top of page

Our Story

The Cabell Brand Center was established in 1987 and has inspired profound social change for over 27 years. We have provided support for more than 500 students to pursue educational goals focused on "promoting the common good."

The Cabell Brand Center was founded in 1987 with a dedication ceremony with the then President of Roanoke College, Norman Fintel, and guest speaker Sargent Shriver. Scores of local business people and friends attended the ceremony on the Roanoke College campus.

















"A challenge of our society and to our education institutions is providing students an opportunity to study and participate in global problems with local "hands-on" projects. The Center believes in the principle of "Think globally, act locally." The Center with its various programs, library and networking facilities, offers both an opportunity and a challenge to students to study the two critical issues of resource limitation and global poverty, and hopefully, become involved in the action programs of their choice." - Norman Fintel, Former President, Roanoke College


The Center was founded primarily to give students in the colleges of this region an opportunity to study and research issues of poverty, the environment, and peace. The idea was to supplement student academic projects. The student would conduct his/her research for class credit and ultimately supply the Center with a copy that would be filed and sometimes published. The Center would pay the student a stipend of $500 to $1,000 and in some instances a class project of up to $5000. Funding for these research projects came from foundation grants or from annual contributions from local corporations, business people, local organizations and individuals.


Since the program’s inception, the Center has awarded and had relationships with over 500 individual projects and students at Roanoke College, Hollins University, Virginia Western Community College, Radford University, Virginia Tech, Virginia Military Institute, Washington & Lee University, and Lynchburg College.


In addition to the student projects, over the years the Cabell Brand Center has helped sponsor sustainable development seminars at Hollins University, Roanoke College and Ferrum College, with hundreds of participants at each of these seminars and with speakers from international organizations such as World Resource Institute, World Bank, USAID, US Department of State, and many others .


The Center has since become the leader for freshwater issues in Virginia. The Center produced the state’s first “Rainwater Harvesting Manual” which is now the standard in rainwater management and is being adapted for other states as well. The Center provides this information online for free and can be found on our publications page.


Our achievements in rainwater harvesting were gained primarily under the Presidency of David Crawford, also founder of Rainwater Management Solutions, a company with which the Center still has a close relationship today. This relationship with Rainwater Management Solutions has led to several Foundation and State grants to implement rainwater management and storage at schools and public buildings. Private buildings are following suit as seen on the RMS website.


The Cabell Brand Center’s water research efforts were further accelerated in 2010 with the addition of Dr. Tamim Younos, formerly head of the Virginia Water Resources Research Center and a research professor at Virginia Tech who is working to publish techniques of storm water management, water and energy conservation, and mitigating climate change.


The activities of Cabell Brand in the areas of poverty and peace (conflict resolution) are documented in Cabell Brand's book "If Not Me, Then Who." These issues are still actively addressed through ongoing relationships with both national and international peace organizations. At the local level, poverty objectives continue with TAP (Total Action Against Poverty, est. 1965) program in the Roanoke Valley and the expansion of the Shepherd Poverty Program from Washington & Lee University to colleges and universities across the country. The TAP program led to the launch of many innovative programs focused on public education for people from low income households. From a national and international perspective, we collaborate with the U.S. Institute of Peace, The Carter Center, Rotary International Peace Fellowship program and others. These relationships stem from Cabell Brand’s previous involvement with the United National Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank in economic development projects in Bangladesh, India, Egypt, and Botswana.


A few notable accomplishments include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:


  • The CBC participated in founding multiple programs for Total Action Against Poverty (TAP), many of which have spun off and grown into thriving statewide agencies. The Virginia Water Project for example—has ensured access to potable water/sanitary waste water for thousands of Virginians and millions of Americans living in rural areas in the southeast region of the U.S.

  • The CBC created opportunities for students to intern in grass roots community development and poverty alleviation through the following projects: Henry Street Development, Virginia CARES, Virginia Water Projects, Transitional Living Center, Harrison Museum of African American Culture, public schools and local and regional service agencies.

  • The CBC sponsored the first Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) Home Building Contest, which was international in scope (What is C2C?) along with the office of Smith Lewis Architects who specialize in Environmental Buildings and Construction. Competition led to the construction of a C2C home in a Roanoke neighborhood, and a groundbreaking book, Cradle-to-Cradle Home Design: Process and Experience developed for interior design and architecture studio courses as well as practicing design firms.

  • The CBC helped initiate the Child Healthcare Initiative Project (CHIP) with TAP.

  • Mr. Cabell Brand, then CBC President was honored with the Lyndon B. Johnson Award in 1990.

  • The CBC held the first annual job fair for African American college students, which attracted 22 local employers and 125 students from eight local and regional colleges and universities. 65% of the students obtained full-time, part-time, or summer intern positions as result of the job fair.

  • The CBC initiated the “Coalition for Increasing Educational Opportunities for Black Youth.”The CBC held the Sustainable Environmental and Economic Development (SEED) conference at Hollins University.

  • The CBC completed and published its findings of the United Nations Development Programme​’s study on the “Potential for Shoe and Leather Industry in Bangladesh.”

  • Mr. Cabell Brand was honored with the 15th Annual Citizen of the Year Award from the Roanoke Branch of the NAACP. 

Sargent Shriver and Mr. E. Cabell Brand at the dedication ceremony, 1987.

bottom of page