NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY)- A local organization is kicking off the new year with a big donation from the co-founder of a popular investment app.
Baiju Bhatt is from Poquoson and is the co-founder and chief creative officer for Robinhood.
Bhatt gifted the Hampton Roads Community Action Program $500,000 to support underserved residents in the Hampton Roads, which HRCAP helps.
In a statement, Bhatt says he benefited from a strong and supportive community while growing up in Poquoson.
“Now, I want to pay it forward by supporting education and training programs to help residents of Southeastern Virginia achieve greater financial independence,” he said in the statement.
10 On Your Side spoke with Edith G. White, the CEO of HRCAP, who says the gift is rare because they usually receive funding through government grants.
“It was a surprise,” said White. “We were delighted because of the work we’ve done as a community action organization for over 50 years They’re noticing. They’re paying attention through our website. Through word of mouth. We have a track record to meet the needs of the community.”
HRCAP has 23 programs that help residents of all ages by trying to solve the root causes of poverty. They provide resources from HeadStart programs to job training.
During the pandemic, the nonprofit also provided 1,000 tablets for their students to learn at home with as well as set up free WiFi buses for those in the community that needed to be digitally connected.
White says the grants they get are more restrictive with how they can use money, so this gift will allow them to help more of their programs, including their Two-Gen Pilot program, which is an initiative through the state.
“We might be servicing a child in our HeadStart program but their mother or father needs assistance with housing, jobs, or returning to school. This has been an intensive program where the focus is on the whole family. There may be a grandparent in the home,” she said.
White believes the gift from Bhatt is an example of what it means to be a community and hopes more people will also give back.
“It is wonderful when someone, who has lived in the community, has recognized that and paid it forward. This is exactly what this gift means. When you achieve, look back and see how your achievements not only benefit you and your family and your investors but how the entire community can benefit from the success that has been achieved,” she said.
Each year, HRCAP holds its fundraising event, Community Builders Awards, to recognize those who are making changes in the community.
This year’s event will be held in May.