Dollars from Northern Piedmont Community Foundation flow into Rappahannock

Over $700,000 in grants awarded to county non-profits over last two years

It was 18 years ago that nine concerned area citizens launched the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation (NPCF). Their aim was as ambitious as it was generous: to provide financial support for worthy causes in four local counties — Rappahannock notably among them — unserved by any community foundation.

Today, with assets exceeding $11 million, the NPCF is everything envisioned in the year 2000 and more, successfully working “with ordinary citizens with extraordinary visions to make a better life for their families, neighbors, friends and fellow community members — both now and for future generations.”

Longtime Rappahannock resident Richard Lykes, who passed away in 2009, helped pave the way to today’s success. Administering his generous $2 million bequest, the NPCF through the “Richard Lykes Rappahannock Community Fund” continues to improve the quality of life in Rappahannock County with grants of $500 to $10,000.

This past month, the NPCF awarded $60,500 Lykes Fund dollars to several Rappahannock nonprofits. And in a display of sincere appreciation, the recipients gathered at the home of John Anderson, who had been a close friend of Lykes, to celebrate the gifts from the late member of the Rappahannock community.

As NPCF’s Executive Director Jane Bowling-Wilson observed, Lykes believed in the importance of giving back, and he continues to do so posthumously through his significant bequest.

To date, more than $385,000 Lykes Fund dollars have been awarded to Rappahannock nonprofits and other worthy causes. Seventeen individual projects received a much-needed financial boost in 2017, five of them awarded $5,000: Child Care & Learning Center, Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Rappahannock County Public Schools, and Friends of the Rappahannock (the entire list of 2017 Lykes Fund recipients is contained in this story).

The latter Friends of the Rappahannock, as just one example, will be using their grant to support the Headwater Student Stream Team, which allows middle and high-school students to engage in outdoor, field-based experiences. They will now have an opportunity to work with conservation staff from a variety of local and regional organizations, and will assist in improving habitats for fish and wildlife along the way.

“We are humbled by the exciting work each of these nonprofits does on behalf of Rappahannock County,” the NPCF stated in distributing the grants.

The foundation’s volunteer board of directors consists of 14 members, all active leaders in the four beneficiary counties: Rappahannock, Culpeper, Madison and Fauquier. The board members advise and support the NPFC’s day-to-day activities, which are led by Bowling-Wilson, who is a former director of the Headwaters Foundation, and donor services administrator Brittany Dwyer, the foundation’s only paid staff.

Asked specifically how much the Rappahannock County community has been aided by the foundation, Bowling-Wilson dug through her records and got back to us: “For Rapp County over the past two years, Northern Piedmont has helped charitable organizations with: $81,750 through NPCF funds-donor grants, $209,760 through community grants like Lykes and Community Assistance Grants, $397,638 through Give Local Piedmont, and $23,000 in local scholarships.”

All tallied up, a much-welcomed $712,148 boost to Rappahannock community neighbors, families, and friends in the last two years alone.

NPCF provides several grants annually, no two of them alike, with their own application processes, deadlines, and dates that they are awarded. They benefit education, youth, arts and culture, animals, the environment, religion, health and welfare, community improvement, combating poverty, and more. Apart from nonprofits, grants can also be awarded to any organization with a project that has a specific benefit to residents.

In addition to the Lykes Rappahannock Community Fund, NPCF grants include:

* Gordon Thornhill Excellence in Youth Foundation Grant (also earmarked specifically to Rappahannock County): Supports non-profit organizations for sports and agriculture-related enrichment projects for the youth of Rappahannock County. Award amounts generally range from $500 to $5,000.

* Community Assistance Grants: Funded by the PATH Foundation for nonprofit projects in operation for at least three years that deliver services within Rappahannock, Fauquier, and northern Culpeper counties. The grant is flexible and gives the grantee the ability to use funds where most appropriate and with the largest community impact. Grants may also fund specific program or project needs immediate in nature and can address or alleviate hardship. Award amounts generally range from $5,000 to $25,000.

* Meade M. Palmer Memorial Fund: A broad-based grant-making program, which provides vital funding for all aspects of community well being. Resources are concentrated geographically to preserve and enhance the quality of life to residents of Rappahannock, Culpeper, Fauquier and Madison counties. Award amounts generally range from $500 to $2,500.

* Patricia and Nicolaas Kortlandt Memorial Fund: The Kortlandts were community-minded people who lived in Fauquier for over 50 years and supported the county through their farm and service to civic organizations and schools. Proposals are welcome for projects that strengthen the fabric of all four counties (priority is given to those charities Mr. Kortlandt deemed important). Award amounts generally range from $500 to $10,000.

* Culpeper Foundation Fund Grant: Specifically enhances the quality of life for residents of Culpeper County. Grants range from $500 to $2,500

“There are so many opportunities to work together,” noted Bowling-Wilson. “In addition to the PATH Foundation, we are now developing partnerships with the Culpeper Wellness Foundation and the Center for Nonprofit Excellence because as we all know more gets done together than in isolation. Putting our collaborative heads together creates better solutions and often gives us a broader perspective.”

Such was the driving premise behind launching Give Local Piedmont in 2014, the foundation points out. The 24-hour day of giving to benefit nonprofit organizations invited the entire community to become philanthropists. With a minimum donation of $10, it quickly became an achievable goal. In four years, the annual one-day event has raised almost $3 million for local charities.

On the academic side, NPCF scholarship funds continue to grow, with the foundation currently managing 27 separate funds while recently adding scholarships geared toward careers in agriculture, technical studies, health, and civil engineering. More than $133,000 was awarded to students in the class of 2017 and another $70,000 to students returning to college.

“The Northern Piedmont Community Foundation has become such an integral part of the community that it’s hard to imagine what we would look like without it,” said Bowling-Wilson. “Numerous nonprofits have attested that were it not for NPCF’s guidance and initiative to connect them with funding sources, they would not have been able to continue their services.

“Similarly, with college costs continuing to rise, many students simply would not be able to attend college without scholarships awarded through the community foundation.”

Given the diverse grants and deadlines, interested nonprofits and others are encouraged to visit http://www.npcf.org/nonprofits/grant-opportunities/ for specific application information. Applications can also be downloaded from the site. The Culpeper-based foundation can also be reached by calling 540-349-0631 or via assistant@npcf.org.

Urgent calendar note: Community Assistance Grants letters of inquiry are due this Tuesday, Jan. 23, with approved applications due on Feb. 14. Richard Lykes Rappahannock Community Fund applications and Gordon Thornhill Excellence in Youth Foundation Grant applications are due later in 2018, on Oct. 15.

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John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at editor@rappnews.com.