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)

Project Report | Nov 9, 2023
After the Disaster: Drawing and Holding the Line

By Lilli Cox | Dir. Communications & Community Investments

Advocating at the Summit on U.S. Colonialism
Advocating at the Summit on U.S. Colonialism

Flooding in South Africa and Brazil, fires in Hawaii and Chile, earthquakes in Turkey and Syria – the disasters are not abating. In fact, data from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) indicates that “Not only are natural disasters occurring more frequently, but the average cost and death toll from each is up as well.” ( In fact, the NCEI reports that a full 43% of natural disasters costing a billion dollars or more happened in just the last 10 years. But these costs don’t account for the long-term toll on residents’ physical and mental health. Unsurprisingly, some studies estimate that natural disasters can decrease household incomes by as much as 21.5% and increase overall poverty by 2.5% - and low-income households can take two to three times longer to recover financially (

Sadly, this data validates what St. Croix Foundation has witnessed first-hand over the past 33 years. Serving an isolated, predominantly Black community that has faced centuries of colonialism extending to the present, there is no question that our People continue to recover from the ravages of hurricanes long after the date of landfall and the immediate months afterward. And while the U.S. Virgin Islands were blessed to have been unscathed this past hurricane season, St. Croix Foundation and our Nonprofit Consortium remain on the frontlines of the chronic effects of climate change, and social and economic structural inequities.

Today, six years after Hurricanes Irma and Maria,  and post-COVID, St. Croix residents contend with broken systems and inadequate services; 1) public schools are facing mounting crises as facilities (still not rebuilt after the storms) leave students, faculty and staff to endure record-breaking heat waves in crumbling facilities; 2) St. Croix’s only public hospital is condemned as residents now have to be served in a temporary, modular facility; 3) a severe shortage of low-income housing continues to plague our community, increasing homelessness; 4) with post-disaster capitalism gaining momentum, residents are now under threat of a new policy that would displace local homeowners to make way for new development; and 5) in just the past week, the U.S. Virgin Islands declared a state of emergency when extreme levels of copper and lead was reported in St. Croix’s tap water.

Balancing the Scales of Equity Amid Mounting Crises
In reality, the compounding factors facing our People and our Place are profound. However, we remain optimistic because of one single force: the Power of our civic sector and our recognition of how crucial place-based foundations are to the social infrastructure of marginalized Communities. Serving as a nonprofit hub, St. Croix Foundation is driving positive change and advocating for equity and social accountability throughout the recovery process.

Our local nonprofits don’t do fluffy work! In the absence of municipal government in the USVI, our civic organizations are tireless warriors, subject-matter experts, courageous advocates, andmost importantly, they are master collaborators. Working across missions, they are leveraging resources, organizing and mobilizing residents, and providing wrap-around services despite operating with very few resources. In fact, based on the measurable accomplishments of our Nonprofit Consortium to date, (such as helping to shutter an aging toxic polluting oil refinery), St. Croix Foundation firmly believes that in marginalized communities, relief, recovery, and real resilience are fortified through powerful community relationships.

Case in Point…
Nonprofit Consortium members - 1) Liberty Place is today creating new systems around homeless housing (lower right); 2) the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the VI serves 200 children a day who are displaced from school, providing safe spaces for academic and social-emotional learning (lower left); 3) Frederiksted Health Care is providing the only public dental services on St. Croix and offering community-rooted health care (upper left); 4) the VI Breast Cancer Project is advocating nationally and locally for policies and funding for uninsured and underinsured residents facing cancer (upper right); 5) Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism is nurturing sustainable tourism and workforce development pathways, while 6) the VI Good Food Coalition is creating the territory’s first system that connects our local farmers with commercial vendors for great food security.

And that’s just the short list.

In all, each member of our Nonprofit Consortium – whether their focus is health and human welfare, arts and culture, youth and education, or the environs – is building organizational capacity and intentionally collaborating to balance the scales of equity in the face of mounting crises.

Today, St. Croix Foundation is collecting data on the organizational health and capacity of our Nonprofit Consortium partners to meet the critical needs of our people. And, we are actively assessing all current and emerging threats to understand gaps, marshal resources, and provide safety nets for our People.

In this past quarter, we have also engaged our Consortium to advance a robust agenda in 2024, that includes Board development, professional training and convenings around system-thinking and building, along with case-building to identify and secure transformational investments.  Poised for “the next level” our Nonprofit Consortium must identify and secure funding that allows our local nonprofit sector to harness the power of community-rooted, place-based collaboration.

Status Matters: The Cumulative Impact of Structural Inequity
With conditions unstable and worsening for many of our most vulnerable residents, the issue of status and equity is never far from our thoughts. As a colony, the U.S. Virgin Islands is not just isolated geographically but politically. Thus, our work continues to emphasize advocating for the U.S. Virgin Islands and the nonprofits who are protecting our People and preserving our Place.

The Foundation is honored to have taken part in an historic conversation about American Colonization at the recent “Summit on U.S. Colonialism” hosted by Right To Democracy in New York at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice. Convening delegations from all five U.S. colonies: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, the event fostered solidarity among delegates and shed light on the cumulative impact of festering inequities surrounding the colonial status of America’s territories. Attendees also got a chance to amplify the persistent blind-spot that the territories sit in for national Philanthropy.

The USVI’s delegation included St. Croix Foundation’s Deanna James (center) and Haley Cutler (far left), Chevon Miles, Dr. Jessica Samuel, Nesha Christian-Hendrickson, Esq. (St. Croix), Lorelei Monsanto, Dr. Hadiya Sewer (St. John), and Sonia Barnes-Moorhead (St. Thomas).

Being Seen…
Today, we hope that our family around the globe will see us.

Over the past 7 years, we have nurtured a high-impact network of nonprofits powered by indigenous wisdom and deep relationships. Through the immediate aftermath of the 2017 Hurricanes and then COVID-19 in 2020, their work and approach have been tested and proven - again and again. And although it may seem cliché to say: today, more than ever, St. Croix needs community-rooted advocates who will draw and hold the line, staying the course. Many moons ago the Nonprofit Consortium’s dynamic facilitator said matter-of-factly that, “The private sector makes business decisions. A public sector official’s term is finite. It is the civic sector, nonprofits, who have the capacity to hold a vision, lead it, and institutionalize real change.” As the connective tissue of these vital nonprofits and the Nonprofit Consortium and having seen the outcomes of an empowered civil society, we couldn’t agree more.

In large part, GlobalGiving has been a huge part of the Nonprofit Consortium’s evolution and impact, and today, as our community sits on an unprecedented tipping point, we hope you’ll stay with us as we demonstrate what real resilience looks like and how to achieve it!

Nonprofit Consortium members at work!
Nonprofit Consortium members at work!
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Organization Information

St. Croix Foundation for Community Development

Location: Christiansted - Virgin Islands
Twitter: @stxfoundation
Project Leader:
Deanna James
Christiansted , USVI Virgin Islands

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