St. Croix Foundation for Community Development celebrated 30 years of service to the U.S. Virgin Islands community on Sept. 24.
Since 1990, St. Croix Foundation has been advancing a unique, grassroots and holistic model for philanthropy in under-resourced communities of color like the Virgin Islands. Established in the wake of Hurricane Hugo, today the foundation continues its work in community development as a pathway to economic prosperity, self-sufficiency and sustainability.
St. Croix Foundation President Deanna James said, “As the story goes, during the ideation process of conceiving the foundation, our founders, Philip Gerard and Michael Neuburger, sat in the middle of Sunday Market Square debating the name of the organization. Would it be St. Croix Community Development Foundation or St. Croix Foundation for Community Development? The latter won out as they determined that the mere word ‘for’ demonstrated intention around our mission and our purpose.”
Although un-endowed, as most conventional foundations are, to date, St. Croix Foundation has served as the conduit of over $42 million private and public sector dollars invested into the territory. Since its inception, the organization’s impact has
netted national recognition in almost every priority area – from economic development and community revitalization to public health, education reform and nonprofit development.
The overarching impact of St. Croix Foundation’s investments is reflected in some highly visible and noteworthy initiatives spearheaded throughout the territory over the past three decades, including:
- Providing more than 1.2 million dollars in small business loans for the creation and expansion of over 60 small businesses
- Securing grant funding for the first territory-wide security camera system, some of which they maintained for over 7 years
- Repainting, resurfacing and clearing brush from over 200 properties in Historic Downtown Centers territory-wide through its Scrape, Paint, Rejuvenate Grant Program, which the organization conceived and led for almost 10 years
- Being recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration for managing the nation’s top Women’s Business Center, which served to transition women into the workplace
- Spearheading the renovation of Sunday Market Square properties and roadway
- Leading one of the most comprehensive educational initiatives in the territory through which over one million dollars was invested into the territory’s public education
system. Through their Model Schools Initiative, the foundation also drafted educational resources and white papers that continue to serve as references for policymakers and education stakeholders
- Launching one of the territory’s first Small Business Incubators
- Raising, investing and awarding 1.8 million dollars for civic-based recovery and resiliency efforts, including its Solar Workforce Development, Agro-Business, and Nonprofit Capacity Building Initiatives following Hurricanes Irma and Maria
- Being selected as the territory’s new Kids Count grantee by Annie E. Casey Foundation in early 2020 James also stated that,
“St. Croix Foundation is proof positive that it’s not about money; it’s about will, innovation and collaboration, and for St. Croix Foundation, the results evidenced by the fact that we have done more in 30 years than many community foundations 10 times our size,” according to James.
Today, the foundation remains grounded in the philosophy of its founders, who believed that functioning as a grassroots community-centric philanthropic entity was the single most effective format for a community with such significant needs and socio-economic disparities as well as scarce donor resources.
Founders were also unwavering in their intention for the
Organization to serve as a conduit rather than a container of philanthropic resources.
In honor of 30 years of leadership and service, the St. Croix Foundation extends its deepest appreciation to its longstanding sustainers, donors, sponsors, partners and vendors as well as every volunteer, former board member, and staffer who has helped to lead the organization to this milestone.
The foundation invites anyone interested in learning more and supporting its current projects to contact Deanna James at [email protected].