The Robins Foundation Blog

Rants, Ramblings & Revelations

The Early Bird Gets the Worm – How My Journey to Philanthropy has Been a (Bird) Calling

In elementary school, if you asked me about robins, I’d show you my hidden talent for bird whistling. If the topic came up again in my middle school days, I’d cite my biology project on bird anatomy. Come high school, the word would incite a long spiel about my anticipation of study at the prestigious E. Claiborne Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond. A couple weeks ago, when I discussed Robins, it was simply in reference to my first real-world job!


I’m Kelly Chopus with the Robins Foundation. I see you Richmond! Sow-u-bona!   I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, ally and partner. I am also a grant maker. I’d like to tell you a story.  It is a story of equity.   We need more bricks. What do I mean by this?

There’s a smarter way we can work together to have lasting impact on our region

At the end of September, I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 Exponent Philanthropy (formerly the Association of Small Foundations) conference in Chicago, IL. This conference provides an opportunity to “brush up” on best practices in philanthropy, learn about innovative initiatives happening around the country and network with other funders to learn different ways

The Future is Now

Governor Coding Announcement

At a recent Franklin Military Academy event, the energy was palpable among students and community leaders from the public and private sectors as Governor Terry McAuliffe signed historic legislation making the Commonwealth of Virginia the first state to require that computer science be integrated at all K-12 levels. I was captivated by the excitement I could

Millennials and Philanthropy; Why Should I Care?

Millennials and philanthropy

Being the new kid on the block is always a bit hard, whether you’re literally moving to a new neighborhood or just starting a new job. When you’re at the bottom of a figurative totem pole it’s easy to doubt that you made the right choice. Especially when that choice, or in my case an

How We See It: Repositioning and Continuing the Robins Foundation Journey

Claiborne Robins, Sr. and his wife Lora M. Robins were engaged, generous and visionary leaders whose philanthropic work touched many lives and institutions throughout the Richmond community. The compassion, wisdom, creativity and integrity that guided their efforts continue today through the foundation that bears their name. Our work seeks to honor their legacy and extend the impact of their investment in Richmond’s future.

Over the past two years, The Robins Foundation has emerged from its tradition as a valued yet largely behind-the-scenes player on the philanthropic scene. Building on its legacy of supporting the Greater Richmond community for more than a half century, the Foundation has begun to assert its leadership, harness the power of its resources to spur collaboration, inspire innovation and propel foundational change in this region.

Politics and Philanthropy

I spent a few days in our nation’s capital last month, learning, listening and meeting new people. Politics and philanthropy seem to be on a collision course with destiny – and it promises to be a train wreck of epic proportions.

My time was spent visiting with leadership of the philanthropic sector associations Robins Foundation supports as members: the National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) and the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO for short). In addition, I met with Frontline Solutions, a unique consulting firm with values rooted in community, invested leadership and equity and inclusion. Their firm helps people and organizations learn, engage and grow. The hot topic for all three organizations was how a divisive presidential election could negatively impact philanthropy and the human and social service sectors in particular.

Building an Infrastructure of Opportunity in Richmond

The final Lora M. Robins Speaker Series event featuring David Dodson, President of MDC, focused on the current state of economic mobility both nationally and here in Richmond. If you need a primer on economic mobility watch this short video from the Pew Charitable Trust’s Economic Mobility project:

Six disruptive trends having an impact on our education system

The second Lora M. Robins Speaker Series event focused on the implications of demographics and geographic disadvantage on public education in Richmond. In his presentation, Dr. James Johnson, director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at the University of North Carolina, focused on six disruptive trends that are impacting education.

What can Richmond learn from Communities in Schools?

Dan Cardinali Communities in Schools

We kicked off this year’s Lora M. Robins Speaker Series with a great discussion and presentation lead by Dan Cardinali, President of Communities in Schools (CIS). CIS, founded in 1977 is the nation’s largest dropout prevention organization which serves more than 1.3 million students each year, including students in the Richmond metro area. CIS Richmond supports students in 41 Richmond City and Henrico County high poverty neighborhood schools, by working with 160 partner agencies in our area to eliminate barriers to success and keep kids in school.