Our Story

Since 2007, the Foundation has demonstrated vision and resilience while navigating the underlying issues that hinder community development. We develop strategic action that has measurable impact on the community. Through creative and entrepreneurial approaches, the Foundation has developed a collective orientation to build the personal, physical, and financial assets of those who seek opportunities to improve their lives. Strategic alliances allow the Foundation to foster collaboration to utilize scarce resources more effectively across the Valley.

TAF provides two primary functions to advance the lives of underprivileged citizens in the Roanoke Valley. First, we provide strategic planning, fundraising and board development for valuable health and human service organizations strengthening them to continue their critical work in the Valley. In addition, the Foundation works directly with directors and board members to focus on building capacity and encouraging collaborations across organizations.

LEAP was developed in response to the growing levels of poverty in the Roanoke Valley. For the past four years, The Advancement Foundation (the parent organization of LEAP) has been working with area social and human service organizations providing them with capacity building expertise to help them maximize their community impact. Our work has provided us at TAF with a broad perspective of the growing needs of underprivileged citizens in the Roanoke Valley. We have witnessed firsthand the local population’s rapid growth in need for critical relief services. One example of how we determined the need is the partnership we have had with a local food pantry, Manna Ministries. When we at TAF first partnered with Manna it was serving an average of 600 families a month; when LEAP was formed in 2009, Manna was serving an average of 1000 families a month. In 2009, we surveyed nearly 300 individuals standing in line at the food pantry to determine what they assessed as the most critical needs to changing their lives. From these responses we built programming that address those issues.

The Advancement Foundation’s strategic leadership retreat transformed our organization on every level. It exceeded my expectations and invigorated our entire board! we are now able to move forward with a well thought out strategic plan that focuses on action and accountability. Our board members are more engaged and have true ownership of our future.” Kate Ellman, Executive Director, Project Access of the Roanoke Valley

We at TAF believe in the philosophy of teaching a man to fish. Providing critical services to the underprivileged is an extremely important task, but along with this work, efforts need to be made to impact the cycle of poverty itself. Seeing the increased need at Manna, we at TAF wondered if there was something more we could do. To this end, we worked with Manna to survey their clients and determine the sources of their poverty and ascertain what their greatest needs were. In evaluating the response, we concluded that there were several critical factors in creating and perpetuating the cycle of poverty:

  1. Physical Health issues
  2. Mental Health issues
  3. Culturally accepted hopelessness
  4. Limited Exposure to opportunities
  5. Lack of mentors and advisers
  6. Low self esteem.

From these survey results LEAP was born. The founder and Executive Director of TAF, Annette Patterson has a background in social work and working with mental health issues. She is also a huge believer in empowering women. So, in response to the survey, TAF began developing a program to impact the cycle of poverty which would be aimed at local woman in need of life improvement.

Keeping to the “teaching them to fish” philosophy, the LEAP program engages its women in ways that not only provide them immediate help, but also build them up for the future. We at LEAP provide hands on help and advocacy. We work with them to develop comprehensive actions plans, and engage them in practicing new behaviors and methods until they become innate. If a person is never exposed to the possibilities of life or led to develop confidence, they will never be able to change their lives for the better. The LEAP program Lifts them out of their current situation; Educates them in various aspects of life; Advocates for their personal change; and helps them Proclaim who they truly are.

In June 2011, the Foundation launched the Charity Cottage Thrift Store to provide earned income for multiple nonprofit organizations. The Thrift Store will include both retail and online facets that will be managed and maintained by our LEAP participants. Cooperating nonprofits will provide merchandise and volunteer support in exchange for a percentage of the profit from sales, in turn increasing their capacity and sustainability.