Investor Spotlight: Hampton Roads Community Foundation

The Hampton Roads Community Foundation is the largest grant and scholarship provider in the Hampton Roads region and one of 30 community foundations in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The foundation is a key partner in the local economy, and a Premier Investor in the Hampton Roads Alliance.

The Hampton Roads Community Foundation just celebrated its 70th anniversary. As the state’s first community foundation and the largest in southeastern Virginia, they connect generous people to the causes they care about, which had led to more than $324 million in grants to help nonprofit organizations, provide college scholarships, and incubate and launch important civic initiatives.

Children’s Mental Health event in 2019. CEO Deborah M. DiCroce is in this photo (center) along with (l-r) Dr. Daniel Spencer of CHKD, Dr. Gregory Fritz, past president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and CHKD President & CEO Jim Dahling

Although the Hampton Roads Community Foundation officially began in 2010, when the Norfolk and Virginia Beach community foundations merged to one single community foundation for the region, the group’s philanthropic history dates back another six decades to 1950. It was then that Norfolk civic leaders donated $2,350 to create The Norfolk Foundation, Virginia’s first community foundation. The new foundation was regional from the start — set up to be a permanent endowment to help residents of Norfolk “and a 50-mile radius.” Similarly, the Virginia Beach Foundation started in 1987 to build a permanent endowment for Virginia Beach and surrounding communities, before merging with the Norfolk Foundation to create a unified organization, committed to serving all students and nonprofits across southeastern Virginia.

The Hampton Roads Community Foundation’s success in the region is closely tied to the fact that the 757 is home to philanthropists from all walks of life – including corporate partners – who understand the importance of giving back and growing together. As a convener, the community foundation brings together people from different corners of the community to address the region’s most significant challenges – whether that is youth mental health, regional economic competitiveness, racial disparities, or the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The community foundation works to leverage relationships with leaders in all major business sectors to help solve these problems and more.

Students at Princess Anne Middle School participating in a science program funded by a HRCF grat and run by the Virginia Aquarium.

A workforce research study commissioned by the community foundation in 2019 found a need for a talent alignment strategy that will plug the gap that exists between the skills local employers need and those that the available workforce possesses. The foundation recognizes this as the biggest growth opportunity for the local economy. It has partnered with the Hampton Roads Alliance as well as fund special initiatives through Reinvent Hampton Roads and the Hampton Roads Workforce Council for example, to train and expand the talent pipeline. These strategies help employers and workers thrive professionally and personally.

The community foundation’s vision is a thriving community with opportunity for all. By investing in the Hampton Roads Alliance, the foundation helps to foster regional collaboration to ensures that business, civic and philanthropic partners are working together to cultivate an inclusive and vibrant community, where everyone has a chance to succeed.

A former Foundation scholarship recipient Carol Martinez (center) who is now a teacher and football coach in Virginia Beach.

Other notable recent achievements and initiatives from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation include:

  • The Hampton Roads Community Foundation awarded nearly $1.5 million in scholarships for the 2020-2021 academic year, assisting 445 students to pay for college. 36% of the recipients were first-generation college students and 406 were undergraduates. Read more.
  • In December 2020, the community foundation received a $1 million award from Facebook due to its work in racial equity: Read more.
  • In March 2021, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC) awarded the Tidewater Distinguished Merit Award to the Hampton Roads Community Foundation for its longtime humanitarian work. Read more.

For more information on the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, its work in the local community and how you can get involved, please visit

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