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UPDATE 3: News Alert : RVCC Accepts Grant From The Dominion Foundation (7.1.16)

[ 1 ] June 30, 2016 |
Screengrab courtesy of Free Nelson : Free Nelson broke this information above on their Facebook page earlier Thursday. BRL has confirmed that RVCC has the money.

Screengrab courtesy of Free Nelson : Free Nelson broke this news on their Facebook page Thursday afternoon. BRL has confirmed that RVCC has the money.

Scroll to the bottom for additional updates.

Nelson County, Virginia

The Rockfish Valley Community Center has apparently accepted a grant to the tune of $20,000.00 from The Dominion Foundation, an arm of Dominion Resources, which is spearheading the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

In a phone conversation with RVCC director Stu Mills, Mills told BRL publisher, Yvette Stafford that The Dominion Foundation initially turned down RVCC’s grant request and instead suggested the center reach out to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which has a budget for community projects. Citing the community’s distrust of the ACP, Mills suggested The Dominion Foundation would be a better donor, given its mission. The Foundation reconsidered, Mills said, and granted RVCC the matching funds. As word of the money exchange has leaked out, Mills said he has been fielding concerns from the community and currently has an email out to RVCC board members requesting feedback.

Above: Free Nelson’s post breaking the news of the grant.

Mills says he is planning to release a formal statement by the end of business today.

We will follow this immediately as details become available.

Update 5:35 PM 6-30-16:

At around 4:30pm, RVCC Executive director Stu Mills sent me the following email, a portion of which is redacted because of a mention to an official press release that remains embargoed.

Hi Yvette –


I appreciated your call earlier, particularly the fact that you reported on our conversation accurately on your website.  


We have had only a couple of calls about this in addition to yours, but there has been some strong response that we have read on social media regarding the Dominion Foundation grant, and first, we would like to respond to a couple of inaccuracies that are floating around.


There have never been any “strings attached” to the Foundation grant, and no quid pro quo.  In response to our request for a comment from the Foundation regarding the grant for a planned press release, the Foundation president just said this:  “The Dominion Foundation is proud to partner with the Rockfish Valley Community Center and support the great work it is doing to provide a vital and thriving community center that serves as a safe and caring place for people of all ages and walks of life.” There have been no other discussions of PR collaboration or further affiliation …


… Also, the discussion on Free Nelson’s FB page regarding “challenging the community” to match the Dominion Foundation money was not suggested by us.  It was brought up by RVCC member Priscilla Sonne in my phone conversation with her this morning, and I told her that we would certainly (and gratefully) consider that as an alternative method of funding the Green Initiative if such an effort was undertaken by our community.


There are few foundations with the resources to, or the interest in, funding bricks & mortar projects such as the Green Initiative.  We approached the Dominion Foundation (not vice versa) for assistance to match a challenge grant that was already received, and sought their help because 1) its mission is, in part, to “assist non-profit organizations to increase their energy efficiency,” and 2) because we were aware that it had helped fund a similar window-replacement project at Madison House at UVa several years ago.  Dominion Foundation was one of a half-dozen funding organizations we approached for matching funds.


Our Board is very sensitive to the reactions we have received, and what we’ve read on line, and will meet next week (date and time TBD) to discuss our options going forward – and I think it is safe to say that all options are on the table.  


Any comments or alternative suggestions that you or your readers would like us to consider in our deliberations can be sent to the BOD care of my email address.


Thanks, Yvette


– Stu

Stu’s email address is g-dot-stuart-dot-mills-at-gmail-dot-com.

Also worth noting: In my (Yvette) conversation with Stu earlier today, I told him Blue Ridge Life would suspend any and all donations and advertising associated with RVCC if it takes and uses money from The Dominion Foundation. Our reason is simple. We did the neighborly thing years ago when we launched the magazine and extended advertising support to RVCC, which was struggling as a non-profit to renovate the building and expand its services to the community. Knowing how many lives the proposed ACP has disrupted, and the blatant disregard to property rights such a project entails – not to mention the potential ecological fallout that could occur – I cannot in good conscience enable a relationship to continue between RVCC and Dominion Resources, a company that seeks to greenwash an important staple  of our community. — Yvette Stafford

Update 11:15 PM 6-30-16:

Free Nelson just sent us this statement:

While we are disturbed by the controversy surrounding the RVCC’s acceptance of grant money from the Dominion Foundation for their Green Initiative project, we certainly understand the struggle to fund a non-profit committed to serving our community.

The Rockfish Valley Community Center has been a safe haven of sorts and a regular meeting place as we struggle through the major impacts that a large, high pressure pipeline may have on the health and safety of our community for years to come. We encourage members of the community to give to such a worthy project. That being said, we feel the RVCC should have understood the risk associated with applying for and accepting a grant from the Dominion Foundation.

Free Nelson remains committed to support the large number of private property owners who stand to lose so much, and our community as a whole. We hope the RVCC will continue to play a vital role in Nelson.


Update 1:15 PM 7.1.16 :

This afternoon we received the additional following statement from RVCC concerning the Dominion Grant.

The Truth About the Dominion Foundation Grant and Your RVCC

• We have an old building with $35,000 in 2015 utility bills.  This prompted our $52,000 Green Initiative to reduce our energy costs by refurbishing the geothermal system, completing insulation, and replacing 61 windows.

• Funding sources for the Green Initiative:

Perry Foundation:  $21,317 (ONLY if matched by other sources)

Dominion Foundation Grant:  $20,000

Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge:  $6500

Schaeneman Foundation:  $1617

Community Contributions:  $2650

• The Dominion Foundation Grant is restricted to the replacement of our 78-year-old windows.

• The DF grant allows us to meet the requirements of the Perry Foundation $21,317 matching grant and complete the fundraising for our Green Initiative.

Your RVCC Board of Directors is meeting this Thursday, July 7, at 5:30pm.  As always, these meetings are open to the public.

To read RVCC’s mission statement, please visit

Sara Taylor

Operations Manager

Rockfish Valley Community Center


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  1. Irene Leech says:

    Even if there are no obvious strings attached, Dominion will use the funding as an example of it helping the community. The ACP may have even transferred the money to the foundation for the grant. I know funding is hard to come by but to accept such a small sum at this point in the ACP approval process is wrong. You can bet it will be used to point out how wonderful the company is to the community. Sorry intended or not, it’s a community sellout to ask for and accept this money right now.

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