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Sep 11, 2018

One Year After The Hurricanes

First week for a new student - learning to tie!
First week for a new student - learning to tie!

A year after two Cat-5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, rampaged across the Caribbean, St. Croix Montessori opened its doors to embrace 37 children and their families and welcome the start of a new school year. The new gutters gleamed in the sunlight, and the campus burst with the sounds of rejoice – our children ran across freshly grown grass to leap on the playground they hadn't seen in two months, families shared stories of summer vacation and hugged as they reunited.

“It feels like a family reunion!” one father shouted.

“You’ve moved back to the island! Thank you!” a grandmother said to a young mother of two.

“We are just so thankful to have been able to join Montessori this year," exclaimed a grinning parent of one of the four public school students able to enroll in our Elementary program.

Thanks to the GlobalGiving community and St. Croix Community Foundation, our school was able to navigate our initial year of hurricane recovery. We struggled. We survived. Your support ensured we provided a year of education following the storms, six weeks of summer enrichment to the children of St. Croix, and enabled St. Croix Montessori to re-open our doors for the next year of recovery.

 

The Foundation for Learning

In St. Croix, there is a severe gap in options for early childhood education. Roughly a dozen private options exist for pre-school, and the public system introduced a pilot pre-school program for 30 children ages 4 and up this September.

Our school exists in a unique position, having the only accredited option for developmentally-based education preK-grade 6. St. Croix Montessori understands that 90% of a child’s brain development occurs during the first five years of life and forms the neural foundation for all learning, behavior, and health (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University). Programs engage all aspects of a child’s development – i.e. emotional, social, practical life (movement), and academic - beginning at age 2 ½ and continuing to age 12.

We practice equitable collaboration – parents and community partners are part of the learning process. We teach social justice and peaceful conflict resolution. Our team of 5 instructors integrate cultural education as well as academics and gardening into the daily routines. For St. Croix Montessori, systems-thinking is just good Montessori.

The Importance of The GlobalGiving Community’s Support

It is only through the support of St. Croix Community Foundation and GlobalGiving that our school has survived through to September 2018.

As of this report, our school has not yet received disbursements from insurance, FEMA Private Non Profit Assistance, or SBA Disaster Loans, despite having begun these processes in September 2017. The impacts of having been stretched to capacity for over twelve months are seen across our organization, however, in the face of islandwide, chronic shortages for teachers, contractors, supplies, and in response to the demand for safe learning spaces, we have remained open, provided quality education, repaired a collapsed sewer line and damaged roof, expanded our Elementary program, and became one of the only summer enrichment programs to remain open.

We have a saying: the child is the promise of humanity.

St. Croix Montessori believes that access to education should never be determined by socioeconomic status.

Thus, we fundraise to provide scholarships to over 50% of our families. On average, St. Croix Montessori’s fundraising results in 25-50% of the total amount waived for scholarships for low-income families, which are 35% of our population.

Our commitment is to practice our core beliefs. For example, the Head of School refused to take a salary for over a year so that teachers could receive a living income. In the face of rent increases and housing shortages, the Head of School continues to receive less than half of her salary so that all available funds can be directed towards teaching, learning, and ensuring the integrity of our school’s operations. Our team, at their personal expense, is in the process of becoming cross-trained in order to address the realities of life (e.g. we get sick; our relatives pass; our children are ill) and still provide support to our students.

 

The Global Giving community is saving children in St. Croix.

In 2015, 40% of all VI children entering public kindergarten lacked age expected cognition skills and over half (55%) lacked age-expected word recognition and comprehension skills for kindergarten readiness (USVI KidsCount 2015). In comparison, 85% of St. Croix Montessori’s students who are eligible for promotion (i.e. 1st grade, 3rd grade, or 6th grade) perform at or above grade level, and transition successfully into public, parochial, and other independent schools.

And our classrooms are filled!

In September 2018, public school students were promoted to the next grade despite having had a year of half-day sessions. Many were sent back to schools with hurricane damage. In comparison to St. Croix Montessori, the only other choice for non-parochial education on St. Croix charges over $12,000 a year for Elementary education and increases to $16,000 per year for middle school.

On an island whose median family income is $42,000 (pre-hurricane), we ask: how can we ensure equitable access to education exists for all families?

The Challenges & Joys of Being Different

St. Croix Montessori is unlike most independent schools. We operate more closely to a public Montessori program, yet don’t receive the support of our public counterparts; nor do we have an endowment or affluent, enrolled families.

The reality of continuing to provide access to wholistic, child-centered education is challenged by an island in crisis and our school having:

  • Full responsibility for all damages to the leased campus and property, including ongoing maintenance (over $10,000 per year), routine repairs (approximately $5,000 per year), and property insurance, which doubled in annual costs.
  • Hurricane Repairs total over $200,000; we have not received disbursements from FEMA, SBA, or Insurance.
  • Rent was increased three times since the two hurricanes, even as critical plumbing infrastructure collapsed and the school requested an agreement that would not compromise our ability to remain open
  • Our Elementary programs are at capacity with a waiting list; space on STX is in demand.

Enabling access to schools is a critical cornerstone in securing an economic future; it is also a fundamental requirement for humanity.

The Joy of Being Different: Together with the GlobalGiving community, we build a network of relationships whose purpose is to support families on STX and create a scalable, model system of education that always places the child first.

The magnitude of change needed in the USVI makes it clear that closing the education gap and ensuring St. Croix’s children have the skills for a 21st century world, requires investment in partnerships that are built upon an equitable collaboration philosophy and community of practice.

St. Croix Montessori, with a team of 6, has been steadily growing its relationships to meet this call. With you and our global Montessori partners commited to ensuring our school survives through the next year of hurricane recovery, we will transition from survival to a model for thriving. Parents, who have donated their talents and time to building, repairing, and cleaning, join this commitment. 

You, our GlobalGiving community, have ensured that 37 children, and their families, can discover the joys of learning and feel the security of knowing they have a school for another year.

Learning takes place for everyone in the family!
Learning takes place for everyone in the family!
Montessori Dads oversee the joyful return of kids
Montessori Dads oversee the joyful return of kids
Teaching the colors of the rainbow
Teaching the colors of the rainbow
A joyful return back to her island home!
A joyful return back to her island home!

Links:

Sep 11, 2018

Rebuilding One Home at A Time

Members of the LTRG working to restore a roof.
Members of the LTRG working to restore a roof.

Introduction

The St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group (STX LTRG) is a collaborative partnership of nonprofit and volunteer organizations, faith-based organizations, as well as federal and local government agencies, private sector businesses and concerned citizens, working together to address the recovery needs of individuals of the St. Croix community in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.  According to current estimates, some 3000 territory residents will need Disaster Case Management (DCM) assistance, followed by Unmet Needs support of the territorial LTRGs.  One of the greatest issues confronting the St. Croix community is the extensive number of damaged houses throughout the island still in need of repair. Today, one year after the hurricanes, when flying over St. Croix, the number of blue tarps on roofs is staggering. But because of the support of so many friends of St. Croix and Global Giving the St. Croix LTRG has completed nine (9) homes that house elderly who live alone, who would otherwise not have a roof and were living in hazardous conditions.  

The first volunteers for the volunteer rebuilding initiative arrived on June 2, 2018.  This followed a several month period of planning which included: hiring staff, recruiting volunteers, developing policies and procedures, securing volunteer housing, identifying initial homes to repair and purchasing vehicles (vans, trucks, trailer), tools, and an initial supply of building materials.

From June 2 to August 17th, we have hosted 9 volunteer groups, consisting of 155 volunteers.  They have provided 7,444 hours of free labor.  Most of our volunteers have come for two weeks, with some staying 3 weeks, a month and longer.  Six of the initial 9 groups have been from United Methodists Volunteers in Mission.  We have been fortunate to have had skilled groups, with one or more construction contractor leverage volunteers in almost every group along with carpenters and other people with building experience in addition to lesser skilled volunteers who come with a desire to work hard and help.

We are booked with volunteers constantly until Thanksgiving week, 2018.  We are presently accepting reservations for groups who want to come after that date. 

We are primarily repairing the homes of low and fixed income senior citizens who cannot afford a contractor.  Our labor is free. The homeowners contribute towards the building material cost with funds received from FEMA for that purpose.  We make up the remainder in material costs from donations for that purpose.  We are primarily rebuilding roofs.  We construct to a standard of “safe and dry”.   Homes go through a screening process for eligibility as a client and suitability for our rebuilding capacity.  As needed, we ask architects, engineers or draftsmen to help us create the rebuilding plans. 

The sections below describe in detail some of the work the volunteers have accomplished.

                                               HOME REBUILDING AND GUT PROJECTS

Homeowner: #1

Address: in Frederiksted town

Particulars:  Male senior citizen, veteran, lives alone.  Very old family house had evidence of neglected maintenance, storm damage and then further damage from the very close-by house next door burning down.  The homeowner did not have working electricity or plumbing when we started repairs.  House came to the attention of LDR due to its proximity to the Lutheran Social Services main office.  The homeowner lived in the house during rebuilding.

Work done:

The homeowner continued to live in the house as we worked and contributed with electrical work and painting.

Wood Section – work done

Floor – installed about 15 new floor joists and support posts.

Plumbing – replaced plumbing to get both the kitchen and bathroom working

Electrical – Installed a new meter base and rewired this section of the house completely

Walls – installed new wall studs as necessary, replaced exterior siding on one wall to replace damaged wood.

Roof – scissor new rafters alongside damaged and weakened existing rafters.  Installed hurricane clips.  Bolted ledger boards through the walls and attached straps to rafters.  Replaced the galvanize roofing.  Installed new facia boards and soffits.  Added gutters.

Doors – rebuilt exterior doors and jambs, built new steps to exit from this section to the courtyard.

Out building

Patched metal roofing and added hurricane clips.

Masonry Section

Doors & Windows – replaced entrance door jamb, replaced two upstairs windows

Plumbing – minimal plumbing to get upstairs bathroom working

Staircase – built a new staircase from courtyard to second floor (only access).  We did not plan to do this but realized the existing staircase was a safety hazard due to rotten supporting beams.

Roof – added wood to convert roof framing into trusses for additional support, installed hurricane clips connecting rafters to top plate and to ridge beam, added bolts to top plate to increase to one bolt per truss for strength, replaced old roof with new purlins and galvanized metal.  Reduced overhang size.  Added gutters.

Total hours of Volunteer Labor – 1,578.5

 Homeowner: #2

Address: Estate Hannah’s Rest, Frederiksted

Particulars:  Widowed, female senior citizen lives alone.  House suffered complete roof damage.  After the storm, due to her medical needs, her family sent her to Florida where she still resides waiting for her home to be repaired.  One of her sons engaged a contractor and used some of her FEMA funding to start repairs to one half of the house although he knew there was insufficient funding to replace the roof. More information about this rebuilding is below.  House was referred by the homeowner’s son who was aware that LSS had done rebuilding work after previous hurricanes.

Work done:

This is a house most easily understood as having two halves, a south half and a north half.  Each half has a gable end roof.

North half

Demolition – tore off remaining roof and ceiling pieces.  Muck and gutted the house and yard.

Roof – built a new ridge beam, installed new rafters, hurricane clips, plywood, felt, purlins, galvanized metal, facia board.  Installed ledger boards bolted through the walls and strapped rafters to the ledger boards.  Installed valleys where both roofs intersect. Replaced soffit and installed facia boards and gutters.

South half

Roof – this section was partially rebuilt by a contractor hired by the homeowner.  A ridge beam and rafters were installed.  The bond beam had been heavily damaged as the contractor gouged out sections looking for steel to tie the rafter too.  Very little steel was in the original bond beam.  As an alternative we added ledger boards bolted through the walls and strapped the board to the rafters as we did on the north half.  We installed hurricane clips, plywood, felt, purlins, galvanized metal, and facia board.  The rafter installation done by the previous contractor was not square and had irregular spacing.  This led to a slow process as we had to make multiple plywood cuts and it was equally difficult to place the galvanized metal roofing.  Installed facia boards and gutters 

Interior – Installed t-111 plywood as trim pieces to cover the areas where we bolted ledger boards and strapped down the gutters. 

Total Hours of Volunteer Labor – 1,447.5

Homeowner: # 3

Address: Estate la Grange, Frederiksted

Particulars: Female homeowner lives alone, has visual and auditory disabilities.  House was referred by a neighbor who provides assistance to the homeowner.  The homeowner lived in the house while we made repairs.

Work done:

Main damage to the house was a front second floor porch roof that was destroyed.  Without the roof all rain water entered the house causing a danger to the visually impaired homeowner.

Porch roof – minimal demolition, installed new rafters, purlins, galvanized metal and facia boards.

Back of house roof – replaced a few sheets of damaged galvanized metal.  Repaired other damaged and rusty sections with a three-step coating process.

Total Hours of Volunteer Labor  – 137

 Homeowner:  #4

Address: Stoney Ground, Frederiksted

Particulars:  Female, widowed senior citizen lives alone.  Has one daughter on St. Croix who also lost her roof.  Mother and daughter are in temporary housing and both will move in when the new roof is built.

Work done:

This house lost its complete roof.  In June we did muck and gut work and demolition as needed.  We built a new ridge beam changing the original flatter pitch to a 5/12 pitch. 

In July we resumed work on the house, installed plates on the tops of the walls and secured them with bolts and epoxy.  We installed rafters and hurricane clips connecting rafters to wall plates and ridge beams.  Installed collar ties on rafters on both ends of the house.  Built up masonry gable ends on both sides of the house to meet the new higher ridge beam and installed a bond beam on the gable ends.  Finished the roof with plywood sheathing, purlins and galvanized metal.  Installed facia and gutters.

Total Hours of Volunteer Labor – 916.5

Homeowner – #5

Address: Estate Catharine’s Rest

Particulars: Senior male homeowner lives alone.  Wife died two years ago, and he has not touched much in the house since then.  Homeowner has a daughter on St Croix at whose house he slept in following the storm.  He spends the days at his damaged house while the daughter is at work.  House had some hurricane damage and mold which was fixed by the HER program.

Work done:

A group of volunteers from an independent Christian church in Maryland, worked with the homeowner and his daughter to remove two dumpsters of items from the home, reorganize and clean.

Total Hours of Volunteer Labor  – 200.5

 

Midland Wesleyan Church

Address: Estate Calquohoun

Particulars:  The pastor asked for volunteer help to remove construction debris and tree limb debris from his parsonage area on the church property.

Work done:  A group of volunteers worked over a two-day period to complete the task.

Total Hours of Volunteer Labor  – 24

                     

                             RENOVATIONS FOR VOLUNTEER HOUSING & TRAUMA COUNSELING

St Dunstan’s School

Address: Estate Orange Grove, Christiansted

Particulars: Closed school, owned by the Episcopal Diocese.  The LTRG identified it as the best St. Croix site for volunteer housing due to its size and layout.

Work done:

Using some UMVIM volunteers along with volunteers from other groups we have done muck and gut work, minor repair to bathrooms and extensive cleaning and interior painting of classrooms (will be used for volunteer lodging) kitchen and bathrooms.

Future work includes creating a shower facility and outfitting the kitchen.

Total Hours of Volunteer Labor – 2,016  

IGGY

Iggy is a locally created storm trauma processing and reduction curriculum for children kindergarten through 3rd grade.  The main feature is a puppet show that creates a scene in the storm’s aftermath to show the impact on families and then processes to an ending designed to normalize feelings and give hope.  Volunteers with the assistance of LTRG members and crisis counselors have made 25 presentations to approximately 600 children. 

Total Hours of Volunteer Labor  – 162.5

 

                          UPCOMING PROJECTS: It’s more than a roof. It’s Home.

We are waiting for wood flooring to arrive in order to fix a bedroom in a hospice patient’s home, so the patient can be next to a bathroom.

Three houses with significantly damaged roofs are being prepared to be our next major projects.  Two houses with broken ridge beams are going through engineering and drawings process now to ready them for building permits.  A third house is being assessed for material needs.

We continue to receive rebuilding requests from the crisis counselors, disaster case managers and a hospice social worker as well as the general public.  People come to our office daily to fill out a referral from which is then sent to disaster case managers for initial screening.

 

                          FUTURE PLANS: Leveraging Renovations for More Volunteers

We intend to continue recruiting skilled construction teams and rebuilding the roofs of low and fixed income homeowners, primarily the elderly.  We will continue to need funds/St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group is currently identifying funding to subsidize building material costs.  But perhaps most importantly, we hope to be able to expand the program by finishing renovations on St. Dunstan’s School, which will allow us to house three times more volunteers than we can at our current location. We need /Further repairs to St. Dunstan’s School and we will also need additional vehicles and trucks for an expanded volunteer program.   It will require approximately $150,000 to finish that project.  Presently, we are seeking a donation of, or funds to buy, a ¾ ton crew cab truck to allow us to transport large loads of building materials with our trailer and carry additional volunteers.

Iggy is a locally created storm trauma program
Iggy is a locally created storm trauma program
crisis counselors have made 25 presentations
crisis counselors have made 25 presentations
Aug 22, 2018

CARE: Hurricane Recovery From the Ground Up

Our theater will be a shelter and arts center!
Our theater will be a shelter and arts center!

Within days of Hurricanes Irma and Maria (two Category 5 storms which devastated the Virgin Islands) in September 2017 almost a year ago, St. Croix Foundation for Community Development launched the CARE (Caribbean Assistance and Recovery Effort) Fund to provide direct support to front-line relief efforts and long-term recovery to the US Virgin Islands and neighboring Caribbean Islands.

Because of our generous global community – you—St. Croix Foundation is driving a comprehensive hurricane recovery and resiliency strategy with one overarching goal: to support impacted communities on St. Croix and in the Territory equitably and responsibly in order to ensure a sustainable, resilient recovery. We are conducting grantmaking but that’s just not enough! We are also providing programming of our own and serving as the fiscal sponsor for over 40 community-based organizations. That’s impact you are helping us to make!

CARING FOR OUR CARIBBEAN NEIGHBORS
First, in honor of our pledge to serve as a trusted conduit of funds for so many of our neighboring islands who were also devasted by the hurricanes, we recently distributed over $3,000 to the British Virgin Islands Red Cross, the Anguilla Community Foundation, St. Maarten’s Mental Health Foundation, and the Halo Foundation on Antigua to assist with their recovery efforts. Every dollar is meaningful as it represents a person who simply cared.

DATA REPORTS RELEASED TO COMMUNITY, PUBLIC OFFICIALS, AND FEDERAL RESERVE BANK
As reported in the third quarter, the Foundation received early results from our two surveys, the Nonprofit Capacity Assessment Study and Household Needs Assessment, and shared them with our GlobalGiving Community. Today, we are pleased to announce that we officially released the two comprehensive reports in June. The first of its kind in the Territory, we ensured that local community stakeholders had access to the data and directly distributed the reports to the community foundations on our sister islands, the Virgin Islands Government, the St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group, and the Federal Reserve Bank, to name just a few. The reports underlined the importance of building capacity for our nonprofits in the recovery process; but they also shined a light on residents’ individual household needs.

Shortly after the release of the reports, the Foundation was contacted by a representative from the US Department of Agriculture who said, “This report has been very helpful and provided specific insight. Are you aware of any similar efforts taking place on St. Thomas and St. John to highlight the nonprofits in particular?” This testimony was invaluable to the Foundation: our work informs how we approach every aspect of community development and hurricane recovery. Being data-driven and community-minded is critical during these times!

Also, in June, St. Croix Foundation presented at a forum hosted in New York by the Federal Reserve Bank. During this time, the Foundation presented our data reports and advocated for St. Croix through an equitable lens. With 60% of blue roof tarps in the Territory on the island of St. Croix, (which also has the highest poverty rate of 41%), an equitable recovery is an imperative. The convening afforded us the opportunity to advocate for St. Croix and St. Croix’s nonprofits with organizations such as Newman’s Own Foundation and the Association for Black Foundation Executives and set the stage for the Foundation to leverage our partnerships for greater impact.

A SNEAK PREVIEW OF CARE GRANT IMPACT
At the St. Croix Foundation, our grantees are partners, so although our CARE Grantees from the first cycle in March are busy implementing their projects and final reports are not due yet, we’re excited to report some early success stories! Here’s just a few things our grantee partners have accomplished to date:

  1. A New Executive Director at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts!
    Imagine an organization that had no executive director in the aftermath of a hurricane, making it impossible to run programs, gain traction and play an active role in the community’s holistic recovery. Recognizing the critical role that the arts play in healing communities in distress, the Foundation made a deeply impactful investment which is reaping tremendous benefits already!

    In July, the Foundation awarded a grant which funded half of the salary of a new Executive Director for the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts (CMCA). Having already conducted critical organizational development work for their operations, CMCA is beginning to turn vision into action and impact in just two months. Since Executive Director Mike Wilson’s arrival on island from New York City, CMCA has met with countless community members and is now developing a strategic plan that is community grounded and culturally relevant. In terms of programming, the CMCA is actively bringing community to its doors by: (1) extending its free Jazz Concert Seriesthrough its West End Music Institute; (2) hosting a “Silent Party” in a historic courtyard; (3) creating a space for farm-to-table, cultural experiences for St. Croix’s growing culinary and spirits community, (4) making the museum accessible online, and (5) hosting critically important summer enrichment programs in a community with limited offerings for youth in the aftermath of the storm. Our investment is already paying off.

  2. Filling Critical Mental Health Gaps
    With a $3,950 grant from St. Croix Foundation, a team of physicians and psychiatrist leaders led by Dr. Donna Christensen (former Delegate to Congress), and consisting of Patricia Newton (CEO and Medical Director of Black Psychiatrists of America, Inc.) and Annelle Primm (Chair of the All Healers Mental Health Alliance) traveled to the Territory to participate in face-to-face meetings on St. Thomas and St. Croix with stakeholders concerned about increasing psychiatrists and psychiatric services in the USVI.  In addition to participating in the meeting of the Steering Committee of the Mental Health Coalition, the team met with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Regional Administrator, the Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner of Health, the executive staff at the St. Thomas East End Community Health Center, and the Frederiksted Health Center, just to name a few.

    The team expressed their deep appreciation for the support from the Foundation, which they indicated set the Territory on a path to bringing needed, culturally concordant psychiatric services to the people of the Virgin Islands, both in the short and long term. The group's aim is to work with the local mental health community to develop services that will be sustainable.

  3. The Importance of Dance
    Our local dance companies do more than teach technical skills. They are not only the heartbeat of a legacy of culture that remains strong but are also ramping up their classes so that they can serve more children who have been displaced at home and at school. Our two dance companies, Caribbean Dance School and Music in Motion, combined, serve countless students, and to keep them strong St. Croix Foundation awarded $7,500 to repair damages to the Caribbean Dance School and $7,000 to Music in Motion (pictured at right) in order for them to keep their doors open and house students who were only in school half day due to 8 of 13 public schools being condemned.

  4. Supporting Children and Families
    Children and families are the cornerstone of our community, representing the present and the future. They have been severely impacted by the hurricanes. As such, the Foundation is supporting them with off-cycle funding for scholarships, capacity building, and after school programs.
  • Our public high school seniors and college students had quite a challenge this year. Between trying to make plans to attend college despite having no electricity or attending their last year of high school with only 4 hours of instruction per day, and with few school guidance counselors left on island- our students had a mountain of challenges to overcome this year. As a result, the Foundation awarded two young people, a future lawyer and future nurse, tuition scholarships totaling $14,500 to keep their dreams intact.
  • To build capacity within the Virgin Islands Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) so this vital organization could help parents work through the difficult conditions at school and at home, the Foundation awarded our Territorial PTSA $3,500 to attend the National PTSA 2018 convention in Louisiana.
  • The Foundation also awarded the St. Patrick Alumni Association, Inc. $5,600, which works in Frederiksted, the area that received the most damage from the hurricanes. They are restoring hope to 50 children and their families and providing real instruction and cultural activities to mitigate the long-term physical and psychological conditions caused by the hurricanes. Their afterschool tutorial program consists of both an academic and a steel pan training program.  These two programs run for 9 months throughout the academic school year and serve children and youth ranging from ages 5 to 15 years.

FISCAL SPONSORSHIP FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
St. Croix Foundation is not a conventional foundation that serves primarily as a fund developer and grantmaker; instead, we are a conduit of funds, ensuring that charitable projects are able to apply for grants and receive donations for strategic community work. Just since the hurricanes in September of 2017, St. Croix Foundation has managed $400,000 in hurricane relief funds for the following grassroots projects and local nonprofits that are working double-time to meet unmet needs:

  • ReVIve: In the first 100 days, Revive, a community-based project, brought in hundreds of thousands of pounds of immediate relief supplies to residents in need.
  • Clean Sweep Frederiksted – Frederiksted, the hardest hit from the hurricanes, had a lot of clean up work to do. Enter Clean Sweep Frederiksted, a grassroots movement whose mission is to keep the historic town a welcoming, economically thriving community space! To thank the linemen who helped to restore electricity in Frederiksted, they held a special dinner to show their appreciation.
  • Neighbor to Neighbor is literally knocking on doors and referring residents to service providers. They are checking in with and assisting the elderly and the disabled, in clearing their properties of debris, in turn bringing community closer in the process.
  • Our St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group has brought together over 9 volunteer groups and is putting roofs on houses to keep residents sheltered and safe with tools from the Foundation’s Tool Bank created through a donation from the Danish Emergency Management Agency.
  • Team Paladin Youth Sailing, which teaches public school students to sail, lost their boat in Hurricane Maria and is now working to replace it to ensure that every child has access to sailing.
  • Just about every public-school teacher lost their supplies in the hurricanes. The Virgin Islands Department of Education, St. Croix District, is striving to replace critical back-to-school items in time for the 2018-2019 School Year. To assist with this endeavor, the Foundation provided teachers at the Claude O. Markoe Elementary School with $3,000 worth of gift cards to Office Depot.

THE ALEXANDER THEATER: RESILIENCY PLANNING AND SO MUCH MORE...
When the Foundation became the court-appointed receiver of several historic properties in the heart of downtown Christiansted, the Old Alexander Theater became a key element of the Foundation’s downtown revitalization vision and strategy.

Once a thriving movie theater and the center of economic activity in the mid to late-1900s, the theater currently stands in disrepair. We are incredibly happy to report that, after months of convenings and the dedicated work of our staff, the theatre has been approved as a First Tier Restoration Project by FEMA. Not only will the Alexander Theatre become a critical community disaster shelter that can house up to 300 people in downtown Christiansted, but it will be also transformed into a state-of-the-art performing arts center that will include a movie screen and a stage for a wide variety of performances. Since most of the 8 public schools condemned after the hurricanes also served as disaster shelters, the Community is currently facing an urgent crisis during this current hurricane season with limited options for sheltering. This project has, consequently, become of urgent import for the Territory in preparation for the 2019 hurricane season.

The rehabilitation of the theater will also provide the only inside amphitheater on St. Croix large enough to accommodate conferences and large gatherings, ensuring Christiansted’s continual evolution as an economically viable location to conduct business. The theater is also slated to be a job training center for youth pursuing careers in hospitality as well as theater and music production. To make the theater’s restoration a reality, the Foundation is currently seeking a reimbursable grant in the amount of $250,000 in order to begin work before FEMA reimburses the Foundation.

SOLAR ENERGY PROJECT: A MODEL OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY
To build on our commitment to sustainable re-development, St. Croix Foundation, in collaboration with Sustainable Systems and Design International, Lions Den Solar, and the Virgin Islands Workforce Board is developing a Solar-supported Community Demonstration Program which develop "pilot" resilient working communities. The project will serve as a replicable model of sustainable community development powered by affordable, energy cost reducing, solar-PV systems installed in neighborhood-based Community Centers. The Foundation is pursuing this program urgently given that the 2017 direct strike of Hurricane Maria on St Croix exposed the critical need for energy independence in isolated neighborhoods.

The overall program goal is to develop centrally located solar powered community centers in some of our more vulnerable underserved communities. The program will also incorporate a workforce development component to provide on-the-job training for local youth interested in pursuing careers in solar energy. While the Virgin Islands Workforce Board is providing most of the funding for this project, the Foundation is working hard to raise matching funds in the amount of $60,000.

The Foundation is working with private and public-sector partners to develop and institute comprehensive resiliency strategies for St. Croix and the Territory with program components that can be activated during times of emergency and disaster.

THE URBAN LAND INSTITUTE
Overall, the Virgin Islands has a long road of rebuilding ahead of us. And, as an operating foundation, St. Croix Foundation is utilizing a data driven approach to sustainable recovery by providing strategic grantmaking and direct services designed to leverage scarce community resources and ensure deep measurable outcomes.

In June the Virgin Islands Housing Authority engaged the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a global land use consortium of experts, to visit St. Croix to conduct a comprehensive, independent, land use assessment for downtown Christiansted. With a 71-year legacy of convening teams of national and global experts, ULI spent several weeks on St. Croix with an expert team of real estate developers, housing experts, cultural anthropologists, architects and engineers. SCF assisted ULI in developing the stakeholder interview list. These specialists toured the town and interviewed key local stakeholders and, when all was said and done, released a report that was affirmation of the Foundation’s findings and our evolving community vision. Their recommendations were also partly aligned with the Christiansted Town Plan (conceived by local architect Gerville Larsen in 2013) which was duly crafted, voted on, and approved by the Economic Development Authority (EDA).

ULI’s final recommendations, which have been supported and shared by the Foundation for years, is a blueprint for an economic development strategy for St. Croix that includes the following:

  • Equitable economic development that ensures all residents have access to opportunities
  • Bigger is not necessarily better (smaller economy with incremental growth)
  • Focus on the fundamentals like roads and crime
  • Make small business entrepreneurship a priority
  • Keep cultural identity central to development (moving away from cruise ships and toward cultural and heritage tourism)
  • Commit to new technologies that can transform our towns into smart cities
  • Foster an agribusiness sector (with fidelity)
  • Put local people first

WORKING WITH PURPOSE
The St. Croix Foundation’s work is today aimed directly at using smart technology to serve our most vulnerable residents, providing for our farmers to increase food security, and focusing on small, neighborhood-based models.

Taking into consideration the demographic realities of St. Croix, with higher poverty rates and fewer economic resources, St. Croix Foundation’s CARE Fund is supporting St. Croix non-profits by targeting those that are filling critical social service gaps with fewer financial resources. Our commitment is to support a holistic recovery through a community-based approach to sustainable re-development.

We truly feel connected to our Global Community and wish to thank the many foundations and donors who make it possible for us leverage funds for long-term, capacity building that goes far beyond immediate recovery. This is community development. This is impact. This is philanthropy.

Dance is a safe place for displaced children...
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