ACT for Alexandria tried something different with their approach to grant making this year: investing in local organizations that want to focus on racial equity and community engagement.

The community foundation recently awarded $106,500 to 10 Alexandria nonprofits and organizations, including a $10,000 racial equity grant to the Local Motion Project nonprofit dance studio at 2377 South Dove St.

Local Motion Project Executive Director Sara Lavan plans to use the funds to host a series of workshops to introduce Alexandria residents to West African dance. The nonprofit also received more than $45,000 in last year’s Spring2ACTion, which kept its doors open.

“There is a lack of dances from the African Diaspora in many private studios,” Lavan told ALXnow. “Through our new course we will be examining structural and institutional racism throughout dance education, and learn how to be more inclusive to people of color.”

ACT for Alexandria provides capacity building grants every year, and this year the organization streamlined its grant making process. Gone were the lengthy applications asking for projected outcomes by developing an entire program. Instead, applicants had to fill out a simple two-page letter of inquiry and explain what their organization hoped to learn with the grant funds.

The organization has invested more than $1 million in capacity building grants to Alexandria nonprofits since 2005, and its annual Spring2ACTion fundraiser raised more than $2 million last year.

“We’re investing in innovation and creativity,” said Brandi Yee, chief program officer for ACT for Alexandria.  “We may not know what the outcome is going to be up front, but as partners, we trust the organizations and their knowing what is most needed for their communities.”

The grants were awarded to the following organizations:

  • Alexandria Housing Development Corporation — The organization received a strategic planning grant to incorporate a mindset of racial equity in the development of new and renovated housing.
  • Alexandria Soccer Association — The nonprofit received a strategic planning grant to focus on racial equity as the organization continues to grow.
  • Carpenter’s Shelter — The nonprofit was awarded a racial equity grant to fund a project exploring how racism and racial inequity contribute to homelessness, with the goal of determining program changes that will be needed as a result.
  • Casa Chirilagua — The organization received a community engagement grant to improve communication with Hispanic families and communities throughout Alexandria.
  • Friends of Guest House — The nonprofit received a strategic planning grant to fund two consensus-building workshops to develop a new strategic plan with staff and the board.
  • Offender Aid and Restoration – The organization was awarded a racial equity grant to “transform the organization to one that embraces anti-racism, racial equity, and inclusion internally.”
  • RunningBrooke — The nonprofit dedicated to getting Alexandria’s kids moving was awarded a community engagement grant to develop an equity action plan and community advisory board to make sure underrepresented voices are heard.
  • The Spitfire Club — The extracurricular book club for girls was awarded a racial equity to develop a training program for future mentors. The program will guide the mentors on how to include race, equity and inclusion in their work.
  • The Child & Family Network Centers — The 30-year-old organization received a racial equity grant to develop a Racial Equity in Early Learning Plan, which will focus on underserved communities throughout the city.

Photo courtesy Local Motion Project

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