Three Fairfax City Nonprofits Receive Grants

Three Fairfax City Nonprofits Receive Grants

They each help others and stimulate the local economy.

Cameron’s Coffee & Chocolates’ first cocoa bomb pop up was held last Saturday, Jan. 13, at Games & Comics Pair O’Dice on Fairfax City’s Main Street. Cameron’s gave away nearly 100 cocoa bombs, including to local residents and some members of the City Police Department. Cameron Graham is in the back row (second from left) and her mom, Ellen Graham, is at far right.

Cameron’s Coffee & Chocolates’ first cocoa bomb pop up was held last Saturday, Jan. 13, at Games & Comics Pair O’Dice on Fairfax City’s Main Street. Cameron’s gave away nearly 100 cocoa bombs, including to local residents and some members of the City Police Department. Cameron Graham is in the back row (second from left) and her mom, Ellen Graham, is at far right.

Call it karma or simply good business, but Fairfax City Economic Development (FCED) recently awarded three local nonprofits with grants of $12,000 each. These entities were selected because of the impact they make in the community, as well as the positive effect they have on the City’s economy.

The Neighborhood Connected Grant Program (NCGP) is a brand-new venture of FCED, and this pilot project’s inaugural awards were given to Britepaths, Cameron’s Coffee & Chocolates, and The Heart Leaf Center. The program focuses on community nonprofits whose initiatives stimulate economic growth, promote job creation, advance Fairfax City as a destination for business, and foster partnerships across the City.

“The Neighborhood Connected Grant Program is another example of how Fairfax City defines investment – in people, programs and opportunities,” said Fairfax Mayor Catherine Read. “Supporting our local nonprofits in developing the workforce our community needs, has both immediate and long-term benefits. A thriving economy is one that includes more people with good jobs. Exciting things are happening here.”

The three grant recipients were chosen after a competitive application process. They were selected based on their potential. community impact and their ability to support the goals established by the Mayor and City Council for a thriving economy. 

* Britepaths provides help and a way forward for struggling individuals and families in need in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia. It stabilizes families with supplemental food and financial assistance. It also helps them build resilience through financial education, workforce-development coaching and IT training. Furthermore, Britepaths offers support for children via its Back-to-School drive, Food4Thought weekend food packs, and holiday assistance.

With this grant, Britepaths will establish a new program to advance culinary skills, in coordination with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and Opportunities, Alternatives, and Resources (OAR Nova). This project aims to serve participants in a non-violent, low-level diversion program by providing them with the essential skills to work in professional kitchens. And this spring, it’ll partner with Fairfax City restaurant, Mackenzie’s Tunes & Tonics, for its in-person educational component. 

“Britepaths is excited to launch Pathfinder Kitchen with our partners and with support from the Fairfax City Economic Development Neighborhood Connected Grant Program,” said Britepaths Executive Director Lisa Whetzel. “This partnership recognizes how generosity can transform lives and celebrates the collaborative power of helping individuals pursue a new career path that’s needed in the community. It’s a big step toward a brighter future and a win for everyone.”

Cameron’s Coffee & Chocolates provides employment to special-needs adults within a supported group environment. Knowing firsthand the serious challenges those with intellectual disabilities face when seeking jobs, owners Ellen and Jim Graham began the nonprofit, Every 1 Can Work. 

And for more than 10 years now, they’ve operated it as Cameron’s, named after their daughter, who’s worked there since it opened its doors on Oct. 1, 2013. Offering candies made from Callebaut Belgian chocolate, plus beverages and homemade baked goods made daily, it’s become a popular City destination and has a loyal customer following.

With its grant money, Cameron’s is partnering with various City businesses and offering a free, pop-up, hot cocoa bomb cart. Partnering businesses will offer a discount to anyone who enjoys a cocoa bomb. Cameron’s is also using its social-media following of more than 7,000 to help market City businesses while promoting its cocoa-bomb project. In addition, doing this pop up will enable Cameron’s to provide more working hours to its 23 employees.

“Cameron’s is thrilled to be the recipients of the Neighborhood Connected Grant,” said Lydia Pulliman, program manager at Cameron’s. “We are looking forward to adding value to our wonderful community and supporting local, economic development by partnering with City shops to bring awareness to all the special places that make Fairfax a destination to visit and settle in.”

The Heart Leaf Center is a community-based, mental-health center. It provides mental-health services to help its clients reach their fullest potential. It does so by improving access to high-quality play therapy, mental-health services for children and families via low-cost services and professional education.

Its goal is to give parents the tools they need to help raise strong, socially and emotionally healthy children, while strengthening relationships so they may continue to support, learn and grow together. The Heart Leaf Center also aims to give children opportunities to learn about themselves and develop resiliency and problem-solving skills to navigate whatever obstacles life throws at them. 

It has also partnered with surrounding universities and community colleges to create a workforce pipeline of graduate students eligible for training. The Heart Leaf Center will use its grant funds from this program to lease space in Fairfax City and support the specialized training of graduate students. This money will also enable it to increase the number of licensed providers, plus providers with competency in offering evidenced-based care to economically disadvantaged populations in the region.

“Through this grant from Fairfax City Economic Development, The Heart Leaf Center will place the training and supervision of graduate, mental-health students as a primary focus of this project,” said Sheri Mitschelen, president of The Heart Leaf Center. “This will have the biggest impact on increasing the mental-healthcare workforce in being able to provide quality, mental health and play therapy to underserved children in our community.”

Overall, said Fairfax Economic Development Director Chris Bruno, “The Neighborhood Connected Grant Program allows Fairfax City Economic Development to recognize valued community partners advancing our economic-development mission. Our nonprofit partners aid us every day in our mission to create good jobs, strong businesses and a robust City economy. I applaud the winning grant recipients and thank the evaluation committee for its work on this project.”