Nashville, Tenn. (August 8, 2023)  — Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CFMT), a charitable organization dedicated to enriching the quality of life in the greater Nashville region, announces a new partnership The Village, a program funded by the Mayor’s Office.

The Village is an incubation space for grassroots community organizations that empowers leaders from marginalized communities, identities, or lived experiences by providing a safe space to thrive, connect, and access vital resources, wisdom, funding, and power.

To facilitate this work, CFMT has selected Erika R. Burnett, a leader in nonprofit and community engagement, to continue providing capacity-building opportunities for The Village member organizations. Burnett’s versatile career has spanned entrepreneurship, innovation, education, advocacy, and leadership roles. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, she is recognized for her strategic approach and passion for tackling issues that affect youth, women, and girls across the state.

“For the past 20 years, I’ve watched this city grow, stretch, and in some aspects collapse under the weight of change and emerging community needs. At this critical moment in time it is imperative that we resource and position those closest to our communities’ most deeply rooted issues in order to repair historical harm & inequalities while we build a more equitable and inclusive future,” says Burnett. “This work requires intention, transparency and thoughtful co-creation alongside those who have been championing deeply meaningful work, often times outside of the public gaze and while being gravely under-resourced.”

Erika’s career foundation was built in Middle Tennessee; her early work included teaching at Nashville’s Glencliff High School after earning an English education degree at Tennessee State University (TSU). However, she soon realized that she wanted to work towards systemic solutions to the problems facing her students. Following her Community Action Development graduate studies at Vanderbilt University, Burnett served as Senior Director of Programs with Hands On Nashville (HON), supporting volunteer engagement and nonprofit partnership programs, a role she built as an AmeriCorps Member during her studies.

In addition to the curriculum-based youth and urban agriculture programs deepened the skill, knowledge, and behavior outcomes of participants through service learning, under her leadership, HON launched the first service-learning-based freshman orientation course at her alma mater, TSU.

Erika has a dedicated track record of positive and transformative youth engagement; her time at the Oasis Center overseeing a city-wide coalition for the reduction of youth violence combined with over a decade of leading summer work-based experiences increased civic engagement of marginalized youth across our city.

She co-founded the Women of Color Collaborative in Nashville, an intentionally curated safe space for community-building, professional development, and self-exploration for women and girls of color. Prior to joining CFMT, Erika served as an expert facilitator and consultant for local and national mission-driven organizations of various capacities and most recently focused on influencing public policy through her role at the Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga.

The Village was founded by Nashville Mayor’s Office of Community Safety director Ron Johnson and innovative DEI and conflict consultant Dawn Stone during her tenure at the Center for Nonprofit Management. Entering its third year, The Village is continuing to expand its impact in Davidson County through a partnership with CFMT, which will provide administrative support and build strong public-private partnerships with The Village member organizations to combat violence on a grassroots level – ultimately strengthening the foundation of these organizations and facilitating transformative change. Learn more at

The Community Foundation promotes and facilitates giving in the 40 counties of Middle Tennessee and beyond. It does this by accepting gifts of any size from anyone at any time and by empowering individuals, families, companies, nonprofits, and communities to respond to needs and opportunities that matter. The Community Foundation works with people with great hearts, whether or not they have great wealth, to craft solutions that reflect the intentions and goals of their charitable endeavors. For more information, call 615-321-4939 or visit