St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund

by St. Croix Foundation for Community Development
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
St. Croix Foundation CARE Fund
Keeping Community Centers Strong through COVID!
Keeping Community Centers Strong through COVID!

As we herald in the New Year, the U.S. Virgin Islands is experiencing some of the highest rates of COVID-19 since the world was first rocked by the pandemic two years ago. Serving a geographically isolated population, resilience and all the nuances of the word becomes even more critical. At St. Croix Foundation, when we talk about sustainability, we are not just talking about the continuation of a process through the clever use of resources. At the Foundation, our work is rooted in sustaining the people and nonprofits who are on the frontlines of every crisis. For us, the word is steeped in the value of strong relationships and the constancy of partnerships and programming that encompass “sustainable” practices.

When we launched the CARE Fund in 2017, we couldn’t have known that in five years we would continue to grapple with a protracted recovery from the hurricanes against the backdrop of COVID-19, supply chain shortages, and increasing costs for everything from building materials to food. But, because of GlobalGiving’s trust and support for all of our work and strategic investments, many of the comprehensive projects we have led through CARE in the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria and Irma have had transformational impacts as micro-systems of resilience tested and proven throughout the pandemic. From agricultural innovation and new solar models to nonprofit capacity building, lives and livelihoods have been touched and improved.

Nurturing Farmers and Food Security
As one of the most critical components of a healthy community, local food security continues to be a challenge for many residents in the Virgin Islands. In October 2021, an article by The St. Thomas Source stated that “According to the territory’s Consumer Price Index, food prices increased 20.7 percent over last year, ‘due to a constant rise in import and export fees’.” Time has not improved matters as interrupted supply chains and increased shipping costs continue to create scarcity.

St. Croix Foundation’s Farm Tienda Project continues to expand and breathe new life into a contracted system. Of the seven farmers who received Tiendas, two are receiving internet stipends, and several more continue to enjoy improved infrastructure, such as lighting and security cameras, throughout the end of 2021. In the last quarter, SCF continued to conduct site visits to determine any challenges with the Tiendas and support our farmers.

Today, we are excited to report that what began as a simple resilience plan for individual farmers has now evolved into an official Disaster Response Plan. In partnership with public and civic sector partners, the Foundation is now conducting strategic planning to develop a full blueprint that will include (but not be limited to) farmers’ roles and responsibilities and a communications plan during future disasters. Farmers who were awarded Tiendas are also now working together as a collective to ensure they are building an intersected system of supports for our community.

A Continuum of Support through Strategic Grantmaking
Nonprofits are not only our partners and boots-on-the-ground. We are very intentional about calling our grantees “partners,” with the organizational reverence to intersectionality and systems thinking. With that commitment, in 2021, thanks to GlobalGiving, St. Croix Foundation was able to open our Sustaining Impact Grant through our CARE Fund… and unquestionably, the impact the investments we made were deep and wide.

In November 2021, we awarded $160,000 to 11 organizations! The CARE Fund supports strategic, high-impact investments in the Virgin Islands for disaster recovery and community resilience. In this cycle of grantmaking, which was funded by support we received from GlobalGiving, the CARE Fund prioritized 1) Stabilizing nonprofits serving vulnerable populations through “Open-Door” Funding; and 2) Providing direct support to frontline NPOs to build or expand programming.

This 2021 cycle of the CARE Fund Grant was invitation only and offered to St. Croix Foundation’s Nonprofit Consortium (NPC) member organizations. A coalition of 25-plus nonprofits, NPC is a progressive civic model that collaborates around four vital sectors including, 1) health and human services, 2) education and youth development, 3) environs (built and natural), and 4) arts, culture, and Crucian heritage. Grant 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 each:

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

Funding for this round of grants will support programs that collaborate to leverage scarce resources and span literacy skill development, art therapy, and organizational capacity to achieve greater impact. We look forward to sharing some data, some pictures, and the impact that this flexible grant builds in our nonprofits and our community!

Sustaining Systems at Community Resilience Hubs
In many communities, it simply isn’t enough to award a grant and walk away. Back in 2020 and early 2021, SCF granted the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the VI and Flambouyant Gardens Senior Living Center each a solar PV system, a capacity-building grant that allows for monthly savings on utility expenses. The solar system also arms the center with the ability to continue providing services throughout a crisis in which the electrical grid is interrupted. Since the installation of the systems, SCF’s Grant Associate Essence Carter has provided ongoing support for our nonprofit grantee partners. In partnership with each center, the Foundation collected data, identifying critical repairs needed for the systems to make them fully functional. To date, our Team is working with vendors to locate the needed materials for the installation of new inverters on each center.

In addition, and thanks to the generosity and flexibility of GlobalGiving, SCF is also pleased to report that we are finalizing all requirements necessary to strengthen the solar infrastructure of the Foundation’s headquarters. Back in 2017, right after the hurricanes, the Foundation served as an essential communications and resilience hub, having buried our utility lines in our reconstruction of our historic headquarters ten years prior. Uniquely positioned in a historic (and accessible) town square, within days of Hurricane Maria, we opened our doors to over 20 nonprofits as well as members of the Office of the Delegate to Congress and FEMA.

Today, having researched the components and systems needed for a model resilience hub and with all engineering site visits completed, the Foundation is finalizing a work plan with local solar installer Lionz Den Solar. We expect this to be completed – despite all the delays brought on by COVID-19 – by March 15, 2022. When the work is done, SCF will increase its capacity by 10KW of battery storage, firmly establishing our headquarters as a primary nonprofit resilience hub to be activated during future disasters. The added benefit of this new upgrade is that our hub will sit adjacent to another major disaster recovery asset, a 12,000 square foot, historic theater that the Foundation owns and is currently transforming into a state-of-the-art Community Disaster Shelter, Safe House, and Performing Arts Center.

AmeriCorps VISTA!
Once again, thanks to GlobalGiving, we have expanded our ability to support, and therefore recruit, new VISTA Volunteers with housing stipends. In the past year, we've had twelve volunteers serving a total of six organizations. As our community endures a protracted battle with COVID-19, on top of ongoing hurricane recovery efforts, the timing couldn’t be more critical to build capacity in our nonprofits—as VISTA Volunteers come to the table with expertise and grit!

St. Croix Montessori, one of our VISTA host sites, is a small, nonprofit school serving children ages 3 – 12 years old, many of them coming from low-income families. Like most nonprofits on St. Croix, while the organization provided vital services throughout hurricane recovery and now COVID-19, it operates on a shoe-string budget and often without the capacity to build organizational strength. Enter VISTA Volunteer Mackenzie, who joined the school in October and has already helped the organization secure $65,000 in funding. Mackenzie comes to VISTA as a local recruit with expertise in sustainability and education.

Everything is Connected to Everything
And so it is that the CARE Fund moves closer to five full years of providing active, on-the-ground support to residents and nonprofits that are serving our most vulnerable. Hurricanes, pandemics, political and social upheaval, and economic shifts are not likely to end. But as we write our story, we are compelled by the interconnectedness of all that we do and how these intersections are the heart of sustainability.

We hope you know that the entire GlobalGiving Family has impacted much more than just St. Croix Foundation or our nonprofits. The beautiful part of holistic community development is that all the grants, programs, and advocacy that flow from GlobalGiving impact every aspect of our small island community. As we pledged 31 years ago, we will never hoard or compete but instead serve as conduits of Good, and we will do whatever it takes to move the needle forward for our People, while forging new pathways for philanthropy. While we’ve accomplished some of our greatest successes with support from GlobalGiving, we’re only just beginning!

Our Farm Tienda's Are A Network of Food Secruity
Our Farm Tienda's Are A Network of Food Secruity
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Expert VISTA Videographer Joins Us!
Expert VISTA Videographer Joins Us!

As we write this report, the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season has communities throughout the Caribbean holding their breath. Serving an isolated, under-served Territory, St. Croix Foundation and all residents in the U.S. Virgin Islands are ever vigilant… and reviewing checklists of preparedness. The question before us is simple: are we more prepared today than four years ago to face a crisis like the 2017 Hurricanes or a global pandemic?

In August of 2018, FEMA’s Community Planning and Capacity Building Recovery Support Function published the St. Croix Community Recovery Plan, a 77-page report that outlines recovery and rebuilding initiatives for St. Croix in the wake of the Hurricanes. Using interviews, focus groups, public meetings, and data, the St. Croix Community Planning Committee, comprised of community leaders spanning the public, private, and civic sectors, outlined a plan to build resilience against future storms and lay the “foundation for a strong and successful future.” As FEMA’s lead partner on the Committee, the final plan identified three main priorities:

  • Recovery Projects to rebuild key community systems and repair facilities damaged by the storms in the short-term;
  • Resilience Projects to strengthen community systems to restore island services and prepare for future disasters, in the 1-3 year time horizon; and
  • Community Development Projects to advance the island as a whole, in the 3+ year time frame.

In the final report, and largely because of St. Croix Foundation’s unique philanthropic approach as a place-based community foundation, the plan manifested high-impact projects in a short period of time. Today, despite being a small philanthropy, serving an under-resourced community with no endowment, GlobalGiving’s support and partnership have enabled our Community to implement most of the civic-led projects outlined in the Community Recovery Plan.

Whether through our direct programming or grantmaking, we’ve been checking boxes! What we love about this story is that it’s about community, collaboration, and yes, accountability. It’s a story of nurturing hope, changing lives, and tapping into the innate resilience of a People and a Place. It is, quite simply, about activating philanthropy – the love of humankind.

And so, we invite you to sit back and review our checklist – because it is all of you at GlobalGiving who have made this possible.

Recovery, Resilience, and Community Development: CHECK!
Over the past four years, St. Croix Foundation has launched several comprehensive initiatives, all of which address multiple priorities identified by the St. Croix Community Planning Committee. In fact, in some areas, such as nonprofit capacity building, we have checked the box multiple times.

Energy Independence & Workforce Development

  • Enhance Job Training and Vocational Programs (Community Development)
  • Pilot Off-Grid Boxes for Neighborhood Disaster Preparedness (Resilience)
  • Provide More Resilient Support Services for Youth Following Disasters (Community Development)
  1. Community Center Solar Workforce Development Initiative: A two-pronged approach that leveraged resources for maximum benefit, we created new models for the Territory, meeting short and long-term needs outlined in the Community Plan. This initiative graduated 9 young adults with national certification in solar installation. As the Territory’s first cohort in green energy, we worked to ensure that 100% of our students were fully employed within 6 months of graduation. As part of their on-the-job training, our students solarized two local community centers, the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls and Flambouyant Gardens. As the second component of this initiative, SCF granted two solar systems to centers serving children and the elderly who are now able to provide more support with lower costs during blue and grey skies. Both centers take their 60% energy savings and reprogram those dollars into service and funding gaps.
  2. St. Croix Foundation also provided funding support to one of the new ranked Virgin Island Eagle Scouts, Kieran. Kieran created a mobile free-standing solar charging station that can be deployed in areas that have lost power generation and communication. Kieran hosted a workshop for Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the VI student to learn how to make this prototype.
  3. Update at a glance: To date, our two community centers have saved a total of $6,000 and 4 participants from the training program have been offered leadership positions and specialized training in solar installation such as Tesla Powerwalls.

Food Security, Small Business Development

  • Develop a Resilient Food System (Recovery)
  • Pilot Off-Grid Boxes for Neighborhood Disaster Preparedness (Resilience)
  • Establish Small Business Industry Clusters (Community Development)
  1. Farm Tienda Agriculture and Small Business Development Project: Recognizing that islands are vulnerable to widescale interruptions to food supply, and more so, isolated neighborhoods were cut off from relief supplies immediately after the storms, SCF zeroed in on supporting our farmers. As reported, this resilient food system has served throughout Covid-19, already proving the power of a network of micro-hubs – and checking even more boxes. Thanks to seed funding from Coca-Cola One and GlobalGiving’s support, along with a handful of local and national partners, St. Croix Foundation granted 7 farmers durable steel containers to serve as farm stands.  Committing to serve as resilience hubs, we not only helped these small businesses get back online but developed a new system of food security in our most remote and economically fragile neighborhoods.
  2. Update at a glance: In July, St. Croix Foundation met with several of our farmers to touch base on their Tienda’s operations and begin conversations on developing a comprehensive resiliency plan in grey skies.

Nonprofit Capacity Building

  • Develop Additional Local Organizational Capacity to Implement Recovery Projects (Resilience)
  • Protect Coral Reefs, Beaches, and Heritage Trees (Resilience)
  • Actively Promote Heritage Tourism to Diversify the Economy (Community Development)
  • Provide More Resilient Support Services for Youth Following Disasters (Community Development)
  1. AmeriCorps VISTA Program: As we reported back in June, our AmeriCorps VISTA Program is now a permanent site. The multiplier of this specific program is almost unlimited. By providing experts (local and off-island) to our nonprofits for a full year, the VISTA program ultimately supports every aspect of each nonprofit's work. Whether a cultural organization like Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism (CHANT) or one based in environmental stewardship like the St. Croix Environmental Association, here again, we checked several boxes!
  2. Update at a glance: We have 2 new VISTAs! Kevin is serving the St. Croix Foundation as our videographer, capturing the proof of all this incredible work to get the word out; and Nadea is at the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the VI to increase the visibility of the youth programs and services to donors and the wider Virgin Islands community. Additionally, we are pleased to report we have leveraged GlobalGiving’s support and have been approved for $20,000 in funding from AmeriCorps to support VISTA Supervision and Transportation.

Downtown Revitalization

  • Repair, Re-open, and Re-evaluate Community Spaces (Resilience)
  • Provide Solutions to Shelter Vulnerable Populations (Resilience)
  1. The Alexander Theater Renovation “Healing Humanities” Initiative: In February 2019, the Foundation was awarded a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant to renovate and retrofit the Alexander Theater in Sunday Market Square transforming it into a state-of-the-art performing arts center, convening space, and the only downtown Christiansted Community Disaster Safe Room capable of serving 300-600 people. A perfect example of the Foundation’s holistic approach to community development by leveraging scarce dollars for ripple impacts, the Alexander Theater will add to the territory’s depleted disaster shelter pool and will serve as an economic stimulus for Christiansted. This comprehensive project checks long-term resilience and community development initiatives in the Community Plan.
  2. Update at a glance: We are incredibly excited to report that we are now finalizing the RFP process for the selection of an architect for the design of this legacy project.


  • Repair, Fortify, and Preserve Vulnerable Historical and Cultural Archives (Recovery: St. Croix Landmarks Society)
  • Provide Solutions to Shelter Vulnerable Populations (Resilience: Liberty Place, Christiansted Lighthouse Mission)
  • Protect Coral Reefs, Beaches, and Heritage Trees (Resilience: St. Croix Environmental Association)
  • Actively Promote Heritage Tourism to Diversify the Economy (Community Development: Crucian Heritage and Tourism)
  • Provide More Resilient Support Services for Youth Following Disasters (Community Development: FYR is LIT, Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls, Music in Motion, World Ocean School, CMCArts, St. Croix Montessori, Men’s Coalition, Leap & Learn Academy, Virgin Islands Volunteer Advocates for Children, Inc., and so many more!
  • Repair, Re-open, and Re-evaluate Community Spaces (Resilience: Clean Sweep Frederiksted, Christiansted Community Alliance; Mon Bijou Community Center)
  • Improve Access to Healthcare by Piloting a Client-Centered Care Program (Recovery: St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group, Liberty Place, Frederiksted Health Center)
  1. CARE Fund Grantmaking: Through CARE, we have granted a total of $1.8 million to nonprofits Develop Additional Local Organizational Capacity to Implement Recovery Projects who were also checking boxes! Since our grantmaking is not restricted to programming, and we have cultivated close partnerships with local nonprofits, SCF’s grant supported operations for long-term building and short-term relief.
  2. Update at a glance: We are pleased to report that we just opened the 2021 CARE Sustaining Impact Grant for Nonprofit Consortium members! Although grantmaking represents only 20-30% of the Foundation’s work; when we do it, we do it right. The Sustaining Impact Grant is specifically designed to expand on earlier capacity-building awards (either through operations or programming) to fortify nonprofits on the frontlines of Covid-19 and ongoing resilience and rebuilding efforts.

Intersections with Care for Health, Community Building, Housing and Environment

  • Implement a Volunteer Check-up Program – (SCF Fiscal Sponsorship; Resilience )
  • Improve Individual Resilience through Community Mental Health Services (SCF Fiscal Sponsorship; Resilience)
  • Promote Solutions for Low-income Homeowners Resilience (SCF Nonprofit Consortium; Community Development )
  • Update and Enforce New Comprehensive Land Use Plans (Nonprofit Consortium; Community Development)

Our Unique Approach…As we report on this work, we can’t help but reflect on how it’s possible for such a small foundation to have such a big impact. We believe the “secret” to this success is twofold. First, as a place-based operating community foundation, we are rooted in our community and nonprofits. And because our portfolio is holistic - direct programming, fiscal sponsorship, and grantmaking – the outcome is that ALL of the Foundation’s programs and services, complement and intersect with CARE. That overlap has an exponential effect and the results are in: it works.

The second secret is encapsulated in the word “trust.” GlobalGiving saw in us a unique community foundation and trusted us to know what was best. With 31 years of service in our community, we live and breathe People and Place. We trust our local nonprofits, our grantees, sponsored projects, and program partners. And they trust us because of our commitment to collaboration, not competition.

Our partnership with GlobalGiving has allowed St. Croix Foundation to build organizational capacity for ourselves and for our larger civic sector- without competing. Together, we’re creating new systems and we’re meeting the mandates of the Community Plan.

In fact, we hope everyone in the GlobalGiving family knows that our partnership is indeed a model for our field – a model for equitable, collaborative, and sustained impact.

Thank you!

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The Abundance of New Crops with Resilience Grants!
The Abundance of New Crops with Resilience Grants!

As communities throughout the Caribbean and the U.S. prepare for the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which is expected to be more active than “normal,” philanthropy’s work around building resilience is put to the test. For the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the smallest “kid on the block” in the equity model, the stakes are incredibly high.

At St. Croix Foundation, as we reflect back on the process of recovery since the 2017 Hurricanes, we are pleased to report that our work in disaster response has gone far beyond immediate recovery. Our approach as a place-based community foundation, the partnerships we developed, and the priorities we focused on resulted in multi-layered pilot programs that are no longer experiments in resilience-building but fully operational systems that bypass inequitable, inaccessible paradigms within our community and within the field of philanthropy itself.

Today, just days after the opening of the hurricane season, we extend our deepest appreciation to our GlobalGiving family and our circle of funders and advocates. Because, with your support, we have expanded innovative pilots and turned them into new scalable models of resiliency and self-sufficiency.

Ready to Serve: Capacity Building in Real-time for Food Security
St. Croix Foundation’s focus on resilience is grounded in our commitment to encourage and empower our community to access resources specific to their needs. By doing so, we build new systems that simultaneously strengthen the one and the whole. Case in point: our Farm Tienda Small Business Development and Resilience Initiative! What began as an initiative to get small businesses back online after Hurricanes Irma and Maria has now become a sustainable network of food sovereignty at the business and community level.

As described in our last quarterly report, all seven Farm Tiendas are now operational and continue to serve as resilience hubs throughout Covid-19. With Farm Tiendas located strategically across the island and outfitted with solar panels, water buffalos (and Wi-Fi!), we are pleased to report our farmers are already noting the value of the Tiendas in the event of a crisis to provide for residents and secure food:

  • We are ready to serve at a heartbeat’s notice."
  • We use the unit for our point of sales during the present pandemic control. If we face that challenge again, we are prepared to do so. This unit gave us the security we needed during a critical time in our operation.


  • 4 out of 7 farmers said the Tienda has helped generate more or new business by 50%.
  • Water buffalos are helping to address water shortages for the farms, providing extra water for crop production and fresh water for washing produce

Ongoing Systems Building through Agricultural Micro Grants
At the Foundation, we often speak about strategic grantmaking. The innovation and relevance of granting Tiendas to small business farmers to strengthen economic and food systems is, of course, part of it! But it’s also about our commitment to support our grantees, who we call partners, beyond the initial grant award.

To allow our farmers the flexibility necessary to enhance their infrastructure, in mid-January, St. Croix Foundation, in partnership with Tides Foundation, awarded each farmer a $1000 mini-grant – a total of $7,000.  Funds will support new shelving units, stainless steel tables, point-of-sale systems like cash registers, and vital infrastructure, such as a new water pump to feed additional crop rotation.

New Breed Farm, located on the isolated southern part of the island and serving St. Croix residents island-wide through wholesaling produce to local grocery stores, purchased a new water pump with their Micro-Grant to get their well back online. As a significant resource for their farm, the additional water source has already allowed for expanded crop rotation in cucumbers (seen at right) and melons.

From Programs to Systems: VISTA Becomes a Permanent Program at St. Croix Foundation
In 2018, St. Croix Foundation conducted our Nonprofit Disaster Recovery and Capacity Assessment, finding that most nonprofits (69.6%) reported increased demand for program services, yet 72.8% were still operating on a limited basis or not at all. Nonprofits such as the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls, who were serving upwards of 300youth a day, were vital to our community’s recovery. As such, the Foundation quickly identified AmeriCorps VISTA as a resource to offer much-needed staffing and capacity support to organizations that were serving our most vulnerable. Established in 1964, AmeriCorps VISTA’s (Volunteers In Service To America) purpose is to strengthen communities and develop leaders through direct, team-based direct national and community service. VISTA has and continues to provide our nonprofit participants with professional expertise from various backgrounds such as engineering, international studies, and education.

After approximately 400 staff hours of coordination and development of our application, the Foundation was approved for a 15-member VISTA Team to come to St. Croix. And, thanks to GlobalGiving, who provided a generous grant to support VISTA housing stipends, to date 6 VISTAs are currently serving the St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group, the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls, the Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition, and St. Croix Foundation. Together, our VISTAs have put in over 14,000 hours, building capacity through grants research and writing, community partnership outreach, and the development of comprehensive marketing strategies.

This cohort represents the first VISTA team in the Territory in over 20 years, when the Foundation last hosted VISTAs. These outcomes alone make the VISTA Program a success. But we are incredibly happy to report that St. Croix Foundation has just been invited to become a permanent intermediary site for the AmeriCorps VISTA Program!

Despite challenges surrounding Covid-19, which severely affected recruitment, SCF increased check-ins with VISTA members and supervisors, assuring their safety was the top priority. And we used the time to connect with supervisors and offer any revisions to Volunteer Assignment Descriptions. In addition, SCF reviewed resumes and made recommendations to supervisors for candidates that align with the support needed. With this support, 2 VISTAs reenrolled in the program, 3 local VISTA joined, and one brave non-local VISTA safely relocated to St. Croix and secured housing to serve locally during her term. VISTA members are also sharing the program benefits, and a number of interested applicants have reached out around vacant positions. Additionally, our partner organizations are sharing the benefits VISTA support. As a result, three new nonprofits have requested to join the St. Croix AmeriCorps Team. The Foundation has also met with two existing organizations to develop a recruitment and selection strategy over the next two months, aiming to add a total of 7 new VISTAs over the next four months.

Today, what began as a critical rebuilding program, has become a new, healthy system of nonprofit supports for sustainable, community-based capacity building.

From Pilots to Comprehensive Systems in Sustainable Energy
As we reported back in February, St. Croix Foundation just solarized its second community center at Flambouyant Gardens, adding 6000KW of sustainable power to the island of St. Croix! In times of disaster, Flambouyant Gardens, home to 56 senior citizens, will serve as a resilience hub for residents and families to charge electronic devices and use an internet connection to communicate with loved ones. To date, the center has reported $500 in savings and the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls, our first center to be solarized, another $2500 in energy savings.

With resilience hubs located in some of the most vulnerable and isolated parts of the island (including our Farm Tiendas reported on above), the Foundation is now focusing on fortifying its own energy infrastructure with the help of GlobalGiving. In the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes, the Foundation’s early commitment to burying electrical lines and the central downtown location of the Foundation’s headquarters resulted in the Foundation serving as a critical resilience hub. Providing office space and housing nonprofits to key recovery personnel from FEMA and local government agencies. As such, the Foundation has committed to serving as a hub again, increasing our energy capacity by installing additional panels and energy storage.

As our sustainability network grows, the Foundation is also mindful of the importance of ongoing monitoring and support to document successes and challenges to ensure systems evolve for greater impact. Conditions around COVID-19 and early evaluations of the first cohort of students in the Workforce Development component of our solar initiative indicate that longer-term support for students and community centers is a relevant and critical need.

Although COVID-19 has kept us at a distance, the Foundation took time to build a deeper relationship with our students and their employers. By July 2020, all students had received employment in the solar industry, and it was important for the Foundation to continue providing support for their transition into the career field. Thanks to a generous award from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, the Foundation will continue to monitor what is now a new system of sustainable energy on the island of St. Croix. Over the course of the next year, the foundation will be (1) conducting data collection on the community center model to assess monthly energy savings for the centers, monitor the system for any error messages, and report on how energy savings will be used; (2) providing workforce retention support and career development for the first cohort of students through workshops, one-on-one professional development and Lunch and Learn events with participants; and (3) dedicating to direct project oversight to document the mode, collect and report data and coordinate support for participants and centers.

We truly couldn’t be more excited about the success of this comprehensive initiative and thank GlobalGiving, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, VI Department of Labor Workforce Development Board and JPB Foundation.  Without you, it wouldn’t be possible!

The Heart and Soul of Philanthropy
When we talk about place-based philanthropy’s role in creating new, healthy systems, St. Croix Foundation’s philosophy and multi-pronged approach is proven: catalyze holistic community development that builds capacity in nonprofits, leverages cross-sector collaboration, and directs resources at the intersections of complex social-economic challenges facing marginalized communities. Community is the heart and soul of philanthropy --- and by beginning with community, together we build a Prosperity Portfolio that grows into systems that empower the very people who drive change in the most effective way.

Our Local Senior Center Receives Full Solar System
Our Local Senior Center Receives Full Solar System
Farm Tiendas: Food Security Systems During Covid!
Farm Tiendas: Food Security Systems During Covid!
Farm Tiendas Serve as Neighborhood Hubs
Farm Tiendas Serve as Neighborhood Hubs
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VISTA Volunteers Embrace St. Croix & Service!
VISTA Volunteers Embrace St. Croix & Service!

Today, as we usher in the year 2021, we are delighted to report that initiatives we launched in response to catastrophic hurricanes Maria and Irma are thriving. They are thriving because they are based in community, in place, and as such are relevant and therefore sustainable. Whether it’s around energy independence, food security, small business growth, workforce development, or nonprofit capacity support, St. Croix Foundation is investing in our People and our Place.

Together with our incredible GlobalGiving family and a network of civic, private, and public partners, we have successfully created equitable pathways for accessing basic services and resources for historically underrepresented populations. Together we are nurturing resilience in underserved communities and supporting often-overlooked components of our stakeholder community: farmers.  Ultimately, together we are proving the power of place-based philanthropy!

Solarizing Centers and Workforce Development: WE DID IT!
In our last report, we told you about the successes of our Solar-Supported Community Center and Workforce Development Initiative:

  1. The development of a green energy workforce with the graduation of the Territory’s first cohort of 9 nationally certified solar installers – all of whom are now fully employed in the field.
  2. The creation of a grantmaking model that nurtures community resilience through solarizing community centers serving vulnerable populations (children and the elderly) in remote locations.

Today, we can say that the Initiative is complete! Thanks to GlobalGiving funding, the solar system for Flambouyant Gardens has been installed! As of December 2020, this center, located mid-island and serving 56 senior citizens, is now fortified with a solar system. During blue skies, the center will save approximately 60% of its overhead and has pledged to reinvest their savings into programming for the center. During grey skies, the center will be a mid-island, resiliency hub for residents in nearby neighborhoods, providing a place to charge phones or store medication. Just like the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls, Flamboyant Gardens has committed to tracking its savings and reporting on usage to help monitor the return on investments, both qualitative and quantitative.

What’s next? As part of our mission, St. Croix Foundation is a “a catalyst for change.” Seeking to build upon this progressive Resiliency Model and the momentum of the work, St. Croix prepared comprehensive comments for our local Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program, which were submitted by one of our nonprofit partners, St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group, to support the expansion of a more comprehensive phase of our Solar Project in the amount of $9.25 Million.

Having incubated this high-impact program for several years, the Foundation has been very intentional in identifying a committed civic partner – and a sustainable funding source – to lead and maintain the work moving forward, for the long-term. If the comments are approved, the project is expected to serve 150 young people and solarize and harden 25 community centers. These comments were submitted to encourage the Territory to incorporate the solar project's expansion into the CDBG-DR action plan currently under development.

Farmers Receive Awards to Fortify Farm Tiendas
The Foundation is pleased to report that our Farm Tienda Initiative has already proven its worth! As we reported last October, all 7 Farm Tiendas are in operation and are serving our public through COVID-19 safely, supporting neighborhoods with fresh food as commercial supply chains slow and access through schools is limited.

Today, with all Farm Tiendas stabilized for hurricane season and outfitted with water buffalos, our next step is to solarize every Tienda for energy independence. During grey skies, solar units will enable farmers to assist their neighborhood with basics such as electricity, water, and of course, fresh food.

One of the elements the Foundation considered when selecting farms that would receive a Tienda Grant was location. Our main objective was to ensure accurate coverage of isolated communities, but in addition to this, the Foundation has sought to gather data on the utility Farm Tiendas themselves. What we have learned is that each farmer requires additional fortification of their Farm Tienda to reach its full potential of serving the community.

To allow our farmers the flexibility necessary to enhance their infrastructure, in mid-January, St. Croix Foundation, in partnership with Tides Foundation, awarded each farmer a $1000 mini-grant – a total of $7,000. Funds will support new shelving units, stainless steel tables, point-of-sale systems like cash registers, and fans to keep the space cool.

Community Building
In St. Croix Foundation’s October 2020 Farm Tienda Survey, all respondents reported that the Farm Tiendas had streamlined their operations. As a prime objective of the Initiative, the Foundation is eager to continue tracking this. But beyond the economics, community-building was another priority. Today, we are happy to report that Farm Tiendas are expanding opportunities for community-building. One farmer stated that “our area is further away than most from groceries, so the increase in access to fresh food for our neighborhood has been amazing. We are meeting all kinds of neighbors we never knew before, and they are meeting each other. I think the site has a lot of room for expansion.”

AmeriCorps VISTAS: Serving through Covid-19
The key to success is often the ability to pivot (or pause) as needed. In the time of Covid-19, our family at GlobalGiving has been integral to our ability to keep projects moving that may have otherwise been unsustainable.

Today, we are happy to report that the St. Croix VISTA Team has been approved for its second year. It is a milestone to be renewed for another year of this three-year program. This was approved because, despite issues surrounding Covid-19, six VISTAs are currently serving five organizations: St. Croix Foundation, Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the Virgin Islands, St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group, St. Croix Landmarks Society, and the Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition. These organizations represent the heart of resilience: youth, culture, food security, and long-term capacity-building for resilience.

St. Croix Foundation and partners are also pleased to see the VISTA Team continue to grow. As our VISTAs started in the 3rd quarter of 2019, just before a global pandemic hit the world. This temporarily paused our recruiting efforts while we ensured that our VISTAs felt safe and whole during this time. Two of our VISTAs returned to their hometown, and the remainder sheltered in place. As each VISTA adjusted to these challenging times, St. Croix Foundation increased the number of individual and group check-ins to twice a month from bi-monthly meetings to assure all program concerns were addressed. During this time, two non-local VISTAs did complete their service term for VISTA and provided great support to our nonprofits. One developed a community outreach and marketing plan, and the other helped foster new agriculture partners to collaborate with on projects.

Thanks to the generous grant from GlobalGiving’s Cruzan Island Spirit Fund to help subsidize our volunteers' housing costs, we continue our quest to recruit 8 more members. In recognition of St. Croix’s isolated geographical location, the Foundation’s recruitment outreach emphasizes opportunities to connect virtually with other VISTA members and the community, while serving on an island with low case numbers and many opportunities to be in open-air spaces.

Two non-local VISTAs are currently serving the St. Croix team: one VISTA has decided to continue her service from her home state due to Covid-19, and one VISTA is serving on the island of St. Croix. The VISTA serving St. Croix Foundation decided to join the Team on the island from Tampa, Florida. Victoria, our newest recruit, recently completed her Master’s in International Development in Geneva, Switzerland and was eager for the opportunity to serve on St. Croix. The Foundation is excited to have her on board to assist with funding research and organization development, and she has already assisted with developing a formal Letter of Inquiry for one our largest fundraising efforts to date. As one of our original goals, VISTA members were to receive a holistic experience, and Victoria has been able to explore the island by hiking and assisting local farmers safely.

Victoria shared, “My first weekend on St. Croix, we went on a hike to overlook the island’s beautiful coastline. I felt excited to start my VISTA experience and learn more about the community I would be serving.” Having this VISTA join in October 2020 and safely transition to the island has boosted morale for the Team and shown that non-local recruitment is still possible at this time.

Keeping Doors Open for Resilience with $65,000 in Grants to Nonprofits
As you heard last year, in response to Covid-19, St. Croix Foundation relaunched the CARE Fund as a permanent Fund, providing support for a targeted response to COVID-19 and any other disaster we may face. Today, as our community joins the world in a global fight to combat COVID-19, the CARE Fund is already supporting the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands in several priority areas as a conduit (not a container) of resources. Our priorities include: (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.

As a core resilience strategy, the Foundation first turned to our civic organizations still on the front line. Prioritizing the stabilization of essential local nonprofit organizations that are playing a critical role in serving and supporting the most vulnerable populations directly or indirectly impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic, in November of 2020, SCF awarded $65,000 to the following organizations through our Open Doors Grant:

  • Lutheran Social Services: Access to PPE and nursing care
  • Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts: “Art at Home” virtual arts programming for youth
  • Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism, Inc.: operational support
  • Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the Virgin Islands: Virtual academic tutoring
  • St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group: Crisis Preparedness Kits
  • St. Croix Montessori: Performance Arts Program
  • World Ocean School: STEM programming
  • FYR is LIT: Academic tutoring and youth leadership development
  • St. Croix Environmental Association: Environmental education program
  • Music in Motion School of Higher Dance Education: operational support
  • Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition (food security): operational support
  • Clean Sweep Frederiksted: Community engagement plan, economic development
  • Liberty Place: “Community First!” shelter for rehabilitation

Once again, these organizations, also members of the Foundation’s Nonprofit Consortium, represent every sector of a healthy community, from arts and culture to economic development and youth and education. By utilizing a holistic approach to sustainable recovery, the Foundation’s work through our CARE Fund will leverage scarce community resources and provide strategic rebuilding that will serve the community into the future.

NYCT partnership with Puerto Rico on Resiliency Lessons Learned
In the aftermath of the storms, St. Croix Foundation for Community Development is focused on work that supports long-term sustainability and resilience. As in so many other coastal communities, in the Virgin Islands, sustainability and resiliency are not just words, but imperatives for our residents' future. Acutely aware that as an isolated island community, the Territory must look beyond theory and put into practice community-based initiatives that will advance our recovery priorities of energy independence, economic resiliency, nonprofit stability, workforce development, and overall community self-sufficiency.

Our goal is to share learnings stemmed from the experiences lived by our communities after hurricane María and the most recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico. Our objective is to convene three organizations from St. Croix and three organizations from Puerto Rico. As St. Croix Foundation and Puerto Rico Community Foundation both have commonalities, not only in the way we are structured but in our areas of focus (especially after the recent emergencies), we seek to collaborate and learn from each other’s experience.

We envision having exchanges in Puerto Rico during May and in St. Croix during October. A document should stem from these exchanges – Quick Reference Report on Caribbean Community Resilience (QRRCCR) that will contain community savvy strategies that could be referenced in the case of future natural events impacting islands. We will evaluate participants' experience and satisfaction with each peer learning exchange, and we’ll monitor any generated collaboration. They will also become a tangible and visual mechanism to highlight the peer learning exchange results and following conversations.

Starting with Community…
As a place-based community foundation, St. Croix Foundation has weathered many storms right alongside the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands. From hurricanes to national and global economic recessions and now, the COVID-19 pandemic, the call of philanthropy has never changed for us: get on the ground, nurture enduring relationships with nonprofits to understand needs, and devise targeted solutions. With GlobalGiving, we’ve been able to hit the ground running. Thank you for making so much possible.

Our senior center receives a new solar system!
Our senior center receives a new solar system!
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A young inventor with his solar charging station!
A young inventor with his solar charging station!

The month of September was another huge milestone for the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands and so many coastal communities. Together, we marked three years since Hurricanes Maria and Irma hit the islands in 2017. We’ve accomplished much. But the realities of Covid-19 while we await the ending of the 2020 Hurricane Season remind us of the complex vulnerabilities of a predominantly Black, isolated American Island ‘territory’ (i.e. Colony) with no vote. Those vulnerabilities make us work even harder at St. Croix Foundation because we know that the stakes are high. And we also know that our vision of a safe and thriving Virgin Islands is possible.

In this report, you’ll read about the potential we have tapped in our young people. You’ll read about the undauntable spirit of farmers whose businesses are getting a new boost and volunteers who carry the passion of community and motivate civic engagement.  And behind all of this are the partners that make the impossible possible. Thank you to our friends and family at GlobalGiving. You are testimony that together we can (and do) make a difference.

100% Full-time Employment for Workforce Development Students

At a time in history when unemployment rates are at an all-time high, our Solar-Supported Community Center and Workforce Development Initiative represents a philanthropic triumph that can serve as a community model all over the globe. Beyond providing an opportunity to rebuild more sustainably and resilient in the aftermath of historic Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the program's ultimate goal of providing a high-quality workforce training opportunity for unemployed youth has been fully achieved and the model is proven.

Today, we are pleased to report that in just one year, ALL nine students in our program (100% of our graduates) have received national certification in solar installation and ALL are now fully employed in their field of study. We also want to share recent news that two participants have been promoted to Team Lead, and one is training in Tesla power walls. As the first cohort of solar students in the Territory, they also installed the first solar system on the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the Virgin Islands.

Since the Solar-Supported Community Center Project was officially launched in June 2019, we’ve been keeping you updated on the progress of our students and the outcomes of our strategic grantmaking of a solar PV system to community centers around the island. We are also delighted that, through GlobalGiving funding, the solar system for Flambouyant Gardens for Senior Assisted Living has been procured and, despite delays surrounding Covid-19, is scheduled for installation on October 12, 2020.  Located mid-island on St. Croix and serving 56 senior residents, the center was chosen based on its response to the 2017 hurricanes, the population it serves, and where it is located on the island.

The Foundation will be tapping our solar workforce students to conduct the final installation after comprehensive inspections on Flambouyant Gardens has been completed and modifications have been determined. Given the circumstances surrounding Covid-19, the Foundation is taking extra steps to ensure compatibility between the system and the center for smooth installation.

This pilot Initiative has proven that demand exists in the Virgin Islands for a local, skilled workforce in green energy, as is evidenced by our hire rate to date. And, as most of St. Croix Foundation’s projects, the Solar-Supported Community Center and Workforce Development Initiative is designed to serve as a model for how to nurture relevant workforce development that builds capacity for resilience and energy independence. Working closely with our first solarized center, the Foundation projects to have data on usage and savings to share.

As one of the few occupations expected to see exponential growth throughout the Caribbean, there is significant pressure on the Foundation to replicate this program with a new cohort of students. While this was our initial intention, the realities of Covid and the cost of running the program with fidelity have forced us to put a temporary pause on opening a 2nd cycle.

Grantee Update: Nurturing Capacity in the Next Generation

Last November, we reported on the work of one of our grantees, a graduating senior who had invented a solar charging station in the wake of the 2017 Hurricanes. Kieran, one of our CARE Fund grantees and partners, wanted to build a prototype of the station for his community that would also fulfill a requirement for his final and rigorous service project to graduate as an Eagle Scout.

Designed to be mobilized throughout neighborhoods during times of crisis, the station can be used to charge phones, radios, and any medical equipment such as insulin testers that are rechargeable. Not only did Kieran build it, but he presented his working prototype to an audience of 300 at the 2019 Coconut Festival, designed a brochure, and created a video on how to build the self-sufficient, solar-powered, weather-resistant satellite communication hotspot and charging station. He also taught youth from the local community center how to build the stations to ensure this exploratory project's sustainability.

Today, we are incredibly happy to report that we’ve recently heard from Kieran, and he has received his final badge and is an official Eagle Scout. This is a difficult challenge and requires a total of 21 merit badges. Kieran’s work didn’t just impress the Foundation -  it was also showcased on the official Eagle Scout pagehere:

As an example of the Foundation’s strategic grantmaking, this is a special grant with almost unlimited leverage points – from youth skills and leadership development to nurturing public awareness and resilience building.

Next Steps for Farm Tiendas as Resilience Hubs

As another example of the Foundation’s strategic grantmaking and programming, you may recall that we granted 7 durable steel containers to farmers to serve as “Farm Tiendas” or farm stands to help stabilize their business and serve as a resilience hub during grey skies. Despite continued delays surrounding Covid-19, we are happy to report that we have been able to pivot as necessary to keep activating components of this initiative while also ensuring the safety of all participants.

To date, all containers have been delivered and all are in full operation! While we had to postpone solarizing the Farm Tiendas due to Covid-19, all systems have arrived, and installation will begin in October. Additionally, all farmers have met with an engineer who has provided a comprehensive report on the steps needed to secure Farm Tiendas, in each unique location, for the long-term. The Foundation has also provided tie-down kits and rust spray as an extra level of protection during the 2020 hurricane season, a value of $4200 to each farmer. Over the summer, each farmer also received a water buffalo with a capacity to store 1000 gallons during blue and grey skies.

As a side note, we would be remiss to not mention that our contracted engineer, Kareem, was one of the first members of the Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council- a youth leadership development body of high school students launched in 2009. Today, Kareem is a Mechanical Engineer and living demonstration of the impact of our holistic approach to philanthropy and community development.

The Farm Tienda is yet another economic and resilience model that the Foundation is tracking – how it was developed, lessons learned, and how to leverage local resources for measurable outcomes around food security The Foundation looks forward to the next phase, during which Farm Tiendas will be solarized and data collection on how the Farm Tiendas function will become a priority.

AmeriCorps VISTAS Making Connections for Preparedness

In past reports, St. Croix Foundation has reported to you on the exciting program to bring 15 VISTA volunteers to serve nonprofits on St. Croix. This is boots-on-the-ground support for nonprofits, who are working over capacity to serve a community with increased needs, that has a tangible impact. Once again, due to Covid-19, our recruitment and placement schedule was interrupted. However, the Foundation has successfully recruited and assigned 6 AmeriCorps VISTA members to support 4 nonprofit organizations: Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the VI, St. Croix Long Term Recovery Groups, Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition, and St. Croix Landmarks Society. The early stages of recruiting were challenging, but each organization has been determined to utilize this opportunity to drive change in their respective organizations.

Thanks to a generous grant from GlobalGiving’s Cruzan Island Spirit Fund to help subsidize housing costs for our volunteers, we continue our quest to recruit 8 more members and a VISTA leader. With assistance from FEMA, St. Croix Foundation was able to secure a booth and collect names of interested volunteers for the AmeriCorps VISTA program. There were over 500 attendees at this event. SCF also applied and received support for the U.S. Dept of Interior: Office of Insular Affairs. This support focuses on training and technical support for VISTAs. St. Croix Foundation has also been working with FEMA as they developed the Community Response Plan (CRP). In May VISTAs received training on how to use the recovery tool. And despite Covid-19, our VISTAS are connecting with each other, their community, and the broader field of philanthropy.

One of our VISTA volunteers for the St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group, Rosalie, epitomizes the spirit of AmeriCorps VISTAs and the Virgin Islands. A local resident, cancer survivor, and senior volunteer, Rosalie was previously supporting LTRG with recruiting volunteers for housing rebuilds but had to switch roles due to Covid-19. Today, she is conducting surveys for the St. Croix Community Response Plan. Rosalie is one of the biggest advocates for the AmeriCorps VISTA program. In addition to her work with LTRG she continues to share the available VISTA opportunities with young people at the American Red Cross and has presented to the St. Croix Retiree Association, Virgin Islands VOAD,  as well as the St. Croix COAD Executive, Youth, and Unmet Needs Committees. She also presents at monthly Town Halls, where she is a champion to engage more local VISTAs, citing obvious benefits to the local residents on the individual and community level.

Starting with Community…

Despite being an unendowed, small community foundation serving an under-served, under-resourced community, Hurricanes Irma and Maria afforded St. Croix Foundation the opportunity to demonstrate the worth and impact of our philanthropic approach. Having just celebrated our 30th anniversary this past September, our leadership journey is one we believe can inform burgeoning philanthropies in developing communities around the world. Over the past three decades, St. Croix Foundation has learned a lot. Principally, that there is abundance amid scarcity and that often the assets we are searching for are untapped gems in our own communities. To learn  more about our approach, we invite you to read our President’s 30th Anniversary Message at

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Organization Information

St. Croix Foundation for Community Development

Location: Christiansted - Virgin Islands
Twitter: @stxfoundation
Project Leader:
Deanna James
Christiansted, VI Virgin Islands
$78,670 raised of $1,000,000 goal
65 donations
$921,330 to go
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