ChangeX, supported by a Community Empowerment Fund award from Microsoft, launched the Southern Virginia Community Challenge on Wednesday, a $35,000 fund for local community groups, schools and organizations that want to create thriving communities across the region.

The Challenge aims to support up to 20 teams to get new projects kicked off for the benefit of the local community.

People can choose from 12 ideas that have already proven to have a positive social or environmental impact, both in the US and Europe.

Among the ideas groups can choose from are “Pollinator Partnership,” a program to help neighborhoods protect pollinators to ensure healthy ecosystems and food security, “Cycling Without Age,” a Danish program that allows older people in nursing homes to maintain healthy connections with the local community through regular bicycle rides or a “Girls Who Code” club, a free extra-curricular program teaching girls about computer science in a fun and safe environment.

Upon applying to the Challenge, each team has 30 days to build a small team and design an action plan to be eligible for seed funding. The Challenge grants range from $500 to $5,000, depending on the selected idea.

In 2019, ChangeX, supported by Microsoft, funded more than 50 community teams in Arizona and Chicago to start environmental projects through the Arizona and Chicago Sustainability Challenges.

Pearl Ramsey, who took part in the Chicago Challenge, used her $2,000 funding to develop a community garden by starting a Grow it Yourself Group on the Southside of Chicago.

“This is hands-down the most accessible approach for everyday people who want to do good. This funding was instrumental in facilitating positive community relations; we could put more energy into the garden, officially meet, solicit more volunteers, and plan our expansion. It was a miracle,” said Ramsey.

In the communities where Microsoft operates datacenters, their mission is to establish a positive presence in the community, contributing to long-term social, economic, and environmental health.

The Microsoft Community Empowerment Fund, which provides funding for the Challenge, is an initiative of the Microsoft Datacenter Community Development team.

The partnership with ChangeX, through the Southern Virginia Community Challenge, empowers the local community to address social and environmental issues in a novel and fun way.

“I can’t wait to see which ideas will take off and flourish here in Southern Virginia,” said Jeremy Satterfield, Microsoft TechSpark Virginia manager and local community lead for datacenter community development.

The Challenge is open to people living across Mecklenburg, Halifax, Charlotte, Luninberg and Brunswick counties and seed funding will be allocated to applicants on a first come, first served basis.

Learn more online at

From The Gazette Virginian