Grants Awarded in May 2015

The long-term economic viability of the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia remains a top priority for The Alleghany Foundation.

In its latest round of grants totaling over $1.5 million, The Alleghany Foundation has awarded $345,000 to the Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation. Of that total, $310,000 is earmarked over three years toward implementing a strategic plan for economic and community development. It focuses on staffing to help implement this strategic plan, including recruitment of a new executive director.

“Because a key priority in the Foundation’s strategy is economic transformation, the Foundation seeks to work through other organizations that are focused on specific needs or opportunities in the area,” commented Jack Hammond, President of The Alleghany Foundation Board of Directors. “Developing a strong and effective economic development entity is very important to the region, and the Foundation’s board appreciates the hard work of the AHEDC board and other funding partners.”

Mark Taylor, chairman of the Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation, said he was extremely pleased to learn that The Alleghany Foundation is joining other major funders — including the governments of the city of Covington and Alleghany County — to support this strategic plan. Taylor added that he was excited to move forward following a period of retrospection and examination of AHEDC priorities and its role as the economic development office in the Alleghany Highlands.

“We seek to support sustainable economic growth that is balanced and diverse, provide quality jobs for the current and emerging workforce, enhance the quality of place in order to attract companies and retain workers, provide the needed tax base and align with state target industries and those desired by local stakeholders,” he said.

The Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation’s new strategic plan contains four core elements: supporting growth of existing businesses, fostering growth of entrepreneurship, continuing industrial recruitment and marketing the area’s excellent assets along with providing leadership and advocacy for other elements necessary for strong economic development.

“I am convinced that the AHEDC can be the guiding coalition and the right organization to achieve our desired economic transformation for the Alleghany Highlands while supporting the area’s Vision 2025 approach,” Taylor said.

A second grant of $35,000 will allow the AHEDC to engage a professional search firm to attract its new leader.

Economic transformation is one of five focus areas included in a 2009 strategic plan developed by The Alleghany Foundation. Additional focus areas include educational attainment, health and wellness, leadership and civic vitality and community capacity.

Other Spring 2015 grants that fit the economic transformation focus area include $62,320 to Alleghany County, which is spearheading engineering work for Vision 2025 industrial sites, $90,250 to the Alleghany County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism for enhancing historic tourism assets in the Highlands and creating and updating design guidelines for downtowns in the region, and $4,250 to the Valley Conservation Council for a dark sky summit.

Areas in the Alleghany Highlands could be targeted as astro-tourism destinations, and this grant would fund planning and implementation of a dark sky summit, where professional and amateur astronomers detail the potential and requirements for promoting such an endeavor.

The May grants also include $200,000 to the city of Covington over two years for construction of an Alleghany Highlands Firefighting Museum that would be located on Hawthorne Street across from the main fire station. The museum, some 15 years in the making, will be designed and constructed by the Virginia Tech Design/Build LAB students with the design phase occurring in 2016 and construction in 2017.

“We thank the members of The Alleghany Foundation Board of Directors,” said Covington Fire Chief Emeritus Jerry Burks. “We’re pleased that the grant was approved. We’re hoping that it will be an asset for tourism in the area.”

In the focus area of educational attainment, The Alleghany Foundation granted $239,687 to the Alleghany Highlands YMCA for its Early Learning Program.

This grant provides funds that will allow the YMCA to participate in the Virginia Preschool Initiative with its focus on high-quality childcare and additional matching funds as well as scholarships for working families and materials for classroom enhancements.

“This grant continues important, ongoing efforts to provide high-quality childcare in Alleghany County and the city of Covington,” commented Alleghany Highlands YMCA Executive Director Jennifer Unroe. “We recognize that it makes tremendous impact on the community by supporting working families.”

The Alleghany Foundation also continues to support the efforts of area law enforcement agencies. This grant cycle includes funding for the Alleghany Highlands Drug Task Force programs “Knock, Knock” ($14,382) and “If You Cook It, We Will Come” ($33,500).

In “Knock, Knock,” officers will be provided with equipment required by OSHA to enter a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory to execute a search warrant, while funding for “If You Cook It, We Will Come” will provide tools and equipment that will increase the safety and well-being of officers while decreasing the amount of time needed to process and clean up a clandestine lab.

Alleghany Foundation Executive Director Mary Fant Donnan said methamphetamine is a crippling addiction that destroys families and communities.

“The board supports the collaborative efforts of area law enforcement to combat illegal drugs in the Highlands,” she added.

Donnan said The Alleghany Foundation Board of Directors considered 31 grant applications totaling $6,237,701 during the Spring 2015 grant cycle. Ultimately, 22 applications totaling $1,570,738 were approved.

“It was a very competitive cycle, and the board had to make some very difficult choices,” Donnan added. “At the same time, the many projects reflect tremendous levels of community volunteerism and leadership and forecast very positive steps for the Alleghany Highlands.”

Since it was established in 1995 with $35 million in proceeds from the sale of Alleghany Regional Hospital, The Alleghany Foundation has maintained a vision to be a resource for and partner with eligible organizations to make the Alleghany Highlands a civically engaged, prosperous region that builds upon its assets to produce opportunities for all its residents.

“As a result of the wisdom exhibited by the founders of The Alleghany Foundation, the Foundation’s assets have, if compensating for inflation, essentially held the same value as the value of the assets that were original to the sale of the hospital,” Hammond said. “However, over that 20-year period, the Foundation has granted over $49 million, including the most recent grants.

“The board looks forward to continuing to support the community’s efforts to improve our future and reach our community’s potential,” Hammond concluded.

For more information about The Alleghany Foundation, please visit

AgencyProject NameFunds GrantedFocus Areas
Alleghany CountyEngineering Work for VISION 2025 Industrial Sites Working Group$62,320Economic Transformation
Alleghany Highlands Arts CouncilMatching Funds & Residency Activities 2015-16$93,901Community Capacity
Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce & TourismEnhancing Historic Tourism Assets in the Alleghany Highlands$50,000Economic Transformation
Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce & TourismCreate/Update Design Guidelines for the Downtowns of Alleghany Highlands$40,250Economic Transformation
Alleghany Highlands Drug Task ForceKnock Knock$14,382Health and Wellness, Community Capacity
Alleghany Highlands Drug Task ForceIf You Cook it, We Will Come$33,500Health and Wellness, Community Capacity
Alleghany Highlands Economic Development CorporationEconomic and Community Development (over three years)$310,000Economic Transformation
Alleghany Highlands Economic Development CorporationStrategic Development$35,000Economic Transformation
Alleghany Highlands YMCAYMCA Early Learning Program$329,687Education Attainment
Alleghany Humane SocietyCommunity Spay/Neuter Fund$6,000Community Capacity
Alleghany Humane SocietyShelter Manager Salary$18,148Community Capacity
Charles P. Jones Memorial LibraryTechnology Upgrades and Improvements$13,003Education Attainment
City of CovingtonJackson River Sport Complex Soccer Field Lighting (Matching Funds)$300,000Health and Wellness
City of Covington with Town of Iron GateMobil Data Terminals$51,364Community Capacity
COPE Food PantryFood Pantry Donation$5,000Health and Wellness
Dabney S. Lancaster Community CollegeDSLCC Summer Institute for Area Teachers$20,000Education Attainment
Garth Newel Music CenterAlleghany Mountain String Project$20,000Education Attainment
Joint School Systems – Alleghany County & Covington City Public SchoolsPre-service Keynote Speaker 2015-16$9,500Education Attainment
Mountain Soil & Water Conservation DistrictGrowing Healthy Kids$35,860Health and Wellness
The Clifton Forge CompanyLandscape Enhancements for the Clifton Forge School of the Arts$3,397Community Capacity, VISION 2025
Valley Conservation CouncilDark Sky Summit$4,250Economic Transformation
Total Amount Awarded$1,570,738