will be introducing the community to a new concept of community engagement entitled “The Art of Hosting,” to help build capacity in the community through conversations and training around high-impact collaborations and self-empowerment.

The public is invited to RSVP at stxartofhosting.eventbrite.com for the keynote address, “Re-Inventing Our Collaborations,” which will take place Monday at the Bennie and Martha Benjamin Conference Center at the Virgin Islands Cardiac Center at 5:30 p.m.

On Thursday and Friday, the foundation will host Edward Jones of the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) and the Black Social Change Funders Network (BSCFN). BSCFN is a network of funders committed to creating thriving black communities by strengthening the infrastructure for black-led and social change. Its purpose is “to build the institutional and political power of the black community to make black lives matter and for the black community to thrive.”

Jones, ABFE’s vice president of Programs, noted that “ABFE’s goal is to increase philanthropic engagement in St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas and Puerto Rico. And through BSCFN’s work around black-led and black-serving social change, ABFE is nurturing a shift toward greater social equity for black and brown communities.”

According to St. Croix Foundation Executive Director Deanna James, “Over the course of the past year, the foundation has been sponsoring convenings around the issues of civic leadership, collaboration and community vision building. Ms. Ryan-Hart and Mr. Jones represent the deepening of our commitment to sustained capacity building in our civic sector.”

See original post from Virgin Islands Daily News here.

Hurricane Rebuilding through Philanthropy & Community

Over the course of  several weeks, the St. Croix Foundation published a series on Philanthropy & Community. The purpose of the series was to urge our community to consider our collective future as the upcoming election draws near and we think about recovery. We explored some principles we believe are key drivers for healthy communities- Equity, Culture, Collaboration, Empowerment and Change. The publications can be viewed here.

Helping Caribbean Islands Recover from a Devastating Hurricane Season

As anyone who lives in the Southeast knows, hurricanes can cause massive devastation and disruption. Streets and homes flood, power disappears, cellular networks go down and basic necessities are suddenly in short supply.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma represented a 1-2 punch, hitting communities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In their wake, many foundations stepped up, creating or contributing to funds to fuel relief efforts that will last long after these storms fade from the headlines.

Unfortunately, as we’ve all seen in the past week, this hurricane season’s impact has spread beyond the Southeast. Many island nations and U.S. territories in the Caribbean, which were already hit hard by Harvey and Irma, were also dealt another blow by Hurricane Maria. Some places, like Barbuda, were rendered nearly uninhabitable. In other places, particularly Puerto Rico, residents are facing the possibility of weeks or even months without electricity.

Click here to read the full article.

 

 

ABFE Stands with the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development and Equitable Relief in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Broader Caribbean

Dear ABFE Members, Friends and Supporters,
ABFE, along with the rest of the world, is devastated by the impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria on the U.S. Caribbean and broader region. The catastrophic force of these storms resulted in the loss of lives, homes and much more. In times like this, it takes the power of the Diaspora to help our families and friends in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Caribbean to pull through.
What is also critical at this moment is to channel resources to credible, trusted organizations that will ensure that all people in the region get the assistance they need. While it is not appropriate to assume that relief efforts can course-correct social inequities, far too often disasters widen pre-existing gaps in health and well-being. Now more than ever, it is important to put relief efforts into the hands of community organizations and neighborhood leaders who understand the lives of victims and will continue to support these individuals and families well after the crisis ends.
To this end, ABFE supports the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development and the recent launch of its Caribbean Assistance and Relief Effort (CARE) Fund. They urgently need the support of U.S.-based philanthropy.
In the short term, the CARE Fund will provide direct support to frontline relief efforts in the USVI and will coordinate with those on the mainland. In the long term, the Foundation, through the CARE Fund, will do what it does best: support holistic community development.
As an operating foundation with 27 years of proven experience in community and economic development, the Foundation will support rebuilding strategies grounded in innovation and sustainability. The Foundation’s long-term hurricane relief efforts will facilitate comprehensive plans to minimize loss of life, mitigate infrastructure damage, improve structural performance of homes and facilitate a more rapid recovery in the aftermath of future storms.
 
Concurrently, the Foundation is also nurturing broader and stronger regional collaborations and partnerships with affected Caribbean island communities. By doing so, the Foundation will deepen its capacity to support impacted communities for now and beyond. Please consider making a gift today at www.usvigives.com.

Press Release Offices Open Post Maria, Establishes CARE Fund

 

Contact: Deanna James, Executive Director

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 18, 2017

ST. CROIX FOUNDATION IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS,

ESTABLISHES HURRICANE CARE FUND TO AID RECOVERY AND RESILIENCY

 

St. Croix, U.S.V.I. — St. Croix Foundation for Community Development announces to the community at-large as well as to their Fiduciary Clients that the Foundation is open for business and fully-operational with electricity, phones, and internet connectivity. Sponsored Projects should feel free to contact the Foundation by phone or internet. The Foundation’s modified office hours are from 9:00am until 4:30pm.

In response to the catastrophic impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on the USVI and sister islands in the Caribbean, the St. Croix Foundation stands firm in its support of local and regional relief and recovery efforts and aims to work in partnership with organizations that are undertaking efforts to restore communities and families.

In support of local and regional relief and recovery efforts, the St. Croix Foundation has launched the CARE (Caribbean Assistance and Relief Effort) Fund. This fundraising effort is already providing direct support for front-line relief, rescue and recovery efforts undertaken by entities in the USVI and Caribbean Basin. The Foundation is currently collaborating with on-the-ground organizations that are delivering much needed services and goods, supplies, and equipment for immediate relief throughout the USVI, and this fund will support that effort for the immediate and long-term. Interested parties can visit the Foundation at www.usvigives.org to contribute gifts to the Fund.

To aid in immediate recovery and provide an equitable response for the future, the Foundation’s current efforts include:

  • Coordinating and convening diverse community partners, national philanthropic networks, fellow nonprofits and volunteers to foster collaboration and maximize impact of relief efforts.
  • Launching its Survey on the Status of Households Impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. This survey asks St. Croix residents about the damages to their homes, the ages and unmet needs of individuals living in their home, the impact to their employment and more. Survey results will help connect organizations with individuals who have critical needs as well as to more broadly assess and inform the community-wide dialogue about next steps in the recovery process.
  • Sponsoring the shipment of critical relief supplies like water, hygiene products, baby supplies and more.
  • Sponsoring the cost of security for keeping relief supplies safe.
  • Supporting distribution of relief supplies including a neighborhood distribution effort this past weekend in Williams Delight, an area hit hard by Hurricane Maria
  • Conducting a Nonprofit Damage and Needs Assessment Survey currently being completed by local nonprofit partners to help assess the impact of the storm on St. Croix’s civic sector and what resources are necessary to get these organizations fully operational.
  • Providing temporary office space for a growing number of nonprofit organizations displaced by the storm including the Boys and Girls Club and the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council.

As an operating foundation, St. Croix Foundation’s efforts are ultimately aimed at supporting disaster recovery and building resiliency for the long-term. The Foundation is focused on leveraging its 27 years of experience in holistic community development as they stand in solidarity and collaboration with community partners who are working hard to bring relief and ensure equity for those most severely impacted by recent storms.

As the Virgin Islands Community embarks on the long, steady journey toward recovery, the Foundation wishes our community a focused and forward-thinking recovery. According to St. Croix Foundation’s Executive Director, Deanna James, “St. Croix Foundation does not just FUND the work, it IS the work. We have our sleeves rolled up and are hard at work supporting a progressive and prosperous future for the people of St. Croix and the entire Virgin Islands.”

For more information on the St. Croix Foundation and to learn more about the comprehensive recovery work being spearheaded by the Foundation, visit the St. Croix Foundation’s website at www.stxfoundation.org or contact the St. Croix Foundation directly at 340-773-9898.