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.
2020 Programs in Review
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
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.
Highlight: NextGen Southside Cohort
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
8 Steps on the Path to Being a Better Ally from Cities Rising Summit
Black History Library
Our Towns by James and Deborah Fallows
Dare to Think Purple by Danielle Kristine Toussaint
Brown Sugar Kitchen by Tanya Holland
Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
The New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive in the Age of Populism by Bruce Katz
Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System by Alec Karakatsanis
My Vanishing Country: A Memoir by Bakari Sellers
In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu
The Presidential Principles: How To Inspire Action And Create Lasting Impact by Anton Gunn
URBANbuild: local/ global by Mona El Khafif
Machine Learning for Hackers co-authored by Drew Conway
Remaking New Orleans: Beyond Exceptionalism and Authenticity co-authored by Sue Mobley
The Innovation Blind Spot: Why We Back the Wrong Ideas - and What to Do About It by Ross Baird
We’re Going to be O.K. co-authored by Dr. Ebony Hilton
We hope that you have enjoyed your experience with us as we have navigated this year and as it comes to a close, we’d ask you to consider making a year-end donation.
Your support not only helps us offer a comprehensive year-round experience but also ensures that our entire community can benefit from impactful programs and open dialogs.
Your donation underwrites all of our Foundation’s initiatives—Economic Vitality, Public Arts, Community Connections, and Social Innovation.
Contributions of any amount are tax-deductible and help us continue building creative community and inclusive innovation in hometowns across the country.