Investments in Early Childhood Education (ECE) have the power to change the trajectory of individual lives and entire families, as well as deliver significant returns for the community. Access to high-quality early childhood experiences sets children and their families up for long-term success by:
Preparing children for school and lifelong learning
Providing support of child development and general well-being
Equipping parents to be their children’s best first teachers
These investments are all the more important as young children recover from pandemic impacts and the Richmond region contends with a widespread lack of affordable, accessible child care. To that end, we are pleased to announce the following grantee partners for our second ECE-focused grant cycle which totaled $780,000:
VPM Media – $50,000 for VPM Early Childhood Education program
“From preschool programs to home visiting to parenting support and education, these organizations work tirelessly to ensure our region’s youngest children get the best start,” shares Robins Foundation President & CEO, Chris Chin. “We’re grateful for their efforts and delighted to support them.”
For children to have the opportunity to thrive, they require access to high-quality early care and educational experiences, as well as supportive families. These factors can deeply influence children’s cognitive and social-emotional development, school readiness, and long-term wellbeing.
Toward the end of last year we shared that Robins Foundation would be investing deeply, and more narrowly, in early childhood education (ECE). Since then we have launched our initial ECE-focused grant cycle, had numerous conversations with our nonprofit partners, and reviewed dozens of proposals aligned with our new strategic framework. We are pleased to announce the following grantee partners for our first ECE-focused grant cycle which totaled almost $900,000:
“All of these organizations have demonstrated a strong commitment to and have an impressive track record in early childhood education,” shares Robins Foundation President & CEO, Chris Chin. “We’re delighted to invest in their efforts to make a significant impact for Richmond families.”
Toward the end of last year we shared that Robins Foundation would be investing deeply, and more narrowly, in early childhood education (ECE). This new strategic direction is well underway, and we are actively engaging with and investing in organizations addressing the ECE needs in our community. Last week we announced the 15 nonprofit organizations who will receive grant funding totaling almost $900,000 as part of our June 2022 ECE cycle. We are also defining and building out our framework to begin investing in nonprofits making Richmond a vibrant and dynamic place to live.
As we’re settling into our new strategy, we’re seeing a natural evolution of our team:
Chris Chin has embraced his new role as President & CEO and is fostering stronger alignment, enhanced communication, and deeper relationships among board and staff members.
Dan Halloran has been promoted to Director, Operations.
Elliot Haspel shared that he will be relocating to Colorado at the end of July to be closer to family and leaving Robins Foundation later this fall.
We announced an opportunity to join our team as Senior Program Officer, Early Childhood Education.
Courtney Rice shared that she will be leaving Robins Foundation on July 22nd for an exciting career development opportunity. She hopes to share more details in the coming weeks.
We recognize that this is a significant amount of change in a short period of time for a small organization. We are more committed than ever to supporting our partners as you continue your amazing work in our community. And we are excited for and supportive of our team members as they grow and transition within and beyond the Foundation.
Please join me in congratulating our team members and spreading the word about our open position!
Robins Foundation’s new strategic direction is well underway, and we are actively engaging with and investing in organizations addressing the early childhood education (ECE) needs in our community. In fact, next week we will announce the 15 nonprofit organizations who will receive grant funding totaling almost $900,000 as part of our June 2022 ECE cycle. We are also defining and building out our framework to begin investing in nonprofits making Richmond a vibrant and dynamic place to live.
To fully execute our Board’s new strategic direction, we have developed a streamlined staffing structure that sets us up for success and provides well-deserved opportunities for team members to step up and shine in new ways. To that end, we are delighted to announce the following promotion:
Dan Halloran has been promoted to Director, Operations. Since starting with Robins six years ago as an intern, Dan has quickly developed and mastered a wide range of knowledge and skills related to our “behind the scenes” operations needs and requirements. For the past three years, Dan was our Program and Grants Manager. Now, in his new role, Dan will continue his Program and Grants Manager duties while also taking on new administrative responsibilities related to budgeting, human resources, office management, and various other internal processes that are essential to the Foundation’s success.
We also want to announce an opportunity to join our team, as we are looking to fill an upcoming opening for a Senior Program Officer, Early Childhood Education. Elliot Haspel, our current Senior Program Officer, will be relocating to Colorado at the end of July to be closer to family and leaving Robins Foundation later this fall. Elliot has played an integral role in developing our early childhood strategic framework and overseeing our early childhood grant-making portfolio, and we will sincerely miss him. As a nationally-recognized child & family policy expert and commentator and the author of Crawling Behind: America’s Childcare Crisis and How to Fix It, we have no doubt Elliot will be hugely successful in his new ventures.
If you know someone who may be interested in this opportunity at Robins Foundation, please share the job description with them.
A question I am often asked is, “why is child care so expensive, if child care teachers are paid so little?” The child care crisis in the Richmond region very much mirrors that of the nation – spots for kids are scarce and often incredibly expensive. At the same time, compensation is so low that these facilities cannot find enough staff members, forcing programs and facilities to run below capacity. Given how key early childhood education is for both working parents and child development, it is important to understand the structural pressures causing this failing system, and where we go from here.
“One fundamental that predates the pandemic and its ripple effects is the cost of doing business in a highly constrained industry. In most states, for instance, one teacher is permitted under the law to care for a maximum of six to eight toddlers. Personnel eats up 70 percent or more of program budgets. So even though parents are paying through the nose, the true cost of care — the cost where programs are operating comfortably and compensating their staff well — is so high that programs would take a loss on each kid. As it stands, programs already have to cut wages to the bone just to keep the lights on. To keep pace with other industries, their only option (other than public funding or closure) is massively raising prices — hence, [child care may become] a luxury good. The U.S. Treasury Department has called the child-care business model “unworkable.”
In Virginia, the median wage of a child care worker is $10.96 an hour. That rate is far below a living wage for Virginia, and drives significant turnover among child care workers. Teacher to child ratios – which ensure safety and quality — are 1:4 for infants (i.e., 1 teacher for every 4 infants), 1:5 for kids between sixteen months and two years, 1:8 for two-year-olds, and 1:10 for three- and four-year-olds. When you consider the diminishing number of child care workers compared to the number of children who need care, you begin to see the problem. This is why most of metro Richmond is considered to be a “child care desert.”
The staffing shortages are making an already difficult-to-locate resource close to impossible. This summer, I helped Smart Beginnings-Greater Richmond and a coalition of other early childhood partners put out a survey to local child care providers. As reported in the Virginia Mercury in June, the survey “found that — of the 26 child care programs they’ve reached so far — 85 percent reported staffing shortages. In total, there were 114 open teaching positions across all of the facilities.” This represents only a sliver of the programs in the region, and by all reports, shortages have only grown worse since then.
Help may be on the way in the form of the federal government’s Build Back Better package, which contains considerable levels of permanent funding for child care and pre-K. However, even if that legislation passes, there will be a tremendous amount of work to do in order to implement the new system well. Staff will need to be recruited, facilities upgraded, and an administrative infrastructure put into place that allows parents to easily access choices which meet their needs and preferences. None of these elements will be swift or simple. And if the legislation does not pass, there will be all the more need for local and state governments to step up.
Robins Foundation stands ready to support these efforts. Our priorities include directly supporting high-quality child care programs and the nonprofits that work to generate that local infrastructure, supporting the advocacy and policy work to ensure that the laws impacting the Richmond region are strong and fair, and supporting parents of young children in accessing the services that are available to them to be the best possible ‘first teacher’ for their children.
This is a moment of both uncertainty and possibility for Richmond’s young children and their families. We must meet the moment with conviction and clear-eyed vision for both the short- and long-term. If we succeed, we can positively change the trajectory of our region’s future and the lives of its children.
Over the past several weeks, we have seen tremendous support from individuals and organizations across our region stepping up to help our neighbors in need. To all those who have contributed to the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund, or directly to area nonprofits, and to the many organizations coordinating or providing much-needed services, we thank you and we celebrate you!
Here are the latest updates from the COVID-19 Response Fund, including recent grants, creative community participation, and stories from the field, including an update from the River Counties Community Foundation.
Grants from the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund now exceed $2M
An advisory committee from the philanthropic, business and public sectors is reviewing and distributing grants from the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund on a rolling basis. With a new round of grants awarded this week, total grantmaking from the fund now exceeds $2 million to 51 organizations and localities in the Central Virginia region.
The fund has continued to focus on early response efforts to mitigate the health impacts of the pandemic —including food access, health care and shelter. The latest grants are helping to expand food distribution to more rural jurisdictions and address increased need for mental health services and housing support.
As of this week, the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund has raised $4.65 million from hundreds of individuals, foundations and businesses in the region.
Our three regional affiliates – Gloucester, Mathews and River Counties Community Foundations – are coordinating similar response funds and efforts. Those funds have raised a combined $443,000 so far to support organizations in the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck.
Community Foundation Fund Participation
Community Foundation donors are committed to the well-being of our region, providing generous support to nonprofits throughout the year. In response to the pandemic, they are giving in multiple ways — whether through contributions to COVID Response Funds, grants to fulfill specific COVID-19 related requests, or grants to nonprofits of their own choosing. Thank you for your partnership.
If you would like to make a gift to the Response Fund by check, with other assets or through your donor-advised fund, please contact Community Foundation for assistance.
Creative Community Giving
United Way has been a valuable partner in boosting the Central Virginia Response Fund with a $100,000 matching pool for gifts made through their website — and they’ve reached the match! We hope to keep the momentum going. Donate online.
NBC12 created a “Virginia Strong” campaign by sharing inspiring stories from organizations receiving support from the Fund and by selling t-shirts. Proceeds from t-shirt purchases go to the fund, and over 800 have been sold so far. More about “Virginia Strong”.
Virginia Green gave $5,000 to the fund and launched a “Share the Love” social media campaign, which asks their customers, friends and community members to make a heart in their yard and take a photo of it. The lawn care company will donate an extra $10 to the fund for every picture tagged and shared. Participate in the campaign.
The Richmond Flying Squirrels held two “Opening Day” campaigns, raising more than $40,000 for COVID-19 relief organizations, including the Response Fund. Read More.
Several Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School students are providing virtual book clubs, trivia, math and yoga classes for children through “ProjectEngageRVA.” All net proceeds will go to the Response Fund. Visit their website.
HandsOn Greater Richmond is working with community partners to expand their DIY and virtual volunteering opportunities, while still connecting people to critical in-person opportunities. See how you can volunteer.
Want to sew masks for Richmond’s essential workers? HandsOn has partnered with Studio Two Three to get homemade masks where they are critically needed. Learn more & sign up.
Helping those who need it most in the River Counties
In March, River Counties Community Foundation launched the River Counties COVID-19 Response Fund in partnership with the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund to support nonprofit partners addressing critical needs in the community, as well as organizations that will be crucial to the ongoing support and long-term recovery. Read More.
Thousands of volunteers support RPS meals program
Many students at Richmond Public Schools (RPS) depend on the meals they receive at school, so when school buildings closed in March as a precaution against COVID-19, RPS knew they needed a system to ensure kids still had access to the food they need. So far, over 2,000 volunteers have stepped up to help. Read more.
Q&A with Dr. Vivian Bruzzese, CrossOver Healthcare Ministry
Dr. Vivian Bruzzese is an infectious disease specialist who serves as the Director of HIV Programs with CrossOver Healthcare Ministry – a nonprofit organization that operates two charitable healthcare clinics in the Richmond region. We heard from Dr. Bruzzese to learn a little more about her position and how CrossOver is responding to the needs of their clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the Q&A.
Celebrating the Sector
The Artists for Hope initiative returns, offering another chance for participants to purchase beautiful art pieces and support local nonprofits at the same time. More
The City of Richmond and Henrico County launch programs to feed first responders and aid local restaurants in the process. More Local K-12 students are documenting their reflections on how the coronavirus is affecting their lives for The Valentine’s new project, “Richmond Stories from Richmond Kids.” More
With support from Verizon and Sam’s Club, Virginia LISC has launched the Small Business Relief Grant program to provide the emergency assistance that many small businesses need at this time. More
Communities in Schools of Richmond is finding new ways to connect with their students and ensure they have the academic and emotional support they need. More
With funding from a Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund grant, Feed More has hired seven local chefs to help prepare meals for residents in need. More
Thanks to the generosity of our partners and the greater Richmond community the Family Crisis Fund is now positioned to deliver $500 individual payments to 2,360 families in our region. And the $1,180,000 fund continues to grow.
The Family Crisis Fund was launched on April 3rd and within days, disbursement of direct payments began, allowing for immediate and direct relief for families with children.
The is also open for individual donations. If you wish to donate, please follow these instructions to do so using your credit or debit card:
Under “Location Preference,” (1) select “Other” and (2) write in “Richmond, VA.”
Enter your billing and contact information and press “Submit Donation.”
We continue to work with multiple partners and localities (Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield and Petersburg) to identify families in need, disburse funds, and make sure recipients don’t have to navigate barriers associated with technology and financial literacy in order to receive much-needed support.
Family Crisis Fund partners include Henrico Education Foundation, Chesterfield Education Foundation, Family Lifeline, City of Richmond, Enrichmond Foundation, Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, Flying Squirrels Charities, and individual donor, Clelin Ferrell.
No commitment is too small when addressing a situation of this magnitude. At Robins Foundation, we are thankful for the strategic, adaptable, and collaborative efforts between philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, our local government partners and individuals to engage in innovative philanthropy that inspires solutions to our community’s greatest challenges.
Under “Location Preference,” (1) select “Other” and (2) write in “Richmond, VA.”
Enter your billing and contact information and press “Submit Donation.”
You will receive an email acknowledging your donation at the address provided in the “Billing and Contact Information” section.
Read more about the Family Crisis Fund, below.
Unprecedented Times Call for Bold Action
Tyonka Rimawi, Robins’ Program Officer, Community Partnerships, writes about how providing direct cash assistance to families in need as a result of job loss due to COVID-19 required an unparalleled level of due diligence and internal reflection, in this article published today in Nonprofit Quarterly. She also offers thoughts and guiding questions to other foundations considering new approaches during this unprecedented time.