The Alleghany Highlands is known as friendly and welcoming and as a region of Virginia where residents have a deep love of place. The Alleghany Foundation operates with a belief that the commitment to the region by its residents increases opportunities and creativity and makes engaging the full spectrum of community members essential to building a stronger future for the region. Some of the ways the foundation seeks to engage with and learn from community members include the following:
- Grant Applications – In submitting applications for funding, organizations are not only seeking funding but they are also lifting up important community needs and helping foundation board members learn about different aspects of the community. Eligible grantees themselves are governed by community-led boards. In preparing proposals, applicants are asked to describe how they too have engaged the community in their work.
- Grantee Convenings – The foundation periodically convenes its grantees as part both of disseminating ideas and of soliciting ideas from community members.
- Community Convenings — The VISION 2025 Initiative, for example, came from a convening in early 2013 sponsored with other community groups and individuals interested in strengthening the region’s economy.
- Board Membership – The foundation is governed by a twelve-member volunteer board of directors. These volunteers commit time and energy in all aspects of the organization’s work – from grant review to investment management. All board members live within the service area of the foundation, and they, themselves, represent diverse community perspectives that help guide the foundation’s work.
- Special Initiatives – The foundation engaged an experienced, local, former educator as a consultant to help build deeper conversations with the two local school systems about what makes excellence in the classroom. Based on interviews with teachers and administrators at area public schools, this engagement has led to funding of professional development and a journey for the foundation in learning about different models educators identified elsewhere in Virginia and in other states.