A Positive Disruption in Birmingham: New Birmingham Lights Installation

The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and REV Birmingham will unveil Birmingham Lights: Positive Disruption on Friday, March 28 in conjunction with the highly-anticipated exhibition game between the Birmingham Barons and Chicago White Sox at Regions Field. The 14th Street lighting installation marks the second of four permanent light art projects to be installed under viaducts across Birmingham’s City Center.

18th Street LightRails installation

18th Street LightRails installation

During the game, organizers will preview an exclusive show of the underpass lights on the field’s Jumbotron. Attendees are invited to pass through the lights after the game to celebrate the newly activated 14th Street Viaduct. REV and the Community Foundation will offer music and giveaways from 9p.m.-11p.m.

Funded by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham’s Community Catalyst Fund, the 14th Street installation has been designed by local light artist John Gill. Titled ‘Positive Disruption,’ the installation allows pedestrians to disrupt the normal patterns of the spectrum by entering the underpass walkways. “People are used to seeing color arranged in the typical pattern of a rainbow. We want pedestrians to disrupt that pattern in a way that is fun and a little jarring,” said Gill.

“Our whole idea behind this underpass installation was to encourage pedestrians to make better use of it when going to the ballpark or Railroad Park,” said REV Birmingham CEO David Fleming. “In a way, the installation itself should disrupt some of the negative patterns on the west side of downtown, whether that’s vagrancy or just underuse.”

Future installations by Gill at 19th and 20th streets have also been funded by the Community Foundation’s Community Catalyst Fund and work is underway. The first installation in the Birmingham Lights series, titled LightRails, was designed by San Antonio artist and sculptor Bill Fitzgibbons and was activated June 27th at the 18th Street Railroad Viaduct.

Contact Erin Stephenson to find out how you can join more than 50 Community Catalyst Fund donors who choose to pool their gifts as a new resource for our whole community.

Remy Fund Opens Fourth Annual Grant Cycle for Animal Related Nonprofits

The Remy Fund for Pets and Animal Services is now accepting grant proposals for the 2014 grant cycle.

Ken Jackson and Remy

Ken Jackson and Remy

Remy Fund grants support nonprofit organizations that work with traditional companion animals such as dogs, cats and horses. Grant applications for rescue/shelter programs, spay/neuter programs, animal assisted therapy programs, education and advocacy programs and service dog programs will be considered. Designated 501(c)3 organizations that serve Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Blount and Walker are eligible to apply for the grants, for more information review the current grant application guidelines: Remy-Fund-Guidelines-2014

Starting March 15, 2014 through April 30, 2014,you can submit your application through an on-line process by clicking here.

Grant decisions will be announced this summer. If a nonprofit organization has questions about the application process, contact Kim Rogers.

About the Remy Fund: Ken Jackson established the Remy Fund, a special Field of Interest Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, in 2010 and named it in honor of his late dog, Remy, a Jack Russell /Shih Tzu mix. Jackson has provided $750,000 to the fund which, along with generous contributions from community donors, has enabled more grant-making dollars to go to animal related programs each year.

In the last three years, the Remy Fund has awarded 21 grants totaling $70,000. In 2013, the fund provided grants to:

• Bama Bully Rescue, $4000, to provide care for pit bulls and other “bully” breeds that have been abandoned, abused or neglected

• MomaKat Rescue, $4000, for spay and neuter of free-roaming cats, as well as adoption support for at-risk kittens

• The Red Barn, $3000, for care of rescue horses used in animal-assisted therapy programs for special needs individuals

• Walker County Humane Society, $3000, to provide no cost spay/neuter services for dogs and cats in Walker County

• Birmingham AIDS Outreach, $2500, for expansion of the agency’s Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS) program that provides no cost spay/neuter services for enrolled dogs and cats

• Hand in Paw, $2500, to support the agency’s volunteer program through recruitment, training and placement of new volunteers to help grow program delivery

• SOS Beagle Rescue, $2500, to support rescue, care and finding forever homes for beagles

• Equines Assisting Special Individuals (EASI), $2000, for construction of an all-weather, covered arena in Jasper, allowing the agency to provide animal assisted therapy to special needs individuals even in inclement weather

• Alabama Siberian Rescue, $1000, to provide veterinary care for abused, neglected or abandoned huskies

• Two by Two Rescue League, $5500, to provide no cost spay/neuter services for dogs and cats in Helena.


Overview Sessions Set for Upcoming Grant Opportunities – Cycle 2 2014

If you are a non-profit organization that serves our five-county area (Jefferson, St. Clair, Blount, Shelby, and Walker), then you have an opportunity coming up soon to join with the Community Foundation as we work together to achieve the Results that our community wants for itself!

Our next available grant round is Cycle 2, which will open for brief proposals on June 02, 2014.  To be considered for this round of grants from our Community Funds, proposals should address strategies for the following Results.  Click the links to learn more about the strategies we fund for each:

As part of preparation for Cycle 2 of 2014 grant-making, conference calls are set for
April and May
. If you represent a nonprofit serving our five-county region and have never received a grant from the Community Foundation before, click on the link following the date and time that is most convenient and sign up to participate in a conference call.

Cycle 2 Conference Calls:

Note that the on-line grant process opens June 2, 2014 and remains open through July 11, 2014. If you have questions about whether you should participate in a conference call or whether your organization is eligible to apply for a grant, please contact James McCrary.

If you are a Community Foundation donor who wishes to participate in supporting grants toward these Results, contact Kathryn Corey. Or make a gift on-line today.

Civil Rights Trail Ribbon Cutting on March 8

Civil Rights Trail Extension Expands Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System

Civil Rights Trail 1Join our own Gus Heard-Hughes, the Freshwater Land Trust and the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System as they host a ribbon cutting ceremony with the City of Birmingham to unveil an extension of the Civil Rights Trail from downtown Birmingham and includes portions of the Smith­field, East Thomas and Enon Ridge neighborhoods. This latest segment of the trail is part of the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System and includes new sidewalks, bike lanes, educational Civil Rights Movement signage, and a one-mile trail along a historic streetcar line.

The ceremony will take place at the Smithfield Library on March 8 at 2pm and will highlight the first completed segment of more than 29 miles of trails to be completed under a federal grant from the Department of Transportation. Through the generous support of our donors the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham was able to support the public-private partnership that provided the matching funds for the federal TIGER IV program.

Click to read the Civil Rights Trail Extension Press Release

2014 Cromwell Trust Scholarship Deadline Approaching – Calling All Performing Artists

Calling all those with an interest in pursuing or developing your future in the arts! Reaching the highest levels in the performing arts requires dedication and talent. This achievement also takes money for training, transportation and other expenses. Thanks to a partnership between the Cromwell Trust and the Community Foundation, aspiring artists of any age can apply for a scholarship to cover some of these costs.

Whether you want to pursue a college-level degree in the arts, participate in a development workshop or camp, or other artistic training opportunities to grow your own performance career, you may qualify for a scholarship through the Cromwell Trust Fund of the Community Foundation.

To learn more about our scholarship process and to begin your application for the Cromwell Trust Scholarship, visit our scholarship webpage and click the big green “Apply Here” button!   You must apply by April 4, 2014, and the announcement of scholarships awards will be made in May 2014. If you have any questions, contact Sheree by e-mail or phone at 327-3810.


SAIL Partnership awards more than $675,000 in grants

Sail Logo

Thanks to SAIL (Summer Adventures in Learning), a partnership of ten area funders, 32 grants totaling more than $675,000 has been awarded to programs that provide summer learning opportunities for children. The nonprofit organizations receiving grants this year include schools, learning centers, camps and churches. The grants are used to support programs that enhance or add rigorous academic components that help prevent learning loss, offer chances to explore new interests and skills and close the achievement gap for low-income children.

National studies have shown that students typically return to school one to three months behind where they were at the end of the previous school year. But, according to the results of assessment testing coordinated by PARCA, participants in the 2013 Summer Adventures in Learning programs advanced more than a month on average. Some programs helped students jump three to four months ahead.

“We were definitely pleased to see that these summer learning programs are closing the learning gap for low-income children,”said Jim Wooten, executive director of the Independent Presbyterian Church Foundation. “SAIL is a unique collaboration of funders, program hosts, educational services providers and other organizations with an interest in education. The funders write checks, but we do much more, and all the SAIL partners collaborate to strengthen one another and to give our children the opportunity for a better life.”

In 2012 six area funders collaborated in SAIL to award 16 grants totaling $455,000, this year four new funders have joined in the partnership. The SAIL partners for 2014 grant cycle are: Alabama Power Foundation, The Belk Foundation, The Caring Foundation of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, Daniel Foundation of Alabama, Independent Presbyterian Church Foundation,  Joseph S. Bruno Charitable Foundation, The Junior League of Birmingham, Mike & Gillian Goodrich Foundation and United Way of Central Alabama.

Contact Kathryn Corey to find out more about how you can support the SAIL partnership and add more students to the group each summer. Or make a gift today toward our Result that focuses on strategies to ensure children are successful along the education pipeline.


Organizations receiving grants for 2014 summer programs are:

A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club

American Baseball Foundation, Inc (in partnership with the Jefferson County Board of Education)

Antioch Missionary Baptist Church

Better Basics

Birmingham Zoo, Inc.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Alabama

Breakthrough Birmingham

Cahaba River Society

Cornerstone Schools of Alabama

Summer Advantage USA (in partnership with the Bessemer Board of Education)

Summer Advantage USA (in partnership with the Birmingham Board of Education)

Fresh Start Family Solutions

Girls Incorporated of Central Alabama

Camp Shiloh (GSBC Community Development)

Higher Achievement Summer School

Household of Faith Church, Inc

Impact Alabama: A Student Service Initiative

IMPACT Family Counseling

Independent Presbyterian Church

Jones Valley Teaching Farm

New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church Community Support Corporation

NorthStar Youth Ministries

Norwood Resource Center

Public Affairs Council of Alabama (PARCA)

YMCA of Greater Birmingham (three branches)

Sixth Avenue Baptist Church Summer Camp

Tarrant City Schools

The Learning Village

YWCA Central Alabama

Zion Spring Baptist Church

$1.2 Million in Grants Awarded in December

The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham has announced  a $1.27 million package of grants to 27 area non-park-picprofits that aim to improve economic security and further develop sustainable, livable communities in Jefferson, Blount, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker counties. These grants support a collection of innovative initiatives ranging from a pilot program providing an alternative to payday lending to a music education alliance supporting young musicians and orchestras.

A total of $2.1 million has been awarded through the Community Funds competitive grantmaking program in 2013, including $860,000 in May toward results related to education and health. Support for the grants came from Donor Advised Funds through the Community Foundation’s Giving Together program.

“These grants are made possible by philanthropists who have entrusted their charitable dollars and legacies to The Community Foundation,” said Robert Holmes, chair of the Community Foundation’s board of directors. “Thanks to their vision of collective giving we are able to support organizations that drive positive change across our community.”

A committee that included community and business leaders reviewed more than 85 proposals from a broad spectrum of nonprofits that work to improve the quality of life in the greater Birmingham area. “The grants are not just handed out,” said James McCrary, Vice President of Grants and Evaluation. “Grantees go through a rigorous application process; they need to identify and explain their needs and show how their goals reflect our Results Framework.”

This is the third year of competitive grantmaking using the Community Foundation’s Results Framework, which focuses on grants in line with four key strategies.  According to McCrary, feedback from grants made in previous year already show signs of progress. One example is the Comprehensive Care Management program provided by Collat Jewish Family Services. Through a grant from the Community Foundation they were able to expand the program to provide services to seniors that help them stay in their homes. “The average cost to provide this service to seniors through the program is $2,300 per year,” says McCrary. “In contrast, it would cost the state about $55,000 a year to maintain that individual in a nursing home.”

The next cycle of grant applications is under review for strategies that address education and health Results.  This latest group of grants brings the total of grants awarded in 2013 by the Community Foundation to $14.5 million.

Community Foundation Names New President and CEO

The Board of Directors of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham is pleased to announce that Christopher Nanni has been named the Foundation’s new President and Chief Executive Officer. Nanni, a veteran leader and passionate community advocate, comes to the Foundation with 25 years of significant philanthropic experience. He was most recently Vice President, Program for the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, one of the fastest growing community foundations in Indiana with over $142 million in assets.

Chris Nanni

Chris Nanni

“I am delighted that the result of our nationwide search for our next President and CEO brought Chris Nanni, a community foundation veteran and seasoned community advocate, to lead our Community Foundation,” said Robert Holmes, Board Chair of the Community Foundation. “Chris’ passion for philanthropy, his deep knowledge of community foundation work, thoughtful manner and quiet charm make him the ideal person to provide the vision and leadership to inspire philanthropy and support our efforts to build strong, vibrant communities. I am very excited about the Foundation’s future under his leadership.”

As a member of the senior management team at the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, Nanni was responsible for the programmatic branch of the foundation which distributed grants totaling between $4-5 million annually to the area. Initiatives included: an African American Community Fund, a Senior Housing Initiative, a multi-million dollar early childhood initiative, 60 scholarship programs, nonprofit Executive Leadership Programs and a county-wide effort to raise the quality of nursing home care.

“My family and I are excited to make Birmingham our new home and I feel honored to join such a trusted organization as the Community Foundation,” said Nanni. “The measure of a community is how well it cares for its most vulnerable. Community Foundations are uniquely poised to address community concerns through innovation and a long-term horizon. I look forward to immersing myself in local issues, understanding the needs from the ground up, and working with the nonprofit sector to strengthen the overall community.”

Prior to joining the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County in 2004, Nanni was the Associate Principal of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago. He also served as a Lay Missioner in the Dominican Republic and as the Executive Director of La Casa de Amistad, a youth and community center. Nanni holds a Master’s degree in social-service administration from the University of Chicago and a Master’s in cross-cultural theology from the Catholic Theological Union. He earned his bachelor’s degree in theology and computer applications from the University of Notre Dame where he was a walk-on for the men’s basketball team.

Nanni succeeds president and CEO, Kate Nielsen, who announced her retirement earlier this year. He will begin his new duties in February, 2014.


Scholarship Opportunities for 2014 – 2015 School Year

Thanks to generous donors who want to offer a helping hand, the Community Foundation is announcing the 2014-2015 school year scholarship opportunities are now available for applications.

Tom Crawford presenting the 2013 Award for Excellence Scholarship

Tom Crawford presenting
2013 Award for Excellence Scholarship

For the 2013-14 school year, $354,000 was awarded to benefit 120 students, many from Birmingham City Schools. This makes more than $3.8 million total over the years to help young men and women move ahead in their education.

This year, our scholarship process has moved online, to better serve our students! Don’t forget to review the scholarship options, because some scholarships are available only to a particular set of candidates. You can also learn more about our process prior to applying.

Most deadlines fall between January 22 and February 7th. Here are a few of the options for current high-school seniors:

  • Award for Excellence – open to Ramsay High School students only
  • Community Foundation Scholarship – open to students at high schools in the Birmingham School System
  • The Cromwell Trust Scholarship – open to aspiring students and adults for career advancement and/or education, primarily in the performing arts and musical theater; requires artistic submission

Ready to apply?





Bright Lights for the Big City

The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, REV Birmingham and the City of Birmingham are pleased to announce funding has been secured for future downtown lighting projects – including 20th, 19th and 14th Street Underpasses. Each of the new light-art installations will have their own unique identity. They are scheduled to come online in early 2014.

“We are excited about this opportunity to partner with REV Birmingham and the city to complete the work we started with the 18th Street light-art project,” said Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham President Kate Nielsen. “The Catalyst Fund, which is making this project possible, was set up to fund big ideas that can spark community change. This lighting project certainly fits the bill. Our Community Catalyst Fund donors believe that having these permanent light-art installations in the four major underpasses will build a vital connection between the north and south side of our city center, contributing to its growing vibrancy. The Community Foundation will continue to work with our Catalyst Fund donors to explore other grant making opportunities throughout our five-county area.”

The 20th Street Underpass lighting ceremony, presented by BBVA Compass, is scheduled for February. Additional events will be announced in the upcoming year.

“As a member of the Birmingham community, BBVA Compass takes pride in participating in activities that help enhance our city for its residents and our employees,” said BBVA Compass City President Alan Register. “We look forward to doing our part to illuminate the holidays and build a better Birmingham.”

REV Birmingham, the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and the City unveiled LightRails: An Artistic Lighting Installation at the 18th Street Railroad Viaduct on Thursday, June 27th, 2013.

Birmingham Lights Up!

18th Street Light Art

Funded by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham’s Community Catalyst Fund, the 18th Street LED installation is a permanent public display intended to activate underused space and encourage pedestrian traffic in a vital connection between two growing areas of downtown Birmingham. The first installation project was led and designed by nationally renowned San Antonio artist and sculptor Bill Fitzgibbons.

“Our strategy for the City Center is to focus on the connections between the great assets we have downtown,” said REV Birmingham President & CEO David Fleming. “These underpasses, which have long been dark and kind of scary for nighttime pedestrians, are being transformed into works of art that now invite pedestrian traffic between the Parkside District and the Theatre, Civil Rights and Financial Districts to the north.”

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