Friday, October 28, 2016

Roanoke Women's Foundation Awards $324,000 in Grants to Local Nonprofits

Celebrating its twelfth year, The Roanoke Women’s Foundation (RWF) has announced the recipients of its grant awards, the largest total given to date.

The latest grants, a total of $324,000 awarded at a luncheon held at Roanoke Country Club on October 27, 2016, brings to $2,726,000 the total in grants funded since the organization’s inception in 2004.

“As we celebrate our 12th year of philanthropic giving to our community, we are excited to once again be able to support our community with impactful grants to worthy non-profit organizations.  With 164 members, our highest to date, we are able to provide important and transformational funding to organizations within the Roanoke Valley and surrounding areas.  We commend all of those organizations who participated in our rigorous grant making process this year,” says Roanoke Women’s Foundation co-founder, Kandy Elliott.  Elliott and co-founder Ginny Jarrett established the RWF as a way for women in the Roanoke and surrounding communities to share their philanthropic goals and pool their resources in order to make significant gifts to the community. 
“We appreciate the significant work of The Roanoke Women’s Foundation as demonstrated by their high-impact grants to this year’s worthy recipients,” added Alan Ronk, executive director of Foundation for Roanoke Valley, which administers RWF’s fund.

 This year, 43 organizations applied for funding from the RWF.  Through a thorough vetting process, that number was narrowed to a group that was presented to the membership for their vote.  Based on those results, the following grants were awarded in the 2016 grant cycle:

Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center – BRAAC - (A St. Vincent’s Home Program) - $110,000 to fund the total costs of converting BRAAC’s existing gymnasium into a Life Skills Center for teaching independent living skills to its older students.  It will be called the Joseph W. Webb Center, named for one of the first students of the program, and will teach the students to cook, clean, shower, toilet, practice job skills, and enjoy leisure activities.  It will also use the space for parent support groups, cooking classes, summer programming, and other community outreach activities.  BRAAC provides a licensed year-round private school for its students, ages 2-22, with unique learning challenges, including Autism, Asperger’s, Verbal and Nonverbal Learning Disabilities.  It also provides social skills group training for its students, a transition program for special needs individuals, and in-home training for parents of its students.  Parents of these students worry constantly about what will happen to their children as they become adults.  The Joseph W. Webb Center will provide students the tools they need to become as independent as possible, remain in our communities, and live productive lives.  BRAAC is already undergoing a significant capital expansion project, including the Joseph W. Webb Center.  This expansion will allow BRAAC to not only address the needs of current students, but serve 30-50 additional students as well as allowing it to address an even larger growing need – adult services.

Sexual Assault Response & Awareness, Inc. (SARA) - $85,000 to fund the expansion of its current building to add office space, a training room, and a handicapped-accessible bathroom,  In addition, the grant will provide for enhanced security and lighting to the property that serves as its organization’s headquarters.  SARA is the only program of its kind in the Roanoke Valley, providing an array of direct services to victims of sexual violence.  Core services include comprehensive trauma-informed counseling and recovery services, outreach, hospital visits and hotline calls. According to the Virginia Department of Health, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 8 men have experienced sexual violence.  The physical and mental health consequences of sexual assault are enormous and long lasting, especially without support and counseling.  The RWF’s funding of an electronic security system will increase SARA’s ability to accommodate the safety and security needs of clients, while also providing increased protection for staff. The new training space will allow SARA to train more people efficiently and will be available to local nonprofits for training.  Once fully staffed, SARA will be able to serve 500 additional people annually in this updated facility.

Greenvale School, Inc. - $74,000 to renovate program space in three classrooms allowing them to increase their capacity by 14 child care slots.  The reorganization and renovation of these areas will include offering closer access to restrooms, leaving teachers to concentrate on student activities.  Currently serving 120 children annually, the school, established in 1934, serves children age 6 weeks through 5 years.  Students come from low-income families who seek to provide their children a base of early knowledge that is needed to establish a foundation for educational and life successes.  Families who are served at Greenvale must be working, in school, or in training programs. 

Cultural Arts for Excellence (CAFE) - $55,000 to purchase a cargo van to transport musical instruments and a passenger van to transport students for performances and other off-site activities.  CAFÉ is an after-school and summer camp program for low-income, middle school students in northwest Roanoke.  Academic support at CAFE includes daily tutoring from volunteers.  The program also engages students in community service projects and utilizes low- or no-cost partnerships.  The signature activity of CAFE is its Caribbean Steel Orchestra.  Participation in the orchestra is a huge incentive in the program's success.  It keeps young people engaged and complements academics by fostering self-confidence, teamwork, and the desire to learn.  In 2015, CAFE received a grant from Foundation for Roanoke Valley to purchase its own 29-piece steel drum set, allowing considerable savings in rental fees. 

In addition, to honor and recognize the role of RWF co-founder Virginia B. Jarrett the board, with donations from RWF members, established the Roanoke Women’s Foundation Founders Fund of Foundation for Roanoke Valley.  The fund will be advised by Mrs. Jarrett and board, and will be used to support their purpose to strengthen the community through increasing charitable contributions in our region, and promoting women’s leadership in philanthropy.

The Roanoke Women’s Foundation is open to any woman who makes the commitment to support the RWF for at least three years at a level of $2,100 per year.  Members have no other obligation than to fulfill the annual contribution and to participate in the voting process determining the recipients of the pooled fund grants.  For more information, visit or Foundation for Roanoke Valley’s website   Foundation for Roanoke Valley, the region’s community foundation, currently administers over 300 named endowment funds on behalf of the community.

Submitted by: Kandy Elliott