ForKids receives $2.5M grant from Jeff Bezos fund for families living through homelessness


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, has given a nonprofit in Norfolk $2.5 million to help families living through homelessness and poverty.

ForKids announced Thursday it had received $2.5 million from the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund. The money will help build additional shelter space and expand shelter services at the Center for Children and Families, which is under construction in Chesapeake.

“Hearing ForKids had received the Day 1 Families Fund grant is something you always hope you will get as a nonprofit executive. I am ecstatic for our families, my team and this community,” Thaler McCormick, CEO of ForKids, said in the news release. “This grant brings ForKids another step closer to completing a $25 million capital campaign to fund two new regional centers and expanded services. New buildings do not, by themselves, help families stabilize long-term. We have to put services in them, and that is what this grant does.”

McCormick says the grant is a game-changer for the organization.

“This is the email every non-profit CEO wants to get,” said McCormick. “They are looking for organizations that are moving the needle and I think that’s what we’ve been really trying to do over last 30 years.”

ForKids said the grant will allow the three-decade-old nonprofit to fund and expand shelter services such as remedial education programs for children, as well as a housing crisis hotline that serves 14 urban and rural localities in Southeastern Virginia. 

“We have been able to grow because of the investment the community has made in us. Fifty percent of our budget is community-funded, so … what we are today is what the community has helped make us.”

McCormick says the organization still needs $2 million to complete the facility, which is another step toward the nonprofit’s mission: ending homelessness and creating solutions.

ForKids has been working to find new sources of money to fund the new, larger facility in Chesapeake.

“Let’s do more of that, lets do it faster, we have an investment from someone like Bezos, so let’s pick up the pace,” said McCormick.

ForKids serves about 70,000 people each year. It has been in existence for more than 30 years and started as a grassroots shelter in Ocean View in Norfolk. More than 50 percent of the nonprofit’s operating budget is funded by community donations.

The Day 1 Families Fund gave $98.5 million to 32 nonprofits that assist families living through homelessness. A nonprofit in Richmond, St. Joseph’s Villa, also received a $1.25-million grant from the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund.

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