Twelve Organizations in South Hampton Roads Receive $93,000 in Grants to Address Race and the History of Race in the Region

Virginia Humanities and the Hampton Roads Community Foundation announced $93,000 in grants to twelve nonprofit organizations in South Hampton Roads focused on projects exploring race and the history of race in the region. This one-time grant program is the third and final phase of “Beneath the Surface,” a collaboration between Virginia Humanities and the community foundation exploring the many ways that race has shaped and continues to shape this region and its communities. The goals of the program are to advance personal understanding and community dialogue across the region. Earlier phases of the “Beneath the Surface” project included a two-day community residency with Dr. Beverly Tatum, author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race, and a series of community conversations called “Unmasking Hampton Roads.”

“We’re honored to collaborate with the Hampton Roads Community Foundation in a partnership that centers community voices in Hampton Roads,” said Matthew Gibson, Virginia Humanities’ executive director. “This round of grants marks the conclusion of the ‘Beneath the Surface’ project, but we hope the important conversations it inspired will continue and we look forward to continuing our support of projects like these in the future.”

“The grants help nonprofits put racial equity into action broadly throughout the region,” said Deborah DiCroce, president and CEO of the community foundation. “The funds help residents build upon lessons learned from the past and work toward a more inclusive and equitable community for all.”

The twelve projects supported through this grant program cover a range of topics including housing and health disparities, segregationist laws and policies, the ways African immigrants and refugees experience race and racism, and the stories of the thirty-eight students who desegregated Virginia Beach Public Schools in 1962. Several of the funded projects are targeted specifically toward local youth.

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Beneath the Surface Grants Awarded in February 2021:

American Red Cross of Coastal Va.*: $10,000

A series of quarterly workshops and a symposium addressing public health disparities in Hampton Roads with a special focus on the challenges posed by Sickle Cell Disease.

Armed Services YMCA of Hampton Roads*: $2,000

Creation of a “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Library” designed primarily but not exclusively to serve the children of junior enlisted households representing all five military branches in South Hampton Roads.

Clever Communities in Action*: $10,000

A program in which local youth recruited from Norfolk and Virginia Beach will explore the history of segregationist laws and policies through close, mentored study of the book The Color of Law. The focus is on the St. Paul’s and Seatack neighborhoods as reflections of “racially explicit local, state, and federal laws and practices” designed to maintain segregation.

Communities in Power*: $2,000

A public forum/panel discussion focusing on the history and continuing impact of housing disparities in South Hampton Roads as manifestations of broader segregationist policies and practices.

Eastern Virginia Medical School: $10,000

A series of community workshops using art therapy techniques to explore the history and continuing impact of systemic racism in South Hampton Roads through the eyes of participants.

Hampton Roads ETA (WHRO)*: $8,000

A series of public conversations presented on multiple platforms (radio, print, web, podcast, and in-person) exploring the history of segregated education in Virginia and the United States as experienced within the communities of South Hampton Roads.

The Hermitage Museum & Gardens*: $5,000

A public symposium and creation of a digital archive on the history and impact of African American garden clubs in Norfolk; the influence of race within the city’s garden and horticultural community; and past and current inequities in public gardens and green spaces.

Tidewater African Cultural Alliance (Teens with a Purpose)*: $10,000

A virtual performance tour combining dance, music, song, and spoken word forms designed to “bridge the gap between Africans from the Continent and the Diaspora,” using the shared experience of race and racism to promote understanding of and among African-descended peoples in South Hampton Roads.

United Jewish Federation of Tidewater: $10,000

A community conversation and a “collaboratively created” theatre production on racial history, anti-Black racism, and the relationships between inherited traumas and current events in the Tidewater Virginia region and beyond.

Virginia Beach City Public Schools*: $6,000

A multi-faceted project, including oral history interviews and artifact collection, designed to document and celebrate the history of Princess Anne Training School—later, Union Kempsville High School—and the 38 alumni who first integrated Virginia Beach Public Schools in 1962.

Virginia Beach Library Foundation*: $10,000

A series of community conversations, designed for both children and adults, on the “history and current reality of racial injustice in Hampton Roads and Virginia Beach,” using books by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds as springboards for discussion.

Virginia Stage Company*: $10,000

A four-part series of community conversations on racial diversity and the arts in South Hampton Roads, designed to take place “semi-concurrently” with performances of a new theatrical production titled “The Earth Remembers”. This work was commissioned in 2019; was written and informed by members of the local BIPOC community; and explores the history of the region from 1619 to housing disparities and gentrification of neighborhoods in the present day.

About Virginia Humanities
Virginia Humanities is the state humanities council. We aim to tell the stories of all Virginians—or, better yet, find ways for people to tell their own stories. We want to connect Virginians with their history and culture and, in doing that, help bring us all a bit closer together. Virginia Humanities is headquartered in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia, but our work covers the Commonwealth. Founded in 1974, we are one of fifty-six organizations created by the National Endowment for the Humanities to make the humanities available to all Americans. To learn more visit

About Hampton Roads Community Foundation
The Hampton Roads Community Foundation is southeastern Virginia’s largest grant and scholarship provider. Since 1950 it has awarded more than $301 million in grants and scholarships to make life better in Hampton Roads. Learn more at

About Beneath the Surface: Race and the History of Race in South Hampton Roads

Beneath the Surface is a civic engagement partnership between the Community Foundation and Virginia Humanities. The goal of this initiative is to deepen awareness of the role race and racism play in issues confronting the region, and to lay groundwork for positive transformation.

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