Three Charlottesville nonprofit organizations now have a total of $30,000 in new funding that will help them execute their missions.
The Local Energy Alliance Program, the Community Investment Collaborative and Charlottesville Ballet each were awarded $10,000 Tuesday during the Tom Tom Founders Festival’s first Nonprofit Pitch Night.
The evening saw 16 nonprofits vying for grants from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation’s Future Fund, which is a crowd-sourced giving program led by area residents between the ages of 20 and 49.
“Charlottesville is a dynamic place to live, an exciting place to live, and nowhere is that more apparent than our nonprofits,” said Paul Beyer, the festival’s director.
While the audience chose the winners, the Future Fund’s members identified the 16 finalists from more than 77 applicants in three strategic areas: the environment; arts and culture; and education.
Finalists in the environmental category were LEAP; Better World Betty; Camp Holiday Trails; and Market Central.
Terry Kent said she founded Better World Betty to address global climate change.
“I thought what was missing from the conversation was a local, friendly approach that told us about things we could do on a day-to-day basis right here in our backyard,” Kent said about her organization, which gives local businesses a score card with ideas for reducing their environmental footprint. After 10 months, Better World Betty then evaluates how those organizations performed, and presents awards.
Cynthia Adams, executive director of LEAP, said $10,000 would help them create green jobs for three city residents, reduce energy bills in 1,000 homes and would drive over $1 million to local businesses.
“This is money that can be spent in our local community, rather than sent to energy companies,” Adams said.
The arts and culture finalists were the American Shakespeare Center; the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia; the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative; Charlottesville Ballet; Music Resource Center; and New City Arts Initiative.
In partnership with the Charlottesville Mural Project, the New City Arts Initiative hopes to pair five local artists with five local poets — one of whom will be Charles Wright, poet laureate of the United States — to design five murals.
“It boldly states that Charlottesville supports our artists and poets in a really big way,” said Maureen Brondyke, executive director of the initiative.
Matt Slaats, executive director of the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, also wanted to produce a mural. Slaats wants to pair artists with urban ecologists and children who will study the city’s stormwater system. There will then be a storm drain mural project to draw awareness to how lifestyle impacts the health of the Rivanna River.
“There have been multiple projects like this around the country and they have been massively successful, but we will be the first one in the commonwealth, and Charlottesville will lead the way,” Slaats said.
The education finalists were Backpack Buddies; Big Brothers Big Sisters; City of Promise; Community Investment Collaborative; People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry; and a Books on Bikes program for Walker Upper Elementary School.
Lucia Hoerr, founder of Backpack Buddies and a freshman at St. Anne’s-Belfield School, said the average cost of a backpack and supplies is $130, which exceeds what many families can afford.
“Over the past six years of fundraising, we’ve filled over 600 backpacks with awesome supplies,” Hoerr said, noting that this year they hope to focus on restocking backpacks mid-year, and to fill 300 backpacks for next school year.
Sarad Davenport, director of City of Promise, is hoping to eliminate generational poverty for children and families in the Westhaven, 10th and Page and Starr Hill neighborhoods.
“In the shadow of a prominent university, every year one in 25 children are born into Charlottesville’s most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods,” Davenport said. “We connect parents to health and wellness resources so their children are not only academically strong, but physically strong.”
In addition to the three main awards, the Community Investment Collaborative won the Studio IX sponsorship award, and Books on Bikes won the crowd favorite award.
This year’s festival culminates Friday with the Founders Summit — a day-long speaker series in which about 20 founders of successful and innovative businesses share their stories at the Paramount Theater.
Other events include a pitch night for businesses, a songwriter’s competition and the University of Virginia’s Innovator of the Year Award, as well as concerts, exhibitions and workshops around Charlottesville.
Anne Scott, president of the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, said that the Tom Tom festival brings the community together.
“We all want to invest ourselves in the good of the community, we all want to know how we can make a difference and we want to share our thoughts with others and hear what they have to say,” Scott said. “All three of these things spark innovation.”