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Mourning the Loss of a Truly Exceptional Leader



Have you ever had one of those moments where the sky seems less bright, the hill gets suddenly steeper and energy appears to decline as if there is less oxygen to breathe? I felt that way when I got an email June 13 telling me that Laurie Moran had passed away.

I know I was not alone in that feeling of loss. Many of us knew that Laurie had been fighting cancer for some time. She did not hide her illness, nor did she use it as a way of asking for sympathy. Laurie faced cancer the way she faced many things, head on without making a big deal out of it.

And she seemed to be beating it. I watched her come back from earlier rounds of treatment and we all hoped her progress would continue.

But it was not to be. At 56, she had given so much and she had so much more to give. But it was not to be.

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Resolution & Transformation

Author: Robins Foundation


Editor's Note: We wanted to share this item from one of our members, the Robins Foundation, a family foundation in Virginia. You can view the original item on the foundation's website.

Hate has no place in our work.

Many of us have been saddened, confused and angered by recent events highlighting the fractures in our society and community fabric. The fissures created by hate highlight the need for more dialogue and more engagement, not less. We value love, patience, inclusion and teamwork. We value diverse voices and diverse perspectives.

Athlete and sports team protests, Tiki torches, monuments and/or gun violence have ignited more open conversations about racism, bigotry, root causes and possible steps.  These conversations yield opinions of many perspectives and we, as a community stakeholder, appreciate those perspectives. We recognize the impact of history on the movements of today.   Our region (Richmond, Virginia specifically and the South, generally) was the seat of the confederacy and that, segregation in schools, red lining and other past public policies have consequences that have echoed and magnified for generations. Coincidence that we continue to see downward mobility in marginalized communities here? Coincidence we read that particular evidence in grant proposals on the plight of children and families struggling against 39% child poverty in the City of Richmond? Every day, people living in poverty make heartbreaking decisions between affording rent or childcare, food or shelter, safety or healthcare.

Can we do better?

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Member Highlight: Sherrie Armstrong

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Members who attend this year's CEO Forum are sure to get a warm welcome in Richmond -- several foundation leaders from the city are helping plan the event, including Sherrie Armstrong, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond.

Richmond, Sherrie said, is in a period of transition and change that many other Southern cities can related to -- populations are increasing, and food, arts and culture are proliferating, but that brings with it concerns about housing, displacement and more that foundations in the area are working to address.

"Neighborhoods and areas of our city are developing bringing more people to the urban center. There is an energy and vibrancy that is ever present," she said. "While we are experiencing this growth community leaders including those from government, philanthropy, nonprofits, and the business sectors are working more together to address our challenges with a line of sight to creating a community where everyone has the opportunity to participate and benefit from the changes."

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Philanthropy Responds to Hurricane Dorian

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


After battering the Bahamas earlier this week, Hurricane Dorian is now bearing down on the Southeastern coast, bringing dangerous rain, wind and storm surge flooding to the Carolinas. 

Current projections show the storm’s effects will be felt most strongly in South Carolina through Thursday night before moving up the coast to North Carolina and Virginia.

Already, several SECF members and partners have activated relief funds that will support recovery once Dorian passes. These include:

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy has already announced a webinar for funders interested in supporting recovery efforts in The Bahamas. We will notify SECF members of other programs as they are announced.

SECF is also ready to provide support to any members directly affected by the storm – please contact our offices at (404) 524-0911 to reach our staff.

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Tapping Into the Communities We Serve



Note: This post is an excerpt from an article posted last month at North Carolina State University's Philanthropy Journal and is published here with permission.

When I joined the Robins Foundation in 2014 – which aims to advance the greater Richmond community through strategic partnerships, collaborations and education – the role of director of inclusion and community impact didn’t exist. As the foundation became proactive in the region, our role evolved in responding to our partners’ needs.

In 2017, my position was created to address fairness and equitable access to quality resources. We have a strong interest in investing in programs that enrich whole families and whole neighborhoods, with a particular interest in children and their academic opportunities and success. We have three main principals – partnership, innovation and fairness. It became clear that to achieve this, we needed to take a more intentional approach toward equity and inclusion. One of the ways we do this is by embracing the idea that communities know what they need.

Here’s an example of how this has worked within our foundation. Each year, we hold a $500,000 Community Innovation Grant (CIG) competition. Organizations from all over the Richmond region apply for the grant and propose actionable solutions that have a meaningful and measurable impact. The proposals address complex issues that our region has been wrestling with for generations, including trauma-informed care, the school-to-prison pipeline, housing instability, education, workforce development and health.

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11 States in 11 Months: Southern Philanthropy in... Virginia

Tags: Virginia 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Note: This post is the eleventh and final in a series that will run throughout our 50th Anniversary year. Each month, we'll focus on philanthropy in one of the 11 states in the SECF footprint, using both current and historical data while highlighting a variety of voices. This month's state: Virginia.

Virginia Philanthropy Snapshot

First SECF Members: The Lincoln-Lane Foundation (joined 1974)
Newest SECF Members: Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, The Robert G. Cabell III and Maude Morgan Cabell Foundation (joined May 2019)
Number of SECF Members: 27

Learn more about Virginia foundations from SECF’s Southern Trends Report!

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Funder-to-Funder COVID-19 Town Hall Highlights Rapid Response Across Region

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


On March 31, more than 150 SECF members gathered online for a virtual town hall to learn about the work being done across the region to support communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attendees heard from several foundation leaders across the region and had the opportunity to ask questions, get answers and share details of their own work to address the health, economic and equity impacts of the outbreak.

Robert Dortch, vice president of program and community innovation at the Robins Foundation in Richmond, Virginia, said his foundation’s approach was rooted in a question – “What does this mean?” – applies to children, families, schools, communities and nonprofits. The foundation has partnered with the Family Independence Initiative to provide direct support to families affected by the pandemic.

“What we've learned a lot about is compassion,” Robert said. “You're seeing a lot of compassion and a need to come together.”

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Responding to COVID-19 in... Charlottesville, Virginia

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This post continues a series highlighting the responses of SECF members to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities. We will use this series to highlight partnerships, coalitions and innovative examples of giving that help those affected by this crisis. If you are involved in a program you would like to see highlighted here, contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org.

The rapid and catastrophic economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have been especially devastating to low-wealth neighborhoods, where residents often live paycheck-to-paycheck and don’t have the savings to cover emergencies.

With families throughout the region suddenly unable to pay rent, many foundations have quickly adapted to provide creative solutions that provide direct support to those that need it the most. For the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation in Virginia, these solutions have included rent abatement for residents of a mobile home park and a helpline that allows households across a seven-county region to request aid.

“What we’re really focused on is trying to stretch outside the bounds of what a community foundation typically does by partnering to respond quickly and directly to the needs we see in the community,” said Brennan Gould, the foundation’s president and CEO. “Our rapid response has also been about deploying philanthropy in places that other systems would not or could not go.”

One of those places is the Southwood Mobile Home Park, a mostly Latinx community of about 1,500 people, one-third of whom are children. Incomes in Southwood were already well below the median for the Charlottesville area – when the economic impacts of the pandemic hit, they hit hard, Gould said.

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Episode 2 of The Bridge Now Available for Listening!



Episode 2 of The Bridge, SECF's podcast, is now available on all major podcast platforms!

This marks the first episode of The Bridge since both the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide calls for racial equity and justice in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. SECF President & CEO Janine Lee leads a conversation addressing both these topics, talking with Cory Anderson, chief innovation officer at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Robert Dortch, vice president of program and community innovation at the Robins Foundation in Richmond, Virginia.

Each episode of The Bridge shares stories of the ways foundations are bringing together people in their communities to spark dialogue and lasting change. This new offering is one of the first initiatives to come as a result of our Equity Framework.

The Bridge can be streamed below and is also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and other podcast providers! (Using another podcast app? Copy this link to add The Bridge to your subscriptions.) We expect to release at least one more episode of The Bridge this year – if you'd like to suggest a topic or person to interview, please contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org

We hope you enjoy listening!

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Member Highlight: Maggie Afriyie (Program Associate, PATH Foundation)

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Nearly every aspect of how foundations work and operate has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – managing interns is no exception to this rule.

At the PATH Foundation in Warrenton, Virginia, the challenge was amplified even more: the foundation’s internship program brought in not one intern, or two, but 14. The task of overseeing such a large group fell to one of the foundation’s newest staff members, Program Associate Maggie Afriyie.

PATH Foundation’s internship program is made up of two components: weekly group work and leadership development activities at the Foundation, plus an outside placement with local government or nonprofit organization that serves the community. Intern placements are focused on the foundation’s four priority areas: mental health, access to health, childhood wellness, and senior services. 

Maggie said the process for taking the internship program online required plenty of coordination – with partner organizations, fellow staff members and, of course, the interns themselves.

“Initially, we reached out to our partners to ensure that they would still be able to host an intern in the new virtual format. Once we squared that away, we spoke with some of our staff on how we would educate the interns on PATH,” she said. “We were fortunate to have senior program officers at PATH that were able to present on our four focus areas to ensure proper education for the interns.”

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Southeastern Council of Foundations
100 Peachtree Street NW, Suite 2080
Atlanta, GA 30303

Visiting SECF:
All staff are working remotely at this time but can still be reached via email and by calling (404) 524-0911.

Monday-Thursday from 9:00am–6:00pm (ET)
Friday from 9:00am–12:00pm (ET)

Phone: (404) 524-0911
Fax: (404) 523-5116

Mission: SECF strengthens Southern philanthropy, welcoming our members to listen, learn and collaborate on ideas and actions to help build an equitable, prosperous South.