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Year in Review


A year when connecting communities and sharing solutions mattered more than ever.

As a tumultuous 2020 comes to an end, we are both thankful and encouraged by the rousing support of our collaborators, partners, community, and friends who have rallied and uplifted our work. We have emerged on the other side with a refined mission and eye toward impact. We could not have done it without you. 


As you explore our Year in Review, you will experience the incredible impact that occurs when diverse communities connect and share, and witness the power of partnership and the beauty of working through adversity to build new programs. And hopefully, you will be excited and inspired by the new programs and expanded initiatives we will pursue in 2021.


We believe finding solutions relies on fostering conversations between multi-sector impact makers and community members, and sharing the innovative (and often undersung) solutions happening across the country. 


On a final note, we are especially grateful and humbled by the more than 200 new donors and champions who motivated us to continue rising—and who serve as our north star.




Paul Beyer 

Executive Director  


2020 Programs in Review

Programs in Review
next gen southside (1)

next gen southside (1)

“NextGen Southside” is a seven-week virtual learning and networking opportunity for emerging leaders from Southern Virginia. Taking place throughout Tom Tom’s 2020 Cities Rising Summit, this initiative is designed in the context of COVID-19, with the Dan River Region’s challenges, assets, and opportunities in mind.

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crs square

A virtual event series exploring critical issues surfaced by the Covid-19 pandemic and 2020 movement for racial justice.

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rr roundtables

Resilience & Recovery Roundtable series with entrepreneurs, artists, and educators who meet virtually beginning in May to share solutions and experiments with peers in their sectors from cities across the nation.

Com Com Live!

Com Com Live!

Com Com Live! Series elevated the many individuals in our community who championed the community spirit and rose to the challenge of supporting others through food justice, community arts, and justice reform.

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CYSK square

Charlottesvillians You Should Know, a new addition to the ever-popular Com Com Newsletter spotlighting the unsung heroes and impact makers that keep our city running and thriving every day.

Cannabis Square

Cannabis Square

Legalize It, a partner series with Virginia NORML, explored the pathways to equitable legalization and implementation of what could be a new major industry in the Commonwealth featuring Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring.

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UWExposedSquare (1)

Exposed, a partner series with the United Way of Greater Charlottesville, dug deep into the inequities exposed by COVID-19 and offered solutions and ways communities can begin to remedy past injustices.


By the Numbers


Sessions over 23 weeks of programs.


Speakers from communities across the country


leaders and impact makers  participated










 of attendees cited programs they participated in will influence their decision-making moving forward

 of attendees feel more empowered to make an

impact in their community.

of attendees met participants during our programs with whom they will continue to collaborate.


views of recorded videos from impact makers looking to build thriving hometowns


hours of recorded inspiring conversations and impactful dialogs watched


Impressions of our foundation’s content from viewers across the globe. 

Highlight: Cities Rising Summit

Cities Rising
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In 2020, our Summit went virtual. For seven weeks, Sept 15 - Oct 30, we focused on themes of health equity, justice reform, small businesses, art, education, data, and small cities, we convened multi sector leaders to discuss solutions for community healing.

Capitals of the Confederacy, Under New Management

On September 15, 2020 we hosted the first session of our Cities Rising Summit, Capitals of the Confederacy, Under New Management. Mayor Levar Stoney of Richmond (VA), Mayor Steven Reed of Montgomery (AL), and Former Mayor of New Orleans (LA), Mitch Landrieu discussed everything from the impact athletics had on centering their discipline, to how the 2020 movement for racial justice has reimagined systemic inequities. 

Innovative Ways to Support Business Owners

Two weeks later, we hosted September Hargrove of JPMorgan Chase, Carla Walker-Miller of Walker-Miller Energy Services, and Wendy Jackson of The Kresge Foundation for Small Business Week. They unpacked the challenges and solutions faced by their organizations while investing in the future of Detroit—especially in business communities that have been historically underserved.

How Can Major Art Institutions Be Good (Or Even Great) Community Partners?

Arts Week followed and it was beautiful that left us feeling inspired and optimistic for our Arts community as they navigate the current economic climate and adapt methods of social innovation. Dominic Willsdon, of Virginia Commonwealth University, Sammy Hoi of Maryland Institute College of Art, and Ruby Lopez Harper of Americans for the Arts shared how they are building their organizational philosophies around accessibility, collaboration, and community action.

We Are Being Graded: A Conversation with Kaya Henderson

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed dramatic inequities across cities, sectors, and services, but perhaps none with more immediate and dramatic ramifications than those in K-12 education. Kaya Henderson of Reconstruction was joined by Bob Pianta of the University of Virginia to discuss how communities can band together to build a stronger, fairer system of education – even in the face of adversity.

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Highlight: NextGen Southside Cohort

NextGen Southside

“NextGen Southside” was a nine-week virtual learning and networking opportunity for emerging leaders from Southern Virginia. Taking place during our Cities Rising Summit, this initiative was designed in collaboration with stakeholders from the Dan River Region to leverage their assets, and opportunities to address the COVID-19 crisis. Learn More.

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Highlight: Virtual Roundtables

We believe that one of the most impactful ways to contribute to your community is to simply show up. Our Roundtables Series offered an opportunity to share stories and solutions to issues persisting in communities across the nation. Typically live and in-person, we shifted our Roundtables to a virtual format this year opening the door to even more participation. Learn More.

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United Way

The Exposed Series with United Way dug deep into the inequities exposed by COVID-19 and offered solutions and ways communities can begin to remedy past injustices. 

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Virginia NORML

Legalize It, with Virginia NORML, explored the pathways to equitable legalization and marijuana in the Commonwealth featuring Governor Ralph Northam.

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Explore other roundtables we've hosted with impact makers from around the country on topics of social justice reform, health equity, and economic vitality.


Highlight: Community Partnerships

Whether it was long standing public art initiatives, like the 7th annual City Art Bus, or brand new initiatives designed to connect the Charlottesville community, we recognized that our hometown faced its own unique challenges during Covid-19. Our goal was to raise awareness for ongoing work to bridge divides in the community and support new innovative initiatives being developed in a time of crisis. Learn More

What's Next?
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A Look to 2021

Change is year-round, and now, so are we. In 2021, we will push to dive deeper into our exploration of the issues we explored in 2020 and expand these conversations throughout the year. Not only will this increase the opportunity for critical discourse, but also allow our dialogs to be of the moment – we believe real-world problems should be talked about in real-time. 


Kicking off 2021 is a new conference designed to build more equitable communities through inclusive workforce development and workplace action. The two-week conference, From Classroom to Boardroom, will feature a series of talks addressing the systemic issues minorities face which hinder opportunities for economic and societal advancement, beginning in the classroom all the way to the boardroom. Learn More.

Classroom to Boardroom

What about our core community celebration - the festival? We’re not sure when our in-person programs will return as we want to ensure that we can all convene safely and respectfully. But trust us, when we can see you all in person, it will be a festival unlike any other we’ve had before - and we can’t wait to see you there! Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear about our plans for a hybrid festival programming coming soon.


After the success of pilot cohorts and city teams in 2020, our goal is to connect even more impact makers to discuss the issues facing their region in 2021. Each cohort selects an issue(s) of focus – anything from economic recovery or healthcare, to police reform or affordable housing --- and convenes with the people on the ground already making waves. Not only are their voices amplified, but they are provided with resources and a network to lean on. Learn More.


Renewed Commitments

Social Innovation

For cities to thrive, all residents must first have equal access to health, education, opportunity, safety, and equal justice under law. We seek to elevate the voices of equity leaders here in Charlottesville and across the country by convening a platform to share solutions to the structural issues plaguing communities.


During our Cities Rising Summit, we hosted a conversation between some of the foremost leaders in the health industry, Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, Dr. Rochanda Mitchell, Dr. Kenosha Gleaton, and Dr. Ebony Hilton, to discuss the factors at the root of these disparities: access to care, quality of care, the prevalence of chronic diseases, structural racism, and implicit biases. 

Economic Vitality

A robust economy and an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem are essential components of a thriving hometown. Tom Tom will continue to highlight the work of leaders from across the country who are shaping dialogues about how to create opportunity-filled communities. 


During our Cities Rising Summit, we hosted entrepreneur Nisha Blackwell, founder of Knotzland Bowties, who explored sustainable pivots for small businesses surviving the pandemic as part of Bowties, Crystals, Headshots, and Restaurants: Creative Pivots & The People Who Support Them. 

Public Arts

Public Arts reimagines our city as a blank canvas.Through our public art initiative, we activate underused, unexpected spaces throughout the city to infuse art and creativity into everyday life.


These public installations extend the creative spirit and serve as year-round inspiration for Charlottesville locals, like Julia Bailey, a junior at Charlottesville High School, and winner of the 2020 City Art Bus with her bus “Cats.”

Community Building

Convening Community Partners helps cultivate a more connected social impact community. Each year Tom Tom supports organizations that contribute to equity, opportunity, and creativity in our hometown. Dozens of workshops, programs, and initiatives at the annual Summit & Festival are the direct result of collaborating with these partners.

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Com Com highlight.png

We also send out our biweekly Charlottesville-centered newsletter, Com Com, which highlights the incredible work of our community members including the new Charlottesvillian's You Should Know and Com Com Live! programs.  

Let's Keep Rising


This has been a year for listening, learning, and understanding the life experiences of those around us. We invite you to explore these resources to connect with others in your community while educating yourself about ongoing issues and finding ways to help alleviate the stressors of systemic obstacles.


Code for Charlottesville focuses on improving the lives of Charlottesville residents. They work with local government to fix local services, utilize open data to improve citizen knowledge and work for the betterment of all.


Cville First Gen was started to address the potential needs of First-Generation College Students (FGCS) within the Charlottesville community.


Legal Aid Justice Center partners with communities and clients to achieve justice by dismantling systems that create and perpetuate poverty. 


Lending Hands acts as a liaison with support agencies in Charlottesville to meet the needs of all ex-offenders in the community. 


REAL Dads coaches incarcerated fathers and fathers who want a stronger relationship with their children to have responsible, empowered, available and loving relationships with their families.


Resilience Education stops cycles of incarceration by improving employment outcomes and reentry success through high-quality business education.


The Fountain Fund improves the lives of the formerly incarcerated through lending, financial education, and community support. 


United Way of Greater Charlottesville connects our community, enabling individuals and families to achieve their potential through its three impact areas of school readiness, financial stability, and connected community.


100 Black Men of Central Virginia advocates for the elimination of the achievement gap of African American males in grades K-12.



Afrikana Independent Film Festival (Richmond, VA) is a space that celebrates, elevates, and further validates Black stories, Black voices, and Black lives.


Carolina Justice Policy Center (Raleigh, NC) empowers communities to bring change to North Carolina’s justice system.


GOODSTOCK Consulting (Charleston, SC) is a DEI consulting firm of healthcare professionals working to build strategic, equitable and sustainable impacts for underserved communities. 


Heard (Alexandria, VA) fosters creativity, confidence, self-worth, and life skills in adults who are underserved, unknown, and unheard by offering them artistic expression through experiential instruction and participation.  


Just City (Memphis, TN) pursues a smaller, fairer, and more humane criminal justice system in Memphis, Tennessee. 


MORTAR (Cincinnati, OH) aims to create diverse communities by enabling historically marginalized entrepreneurs to access the resources needed to start and run successful businesses. 


Nolef Turns, Inc. (Richmond, VA) fights to reduce recidivism by helping those with court and justice involvement successfully thrive post-conviction.


Sidekick RVA (Richmond, VA) - is a team of local business leaders who volunteer to offer valuable career advice and tools to help others succeed. 


Virginia Student Power Network is a grassroots network of young organizers from universities across Virginia who are building power for democratic, diverse, and accessible education on campuses and beyond.



Austin Justice Coalition (Austin, TX) is a Racial Justice Group that educates and builds community power for people of color who live in Austin, Texas that need support, community, and liberation during a time of systemic injustice in America.


BlackTIDES (National) exists to provide community, and to support the professional growth and technical development of Black professionals in the data space.


Campaign Zero (National) Data-driven policymakers dedicated to ending death by police force by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability.


Civil Rights Corps (National) are leaders in landmark litigation and high-impact advocacy that empowers communities to change the unjust legal system.


The Fortune Society (New York, NY) helps individuals with justice involvement rebuild their lives through innovative services and advocacy.


Reinventing Reentry (National) works to reshape society's perception of former inmates so they have equal opportunities for employment, housing, and education by building empathy in organizations and communities.


She Thinks Purple (National) a women-powered creative agency that partners with social entrepreneurs and nonprofit executives to tell inspiring brand stories and change the world.


National Birth Equity Collaborative (National) creates solutions that optimize Black maternal and infant health through training, policy advocacy, research, and community-centered collaboration.


Vera Institute of Justice (National) fights for justice reform built on bedrock American values and grounded in action at the state and local level.