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

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