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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
6 Students HIRED at Local Solar Company!
6 Students HIRED at Local Solar Company!

New Systems and the Caribbean Assistance and Resilience Effort (CARE) Fund

In 2017, when category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Virgin Islands, we knew that full recovery would be long and that the world would not wait for us to rebuild before the next storm. And so, as our friends and partners at GlobalGiving know, St. Croix Foundation began the work. We collected data, networked our nonprofits, built holistic programming, and launched initiatives spanning workforce development, energy independence, food security – and perhaps most impactful, capacity building for nonprofits.

Another hurricane season came and went, and we sighed in collective relief that 2018 had given us a little more time to rebuild – and then Covid-19 hit the world. For the Virgin Islands, an unincorporated territory whose story is often overlooked, the stakes could not be higher. It is a reminder to us all that resilience is about more than hurricane preparedness; it is about institutionalizing civic power into our societies so that the innovation, passion, and nimbleness of people are leveraged for the resiliency we all aspire to reach.

Together, GlobalGiving and St. Croix Foundation have built a partnership rooted in a collective aim of nurturing healthy, resilient communities. One week ago, the Virgin Islands and coastal communities throughout the world went on high alert as we entered into the 2020 hurricane season, which is projected to be more active than average. From hurricanes to economic recessions and now, a global 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. Through our CARE Fund, the Foundation will continue to serve, to innovate old systems, build new ones, and share our stories of progress.

6 Young People Hired, Community Center Solarized, Countless Residents Impacted
For an initiative designed to achieve multiple objectives, our Solar-Supported Community Center and Workforce Development Initiative represents a philanthropic story of opportunity, resilience, capacity building, and collaboration.

The Foundation believes that to engage disenfranchised youth, to provide the skills necessary for them to take advantage of opportunity, we recognized that we would have to make space for them. So, we did!

What began as a project to solarize community centers throughout the island of St. Croix became a multi-layered initiative in which we embedded workforce development, nonprofit capacity building, and energy independence.

Today, six young adults, the first cohort of certified solar installers in the Territory, have completed a 6-month National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) course! Prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, three students had been hired, and the remaining students are in line to being hired by a local installation company. We check in with our students and are working with them on smaller projects to keep the momentum of their career going - and where there was once resignation, there is now hope for a real future. That’s opportunity.

In our past reports, we’ve given you a lot of data. We have detailed the rigor of the instruction our students underwent and described the curriculum that included soft skills as well as technical skill-building. We told you that they completed over 400 hours of class time, and we showed you the smile of a young man whose life was changed. You learned of the impact our solar initiative would have on community centers, such as saving over 40% on utility costs annually. You heard that the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls, our first center to receive this innovative grant of a full solar system, serves over 100 students a day and is located in one of our most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. They have agreed to reprogram utility savings into enhanced services. The ripple impact on children and families is almost unquantifiable. And in another demonstration of civic collaboration and capacity building, every center we solarize has agreed to serve as a resilience hub during grey skies, providing energy access, communications, and invaluable community services. This is what a story of resilience and capacity building looks like – on an individual, organizational, and community level!

Through the support of our strategic philanthropic partners, like GlobalGiving and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, St. Croix Foundation was able to conduct strategic grantmaking that is providing full solar systems and paying student stipends for On-the-Job training. Locally, the partnership of each community center builds capacity to serve hundreds, if not thousands of residents. In the public sector, the VI Department of Labor’s Workforce Investment Board underwrote instructor salaries and student books, supplies, tools, and classroom stipends. And through the support of local corporate citizens, we were able to fill in the final funding gaps and provide actual job opportunities to students once the course was completed.

Having secured funds for the first three centers, we are working hard to find partners for our fourth center and a second cohort of NCCER students.

Mobilizing Civic Power through AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteers
Just as St. Croix Foundation was gearing up for additional recruitment to build our 15-member AmeriCorps VISTA team, Covid-19 forced our community to go into lockdown. However, the project has been nimble where possible, and we are now hosting 6 VISTAs. Despite challenges surrounding the pandemic, VISTAs continue to work to support the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the VI, St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group, and Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition.

One of our VISTAs works with the St. Croix Long Term Recovery group on increasing funding for the Unmet Needs Committee, who provides disaster recovery assistance to St. Croix residents who have nowhere else to turn. Having joined the team in February, this VISTA is an engineer who shifted to education and nonprofits to learn more about her community while serving at the same time. In just her first month, she has already submitted her first grant for the St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group. One of the reasons the VISTA program is so beneficial (around the globe) is because each VISTA brings a new personality, a new perspective, and a new approach. VISTA is a mutually beneficial program because, as one volunteer says:

“It is inspiring to see the incredible hearts of all of the staff and their desire to make a positive impact in the community they serve. They are excellent examples of what a Servant Leader’s heart looks like.I’m enjoying being that compassionate bridge between a need in my community and available assistance that helps people get to a better place in life with dignity. I also love scuba diving. I have an Advanced Open Water certification, with the hopes of one day becoming a Master SCUBA Diver.”

To the Foundation, this is testimony that civic power is strong in our community and programs like VISTA mobilize voice, skill, and passion for people.

VISTAs are also provided training, and two attended the AmeriCorps VISTA In-Service Training on March 3-6, 2020, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They joined a community of over 200 VISTA volunteers from 25 states for a 3 ½ day, in-person training and skills-building opportunity designed for VISTA members in their first few months of service. The training offers learning on service-related topics, practical skill development, and networking opportunities. Sessions covered various topics such as Capacity Building: The Heart of VISTA, Empowering the Community, Recruiting and Placing Volunteers and Creating and Maintaining Successful Partnerships. As part of providing a holistic experience, the Foundation will also be offering VISTA training and experiences in grant research, website development, and cultural sensitivity.

While Covid-19 has delayed recruitment, the Foundation is working toward having all VISTAs in place by the end of September. Thanks to housing stipends provided by GlobalGiving, the Foundation will be able to offer a package that gives local and visiting VISTAs a valuable experience in place-based philanthropy. Our VISTA initiative is about building a system of strong nonprofits to support our community through any trial.

Healing through the Humanities: The Alexander Theater Take the Stage
Sunday Market Square is a very special space on St. Croix, once a designated convening space where enslaved Crucians were allowed to trade goods, connect with loved ones, and socialize in the marketplace on Sundays- their only day off from work. Through the years, Sunday Market Square remained a popular meeting place for residents of St. Croix through the 1900s. Today, St. Croix Foundation’s headquarters are located in the Square right next to the Alexander Theater. The Territory’s first indoor movie house, the Alexander Theater served as a center of economic activity in Christiansted town from the mid-1950s and operated until 1989 when it sustained catastrophic damage from Hurricane Hugo and then again in 1995 from Hurricane Marilyn.

The Theater was acquired by the Foundation in 1998 and has been a core component of the Foundation’s longstanding vision for the revitalization of the Square ever since. Today, the renovation and retrofit of the Alexander Theater represents a thriving social, cultural, and economic opportunity for St. Croix.

St. Croix Foundation leverages every project for multiple impacts. In May of 2019, the Foundation was approved for a Phase 1 FEMA Hazard Mitigation grant, which will enable us to renovate and retrofit the Alexander Theater. During blue skies, the Alexander Theater will serve as a performing arts center and convening space, helping to transform the Square into the epicenter of culture, arts, and economic development it once was. What’s more, it will function as the only disaster safe room and shelter in Christiansted for nearby residents and tourists visiting nearby hotels at the time of a disaster. The Theater and adjacent buildings will be built to FEMA disaster safe room standards and will be used during times of crisis for years to come. This facility will have the capacity to house 300 or more people safely and will serve as a disaster supply distribution site when our community needs us most.

Phase 1 of the project is currently underway, and the Foundation is working closely with our public sector partners to develop this one-of-a-kind facility that operates at the intersection of arts, culture, economic development, and disaster preparedness. We anticipate breaking ground on construction in 2021.After Phase 1, the project is eligible for up to $10.9 million in Phase 2 funding from FEMA to complete the disaster safe house.

The federal funding for this project is a reimbursable grant, which requires that the Foundation to spend operating funds to cover eligible project expenses before they are reimbursed by FEMA. A Revolving fund has been established to support the Alexander Theater project enabling us to draw down federal funds. Revolving funds will not only cover reimbursable expenses but will enable the Foundation to cover project expenses that are not eligible for reimbursement including Theater specific equipment. Once completed, the revolving funds will be reprogrammed to high impact initiatives for the people of our community and the nonprofits who serve them – initiatives just like this.

The Alexander Theater Restoration and Disaster Shelter Retrofit epitomizes the St. Croix Foundation’s approach to holistic community development. Together with our community and supporters, we are leveraging the power of philanthropy to strengthen and transform our community. How do you push old, inequitable systems out? At the Foundation, we believe the answer is to invest in new systems of innovation, resilience, and the power of community.

Farm Tiendas in Operation!
The story of our Farm Tiendas is near and dear to our heart because it is another innovative system made possible by collaboration and very creative grantmaking that links small business development with food security.

When St. Croix’s small-business farmers were devasted by the 2017 hurricanes, it wasn’t a quick recovery: crops were lost, and an entire growing season was delayed -- or abandoned as in the case of some of our farmers. But today, after a grant that provided seven farmers each with a durable steel container to serve as a farm stands, our farmers are stronger than ever before. Six are already serving the public, and solar and WiFi will soon be installed, providing each farmer with resources to serve their communities in blue skies and in grey. 

One St. Croix farmer, the owner of GLG Farm, is an example of what strategic grantmaking means to the Foundation. Before the hurricane, GLG Farm was participating in Wednesday and Sunday Farmers Markets at the La Reine and South Gate Markets, and he also had a shed on his property used a roadside stand to sell his produce and roasted corn. When the hurricanes hit, GLG Farm was ravaged, he lost all the crops in his field and lost the trailer that was used for storage of equipment and his roadside farm stand. But, thanks to Coca-Cola One, Cruzan Rum, and GlobalGiving, GLG is now back online. They are holding regular hours again and have expanded service to later hours thanks to the solar lights installed on the outside of the unit. Our farmers say it best though:

  • “Extremely grateful that there are people working to support farmers in our community!” ~ GLG Farm
  • ‘Thanks to St. Croix Foundation, my business has regained critical infrastructure that will allow us to stabilize and expand. We simply couldn’t have done it without you, and we pledge to be the resilient community hub our island needs and to pour passion into food security for all.”   ~ Sejah Farm

Due to delays surrounding Covid-19, Farm Tiendas will be solarized in June and data collection on how the Farm Tiendas function will become the priority of this initiative.

Just the beginning…
In just three months, St. Croix Foundation will celebrate its 30th Anniversary. What we have learned over the three decades of service is this: that holistic community development, driven by place-based philanthropy high impact civic partnerships and innovative systems can be built. Through our deepening competencies around disaster philanthropy and fully engaged strategic partners like GlobalGiving, we are building a field of practice that can serve as a model for remote, underserved communities everywhere!

Taking Center Stage: VISTAs are Writing Grants!
Taking Center Stage: VISTAs are Writing Grants!
The faces our solarized centers serve inspire us.
The faces our solarized centers serve inspire us.
VISTAs receive broad-based training opportunities.
VISTAs receive broad-based training opportunities.
Farm Tiendas are in service, making a difference.
Farm Tiendas are in service, making a difference.
Retrofit & Renovation: work begins in 2021!
Retrofit & Renovation: work begins in 2021!
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Fully, Proudly Certified in Solar Installation!
Fully, Proudly Certified in Solar Installation!

Since September 2017 when Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Virgin Islands, our Community has faced challenges that require the collective investments of every sector (public, private and civic) to overcome. True to progressive place-based philanthropy, St. Croix Foundation for Community Development is nurturing sustainable resilience by utilizing data to inform our investments and cultivating cross-sector collaborations as the cornerstone of social impact. We are pleased to report that our work continues to gain traction.

As we usher in 2020, this report showcases major milestones met with the completion of the first phases of several of our comprehensive recovery initiatives. We are mindful of the many partnerships that make this possible. The Foundation has never been more prodigious than we are today, and this is in large part fueled by our philanthropy partners who have committed sustained support for our recovery and who believe as we do: that making strategic investments in communities affected by natural disasters can create scalable models that have the power to change lives. While this quarterly report is lengthy, we have a lot to report – work that reflects our collective efforts – and we hope you’ll enjoy reviewing the story you’ve helped to write!

Changing Lives, Building Capacity: Solar Workforce Initiative Graduates Students and Installs Solar on First Community Center
As St. Croix Foundation rolls up its sleeves for the long-term phase of our hurricane recovery efforts, two fundamental principles have governed our planning and programing- equity and sustainability. In 2018, when we first conceived our solar and workforce development initiative, those principles informed every facet of programming.

By November 2019, St. Croix Foundation was proud to report that, 9 young adults have graduated from a 6-month National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) course.  Those students represent the first formal class of certified solar installers in the Territory. And, we couldn’t be more delighted to announce that two students have been hired by ProSolar Systems, a local solar engineering company. Another student received several job opportunities on the mainland, and we look forward to an exciting update from them soon. Overall, all of our students received a certification card that is nationally accepted in addition to a tool bag sponsored by the Foundation.

While building a skilled workforce around sustainable energy is undeniably critical to St. Croix’s social and economic health, the Foundation is equally excited about how this initiative will impact nonprofit community centers and the neighborhoods they serve. Community centers were selected based on their strategic location to isolated or underserved neighborhoods and their connection to established nonprofit organizations serving vulnerable populations and providing structured community-based programming. As part of our Solar Initiative, students are solarizing 4 community centers on St. Croix including the Caribbean Center for Boys & Girls in Frederiksted and Flamboyant Garden Seniors Independent Living Community Center. These centers will, in turn, become resiliency hubs for vulnerable communities, providing energy independence and greater operational capacity to serve residents.

In late November, our newly certified solar workforce began solarizing the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the Virgin Islands (formerly the Boys and Girls Club), which is today enjoying energy independence and estimated utility savings of up to 40%. The center will, in turn, invest its utility savings into the expansion of services to the over 100 young people and families it serves every day.

Our cohort of solar students isn’t done yet though! As part of the initiative, they are also completing a soft skills workshop to help prepare them for the workforce and develop their skills in areas such as interview techniques, financial literacy, and employment policies. While they complete this portion of their training, the cohort will also begin their next install on Flamboyant Gardens’ Community Center in early March, allowing them to complete the last portion of their on-site workforce development hours. 

To date, this initiative is made possible through funding support from the VI Department of Labor’s Workforce Investment Board, GlobalGiving, and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy among other generous local and national partners. For more information call 340.773.9898. Thanks to these generous Philanthropic Partners, SCF has secured the necessary funding to solarize 3 of the 4 community centers. We invite additional funders to please contact the Foundation to become partners on this high impact resiliency project.

AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteers are Building Capacity!
As you may know, after 400 staff hours of coordination and development of our application, the Foundation was awarded over $300,000 by the Corporation of National and Community Service to assign 15 AmeriCorps VISTA members to support eight St. Croix nonprofits (including the Foundation) for a full year. Established in 1964, AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) is a program that brings passion and perseverance where the need is greatest – and that’s equity in action. This delegation will represent the first VISTA team in the Territory in over 20 years.

For 2020, the St. Croix Foundation’s VISTA Team is off to a great start. We currently have four VISTAs in place supporting Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the VI, St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group, and Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition.

AmeriCorps VISTAs are providing technical assistance to build capacity for organizations in addition to raising community awareness of each organization's services and initiatives. Our first VISTA, assigned at the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls (CCBG) since October, has already accomplished her first newsletter and updated the organization’s website, providing new development materials to CCBG. She also held a presentation for young people on the Peace Corps, sharing her experience in global civic work. A second VISTA has also recently joined St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group as our Volunteer Outreach Coordinator with the goal of developing and implementing a volunteer recruitment strategy in her time on St. Croix. 

Through a grant from the Virgin Islands Office of Insular Affairs, the Foundation is also sponsoring all VISTA with professional development and is targeting nonprofit training, grant research, and social media techniques into a year-long strategy to ensure VISTAs receive a holistic experience while building capacity for nonprofits. In testimony to the collaborative spirit embedded in this project, St. Croix Landmarks Society has also offered professional development workshops on the rich cultural heritage of St. Croix.

St. Croix Foundation is excited to see the VISTA Team grow! 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 invite on and off-island candidates to learn more by visiting the AmeriCorps portal.

As always, the overarching objective of our VISTA Project is to strengthen our nonprofits so that they may, in turn, better serve our Community (particularly children and families). By helping our nonprofits build capacity, some of our most vulnerable residents will be empowered to broaden their experiences and rise above the conditions of poverty. But, as with all of the Foundation’s work, our VISTA project has multiple benefits: improving awareness of St. Croix and nonprofits for volunteers as well as providing work opportunities for local residents.

First Farmers Receive Farm Tiendas, and Resilience Building Begins!
In 2017, just months after the storms, with lead funding from Coca-Cola followed by a grant from the Cruzan Island Spirit Fund at GlobalGiving, the Foundation developed an initiative that would assist local farmers in building for the future and anchor them as community hubs in times of disaster.

Launched in April 2019, through this grantmaking program, the Foundation is awarding durable, eco-friendly container farm stands, or “Farm-Tiendas,” to seven eligible farmers to help bring their businesses back on-line. Farm stands are made from steel containers that will be outfitted with solar panels, Wi-Fi, and potable water to allow farmers to stabilize and expand their businesses while also providing community hubs in the aftermath of future disasters.

In December 2019, seven grantees were awarded and received public recognition at the 4th Annual Coconut Festival. Today, St. Croix Foundation is pleased to report that the original prototype and six additional units have been purchased, wrapped, shipped and customized for each farmer. One Farm Tienda has already been delivered to Sejah Farm; the remaining six will be delivered to individual farms by February 29, 2020. They are currently stored at a secure location at no cost to the project, thanks to a collaboration with another nonprofit partner, St. Croix Farmers in Action.

As part of establishing Farm Tiendas as neighborhood resilience hubs, seven 1000-gallon water buffalos have also been purchased and will be installed when the Farm Tienda is delivered. Additionally, each farmer will receive 4 solar panels, 1 inverter, 1 charge controller, and two 150-amp hour batteries with aluminum battery boxes. With their Farm Tiendas equipped with water and solar energy, farmers will have the capacity to power lights, a small fridge, and multiple charging stations for use by residents in times of need.

Engineering for Resilience
With an eye on sustainability of the Farm Tiendas, St. Croix Foundation has contracted a Farm Tienda Project Engineer responsible for evaluating site locations and working with each farmer to create an affordable, structurally sound installation plan that complies with local building permit regulations. All site inspections have been completed and installation plans will be finalized by the second week of February.

From the onset, St. Croix Foundation also determined that Wi-Fi was a critical component to helping improve communication in times of need. The project will cover over $850.00 of Wi-Fi service costs per farm. All Tiendas are scheduled to be completely installed and outfitted by March 31, 2020.

Farm Tiendas as Community Hubs
While St. Croix Foundation was unquestionably excited to launch this pilot with a single Farm Tienda, when the Cruzan Island Spirit Fund and GlobalGiving reached out with a grant opportunity to expand the initiative, it significantly improved our ability to gather data and assess the impact. Perhaps most importantly, this funding provides the Foundation the ability to create multiple, strategically placed small community resilience hubs that can serve as distribution points for food, water, medical supplies, etc.

Our Farmers and Community Partners
Our farmers are critical as small business engines and as food providers during times of prosperity and need. They are, to St. Croix Foundation, more than grantees. They are our community partners. Whether it’s sweet local honey, organically grown sunflowers, fresh fruits, and vegetables, or meat and eggs – these are the farmers who make a difference every day. Below is a list of farms that have been awarded Farm Tiendas:

  • Sejah Farm at Castle Burke, Frederiksted; Production: Livestock, Poultry and Egg, Fruits and Vegetables, Forage
  • GLG Farm in Community Gardens, Frederiksted; Production: Fruits and Vegetables, Honey
  • Mystical Farm in Mount Victory, Frederiksted; Production: Fruits and Vegetables, Forage
  • Jackson’s Farm at Estate Diamond Frederiksted; Production: Livestock, Fruits and Vegetables
  • Chez Sherron Farm in La Valle, Frederiksted; Production: Fruits and Vegetables
  • New Breed Farm on South Shore Christiansted; Production: Fruits and Vegetables
  • Ridge to Reef Farm in Mount Victory, Frederiksted; Production: Livestock, Fruits and Vegetables, Forage

Evaluation and Data Collection
Evaluation and data collection will begin in April 2020 and run through November 2020. The Cruzan Island Spirit Grant has allowed us to procure different containers for us to assess performance in a variety of circumstances. For each farm, St. Croix Foundation will be collecting metrics on several key components of the project including:

  • Structural integrity of the container in an island environment
  • Increase in business capacity/ expansion of services
  • Usage of water, electricity, and Wi-Fi
  • Community benefits
  • Disaster recovery usage and performance

As a first-of-its-kind concept, we are pleased with the design of the initiative as a relevant and economically critical resilience vehicle, but we are equally encouraged by our ability to explicitly embed an Equity Framework into the process for selecting the farms that received Farm Tiendas. The design of the prototype, wrapping, site inspections, and installation conversations have also been highly productive. As a place-based hybrid community foundation, however, we feel that one of the greatest testimonies to the success of this initiative thus far lays in the collaborations that have made this possible. From the public, the private, and the civic sector, this is a true collaboration that has allowed the initiative to move forward.

On behalf of St. Croix Foundation for Community Development’s Board and Staff and the community we serve, we wish to thank Coca-Cola One, Cruzan Rum, and GlobalGiving for sharing our vision of a sustainable, resilient St. Croix.

Thank you!
As a place-based community philanthropy, St. Croix Foundation is mindful that to achieve sustainable growth and real resilience, strategic investments must be directed at a consortium of nonprofit organizations that are providing stable social services and are filling critical service gaps that our government alone cannot. We firmly believe that the Territory’s Civic Sector represents a viable pathway to healthier social systems in the Virgin Islands and we could not be more appreciative that you share this understanding with us. The work here represents real collaboration and investment in assets that exist in our Community – and we continue to believe that it’s an approach and a model that can be used to strengthen communities just like ours.

Solar Graduates Install System on Community Center
Solar Graduates Install System on Community Center
Farm Tienda Grantee Receives Customized Container
Farm Tienda Grantee Receives Customized Container
Farm Tienda Grantees Serve as Community Hubs Too!
Farm Tienda Grantees Serve as Community Hubs Too!
A VISTA Presents on the Work of the Peace Corps
A VISTA Presents on the Work of the Peace Corps
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St. Croix welcomes VISTA Volunteer, Sinead!
St. Croix welcomes VISTA Volunteer, Sinead!

To achieve sustainable resilience in the aftermaths of Hurricanes Maria and Irma, St. Croix Foundation has chosen to focus on nonprofits, youth and workforce development, energy independence, and food security. Our strategy? Select two groups of beneficiaries – nonprofits and youth – that are best poised to carry initiatives forward, seek out and implement innovation, and stretch the boundaries of what resilience really looks like. By choosing to focus on these two segments of our community, we sought to set the groundwork for long term progress and we’re happy to report traction is being gained! But we’ve also chosen two programmatic priorities – energy independence and food security – which we believe to be trigger points we can leverage several times over for economic benefit as well as sustainable resilience.

We hope you enjoy reading about the work you’ve directly supported! These are not just single projects in time, but models that can be expanded and modified as needed. But even more than that, it’s a strategy that is community-based and therefore, sustainable and undeniably resilient. Without you, it just would not happen.

Students Prepare for NCCER Solar Certification!
In our last report, we announced the official launch of our Solar-Supported Community Center Project and Workforce Development Initiative. Addressing workforce development, energy independence, and nonprofit capacity building, this single initiative is closing in on some major milestones which we are happy to report on.

Today, our 9 students have completed 400 hours of curriculum and are on their way towards gaining their National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certification in solar installation. After just under six months, upon successful completion of their exams in November, students will graduate, fully certified in NCCER Core Curriculum, Electrical Levels 1 & 2 and Solar PV Installation. Our newly certified solar workforce will then proceed with solarizing the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the Virgin Islands (Formerly the Boys and Girls Club) in late November and the Flamboyant Gardens Seniors Independent Living Community Center in December.

The best news we’ve received to date is that we were approached by a solar system vendor who asked to meet with our students to inform them that he is prepared to hire 5 students immediately upon completion of the Project to work for his company.

Today, the Foundation is working to identify additional funding for the final two centers, which will also serve as resilience hubs.

The Solar Supported Community Center Project and Workforce Development Initiative is made possible through a partnership with the Virgin Islands Department of Labor, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Global Giving and a number of other national and local corporations and philanthropic entities.

SCF Awards Youth a Grant for Transportable Solar Station Prototype
While our solar students close in on graduation this Thanksgiving, the Foundation was recently approached by Kieran, a 17-year-old student and Boy Scout on St. Croix who has invented a solar charging station.

As part of Kieran’s final and rigorous service project to graduate as an Eagle Scout, Kieran devised a solar station that can be mobilized throughout neighborhoods during times of crisis. The station can be used to charge phones, laptops, and any medical equipment such as insulin testers that are rechargeable. In recognition of his vision, the Foundation awarded Kieran a grant in the amount of $2,100 that will allow him to create a working prototype of the station for our community to use and possibly invest in. Kieran will also teach 2-3 youth from the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the VI how to build them and create a manual/ video to ensure the sustainability of this exploratory project. In addition, Kieran has agreed to host one community meeting to inform community members about his invention.

The Foundation couldn’t be more pleased! While we are building capacity for resilience in times of trouble, we are also supporting young people like Kieran to help them realize their dreams and begin to build a future for themselves and their Community!

St. Croix Welcomes Our First AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteers!
Early this summer, St. Croix Foundation was awarded over $300,000 by the Corporation of National and Community Service to assign fifteen (15) AmeriCorps VISTA members to support eight St. Croix nonprofits. And while we are still recruiting volunteers and trying to identify affordable housing for VISTA (an unfortunate outcome of the Hurricanes), we are happy to introduce one of our first AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers. Meet Sinead (pictured in our report), a young volunteer who is just now getting settled with the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the VI. Her scope of work will be to assist the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls VI with website development, community outreach, and the creation of an alumni database.

The overarching objective of our VISTA Project is to strengthen our nonprofits so that they may, in turn, better serve our Community (particularly children and families). By helping our nonprofits build capacity, some of our most vulnerable residents will be empowered to broaden their experiences and rise above the conditions of poverty. But, as with all of the Foundation’s work, our VISTA project has multiple benefits: improving awareness of St. Croix and nonprofits for volunteers as well as providing work opportunities for local residents.

Farm Tiendas on the Way to 7 Farmers!
First, we wish to extend our deepest appreciation to our Community and Philanthropic Partners (like GlobalGiving), who have made our Farm Tienda Agricultural Small Business Grant possible! An exciting initiative that serves to improve food security on St. Croix by bringing farmers back online while also bolstering our economy through the support of small businesses, this is another initiative that serves to also strengthen neighborhoods by creating resilience hubs.

Since we last reported to you, we convened a diverse committee of community stakeholders to review applications and selected seven farmers to receive 8x16 steel container Farm Tiendas, complete with 1000 gallons of water, approximately 4 solar panels and Wi-Fi connectivity.

While the Foundation had originally budgeted for six Farm Tiendas, one of the Foundation’s Donors, who was on the review committee, decided to fund one more. The decision was made after we determined that one of St. Croix’s oldest farms had not made the cut score. In the end, all eligible farmers were awarded Tiendas!

To date, farmers have been notified verbally of their selection and are preparing to sign formal contracts that will outline their reporting requirements and expectation for how the Tienda will be incorporated into the community.

In addition to the prototype Tienda that we presented in April, 6 more containers have been ordered. Of those, two containers have already been wrapped and prepared for delivery to the farm site, and we anticipate that the final wrappings will be completed by Thanksgiving. We are very excited to report that all Farm Tiendas will officially be delivered to our farmers during the second week of December. Once the Tiendas are delivered, solar systems will be installed on-site.

The Farm Tienda Small Business Grant Program is made possible through a partnership with Coca Cola, Global Giving, and ProTouch Communications.

Thank you!
As St. Croix Foundation nears major milestones with the completion of the first phases of several of our most comprehensive recovery initiatives, we are mindful of the many partnerships that make this possible. The Foundation has never been more prodigious than we are today, and this is in large part fueled by our philanthropy partners who have committed sustained support for our recovery and who believe as we do: that making strategic investments in communities affected by natural disasters scalable models can be built and the lives of people can be transformed. As we near November 15 and National Philanthropy Day, it should be noted that all we do is ultimately driven by our unabashed Love for Humankind. And we thank you for sharing that love.

Our solar students are just weeks from graduation!
Our solar students are just weeks from graduation!
Solar Charging Station Prototype for Neighborhoods
Solar Charging Station Prototype for Neighborhoods
7 farmers have Farm Tiendas on the way!
7 farmers have Farm Tiendas on the way!
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Our first solar NCCER cohort is in training!
Our first solar NCCER cohort is in training!

As we write this report, we are mindful that next month will mark two years since Hurricanes Maria and Irma stormed the Virgin Islands in 2017. Today, as our community continues to recover, St. Croix Foundation is focused on work that supports long-term sustainability and resilience. As in so many other communities, on St. Croix sustainability and resiliency are not just words but imperatives. At the Foundation, we are acutely aware that as an isolated island community, St. Croix must look beyond theory and put into practice community-based initiatives that will drive our priorities of energy independence, economic resiliency, nonprofit stability, workforce development, and overall community self-sufficiency.

Today we are so pleased to announce that the projects we’ve been developing and updating you on, in conjunction with partners in the public, private, and civic sectors, are actively at work! And, because it wouldn’t be possible without you, we wish to extend our deepest appreciation to GlobalGiving and our family of supporters for making our vision a reality.

The Synergy of Workforce Development, Energy Independence, and Community
In June, St. Croix Foundation announced the official launch of our Solar-Supported Community Center Project and Workforce Development Initiative. A perfect representation of how the Foundation is advancing its recovery agenda and its commitment to holistic community development, this initiative was conceptualized to serve as a replicable model through which local youth are trained in order to build a skilled local workforce of solar installers; in turn, they will receive hands-on internship opportunities by solarizing several carefully selected community centers on St. Croix. Funded in partnership with the Virgin Islands Department of Labor, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Global Giving and a number of other national philanthropic entities, the community centers that will be solarized include The Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls VI, Flambouyant Gardens- senior citizens community, Mon Bijou New Youth Community Center, and USVI Soccer Association Center.

We are now fully in the first phase of the initiative, with 10 students aged 18-28 who are currently enrolled in the 5-month National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) course. Our students are receiving intense classroom instruction in NCCER Core Curriculum, Electrical Levels 1-4, and Solar PV Installation. They also receive a stipend during the program in addition to uniforms and toolkits which they will be allowed to keep upon completion of the program.

Once students have completed the classroom component of the program and have successfully passed each level of coursework, they will receive on-the-job training installing Solar Photovoltaic Systems on our four identified local community centers.

While building a skilled workforce around sustainable energy is undeniably critical to St. Croix’s social and economic health, we are equally excited about how this initiative will impact nonprofit community centers and the neighborhoods they serve. Community centers were selected based on their strategic location to isolated or underserved neighborhoods and their connection to established nonprofit organizations serving vulnerable populations and providing structured community-based programming. Centers will ultimately serve as neighborhood hubs for individuals and families in walking proximity that will support them with critical needs in the aftermath of future natural (or manmade) disasters. Independent of the grid, these centers will enable residents to store medication that requires refrigeration, charge electronic devices, and use internet connection to communicate with family. Community centers can also serve as localized distribution sites from which aid and relief items can be stored and disseminated in the future. Equally important, this initiative seeks to nurture a culture of resilience by empowering each nonprofit community center to achieve a reduction in utility costs, the savings from which can be reinvested in direct services that benefit the communities and vulnerable populations they serve.

Our first center, the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls has already pledged to begin November 4, 2019. And, thanks to our incredible network at GlobalGiving, the Foundation has secured funding to solarize our second community center, the Mon Bijou New Youth Community Center. The Foundation hopes to secure funding for two additional community centers, one of which serves the elderly and another that is located in a remote neighborhood with very little access to services in times of trouble. Each community center will be collecting data on usage, savings, and programming impact and the Foundation believes that this approach to sustainability and resiliency will become a model for recovering communities.

Hear from our students and Deanna James, President of St. Croix Foundation, on how this initiative is and will impact community:  

https://www.facebook.com/News2vi/videos/1842826285820467/UzpfSTE1NjU4MTY2NDQxNTA2MzoyOTI2MTIzNzQwNzk0MTYx/

AmeriCorps VISTA comes to the Virgin Islands to Support  8 St. Croix Nonprofits
After a comprehensive and rigorous application process representing over 400 staff hours, St. Croix Foundation is happy to report that we’ve been awarded a $340,157 grant by the Corporation of National and Community Service to assign fifteen (15) AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers to support eight St. Croix nonprofits beginning in September 2019. We are very excited to welcome the first AmeriCorps VISTA Team in the territory in over 20 years.

In the aftermath of the 2017 Superstorms Irma and Maria, St. Croix Foundation conducted a survey on the status of nonprofits, who serve some of our most vulnerable residents, finding that 70% of nonprofits reported an increase in demand for their services while 64% were operating on a limited basis or not at all due to loss of funding, facility damages, and staff relocation. In response, St. Croix Foundation identified the AmeriCorps VISTA project as a strategy to build organizational capacity for nonprofits and began the comprehensive, year-long application process. With the application approved, a VISTA Volunteer Team will support the following organizations: Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls VI, St. Croix Landmarks Society, Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition, St. Croix Montessori, Clean Sweep Frederiksted, St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group, Virgin Islands State Historic Preservation Office and St. Croix Foundation.  In total, St. Croix Foundation’s VISTA Project expects to directly benefit youth, historic preservation, food security, green spaces, and relief and recovery services.

St. Croix Foundation specifically identified participating organizations who represent each of our subsectors within our civil society, including youth & education, health & human services, the built & natural environment, and arts & culture.  All sectors are also directly aligned with the priorities of the Foundation to ensure a holistic approach to capacity building among our nonprofits. As an added benefit, this initiative is also providing further opportunities for local residents by encouraging residents to apply to be part of the VISTA team, thereby learning about the critical role of our nonprofits.

Fiscal Sponsorship Opens Grant Opportunities For Recovery Groups
In every report, we like to update our partners on the work of the St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group (LTRG), who continues to steadily serve residents with unmet needs resulting from the 2017 Hurricanes. As the LTRG’s fiscal sponsor, the Foundation has been providing the LTRG with initial start-up support, waiving financial management fees and providing office space to the group so they can keep working while they build capacity.

In total, the LTRG has raised over $1,000,000 including a generous grant from GlobalGiving which will cover the cost of 6 new Disaster Case Managers (DCM) for the Territory. The DCM staff will work with the three Long Term Recovery Groups (STT, STX, STJ) to help address the needs of residents who were severely impacted by the 2017 storms but have no resources or recourse for recovery. As part of its response, the Federal Government was projected to award an $11 million grant to the Territory for Disaster Case Management almost two years ago; unfortunately, funds were failed to be released. As a result, our local nonprofits have been piecing funds together to hire staff to fill the gap. Beyond the DCM initiative, the STX-LTRG has, to date, completed major roof and hazard mitigation restoration on 52 hours.

Watch what our LTRG does every time a home is finished! https://www.facebook.com/stxltrg/videos/411558026377373/?q=LTRG

Our Appreciation...
Sometimes there are no words to adequately describe the appreciation we have for empowering St. Croix Foundation to serve, to lead, and to make these projects possible - projects whose ripple effects literally change lives. So instead, we'll just say thank you for being a part of philanthropy in the U.S. Virgin Islands!

Meet the children our first solar center serves!
Meet the children our first solar center serves!
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Preserving Crucian Culture through StoryCorps!
Preserving Crucian Culture through StoryCorps!

PLACE-KEEPING THROUGH THE CARE FUND
Each year, many organizations, companies, and governments struggle through the challenge of ensuring that recovery from a disaster is balanced and community-based. At St. Croix Foundation, we believe strongly that place-keeping (as opposed to place-making) is one key component of holistic and sustainable community development because it is grounded in the recognition that no place is a blank slate. In the U.S. Caribbean, as with many other coastal communities devasted by a disaster, a sudden influx of contractors, relief workers, consultants, and developers can lead to new adversities after the initial impact. During this phase of the recovery, ensuring that existing assets in our community are not further compromised or lost completely in new development plans has been a primary priority for St. Croix Foundation.

As we now approach the 2019 hurricane season, we are ever mindful that because of your support, we have been able to make a measurable impact in a community that is still in the early stages of recovery. Despite virtually no media visibility on the impact of the 2017 storms on St. Croix, the Foundation remains committed to keeping our most vulnerable and marginalized residents (and the nonprofit organizations that serve them) at the forefront of all we do and every platform we stand on. And for that reason, GlobalGiving’s continued support, through our CARE Fund, has been integral to our recovery agenda. Not only has it provided programmatic support but also less restrictive operational capacity support to our local nonprofit partners. It has also enabled us to invest thousands of staff hours collecting data, developing comprehensive programming, and nurturing strategic partnerships that make our work possible. Below is a snapshot of some of the high impact projects that your support and our CARE Fund is supporting.

NURTURING RESILIENCY THROUGH THE ARTS AND SAFE GATHERING SPACES
St. Croix Foundation has just been officially approved for Phase 1 of a Hazard Mitigation Grant through FEMA to renovate and retrofit our Alexander Theater in Sunday Market Square into a state-of-the-art performing arts center and the only downtown Christiansted Community Disaster Shelter which will hold upwards of 300 people.  A longstanding vision of St. Croix Foundation’s that dates to 1998 when we first became court-appointed receivers of several properties in Sunday Market Square, we’ve been working diligently over the past year and a half to develop a comprehensive application that will bring this historic theater back online in a truly innovative way. 

A perfect example of the Foundation’s holistic approach to community development and to leveraging scarce dollars for multiple impacts, the theater will become St. Croix’s first modern indoor performing arts and conference convening space in addition to adding to the Territory’s critically depleted disaster shelter pool. The project will also serve as a vital economic stimulus for our historic Downtown Center of Christiansted.

As we think about our Territory’s future resilience, the message we hope this project sends to our local and global community, is one of hope, of optimism and of the power of civic-led partnerships and place-based philanthropy to transform and strengthen communities for good and for all. The HAZ-MIT Grant will fund the architectural design and engineering study for the Theater!

CULTIVATING RESILIENCY THROUGH AGRIBUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Today, almost 2 years after the 2017 hurricanes, St. Croix is not just working to rebuild basic infrastructure, but in many cases, residents are still trying to recover financially from a severely depressed economy. For our local farming community, most did not just lose structures, they continue to be impacted by the loss of their entire (uninsured) businesses (livestock, produce and infrastructure) coupled by the loss of a whole growing season.

Underscoring the need for economic resiliency for small businesses and having assessed St. Croix’s most pressing needs immediately following the storms, the Foundation found that the critical nature of St. Croix’s agricultural industry relative to the Territory’s food security cannot be understated. Thus, working in concert, St. Croix Foundation, along with our sponsored project Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition, and Coca-Cola customized a radical new concept to create small business container farm stands.

With few federal funding resources available to VI farmers and little philanthropic support directed at this vital industry, St. Croix Foundation committed immediately after the storms that struggling low resourced farmers would be a high priority and a critical component of our resiliency agenda.

In 2017, just months after the storms, with a $100,000 grant from The Coca Company, the Foundation began developing an initiative that would assist local farmers in building for the future and anchor them as community hubs in times of disaster. Launched on April 5th, through this grantmaking program, the Foundation is awarding durable, eco-friendly container farm stands, or “Farm-Tiendas,” to eligible farmers to help bring their businesses fully back on-line. Farm stands are made from steel containers that will also be outfitted with solar panels, Wi-Fi, and potable water to allow farmers to stabilize and expand their businesses while also providing community hubs in the aftermath of future disasters.

The Foundation hopes to award four Farm-Tiendas through this initial pilot that was modeled after the Puerto Rico project, “POP-Tiendas,” which provided container stores to Puerto Rican mom-and-pop small business owners who lost their businesses in the storm. By building partnerships that support resilience in our community, the Foundation is connecting stakeholders with resources to support relevant needs and pioneering new pathways of addressing long-standing issues that keep recovery grounded in Community.

HEALING THROUGH THE HUMANITIES WITH “CRUCIAN CONVERSATIONS”
We are also incredibly honored to report that we recently hosted StoryCorps, a national organization dedicated to the preservation of community voices and cultures representing diverse American experiences in early April.

Working in partnership with StoryCorps, Enterprise Community Partners, and the Urban Land Institute, the Foundation invited 30 Crucian residents and culture bearers to record and share conversations about resilience, about culture, and about the power of the human spirit through our legacy project entitled, “Crucian Conversations.” (Crucian is the word for people who come from St. Croix!)

During their visit, StoryCorps recorded 15 conversations between 30 Crucians, teaming mothers and daughters, friends, and teachers and students together to share their experiences in 40-minute conversations. From doctors, musicians, and chefs to community activists, each participant helped further awareness of the diverse landscape of the Virgin Islands while preserving their stories as a part of the Crucian cultural history. Through StoryCorps’ close partnership with National Public Radio (NPR), some of the recorded conversations may be aired on NPR and, with permission, archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The ultimate aim is to capture and amplify voices of everyday people least heard in the media.

KEEPING RECOVERY COMMUNITY-BASED THROUGH CIVIC PARTNERSHIPS

Our CARE Grantees: Partners in Recovery
Every time we check in with you, one of our goals is to report on some of the work of our grantees, who the Foundation refers to as our partners. This is because our grantees are much more than recipients of financial support – they are our partners in data collection, and they help to inform St. Croix Foundation’s programming as well keep the pulse of community at the heart of our grantmaking.

In the aftermath of the hurricanes, in 2018, the Virgin Islands’ unemployment rate was soaring at over 10% and our homicide rate, at 49 per 100,000 people, required that the Foundation take action in supporting nonprofits whose mission is to educate our youth and transform the social fabric of our community. In 2018, the Foundation awarded the Men’s Coalition of the Virgin Islands a CARE Grant in the amount of $19,800 for a comprehensive, year-round program that is helping to save lives. 

 In total, the Men’s Coalition’s Rites of Passage Program engaged 11 of our young boys, ages 7-12, in nearly 150 hours of one-on-one individualized program sessions that gave students tools for anger management, conflict resolution, healing from trauma, and developing resilience. The program also provided academic enrichment in math, reading, and presentation and communication skills. This grant award didn’t just touch those 11 boys – the Men’s Coalition reported that these 11 young people became role models for new students and because of the data collection that the Foundation requires through reporting, is excited to use the information to expand the program in the future.

St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group is Changing Lives
As part of our holistic approach to community development, St. Croix Foundation sponsors over 40 nonprofits at any given time, providing sound fiscal management as well as opportunities to raise funds under the Foundation’s 501(c)3 status. When the hurricanes hit in 2017, the Foundation knew that serving our own nonprofits would exponentially expand our impact throughout the community.

One of our sponsored projects, the St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group is steadily serving to support residents with unmet needs resulting from the 2017 Hurricanes. And to ensure the LTRG has initial start-up support, the Foundation continues to waive financial management fees and is providing discounted office space to the group so they can keep working while they build capacity. Today, the LTRG has completed major roof and hazard mitigation restoration on 35 homes.

Community Solar Program Enrolls Students!
We’d also like to give a quick update on our Sustainable Solar-supported Community Demonstration Project. We are excited to report that we have held one-on-one interviews with 10 prospective students from the first cohort of our training program. Once selections are made, students will be working, hands-on and in the classroom, to learn the skills necessary for NCCER national certification in Core Construction, Electrical and Solar installation. While total unemployment in the Virgin Islands was officially reported as 11% in January 2018 after the hurricanes, estimates by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund indicate that above 20% of our young people (ages 15-24) are under or unemployed. This makes the workforce development component of our Solar Demonstration Project even more critical.

As classroom space is being finalized, we are now ordering supplies and books for the class. Once our students and classroom are in place, installation of a solar PV system at the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls (which serves over 80 at-risk children daily) will begin. The PV-system will generate 6kW of power to offset CCBG’s critical loads and over time reduce their energy costs. This model of workforce development and energy independence housed at community centers is a comprehensive project that we believe will be a model for how broad-based community collaboration can have the deepest impact.

KEEPING COMMUNITY ON THE NATIONAL STAGE
St. Croix Foundation President, Deanna James, just presented at the Council on Foundation’s Annual Meeting with Yoca Arditi-Rocha of The CLEO Institute in Miami, Dee Baecher-Brown of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands and moderated by Lindsey Linzer of The Miami Foundation.

As we work hard to keep the Virgin Islands and St. Croix’s incredible nonprofits on the national stage, we are ensuring that our rebuilding efforts after Hurricanes Irma and Maria serve and empower our community far beyond grantmaking. While we believe in an equitable, holistic philanthropic approach to community (re)development that includes grantmaking, we are more committed to developing projects that build progressive models of resiliency. Learn more about our work to rebuild sustainably and collaboratively at www.stxfoundation.org.

THANK YOU FROM ALL OF US AT ST. CROIX FOUNDATION
The 2019 hurricane season is just a few weeks away, and although we still have so much work to do to recover from the 2017 hurricane Season, at St. Croix Foundation, we want to pause for a moment and thank the GlobalGiving community for all that it has done to support our work. The development of every success here marks not just an investment of money but of time, working to identify the partnerships needed for holistic community development, to build the program blueprint,  and to implement and evaluate our projects. This work simply wouldn’t be possible without the support of our global friends – you. We extend our deepest gratitude on behalf of the community we serve and hope you’ll continue to stay the course with us!

Theater will be Retrofit as Shelter & Arts Center!
Theater will be Retrofit as Shelter & Arts Center!
Farm-Tienda Grant Supports Agribusiness Recovery!
Farm-Tienda Grant Supports Agribusiness Recovery!
Our President Presents at Council on Foundations!
Our President Presents at Council on Foundations!
Men's Coalition Gives Boys Social & Academic Tools
Men's Coalition Gives Boys Social & Academic Tools

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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
$76,252 raised of $1,000,000 goal
 
55 donations
$923,748 to go
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