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Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation featured in national report

Paul J. Nyden

The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation is one of 30 groups featured in a national report released on Monday by The Democracy Collaborative called “A New Anchor Mission for a New Century: Community Foundations Deploying All Resources to Build Community Wealth.”

The local group is part of what The Democracy Collaborative, based in Takoma Park, Md, calls the “Innovative 30” -- local, community-based foundations trying to play major roles in building stronger local economies.

The new Democracy Collaborative report says the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation “sees its work in economic development as taking place across a continuum…. TGKVF organized all of its grant making around the notion of building multiple forms of local wealth.

“Wealth is about more than dollars. It’s also the social capital of connections, the individual capital of skills, the intellectual capital of new ways of operating, the natural capital of health ecosystems.”

Becky Ceperley, TGKVF’s president and CEO, said, “One of the big things we do is use the creation of wealth as one of the indicators of success.

“That means more than financial wealth. We need people to trust each other. We need to look at our infrastructure, education and the health of individuals in our communities so they can progress to their best. We need a creative atmosphere.”

Ceperley said, “When you develop all of those types of wealth, that make a community thrive. Rather than just funding folks that are doing things, we are looking at how our partners, that we fund, are working to create these forms of wealth.

“We’ve been working in partnership with CAMC [Charleston Area Medical Center] and some local farmers to get farmers to grow produce and sell it to CAMC. Farmers have a good market since they can grow. And the hospital gets great local foods,” Ceperley said.

“Rural places also have health care clinics. We want them to look at whether they can buy things from farmers locally and not from distributors.

“With Project West Invest, we are working with the city of Charleston and CURA [Charleston Urban Renewal Authority] to provide finding so police officers can buy homes on the West Side,” Ceperley added.

“We are also looking at putting additional money into the West Side next year to help improve and more economic growth in that area.”

The new Democracy Collaborative report calls community foundations “anchor institutions” that are “highly unlikely to abandon the communities in which they reside.”

Community foundations can also play a major role in countering “deeply entrenched economic problems like inequality and unemployment,” the report states.