Nonprofit Consortium of St. Croix (USVI)

by St. Croix Foundation for Community Development
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Nonprofit Consortium of St. Croix (USVI)
Nonprofit Consortium of St. Croix (USVI)
Nonprofit Consortium of St. Croix (USVI)
Our Nonprofits Collaborate for Greater Impact!
Our Nonprofits Collaborate for Greater Impact!

The past few months have been busy for St. Croix Foundation’s Nonprofit Consortium as we continue to build capacity around our Nonprofit Consortium for 2022! To date, members of the Consortium have convened six times to plan this summer’s activities, which include another town hall series, a professional development series, and an A-Political Forum. As outlined in our last report, the Foundation’s goal for this year is focused on identifying new funding opportunities for capacity building for our civic sector. As local and federal recovery dollars from the 2017 hurricanes begin to flow into the community, building voice and power rooted in community is crucial to advancing the wellbeing of every resident. With thanks to all of the nonprofits, national partners, and of course, GlobalGiving, today the Nonprofit Consortium is a bonafide community asset!

Meet the 2022 Nonprofit Consortium!
St. Croix Foundation is pleased to introduce our family at GlobalGiving to the members of our Nonprofit Consortium. As a body, members of the Consortium pledge to collaborate within and across sectors, engage in convenings and workshops, and work toward a unified vision for St. Croix. Our members to date are diverse and represent all four sectors of our civil society!

  • Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the Virgin Islands
  • Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts
  • Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism (CHANT)
  • Frederiksted Health Care Center, Inc.
  • FYR is LIT (Fueling Youth Reading is Leaders in Training)
  • Helping Ordinary People Every Day (HOPE)
  • Liberty Place
  • Lutheran Social Services of the Virgin Islands
  • Music in Motion School of Higher Dance
  • Per Ankh
  • St. Croix Council of Elders
  • St. Croix Environmental Association
  • St. Croix Landmarks Society
  • St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group
  • Virgin Islands Breast Cancer Project
  • 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
  • World Ocean School
  • Yvonne A. Galiber Foundation, Inc.

Grantmaking + Collective Work = Exponential Impact!
The past 31 years have taught St. Croix Foundation that funding, while critical, is only part of a formula for equitable social impact. In fact, it is people, unified by a vision, that leads to true change. Recently, our Nonprofit Consortium has proven once again that collective work, coupled with flexible funding, has an exponential impact that is sustainable!

As reported at the beginning of this year, SCF’s CARE Fund recently awarded $160,000 to 11 of our Consortium Members for emergency COVID relief with funding from GlobalGiving. In the past three months, SCF awarded another $15,000 to the St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group to provide Disaster Case Management to elderly residents for the renovation of historic properties damaged in the 2017 storms. In total, the CARE Grant has awarded $175,000 in the past six months… but that funding has been leveraged several times over for greater impact and operational and programmatic capacity building.

In testimony to the impact of collective work, a cohort of our CARE Grant awardees has been collaborating on multiple levels and in doing so has achieved a true multiplier effect. World Ocean School, for example, took children and families to the sea through their marine STEM program– and contracted fellow NPC partner, Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism (CHANT), to offer a cultural and historic tour from the water. World Ocean School and CHANT both expanded access to their programming while also supporting CHANT’s operations. While working with World Ocean School, CHANT also provided facilities for FYR is LIT (Fueling Youth Reading is Leaders in Training) to conduct a leadership development session for their teens. CHANT’s discounted fee for space allowed for more program funds for FYR is LIT while also powering CHANT’s own operations. FYR is LIT also worked with Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts (CMCArts) on facilities and programming, who in turn did the same with the Virgin Islands Breast Cancer Project!

If this sounds like an intricately connected civic system, it should! Organizations flexed and pivoted as needed, found new resources, and met the spirit of the Nonprofit Consortium: collaboration and capacity building for organizations and the nonprofit sector as a whole to serve our People. By themselves, each organization would have undoubtedly had impact – but together they are proving the true power of relational work.

Advocating for Greater Investment through the Community Reinvestment Act
As part of the Nonprofit Consortium’s strategy for 2022, we also wanted to provide a quick update on our work to identify diverse funding sources to support our nonprofits.

Recently St. Croix Foundation, joined by CHANT and the Christiansted Community Alliance, presented at the FDIC’s webinar, Community Reinvestment Act for Community Based Organizations in the US Virgin Islands: Partnering for Success. Presenting on the impact of the civic sector and community-driven investments, our Nonprofit Consortium partners highlighted the impact of nonprofits and educated the financial community on dynamic, community-rooted opportunities for deeper investments. Together with both the FDIC and local banking institutions, the Consortium will continue conversations around advocating for equity and for creative investment mechanisms that serve to build nonprofit capacity and catalyze deep social impact.

A Townhall to Preserve Place & Create Space for Community
One of the unfortunate realities of disaster recovery is that it often places the well-being of already vulnerable communities directly into the hands of external mega corporations, consultants, and construction firms that do not necessarily reflect the values and vision of the affected people. While development is critical for the island of St. Croix, if it is not directed by the indigenous truths of the people who live here, it will not benefit rank-and-file residents. As defined by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, “Gentrification is a term used to describe what happens when lower-income neighborhoods receive massive levels of new investment, adding amenities, raising home values and bringing in new upper-income residents. This can lead to cultural displacement, when members of a racial or ethnic group who were longtime residents of gentrified neighborhoods are pushed out.”

Today, as local and federal recovery dollars have reached the Virgin Islands, so too have developers. To make room for a massive influx of disaster capitalists, protected historic properties are under threat of redistricting to allow a broader and deeper footprint for development.  The stakes couldn’t be higher, as all factors known to lead to gentrification are currently in place.

As such, SCF’s Nonprofit Consortium is committed to empowering residents to lift their voices, use their influence, and drive the vision for what their neighborhoods look and feel like. To provide a neutral space for convening, this summer the Nonprofit Consortium will host a Community Townhall, during which residents and invited guests will explore policy around redistricting, describe lived experiences with gentrification, disaster capitalism, and most importantly learn about successful stories of community-rooted recovery.

As stated at the Nonprofit Consortium’s 2020 A-Political Forum, “development from within” is a model that focuses on building local capacity by placing our Black Virgin Islands culture at the center of business development, putting our people at the forefront of all we do, and celebrating the contributions of our people, culture, and community.

The Bi-Annual A-Political Forum: Advocacy for Nonprofits and the Community We Serve

In response to such threats, since 2018 St. Croix Foundation and our Consortium have been hosting A-Political Forums. Scheduled during election years here in the U.S. Virgin Islands, political aspirants are invited to listen to our Nonprofit Sectors’ Platform. When the Nonprofit Consortium hosted its first A-Political Forum, roughly 30 nonprofits came together, with each of the four sectors presenting their impact and challenging candidates to consider the civic sector’s platform as the voice of the voiceless and vulnerable in our community.

This year, St. Croix Foundation’s Nonprofit Consortium is hosting its Biannual A-Political Forum on September 28th at 7:00pm. Open to the public, the virtual town hall will feature sectors representing (1) Arts, Culture, and Crucian Heritage (2) Health and Human Services, (3) Education and Youth Development, and (4) the Natural and Built Environs.  The Consortium will once again invite all candidates on the ballot to attend – not to speak but to listen to each sector present data on how nonprofits in the community are performing, how philanthropic funding is flowing, and what service gaps exist.

Ultimately, the Nonprofit Consortium’s objective is to educate potential legislators on the voice and power of the civic sector and nonprofits’ role as accountability partners and catalysts of equitable development. As the Consortium confirms details on the Forum, we’ll be updating our website and Facebook page.

Gearing Up...
After nearly six years of collaboration and realizing objectives in every priority area – from organizational and sector-wide capacity building to new funding opportunities – the Nonprofit Consortium is demonstrating a new framework for disaster recovery that is profound. With growing appreciation for the ingenuity and courage intrinsic to our sector, the Consortium continues to amass people-power. Today, St. Croix Foundation is gearing up to deepen our support. We’re now designing a professional development summer series for our nonprofits and exploring subjects such as board governance, understanding federal funding, and the rules of advocacy for 501(c) organizations.

But, in as much as the Foundation is supporting the Consortium, this effort is also helping the Foundation reframe our narrative about this cadre of community warriors who are shepherding social transformation amid crises. Because here’s our reality: our civic partners not only represent a steadying force in our community, but they are also consistently filling critical service gaps while moving the needle forward on equity and social justice issues for the most vulnerable and underserved residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Today, with our sincere appreciation to GlobalGiving, we can report that the Nonprofit Consortium is now poised for even greater social impact work. Thank you!

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Our Consortium: Touching Lives through COVID
Our Consortium: Touching Lives through COVID

This winter season, the theme for the Nonprofit Consortium has been strategy. As we look forward to the next 5 years and beyond, the Foundation has deepened its commitment to identifying new funding opportunities specifically for capacity building within the sector. And while a lot of the work undergone over the last few months has been internal, we are excited to share a few of our big wins with our GlobalGiving Family.

SCF Awarded 160,000 to 11 Consortium Members for Emergency COVID Relief
In November of 2019, the Foundation opened an invitation-only CARE Grant cycle aimed at providing capacity-building support to Nonprofit Consortium member organizations. Applications were carefully reviewed by the Foundation’s Grants Review Committee, with the following nonprofits and charitable projects receiving awards between $10,000-$15,000:

Caribbean Center for Girls and Boys of the Virgin Islands: Out-of-School Programming

  1. Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts: Art Ignites!
  2. Diane Hampton Breast Cancer Project: Art Therapy Workshops
  3. FYR is LIT: BLAZE Literacy and Teen Leadership Development
  4. Music in Motion: 39th Dance Season
  5. St. Croix Environmental Association: Afterschool Environmental Education
  6. St. Croix Landmarks Society: Junior Preservationists Program
  7. St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group: Resilience Hub Planning
  8. Virgin Islands Architecture Center for Built Heritage and Crafts: Strategic Development Organizational Capacity Building
  9. Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition: Organizational Capacity Building
  10. World Ocean School: Roseway Program Capacity Building

Funding for this round of awards will support programs that collaborate to leverage scarce resources and span literacy skill development, art therapy, and organizational capacity-building to achieve more significant impact. The CARE Fund, which was established in the immediate aftermath of 2017 Hurricanes Irma and Maria, supports strategic, high-impact investments in the Virgin Islands for disaster recovery and community resilience. Now a permanent Fund of the Foundation’s, in this cycle of grantmaking, the CARE Fund prioritized 1) Stabilizing nonprofits serving vulnerable populations through the Open-Door Funding; and 2) Providing direct support to frontline NPOs to build or expand programming.

Building Capacity to Activate Data at the Policy Level
St. Croix Foundation for Community Development holds distinction as the USVI’s Territorial Grantee for KIDS COUNT - Annie E. Casey Foundation's national initiative designed to collect and act on critical data about child wellbeing at the federal, state, and local levels. The Foundation has been hard at work accomplishing both tasks - collecting quantitative and qualitative data from our public agencies and nonprofit organizations while also developing opportunities to activate the data by publishing an annual Data Book and activities focused on local and territorial advocacy and engagement.

During our interviews with nonprofit organizations in the Consortium, one theme emerged as a common thread- providing opportunities for members to build greater capacity for impact around children and families. Toward that end, the Foundation held a series of skill-building sessions that focused on powerful tools and critical skills to help us move the data that we collect from simply being informational to becoming a call for action and a mandate for change.

In December 2021, we were pleased to partner with FrameWorks Institute, an internationally renowned organization that has been helping nonprofits to communicate more effectively for over 22 years, to offer a two-day capacity-building workshop. FrameWorks’ unique approach has helped partners worldwide have different conversations – moving away from the stories that hold us all back and toward stories that start conversations and mobilize community. The two-part experience gave participants ready-to-use framing tools and strategies for their next proposal, conversation, presentation, or publication to tell a more holistic and compelling story about the communities they serve.

The Foundation looks forward to continuing to identify synergies such as these between the programs that we fund and operate. The 2021 KIDS COUNT USVI Data Book can be accessed here: https://www.flipsnack.com/5A76ADFF8D6/2021-kids-count-usvi-data-book-h5sdl0fcjl/full-view.html.

The Foundation and the Environmental Sector Awarded Two Year 200K EPA Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving Grant
The Environmental Sector of the Nonprofit Consortium has been busy at work! In addition to being the recipients of a three-year grant from the HIVE Fund in the third quarter of 2021, the Foundation was notified in December 2021 that the Environmental Sector and the Foundation, in partnership with the University of the Virgin Islands, were named one of 34 recipients in the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving (EJCPS) Grant Cycle for 2021. The incredibly competitive grant is funded through the American Rescue Plan aimed at providing support to projects that address health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID–19 pandemic and that identify and address disproportionate environmental or public health harms and risks in minority populations or low-income populations through activities authorized by section 103(b) of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7403(b)) and section 1442(c)(3) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300j–1(c)).

The Foundation and the Environmental Sector, in partnership with UVI, will utilize the funding to develop a community driven program that will provide our residents with data and information on health and environmental risks and risk mitigation best practices through engaging senior high school and college students as lead investigators and analysts to monitor air quality. Project activities include establishing an Air Quality-Asthma monitoring system; developing an air monitoring program that produces data that is scientifically valid and useful to the community; and establishing a Community Steering Committee of local advocates and concerned residents.

Expected outcomes of this project are the development of new air quality ordinances and policies enacted by local government; a decrease in the number of asthma-related hospital visits among community residents; and an increase in community dialogue about environmental impacts and public health. Direct beneficiaries of this project are predominantly low-income/high-density neighborhoods of primarily brown and black persons who have historically been adversely impacted by the industrial operations adjoining their neighborhoods. Partners will coordinate project activities, provide technical assistance, and lead the air-monitoring education and training program.

Connecting data with nonprofits who are on the ground, working with and for community members directly affected by environmental hazards, is also connected to one of the overarching goals of the Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Initiative: activating the data! We are so incredibly excited for this work to begin later this year.

Thank you, GlobalGiving!
As we think about the future ahead, we look forward to witnessing the evolution of the Consortium as a new model for communities whose needs require a strong civic sector, one that truly represents and is rooted in the voice of its people. It was our family at GlobalGiving who first saw that the value of cross-sector collaboration lies in a Community’s ability to leverage relationships for sustainable systems change. As always, St. Croix Foundation remains unwavering in our commitment to holding equity and access to resources and opportunities as central virtues in our philanthropic approach. We couldn’t have done it without you, and we look forward to the next chapter!

Building capacity to put data to action!
Building capacity to put data to action!
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Thank you! The Consortium just celebrated 5 years!
Thank you! The Consortium just celebrated 5 years!

We did it! This September, St. Croix Foundation’s Nonprofit Consortium celebrated five years of collective service, impact, and leadership in the U.S. Virgin Islands! Despite a protracted recovery from the 2017 hurricanes, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, since our first table conversations with 50+ local nonprofits back in 2016, the Consortium has evolved into one of the Foundation’s most important investments and a vital Community Asset. Through intentional collaboration around missions, programming, advocacy, and fundraising, the members of the Consortium have built dynamic relationships, enduring national partnerships, and organizational and cross-sector capacity to serve and give voice to the People most vulnerable and hardest hit by ongoing crises.

As populations the world over continue to face unprecedented challenges, and as we locally close out another Hurricane Season while continuing to serve on the frontlines of COVID, we see the evidence of what collaboration (rooted in Community) can truly accomplish.

And so, from all of us at St. Croix Foundation and on behalf of the members of the Nonprofit Consortium, we would like to extend our deepest appreciation to GlobalGiving. Because of your early, pioneering spirit and trust-based philanthropy, the Nonprofit Consortium has now engaged 50+ organizations, of which 30 are official members. Combined, the Consortium has had a service reach of over 10,000 people and created 10+ new national funding partnerships that are even now supporting new systems of resilience. As the Consortium prepares for the next 5 years and beyond, we look back with gratitude on the investment that has been made in the strengthening of our Community.

Highlighting 5 Years of Ingenuity in the Civic Sector
On September 16th, St. Croix Foundation’s Nonprofit Consortium hosted our virtual 5th Anniversary Community Presentation to showcase the investments, impact, and collaborative service of our Nonprofit Partners. The presentation brought together 75+ attendees and speakers--- and of course, all 30 members of the Nonprofit Consortium. Partners such as Susan Taylor Batten of the Association of Black Foundation Executives and Donna Callejon from GlobalGiving spoke about the lessons our Civic Sector, unified in such a unique format, had to share with the entire field of Philanthropy.

The presentation highlighted the Foundation’s strategic work to raise the collective profile and impact of our Civic Sector partners--- and to get the U.S. Virgin Islands onto the philanthropic funding map. Guest speakers and members spoke about fostering new partnerships that collected critical data on residents and nonprofit capacity to rebuild after the hurricanes, created safety nets for unmet needs, and connected nonprofits to resources that helped them advocate for their organizations and the people they serve. Presenters spoke of a growing network of national private funders and the technical competencies around collaboration, community organizing, social justice, and systems thinking that the Nonprofit Consortium helped build. From the words of Consortium members themselves, we can get a glimpse of the impact:

  • St. Croix Foundation has been instrumental in helping us to expand our dental services. ~ Frederiksted Health Center
  • We have, in our first six months of service, served 25 homeless individuals and 1,500 meals at our location; we’ve moved 9 people to permanent housing, we’ve placed 6 people in full-time employment, 2 people in part-time employment, and 2 people in job training.  All it took was a nudge from a local foundation to help us open.  ~Liberty Place.

In the past 5 years, the Nonprofit Consortium has been put to the test. From two Category 5 Hurricanes in 2017 to COVID-19 and the racial justice movements of last summer, it has met the challenge, pivoted, grown, and is now a model of unified Civic Leadership and People Power.

Watch our Community Impact Presentation here:https://www.facebook.com/stcroix.fnd.1/videos/602247214481269

Reimaging a Sustainable St. Croix Rooted in Community Voice"
In our last update, we reported on our Engage VI Environmental Virtual Town Halls, a three-part series that took place over the summer to address environmental hazards spurred by the reopening of Limetree Bay Refinery and Terminals. As a geographically and politically isolated territory of the U.S., environmental and health issues are compounded for the People of St. Croix, and our objective was simple but profound: ensure Community Voice take center stage and create space for open, honest and transparent dialogue between regulators, stakeholders, and residents.

In the final Town Hall on July 29th, St. Croix Foundation and Nonprofit Consortium Members from the Environmental Sector - St. Croix Environmental Association (SEA), Crucian Heritage And Nature Tourism (CHANT), & the Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition (VIGFC) – opened the floor to reimagine the future.

Following the first and second Town Halls on emergency response and the environmental impacts of heavy industry and agriculture, the theme for the third town hall in the series was aptly entitled Reimagining A Sustainable Future: Balancing Economic Promise & Environmental Stewardship. With panelists from the Economic Development Authority, U.V.I. Research and Technology Park joined by the Partnership for Southern Equity, the discussion centered around exploring a future independent of heavy industry that represents a progressive and justice-focused landscape while balancing economic promise and environmental justice.

Over the course of the entire series, guest panelists included high ranking executives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control, V.I.T.E.M.A., VI Dept. of Planning and Natural Resources, VI Dept. of Health, VI Dept. of Agriculture, the 34th Legislature of the Virgin Islands, VI Economic Development Authority, U.V.I. Research and Technology Park, and the Partnership for Southern Equity. In total, over 100 people attended the third Town Hall, and many attendees have signed up to engage around working groups that could potentially actualize some of the themes discussed in the final town hall series.

View our third virtual Town Hall here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nq2oOzNeR24

The Foundation and the Environmental Sector Receive Hive Fund Award
We are also happy to report another milestone! In the last quarter, the Foundation and members of the Environmental Sector – C.H.A.N.T., S.E.A., and V.I.G.F.C. – were awarded a three-year $225,000 Grant by the Hive Fund in recognition of the Environmental Sector’s collaborative efforts and vision as outlined in a joint case for support.  The award’s purpose is to empower the Sector, which “advocates for and mobilizes around a community vision rooted in environmental justice, placing a historically marginalized community in charge of decision-making around energy supply, environment, health, workforce, and community development.” The grant represents one of the key goals set forth five years ago when the Consortium was launched- increase funding for small nonprofits through coalesced, collaborative funding requests. It is one of the first major funding wins a Sector of our Consortium!

In alignment with the HIVE Fund’s priority of “shaping new clean and equitable economies,” funding will be used to build capacity around community organizing and movement building and general operating support. Through the competencies and collaborations nurtured in the Consortium, the Environmental Sector has been active in responding to issues of environmental justice and equity specifically as it pertains to the Limetree Bay Oil Refinery. The sector intends to capitalize on the work completed over the summer and continue empowering Community to hold policymakers accountable through efforts supported by the in-development ‘working groups’. The Foundation thanks the Hive Fund and its civic partners for their commitment to funding Black-led and Black serving environmental justice causes!

Thank you, GlobalGiving!
From the Foundation’s inception 31 years ago, nonprofits have been at the center of everything we do. But, over the past 5 years, we have harnessed extraordinary wisdom about our Community through our Nonprofit Consortium. Today, we are fostering and cultivating the most inspirational, intentional and dynamic culture of collaboration in the U.S. Virgin Islands. GlobalGiving has been a thought partner, an advocate, and a trust-based funder – and we can confidently say that it’s really just the beginning!

Our Third Town Hall: Reimagining St. Croix!
Our Third Town Hall: Reimagining St. Croix!
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Virtual Town Halls Address Environmental Issues!
Virtual Town Halls Address Environmental Issues!

February 27 – June 25, 2021

In our last quarterly report, we told you about St. Croix Foundation’s work through the Nonprofit Consortium to create pathways toward greater engagement in the civic sector. In the several months since, and just as the 2021 Hurricane Season began and the world’s attention on climate focuses, the Nonprofit Consortium’s values of equity, collaboration, and community have never been more critical.

As we approach the Nonprofit Consortium’s 5th Anniversary this August 2021, St. Croix Foundation’s pledge to hold space for community action, to keep sacred the civic sector, and to empower local nonprofits has been put to the test and the importance of collective voice proven. In this last quarter alone, the Nonprofit Consortium has convened 19 times, with all four sectors represented: arts and culture, health and human welfare, youth and education, and the natural and built environs. In all, 20+ organizations sat at the table to continue vital case development while conducting community organization and advocacy around environmental justice.

The stakes have never been higher for our People. With no federal voting power, the voices of our civic organizations offer a voice and vision that encompasses sustainable, equitable systems--- of food, energy, education, and economics. To our family at GlobalGiving, we extend our deepest appreciation for sharing our vision!

Nonprofit Consortium Hosts Town Halls Around Environmental Justice
While many might not be able to pick St. Croix out on a world map, the U.S. Virgin Islands certainly has national relevance. In addition to being the only predominantly black jurisdiction (under the U.S. Flag) without any federal voting rights, this 84 square mile island was once home to the largest oil refinery in the world, based on throughput. It also has the distinction of enduring one of the largest (and quietest) oil spills in American history, to the tune of 43 million gallons that slowly leaked into the island’s largest freshwater aquifer. Because of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ vulnerability relative to climate change, striking a balance between environmental justice and sustainable development was a top priority to the Nonprofit Consortium from its inception. In fact, we began exploring new models of sustainability and excavating our past exploitive environmental injustices at our Environmental Forum in 2019.

In February of 2021, the 50-year-old refinery, which had shuttered in 2012, reopened under new ownership and within the first two months of operation, two chemical exigences occurred that rained oil onto people’s homes, cars, and into their cisterns (rain catchment systems located under most homes which serve as the primary water source for island residents). Having witnessed residents being left breathless for months from highly noxious gases wafting through downwind neighborhoods after the restart, St. Croix Foundation and members of the Nonprofit Consortium stepped forward. With little to no acknowledgment from the private and public sector and in the face of peoples’ pleas for help, we recognized that philanthropy had a moral imperative to lead courageously.

Empowering Community with Data and Resources
On Thursday, May 13th at 6pm St. Croix Foundation and Nonprofit Consortium Members from the Environmental Sectors - St. Croix Environmental Association, Crucian Heritage And Nature Tourism CHANT, & Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition - hosted its first Engage VI Environmental Virtual Town Hall to discuss recent environmental and health impacts from Limetree Bay Refinery.

Invitations were extended to Limetree Bay Terminals, LLC, US Environmental Protection Agency, the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, the Virgin Islands Department of Health, the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, and the Legislature to provide information on EPA regulations, and individual agency scope and responsibility relative to health and safety. While refinery representatives were not present, legal experts and both local and federal agency heads confirmed and spoke at the Town Hall. The chat was full of questions about the scope of damages and their impact on individual and environmental health. In total, the NPC’s First Town Hall in this three-part series hosted over 300 participants in the live session, 860 views of the Town Hall recording, and nearly 200 engagements, amplifications, and reactions.

The following day, the EPA announced that the refinery would close for 60 days, citing an imminent health threat, invoking powers under the Clean Air Act which had only exercised eleven times before.

As shared in prior reports to our GlobalGiving family, one of the Nonprofit Consortium’s outcomes has been the development of an official website, EngageVI.org., which now houses vital community resources, including emergency contacts for community health reporting.

A live recording of the first Virtual Town Hall can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6u52T08p8FU

Making Space for Marginalized Voices
One month later, on June 10, St. Croix Environmental Association, C.H.A.N.T., the Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition and St. Croix Foundation hosted the second Virtual Town Hall, entitled, “Heavy Industry and the Food We Eat: Impacts on Agriculture and Fishers on St. Croix.”

This special Town Hall included speakers Dr. David Bond, of Bennington College & Mr. Olasee Davis, from the University of the Virgin Islands who provided a history of heavy industry on St. Croix and (ask Jonathan if he can summarize this in a compelling way with NPC at the center).

Once again, pre-prepared questions were addressed to the Department of Agriculture and the 80+ attendees  asked various questions, including:

  • Why was the island of St. Croix, as agricultural land, chosen to be a place to create such heavy environmental polluting and destructive industries?
  • How can we qualify for Superfund status to achieve levels of remediation?
  • I just purchased well water, with the comment generated today should I be concerned about possible hidden health concerns from possible contamination, is well contamination St. Croix wide?

With nearly 1000 views and over 113 engagements, the convening was well-received:

  • “Thank you all for organizing and bringing us together.”
  • “Thank you to all the presenters and to those who organized this forum to provide information. I am looking forward to hearing of a solution to this health issue.”

Creating a Sustainable Vision
The third and final session of the three-part Engage VI Environmental Town Hall series is scheduled for July 15, 2021. The discussion will center around articulating a community vision for a prosperous and sustainable future given the external environments, community values, health, all of the priorities represented by the Nonprofit Consortium’s four sectors. Making this convening that much more crucial was the announcement on June 21, 2021 that due to financial difficulties, the refinery may close operations permanently in September 2021. This development has been at the center of our dialogue around reimagining a future independent of heavy industry. We have also considered how dramatically this scenario mirrors the economic fallout of the initial closure of the refinery in 2012. What this demands of our community and, our sector, is a progressive and justice-focused reimaging that balances economic promise and environmental stewardship. As a result, the prospective theme of the final session is Reimagining A Sustainable Future: Balancing Economic Promise & Environmental Stewardship.

Holding the Vision
The work described here didn’t begin in response to the oil refinery nor Hurricanes Maria and Irma or even Covid-19. It began as a result of a deep understanding of what resilience in isolated communities can look like. Framed by the realities of political status, climate change, economics, geography, and rooted deeply in cultural heritage, the Nonprofit Consortium is coalescing civic power, empowering the disenfranchised, and giving Voice to the vulnerable. Our GlobalGiving family has made it all possible. THANK YOU!

Sharing health resources at the environ. town hall
Sharing health resources at the environ. town hall
The Foundation and NPC partners collaborate!
The Foundation and NPC partners collaborate!
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We're Making a Case for Healing through the Arts!
We're Making a Case for Healing through the Arts!

In 2016, one year before Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Nonprofit Consortium was conceived to strategically build capacity within St. Croix’s Civic Sector in response to economic and political shifts that were decimating an already small donor pool while social needs exploded. Due to its territorial status, the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) have a stifled voice, no vote at the federal level, and sits in a blind spot for national funders. St. Croix Foundation knew that to keep vital resources flowing to our most vulnerable residents, we had to strengthen our Territory’s nonprofit sector.

Our Nonprofit Consortium was officially launched through a series of table conversations amongst over 50 local nonprofits in the fall of 2016- nearly one year to the date prior to the 2017 storms. Today, the Consortium is a membership collective of roughly 30 civic entities serving St. Croix, USVI that has been nurturing and enhancing meaningful, community-based collaboration with the overarching goal of supporting greater social impact investments to benefit the people of the Virgin Islands. Over the span of almost 5 years and through rich programming, nonprofits in the Consortium have participated in three Art of Hosting trainings; 5 philanthropic retreats and forums; and innumerable workshops and board development exercises. Altogether, the organizations have built collaborations that have increased funding opportunities and allowed programmatic work to move forward with greater reach. We simply could not have done it without GlobalGiving!

Over the last several years, you’ve been with us on the journey – and thanks to you, our GlobalGiving family, the Nonprofit Consortium continues to grow and evolve. In a disruption to the paradigm, the Consortium rallied not just for a funding opportunity but to develop a space for nonprofits to share their visions, their missions, and their stories. It provides access for conversations that unveiled new collaborations, new networks, new systems, and yes, funding! You’ve read in our reports about the staff and board development, technical grantwriting, and Art of Hosting training that is, today, facilitating strategic conversations, maximizing collective impact, and nurturing a culture of collaboration and alliance building. In this report, we will discuss the structure that is making the Consortium poised for even greater collaborative work, how nonprofits continued to excel even under COVID conditions, and how we are making the case for even greater investment in 2021.

Institutionalizing Structure for the Nonprofit Consortium
The Foundation’s ultimate goal is to help nonprofit organizations and initiatives on St. Croix grow successful at uplifting social equity, embracing civic leadership, and collaborating around high-impact programs and systems-building all the while stabilizing operations. To that end, in the last quarter, the Nonprofit Consortium has been busy formalizing the structure of the Nonprofit Consortium to strengthen its capacity to serve nonprofits.

Just this past January, the Nonprofit Consortium Advisory Committee finalized an updated Memorandum of Understanding which will govern member organizations through February 2022!

Representing all four sectors (arts, culture, and Crucian heritage; health and human services; education and youth development; and the natural and built environs), new members are subject to review by the Advisory Committee, which meets quarterly and must submit a letter of interest and must have attended two open non-sector NPC meetings. General meetings happen 6x per year and sector meetings occur as needed dependent upon case-writing and other needs. Any organization may join dependent upon being a registered state nonprofit in the US Virgin Islands.

As part of the Consortium’s strategy to evolve membership for holistic and innovative perspective, Veronica Hemmingway of Coastal Communities Foundation of South Carolina was invited and accepted a role on the Advisory Committee. The Nonprofit Consortium reached out to Veronica based on her work collaborating with nonprofits in South Carolina, the lessons that can be learned and shared across communities regardless of their proximity and, ways in which they have protected and preserved what remains of their indigenous culture. Veronica has seen the Consortium grow as she was present for the formative first meetings of the consortium in 2016 and participated in the 2020 Philanthropy Retreat and Forum.

Case Building for the Arts: Healing with the Humanities
In the absence of in-person convenings due to Covid-19, the Consortium is using this virtual opportunity to focus on compelling case-writing for national and international foundation support.

Over the course of the past quarter, our members have been busy! Our grassroots and formal nonprofits have convened 6 times, including advisory meetings, sector meetings, and as an entire body. While the Advisory Committee continues to guide the evolution of the structure of the Nonprofit Consortium, the Environs Sector has begun to design its case for funding that will support a holistic discovery process around imagining a U.S. Virgin Islands in the absence of heavy industry.

We are also excited to share that the Arts, Culture, and Crucian Heritage Sector is also in the midst of developing a cohesive case for support and reparations. In testimony to the Nonprofit Consortium’s positioning statement, and unlike any previous endeavor undertaken in the USVI, the case for support focuses specifically on racial equity and the healing from a history of colonialism and enslavement. By aligning the sectors’ most important needs with community collaboration the Consortium will help to sustain one of the largest arts communities in the Caribbean region.

Building Capacity… in Motion!
As a cohesive, cross-sector coalition that shares a unified position and vision of St. Croix, in November of 2020, St. Croix Foundation opened a grant opportunity through our CARE Fund to members of the Nonprofit Consortium. Funded by United PhilanthropyForum’s Momentum Fund, the Foundation awarded $65,000 in mini-grants to 13 members of the Consortium.

Awards were provided to applicants that were on the frontlines of the Covid-19 Pandemic and working to continue or expand services. Priorities included: (1) Nonprofit operating support (Open Doors), (2) Programming support for frontline responders, (3) Data collection and reporting, and (4) Direct programming to build resilience and new systems.

One recipient, Music in Motion Dance Academy, a fiscal sponsored project of the Foundation and a Nonprofit Consortium member, was awarded a $5,000 Open Door Mini Grant to allow the organization to move the dance studio’s equipment (sets, costumes, etc.) from a storage unit into a permanent location saving Music in Motion overhead costs of $3,300 in storage fees per year and providing capacity to store more equipment and have access to the contents as students needed. As an organization that serves low-income youth of color, Music in Motion is more than a dance company: it saves lives.  A January blog on Unstoppable Yes You sheds light on the healing that the arts provide and is evidence of the need for passionate nonprofits to establish a resilience that is personal, cultural, and relevant.  With exacerbated global crises and local uncertainty, the need for organizations like Music in Motion to receive the support they need to serve our community is even greater.

Today, the stark reality for our community is that in the face of unprecedented economic collapse, back-to-back hurricanes, and now Covid-19, it is our local nonprofits who are being called upon to shoulder greater responsibilities. With the support of our GlobalGiving family, through the Nonprofit Consortium we will continue to provide holistic support – from technical assistance to continuing to nurture a spirit of collaboration - to ensure deeper impact and financial and operational sustainability.

To our GlobalGiving family we say THANK YOU for all you do to make this work possible!

Music in Motion: Arts Organizations Saving Lives
Music in Motion: Arts Organizations Saving Lives
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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
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