Our Mission Statement
The Heather Heyer Foundation was founded to support the education and empowerment of individuals dedicated to creating positive social change.
What We Did
We provided scholarships to support the education and empowerment of individuals active in creating positive social change. Preference was given to those seeking a degree or professional certification in, but not limited to, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Studies, Education, Law, Paralegal Studies, Social Justice, and Social Work, and who would use their education to promote positive social change. Please visit our SCHOLARSHIP page to learn more.
The Heather Heyer Foundation was created in memory of a young woman who dedicated her life to promoting equal rights for all people. The Foundation established a scholarship program to provide financial assistance to individuals active in creating positive social change.
The foundation was created with money that poured in to Heather's family after a gofundme set up by a family friend had been closed. Money was sent to the family via general delivery, through the funeral home, through TV stations, through the law firm where she had worked, and directly to her mother, Susan Bro. She approached Alfred Wilson, who had been Heather's supervisor and friend to ask if he would help her establish something legal with accountability.
Susan had been a teacher for many years, and Alfred had worked with scholarship funds. It seemed logical to form a scholarship fund. Susan also donated a portion of her personal funds. The original plan was to only give scholarships to Heather's former high school and to Charlottesville High School.
IRS paperwork was filed only nine days after Heather's murder. Shortly afterward, Susan was invited to speak at the MTV Video Music Awards. On that stage in front of the world, she announced the formation of the Heather Heyer Foundation. From there, she appeared on The Ellen Show, where Shutterfly donated $50,000 to the scholarship fund. We decided to expand our thinking a bit.
In late 2017, we partnered with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to offer scholarships to the winners of an essay contest. Students across the country were invited to submit an essay answering the question, "What are you doing to stand against hate in your community?" AHF gave $8000 in scholarships, and we gave $1000. The winners rode with Alfred and Susan in the 2018 Rose Bowl Parade along with members of the AHF Board.
The decision was made build an endowment to expand our scholarships in the future. We continued to offer scholarships each year as our endowment grew.
In 2018, we gave three $1000 scholarships through our own scholarship program. In 2019, we expanded to give to six local high school students, one national high school student, and one adult-in-college or certification program. We provided eight $1000 scholarships in the same categories in 2020. For 2021, we provided seven scholarships at $1500 each. And in 2022, we gave five scholarships of $5,000 each. This amount was requested by our Executive Director Alfred Wilson and approved by the Board in recognition of the Fifth Anniversary of Heather’s death.
Along the way, we found additional ways to support positive activism. In 2018, we offered support to a non-profit group who took their youth to the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. In 2019, Heyer Voices was formed in conjunction with Elliot Cisneros of The Sum to develop youth empowerment in high school students. It was to continue in 2020, but was closed due to pandemic challenges. We have also donated small amounts to other local organizations in support of positive social change.