Archives: Foundation News

Philanthropy & Race in the U.S. Virgin Islands

By: DEANNA JAMES, PRESIDENT
(TEL) 340.773.9898, (EMAIL) STAFF@STXFOUNDATION.ORG
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 17, 2020

Over the past several weeks, since the murder of George Floyd on May 25th, like many people around the country and the world, all of us at St. Croix Foundation have spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on the meaning of this moment for those of us in the field of Philanthropy and for us as Virgin Islanders.

St. Croix Foundation fundamentally believes that healing and evolution can come from shining a light on the interplay of Race, Power, and Privilege everywhere, even here. But, more specifically, for the field of Philanthropy, where high net worth often represents disproportional, sometimes unchecked power, Light and Courage must both be our tools!

This letter represents the very personal reflections of St. Croix Foundation President, Deanna James, on the dynamics and power of philanthropy within the context of race and equity right here in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

To read the full-text article, please continue reading.

Full-Text Article

I begin this letter to the community in the same manner that I begin most messages about my work—through a lens that has been shaped by service. I believe deeply in the nobility and power of Philanthropy. In its rawest definition, Philanthropy is the Love of Humankind. It holds virtuous space in world economies, and its stewardship demands great care.

Of course, that’s the ideal. Unfortunately, the practice and principles that govern the field often fall short of that lofty standard. Five years ago, when I reluctantly agreed to take the helm of St. Croix Foundation, I didn’t realize that I would become the first native Virgin Islander and woman of African descent in at least 20 years (possibly longer) to head up one of three community foundations in the Territory. But I knew my leadership journey would demand a distinctive suite of competencies and would be wrought with unique challenges.

Having spent 12 years sitting stoically in front of donors—a predominant number of whom were white, older, and male—I have had to hold my chin up high as I listened to conversations most people of color in the Virgin Islands will hopefully never have to endure. Early on, I was exposed to blatantly racist, subtly bigoted, and implicitly discriminatory exchanges on a regular basis. I have had a donor’s rep prep me for a meeting by telling me not to make eye contact unless the donor approached me first because he did not like Black people. I witnessed a donor walk away from the Foundation after being told by our Board that they would not be permitted to wield their wealth and power to destroy important partnerships and alienate crucial constituents.  Most egregious is that, in a parting gesture, that donor wrote a letter to their peers (many of whom were also donors) declaring St. Croix Foundation to be a racist organization– against white people! That was well over a decade ago, yet the echoes from that letter still reverberate through our Community today.

Since that time, there have been far too many micro-aggressions to document.  In all cases, I had to endure white donors weaponizing their economic power and their “philanthropy” in ways few in the Territory have experienced or have been willing to discuss. In fact, those experiences have hardened the Foundation. They have also inculcated a real reverence for Equity in our organizational culture, forcing us to develop internal protocols to vet and artfully steer away donors who simply do not meet our standards of social integrity. We now hold firm to the precept that not every dollar is a good dollar. But on the bright side, I am proud to acknowledge that the vast majority of the donors we interface with today are not simply transactional relationships; they are bonafide Partners, Collaborators, and Co-conspirators who share in our commitment and conviction to real Philanthropy.

However, back in 2015, immediately following the departure of the Foundation’s previous president, Roger Dewey (himself an older white man, who was both my professional partner and friend for 12 years), contributions declined rapidly. On the surface, it could be reasoned that this was in large part because many of the donor relationships nurtured by Roger were personal ones that he carefully cultivated over the course of his 22 years of service. But I also knew that the shift was rooted in a much more complex phenomenon seen in other local and national nonprofits.

Conducting some cursory research, I noted that 15 to 20 years prior, at a time when many nonprofits on St. Croix were fiscally ‘healthier,’ not only did we have ‘older’ money floating around our community as well as a more intrinsically philanthropic donor base, but it just so happened that a significant number of leaders at some of the largest civic organizations on St. Croix were indeed white. This is, of course, not an indictment on those leaders in any way. It is just an honest assessment of our philanthropic and civic landscape that may get overlooked at times because Black people represent the majority population here.

While there are those who may argue that those white leaders were simply better administrators, I counterbalance that premise with this— they also had more donor access. Still others may argue that racism and implicit bias are not a factor in phenomenon like this, and definitely not in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where race issues are muted and seem less ‘pervasive.’

But the data reflects a much more complex and nuanced dynamic. According to a recently released study conducted by the Bridgespan Group, “research found that, on average, the revenues of Black-led organizations are 24 percent smaller than the revenues of their white-led counterparts. When it comes to the holy grail of financial support— unrestricted funding—the picture is even bleaker. The unrestricted net assets of Black-led organizations are 76 percent smaller than their white-led counterparts.”  Ultimately, systemic issues of race in America do not take a siesta at our shorelines. Our systems here in the Territory are governed by and rooted in the same structurally unequal, unjust, and racially biased national systems.

With this understanding, one of the first priorities I set in my new role was to begin convening local nonprofits on St. Croix around an ambitious goal of amassing people-power and leveraging scarce resources. Our Nonprofit Consortium was launched in the summer of 2016, with over 50 organizations holding a seat at the table as we began meeting regularly to talk about the sustainability of our sector. What instantly came to light was the level of diversity sitting at our Consortium table. We looked like the United Nations. And with that realization, quite subtly at first, conversations of financial stability transitioned into conversations about equity, which then dovetailed with issues around race.

Concurrent with the evolution of the Consortium, the Foundation conducted the most extensive Donor Study in our history, really digging deep to understand our small pool of donors and their willingness to support not just us but our Consortium of civic organizations. What we learned from that study was quite insightful. We learned that there was a disproportionately high number of nonprofits on St. Croix; estimated at approximately 300, including religious-based organizations. We learned that most of our donors felt burdened by the gravity of needs in our Community. We discovered that a significant number of our donors represented a deeper pool of resources than we realized but were giving at a level that, in fundraising terms, equated to ‘charity’ (i.e., 4 and 5 figures). Few were giving at truly transformational levels (i.e., 6 and 7 figures). And for those who were making transformational gifts, most of those gifts were not being directed to 501c3 organizations in the USVI (where they were filing taxes).

With the results of that study in hand, I challenged my Team to look up and out in developing a prospecting strategy that would diversify our donor pool beyond our shores. This strategy was intended to achieve two goals: 1) to relieve local donors of the burden of giving and 2) to diffuse the power that some high net worth individuals wielded over local nonprofits. Also, seeking to hold firm to our Founders’ pledge to limit local fundraising in order to minimize competition with our Territory’s nonprofits for scarce resources, we began seeking out new national philanthropic networks and partners.

It was undoubtedly an ambitious strategy because in addition to the complexities of leading a community foundation in a small, remote, under-served community, the Virgin Islands (as the only predominantly Black American colony) has also represented an aggravating blind spot to National Philanthropy. Whether that blind spot resulted from our Insular status, which often relegates us to international status; or our negligible expat advocacy power; or the same systemic racial inequities seen in other governing sectors, we knew it would be an uphill battle to try to upend wholescale neglect and historical dis-investment from the national field of philanthropy.

Fortuitously, almost two years into my tenure, I was ushered into a new national network through doors I had not even known existed, with a personal invitation from an almost 50-year-old philanthropic affinity group named the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE). The invitation was to attend a small retreat for approximately 40 Black female executives in the foundation world. That convening exposed me to a different context of Philanthropy. It was a new world where Black foundation executives (a glaring minority in the field) were talking about, and intentionally developing strategies to direct resources toward all the same systemic issues of race and equity that are now bubbling up today all over the country. In fact, they had been tackling (and funding) these issues for decades.

As a Black woman in this field of Philanthropy in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I had accepted that the lay of the land was the lay of this land; that those of us in Philanthropy would never go too deep; that I would exist as a minority in my work while living as a majority in my community. That is until I joined a new coalition of Philanthropists filled with powerhouse women (and men) fighting for justice long before the world came to know about George Floyd. Four of those women (Susan Batten, CEO of ABFE; Janine Lee, CEO of the Southeastern Council of Foundations; Gladys Krigger-Washington, formerly of Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation; and Sherece West-Scantlebury of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation) ultimately became the impetus for me to propose to my Board of Directors that we host our own funders retreat here on St. Croix.

Make no mistake, my proposal had a few local detractors who questioned the rationale for the convening and who went so far as to suggest that the retreat was a cover for giving my “new Black friends” a free vacation. Despite the fact that the cost of the retreat (held in February 2017) was less than $7000, with our guests footing the bill for their own travel expenses, that meager investment translated into over $1 million in direct grants from national foundations in less than one year. Those funds were, in turn, regranted to local nonprofits in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Our Network quickly expanded beyond our first retreat Partners to include both national and international funders and allies who have awarded substantial resources to our Community and our Consortium of Nonprofits over the past 2 years.

The Foundation, along with our new national Partners and our Consortium of Nonprofit Leaders, also used our first philanthropy retreat to launch a courageous conversation on Race, right here in the Virgin Islands, seven months before Hurricanes Irma and Maria. With ABFE as our conversation guide and steward, that dialogue has continued and has gotten deeper and more honest, starting with topics like implicit bias and evolving into issues surrounding gentrification, structural racism, environmental injustice.

Today, we now open every single convening with a powerful presentation by Sonia Jacobs-Dow, Executive Director of St. Croix Landmarks Society, who roots our work in our Virgin Islands story, in our history of enslavement and rebellion and resilience. Through repetition, repetition, repetition, we are sensitizing our local stakeholders and a growing roster of national partners to our story, which is deepening our NPC conversations and consciousness. While we still have a long way to go on this journey of healing and understanding, the openness with which we collectively discuss race may serve as a model for the rest of the community and beyond.

At one of our (now annual) retreats, one of our guests, who proclaimed himself to be ‘a white guy from the mid-west,’ affirmed that our convening is one of the most progressive and transparent conversations on race he has ever participated in. He was mostly awed by the raw humanity of it that enabled people of diverse backgrounds and races to sit unified in a collective and shared space of Truth and Justice. We are indeed proud of the climate we have nurtured and the safe space we have held for honest discourse on race long before the pandemic and tragic murder of George Floyd. Our hope is that these conversations will deepen in the weeks and months ahead.

Over the past several weeks, since the brazen public lynching of George Floyd on May 25th, like many people around the country and the world, St. Croix Foundation has spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on the meaning of this moment for those of us in the field of Philanthropy and for us as Virgin Islanders. We’ve contemplated how the issues being laid bare for the world surrounding racial injustice and systemic inequities have led to a disproportionate loss of Black lives due to COVID-19; how police violence has led to an overwhelming loss of Black lives for decades in America; and how broken systems have exacerbated educational disparities for our children and enabled disparate investment in the social infrastructure of Black communities like ours.

That our educational systems are underfunded; that our schools serve as a pipeline to the criminal justice system, manifesting in one of the highest per-capita homicide rates in the nation; that the largest oil refinery in the entire world just happened to be built on one of the smallest, most remote, under-represented, and predominantly Black depots in all of America… these are not coincidences. Undeniably, the same racial, environmental, and economic injustices adjoin Black people in the Virgin Islands to Black people in America and beyond. While there are some superficial differences relative to our majority local Black leadership and our majority Black demographics, the systems that undergird every aspect of our lives are the same as those in mainland Black and Native American communities. Their fight is our fight.

So, today as we collectively begin to build real understanding around that rallying declaration that Black Lives Matter, as Virgin Islanders, we must not only state that truth, we must stand in it as we excavate and interrogate its deepest meaning. St. Croix Foundation stands in that truth as well. As we have done for nearly 30 years, we also remain resolute in our commitment to advocate for and invest in fortified, resilient, and, most importantly of all, EQUITABLE Systems and accessible pathways to and through them.

All of us at the Foundation fundamentally believe that healing and evolution can come from shining a light on the interplay of Race, Power, and Privilege everywhere, even here. But, more specifically, for the field of Philanthropy, where high net worth often represents disproportional, sometimes unchecked power, Light and Courage must both be our tools!

Foundation Opens 3rd Scholarship Cycle for the Patrick & Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund

CONTACT: DEANNA JAMES, PRESIDENT
(TEL) 340.773.9898, (EMAIL) STAFF@STXFOUNDATION.ORG
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 1, 2020

St. Croix, U.S.V.I., April 1, 2020 – St. Croix Foundation is pleased to announce that the third cycle of the Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund for St. Croix youth will open on April 1, 2020. Geared towards providing opportunities for St. Croix students to pursue their career goals through colleges or universities, scholarships not to exceed $5000 will be awarded to successful applicants. All applications will be reviewed on the basis of residency, school attendance, and GPA.

Graduates from a St. Croix public high school (current and within the past four years) that reside on St. Croix are eligible to apply. All applicants must provide proof of acceptance to an accredited college or university and must indicate and maintain a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Applications will be reviewed by the St. Croix Foundation Grants Review Committee and must be received no later than May 15, 2020. The Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund was established in 2018 by Junior Gaspard, a native of St. Croix and graduate of Central High School and John H. Woodson Junior High School, who wished to honor his grandparents, Patrick and Amelia Williams. The Williams’ hard work, determination, and resilience is a legacy that Junior Gaspard and his family are committed to passing down to further generations, providing opportunities for St. Croix youth to overcome any obstacle with strength and perseverance.

After visiting St. Croix post-Hurricanes Maria and Irma, Gaspard wanted to do something that could have a long-term impact. Knowing the challenges high-school students face preparing for and getting resources for college in a post-hurricane environment, this seemed to be the most impactful way to help. In 2020, in today’s context of a global pandemic, Gaspard stated, “The current upheaval in our world is a reminder of how important it is to be adaptable and resilient. Virgin Islanders have shown both of these traits in abundance in bouncing back from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. I’m confident that our award recipients will exhibit those same traits and persevere in the current uncertain times to achieve continued success in their academic careers.” Gaspard has seen firsthand the drive and ability of St. Croix’s youth and knows many of them just need the resources to seize the opportunity of higher education. Today, the Gaspard family is building awareness and mobilizing community both on and off the island to increase opportunities and availability of resources for more local youth.

To date, the Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund has awarded five St. Croix students scholarships totaling over $20,000 to defray tuition expenses for awardees to attend Monroe College, Houston Community College, the University of the Virgin Islands, St. Agnes College, and more. Additionally, St. Croix Foundation has tapped students from the first cycle to receive micro-scholarships as continued support and has provided a sixth student with a scholarship to pursue a degree in the culinary arts. President of St. Croix Foundation, Deanna James, stated, “The Foundation is so deeply honored to be in Partnership with the donors of this scholarship fund because they truly embody the spirit of philanthropy. As one of our youngest and only Crucian Donors, Junior Gaspard (and his family) has been intimately involved in the development and administration of this Fund, demonstrating a true commitment to the future of our Community.”

In reflection of the spirit of Patrick and Amelia Williams, the scholarship Fund also gives priority to young people who are involved in meaningful community service and who participate in extra-curricular activities. The Fund acknowledges the challenges that many young people face in becoming more involved in civics, however, and invites students to demonstrate in essays the reality of their socioeconomic issues to allow the Review Committee to better assess applications.

The Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund will provide up to two (2) scholarships a year with all scholarship recipients required to report on their successes and challenges throughout the year. This process will ensure that the Fund continues to meet current needs and to provide students with additional support if needed. The full application and guidelines can be found on the Foundation’s website at www.stxfoundation.org. All applications are due May 15; applicants may submit via email at lcox@stxfoundation.org or mail hard copies to St. Croix Foundation’s office at PO BOX 1128, Christiansted, VI 00821. Hard-copy applications must be postmarked by May 15. All applicants will be informed of decisions by June 15.

St. Croix Foundation recognizes that while times may be uncertain, students are encouraged to begin the application process today. If challenges or questions arise regarding completing the application and/or obtaining required documents, staff is available to assist at lcox@stxfoundation.org.

St. Croix Foundation wishes to extend its sincerest appreciation to Junior Gaspard, who is strategically giving back to the community and honoring those who provided him further opportunities that have led to his success! Special thanks also to Anquanette Gaspard for spearheading fundraising initiatives. For more information about how to support the Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund, please visit the Foundation online or call at 340.773.9898.

St. Croix Foundation Postpones 2020 St. Croix Food & Wine Experience

CONTACT: DEANNA JAMES, PRESIDENT
(TEL) 340.773.9898, (EMAIL) STAFF@STXFOUNDATION.ORG
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 12, 2020

St. Croix, U.S.V.I. – St. Croix Foundation for Community Development regrettably wishes to announce the postponement of the 2020 St. Croix Food & Wine Experience, “A Toast to Simple Abundance” out of an abundance of caution relative to the current Coronavirus global pandemic. The annual benefit of St. Croix Foundation, the Food & Wine Experience will be held at a later date.

St. Croix Foundation President, Deanna James, stated, “after many hours of thoughtful deliberation, and on behalf of our Team and Board at St. Croix Foundation for Community Development, we have made the not-so-difficult decision to postpone the 2020 Food & Wine Experience. While this decision comes at a time of tremendous global uncertainty and anxiety, we are resolute in our commitment to ensuring the wellbeing of our Partners, our Patrons, and our Team. At this time, we firmly believe that it is in the best interest of our Organization and our Community to delay large gatherings and community convenings in the interest of public health.”

The Foundation remains deeply grateful for the continued support and partnership of its valued sponsors and partners and is working diligently and expeditiously to develop thoughtful and realistic contingencies and next steps around rescheduling the Food and Wine Experience. The Organization will provide updates on the Experience in the weeks and months to come and looks forward to the community joining us in a “Toast to Simple Abundance”, at a later date.

To date, the Foundation has already reached out directly to its many Partners and Sponsors to notify them of the change. And, wishes to invite all patrons who have purchased tickets to contact the Foundation Office directly via email at, staff@stxfoundation.org or by phone at 340-773-9898 for information on refunds or place-holders.

The Foundation wishes to thank its growing list of sponsors and longstanding partners of the Food & Wine Experience, including Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Caravelle Hotel and Casino, ProSolar Systems, Crucian Point, First Bank, Virgin Islands Daily News, Will and Kay Cook, Bohlke International Airways, International Private Bank, Virgin Islands Port Authority, The Buccaneer, TEAM Consultants, USVI Economic Development Authority, balter, Tropical Shipping, StCroixTourism.com, Bert Smith and Co., Silver Airways, Centerline Car Rentals, ProTouch Communications, Marshall & Sterling Insurance, Plessen Healthcare, Crucian Gold, Banco Popular, Seaside Market and Deli, and Bank of St. Croix.

ABOUT ST. CROIX FOUNDATION FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
St. Croix Foundation for Community Development will mark 30 years of service to the US Virgin Islands community in September of 2020. Established in 1990, the Foundation has served as a conduit for over 42 million dollars in funding for community-based projects throughout the Virgin Islands. With an incomparable track record of successful community development initiatives and national recognition for its work in education reform and small business development, the Foundation has also received international acknowledgment for its community revitalization initiatives and, today, continues directing its focus on energy independence, workforce development, education, youth and families, and of course, the broad-based support of nonprofits, including fiscal sponsorship, grantmaking, and the Nonprofit Consortium.

St. Croix Foundation Joins Kids Count Network as New Annie E. Casey Foundation Partner

CONTACT: DEANNA JAMES, PRESIDENT
(TEL) 340.773.9898, (EMAIL) DJAMES@STXFOUNDATION.ORG
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 13, 2020

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, February 2020 – St. Croix Foundation for Community Development has been tapped by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national philanthropy focused on child well-being, to lead the KIDS COUNT initiative in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  KIDS COUNT, a national network of non-profits, foundations, and consortiums, includes members from all 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Launched by the Casey Foundation in 1990, it is seen as a means of providing critical data about child wellbeing at the federal, state and local levels that will lead to better-informed policies and decision-making nationally and in each state, the district and territories.

KIDS COUNT Network grantees receive an annual grant award to support the collection of local data related to child well-being and are tasked with disseminating their findings publicly through a local Data Book. Network partners also implement other formats for communication that are focused on advocacy and action.  Geared toward the needs of their local communities, these strategies and tools are designed to influence public policy in ways that positively impact the lives of children and families.

The KIDS COUNT initiative annually produces a national Data Book comprised of data from across the entire Network, and also develops additional data products — including the KIDS COUNT Data Center — with help from local partners.  Over time, the Casey Foundation has strengthened its platform on the use of data by including a more focused approach toward advocacy, recognizing that the data is necessary, but without a strong emphasis on advocacy, by itself, it is insufficient as a strategic tool that can shift public policy.

The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands formerly implemented the KIDS COUNT initiative for the U.S. Virgin Islands.  According to Casey Foundation senior policy associate Karina Jimenez Lewis, “KIDS COUNT and U.S. Virgin Islanders have benefitted greatly from the stewardship and service to the KIDS COUNT initiative from the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.  We know that providing children and families with the resources, tools and information they need is an ongoing and central part of CFVI’s work and that the Kids Count work will continue to be enhanced by their expertise and experience.”

Prior to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Lewis noted that the Casey Foundation became aware of the work happening at St. Croix Foundation to create a Non-Profit Consortium (NPC) and could see the synergy with Casey’s approach. “The NPC is a unique and emerging structure with core tenets that align very well with our outcomes in the KIDS COUNT theory of change: improved local alliances, aligned stakeholders from multiple sectors, and strengthened organizational capacity. While the work is still in its early stages of development, we believe it has tremendous potential for creating a powerful platform for advocacy and action across the U.S. Virgin Islands,” she said.

St. Croix Foundation for Community Development is a place-based, hybrid operating foundation in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Founded nearly 30 years ago in the wake of Hurricane Hugo, SCF has been dedicated to the issue of equity and holistic, community-rooted development, and has directed laser focus and resources on highly strategic grant-making, direct services, and community building.  In the summer of 2016, in demonstration of the Foundation’s commitment to a more holistic approach to community development, SCF launched its Nonprofit Consortium. A dynamic collaboration comprising staff and board members of over 40 local nonprofits, the Consortium of civic partners is committed to working together to strengthen operations, build its collective capacity and amass peoplepower and advocacy around four distinct sectors:  Arts & Culture, Health & Human Services, Youth &Education, and Built a& Natural Environs.

St. Croix Foundation wishes to thank the Annie E. Casey Foundation and its many local partners from the public, private and civic sectors for their partnership and commitment to children and families in the Virgin Islands.

Questions about the initiative should be directed to President Deanna James of St. Croix Foundation at 340.773.9898.

For more information on St. Croix Foundation’s work, please visit www.stxfoundation.org or phone 340.773.9898.

St. Croix Foundation Hosting 4th Annual Forum for National Foundations

CONTACT: DEANNA JAMES, PRESIDENT
(TEL) 340.773.9898, (EMAIL) DJAMES@STXFOUNDATION.ORG
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 7, 2020

St. Croix, USVI- St. Croix Foundation for Community Development will be hosting its 4th Annual Philanthropy Retreat February 11th through February 15th on the island of St. Croix. The invitation-only convening will connect National and International Senior Philanthropy Executives with Board and Staff of the Foundation’s Nonprofit Consortium. This year’s convening will feature Executives from Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Council on Foundations, the Southeastern Council of Foundations, the Association of Black Foundation Executives, LASCO Chin Foundation (Jamaica), Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina Grantmakers for Southern Progress, Global Giving, and The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.

As a vehicle for engaging national funders and exposing them to the unique realities of the U.S. Caribbean, the retreat will offer national and international funders the opportunity to learn about the inherent challenges and assets of the territory’s social and economic landscape.

The theme of this year’s convening is The Power of People and Place: Status Matters and, over the course of several days, St. Croix Foundation will lead its local nonprofit partners and foundation guests in a focused conversation around political status, social equity and nonprofit capacity building.

The event will also include an island tour and a visit to the Agricultural Fair.

According to St. Croix Foundation President, Deanna James, “This convening has become an unprecedented opportunity for the Territory to make a coherent and compelling case for deeper national philanthropic engagement and investment in U.S. Virgin Islands. Through the event, the Foundation also seeks to highlight our Consortium of Nonprofits. Having launched our Nonprofit Consortium (a collective of over 30 local nonprofits) in September 2016, exactly one year prior to the 2017 hurricanes, the Foundation has sustained its founders’ pledge to support the Territory’s civic sector as an inextricable component of our core organizational programming. Over the past 3 years, all of us at the Foundation have been so inspired to witness the Consortium grow into a powerful coalition of Civic Organizations that is building dynamic collaborations and birthing a beautiful Vision for the future of our Islands,” James continued.

One of the shared goals identified by Consortium members was to build a deep and wide network of philanthropic partnerships to support their work, help build capacity for their sector and minimize their dependence on local government funding and EDC donations.

Seeking to gain a clearer understanding of the Territory’s philanthropy capacity, St. Croix Foundation conducted a Donor Study back in 2016 when launching the Consortium. That study revealed some striking data points about St. Croix’s philanthropic landscape. One finding was that the majority of the donors interviewed were more inclined to provide “charitable” gifts to nonprofits (often below $10,000) as opposed to transformational philanthropic giving that could stabilize and advance organizations’ missions and programmatic agendas. The Foundation’s study uncovered yet another trend, namely that a number of corporate and EDC donors while making transformational gifts (i.e. 6 and 7 figures) to national nonprofits, were not engaged in that level of giving locally.

Compounding the situation is the fact that most national funders have historically not recognized the U.S. Caribbean as a philanthropic priority, deeming this territory, in particular, to be either international or irrelevant because of our small population.

All of these patterns have ultimately had a significant impact on the operational stability of nonprofits, many of which are serving a community with expanding needs and fewer philanthropic resources, forcing many to be overly dependent on government funding to survive.

St. Croix Foundation’s Philanthropic Retreat consequently serves as an opportunity for nonprofits to collectively advocate that national funders demonstrate greater equity and inclusion.

Based on the outcome of St. Croix Foundation’s first forum in early 2017, they are optimistic about the new partnerships that will be spawned from this year’s forum. According to Foundation President, James, “Despite the lack of national media attention on the island of St. Croix after the 2017 storms, St. Croix Foundation had several fierce national foundation champions advocating on our behalf. Not only did they work tirelessly to support St. Croix’s nonprofits, but their advocacy translated into critically important recovery funding.”

St. Croix Foundation was awarded the first major grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation to the Territory in the amount of $500,000, which coupled with other national foundation grants, enabled the Foundation to raise over 1.8 million dollars in recovery funding for nonprofit organizations on St Croix.

Through the national partnerships being nurtured, the Foundation has also been able to connect local nonprofits to relevant intellectual brain-trusts and funding networks in targeted ‘sectors’ including arts & culture; the environs; health & human services; and youth & education). Two noteworthy partnerships include Environmental Grantmakers Association, and GlobalGiving, both of which represent the nation’s largest association of funders in their respective fields.

St. Croix Foundation extends its sincere gratitude to its local, national, and international partners who have made this convening possible. For more information on the Retreat or on how to support the Foundation’s community rebuilding and Nonprofit Development efforts, please call the Foundation’s office at 340.773.9898 or visit their website at www.stxfoundation.org.

About St. Croix Foundation
St. Croix Foundation for Community Development (SCF) is a place-based operating foundation in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Founded 30 years ago in the wake of Hurricane Hugo, SCF has been dedicated to the issue of equity and holistic, community-rooted development, and has directed laser focus and resources on highly strategic grant-making, direct services, and community building. In the summer of 2016, in demonstration of the Foundation’s commitment to a more holistic approach to community development, SCF launched its Nonprofit Consortium. A dynamic collaboration comprising staff and board members of over 40 local nonprofits, the Consortium of civic partners is committed to working together to strengthen operations, build its collective capacity and amass people-power and advocacy around four distinct sectors: Arts & Culture, Health & Human Services, Youth &Education, and Built a& Natural Environs.

Foundation & Nonprofit Consortium Partners Host Community Information Session on Limetree

CONTACT: DEANNA JAMES, PRESIDENT
(TEL) 340.773.9898, (EMAIL) DJAMES@STXFOUNDATION.ORG
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 5, 2019

St. Croix Foundation for Community Development in partnership with members of our Non-Profit Consortium, would like to extend an open invitation to the community to participate in an informal Community Information Session to share pertinent updates on the Limetree Bay Terminals & Refinery, scheduled for Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at the Great Hall of the University of the Virgin Islands, Albert A. Sheen Campus from 5:30pm – 7:00pm.

As a Trusted Neutral Community Convener, St. Croix Foundation has agreed to host what we hope will be the first of many Community Conversations, led by Community, for Community. The gathering will serve as an Information Session through which residents will have the opportunity to learn more about Limetree Bay Terminals & Refinery including updates on where it is in its restart process, get briefings on existing protocols for monitoring, reporting and emergency response to ensure the safe operation of the Refinery and the safety of the community and the environment.

This informal discussion is ultimately intended to establish an open dialogue between policymakers, regulators and the Refinery and the Community to cultivate a relationship of trust and transparency. But most importantly, it is intended to empower Community to lead important conversations that impact their neighborhoods, their well-being, and their economic interests- all essential components of Healthy Communities.

Invitations have been extended to regulatory agencies including DPNR and DOH as well as Emergency Responders like VITEMA. The Senate Committee on Government Operations, Consumer Affairs, Energy, Environment & Planning as well as Limetree Bay Terminals & Refinery Representatives have also been invited.

For more information about this upcoming community information session, please contact St. Croix Foundation directly at 340.773.9898.

St. Croix Foundation and ProTouch Cares Fund Open New Teacher Grant with Focus on Agriculture

CONTACT: DEANNA JAMES, PRESIDENT
(TEL) 340.773.9898, (EMAIL) DJAMES@STXFOUNDATION.ORG
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 12, 2019

ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands – St. Croix Foundation is pleased to announce that the first cycle of the ProTouch Cares Agricultural Teacher Grant Award will open to all St. Croix elementary and junior high schools on St. Croix beginning August 15, 2019. The Foundation’s ProTouch Cares Agricultural Teacher Grant is specifically designed to expand opportunities for St. Croix teachers to provide targeted student enrichment opportunities around the critical economic and social importance of agriculture on St. Croix.

The ProTouch Cares Agricultural Teacher Grant is open to all public, private, and parochial elementary and junior high school teachers on the island of St. Croix. Successful applicants will demonstrate active student participation in developing the design and outcome(s) of their project, which should be relevant to their classroom curriculum and will allow students to experience the material they are learning in their textbooks in real-world terms. All projects will be thoughtfully considered by St. Croix Foundation’s Grants Review Committee; however, priority will be given to projects that (1) motivate and inspire both students and teachers, (2) provide students with a broad learning experience of the world around them through interactive learning, (3) enliven student creativity, and (4) have clear and measurable goals and methods for evaluation. The maximum amount for the ProTouch Cares Agricultural Grant is $1000. Teachers are encouraged to review the guidelines and prepare to apply using the Foundation’s online application portal at https://www.grantinterface.com/Home/Logon?urlkey=scf. Applications are due by September 16 and decisions will be announced by September 30.

The St. Croix Foundation’s Teacher Grant Award Program was originally established in 2000 with the ultimate goal of enhancing the classroom experience for public elementary students and their teachers. In the fall of 2018, the Foundation’s Teacher Grant was expanded through the generosity of the ProTouch Cares Donor Advised Fund to provide teachers with expanded resources to support hands-on learning around the importance of agriculture in isolated communities. According to Bryan Butler of ProTouch Communications, “We at ProTouch Communications are supportive and excited about the direction of agriculture within the community.  We hope that these grants will spark and ignite passion and enthusiasm in our youth about the science and industry of agriculture and how it impacts our community and the world.”

President of St. Croix Foundation, Deanna James, stated, “The ProTouch Cares Teacher Grant and the commitment of ProTouch Communications to support St. Croix teachers and youth is an example of active, hands-on philanthropy that the Foundation is nurturing throughout our direct services and strategic grantmaking. While the Territory continues to rebuild after the 2017 hurricanes, encouraging and providing opportunities to teachers and students to explore the world of agriculture is a path to resiliency and sustainability.”

St. Croix Foundation wishes to extend its sincerest appreciation to ProTouch Communications, who is giving back to the St. Croix community through targeted and relevant programming, and to our Grants Review Committee for their commitment and time. For more information, please visit the Foundation online or call at 340.773.9898.

SCF and AmeriCorps VISTA Partner for Nonprofit Capacity Building

CONTACT: DEANNA JAMES, PRESIDENT
(TEL) 340.773.9898, (EMAIL) DJAMES@STXFOUNDATION.ORG
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 6, 2019

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – St. Croix Foundation has been awarded a $340,157 grant by the Corporation of National and Community Service to assign fifteen (15) AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers to support eight St. Croix nonprofits beginning in September 2019.

AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is a national service program dedicated to “ending poverty by building the capacity of nonprofit organizations and public agencies.” In the aftermath of the 2017 Superstorms Irma and Maria, St. Croix Foundation conducted a survey on the status of nonprofits, who serve some of our most vulnerable residents, finding that 70% of nonprofits 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 build organizational capacity for nonprofits and began the comprehensive, year-long application process. With the application approved, a VISTA Volunteer Team will support the following organizations: Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls VI, St. Croix Landmarks Society, Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition, St. Croix Montessori, Clean Sweep Frederiksted, St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group, and Virgin Islands State Historic Preservation Office and St. Croix Foundation.  In total, St. Croix Foundation’s VISTA Project expects to directly benefit youth, historic preservation, food security, green spaces, and relief and recovery services.

As the first AmeriCorps VISTA Team in the territory in over 20 years, St. Croix Foundation is actively seeking to contract 15 local volunteers ages 21 and up who are interested in supporting nonprofits in outreach and development. VISTAs will contribute to the goals of the project by performing activities such as community outreach, program development, grant research, and website development. VISTA volunteers are expected to begin their full-time year of service on September 3, 2019. Each volunteer will receive a monthly living allowance, healthcare benefits, official VISTA gear, and professional development training. Upon completing the first year of service, VISTAs are eligible to receive either the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or VISTA end-of-service cash stipend and one- year of noncompetitive eligibility for employment in the federal government. Interested volunteers are encouraged to apply at https://my.americorps.gov/mp/login.do and search Virgin Islands. Applications should be received by August 10, 2019.

President of the Foundation, Deanna James, stated, “St. Croix Foundation is dedicated to creating a cultural, educational, skill-enhancing experience for VISTA volunteers as they support nonprofits in outreach and development of resources for our community. As an example of our holistic approach to community, we are pleased to provide targeted opportunities for local residents to support our critical nonprofits.”

St. Croix Foundation extends its deepest appreciation to Allan Comp for his technical support for building the VISTA project as well as the CNCS AmeriCorps Office for their dedication capacity building in the territory.   For more information about St. Croix AmeriCorps VISTA Team, how to apply to be a volunteer, or how you can support VISTA volunteers, please contact St. Croix Foundation at 773-9898 to learn more.

St. Croix Foundation & the Patrick & Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund Award $17,000 in Scholarships

CONTACT: DEANNA JAMES, PRESIDENT
(TEL) 340.773.9898, (EMAIL) DJAMES@STXFOUNDATION.ORG
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
JULY 31, 2019

St. Croix – St. Croix Foundation is pleased to announce a total of $17,000 in scholarships awarded to five St. Croix graduates on Wednesday, July 31st at St. Croix Foundation’s headquarters in Sunday Market Square. Scholarships were made possible through the second annual cycle for the Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund and the Foundation’s DOVE Memorial Arts Scholarship Fund.

Two scholarships in the amount of $5,000 were awarded though the Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund, which was established to provide opportunities to youth who have met obstacles but persevered despite these challenges and see educational pursuits as a means to achieving the personal and professional success that can then be shared with the next generation. Awards were presented to the following students by Junior Gaspard and St. Croix Foundation:

  • LaMonique Berrios, Sam Houston State College, Major: Engineering
  • Jayla Norman, Saint Agnes College, Major: Nursing

An additional scholarship was awarded to Alayna Caraballo through the Giving the Dream Fund for attendance at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Aimed at supporting students who have had to overcome obstacles to continue their education, particularly in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, students had to meet specific requirements that included being a graduate from a St. Croix public high school and junior high school, maintaining a GPA of 2.0 or higher, demonstrating financial need, and most importantly, submitting personal essays that spoke to the reality of their challenges and their journey to pursue their dreams. All recipients are required to submit reports to the Foundation.

A native of St. Croix and graduate of Central High School and John H. Woodson Junior High School himself, Gaspard and the rest of the Williams/Gaspard family wished to honor his grandparents in a meaningful way in the aftermath of the hurricanes of 2017.  It was deemed that launching a named scholarship fund would allow for a longer-lasting impact on the lives of students in the community and allow the lessons learned from his grandparents about resilience and perseverance to be passed on to the next generation of leaders.

Scholarship recipient Jayla Norman expressed her appreciation, stating that, “I am truly grateful to have been chosen by this prestigious foundation as a recipient for a Patrick & Amelia Williams Opportunity scholarship. The hard work that I have put in from my early years of education to now will continue so that awards such as this one are used effectively. I owe it all to God, my parents and godparents, close family and friends, and the great teachers and mentors that have blessed my mind and attitude throughout the years. I am forever grateful for opportunities like these that will help me to achieve great things and make the St. Croix Foundation, my community, and of course my parents proud.”

In 2018 St. Croix Foundation also awarded an additional $2,000 through its DOVE Memorial Arts Scholarship Fund (established in 2003) to support two students who received scholarships through the Williams Opportunity Fund: Mr. Joshua Parris is now in his second year studying Criminal Justice at the University of the Virgin Islands and Ms. Shauniqua Wells who is also in her second year at Monroe College pursuing a degree in the culinary arts.

According to St. Croix Foundation’s President, Deanna James, “This year is special for St. Croix Foundation. As part of our approach to holistic community development and strategic grantmaking, we made the decision to award two mini-grants to last year’s award recipients in demonstration of our commitment to supporting and sustaining our grantees through success.”

St. Croix Foundation extends its deepest appreciation to Junior Gaspard (and his family) for his partnership and philanthropic spirit as well as the Foundation’s Grants Review Committee for their engagement. The Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund welcomes gifts to allow for additional students to be provided the chance to pursue their education.

For more information about the Williams Opportunity Fund, and how you can support this special scholarship opportunity for our young people, please contact St. Croix Foundation at 773-9898 or visit our website at www.stxfoundation.org to learn more.

St. Croix Foundation Rebuilding with Resiliency: Launches Solar-Supported Community Center Project

CONTACT: DEANNA JAMES, PRESIDENT
(TEL)340.773.9898, (EMAIL) DJAMES@STXFOUNDATION.ORG
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 28, 2019

ST. CROIX, U.S.V.I. – St. Croix Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of its Pilot Solar- Supported Community Center Project and workforce development initiative that will solarize several carefully selected community centers on St. Croix. The project, which was officially launched on Monday, June 21st will serve as a replicable model through which local youth will be trained in an effort to build a skilled local workforce of solar installers. Funded in partnership with the VI Department of Labor, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Global Giving, The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Limetree Bay Terminals, Diageo USVI and a number of other national philanthropic entities, the community centers that will be solarized include The Caribbean Center for the Boys and Girls, Flambouyant Gardens, Mon Bijou Community Center and USVI Soccer Association.

During the first phase of the Project, 10 students aged 18-24, who are currently enrolled in the 5-month National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) course will receive intense classroom instruction in NCCER Core Curriculum, Electrical Levels 1-4, and Solar PV Installation. Students will receive a stipend during the program in addition to uniforms and toolkits which they will be allowed to keep upon completion of the program. Once the participants have completed the classroom component of the program and have successfully passed each level of coursework, they will receive on-the-job training installing Solar Photovoltaic Systems on the 4 local community centers.

The chosen solar-powered community centers will ultimately serve as a neighborhood hub for individuals and families in walking proximity, to support them with critical needs in the aftermath of future natural (or manmade) disasters enabling residents to store medication that requires refrigeration, charge electronic devices, and use internet connection to communicate with family. Community centers can also serve as localized distribution sites from which aid and relief items can be stored and disseminated in the future. Equally important, this Project seeks to nurture a culture of resilience by empowering each nonprofit community center to achieve a reduction in utility costs, the savings from which can be reinvested in direct services that benefit the communities and vulnerable populations they serve.

According to St. Croix Foundation President, Deanna James, “As our community continues to recover from the 2017 hurricanes, this Solar-supported Workforce Development Program is a perfect representation of how the Foundation is advancing its recovery agenda and its commitment to holistic Community Development.”  The ripple impacts of this initiative are far-reaching, touching on every priority that the Foundation has established since the hurricanes, from energy independence, and nonprofit capacity building to workforce development and community self-sufficiency.”  “The Project is also a demonstration of the power of Civic Leadership in driving strategic public-private partnerships,” James continued.

The Foundation extends its sincere gratitude to all of its community partners for their support and collaboration in making this project a reality including the Department of Labor, Commissioner Gary Molloy and his Team on the Workforce Development Board, Sustainable System and Design International, Lions Den, and of course our instructors.

The Foundation also wishes to invite local solar installation companies to support this project by offering long-term employment opportunities to qualified participants upon successful attainment of NCCER certification in order to achieve the ultimate outcome of this venture, which is gainful employment for our skilled youth.

The Foundation invites media to meet our participants, Monday, July 8, 2019, from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM at the St. Croix Foundation Headquarters located at 1023 Market St. Christiansted, VI 00820. For more information about how to support this and other St. Croix Foundation initiatives, please visit www.stxfoundation.org or contact the Foundation directly at 340.773.9898.