When public schools and non-profits were facing deep budget cuts, and non-profits were losing longtime supporters due to the crisis in 2008, our community needed to come together to support the organizations who now had even more individuals that needed their services. The GIFT Program was created as a large scale collaborative fundraiser. While most participants were focused on financial needs, we at Community Knights knew that our community’s needs ran far deeper.
Technology, for all of its benefits, had placed most of us in silos. People had lost touch with others in their broader community. We needed to get people out of those silos and working side by side with a diverse group of neighbors who had the same love of our community and the same hopes and dreams for their children. This has been achieved by having individuals volunteer together from all over the community. People are working with peers, and the energy is amazing. No longer were volunteers burned out or drained at the end of a fundraising event; they were energized. They were a part of something bigger.
Collaboration is also a GIFT Grant requirement. We consider it a growth goal and monitor each GIFT participant’s engagement within the community. It is important to allow organizations to have room to build these partnerships; we are here to strengthen their efforts not define them. Below are a few examples of collaboration that have been listed in GIFT Grant Applications.
“After receiving our first grant from Community Knights, the grant committee challenged us to extend ourselves to non-profit organizations outside of the school system. We are currently partnering with the Virginia Peninsula Food Bank, doing a food drive to give back to our community. Our Passage Music Boosters Executive Board is also currently searching for other opportunities for us to team up with non-profit organizations that benefit our community.”
Passage Middle School, Newport News Virginia
“In August 2017 Triple Helix donated robotics equipment to a newly-forming robotics club and makerspace at Woodside High School. Lead teacher Deborah McDonough stated “I wanted to express our sincerest thanks for allowing us to visit your club and for the wonderful donation of robotics equipment… I think it would be wonderful for our students to meet others who have been so successful in the competition arena… I am so tickled to see that the competition robotics community is such a welcoming one! Our students are very anxious to get started and everything you have done to help us get off the ground is so appreciated!”
Intentional Innovation, Newport News Virginia
“Youth Volunteer Corps has also established a new partnership with Commonwealth Catholic Charities (CCC) that will allow refugees to serve alongside YVC youth volunteers in order to help students who are new to the country acclimate to the community in a positive setting through meaningful projects.”
Youth Volunteer Corp, Newport News Virginia
Collaboration is Key
BUILDING ON SUCCESS
Collaboration is truly the key to a thriving community. We are all interconnected. Our goal is to create an environment where non-profits see one another as partners serving the entire community, not competitors fighting over scarce resources. At some point every member of our community will be in need of services, will be vulnerable. We all need each other.
Within the GIFT Program we look for continued growth in the area of Collaboration. We feel it is important that we let each organization find their own path in this area. It is an expression of both strengths and needs within their neighborhood. We can provide ideas, but true collaboration and partnership is a two way street and based on a foundation of trust. This is built during each interaction we have with one another. The COACH Program provides another opportunity for us to collaborate directly with our partners in the non-profit and public school community as we work to provide support and opportunities for individuals with intellectual & developmental disabilities to find ways to give back to their community through volunteering.