| USA TODAY
Kevin Robinson envisions a “space and place” for African American youth who live in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to heal and grow. He sees it being a 4,000-square-foot community center for graffiti artists and spoken word poets; a place to code a website or plan a protest.
Robinson realized the need for such a place more than ever this year after the death of George Floyd in police custody – a tragedy that took place about a dozen blocks from where he grew up.
In the protests and unrest that followed, he saw his neighbors struggling to make their voices heard. The Black Arts Center he plans to open in February 2022 will be a place for youth to amplify their voices – to heal and be heard.
Now, thanks to a grant from the Gannett Foundation, Robinson is $100,000 closer to making his vision a reality.
30,000 Feet – a nonprofit organization Robinson co-founded with Vanessa Young – has been named one of 16 national grant winners in the 2020 A Community Thrives grantmaking and crowdfunding program. The program is sponsored by the USA TODAY Network’s parent company, Gannett.
“A grant through the A Community Thrives program can be catalytic due to the exposure generated through the initiative. We hope that is the case for 30,000 Feet,” said Sue Madden, director of the Gannett Foundation.
This year’s program generated more than $5.6 million in crowdfunding and grants for nonprofits from 45 states and territories. Those organizations are working to address social issues in their community including education, housing, arts and culture, wellness, and the environment.
“This grant will open a hundred doors for us,” Nieda Abbas told USA TODAY.
Abbas is co-founder of Havenly Treats, a $50,000 recipient for its a paid advocacy workshop program for refugee women. She spoke through a translator – Caterina Passoni, the organization’s executive director and co-founder.
Passoni said the funding was especially critical as the organization and the people it serves continue to feel the effects of the pandemic.
“We’ve been in a fight for our own survival,” Passoni said, noting the organization – which also runs a nonprofit food business – came close to shuttering.
Instead, with help from the grant, they are now ramping up an advocacy workshop program that will pay refugee women a stipend as they work to develop skills and knowledge to build political power.
The Gannett Foundation says other national grant recipients include:
In addition to the 16 national grant winners of A Community Thrives, 180 regional grants are being awarded, starting at $2,500. These grants were chosen by leaders across Gannett’s nationwide USA TODAY Network of newsrooms. All 2020 and past grantees can be viewed at the Gannett Foundation website.
“At Gannett, we take pride in supporting community-building initiatives. Through A Community Thrives, we lend financial support to that purpose and rally communities to champion good and meaningful causes. Congratulations and best wishes to these outstanding grant recipients and their amazing projects,” said Gannett Chairman and CEO Mike Reed.
Since its inception in 2017, A Community Thrives has generated $12 million in grants and donations to community-based organizations across the nation.