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Nonprofit Consortium of St. Croix (USVI)

by St. Croix Foundation for Community Development
Nonprofit Consortium of St. Croix (USVI)
The Consortium: By Community for Community!
The Consortium: By Community for Community!

Like so many residents in the Caribbean, all of us at St. Croix Foundation took a deep breath and sighed with relief on November 30 as we marked the end of another hurricane season. Luckily for the Virgin Islands, we came out of this season relatively unscathed! That was not the case for our neighbors in the Bahamas. And so, while we are hypersensitive about the threats afoot in this new normal of stronger, more destructive weather systems, we believe it presents an unprecedented opportunity for our Territory to transform so many of our broken systems that are on the brink.

In fact, it wasn’t the 2017 hurricanes that informed St. Croix Foundation’s decision to expand our work beyond grantmaking and fiscal sponsorship to include nonprofit coalition building. It was actually back in 2014 that we first began convening nonprofits on St. Croix in response to the closure of a 50-year-old oil refinery, which left the Island reeling from expanded social needs and dwindling resources to support those needs. Recognizing that nonprofits must be strong for Communities to be healthy, we officially launched our Nonprofit Consortium in 2016 with the Vision of both streamlining and amassing our civic sector’s collective efforts.

One year later, when Hurricanes Maria and Irma hit, we realized that this single strategy was perhaps one of the key levers to building resilience and ensuring our community is healthy and safe through any future economic, natural, or political ‘storms.’

Today, we extend our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to GlobalGiving and our cadre of partners, including the nearly 100 nonprofits who sit at the table with us regularly and who have advanced their own organizational work as well as spearheaded advocacy work through the Consortium. Together we are shaping a stronger foundation upon which to grow this work as a collective community.  The work completed in the last quarter serves as a testament to the deep relationship building our nonprofits have nurtured over the past three years and will significantly influence our work ahead. 

The Environmental Sector Holds Town Hall Meeting on Oil Refinery
As we’ve reported in the past, our Nonprofit Consortium is working to build organizational capacity for members and participants in order for them to fulfill their mission and provide direct services to our community as expanded needs require.

The Consortium also works on a Sector-wide basis as well, linking the collective efforts of mission-aligned organizations in the following sectors: youth and education; health and wellbeing; arts and culture; and the natural and built environs. On a whole, the Consortium intersects all four sectors, seeking to build a broad-based and cohesive vision while providing a convening space for nonprofits to collaborate and expand operational capacity through targeted direct services, information sharing, and collective advocacy.

This past May, the Environmental Sector of our Nonprofit Consortium held its first Environmental Forum to provide data to key stakeholders on the risks of climate change in the USVI, including the risks associated with climate change and heavy industry in small island communities.

Then, on November 5th the Nonprofit Consortium held its first informal Community Information Town Hall Session to hear updates on the reopening of the Limetree Bay Terminals & Refinery which was once one of the largest oil refineries in the Western Hemisphere. The Town Hall was standing room only, with over 100 people in attendance.

As a trusted Neutral Community Convener, St. Croix Foundation and the Consortium’s Environmental Sector hopes this Town Hall will be the first of many Community Conversations, led by Community for Community. The gathering served as an information session through which residents had the opportunity to learn about environmental hazards, public safety standards and reporting protocols relative to monitoring and emergency response. Panel members included several policymakers as well as the Commissioner and Staff of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency Director; who addressed questions about the refinery restart.

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

EngageVI.org
Our November convening was really about empowering people in the Virgin Islands to build real competencies around civic engagement in order to nurture the Community we all envision for ourselves and our families. The Foundation, as a follow up to the Town Hall, created a website at  www.ENGAGEVI.org that is intended to be the very first iteration of what we hope will become a forum for information sharing, for environmental consciousness ad for all issues that significantly impact the health, welfare, environment, and future of this Territory.

Using Data to Shine a Light on St. Croix’s Asset & Focus Resources
In our last report, we provided updates on the work of the Consortium to begin an asset mapping initiative of our nonprofit sector. Our overarching objective has been to inventory the impact of the work being led by nonprofits, in addition to assessing their needs and inhibitors to effectively fulfilling their missions and capacity to serve some of our most vulnerable residents. In September, we launched A 2019 Impact Survey for Nonprofits which was disseminated to over 30 nonprofits.  Twenty-two Organizations, representing all four sectors of our Consortium, responded. The survey zeroed in on the status and impact of nonprofits by seeking to understand the level of organizational stability at the executive level, funding sources, the number of community members served, and more. Sample questions included the following:

  • Does your organization have an executive succession plan?
  • In 2017 (prior Hurricanes Irma and Maria), how much did your organization raise philanthropically to support your programming in St. Croix?
  • What is the most difficult constituency to capture data around?
  • What data would your organization like to collect?

Today, the Consortium is compiling the data collected as we prepare to enter into the next phase of our data collection project in February 2020. At that time, we will prepare an Executive Summary with the goal of presenting findings (relative to each NPC Sector) to National Foundation Executive Partners who will be joining us on St. Croix for St. Croix Foundation’s Fourth Annual Philanthropy Retreat.

Data, Advocacy, Social Transformation: The Power of Civic Organizations
Our Consortium has taught St. Croix Foundation a lot. We have learned that, in our community, a significant number of our social service organizations (particularly those on the frontlines) are fulfilling the role of municipal government.

In reality, many nonprofits are stabilizing forces in our community just as they are in many communities. They hold Vision steady; they advocate for public policy; they save lives; and they drive social change. Ultimately, nonprofits play a central role in not just the ECOLOGY of our community, but in the ECONOMY of our community. As such, SCF is committed to supporting our nonprofits holistically as a critical component of our Territory’s resilience, and we hope you will continue to stay the course with us as we deepen our work!

3 Levels of Nonprofit Capacity Building for Impact
3 Levels of Nonprofit Capacity Building for Impact
May's Environmental Forum leads to Town Hall.
May's Environmental Forum leads to Town Hall.
Refinery Town Hall Session was standing room only!
Refinery Town Hall Session was standing room only!
EngageVI: A new space for resources and dialogue.
EngageVI: A new space for resources and dialogue.
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Collaboration training for action & systems change
Collaboration training for action & systems change

The Atlantic Hurricane “Season” is from June 1st to November 30th of every year with peak activity occurring in September. This year, as with every year, countless people throughout the Caribbean and the eastern coast of the United States are watching satellite images, tracking storms, and preparing their homes for six months of the year – all the while hoping and praying. While Hurricane Dorian did minimal damage on St. Croix, its impact on our sister islands, St. Thomas and St. John, was felt more directly. As we collectively grieved for the catastrophic damage Dorian wreaked on the Bahamas, St. Croix Foundation for Community Development is profoundly cognizant that the process of recovery in the face of Category 5 hurricanes is a long and arduous one. As island nations around the world are being forced to annually deal with the global impacts of climate change, the Foundation is committed to leading a progressive and focused resiliency agenda for the people of St. Croix and the entire Virgin Islands.

With St. Croix’s only hospital still condemned two years after Category 5 Hurricanes Maria and Irma and with almost half of our public schools closed, we are still living with the long-term impacts of the disaster. We also know recovery is no quick exercise. Once the emergency relief ends, the process of rebuilding the social consciousness and systems begins – and it can take decades. During and after hurricanes it is communities, it is neighbors, it is the social infrastructure of a place that must come together, collaboratively, to foster front-line survival and long-term recovery. We witnessed it every day. And that’s why the Foundation is dedicated to continuing to build on the momentum we have achieved by nurturing greater capacity in our nonprofits through our Nonprofit Consortium.

With over 25 official members and another 20 active participants, our NPC represents every sector in our civil society– from arts and cultural heritage to health human welfare – and, during this past quarter has been building off previous strategies to leverage our momentum for greater impact. The NPC continues to empower and equip nonprofits with the tools to hone in on specific actions around strengthening our resiliency and embedding it into a holistic, equitable and sustainable Vision.

We’re mindful, every single day, that we could not do this without our GlobalGiving partners, and in honor of communities just like ours who are struggling, we want you to know that we build with intention to help create a community-based model of resiliency.

Skill-Building that Empowers Leaders to Advocate and Serve
In June, St. Croix Foundation invited world-renowned systems change strategist, Tuesday Ryan-Hart back to St. Croix for her second visit with our Nonprofit Consortium and community members.

Last summer, Ms. Ryan-Hart introduced local nonprofits to a new concept of community engagement, entitled “The Art of Hosting” (AoH), to initiate conversations and training around high impact collaborations and leadership development. This summer, building off her first visit, Ms. Ryan-Hart provided more individualized trainings around collaboration and shared work to nurture further capacity around the spirit of collaboration to address systemic issues. Today, the Foundation is acutely sensitized to the fact that Systemic Change in our Civic Sector (and all sectors of our community) must happen in order for our entire Territory to not only survive but to thrive. As such, the Foundation has committed to drilling down deeper.

Ms. Ryan-Hart along with fellow AoH practitioner, Kelly McGowan, took a deeper dive into the concepts surrounding the Art of Hosting and provided fully immersive trainings in the practice. In total, over 40 nonprofit partners attended the two-day workshop in which diverse community stakeholders explored and unpacked barriers to effective collaborations to include acknowledging perceptions of where and how Power sits in a room; mutual agreements around shared work and shared values; how stakeholders host themselves as Individual Leaders vs. Organizational Leaders in collaborative spaces;  and how to find balance between Chaos and Order in complex systems.

Ms. Ryan-Hart’s engagement represents the deepening of our commitment to a progressive and sustainable approach to capacity building in our civic sector. Thanks to our GlobalGiving family, and some very special corporate and individual friends of the Foundation, the Nonprofit Consortium will continue to provide vital services to our community while also moving the needle on entrenched social issues.

The Nonprofit Consortium Connects for Data and Advocacy
In August, the Nonprofit Consortium hosted a week of sector meetings for St. Croix nonprofits to explore the following:

Organizational Sustainability, including how the Nonprofit Consortium (as a body) can contribute to the mission and vision of each individual organization; and how the NPC can help organizations meet the fiscal and organizational needs of nonprofits given system-wide dysfunction. 

Community Organizing, including strengthening consensus on place-based priorities and determining the necessary steps for diverse nonprofits to come together around work to leverage resources for greater impact.

Consortium Building, identifying strategies and specific implementation steps to move collective work forward and establishing evaluation methods.

After four days of work with 20 organizations sitting at the table, the NPC determined that data collection is one of the most critical variables in ensuring organizational sustainability, the ability to be effective community organizers and to build capacity within the Consortium itself. The Consortium established major milestones and metrics to be observed and formally committed to a six-month deep dive into the data behind their work. Beginning with a planning phase in September and a 3-month period during which relevant sector-related data will be collected, the NPC has a projected date of February 2020 to begin reporting to the community and global stakeholders.

Making the Case for St. Croix on Capitol Hill
While the Consortium builds capacity, St. Croix Foundation continues to take every opportunity to educate the nation on the true conditions people in the Virgin Islands are still facing.

Our president, Deanna James along with the Foundation’s Local Disaster Recovery Manager, Kemit Lewis, traveled to the capitol this past August to build networks and support for the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to direct more federal and philanthropic resources to the Territory and more specifically to our local nonprofits on St. Croix.

Our Delegates were able to describe the St. Croix story, which dates back much farther than the two Cat. 5 storms that hit the island in 2017 - from the reality of being a territory with no voting rights to the lingering impact of Hurricane Hugo and the economic recession resulting from a failed oil refinery.

As the Foundation and the Nonprofit Consortium work to move the needs forward on true resilience over the long-term, ensuring that the reality of St. Croix’s needs and assets are fully understood is paramount—and the Foundation is committed to giving voice to Virgin Islanders and strengthening our nonprofits.

The Voice of the Civic Sector
We thank our GlobalGiving partners near and far for their commitment to St. Croix and the Virgin Islands. Not only has your partnership provided financial and networking resources for us to show the power of philanthropy when partners of all sizes collaborate – it has given us an opportunity to have a voice far beyond our shores. That empowerment leads St. Croix Foundation to pay it forward, and we will soon be announcing and sharing a very special Movement Building Activity that our Nonprofit Consortium will be voicing this fall.

We’ve only just begun…

Neighbors, community, healing. Post Maria, 2017
Neighbors, community, healing. Post Maria, 2017
Deanna James, President, advocates on Capitol Hill
Deanna James, President, advocates on Capitol Hill
Nonprofit Consortium's 4 Sectors: On the Move!
Nonprofit Consortium's 4 Sectors: On the Move!
The Art of Hosting (and collaboration) in action!
The Art of Hosting (and collaboration) in action!
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22 organizations become members of our Consortium!
22 organizations become members of our Consortium!

Before Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the U.S. Caribbean, St. Croix Foundation couldn’t have known how critical our Nonprofit Consortium would become over the next several years. But as a nimble and innovative place-based community foundation committed to equity, resilience, and collaboration (even before the storms), we knew how important social infrastructure was for the overall health and welfare of a place. We had also seen the powerful impact of strong nonprofits. Initially conceptualized in response to the growing economic crisis on St. Croix, in September 2016 the Foundation launched our Nonprofit Consortium and for a year prior to the hurricanes had been steadily building unity and trust among over 35 organizations. When two Category 5 Hurricanes hit St. Croix in September 2017, nonprofits who’d been working together for a year launched into action, sharing resources - from information about conditions on the ground to labor, equipment, and office space - to get urgent recovery needs filled.

As another hurricane season stretches before us, for the Virgin Islands (and many communities just like ours) the stakes are high. With many residents still living under tarped roofs; with our only community hospital scheduled for a complete rebuild despite still being in limited service; and with the actual rebuilding of physical infrastructure just beginning, support from our global philanthropic community is now more important than ever before. For our community at this time, our social infrastructure is in fact equally (if not more) important as the capacity of local nonprofits (like our community health clinic) to serve and fill gaping service voids can literally mean the difference between life and death for our residents.

The Foundation’s June report is quite special to us because not only have we begun to formalize the building blocks of the Nonprofit Consortium, but we are pleased to report that the work, which has never stopped, is now honing in on targeted activities for a holistic community-based recovery. But first, we would like to pause and dedicate this special report to the many donors – corporate, individual, global and local - who have made the work of the Consortium possible, including our friends at GlobalGiving. Thank you, because from collaborative partnerships and words of encouragement to financial support, you have been a part of the work.

Formalizing the Nonprofit Consortium (NPC)
Today St. Croix Foundation is incredibly pleased to report that in April, 22 partners in our Nonprofit Consortium signed Memorandums of Understanding, becoming official members and pledging their commitment to work on building a system of nonprofit collaboration. The Memorandums of Understanding outlined roles and responsibilities of each member for the next year.

The first ‘official’ members of our NPC represent four sectors: Culture & the Arts, Youth & Education, the Natural & Built Environs, and Health & Human Welfare, and range from grassroots movements to formal 501(c)3 organizations. All members are firmly committed to the Foundation’s vision of a robust civic sector on St. Croix and throughout the territory. Over the course of the next year, the NPC’s goal is to expand formal membership to include the entire nonprofit sector on the island and in turn, grow to be an active coalition Territory-wide. Led by an Advisory Committee, comprising a broad cross-section of community stakeholders, consortium members will be provided targeted capacity-building support and from time-to-time convenings will be opened to a wider segment of the local nonprofit community.

The Foundation’s overarching goal is to leverage existing assets in our community into real social infrastructure in order to nurture a more sustainable and resilient recovery. The following organizations and civic projects are now official members of our Nonprofit Consortium and represent a holistic framework for the priorities of the Consortium, its expansion, and ultimately, its impact!

  • Christiansted Community Alliance
  • Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls
  • Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts
  • Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism, Inc.
  • Clean Sweep Frederiksted
  • Diane Hampton Breast Cancer Project
  • Fish with a Vet
  • FYR is LIT
  • Liberty Place
  • Lutheran Social Services of the Virgin Islands
  • Music In Motion School of Higher Dance Education
  • Per Ankh
  • St. Croix Animal Welfare Center
  • St. Croix Environmental Association
  • St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group
  • St. Croix Montessori
  • Virgin Islands Caribbean Cultural Center
  • Virgin Islands Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council
  • Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition
  • Virgin Islands Partners for Healthy Communities
  • Women’s Coalition of St. Croix
  • Yvonne A. Galiber Foundation

NPC Sustainable Development Goal Priorities
Today members of the Consortium and nonprofits are participating in a survey to target the top three priority areas for collaboration (shared resources, accountability, and tactics for addressing challenges) for multi-layered impact. Results will inform the work of the Nonprofit Consortium as it continues to build governing structures. The NPC’s Sustainable Development Survey – in alignment with the United Nations’ own Sustainable Development Goals - will begin to develop consensus around the priorities for the NPC’s own collaborative work. To date, the NPC has developed the following seven focus areas from which the Nonprofit Consortium will identify its priorities:

  1. Zero Hunger- The development of strategies for food sovereignty and a focus on the eradication of hunger and poverty is central to resiliency and sustainability.
  2. Clean Water & Sanitation- Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in.
  3. Affordable & Clean Energy- Reliable and equitable access to sustainable energy are central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity.
  4. Sustainable Cities and Communities- Resilient communities provide opportunities for all, with access to basic services such as energy, housing, education, medical care, and transportation.
  5. Climate Action- Climate change is a global challenge that affects everyone, everywhere.
  6. Life Below Water- Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future.
  7. Life on Land- The ability to sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss is critical to all life.

These priorities will serve to frame the Consortium’s programming and will help to lead the Territory in the first broad-based conversation about sustainability.

Environmental Forum
As the Foundation prepared this report, our Nonprofit Consortium was hard at work wrapping up its first Environmental Resiliency Forum. Like a growing number of island states throughout the region that are establishing audacious goals around climate resiliency and energy carbon neutrality, the NPC is developing its own comprehensive environmental vision for St. Croix.

St. Croix is indeed facing a set of unique challenges, including the restart of one of the world’s largest oil refineries directly after the hurricanes. As such, the Nonprofit Consortium hosted an Environmental Forum this May 31st entitled The USVI Environmental Landscape and Activating Community Around Sustainability and Climate Change. The forum was specifically designed to disseminate information, provide a platform for unheard voices, engage national philanthropic partners around environmental justice and advocacy, and build a shared vision for the future.

In attendance were over 30 local nonprofit leaders with expert scholar, David Bond, who presented on the history and context of major environmental impacts such as the building of the HESS Oil Refinery and the Alumina Plant. Attorney Jack Dema also presented data he compiled as legal counsel for the Virgin Islands Government to contest the environmental impacts of the Refinery.

Outcomes from the forum include the development of a community-based Environmental Vision for the Territory.  Video from the forum is also being circulated to provide a broader cross-section of our community with a deeper understanding of the real impacts of heavy industry on St. Croix’s environmental landscape.

We hope you’ll take a moment and contact us at 340.773.9898 for footage and interviews from the Environmental Resiliency Forum.

AMERICORPS VISTA

An important objective for the Foundation for the past year has been completing the process of applying for a 15-member VISTA Team to assist eight organizations (including St. Croix Foundation) on St. Croix who have been active participants in our Nonprofit Consortium. With the majority of our nonprofits reporting an increased demand for their services while they grapple with few resources – including staffing – an AmeriCorps VISTA Team on St. Croix will be a major step toward enhancing the capabilities of our nonprofits. In the spring of this year, St. Croix Foundation asked for a VISTA Supervisor to meet with all the organization who will be participating in VISTA Project. The VISTA State Director spoke about the program and compliance and a work session for developing the VISTA assignment descriptions for each position was conducted.

Representing approximately 400 staff hours to date in coordination of nonprofit candidates and the development of a comprehensive application that includes detailed scopes of work and objectives for each organization, this project will be led by St. Croix Foundation, which will also serve as VISTA Team Lead for seven organizations:

  1. Caribbean Centers for Boys & Girls of the Virgin Islands
  2. Clean Sweep Frederiksted
  3. St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group
  4. St. Croix Montessori
  5. Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition
  6. St. Croix Landmarks Society
  7. Virgin Islands Historic Preservation Commission

The Foundation is pleased to report that we have completed the final submission of the application and, if reviews are favorable, our partnering nonprofits will be able to staff up and build infrastructure around programming and operations beginning in August of this year. This will be the first AmeriCorps VISTA Team to work on St. Croix in over 20 years.

Upcoming Activities
As always, we like to keep you updated on what we’ve got planned next, and the Foundation is currently working on our next convening already. We have invited Tuesday Ryan-Hart back to St. Croix for her second visit with our Nonprofit Consortium and community members, from June 19th-21st, Tuesday will be conducting more individualized trainings with nonprofits around collaboration and shared work.

Building off her first visit, during which she introduced our community to the concepts of Art of Hosting as a progressive pathway to sustained social change and collective impact, we are excited to nurture further capacity around the spirit of collaboration to address systemic issues.

Momentum for the Nonprofit Consortium
Over the course of the past year and a half, the GlobalGiving community has been integral to the Nonprofit Consortium’s momentum and impact. This work continues to be recognized as a progressive model for community resiliency and sustainable development. While more focus is typically directed at Physical Infrastructure in the aftermath of major disasters, what our Nonprofit Consortium has taught us is that, in reality, fortifying Social Infrastructure is oftentimes the most direct and rooted pathway to supporting vulnerable and marginalized populations. The Foundation is assured that our Consortium is a scalable model that can be replicated in other communities, especially since we have been asked to share our work and best practices with other island states in the region. The Consortium is also presenting us with a viable mechanism for building a broader network of social support systems nationally and throughout the Caribbean.

We are grateful for all of our Partners at GlobalGiving for sharing our vision. Thank you for believing with us that communities have the innate capacity to nurture and sustain resiliency from the inside out. We are just getting started and your partnership is simply invaluable to so many.

Scholar David Bond shares data at Environ. Forum.
Scholar David Bond shares data at Environ. Forum.
Our Environ. Forum draws diverse audience.
Our Environ. Forum draws diverse audience.
8 organizations receive VISTA training.
8 organizations receive VISTA training.
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NPC hosted its 3rd Annual Philanthropy Retreat
NPC hosted its 3rd Annual Philanthropy Retreat

December 2018 – February 2019

Nonprofit Consortium Convening

In December 2018, St. Croix Foundation gathered its Nonprofit Consortium member organizations to continue to design and discuss steps for formalization and to establish criteria for membership in order to legitimize the Consortium as an entity. Themes discussed included the datapoints for measuring success, how do we ready ourselves, specifically as individual organizations of a whole, for benchmark goals such as accreditation and creating an advocacy-based agenda for each Consortium Sector (Health & Human Services, Youth & Education, the Environs, and Arts & Culture). Out of this meeting, it was decided that the Nonprofit Consortium needed to move toward a more structured level of organization and, that a formal Memorandum of Understanding should be developed in order to strengthen the coalition. After the establishment of an advisory committee (consisting of member organization board members and external stakeholders) and several revisions of a draft MOU, the Consortium members agreed to a formal signing-day for the final memorandum of understanding in mid-March 2019.

Philanthropy Retreat

As previously discussed in early impact reports, a primary objective of the Nonprofit Consortium and the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development is to increase and maintain the national and international profile of philanthropy within the US Caribbean among national and international funders and their networks. With the aim of deepening philanthropic engagement, In February, the Foundation through our Nonprofit Consortium hosted its 3rd Annual Philanthropy Retreat. The invitation-only convening connected national and international senior philanthropy executives with board and staff of the Foundation and its Nonprofit Consortium partners. This year’s convening featured Executives from Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Council on Foundations, the Southeastern Council of Foundations, the Association of Black Foundation Executives, TIDES Foundation, GlobalGiving, and Partnership for Southern Equity.

As a vehicle for supporting St. Croix Foundation’s Nonprofit Consortium, which is an almost 3-year-old association of approximately 35 St. Croix nonprofits, the retreat afforded national funders insight into the inherent challenges and assets of St. Croix’s social and economic landscape.

The theme of this year’s convening was Civic Excellence: Demonstrating Impact in Rural & Isolated Communities. Over the course of 3 days, nonprofits and Foundation Executives convened around issues focused on diaspora philanthropy, social equity and nonprofit capacity building. The weekend also included an island tour with coordinated site visits, as well as a visit to the St. Croix Food and Agricultural Festival- the largest agricultural fair in the Caribbean. During the Retreat, Foundation Executives also gained first-hand insight into the passion and perseverance of St. Croix’s nonprofits which, despite being underfunded, and contending with major facility damages as a result of Hurricane Maria, continue to provide critical services to the most vulnerable residents. As the Foundation deepens our support for St. Croix’s Nonprofit Sector, we are challenging Consortium partners to build new safety networks and social infrastructure that inoculates at-risk residents from the threats of historically dysfunctional and broken governmental systems.

To date, through our Nonprofit Consortium, the Foundation has hosted over 15 Foundation Executives at past Retreats. As a result of each convening, despite the lack of national media attention on the impact of the 2017 storms on the island of St. Croix, the Foundation is building a growing cadre of philanthropic champions on the mainland who know St. Croix, who have intimate insight into St. Croix’s nonprofit landscape and who recognize the potential of our civic leaders to meet the immediate needs of the most vulnerable residents in our community while also building a global model for community resiliency in isolated and developing communities.

Environmental Convening

The Foundation’s Nonprofit Consortium has begun the planning process for an environmental forum scheduled for this summer. The purpose of the convening will be to bring awareness to St. Croix’s environmental sector of nonprofits and to direct focus on the environmental threats and opportunities for building real environmental resiliency for island communities like ours. Our Consortium partners seek to engage both national funders as well as environmental justice experts to provide guidance on how to nurture a culture of advocacy, sustainability and stewardship for the island’s precious natural resources.

A growing cadre of philanthropic champions
A growing cadre of philanthropic champions
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Breaking Through Barriers meeting in Atlanta, GA
Breaking Through Barriers meeting in Atlanta, GA

November 2018

EXPANDING THE MAP

A major objective for the St. Croix Foundation and the Nonprofit Consortium has been to maintain visibility on the radar of national funders and networks, especially throughout the recovery and rebuilding period. St. Croix Foundation participated in numerous convenings to continue to educate partners on the mainland regarding post-hurricane realities in our small-island community. In September, Deanna James, Executive Director participated in the Southeastern Council of Foundations’ Breaking Through Barriers meeting in Atlanta, GA. In October, she was invited to be a nonmember attendee at the Environmental Grantmakers Association Annual Retreat in Asheville, NC. For that retreat, Frandelle Gerard of the Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism entity joined Deanna and together they created an appetite for further education from Environmental Funders who will visit St. Croix in January 2019- many for the first time in their organization’s history. In November, as the first foundation members of the US Caribbean, St. Croix Foundation was invited to host a plenary session at the Southeastern Council of Foundations Annual Meeting, Bridge the Divide, in Louisville, Kentucky. Deanna James, as well as Nonprofit Consortium members Sommer Sibilly and Sonia Dow presented on the impact of place-based philanthropy in the US Virgin Islands in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The plenary focused on smart investment in the civic sector and sustainable rebuilding while warding off disaster capitalism. Link.

On November 27 the St. Croix Foundation participated in the USVI Alliance for Response Forum. During this Forum, key representatives of the Virgin Islands cultural heritage and arts organizations met with the Territory’s principal emergency managers and first responders to lay the foundation for facilitating increased cooperation and effective emergency response in times of disaster. Executive Director Deanna James was a member of the Source of Funding panel. Members of the panel provided information about funding for cultural heritage stewards and arts organizations for disaster preparedness, emergency response, recovery techniques and disaster mitigation strategies. The same forum was also held on the island of St. Thomas.

DEVELOPING LEADERS

The St. Croix Foundation continues to be a guiding and grounding voice in meetings with territorial, federal, and other recovery partners, recognizing that while the recovery of our physical infrastructure continues, our need to rebuild and strengthen our community and its diverse members is equally important; important to the cultural life of the island, important to the sense of community among our populations, and important to rebuilding a more sustainable future for the Island. AmeriCorps VISTA on St. Croix will be a major step to enhance the capabilities of our nonprofits today and develop more leaders for the future. Key finding from the Nonprofit Disaster Recovery and Capacity Assessment showed that more than 90% of the nonprofits had damage to their facility as a result of the storm. Most nonprofits (69.6%) reported an increased demand for program services, yet 72.8% of nonprofits survey respondents were still operating on a limited basis or not at all. 75% of respondents said funds were a current need for their organization, 76.4% expressed the need for assistance identifying grant opportunities and 50% of organizations needed assistance marketing and advertising. Additional data from these surveys can be found at the St. Croix Foundation website: http://www.stxfoundation.org/hurricane-recovery/care-fund/.

To that end, the St. Croix Foundation is proposing a 12 Member VISTA Team with a VISTA Leader to assist multiple non-profits. Our work with our team of St. Croix’s nonprofits has illuminated this one fact: everything really is connected to everything! When seemingly disparate organizations sit at one table and gain understanding of each other’s work and challenges, the intersections where missions and visions meet is unearthed, and bridges are built. We seek to continue directing resources at those points to support collective impact and sustainability. In line with the AmeriCorps VISTA Core Principles, St. Croix Foundation work is rooted in anti- poverty focus, community empowerment, sustainable solutions and capacity building.

The St. Croix Foundation is committed to providing increased services to nonprofit organizations and dedicated to VISTAs for this disaster recovery project including office space, shared professional services, professional development, and a network for grassroots and NGOs conducting hurricane relief efforts. In compliance with the VISTA Program Guidance, VISTAs will support the long-term recovery of the St. Croix community. Throughout their various roles with the nonprofits, VISTAs will provide programmatic, technical, research and outreach assistance. The Foundation anticipates that with greater data available and a stronger operational structure, nonprofits will be able to provide a more cohesive approach to fully uniting the civic sector around a vision for St. Croix and the Virgin Islands through our work with AmeriCorps VISTA. Through assistance from AmeriCorps VISTA and driven by data, nonprofit organizations spanning arts and culture, youth and education, public safety, environmental preservation and community revitalization will identify projects necessary for the community and partner on critical work that will them to leverage resources, to increase impact on targeted low-income populations, and to sustain and expand programs to ensure the future health and prosperity of this island community.

STAYING THE COURSE

As we continue to ensure that the Virgin Islands remains relevant and on the radar of many national funders, we are also ensuring that our nonprofits remain a part of the holistic recovery. We are currently preparing to host our 3rd Annual Philanthropic Retreat in February 2019. The Retreat will focus on our work during the recovery and our plans for rebuilding. Because of these convenings, we now have personal champions who know St. Croix, who know St. Croix Foundation, who know the passion and potential of our civic leaders, and who are working to open doors of opportunities for St. Croix.

Southeastern Council of Foundations' convening
Southeastern Council of Foundations' convening
Deanna James, ED discussing post hurricane reality
Deanna James, ED discussing post hurricane reality
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Organization Information

St. Croix Foundation for Community Development

Location: Christiansted - Virgin Islands
Website:
Twitter: @stxfoundation
Project Leader:
Deanna James
Christiansted, USVI Virgin Islands
$3,127 raised of $375,000 goal
 
37 donations
$371,873 to go
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