In This Issue:Race and Our Region
Race Matters, Part 2 of 2
At The Community Foundation, our vision is one in which equity, access and opportunity are available to everyone -- equity in terms of policies and structures free of bias or favoritism, as they have been in the past; access to the American ideals of quality education, healthy food and affordable health care; and opportunities to advance one's learning and eventually earn an income that can sustain a family.
This doesn't seem like too much to ask, does it? And yet we know that there are many barriers to realizing this vision, and none more vexing than race.
The issues of race and ethnicity continue to shape our community and our nation. Right here in the metropolitan Washington area, we are now a "majority minority" region with dramatic growth over the past decade of our Latino and Asian populations, including many new immigrants who have joined long-standing minority communities in making this their home. We are truly a global community, and as we look ahead, our diversity is going to continue to grow. Will we embrace this diversity as an opportunity for economic, social and cultural progress...or will we continue to experience growing divides—often linked strongly with race and ethnicity -- born of ignorance and fear?
On a daily basis in my role as President of The Community Foundation, I see the human face of these divides and the consequences for all of us. But, luckily, I also have the privilege of seeing people working to reduce these divides and achieve our vision.
I hope that you will join us on this journey as we seek to foster a better understanding not just of issues surrounding race, but also a better understanding of each other.
Terri Lee Freeman
Donor and Advisory Board Member Artis Hampshire-Cowan: "Race Can Be Radioactive….It's Through Dialogue That We Learn"
Our best hope is our children," --Artis Hampshire-Cowan
"Race," says Community Foundation donor and Advisory Board member Artis Hampshire-Cowan, "can be radioactive. When you hear the word, you immediately think of controversy." But, she adds, "I find that it's better to lean into it than to recoil from it. It is through dialogue that we learn."
Growing up in Pritchard, AL, in the 1950s and 1960s, Hampshire-Cowan experienced segregation firsthand. She recalls as a young girl, asking her father which water fountain at JC Penney's she should use—the one marked "colored" or the one marked "white." He told her to use the one she preferred. "I didn't realize at the time how courageous that was," she said.
Later, in 1970, she came to fully understand the sting of racism when schools there were finally integrated, 16 years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision. That experience, she says, "taught me to become 'anti-white.' Subsequent college experiences restored the lessons that my parents taught me: that all white people are not bad." It wasn't until she was working up north, in Philadelphia, that she was called the "N-word" to her face. " There was a perception by northerners that racism is unique to the South. Not so." Reflecting back, those experiences were all part of a journey which eventually brought her to the National Capital Region. She served for 12 years in senior positions in the DC government and as general counsel at RFK Stadium, and was instrumental in the construction of the new Redskins stadium in Prince George's County, MD.
Today, she is Senior Vice President and Secretary of Howard University with "deep, authentic relationships across races." She is known for being direct, which she attributes to her upbringing in the South. "Southern people have a code of honesty and candor, a directness," she says. "Your word means something. My daddy used to say, 'your word is your bond.'"
"God gives us different gifts," she adds. "Mine is to say what needs to be said even though it may make people uncomfortable at times. Sometimes walking into the fire actually calms the fire."
When she moved to this area, Hampshire-Cowan first lived in Montgomery County, but in 1989 made a conscious decision to settle in Prince George's County so that her children would grow up in a diverse community. That is where she became engaged as an advocate for public education and an advisory board member of The Community Foundation for Prince George's County, later serving as board chair and establishing her own donor-advised fund. "The Community Foundation serves as a unifier of differing views, ideas and diverse cultures," she says, citing The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region's "Putting Race on the Table" initiative as a recent example. "This is important in a transient community where people don't have a lot of history with each other. I see The Foundation as the community guardian."
Hampshire-Cowan directs money from her donor-advised fund to organizations that serve youth. "Our best hope is our children," she says. That is why she supports groups such as the Girl Scouts, YWCA and Girls, Inc.
But her commitment goes beyond making financial contributions. Each summer, she participates in Girls Scouts' Camp CEO, where she serves as a mentor, particularly to students who have had limited opportunities in the past. For some, it's the first trip away from their urban neighborhoods; for others, it's the first time spent in an integrated setting. Once the girls settle into camp, "all the differences fade away and they see the commonalities," she points out.
"We talk about community, but what does that mean?" Hampshire-Cowan adds. "For me, it's the unlimited liability that we assume for each other."
Donor and Advisory Board Member Mozella Perry Ademiluyi: Supporting Change with Art and Heart
When you bring people together and have a guided and meaningful conversation, it breaks down barriers. --Mozella Perry Ademiluyi
Today she is many things: wife, daughter, sister, poet, philanthropist, mentor, and storyteller. She also serves as on the advisory board of The Community Foundation for Montgomery County, an affiliate of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.
"My father's work in Africa was the backdrop for the work I do today," she says. Seven words influenced her then, as they do now: "You are what you think you are." That is the message she conveys to young people through Rising Sun Cultural and Educational Programs, the nonprofit organization she established in 2000. Its centerpiece is The Wealth Club, a program founded on the belief that wealth is the successful balance of physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and financial well-being.
"I have always been intrigued by wealth," says Ademiluyi, who says she grew up in a privileged environment, "because wealth is about so much more than money."
She is impressed by The Community Foundation and its donors, who do so much more than write checks. "This is a hands-on board," she says of her colleagues on the Advisory Board of The Community Foundation for Montgomery County. "They are involved in local nonprofits. They want to know how their dollars are being spent. They are willing to roll up their sleeves."
A member of the planning committee for The Community Foundation's recent "Putting Race on the Table" forum, Ademiluyi points out that the recent discussion "shined a light on the contributions of people who look at issues of race through different prisms. People have a different lens depending on their race, age, and life experiences." And, she adds, "this is not about Caucasians stepping in to help people of color. It may also be middle- and upper-income people of color who are focused on understanding the challenges our region faces."
"When you bring people together and have a guided and meaningful conversation, it breaks down barriers," she said. "The 'Putting Race on the Table' forum demonstrated that this is just the beginning of a conversation that needs to continue—in organizations, in households and on the street." Ademiluyi plans to participate in the upcoming "Putting Race on the Table" Community Tours (see below). "We hear the statistics, but it's not until you see people living with the challenges they face that your understanding becomes sharper."
The author of Love is a Mountain, a book inspired by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with her two sisters on her 50th birthday, Ademiluyi was invited to write and share the following poem at the recent forum. The style of her poem was influenced by Khalil Gibran's classic work, The Prophet.
At End Time Harvest Ministries, the Promise of Opportunity for Prince George's County Youth
When given love and the right tools, young people can change the way adults make decisions and powerfully impact the behaviors of communities. — Rev. Gail Addison, founder, End Time Harvest Ministries
Beginning her federal government career before graduating from high school, Addison coordinated a presidential initiative that required government agencies to adopt a DC public school. Her agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs, adopted Eastern High School, where she worked with young people of color from low-income families in need of youth-development services, mentoring, and opportunity in general. "That was the first time I saw the power of what people who have can do to help children who have not," she says. "I saw how kids are empowered when they form relationships with adult mentors and how that can change lives. That had a lasting impact on me." Soon after, she experienced a "divine call" driving her to take her youth development and human resources experiences to the streets.
In 1994, she piloted a DC-based initiative providing underserved youth -- primarily youth of color -- with workforce-development skills, internships and mentoring. That same year, End Time Harvest Ministries, located in Maryland's Port Towns community, was born with a vision of "healing communities by healing our youth" ages 8 to 18. The faith-based organization empowers youth and families -- morally, educationally, economically, and socially—serving mostly African American and Latino young people but also Asian American and African youth. At the time, the Port Towns community was majority white that many would agree held high expectations for its Caucasian youth but low expectations for young people of color.
A cornerstone of the organization is the Port Towns Youth Council (PTYC), the student advisory arm of the Port Towns Revitalization Initiative. The PTYC consists of young stakeholders who primarily live or attend school in the Port Towns communities of Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City and Edmonston. These communities will be the focus of The Community Foundation's "Putting Race on the Table" Community Tours in October.
Students meet monthly after school to develop programs such as the Project 450 Community Clean Up, focused on beautification of Annapolis-Bladensburg Road/Route 450. Recently, the group launched a Diabetes and Obesity Awareness and Prevention Campaign in partnership with the late Maryland State Senator Gwendolyn Britt in which youth and their parents advocate for more nutritional meals and increased physical activities in all Prince George's County public schools. Their lobbying efforts also include increasing nutritional food choices in school vending machines. Just prior to her death, Senator Britt initiated a meeting between Maryland's Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and the PTYC in which these young people made the case for their advocacy plan.
"It makes sense that policymakers would want to know what children are thinking, what problems our generation face," says Patrick Macatangga, former president of the PTYC who led the Diabetes and Obesity Awareness Campaign. "We are the future," said Macatangga, now a student at the University of Maryland/Baltimore County.
Montgomery County-based Identity Works to Counter Anti-Immigrant Sentiment
Anti-immigrant messages have a negative impact on the identities of young people. Our role is to be the one who believes in them. --Candace Kattar, Identity
"The climate today is entirely different from 30 years ago," says Candace Kattar, executive director of Identity, a Montgomery County-based organization and Community Foundation grantee devoted to reducing social and cultural barriers that hamper Latino youths' ability to fully participate in society's benefits and responsibilities. "Ours is no longer a welcoming environment. Anti-immigrant messages have a negative impact on the identities of young people. Our role is to be the one who believes in them."
Kattar began working with immigrants in the 1980s as an attorney helping residents of the District of Columbia secure green cards. She returned to school to become a registered nurse so that she could help with the growing AIDS crisis. Soon after, Kattar and her colleague Diego Uriburu founded Identity to provide HIV/AIDS education and prevention, working with Latino youth in the District. But their attention quickly shifted to the suburbs as rents in the District became prohibitive for undocumented workers struggling to make a living. In 2003, Kattar and Uriburu moved their organization to Gaithersburg, MD.
Today, the two are committed to helping young Latinos navigate the challenges they face in this country. Identity's offerings include after-school programs, HIV prevention, gang prevention and intervention, case management and mental health counseling, among other programs.
"These are families living with a stress level many of us can't imagine," Kattar says. "Individuals with no criminal record are deported every day. Most of them have children who are U.S. citizens."
A 2006 needs assessment commissioned by Identity revealed that "while half of the 1,000 Latino youth surveyed were doing okay, the other half were not," Kattar says. "We knew we had to do something. And we knew it had to be at the systemic level." For the 18 months, a coalition of 60 nonprofit organizations, local government agencies and other service providers studied the challenges facing Latino youth in Montgomery County. This spring, the collaborative presented its report, "A Generation of Youth Hanging in the Balance," to County Executive Ike Leggett, who not only adopted the plan but called for an oversight committee to ensure the recommendations are implemented. That, says Kattar, is a major breakthrough.
Among the challenges addressed in the report is the low high school graduation rate of Latino youths in Montgomery County. Old policies made it easy for youth to drop out at age 16. Today, schools are intervening to help students grow and develop to their full potential.
Another area of concern was how law enforcement officials were treating Latino youth. Kattar said many young men reported being stopped and photographed by police for no clear reason, frequently on their way from school to Identity's afterschool program. The coalition recommended the police department examine its policies and the behavior of individual police officers to ensure that the civil rights of Latinos are being respected.
To illustrate the impact of Identity's work, Kattar mentions a recent phone call from former participant Aurora T. Colón, who moved to the Washington, DC, area from Ecuador in 2004 as a 15-year-old. Today she is a senior at the University of Maryland calling to say she had decided to research, for one of her classes, ways to increase funding for Identity.
"Identity helped me transition to the U.S., which has become my second home," she says. "The experience not only helped me become a responsible adult in American culture, it also made me conscious of the realities immigrants face in this country. Many of my friends faced hardships far worse than mine."
Colón was one of only a few students from her Identity group to attend college immediately following graduation—because she had legal immigration status and they did not. On the day she contacted Identity recently, deputy director Diego Uriburu was in Annapolis educating lawmakers about passage of the Maryland DREAM Act, the legislation that would make undocumented immigrants eligible for in-state tuition benefits at the state's public colleges.
One month later, it passed.
There are many ways that individuals and institutions can work toward reducing racialized inequities that affect the health, educational, economic and social well-being of our community.
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Founded in 1973, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region promotes charitable giving and plays a leading role in finding innovative solutions to the Greater Washington region's most challenging problems. The Foundation is a community of givers – individuals, families and corporations have joined with the Foundation; as a result, the Foundation provides sound management of more than 800 funds and some $360 million in assets. In FY2010, The Community Foundation and its donors awarded some $50 million in grants to nonprofit organizations in the Washington, DC region and beyond. The Foundation has two affiliates – The Community Foundation for Montgomery County and The Community Foundation for The Prince George’s County. For more information, visit www.thecommunityfoundation.org.
Regional Affiliate – The Community Foundation for Montgomery County
8720 Georgia Avenue, Suite 202 | Silver Spring, MD 20910 | Phone: (301) 588-2544
Regional Affiliate – The Community Foundation for Prince George's County
8181 Professional Place | Landover, MD 20785 | Phone: (301) 464-6706