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Community Impact Fund Monthly Spotlight

February 2020



Vanderbilt University has had a longstanding relationship with the Nashville Public Library and its many valuable programs to advance knowledge and literacy in the city. One specific initiative that the Community Impact Fund supports is the Civil Rights/Civil Society program, an important resource launched in 2015 that has helped thousands of groups in Nashville and around the country to talk openly about the complex issues affecting civil rights today. The program uses the archival resources and materials in the Civil Rights Room, a special collection in the Main Library, to inspire these conversations.

“During the 1950s and 1960s, Nashville was the scene of dramatic social change when African American citizens took bold action to integrate the public schools and protested with sit-ins at segregated lunch counters. Today, the Nashville Public Library Civil Rights Room, with its replica lunch counter and dynamic photographic displays, has become a powerful space for reflection and conversation about the issues that to challenge our communities” (CRCS brochure)

In sessions that can last a couple of hours or over a few days, participants examine historic photos, and other documents from the Civil Rights Room Collection. The Room’s staff, trained in facilitative techniques, guide participants in examining challenging narratives and questioning assumptions- with the desire that connections are made between past and current events and the path to a more equitable future is envisioned.

The Civil Rights Room is open to the public during regular library hours.

Groups must make special reservations to visit the Civil Rights Room. Staff members can provide a guided tour of the space, interactive activities, and film viewings. Tours can be tailored to any age group and are typically 1 - 2 hours long.

To learn more about the Civil Rights Room and the CRCS program, please visit

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December 2019

Community impact and the giving season

As 2019 comes to a close, rather than spotlighting a single nonprofit organization, we thought we would take a few moments to highlight the work of the Community Impact Fund and offer recommendations on how we as individuals, as a group can have impact during this season of giving.

Since July of this year, Vanderbilt University’s Community Impact Fund has provided contribution dollars to almost 40 nonprofit organizations with the overall goal to support the nonprofits and causes that improve the lives of those living in the Metropolitan Nashville area and those which are aligned with our institutional identity and values.

The CI Fund (as we refer to it) has as its mission to participate in the life of the community in meaningful ways. Although our funding is limited, Vanderbilt works to contribute to valued, effective and impactful not-for-profit programs that benefit the Nashville community. 

So far this year, the CI Fund has worked diligently to uphold this mission by providing support to a variety of organizations doing a plethora of things like:

  • nurturing creativity and artistic expression in school-aged children
  • working to improve the local public-school system and foster a thriving environment for all children
  • addressing adult literacy
  • helping new Americans acclimate and thrive in their new home city
  • protecting and preserving the natural environment
  • championing civil rights and strengthening community
  • creating safe spaces for women and children
  • enhancing the lives of senior and older adults

During this season of gift giving there are many ways to give and opportunities to participate in giving to the broader community. Volunteering with a local nonprofit, offering professional expertise through nonprofit board service, making a donation to a local church or charity, providing tangible goods to a nonprofit’s Christmas Store or a Holiday Gift List are just a few of the many ways we can all participate in making our local community better and foster our own individual impact.

To learn more about ways to give, please visit the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee at Or visit Hands on Nashville, to find a holiday volunteer project.


November 2019 - YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee



The YWCA’s primary focus is empowering women and girls, to raise awareness of violence against women and girls and to diminish the incidence of violence and racism perpetuated against them. The YWCA offers several programs to facilitate its mission- Domestic Violence Services, Girls Inc, Dress for Success, Family Learning Center and Re-new at the YWCA.

One specific YWCA program that Vanderbilt supports is AMEND Together which is their primary prevention initiative. Vanderbilt graduate and VP of External Affairs, Shan Foster directs AMEND Together and is dedicated to ending violence against women and girls by engaging men and boys to change the culture that supports violence. The program seeks to be a change agent and challenge the culture that supports violence, cultivate healthy masculinity in men and boys, and change the future for women and girls. AMEND Together partners with Metro Nashville Public Schools to provide AMEND clubs across the city where hundreds of boys are provided a safe space to talk about healthy masculinity and gender-based violence. To learn more about AMEND Together and other YWCA programs, please visit

On October 24th, Vanderbilt University was present for the YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee’s annual Academy for Women of Achievement which honors a select group of women and one organization dedicated to improving our community and the lives of women, children, and families living in it. This year one of the honorees is our colleague, Gail Carr Williams, Associate Director of Community Relations. 

Congratulations to Gail and the other 2019 Academy for Women of Achievement Honorees: Beth Chase, Senior Managing Director at Ankura; Hon. Ana Escobar, Davidson County General Sessions Judge – Division 3; Mendy Mazzo, Corporate Senior Vice President at Skanska; Dr. Consuelo Wilkins, MD, Vice President for Health Equity at Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Vicki Yates, News Anchor/Reporter for WTVF-TV NewsChannel 5 and AWA Corporate Honoree, Bank of America.


Pictured left to right: Norma Clippard, Gail Carr Williams, Samantha Williams and Luisa Braden (Photo: Office of Community Relations) 

 October 2019 - Center for Nonprofit Management

center for nonprofit management             

With a core mission of amplifying the impact of nonprofits and their partners, the Center for Nonprofit Management builds nonprofit capacity. The Center offers consulting services, educational workshops and trainings, collective impact programming, networking opportunities, special events, and member resources. Later this week, exemplary nonprofit organizations and their leadership will be honored when CNM holds its 27th annual Salute to Excellence awards program. Two 2018 Salute award recipients the Tennessee Justice Center and the Nashville Food Project are examples of organizations Vanderbilt supported through the Community Impact Fund.

Salute to Excellence brings together more than 1,100 leaders in local business, community, and nonprofit sectors for the country’s largest nonprofits award ceremony. Thirty-nine finalists organizations will be recognized in 13 award categories ranging from an Innovation in Action Award that recognizes organizations that have developed innovative ways to carry out their missions, either on a large or small‐scale to the Community Impact Award that recognizes a collective group of organizations working together to alleviate poverty by impacting multiple dimensions of a system, including policy, practices, power dynamics, and relationships. Honorees receive monetary awards for their excellence provided by award sponsors.

In addition to Salute to Excellence, CNM launched earlier this year an Equitable Opportunity: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Learning Series that Vanderbilt’s Division of Government and Community Relations sponsors in partnership with the university’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

Vanderbilt is committed to supporting the nonprofit sector through its support of events like Salute or the Equitable Learning Series to enhance these organizations which provide services to our city’s most vulnerable and marginalized citizens.

Created nearly two decades ago, the Community Impact Fund was established to provide contributions to Nashville’s 501(c)(3) community-based organizations. Vanderbilt University is dedicated to participating in the life of the local community in meaningful ways. Although the funding is limited, the University works to contribute to valuable not-for-profit programs that benefit the community, programs like those offered by Center for Nonprofit Management members.

To learn more about CNM and its work to amplify the capacity of the nonprofit sector, please visit


September 2019 - Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition


The Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) is a coalition of immigrants, refugees, and allies working to foster fundamental American freedoms and human rights and build a strong, welcoming, and inclusive Tennessee. Since its founding in 2003, TIRRC has grown from an informal network of community leaders into one of the most diverse and effective coalitions of its kind. One of the events TIRRC puts on is the annual InterNASHional Food Crawl - an event the Division of Government and Community Relations has participated in for several years. MORE

The 7th Annual InterNASHional Food Crawl was held on Saturday afternoon, August 31. Members of the Vanderbilt community boarded an air-conditioned bus for a curated tour to explore some of the international restaurants and markets throughout the city’s most diverse neighborhoods in South Nashville.

The InterNASHional Food Crawl emerged from TIRRC’s Welcoming Tennessee initiative and aspires to engage in cross-cultural dialogue in a fun and innovative setting. The purpose of the event is to increase Nashvillians’ familiarity with immigrant-owned businesses and to build relationships and community. Since its inception, the Food Crawl has had approximately 5000 Nashvillians participate.

Representative Vincent Dixie, Councilman-at-Large Bob Mendes and Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor for Administration Eric Kopstain were just a few of the many guests who joined Vice Chancellor Nathan Green and his team for the afternoon of culinary delight – sampling Turkish, Vietnamese, Mexican, Indian and Caribbean cuisine. By all accounts, the food was delicious and despite the heat, everyone enjoyed themselves and even noted favorites that they plan to return visit.

To learn more about the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition please visit,


Vanderbilt Government and Community Relations team and guests posing under the Frida Kahlo mural at Plaza Mariachi, the last stop of the 2019 InterNASHional Food Craw. (Photo: Vanderbilt University)

August 2019 - The Equity Alliance


African dance and drumming, spoken word, an annual update and an awards presentation (to two influential women leaders- former Representative Johnnie Turner and Freda Player-Peters) were hallmarks of the recent 2nd Annual Black Women’s Empowerment Brunch hosted by the Equity Alliance. The Black Women’s Empowerment brunch provided an opportunity for many civic and community leaders to come together to support the work the Equity Alliance has been doing over the last year.  

A Nashville-based nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, the Equity Alliance was founded nearly three years ago by Charlane Oliver, VU'05, and Tequila Johnson to proactively advocate for African Americans and other communities of color.  Through civic engagement, voter registration and voter education the work of the Equity Alliance centers on creating a more inclusive, informed and stronger democracy.

Recognizing a need in Middle Tennessee for a new approach to black voter engagement and education, the founders set out to create through year-round civic engagement, an organization which cultivated relationships with voters and non-voters in new, nontraditional ways. Some of the achievements include developing the #VotingIsLit campaign to insert black culture into outreach strategy and energize voters to be a proud participant of the political process; establishing partnerships with existing organizations and key leaders in the community; and organizing at churches, nightclubs, public housing projects, community events, and through professional and civic organizations.

The Equity Alliance's Accomplishments (2018 – 2019)

  • Recruited 269 volunteers for voter registration, GOTV and voter protection activities
  • Built a coalition of 25 grassroots and statewide organizations through the first-ever statewide Tennessee Black Voter Project
  • Traveled more than 8,000 miles to 56 counties to register 91,000 black voters
  • Knocked on 654,932 doors across the state and made over 230,000 contacts
  • Sent 130,419 text reminders to low-propensity black voters
  • Made 10,000 phone calls to registered low-propensity black voters
  • Deployed 50 volunteers and attorneys to Shelby (Memphis), Rutherford (Murfreesboro), Montgomery (Clarksville), and Madison (Jackson) counties for our voter protection program on Election Day
  • Published the Nashville Voter Guide, resulting in 5,357 digital downloads and 2,660 hard copies distributed
  • Launched a statewide marketing campaign consisting of social media advertising, billboards, in-kind and paid radio air time, print advertising, and marketing collateral totaling more than $20k
  • Launched Black Women for Tennessee, a coalition of 25 black-women-led organization and over 600 black women voters across the state to boost voter turnout for the November election- this coalition is currently 32 organizations and 1,200 women
  • Hosted 22 events, including a gubernatorial debate and town halls on police oversight, faith-based political engagement, and expanding Medicaid- were currently at 54 events
  • Engaged and organized 43 churches through our Souls to the Polls voter engagement program (62 churches statewide) we also analyzed voter data for 25 churches so far

Partnered with Tumblr to host the third #VotingIsLit Community Block Party at the Southeast Library early voting precinct, which attracted more than 250 voters

For more information about the Equity Alliance, please visit


 (from right to left) Associate Vice Chancellor for Community Relations Alfred Degrafinreid, Chief Community Impact Officer Midori Lockett, and the Equity Alliance Co-Founder Tequila Johnson