Fairfax City Economic Development
10300 Eaton Place, #235, Fairfax, VA 22030

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Matthew Easley


November 15th, 2023


Fairfax City Economic Development Announces Neighborhood Connected Grant Program Awardees

Pilot Project Awards $12,000 to Non-profit Community Partners Supporting Economic Development


Fairfax City, VA – Fairfax City Economic Development today announces the recipients of the Neighborhood Connected Grant Program (NCGP). The NCGP aims to focus on community non-profits with initiatives that stimulate economic growth, promote job creation, advance Fairfax City as a destination for business, and foster partnerships across the city.

The following organizations were selected as inaugural NCGP recipients after a competitive application process and were selected for their potential impact on the community and their ability to support the economic development goals established by the Mayor and City Council.  Each organization will be awarded $12,000 for their projects.

Britepaths, provides food, financial assistance, education, and workforce development services to the greater Fairfax Community. Britepaths will establish a new program to advance culinary skills in coordination with two additional organizations: the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney (OCA) and Opportunities, Alternatives, and Resources (OAR Nova). This project aims to serve participants in a non-violent, low-level diversion program providing essential skills for working in professional kitchens and will partner with a local Fairfax City restaurant for its in-person educational component. The goal of this project is to advance job training and skill development for future employees.

The Heart Leaf Center, a community based mental health center providing mental health services specializing in play therapy to children and families. The Heart Leaf Center has partnered with surrounding universities and community colleges to create a workforce pipeline of graduate students eligible for training. The Heart Leaf Center will use funds from this program to lease space in Fairfax City and support the specialized training of graduate students, increasing the number of licensed providers and providers with competency in offering evidenced-based care to underserved populations in the region.

Cameron’s Coffee and Chocolatesprovides employment to adults living with an intellectual disability through a supported group environment. Cameron’s Coffee and Chocolates is partnering with various city businesses and offering a free pop-up hot cocoa bomb cart. Partnering businesses will offer a discount to anyone who enjoys a cocoa bomb. Cameron’s will utilize their social media following of over 7,000 to market city businesses, their project as well as provide more working hours to their 23 employees.

The Neighborhood Connected Grant Program is another example of how Fairfax City defines investment – in people, programs, and opportunities,” said Fairfax City Mayor Catherine Read. Supporting our local non-profits in developing the workforce our community needs has both immediate and long-term benefits. A thriving economy is one that includes more people with good jobs. Exciting things are happening here.

The Neighborhood Connected Grant Program allows Fairfax City Economic Development to recognize valued community partners advancing the economic development mission,” said Christopher Bruno, Director/ CEO of Fairfax City Economic Development.  “Our non-profit partners aid us every day in our mission to create good jobs, strong businesses, and a robust city-economy.  I applaud the winning grant recipients and thank the evaluation committee for their work on this project.”

“Cameron’s is thrilled to be the recipients of the Neighborhood Connected Grant,” said Lydia Pulliman, Program Manager at Cameron’s Coffee and Chocolates. “We are looking forward to adding value to our wonderful community and supporting local economic development by partnering with city shops to bring awareness to all the special places that make Fairfax a destination to visit and settle in.”

“Britepaths is excited to launch Pathfinder Kitchen with our partners and with support from the Fairfax City Economic Development Neighborhood Connected Grant Program,” said Lisa Whetzel, Executive Director of Britepaths. “Giving Tuesday is the perfect occasion to launch Pathfinder Kitchen with our partners. On a day dedicated to transformational generosity, celebrating the collaborative power of helping individuals pursue a new career path that is needed in the community is a big step toward a brighter future and a win for everyone.”

“Through this grant from Fairfax City Economic Development, The Heart Leaf Center will place training and supervision of Graduate Mental Health Students as a primary focus of this project,” said Sheri Mitschelen, President of The Heart Leaf Center. “This will have the biggest impact on increasing the mental healthcare workforce in being able to provide quality mental health and play therapy to underserved children in our community.”


Fairfax City Economic Development (FCED) is the lead agency for supporting a resilient economy and business ecosystem. FCED serves to promote, identify, and assist businesses with location,

expansion, and capacity building services within the city while creating systems and programs that encourage commercial and retail development. For more information, visit fairfaxcityecondev.org.

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