2021 Spirit of Philanthropy Awards

Philanthropy West Virginia is EXCITED to announce the winners of the 2021 West Virginia Spirit of Philanthropy Awards. Congratulations to the five 2021 honorees!

The West Virginia Spirit of Philanthropy Awards are the state’s premiere awards recognizing the philanthropic efforts of private individuals, collaborative projects in communities and regions, professional leaders of foundations and corporate giving programs. You can check out the previous winners over the last 15 years here.

The 2021 Spirit of Philanthropy Awards Ceremony has been postponed due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Please check back later for updates about our plans to honor the 2021 Winners.

2021 Winners

Charleston Creativiy Connections logo

The 2021 Critical Impact Award goes to Charleston Creativity Connections for their work in supporting West Virginia artists, connecting local businesses to the arts scene, and creating opportunities for the community to get involved in the arts. Although it is a relatively new collaboration, Charleston Creativity Connections has already hosted many events, launched a mini grant program to support artists impacted by the pandemic, and brokered major commissions between businesses and artists.

Bob Boone
Bob Boone

The 2021 Staff Leadership Award goes to Bob Boone of the Bernard McDonough Foundation. Bob leads the McDonough Foundation in their statewide grantmaking and collaborative efforts to develop systemic, replicable solutions in focus areas like substance use disorder recovery and supporting youth in foster care. In addition to his job, Bob is involved in giving through the Parkersburg Rotary Club, the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation investment committee, and the Boy Scouts of America.

Reed Byers
Reed Byers

The 2021 Individual Philanthropist Award goes to Reed Byers, for his work as a peer recovery coach, and his volunteering with Friendship Kitchen, the Healthy Kids Running Series and more. Through the GiveMore Connections and their How to Save a Life Program, Byers has worked as a peer mentor and completed many charity fundraising challenges.

The Elm Grove store of the local chain Riesbeck’s Food Markets donates more than 1800 pounds of food each week to those most in need through the Catholic Charities Neighborhood Center. The Neighborhood Center estimates that they feed more than 150 people with these donations, through their food pantries and food delivery service. Particularly in the past year and a half, food donations have become a lifeline for the most vulnerable, and this local Riesbeck’s team are our 2021 Corporate Responsibility Award winners.

Gen. Ken Gray

The 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award as an Individual Philanthropist goes to Gen. Ken Gray. In 2012 General Gray and his wife Carolyn established an emergency fund at WVU to help students experiencing unexpected financial hardship, which became especially critical last year, and he was involved in efforts to grow that fund in response to the pandemic. He is a donor and supporter of the WVU Veterans Legal Clinic at the WVU College of Law. General Gray has served as a board member and past president of the West Virginia Bar Foundation, and has been involved with numerous nonprofit entities in the area of law, education, and community support. 

The Awards Descriptions

The Critical Impact Award celebrates local grantmaking, big and small. The awards will go to the organizations/collaborations that demonstrates creativity, innovation, and sustainability in their grant project. Nominations will be accepted for programs that demonstrate bold vision and strategic initiative by foundations, coalitions, corporate grantmakers, or government grantmaking organizations.

The Individual Philanthropist AwardThe Individual Philanthropist Award honors an individual exhibiting an extraordinary commitment to philanthropy, regardless of the size of their donations. Individuals may have demonstrated their commitment to philanthropy through their personal giving, their company’s philanthropy, engaging others to give, serving as a board member of a philanthropic organization, or other philanthropic engagement. This person served as a catalyst in philanthropy in their community, and exhibited creativity and leadership. 

The Staff Leadership Award honors an individual exhibiting an extraordinary commitment to philanthropy in the state of West Virginia. Nominations will be accepted for staff of grantmaking foundations and corporate giving. This staff member excels in his or her role by demonstrating exceptional commitment and leadership in the field.

The Corporate Responsibility Leader Award recognizes outstanding companies, of any size, who are actively donating, volunteering, and making a difference in local communities and the state of West Virginia. Successful nominees are those that demonstrate a strong commitment to community, leadership and equitable practices in their grantmaking.