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Our History

The Community Foundation was formed in 1973 by a group of business and community leaders to provide a permanent source of philanthropic capital for the Greater Washington region. Over the years, we've served as grantmaker, community leader, and convener to help build thriving communities in our nation's capital.

1980-1989

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The Community Foundation:

  • Launched the region’s first youth in philanthropy program for high-school aged youth.
  • Announced the Health Care for the Homeless project providing non-emergency care to area homeless people using a mobile van.
  • Created the Washington Fund for Substance Abuse, with the Federal City Council, the Greater Washington Research Center, and the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade, to study drug abuse in the area, and is part of the Consortium Against Drug Abuse dedicated to prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.
  • Established the Community Housing Production program to support housing for low- to moderate-income District of Columbia residents.
  • Spearheaded the Washington Metropolitan Business Leadership Task Force on AIDS, focusing on the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Washington, DC area.
  • Established the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy as a component fund.

1990-1999

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The Community Foundation:

  • Established its first supporting organization with Roger and Vicki Sant, The Summit Fund.
  • Incubated City First Bank, which provides financial services to low-income residents.
  • Formed local offices in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County in Maryland.
  • Received a national grant to support the planning of The Circle of Hope, a community-building initiative to develop neighborhood-based violence prevention programs. 
  • Recognized “unsung heroes” improving communities across the region with Linowes Leadership Awards, named for Board Chair Emeritus R. Robert Linowes,
  • Launched the Bridge Builders Fund, supporting projects that foster communication, understanding and appreciation between the region’s LGBTQ and other communities.
  • Established the Starbucks Memorial Fund dedicated to violence prevention, victim assistance, and advocacy.
  • Launched the Sharing Montgomery Fund, which has leveraged $4.5 million for safety net, education, and workforce development programs for low-income residents

2000-2009

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The Community Foundation:

  • Served as the supporting organization for Venture Philanthropy Partners’ new approach to nonprofit capacity-building and philanthropic investment in the region. 
  • Formed the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries as a component fund.
  • Established the Survivors’ Fund, the largest in the country devoted to helping victims and families of the September 11 Pentagon attack access services and support. The Fund closed in 2008, after aiding 1,051 individuals in 45 states and the District.
  • Incubated the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington.
  • Invested in the renovation of the Atlas Performing Arts Center, which helped catalyze the revitalization of H Street NE Corridor.
  • Held the first “Putting Race on the Table” forum, a nearly decade long series examining the effects of race, ethnicity, and class on academic performance.
  • Established the Katrina Open Arms Fund to provide immediate emergency assistance and longer-term support for Washington-area evacuees.
  • Received funding from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions leading to the creation of the Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative, which has helped 6,200+ workers advance job training and skills to earn family-sustaining wages.
  • Established the Neighbors in Need Fund, leveraging $5 million in support of residents hit hardest by the economic crisis. Grants aided nonprofits to meet the increase in demand for food, shelter, clothing, foreclosure prevention and healthcare services.
  • Launched the Partnership for Prince George’s County with WRAG, raising $1 million to invest in capacity-building and leadership development needs of nonprofits.

2010-present

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The Community Foundation:

  • Supported the Capital Area Foreclosure Network’s response to the region’s foreclosure crisis.
  • Launched Serving Together, a collaborative system of services for military families in Montgomery County. 
  • Announced $1.3 million in workforce development grants, as a part of the Walmart Washington@Work Readiness Initiative to help low-income and unemployed DC residents launch careers in retail, hospitality and customer service.
  • Became fiscal sponsor to Raise DC, a collective impact initiative using data to improve educational outcomes for children and youth.
  • Began administering the City Fund, which will invest $15 million over 5 years toward a more healthy, stable, and vibrant community for all DC residents.
  • Set up funds, In partnership with District government, to aid victims and families affected by the Navy Yard shooting, and to address long-term gun violence and mental health issues.
  • Released Housing Security in the Washington Region, the first comprehensive study of housing needs, showing critical gaps in affordable housing across a range of income levels.
  • Launched the Connecting Youth to Opportunity Campaign in Prince George’s County, a series of convenings and reports to raise awareness of opportunity gaps and best practices in education. 
  • Launched Sharing Prince George’s County, to galvanize private and public dollars for safety net, education, and workforce development programs for low-income residents.
  • Launched Back on Track Prince George’s County, to reduce recidivism among first-time, nonviolent felony drug offenders ages 18 to 26.
  • Started administering the Fund for Children, Youth and Families five-year grantmaking strategy to support effective organizations making the community healthy and stable.
  • Launched Greater Washington Works to invest $1 million over two years to support at least 250 local workers to launch living-wage careers in the IT and Healthcare sectors.
  • Added the Children’s Opportunity Fund as a component fund, jointly funded by the Montgomery County government and MCPS to leverage public funds to attract private investment that will improve the lives of low-income children and families.
  • Established the Resilience Fund in partnership with the Meyer Foundation as a response to changes in federal government policies and the resulting climate. Initial grants supported organizations addressing challenges faced by immigrants in the region. The second round of grants supported community organizations addressing increases in hate, intolerance, and incivility in the region.
  • Launched Voices of the Community: DC, Maryland, Virginia (VoicesDMV) a community engagement initiative in partnership with the Urban Institute. Residents participated in a survey, focus groups, and community conversations to share their stories and perceptions of the quality of life in the region. The result is a rich collection of data to inform more strategic and effective community investments.