William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust
2022 in Review
From Daniel W. Drake, Interim Executive Director (2021-2022)
As the Charitable Trust welcomes new Executive Director Nancy Cable, we’re pleased to share how our 2022 grants are supporting regional partners dedicated to improving lives in their communities.
The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust made its first grants 58 years ago. As its grantmaking has evolved and increased in the intervening years, it has gone from a single focused purpose to a wider emphasis on education, followed by a broadening of its scope to include arts and culture, health and human services, and community development. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a seismic shift in the nature of the Kenan Charitable Trust’s philanthropy.
As the pandemic rolled out across the country the Trustees mandated that the weight of the Charitable Trust’s resources should be directed to addressing basic human needs, such as food insecurity and housing insecurity, as well as the plight of those who did not have access to resources that would provide them with the mobility necessary to achieve success in their lives and for their families. In the Charitable Trust’s 2022 fiscal year, that direction manifested itself in different ways.
On the food front, the Charitable Trust increased its support of a core group of food banks that it has provided funding assistance for since 2012. It addressed housing insecurity through support of Habitat for Humanity of Orange County NC’s Weavers Grove project. It has taken almost twenty years to assemble and develop a parcel in Chapel Hill that will include 101 “Habitat” homes and 130 market-rate homes, one of the largest projects ever undertaken by a Habitat chapter. Ground for Weavers Grove was broken in the fall of 2022 and, as the installation of the community’s infrastructure is being completed, home-building will begin in mid-2023. The Charitable Trust also worked with housing organizations in the Richmond, VA, area that help fend off homelessness and that assist economically challenged homeowners in assuring that their housing remains habitable, including one, project:HOMES, which is upgrading a neglected mobile home park.
In developing additional programming in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Charitable Trust, through Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR) programs, focused on providing the formerly incarcerated with the basic tools to become productive members of society, thereby reducing recidivism. A similar program for women operating in the Florida state penitentiary system, Ladies Empowerment and Action Program Inc., has attracted sufficient note that the leadership of Miami-Dade County has asked it to create a somewhat parallel program for women being released from the county’s correctional system.
Boys and Girls Clubs provide opportunities often unavailable elsewhere for young people to hone their skills, both social and intellectual that can lead to better outcomes for them in terms of academic and employment opportunities. In 2022, the Charitable Trust concentrated on developing relationships with Boys and Girls Clubs in Virginia that offer innovative and proven programs to improve the potential trajectory for young people launching into adulthood.
While many of its grantees are newly engaged, the Charitable Trust has been supporting Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL, periodically since 1975. Flagler College is widely know as providing an excellent four-year, primarily liberal arts, college education, while making affordability a hallmark. Henry Flagler’s former Ponce de Leon hotel is the centerpiece of the campus but has suffered from deferred maintenance, to the point where its dormitory spaces are a risk to student retention. Under dynamic new leadership, Flagler has embarked on a substantial capital campaign to refurbish the hotel and other spaces, as well as to develop new academic programming. The Charitable Trust’s substantial campaign grant, with a required three-for-one match, is expected to enable the college to reach its campaign goal two years ahead of schedule.
It would be remiss not to mention two disaster relief grants made in fiscal year 2022. One was for victims of Hurricane Ida around New Orleans in September and the other was for the victims of the tornado and related flooding in Western Kentucky in December. In both instances, the Kenan Charitable Trust used the local Community Foundation as probably the most effective and efficient means of rapidly distributing the grant funds.
As I write this letter, the Charitable Trust has a new Executive Director, Nancy Cable, who during her illustrious career has been both a renowned academic administrator and a well-regarded foundation president. As Dr. Cable works with the Trustees to lay out the strategic direction for the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, the only certainty is that the future path will demonstrate a combination of the traditional and the innovative which has marked the Charitable Trust’s almost six decades as a leader in philanthropy. It has been my honor to shepherd the Kenan Charitable Trust through this period of transition. It will be exciting to see what plays out from here.
Please enjoy the vignettes of some of the Charitable Trust’s grantees which follow. They represent some of the brightest beacons attempting to solve some of our country’s most entrenched problems.
The healthiest communities are those that promote democratic participation, invest in sustainable development, provide career and economic opportunities for their residents, and have a commitment to equality and social justice. One of the Kenan Charitable Trust’s primary focus areas, Community Development, addresses issues of need, collective engagement, and awareness, striving to improve the welfare of the community. Three of the sub-categories of Community Development are housing needs, workforce training/development, and justice—both social justice and equal justice for individuals. During fiscal year 2022, the Trust discovered a wealth of opportunities to provide funding for these needs in the state of Virginia.
The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust has a long tradition of investing in multisector partnerships, including those that enhance and expand workforce development. We seek opportunities to build capacity among organizations focused on helping unemployed and underemployed people gain marketable professional skills, and then connecting them with industries in need of skilled workers. Economic growth and prosperity are vital to healthy communities, and by collaborating around shared goals and interests, these partnerships benefit individual workers, build organizational capacity, and address societal needs.
Safe, affordable housing is a basic human right, affecting one’s physical and mental wellbeing, quality of life, access to education, and economic opportunities. The Kenan Trust recognizes that affordable housing has a ripple effect on the health of a community, from setting children up to succeed in school to creating a better-equipped workforce.
The odds are stacked against people who’ve been incarcerated. The Kenan Trust supports organizations that are taking a holistic and comprehensive approach to helping individuals reenter society and become successful, contributing members. These efforts are typically multisector, with partner agencies and organizations working in tandem to develop best practices for reducing recidivism and improving lives.