New Augusta fund seeks to aid groups helping children, seeking to end poverty

Allan Soto and Vinea Capital have always tried to do well by serving others, particularly adults with developmental disabilities and underserved children. But he knows there are others out there doing similar work, and he would like to support them as well through a new fund.

Soto is starting the Vinea Foundation to give away $250,000 a year and organizations can make applications for grants for at least $100,000 of that in two rounds this year. Nonprofits can apply through March 31 for the first round, which will be awarded April 4, with a second round of applications beginning Aug. 1.

Soto, who began his business helping adults with disabilities and children, is looking for those who do similar work and also those with initiatives to end generational poverty.

“We’ve always kind of run our business with a nonprofit mindset,” although they are for-profit, he said. “The whole reason we exist is to make the communities that we get to live in and work in better.”

Already involved in some causes, such as Best Buddies that works with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Soto wanted to do more.

“We just found ourselves writing checks here, volunteering time here,” he said. “We realize that we are finite in our capabilities. So if you really want to continue to expand your reach and help more people, you need to bring more people on board. Sometimes, that is just you giving someone the resources they need to do something that you support and that you would want to do yourself if you had the time.”

That kind of support can have a multiplying effect, Soto said.

“Sometimes one plus one equals 10 if you get the right two people or two organizations together,” he said.

It is one of many reasons why the new initiative will be a donor-advised fund through the Community Foundation for the CSRA, allowing Soto to give dedicated funding to some groups and opening it up for grants for others. There are a number of advantages to doing it this way, not the least of which it avoids having to go through the expense and hassle of applying for 501(c)3 status, which is currently backlogged, and involves annual paperwork filing and tax returns and so forth, Soto said.

But there are other benefits to working with the Community Foundation, said President/CEO Shell Berry.

“In addition to providing all of that back-office support, the money that he has put with us is also invested so it grows tax-free and therefore grows the amount of impact he can make on the community, so a gift today can grow into a much bigger gift tomorrow and he can give away more to the community over time,” she said.

Partnering with the Community Foundation makes sense for Soto because many of those he might want to support are already known to that group.

“We have relationships with those organizations, we know their financials, we know their leadership, we know what areas they are working in, we know how well they are doing at meeting their mission and needing support,” Berry said.

If the Community Foundation knows of a group that meets the new foundation’s focus, “they can send them our way,” Soto said. “It lets you have a larger footprint just by associating with them.”

How to apply:
Nonprofits who work with underserved children, adults with developmental disabilities and those with initiatives to end generational poverty can apply for grants through the Vinea Fund at:

Applications are being accepted now through March 31 for the first round of funding.

Tom Corwin, Augusta Chronicle