A Richmond nonprofit that’s spent decades supporting the city’s parks department and currently controls two historic black cemeteries in the East End is calling it quits after more than 30 years.
The Enrichmond Foundation Board of Directors voted last week to dissolve the nonprofit, according to a letter from its attorney obtained by BizSense.
The move kicks off a process of winding down the organization’s operations, which include the Evergreen and East End cemeteries that the nonprofit acquired in recent years in an effort to restore and preserve the sites. The graveyards were established in the 1890s and have experienced decades of neglect.
What happens now to those sites and other foundation assets is still being determined.
“In the coming weeks, I will be working to gather a comprehensive list of the Foundation’s assets and liabilities so that the Foundation can follow up with Partner Organizations regarding the next steps in the dissolution process,” attorney Kerry Hutcherson wrote in the letter this week to those organizations.
Reached Wednesday, Hutcherson, of local law firm Rudy Coyner, said Enrichmond would formally comment on the situation soon.
“The Enrichmond Foundation is not ready to make any comments at this time, but I expect to have a statement within the coming days,” he said.
He wrote in his letter that the board voted to initiate the ending of the organization on June 29.
“The Board of Directors affirmatively voted to take the steps necessary to complete the dissolution,” Hutcherson wrote. “Those steps will include making adequate provisions for the payment and discharge of liabilities and obligations as well as distribution of the Foundation’s assets to the City of Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities or a similar organization.”
A city Parks & Recreation spokeswoman declined to comment Wednesday.
The nonprofit acquired Evergreen in 2017 and East End in 2019 and appears to still own both cemeteries, according to online land records.
The vote to dissolve the nonprofit comes after former executive director John Sydnor left his post in the spring, a departure that, as the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, came amid years of dispute between the foundation and descendants of people buried at the cemeteries over the latter’s desire for greater participation in work being done at the sites. Volunteers had already been working to maintain the sites before Enrichmond’s acquisitions.
In early 2020, Enrichmond unveiled a nearly $19 million plan to build a visitor center and fund other improvements to Evergreen, the Richmond Free Press reported.
Among those buried at Evergreen include Richmond businesswoman Maggie L. Walker and newspaper editor John Mitchell.
Enrichmond had total revenues of $3.1 million and a net income of about $659,000 in 2020, and about 84 percent of revenue came by way of contributions, according to tax filing information found on a nonprofits research website maintained by news outlet Propublica.
The foundation was founded in 1990 to support the city’s parks and recreation department and has acted as an umbrella organization for local community groups.