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Protecting and Restoring Children

Memphis Child Advocacy Center Uses Funds to Strengthen its Ability to Serve Abuse Victims


(Jul. 1, 2019) A 2014 survey found that two out of 10 adults in Shelby County had been sexually abused as a child—meaning that incidents of sexual abuse among children were occurring here twice as frequently as the national average.

The need in Memphis for a resource like the Memphis Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is clear. The CAC’s need for a resource like the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis is just as clear.

The CAC’s mission is simple but urgent: to serve children who are or may become victims of sexual and severe physical abuse through prevention, education, and intervention. The CAC is a critical clearinghouse of services for children and families who have experienced this kind of abuse, as well as a resource for helping community members detect, report, and prevent sexual abuse.


“It’s all about safety, healing, and justice for victimized kids,” says Virginia Stallworth, the CAC’s executive director (pictured, left). When founded in 1992, the Memphis CAC was only the fourteenth organization of its kind in the nation. As a relative pioneer in the movement, the CAC has always been reliant on the support of donors. While the organization has always had a strong fund development operation, its involvement with the Community Foundation has allowed its work to expand in critical ways that may otherwise have been impossible.

Stallworth points specifically to the Community Foundation’s expertise and success in managing the assets of nonprofit organizations like the CAC.

“We have been an investor in the Community Foundation for a long time,” Stallworth says. “When we ran a capital campaign in 1999, one of our donors asked us to begin an endowment at the Community Foundation. Today we have five funds there—our endowment and four other reserve funds.”

Relying on the Community Foundation’s investment expertise to grow the size of its reserve funds secures the sustainability of the CAC’s work.

“That security of our partnership with the Community Foundation ensures that there will be no interruption in the services we provide to traumatized kids, even if there were to be some unexpected interruption in fundraising.”

The CAC has received several discretionary grants from the Community Foundation over the years that have strengthened the organization. Through its partnership with the Community Foundation, the CAC has benefited from leadership coaching, renovations to its downtown headquarters, and new online marketing tools—allowing its work to reach more new supporters.

In total, the CAC has received $5.5 million from the Community Foundation, including gifts made by individuals and families through donor-advised funds. The Community Foundation’s staff also allows for processing gifts of stock, which can be difficult for smaller organizations to handle.

While the CAC’s work is unique, the Community Foundation’s strategic partnerships with nonprofit organizations throughout the Mid-South is common. Seventy-five area nonprofits have more than 150 discrete funds, providing a firm financial foundation on which their work can thrive.

Reflecting on the Community Foundation’s legacy and potential for the next 50 years, Stallworth is encouraged, even as she engages in some of the most harrowing work in our city. “There are so many resources in our city that the Community Foundation is deploying to organizations like ours. It’s all about the good joy of philanthropy and what we can do in this community to make things better for all of us.”

Excerpted from the 2019 Community Foundation Annual Report