Our Approach – Solving and Serving Simultaneously

As our community finds agreement on the way forward and what should be measured, we’ll find innovative ways to continue making both incremental and transformational improvements in education policy and programmatic, nonprofit practice affecting children and families.

We have committed to a deeper focus on education with the expectation that a focus on an “education continuum” or pipeline, could lead to better outcomes and reduce some of the challenges vexing this region. Being prepared for school, succeeding in school, graduating from school, and moving on to secondary education, a stable career and financial independence ultimately address the other issues the community struggles with – poverty, unemployment, crime, affordable housing and food insecurity. Conceivably, if educational needs are comprehensively addressed, impactful change could be seen in a single generation. This would not only be for the individual, but for the community at large – workforce preparedness, strengthened tax base, financial resiliency.

This is why we do what we do.

We place most of our attention and support on the education continuum to strengthen this ecosystem, and we will also welcome opportunities to work directly with organizations to create their longer-term visions that will break through the status quo and lead to meaningful transformation. It is our intention to use the following perspectives in all of our philanthropic leadership and grant making activities:

  • Partnership: Aligning with peers and nonprofits around community issues, supporting impactful programs and services, promoting greater transparency, adaptability and enthusiasm in the funding landscape
  • Innovation: Making multifaceted organization-building investments that cultivate and support an innovative culture as well as innovative solutions to community issues
  • Fairness: Conducting and supporting activities that encourage education policy and expenditure shifts to support better futures for children throughout the Richmond region

Let’s have a conversation about community, together.

Serving the community isn’t just about funding. It’s about time, energy and ideas. Our staff welcomes the opportunity to align and strengthen our community by learning how to best support our nonprofit partners and their activities and initiatives. We are delighted to meet with organizations and engage in thoughtful dialogue that fosters innovation and drives transformation. We are available to answer your questions via email or by phone — see our staff listing for contact information.


Born from a legacy of compassion and empathy, Robins Foundation seeks to continuing realizing our founders’ vision of improving quality of life, and nurturing a greater, stronger Richmond for all. Throughout our organization’s history, we have supported higher education, a passion of Mr. and Mrs. Robins, Sr., as well as early childhood education, a passion of their children. The board agrees that every level on the education continuum is critical to long term regional growth and success. Accordingly, funding has shifted to include the broader education framework as evolving community priorities require new approaches.

We want to partner with organizations working to make the Richmond region the best place for children to learn, grow and thrive.

Potential grantees seeking funding along the education continuum receive community focus funding once per year. Our deadlines for Community Focus grants are listed below; please choose the timing that best suits your organization. Grant applications will be available one month before the submission deadline.

  • Submission Deadlines
    • Early March, for notification in June
    • Early June, for notification in September

The Foundation works to shape an ecosystem wherein every student can receive an excellent education and a solid footing for college and/or career. We will collaborate with neighborhoods, schools, nonprofits and peers to move our region to a point where every child is bolstered by a well-coordinated education system.

The following are regional benchmarks Robins Foundation will adopt as guidance:

  • All children are ready for Kindergarten
  • All children are reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade
  • All students have positive engagement and attendance
  • All students are on grade level in literacy and math at the end of 8th grade
  • All students graduate high school college-ready or with an industry credential

In order to apply for Community Focus funding you must have had a 30-minute phone conversation with a Program Officer. It is through them that you will have the opportunity to discuss in further detail the fit of the organization with our priorities, our grant process, and requirements for funding. Please note these conversations must occur before Friday, February 14, 2020 to be eligible for next year’s first Community Focus cycle.

Please use the following links to schedule time with staff:

Click Here for Courtney Rice
Click Here for Elliot Haspel
Click Here for Tyonka Rimawi

Click Here if you are unsure of your Program Officer


At Robins Foundation we believe strongly that we must connect our past with our future and align closely the with innovation and transformation our founders were known for all their lives. We also believe that our nonprofit friends have the answers to the most pressing challenges our children and families face today.

Awarded annually the Lora M. and E. Claiborne Robins, Sr. Community Innovation Grant (CIG) funds one proposal that celebrates the imaginative, cooperative spirit of Greater Richmond. The award is designed to support a project that addresses unmet community needs or issues in emerging neighborhoods.

Proposals should demonstrate an innovative approach to solving the need, strategic collaboration and the potential for wider, long-term impact on the affected audience.

The 2020 Lora M. and E. Claiborne Robins, Sr. Community Innovation Grant application is now closed. Our $500,000 grant recipient will be announced in early March 2020.

To view a recorded information session, please visit: https://vimeo.com/359100727 



When an organization is ready for a specialized “deep dive” into business planning and organizational change, Robins Foundation funding provides multi-year support for organizational growth in critical operations areas: Governance, Management, Finance, Fundraising/Development (Relationship Building) and Program.

We believe that in order to succeed, nonprofit organizations must be participating members of a strong community of leaders. We will use a number of tools to support leadership development, collaboration and the strengthening of resources “from the inside out” of an organization.


Each member of our Board of Directors has the opportunity to sponsor a limited number of grants to organizations they consider deserving of support. These recommendations are strictly at the discretion of individual Board members. Organizations may not solicit Board members for these funds.


*Robins Foundation grants attempt to improve the life of residents within the city of Richmond and the surrounding counties of Chesterfield and Henrico.

We do not make grants for:

  • Organizations other than 501 (c)(3) nonprofits
  • Individuals, private foundation churches or religious programs, fraternal, social or labor organizations
  • Political parties, candidates or lobbying activities
  • Travel funds for tours, exhibitions or trips by individuals or special interest groups
  • Local athletic/sports programs or equipment, courtesy advertising benefits, raffle tickets and other fundraising or special events
  • Scholarships, fellowships or sponsors for a particular cause
  • For-profit entities

In accordance with our grant making priorities, we generally do not fund:

  • Private schools
  • National health organizations with a focus on single disease
  • Projects outside our geographic reach

If you are unsure whether or not you should apply, please feel free to contact Robins staff.

*Robins Foundation provides funding support to organizations serving the needs of youth within the Tri-Cities when it is in addition to the Greater Richmond area. The Foundation rarely provides funding support to organizations with services that are solely/largely focused outside of our geographic reach.

Our Funding Drivers
Little girls playing

Partnering with nonprofits, peers, and community leaders to achieve measurable results.

Learn of our ongoing relationship with a local community support center

young boy w/ circuit boards

Leveraging innovative programs to drive policy and action to benefit the entire region.

Learn how we supported a state-wide STEM initiative


Virginia Union graduation

Welcoming and empowering all voices to create an environment of fairness and opportunity for everyone to thrive.

Learn how we helped a community tap into their own power to improve fairness