Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover
In November, Shaka and I launched a campaign to raise $100,000 for FRIENDS Association for Children, a local group that provides early childhood education and afterschool programs to some of our community’s most vulnerable children.


We knew the goal was ambitious, particularly because the heart of the campaign involved engaging hundreds of supporters to raise thousands of dollars through the sale of t-shirts on Bonfire Funds, a new online fundraising platform. But the shirts were crucial to the campaign’s vision. We wanted to dramatically raise name recognition of the little-known local organization.

This holiday season, I am grateful to the Greater Richmond area for hearing our appeal, buying and selling shirts, making and soliciting donations, and all of the other things you’ve done to support the wonderful children whose potential is nurtured by FRIENDS. Since November 1, more than 800 individuals have supported the campaign by purchasing shirts or making donations to FRIENDS. As of December 25, we’ve raised $24,536 and sold 1,672 t-shirts through Bonfire. That’s incredible.

But that’s not all. Some very generous companies and philanthropists made end-of-the-year pledges to ensure that we reached our six-figure goal. We’ve also received in-kind donations, inquiries from prospective volunteers and offers of support services for FRIENDS families. And we’re beginning to receive awesome photographs like those featured here of supporters rocking their FRIENDS RVA shirts. Together, all of these things provide ample illustration that FRIENDS has been embraced by a broader, more diverse group of ambassadors than ever before.

If you haven’t gotten your shirt yet, there’s still time to join the movement. Visit bonfirefunds.com/friendsrva before the campaign ends December 31.