The Community Foundation is pleased to announce that it has awarded $1,524,000 in grants to 63 area nonprofits serving Blount, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker counties. These are the first grants awarded under the Foundation’s new strategic plan centered on five priorities: Thriving Communities, Regional Cooperation, Overcoming Persistent Poverty, Equity and Inclusion, and Economic Opportunity for All.
“These priorities that are the framework for our grantmaking over the next ten years, are rooted in community input and focus on identifying solutions to address longstanding, systemic issues in order to move our region forward,” said Christopher Nanni, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “This initial round of grant partners consists of organizations who are playing a central role in moving our region toward our shared vision of a just, prosperous and unified region where every person is empowered to reach their full potential.”
This grant cycle also included Request For Proposals (RFP) focused on the Foundation’s equity and inclusion priority. “The events of 2020 exposed the fault lines of inequity that have existed throughout our region and nation for a long time. As a learning institution committed to building a region where everyone has the ability to reach their full potential, we are taking lessons learned from this past year and exploring how to better address disparities and empower communities,” said Nanni.
A survey of nonprofits conducted by the Foundation in January found that smaller organizations and organizations led by people of color were having a harder time securing funding, facing steeper revenue declines, and at higher risk of having to substantially scale back services all while having to maintain or expand their levels of service to meet community needs.
“These survey results, together with additional research showed us that we needed to support organizations closest to the problems with flexible capital,” said Nanni. “Integrating the RFPs into this grant cycle represents an initial step in deepening our commitment to equity and inclusion.” In this grant cycle 21 of the 63 grants awarded focus on strengthening these communities and advancing equity in our grantmaking. Foundation staff worked with the Birmingham Change Fund, a giving circle at the Community Foundation, to assess and review these grants and make recommendations.
Grants that will benefit Birmingham and the surrounding area include:
- $25,000 to Offender Alumni Association for the creation of a support network of former offenders and their families to reduce recidivism and encourage economic empowerment.
- $30,000 to Hearts of Wheel for their Car Ownership and Mentoring Program to provide economically disadvantaged youth with a car as well as training in car ownership and maintenance.
- $6,000 to Redemptive Cycles to support the Earn-a-Bike program and Sliding Scale Repairs services.
- $30,000 to One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center to create a collaborative data-sharing structure to collect domestic and sexual violence information across region, allowing partners to expand the pool of resources supporting domestic violence services.
- $5,000 to Brilliant Kids Academy to support homework assistance, individualized and group tutoring, summer enrichment, and mentoring for Birmingham City students.
All of these grants are supported by discretionary funds entrusted to the Foundation by generations of donors. Additional support for the grants came from Donor Advised Funds through the Community Foundation’s Giving Together program.