Birmingham Lights Receives International Award

 CODA cover

LightRails, the 18th Street Birmingham Lights installation has been named a 2014 CODAawards winner. The light-art installation was one of ten international winners and was named best in the Transportation category. It is also featured on the cover of the awards digital magazine.

The CODAawards are the annual international awards program of CODAworx, the online platform that connects members of the creative community and showcases design projects featuring commissioned artwork. Celebrating the successful collaboration of design + art, the CODAawards celebrate design projects that demonstrate the most successful integration of commissioned art into an interior, architectural, or public space.

The jurors, luminaries in the field of art, architecture, media, and design, included:

  • David Rockefeller, Jr., Trustee of the Museum of Modern Art
  • David Revere McFadden, Chief Curator Emeritus of the Museum of Arts & Design
  • Hugh Hardy, Founding Partner, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture
  • Ali Tayar, Principal of “Parallel Design” in New York
  • Deborah Berke Professor of Architectural Design at Yale University
  • Nancy Nodler, leading hospitality designer with Gensler
  • Kevin Lippert, Publisher of Princeton Architectural Press
  • Cindy Allen, Editor-in-Chief of Interior Design magazine
  • Janet Koplos, Contributing Editor to Art in America magazine

The entire Birmingham Lights project was honored earlier this week at the Mainstreet Alabama Awards of Excellence. These awards recognized the most innovative downtown revitalization projects in our Main Street Alabama communities. The Community Foundation was honored as a Best Community Partner for its work with REVBirmingham to make all four light-art installations possible. Birmingham Lights and REVBirmingham were honored with the Award of Excellence in Planning & Public Spaces.

Birmingham Lights would not have been possible without our visionary Catalyst Fund Donors who believe in the power of philanthropy to drive positive change for our community.


Remy Fund Provides Grants for Companion Animal Organizations

The Remy Fund for Pets and Animal Services announced a record $35,000 in grants awarded to nine companion animal (dogs, cats and horses) focused non-profit organizations serving Jefferson, Shelby and Walker counties. In the past four years the fund has granted more than $100,000 to local animal agencies.

Organizations receiving funds this year:

  • MomaKat Rescue, $6000, (Shelby County) for spay and neuter of free-roaming cats, as well as adoption support for at-risk kittens
  • The Red Barn, $5000, for care of rescue horses used in animal-assisted therapy programs for special needs individuals
  • Sanctuary Animal Rescue, $5000, to provide veterinary care for dogs and cats in the program as well as provide behavioral training to help ensure that dogs and adopters are well matched
  • Walker County Humane Society, $5000, to provide no cost spay/neuter services for dogs and cats owned by low-income families in Walker County
  • Adopt a Golden, $3000, to provide veterinary care for pure and mixed-breed Golden Retrievers that have been abandoned, abused or neglected and help place them in homes
  • Bama Bully Rescue, $3000, to provide care for pit bulls and other “bully” breeds that have been abandoned, abused or neglected
  • Special Equestrians, $3000, (Shelby County) to provide care for the horses used in the agency’s Therapeutic Riding and Hippotherapy programs for special needs individuals
  • Two by Two Rescue League, $3000, (Shelby County) to provide no cost spay/neuter services for dogs and cats in Helena
  • Alabama Pet Registry, $2000, to improve website usability. APR supports owners and rescuers through its website, connecting lost and found pets with their owners

“These agencies are doing amazing work, often with small annual budgets and no paid staff,” said Kim Rogers, Program Officer with the Community Foundation. “They put so many volunteer hours in to this work because they are passionate about the care and well-being of these animals.”

The Remy Fund Grant Committee personally visits with each of the grant finalists. Remy Fund Grant Committee members include: Committee Chair, Debra Linton, Cathy Adams, Beth Franklin, Brenda Bell Guercio, Nancy Hughes, Sandy Logan, James “Murphy” Lynch, Beverly Virciglio, Cameron Vowell and Ken Jackson, ex officio.

“One of the benefits that the Community Foundation and our Remy Fund grant committee offers is in providing guidance and education through our grantmaking process,” says Rogers. “In addition to granting the dollars we also provide information about best practices and recommendations that can help these small agencies raise more funds.”

Ken Jackson established the Remy Fund, a special Field of Interest Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, named for his late dog, Remy, in 2010. 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 this year. Ken, who is an active member of the grant committee says, “These grants change the lives of countless companion animals, and the humans they touch.”

If you share a passion for pets and animal services, you can be part of the Remy Fund by making a gift on our website or by check. The grant cycle for 2015 grants from the Remy Fund for Pets & Animal Services will open for applications March 1, 2015. For more information about grants contact Kim Rogers.



Hand in Paw Finds a New Home


Laura Cardwell, Kim Rogers and Jed

Hand in Paw knows that interaction with professionally trained Animal Assisted Therapy Teams can help to improve the health and well-being of children and adults. Last year, their Therapy Teams made more than 76,000 visits to places like Spain Rehab, Children’s Hospital and Clay Elementary School. This year they have an additional 80 facilities on their waiting list for visits. But with limited space, training new teams to meet these requests has been a challenge.

That’s about to change! This spring Hand in Paw moved to a new home with plenty of space for the unique work they do. And thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation they are going to be able to renovate a part of the new office for training room space. Once the changes are complete Hand in Paw will be able to increase the frequency of training sessions and add more volunteers. Laura Cardwell, Executive Director of Hand in Paw says, “These changes will enable us to increase our volunteer corps and expand our Petscription program so we can introduce our Therapy Teams to more people in the community.”

New building plan_web

Plans for the new Training Room

This week Community Foundation Program Officer, Kim Rogers, got to visit Hand in Paw’s new office and get a tour. It’s a lovely three-quarter acre campus with ample parking, lots of shade and a lush front yard. Kim got to see the proposed training room space that will include a dog-spa, volunteer lounge and space for events before she officially presented the grant to Laura.


For more pictures from the visit go to our Facebook page. You can also visit Hand in Paw’s website for updates on the renovation and to find out more about how to become a permanent part of their new home by supporting their Barkin’Brick Campaign.

The Gift of Gardening Helps Breast Cancer Survivors

Harvest For Health Garden

Harvest For Health Survivor’s Garden

Results from UAB’s pilot Harvest for Health study are in and findings show the benefits of gardening do help breast cancer survivors improve their lives. The pilot study, funded by a grant from the Women’s Breast Health Fund of the Community Foundation, partnered master gardeners with breast cancer survivors and provided the tools and seedlings to help the survivors prepare a home garden. The study showed survivors had improved strength and mobility and ate more vegetables! The study has since been expanded to many counties surrounding Birmingham, along with the Cullman, Montgomery, Mobile and Dothan areas.

To find out more about the Harvest for Health study, click on this article and video from UAB News

Community Foundation awards more than $1.4 million in grants

Donors support grants focusing on two Results for region: Children are successful along the education pipeline & People can lead healthy lives

Holy Family_1The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham has announced $1,499,000 in grants to 23 area nonprofits that focus on two Results: “Children are successful along the education pipeline” and “People can lead healthy lives.” In addition to these competitive grants the Community Foundation also awarded funds to support three proactive initiatives for the community. Support for the grants came from Community Funds and from Donor Advised Funds.

“These grants are made possible by our donors who have entrusted their charitable dollars and legacies to The Community Foundation,” said Chris Nanni president of the Community Foundation. “Thanks to their vision of collective giving we are able to support organizations that drive positive change across our community.”

This is the fourth year of competitive grantmaking using the Community Foundation’s Results Framework, which focuses on grants in line with four key strategies.  According to James McCrary, Vice President of Grants and Initiatives, feedback from grants made in previous year already show signs of progress. For example, a grant made to Holy Family Cristo Rey has allowed them to increase their enrollment and serve more high-risk students through their Corporate Internship Program. To date, 100% of their students graduate and are accepted to college.

Overall, the grants for Cycle 1 of 2014 focus on two parts of our four-part Results Framework: $450,000 to ensure children are successful along the educational pipeline and $849,000 to ensure people can lead healthy lives.

Each grant focuses on a specific strategy to reach the Results our community has said it wants.  Here’s a list showing grants to each strategy, complete with a description of the grants under each Result.

RESULT: Children are successful along the education pipeline


  • 3 grants totaling $240,000 to increase high-quality early learning opportunities for birth to 8-year-olds
  • 2 grants totaling $210,000 to increase high school graduation rates

RESULT: People can lead healthy lives:


  • 10 grants totaling $550,000 to improve access to care for vulnerable populations
  • 6 grants totaling $299,000 to improve nutrition, healthy food access, and increase opportunities for physical activity

Proactive Investment Grants:

  • $75,000 grant to Central Six Workforce Development Council
  • $25,000 grant for Payday Loan Rescue Project
  • $100,000 grant to Woodlawn Innovation Network

To see a complete listing of the grants for this cycle 2014 Grants Overview

The next cycle of grant applications opens on Monday, June 2, 2014, for proposals addressing two Results: “Communities are sustainable, livable, and vibrant” and “Individuals and families are economically secure.”

Birmingham Lights Up

In December, the Community Foundation announced that it would once again partner with REV Birmingham to complete the work it started with the 18th Street light-art installation. This Spring, the Community Catalyst Fund provided a grant for permanent light-art installations in the three remaining underpasses at 14th, 19th and 20th streets. The Community Foundation and our Catalyst Fund donors see this as an opportunity to continue to strengthen the vital connections between the north and south sides of the city center contributing to its growth and vibrancy.

On March 28th, in conjunction with the Birmingham Barons opening game at Regions Field we lit up 14th Street. Titled, ‘Positive Disruption,’ the installation allows pedestrians to disrupt the normal patterns of the spectrum by entering the underpass walkways.

14th Street Walkway

14th Street Walkway

The whole idea behind this underpass installation is to encourage pedestrians to make better use of it when going to the ballpark or Railroad Park.

14th Street Viaduct

14th Street Viaduct

We celebrated the lighting of the 20th Street with dinner under the viaduct on April 25th. The event, called “Lit: A Celebration of Light and Literature,” benefited Desert Island Supply Co., a creative writing and tutoring center for students in the Birmingham area and the REV Birmingham maintenance fund for all four Birmingham Lights installations. Guests enjoyed dinner from Shindigs catering and readings from local poet, Elizabeth Hughey.

Lit: A Celebration of Light and Literature

Lit: A Celebration of Light and Literature

Dinner under 20th Street Viaduct

Dinner under 20th Street Viaduct

The 20th street installation is titled, ‘Solstice’ and changes with each season.

Solstice: 20th Street

Solstice: 20th Street

The final lighting was the 19th Street Viaduct on Saturday, May 10th. It was a ‘Party In the Tunnel” complete with street dancing, food trucks and performance art. More than 200 people turned out for the event that benefited YouthServe programs.

Party in the Tunnel

Party in the Tunnel

19th Street

19th Street

Thanks to the vision of our Community Catalyst Fund donors we have been able to work together with REV Birmingham and the City to build a brighter future for our community.


Railroad Park Receives Another Award


Once again, Railroad Park is receiving recognition as one of the best green spaces in the nation. The American Horticultural Society is honoring the park this spring with the 2014 Urban Beautification Award. This award is given to an individual, institution, or company for significant contributions to urban horticulture and the beautification of American cities. The park is also featured in the March/April issue of The American Gardener.

The award will be presented on the evening of June 5, 2014 during the Great American Gardeners Awards Ceremony andTAG_MA14_cover Banquet at the American Horticultural Society’s headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. The American Horticultural Society was founded in 1922 and is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to making America a nation of gardeners, a land of gardens.

Click here to read more about the award.

April 28 Tornado Survivors Need Your Help

The tornadoes of April 28, 2014, provided a horrible reminder of what individuals, families and communities in Alabama suffered just three years ago. As people take stock of losses from the recent storms, we continue to reach out to serve those whose homes are still in ruins, neighborhoods destroyed and support systems straining to meet continued needs.

The areas of Graysville, Bessemer, Kimberly, Morris and Oneonta were most impacted with damage also being reported in Walker County and Adamsville. Assessment of the damage is in process but the estimate in Jefferson County alone is that 500 families were impacted.

If you are a victim of the storms you can contact United Way of Central Alabama through their 2-1-1 line for information about available resources.

If you would like to donate, you can help to support immediate needs through the Salvation Army and Red Cross as well as other first responders like Christian Service Mission and Hands on Birmingham who are helping people in need of shelter and food.

The Community Foundation is working with local service organizations; other funders and the Central Alabama Long Term Recovery Committee to monitor and address any unmet needs that emerge.

Please check back for updates as we continue to receive information.

Update on 5/12/14: Governor Bentley requested a major federal disaster declaration; on May 2nd, President Obama declared a major federal disaster in Alabama, covering the counties of Jefferson Baldwin, Lee, Limestone and Mobile. On May 8th, Blount County was among five counties added. The declaration covers individual assistance (help to individuals and families with damage to home and other property) and public assistance (help rebuilding public facilities).

Update: Visit the Hands on Birmingham website for more information about volunteer opportunities for skilled and unskilled labor to assist in recovery efforts.

Community Foundation Receives National Recognition for Donor Satisfaction

The Community Foundation is honored to be featured in a new report released by the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) as one of the top community foundations in the nation for donor satisfaction.CEP_cover

The report, What Donors Value: How Community Foundations Can Increase Donor Satisfaction, Referrals, and Future Giving, comes as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the community foundation model. “The accomplishments of community foundations over the past century are significant,” said Ellie Buteau of CEP. “However, community foundations today are operating amid much more competition for donor attention and resources.”

Both Kathryn Corey and Lora Terry are featured in the report that profiles three foundations that were rated particularly high by their donors: the Dallas Foundation; the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham; and the Community Foundation serving Boulder County. Their stories show that community foundations must be committed to communicating with their donors and be responsive to their needs. In addition they should be recognized for their leadership in driving positive results in their region.

“These three foundations are among the highest rated in our comparative dataset of more than 6,000 donors of 47 community foundations,” said CEP President Phil Buchanan. “These findings should provide some encouragement that donors can – and do – value what community foundations are especially well positioned to deliver,” said Buteau.

To view the entire report What Donors Value-Center for Effective Philanthropy

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.