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5 08, 2016

Michelle Mickle Foster: New target at Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation


Community economic development is The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation’s newest priority area. This priority area addresses the “economic disparities and lack of a diverse economy” root cause that was identified during the organization’s strategic planning process.

Community economic development can be defined as the actions taken by an organization or a group of organizations representing an urban neighborhood or rural community in order to:

1. Improve the economic situation of local residents (disposable income and assets) and local businesses (profitability and growth); and

2. Enhance the community’s quality of life as a whole (appearance, safety, networks, gathering places, and sense of positive momentum).

Community economic development is both people-based and placed-based, which means that individuals, families and communities are positively impacted. Individual and family impact encompasses increasing the economic standard of living for low-wealth persons in low-wealth neighborhoods. This includes increasing residents’ discretionary income (income available after paying necessities) and wealth (assets and savings).

Community impact encompasses rebuilding the prosperity and livability of an entire community for the benefit of existing residents and businesses. This can include rebuilding the community’s social fabric through economic means such as:

Creating new community gathering places — restaurants, childcare centers and coffee shops.

Strengthening community pride and confidence through continual visible improvements.

Providing long-term stability and affordability through local ownership of businesses and properties.

Generating inspiring new role models through local entrepreneur development and career development.

Community economic development differs from development projects led by the private or public sector alone. As mentioned above, it is multi-purpose, with desired individual and community impact, as well as financial returns. Traditional economic development is solely focused on financial returns. Furthermore, community economic development has a long-term focus within one targeted area, versus moving on after a project or two.

Additionally, community economic development is carried out in accord with a plan of ongoing, multiple projects and goals, created and controlled by residents, businesses and institutions. Finally, CED involves smaller-scale solutions versus the large-scale solutions of traditional economic development.

Community economic development focuses on four pivot points, which may operate as economic engines for family and community impact. These are the four most common and potentially powerful approaches that groups can use to change the economy of their community:

1. The community’s workforce.

2. Job opportunities.

3. Microbusinesses.

4. The commercial district.

These pivot points are crucial to local economies and are often used as primary strategies.

The large number of unemployed and underemployed residents in low-wealth communities is a major economic problem.

These residents face many challenges, including the lack of work skills, networks and support necessary to obtain and retain steady employment. Workforce development and placement in jobs with livable wages and advancement opportunities, usually lead residents on the best path to economic stability. Community economic development initiatives can work to increase the number of residents in these types of employment opportunities.

There are particular types of expanding businesses that grow a steady stream of entry-level jobs that pay livable wages with some benefits and the possibilities of career advancement.

Community economic development initiatives are tasked with identifying these opportunities. Initiatives can work to attract these businesses to their community and assist in the elimination of barriers to their growth.

Businesses with five or fewer employees are referred to as “microbusinesses.” Microbusinesses in low-wealth communities often lack the resources that they need to thrive, including access to capital.

If supported, these businesses can generate significant economic activity in a community. Owners can serve as role models and inspire others. They can also work to restore life to vacant storefronts. These businesses can bring goods and services to the community and create jobs. Most of all, their efforts can spark positive momentum in a community. Community economic development initiatives can find and support microbusinesses which are certainly assets to their communities.

Commercial district revitalization is critical for low-wealth communities. The “Main Street” in a community represents its “face.” It is this street that forms the perceptions (good or bad) of a community. These perceptions often lead to a community’s reality. Deteriorating commercial districts are undesirable for customers and businesses. Therefore, commercial district revitalization in low-wealth communities is critical and presents another opportunity for development initiatives.

A diversity of investors and actors are needed to rebuild an economy. Organizations engaged in community economic development are only one set of actors, and the Foundation is only one investor. The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation will work to attract other actors and investors to address the economic disparities and diversification needs in our region.

Michelle Mickle Foster is president and CEO of The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation.

– See more at:

Michelle Mickle Foster: New target at Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation2017-04-17T17:55:16+00:00
15 05, 2019

TGKVF Change Maker: Community Access, Inc.


The Change Maker Award is presented to organizations that exemplified innovation, resilience and collaborative spirit.

Community Access, Inc.

Horses & Journeys: Warrior Wellness

Horses & Journeys: Warrior Wellness assists active duty military service members and veterans in identifying and strengthening their own wellness practices. The project combines equine-assisted learning with guided hiking activities at Red Barn Stables.

TGKVF Change Maker: Community Access, Inc.2019-06-10T14:38:43+00:00
15 05, 2019

TGKVF Change Maker: Future of Nursing West Virginia


The Change Maker Award is presented to organizations that exemplified innovation, resilience and collaborative spirit.

Future of Nursing West Virginia

The Future of Nursing WV Action Coalition

This is a collaboration among nursing and business building partners, to provide the identification, education, coaching, and ongoing networking that nurses need to build and sustain independent health businesses.

TGKVF Change Maker: Future of Nursing West Virginia2019-05-16T15:05:46+00:00
15 05, 2019

TGKVF Change Maker: Step by Step


Change Maker Award Presentation to organizations that exemplified innovation, resilience and collaborative spirit.

Step by Step

After School Collaborative / AmeriCorps on the Frontline

This afterschool program took the lead bringing partners together to serve 90 children who were affected when a local agency stopped providing after school services. The program supports AmeriCorps volunteers who provide mentor-based interventions that addresses student attendance, behavior, and course performance.

TGKVF Change Maker: Step by Step2019-05-15T15:53:41+00:00
26 03, 2018

TGKVF Seeking Proposals for Office Space in Downtown Charleston, WV


Charleston, W. Va. – The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation (TGKVF) today announced a request for proposals (RFP) to lease commercial office space in downtown Charleston, West Virginia.

The RFP was released by the Commercial Division of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Great Expectations Realty, acting as agent for TGKVF.

TGKVF is currently leasing approximately 7,000 square feet of office space in the Huntington Bank Building, 900 Lee Street, East, Charleston, West Virginia, with a lease expiration of February 15, 2019.  TGKVF is seeking proposals for a new 8 to 10 year lease with a sufficient lead-time for a January 31, 2019 lease commencement date.

If you are interested in receiving the RFP documents and submitting a proposal, please contact Claire Barth (information below) for the proper RFP format. 

About TGKVF:

The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation is the largest community foundation in West Virginia and in Central Appalachia, and ranks among the top 100 community foundations in the country. The Foundation collaborates with public and private sector partners to build community wealth.  A 501 (c)(3), non-profit corporation, TGKVF funds initiatives in education, health, community economic development, basic needs, and arts and culture.

Contact: Claire Barth | Commercial Division Sales Associate

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Great Expectations Realty

1337 Virginia Street East | Charleston, West Virginia 25301

304-347-7516 direct | 304-444-1370 cell |

TGKVF Seeking Proposals for Office Space in Downtown Charleston, WV2018-03-26T16:56:34+00:00
13 06, 2016

The 2016 Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships


In an effort to recognize foundations that work to improve neighborhoods and the lives of the people who live in them, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Council on Foundations announced the 2016 winners of the HUD Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships.

Presented at COF’s 2016 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. yesterday, ten foundations earned the award for their outstanding partnership with the public sector. From helping students get through college, to implementing a program for seniors to stay in their homes, these foundations have made significant improvements in housing and neighborhoods. In addition to education, health and recreation, transportation, community participation, arts and culture, public safety, sustainability, and economic development across all American geographies – urban, suburban and rural.

“HUD is proud of and grateful for the relationships we have with our philanthropic partners across the nation,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. In each of these ten cases, the public-private partnerships worked especially well and expanded opportunity for the communities we all serve. I applaud these foundations for their exceptional dedication to the most vulnerable in our society.”

“I am delighted to offer my congratulations to the recipients of this year’s awards,” said Vikki Spruill, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. “Their partnerships with the public sector demonstrate the power of cross-sector collaborations and offer the field effective and innovative initiatives that can and should be replicated. The Council’s conference this year focuses on the future of community and the importance of place-based work, and I can think of no better way to start our conference than by honoring a group that is shaping our communities of tomorrow through bold ideas, decisive actions, and shared leadership today.”

Awards were given to place-based funders for completed or ongoing initiatives that are executed in partnership with a local, regional, or federal government agency.  The winners are:


Foundation Location Project Name
The Montgomery County Foundation Montgomery County, PA Your Way Home Montgomery County Express
Boston Foundation Boston, MA Success Boston
The Annie E. Casey Foundation Baltimore, MD Opportunity Collaborative
Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation Ann Arbor, MI Washtenaw Coordinated Funders
Communities Foundation of Texas Texas Educate Texas
Community Foundation of the New River Valley Southwestern, VA Aging in Place Leadership Team
Seattle Foundation King County, WA Communities of Opportunity
Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation Charleston, WV Investing in Our Communities: West Side of Charleston
Toledo Community Foundation Toledo, OH Overland Initiative – Partners for Places
Incourage Community Foundation Wisconsin Rapids, WI Blueprints for Tomorrow

The Challenge

Mary C. Snow Elementary serves 500 students, 93 percent of whom are from low-income families on the West Side of Charleston, West Virginia. The school is located in an area designated a Drug Marketing Intervention Zone—a region plagued by drugs and violent crime—and its surrounding neighborhood faces challenges including historic disinvestment, absentee property owners, and abandoned buildings. The foundation thus sought programs that address the root causes and not merely the symptoms of systemic community problems

The Innovation

The initiative uses cross-sector collaboration to advance community issues that span various fields (property development, civic leadership, health and safety, and education). Direct community engagement reassured community members that their voices are important, empowered them to contribute to initiative efforts, and provided the foundation with sound data to guide future investments.

The Projects

In December 2014, the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation developed its Investing in Our Communities-West Side of Charleston initiative that strategically concentrates assets within a nine-block area around Mary C. Snow Elementary. Systemic changes are achieved at a deeper and more sustainable level through targeted resource allocation. The Foundation has committed $600,000 to this initiative over a 3-year period with the overall goal of improving housing, civic engagement, and health conditions. To date, this initiative has funded three intersecting projects: (1) Project West Invest, which incentivizes neighborhood home ownership/renovation for law enforcement; (2) Second Avenue Community Center Restoration, which targets reformation of a historic center in the heart of the neighborhood; and (3) Handle with Care, which provides trauma-informed care and antibullying mentorship to Mary C. Snow Elementary students. Through this initiative, the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation uses all of the strategies in its toolbox: grants and investments, leveraging assets, leadership and advocacy, convening stakeholders, and building community capacity. All partners contribute resources to improve conditions for an impoverished at-risk population.

Public Sector Partners

  • The City of Charleston
  • the Charleston Police Department
    the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority
  • Kanawha County Schools
  • the West Virginia Bar Association
  • the West Virginia State Police
  • the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia
The 2016 Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships2017-04-17T17:55:17+00:00