Growing up in Northern Virginia, Correy Faciane (B.S.’16/H&S) volunteered with Eddie’s Club, a nonprofit recreational center that provided events and activities for disabled youth. He returned in 2013, on a trip home from Virginia Commonwealth University, and was disheartened by what he found.
“The organization was completely different. I was taken back by the condition of the facility, the lack of equipment and outdated technology that the kids were playing with really surprised me. ” he says. “I sat down with a couple of their board members, as an 18-19-year-old kid, and I asked, ‘How can I help you? After being a volunteer for an extended amount of time and seeing the organization at its best form, I know there is something I can do.”
He discovered that Eddie’s Club was in dire need of funding and could not afford to update the center’s resources. It was this moment that sparked an idea that would lead to the creation of Hearts of Empowerment, an Arlington, Virginia, nonprofit that builds charities through multi-tiered support and innovative project planning” “Our organization is dedicated to assisting other nonprofit organizations with their mission. By doing so, we are helping countless communities around the world move in a positive direction,” says Faciane, who founded Hearts of Empowerment and serves as its CEO.
Unfortunately, before the organization could get off the ground, Eddie’s Club had to close its doors. “While we were disheartened to hear about this, it only inspired us to further pursue our mission and ensure situations like these never happen,” he says.
Tell us more about how Hearts of Empowerment supports other nonprofits.
We do project planning for charities through the strength of collaboration. We specialize in partnerships, as we try to bring awareness and funding to organizations that need help getting to that next level. We exist to bridge the gap between the Red Crosses and the Leukemia Research Foundations of the world, big charities that are raising millions of dollars, with the charities that still have a really important cause but don’t have the resources to spread that level of awareness. That’s where we come in; to give them the power to continue fighting. We do this by creating projects for them, consulting and giving them creative content to advance their marketing efforts.
“In 2019, we had our first event and raised $40,000 for an organization in the Philippines. I just remember holding up that check and really understanding that what we were doing was special.”
How have things changed because of COVID-19?
Hearts of Empowerment has really stepped up during the pandemic. This past year has really helped shape the organization and the direction we are going in. Before the pandemic, we were doing more of the event planning aspect of stuff. Sometimes we just found ourselves writing checks, which got us away from being hands on in the community. With us not being able to host events in person, we really turned to charitable spotlights and campaigns alongside other organizations. We have been able to complete ten campaigns throughout the pandemic. A campaign is where we partner with an organization, spotlight their day to day, source volunteers and then create the digital content. Now that people are seeing us hands on, actually doing the work in the community, we’ve noticed a large increase in donations. We actually generated more revenue during the pandemic than all of last year. I think people were inspired by all the different things we were doing and continued to donate. I’m grateful for all of our supporters, without them we have nothing.
What is your favorite thing about helping other nonprofits?
I think my favorite thing about helping other nonprofits is developing their leaders. Being there and experiencing a charity working with us and how they have changed in that time is one thing, but then actually seeing their leaders develop right in front of my eyes is amazing. I have these one-on-one consultations with the organization’s leadership. I share different techniques that I use to lead my team. My favorite thing is to be an open book and share my knowledge and experience with different CEOs of other nonprofits. After the campaign is done, the calls and text messages are so meaningful: “Hey! The morale of my team is so much higher now. I’ve learned so much as a leader and was really able to develop leadership skills.” The consultations with these nonprofit CEOs go a long way because the organization becomes more sustainable when it’s coming from the top down. The last thing I want to do is come in, complete a campaign and not really change anything about how the charity is operating. They would then be in the same place that they were before we helped them. Hearts of Empowerment tries to provide a systemic change by giving them different programs they can use to rebuild their structure internally, so that they’re able to sustain the nonprofit well after we are gone.
Why is it important to volunteer your time and to help nonprofits succeed?
I think it’s really important, because nonprofits sit in such a grey area within the business market. They are undervalued from so many different aspects. To have to depend on limited sources of funding to provide for clients that need you in order to live is such a crazy dynamic to me. There is a two sided marketplace with an insurmountable amount of pressure to get the job done. If you aren’t raising funds and have to close your doors, how are the individuals who depend on you for all their needs going to survive? But, if you aren’t showing people you’re doing stuff in the community how are those donations going to come in? Nonprofits have to cater to both donors and clients very differently. That’s exactly why we do what we do. Hearts of Empowerment just wants to make sure no charities have to close their doors due to lack of funding or awareness.
Where do you see Hearts of Empowerment, yourself and your team in two-five years?
We’ve been scaling really, really quickly, but you know with that being said, I love the small team that we do have. Even though demand for our services are increasing, I value the fact that everybody knows each other, it really is one big family. I think the No. 1 focus is gaining more financial stability. We have to raise more money to expand to ensure we are meeting the needs of the community. We’re really trying to create an outreach program on college campuses for individuals who are looking for an outlet to volunteer or just a way to give back. We also want to go international. There are definitely people in international areas that need our help and have reached out before. However, before we go international, we want to make sure the infrastructure is in place.
Ultimately, I want to establish a household brand name and become a charity that individuals recognize. In order to help these organizations increase awareness within their communities, Hearts of Empowerment has to grow. Right now we’re a startup, so it’s like a startup helping another startup. At the end of the day, we’ll continue progressing in the right direction. I am so thankful for the Hearts of Empowerment team and all the support we’ve gotten over the past two years. Let’s continue fighting the good fight!