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

Project Report | May 21, 2024
Fusing the Past and Present for Future Resilience

By Lilli Cox | Dir. Communications & Community Investments

Convening community around future resilience!
Convening community around future resilience!

The 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season is less than a month away. Now, as with every year, preparation and resilience are top priorities for all coastal communities across the region to mitigate damage from a potential storm. On St. Croix, the work is two-fold, for while we focus on the tomorrows yet to come, St. Croix Foundation and our partners are diligently employed on multiple fronts to meet current and emerging needs that still continue to challenge our community after the 2017 hurricanes.

Today, we are undertaking a massive capital project that will create St. Croix’s largest and most modern shelter in downtown Christianstiansted to help insure our community against future harm. But our work around this shelter is also focused deeply on healing the wounds of past storms, literal and figurative, that have been neglected far too long. So while the world strives to confront the symptoms of climate change, particularly for marginalized People and Places, we are heedful that a community’s resilience is not just about hardened infrastructure for schools, hospitals, and utilities; it is also about the health of our Social Infrastructure and our People’s hearts and minds.

Helping to Heal the Past and Secure Our Future through the Humanities
In our last report, we described our vision for Sunday Market Square, one of the oldest planned public squares in the United States. Seated in historic downtown Christiansted, the Square represents a unique history linked to Denmark’s colonial rule and influence on the island of St. Croix from 1733 to 1917. Serving as a center for trading among Crucians in the 1700s, the Square was a designated convening space where enslaved Africans were permitted to sell produce, trade goods, connect with loved ones, and socialize in the marketplace on Sundays – their only day off from forced labor. While it remained a popular gathering spot for residents through the 1900s, after several decades of neglect, coupled with the devastation of Hurricane Hugo in 1989, the Square fell into disrepair.

Long a part of the Foundation’s comprehensive downtown revitalization work, today we are focused on renovating and retrofitting the Alexander Theater, which sits in the Square, as a critically important shelter for the People of St. Croix that will also serve as our island’s only indoor theater. Combined with complimentary co-working and training spaces we have planned for the Square, our Vision also encompasses the humanities for our nonprofits, our youth, and our community as a whole. Ultimately, a Holistic and Rooted Communal Space of Healing is our overarching Vision!

In the last quarter, we’ve been very busy. Continuing to work closely with our arts and humanities nonprofits to inform programming and design, the conceptual design of the theater is now complete and schematic design has officially begun and is slated to be complete in June! Looking for every opportunity to leverage this work, our Board and Staff organized a tour with local government and nonprofits, including VITEMA, the VI Fire Department, the Department of Human Services, the Red Cross, and other entities that that oversee all of the territory’s disaster shelters to formalize our partnership as it relates to the Alexander Theater and to discuss its operation as not just a Disaster Safe Room (where people are sheltered for the 72 hours of the disaster event) but also its potential use as a secondary shelter, where people who cannot safely return to their homes are sheltered in the aftermath of a disaster. This is very important, as the functional needs of a secondary shelter differ from those of a safe room, and FEMA funding is limited to safe room functions. 

Also in this past quarter, Mercy Corps selected the Sunday Market Square as a Resilience Hub site! This partnership will lead to the in-kind contribution of solar, potable water storage and filtration, communications, and a community food garden. Collaboration between SCF and Mercy Corps this quarter has included numerous meetings with our project team, architect, and Mercy Corps infrastructure team for early planning and integration into the schematic design process. Also, in May of 2024, SCF partnered with Mercy Corps to host a series of focus groups with local residents (one for women, one for men, and an upcoming session for youth) to explore issues and concerns related to disaster recovery and resilience. These focus groups generated incredible energy and feedback, with numerous community members expressing deep commitment to the project.

Ultimately, the Sunday Market Square will be home to more than just co-working spaces, low-income housing, a theater, and a Safe Room (and hopefully a Congregate Disaster Shelter). It will be a place for our young people to dream and to grow, for our nonprofits to collaborate and innovate – and it will reflect the ancestral wisdom, culture, and values of our People, honoring the African People who originally built the Square. 

Where we are today represents thousands of hours spent by Foundation staff writing grants, nurturing strategic partnerships, shifting strategies due to changing government regulations, listening and looping back to our community members and nonprofits… and so very much more. The commitment and the passion that makes place-based work so impactful has and continues to be fully demonstrated through our successes to date. It also underscores the importance of strong, local civic organizations that are willing to take on multi-layered initiatives, the outcome of which is truly equity-centered, inclusive,  and holds social justice as a steady North Star.

Looking to the Past to Inform the Territory’s Future Resilience
When it comes to resilience, a focus on child wellbeing is absolutely vital. As one of the most rapidly aging populations in the United States, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ child population has decreased by half in just 20 years. The implications of this data on every aspect of our future stability make the stakes very high for our children and every member of our community. And so, just this past April, St. Croix Foundation hosted its inaugural KIDS COUNT USVI Summit, entitled Answering the Call: We are the System and the Solution.

Another example of St. Croix Foundation's cross-sector initiatives, our KIDS COUNT USVI Summit was held in partnership with the Office of the Governor, convening a cohort of key stakeholders from the public, private, and civic sectors. Despite the dismal trends that caused the Foundation to issue a “Call to Action” in its 2023 KIDS COUNT USVI Data Book, our KIDS COUNT Team believes that the size of the Territory, and even our status, may be untapped opportunities to do things differently: to make radical and rapid strides in the area of child well-being.

The summit's overarching aim was to harness and activate the data presented in the annual USVI Data Book. It also sought to help stakeholders interrogate and identify their individual and collective roles in the life cycle of existing (and burgeoning) systems while building greater competency around collaboration and the co-creation of cohesive and coherent systems of support that improve the well-being of our Territory's children.

At the heart of the summit was an impactful video presentation titled "Sankofa," a term from Africa that means 'go back and fetch it.' This video offered a contemplative glimpse into the history of the Territory's children, spanning from the Pre-colonial Era to the Present. the video was intended to highlight the harrowing journey of the formerly enslaved inhabitants while also amplifying the progress that has been made despite the colonial backdrop of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Summit was facilitated by internationally renowned systems change expert and founder of The Outside, Tuesday Rivera, who has led numerous communities through the deliberative and collaborative process of co-designing new ways of “doing” and “being,” which lead to radical systems change.  A session was also led by Dr. Ulcca Joshi Hansen, formerly of Grantmakers for Education and author of The Future of Smart, who offered a compelling perspective on the American educational system, calling for a more human-centered approach that is adaptive to children’s needs and assets as social beings and is less linear and mechanistic than traditional methods.

Perhaps we can sum it up best through St. Croix Foundation’s President, Deanna James’ words: There are really no words to articulate how both transformational and inspirational the Summit was. Over the course of the Foundation’s 33 years of service, we have hosted a significant number of gatherings. But, this meeting was different. In fact, we made a bold decision to frame the summit as a Village Council Meeting, with guests representing not just executive directors, lawmakers, and leaders, but also Griots, Elders, and Allies - all armed with a multitude of tools, deep wisdom, and hopefully, the will to solve the complex social problems confronting our Children… together!

Resilience and the Future…
The deliberative and inclusive process that the Foundation is employing to convene our People around the future of our Place does not stop. We are and will continue to tirelessly explore, to learn, to share, and to open up space for every member of our community to engage. The stakes are high, and St. Croix Foundation continues to seek core and programmatic support that will allow us to sustain and deepen this work.  We thank all of our partners, past and present – and future! 

For more information about St. Croix Foundation’s CARE Fund, please contact us today.

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Jan 22, 2024
Emergent Models of Holistic Community Resilience

By Lilli Cox | Dir. of Communications and Community Investments

Sep 17, 2023
KEEPING OUR PEOPLE AT THE CENTER

By Lilli Cox | Dir. Communications & Community Investments

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Organization Information

St. Croix Foundation for Community Development

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

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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