The Resilience Fund Announces New Grants and Commitments

Ayuda to receive $25k emergency grant for community clinics;
Cafritz pledges $20k matching grant

The Resilience Fund, a collaborative partnership among the Greater Washington Community Foundation, the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, and other foundation and individual contributors, today announced an emergency rapid response grant of $25,000 to Ayuda. The grant will support Ayuda to address the urgent and immediate need for emergency clinics to prepare and file Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal applications in DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland before the October 5 filing deadline. Ayuda will also provide legal services and consultations to advise DACA recipients regarding possible avenues of relief that may be available to them.

The Resilience Fund launched in February to respond to the critical needs of nonprofits working to support our region’s most vulnerable communities. The Fund is focused on addressing federal policy and budget changes that are disproportionately impacting people of color, immigrant and refugee communities. The DC metropolitan area is home to 1.3 million foreign-born residents, including an estimated 400,000 unauthorized immigrants — many of whom are long-term residents with deep community ties, including spouses and children who are U.S. citizens.

The Fund’s first round of grants were awarded last month to help the region’s networks of community organizations working to support immigrants affected by changes in international travel, immigration, and deportation policies. These grants will help expand collaborative work to ensure that community members understand their legal and civil rights, take precautions to stabilize their families in the event they are detained, and receive legal representation.

At a stakeholders meeting today, the Steering Committee was proud to announce the Fund has surpassed its initial $500,000 fundraising goal. The goal has been extended and the Fund is now on its way to raising $1 million total thanks to the generosity of local foundations and individuals across the region.

One such commitment is a new challenge matching grant from the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the largest private foundation focused exclusively on the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The Cafritz Foundation has pledged to match every dollar donated to the Resilience Fund, up to $20,000.

“The Community Foundation is proud to partner with the Resilience Fund Steering Committee and other generous donors who want to ensure our community is a vibrant and inclusive place for all residents and families in the region,” said Tonia Wellons, VP of Community Investment for the Greater Washington Community Foundation. “The Resilience Fund’s efforts going forward seek to address the growing climate of intolerance and hate, including the uptick in violent incidents linked to race, religion, national origin, and other differences. We invite those who are concerned about what is happening in our region to stand with us against intolerance by making a contribution to this Fund today.”

“With rapid response grant funding from the Resilience Fund, Ayuda is taking immediate steps to serve the urgent needs of DACA recipients,” said Paula S. Fitzgerald, Executive Director of Ayuda. “We are providing multiple DACA renewal clinics and open walk-in days in September to serve those who are eligible to renew their DACA status within the short window of time. We are also providing consultations to those Dreamers who stand to lose DACA in the near future to evaluate them for other forms of relief and inform them of their rights.”

Members of the Resilience Fund Steering Committee include:
Greater Washington Community Foundation
Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation
Harman Family Foundation
The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
Rob and Sheri Rosenfeld
Mauri Ziff and Jeff Hamond

Mobilizing Community Support When Disaster Strikes

By Nancy Withbroe, Vice President, Philanthropic Engagement and Chief of Staff

On this 16th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, I am heartbroken by the suffering of people in the devastating paths of recent natural disasters, as well as the horrific violence of war and terrorism. Yet, when disaster strikes we can count on the country’s network of community foundations to step in to help, as we are seeing in response to the current season of horrific hurricanes.

The Greater Washington Community Foundation has a longstanding track record of mobilizing philanthropic giving from individuals and organizations when disaster strikes. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, The Community Foundation administered the $25 million Survivors’ Fund, which used over 12,000 gifts to make grants to 1,051 people impacted by the attack on the Pentagon. More recently, we have helped our donors provide help to neighbors facing such local disasters as the Flower Branch Apartments Silver Spring gas explosion that killed seven low-income residents in August 2016 and displaced 100 others, or the emergency housing situation at the Lynnhill Condominiums in Temple Hills that left 77 families without power.

We’re keenly aware that those who struggle the most in natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are residents of low-income communities – and often communities of color. This recent opinion piece in The Washington Post summarizes painfully the compounding negative effect that poverty, housing, racism and other issues have in the immediate and longer-term wake of natural disasters.

As someone who has devoted her career to philanthropy, I take solace in moments like these by the opportunity – and the responsibility – we have to relieve the suffering of our most vulnerable neighbors and to address the systemic inequities and injustices that disproportionately exacerbate the suffering of people of color.

At the Greater Washington Community Foundation, we have been busy advising our donors and fundholders as they direct their contributions to nonprofits supporting those impacted by the hurricanes. We’re also collaborating with our corporate fundholders to raise money for their disaster relief funds held here – to date, processing more than a thousand gifts into their funds – and, most importantly, quickly mobilizing to make grants to help nonprofits and individuals in need. We are working with Capital One, Fannie Mae and Marriott International to disburse grants to over 3,000 employees of those companies, collectively, in the greater Houston area, and stand ready to assist for other disasters.

Somehow the scale of these events can distance us from the experiences of individual people and families whose homes are lost and lives disrupted. The following note, which accompanied an $8 contribution to one of the corporate funds held at The Community Foundation, moved me deeply and reminded me that any of us can take action through giving: “I am a Night Auditor at [a corporate site in Illinois].  I want to contribute to this fund because [my employer] has a 'Spirit to Serve' and I want to be a part of that.  God bless all the people who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area.”

While small in amount, this $8 contribution represented enormous heart, character and selflessness – giving what you can to those most in need. I’m grateful to all our donors, fundholders, nonprofit grantees, and colleagues who partner with us to create opportunities for others to help their colleagues, to feel connected to an employer in a meaningful way, and to make a difference, one dollar at a time.

Please reach out to me or any other staff member if you’d like guidance on how you can make a difference during these times.

Reflections on Intolerance

By Bruce McNamer, President and CEO

While on vacation in Europe last month, I spent the day touring the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in Poland.  For me it was such a powerful, if still inadequate, reminder of the scale and brutally systematic nature of the crime perpetrated there by the Nazis – and of their unapologetic, explicit, even prideful buy-in to hatred and cruelty and dehumanization on an epic scale.  Pure, unmitigated, unequivocal, racist evil.

The very next day, I was shocked, saddened and angered to learn of the violent march of self-proclaimed neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville.  By the end of the day, one of their own had killed one woman and injured many others. Pure, unmitigated, unequivocal, racist evil lives. 

I expect the horror of Charlottesville was brought home to each of us in different ways.  I didn’t need to go to Poland to be outraged.  But being there sure brought home the stakes to me.

Every day I am thankful to live in a country that was founded on the principles of freedom of assembly, speech, religion, and the press. Unfortunately, as of late, we are too often reminded that this freedom also extends to hate speech and even the most evil ideas.  But allowing such expression must be the extent of our accommodation.  To “see both sides,” to tolerate violent intolerance, to morally equivocate, to be silent in the face of evil … is to side with evil.  

I am heartened and inspired by the millions of people from across our country and around the world who have spoken out to condemn this display of evil, as well as the hate and intolerance that seem to have found new license in recent months. I believe our country is resilient, most of its people decent, and that our founding ideals of liberty, justice, and equality will sustain us in spite of these assaults upon them.   

But that will be the case only so long as we don’t stand passively by.  That has been tried before, in places like Germany. If you are concerned, and wondering what you can do, there are ways that you can help make a difference for our most vulnerable neighbors.

Here at the Greater Washington Community Foundation we serve as a bridge, connecting donors who want to make our community stronger and more vibrant with nonprofits that are serving the most critical needs throughout the region. In February, we partnered with the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation to launch the Resilience Fund to ensure our region’s communities are resilient and supported in the face of federal policy and budget shifts. Through this Fund we are responding to the critical needs of nonprofits working to address changes that are disproportionately impacting people of color, immigrant and refugee communities. Our first round of grants was awarded last month to help the region’s networks of community organizations working to support immigrant communities affected by changes in international travel, immigration, and deportation policies. For our next round of grants, we seek to address intolerance, incivility, and the uptick in violent incidents linked to race, religion, national origin, and other differences.

How can you join this effort?

Stand with Us Against Intolerance on Sept. 12  

The Resilience Fund Steering Committee invites you to join a Stakeholders Briefing on September 12 from 10-11:30 am at the Meyer Foundation. Learn how our neighbors are being affected by policy recommendations and increases in incidents of bias and bigotry. Explore what steps we can take as a community to stand together against intolerance.

Guest panelists will include: Nicole Cozier, director of diversity and inclusion at the Human Rights Campaign; Doron Ezickson, D.C. regional director of the Anti-Defamation League; Hurunnessa Fariad, interfaith/outreach/communications coordinator for the ADAMS Center; and Dr. Rashawn Ray, sociology professor at the University of Maryland. Please  RSVP here to receive more event details.

Join Us by Making a Donation

Contribute to the Fund and join with others who seek to advance community-based solutions that support community cohesion, work to limit intolerance, and address federal policy changes that are adversely affecting residents and families in the Greater Washington region. We initially set a goal of raising $500,000 for this effort — a goal which we have already surpassed thanks to the generosity and compassion of our community of givers. We now aim to raise $1 million with your help. You may give directly to the Fund through an online donation form available here, or as a fund-to-fund transfer in Donor Central if you are an existing donor to The Community Foundation.  

This is just the beginning of our efforts. It is more important now than ever that we stand together to fight intolerance and build community cohesion for lasting change.

Thank you for being part of our community of givers and for your own commitment to our neighbors.


Bruce McNamer
President & CEO

How You Can Help with Hurricane Relief Efforts

This post was modified on September 11, 2017 to include information for anyone seeking to support nonprofits in Florida involved in the recovery efforts following Hurricane Irma.

Rescue operations are currently underway in Houston and surrounding areas as the unrelenting rain and rising floodwaters continue to threaten residents and communities across Southeast Texas and parts of Louisiana. Many of you have asked how we can aid these relief efforts and help the victims affected by the devastating floods.

When disaster strikes, it is a good idea to seek out information from the local community foundation regarding how you can best help with recovery efforts. Community foundations have deep community knowledge and a lasting commitment to community improvement.

In response to the overwhelming interest in supporting Houston's recovery efforts, Houston Mayor Turner established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund with the Greater Houston Community Foundation to accept tax-deductible flood relief donations. If you would like to support the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, please  click here for details.

As Harvey now heads towards Louisiana, the Mayor of New Orleans has activated the NOLA Pay It Forward Fund: Hurricane Harvey in partnership with the Greater New Orleans Foundation. The fund will provide resources for the early relief and rebuilding efforts of those communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

If you are looking for additional ways to help, here is a list of other local and national organizations that are accepting donations to aid victims and recovery efforts:

National Organizations

  • The American Red Cross is accepting donations on its website, by phone at 1-800-RED-CROSS, or you can text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10.
  • Donations to the Salvation Army can be made online, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) or  texting STORM to 51555.
  • Council on Foundations Disaster Giving Resources, including a recording of an August 29 webinar hosted with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Local Organizations in Texas and Florida

You may request a grant from your fund with The Community Foundation to support any of the organizations mentioned in this message, or to other qualifying nonprofits and public charities. Please log into your Donor Central account to submit your grant recommendations. If there are ways that you would like to offer support beyond what we have suggested, feel free to contact your donor services representative or any of our staff with your questions.

Bridging Community Divides

By Jayne Park, Executive Director, IMPACT Silver Spring

Between income and wealth, culture and language, the newly arrived versus life-long residents, the divisions that separate people within Montgomery County’s diverse community are wide.  So when the Greater Washington Community Foundation reached out to IMPACT Silver Spring for support in organizing their Community Conversation in Montgomery County, we welcomed it as a positive step towards closing this divide.

We were admittedly a little unsure how many residents from IMPACT’s grassroots network would choose to come to this one-time event, with an organization they did not know.  We decided to do targeted invitations to people we thought might be inclined to participate, and did our best to explain who the Community Foundation is, and their goals. To our surprise, nearly all the 30 residents we spoke with showed up, to the point that we could barely fit everyone in the room.  The time and care IMPACT takes to nurture relationships of trust with members of our network are in large measure what led to the high community turn-out. 


Most certainly, our network’s participation in the event will help to infuse the foundation’s learning process with the voices, perspectives, and lived experiences of grassroots residents, and not only the voices of the professionals serving the poor and low-income.  Our hope is that philanthropy will continue to press forward in figuring out ways to cultivate its own trusting relationships with grassroots residents through a long-term community engagement process.  Only then can foundations be assured that their giving priorities will be informed and shaped by the lived realities of the very residents they are trying to support, through a constant flow of mutual learning that comes when strong connections and relationships are in place. 

We witnessed the start of this relationship-building process at the event, when the foundation’s President and CEO Bruce McNamer pulled up a seat to join one of the tables reserved for IMPACT’s Spanish-speaking network members.  Bruce stayed with this group for the entirety of the 3-hour evening, and listened and spoke to the group in Spanish.  This simple yet powerful gesture was a first step towards overcoming the divide that often exists between philanthropy and the grassroots.  Imagine if it was more common practice for foundation CEO’s to take the time to meet with grassroots residents as equals, speaking in their language!  This could go a long way for establishing a more meaningful relationship-building process. 


The Resilience Fund Awards First Grants to Organizations that Support Immigrant Communities

The Resilience Fund, a collaborative partnership among the Greater Washington Community Foundation, the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, and other foundation and individual contributors, awarded its first grants last week — three grants totaling $110,000 to community organizations working throughout the region to support immigrant communities. Grants were awarded to:

  • Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition — $30,000 to support community education and legal services, and the organization’s role as convener of the DMV Immigration Alliance
  • Casa de Maryland — $30,000 to support community education, legal services, and policy advocacy
  • Legal Aid Justice Center — $50,000 to support community education and legal services through the members of the Northern Virginia Immigrant Legal Services Providers Coalition

The Resilience Fund was created by The Community Foundation and the Meyer Foundation in early 2017 to address critical needs of nonprofits working to support our region’s vulnerable communities during a period of rapid federal policy change.

The three initial grants reflect the Resilience Fund’s early focus on changes in international travel, immigration, and deportation policies that are affecting residents and families in the Greater Washington region. The DC metropolitan area has 1.3 million foreign-born residents, including an estimated 400,000 unauthorized immigrants — many of whom are long-term residents with deep community ties, including spouses and children who are U.S. citizens.

These grants will help the region’s networks of immigrant-serving organizations expand their collaborative work to ensure that community members understand their legal and civil rights, take precautions to stabilize their families in the event they are detained, and receive legal representation.

Share Your Ideas

As the Fund’s steering committee considers further work in this area, as well as future areas of focus, members welcome input from a wide range of stakeholders about how federal policy shifts are currently affecting our region. The committee has created this form so that representatives of nonprofit organizations, businesses, government, and community residents can provide input on current and future areas of focus. The steering committee will review all comment submitted, and is especially interested in hearing about efforts to fight intolerance and build community cohesion. Please use this form to share your ideas and thoughts with us.

Join us!

The Resilience Fund was launched in early 2017 with an initial goal of $500,000, and has so far raised nearly $400,000 in gifts and commitments from foundations and individual donors — although the breadth of policy changes affecting the region may lead us to increase our goal. Join with us and others who seek to ensure that our region’s communities are resilient and supported in spite of federal policy shifts by contributing to The Resilience Fund. More information is available here.

Mayor Bowser Announces Grant Awards to Community Organizations Working to Prevent Violence

Mayor Bowser has announced 33 awardees of the City Innovation Fund’s Safer, Stronger DC Community Opportunity Grant Competition, administered by the Greater Washington Community Foundation. The grants, which total $1.5 million, are part of Mayor Bowser’s Safer, Stronger DC initiative.

“We know that public safety and violence prevention are not just policing issues,” said Mayor Bowser. “As my Administration works with the community to build a safer, stronger DC, these grants will provide financial resources to outstanding organizations that are improving the lives of individuals and families in neighborhoods throughout our city.”

The grants will support the work of organizations whose missions and programs provide targeted interventions and strategies that:

  • reduce incidents of violent crime;
  • improve the health, well-being, and quality of life of residents in the priority communities;
  • increase community and civic participation; and
  • engag e residents in meaningful and productive activities.

The 33 organizations were selected through an independent grant management process managed by the Greater Washington Community Foundation. 

“We applaud the District’s leadership in providing critical assistance to community-based organizations in the form of general operating grants and capacity-building support," said Bruce McNamer, President and CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. "The Community Foundation is proud to partner with District leadership to administer the City Fund and advance our shared goal of improving the quality of life throughout the region.”

In all, 104 organizations applied for funding this round – the most ever for a Safer, Stronger DC Community Opportunity Grant Competition. The following organizations are being awarded grants:

  • Access Inc.
  • Apple Tree Early Learning Public Charter School
  • Bread for the City
  • City Kids in the Wilderness Project
  • City Year DC
  • Citydance Ensemble, Inc
  • Collaborative Solutions for Communities
  • DC Creative Writing Worksho
  • DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative, Inc
  • DC Youth Orchestra Program
  • Do the Write Thing Foundation of DC
  • East of the River Clergy Police Community Partnership
  • Excel Automotive Institute
  • Exodus Treatment Center
  • FAIR Girls
  • Homes for Hope Inc.
  • Innercity Collaborative Community Development Corporation
  • Institute for African Man Development Inc.
  • Jah Kente International, Inc.
  • Kid Power
  • Live It Learn It
  • Men Can Stop Rape
  • Nomis Youth Network
  • One Common Unity
  • Open City Advocates
  • Recreation Wish List Committee of Washington, DC
  • Survivors and Advocates for Empowerment – SAFE Inc.
  • Teens Run DC
  • University Legal Services
  • Washington Tennis & Education Foundation
  • Y.O.U.R. Community Center
  • Young Women’s Project
  • Youth Entrepreneur Institute

The disbursement of grant payments is contingent on organizations successfully satisfying all District of Columbia business and tax requirements. In Fall 2017, during the next round of grants, an additional $1.4 million will be awarded. Technical assistance will be provided to organizations interested in applying and those that did not get funded this round.

Information on the final grantmaking round is forthcoming. Visit the City Fund website for more information.

Showing up and lending our voices for Prince George's County

By Brian Rubin, Advisory Board Member, Prince George's County Social Innovation Fund and Bowie resident

I firmly believe that good things eventually happen when you commit to showing up. To that end, it was only logical that I join the Greater Washington Community Foundation in the launch of Voices of the Community (VoicesDMV) at the Prince George’s County Ballroom.  I am convinced that if spaces are created for the most promising talent and the brightest ideas to emerge, the possibilities are endless.  

It was gratifying to be in a space in which so many people, not only cared about Prince George’s County, but also believed in the County.  As one of my conversation partners that night stated, “Prince George’s County is already a good place to live.  With the proper investment, we have an opportunity to take it from 'Good to Great' (stealing from management guru, Jim Collins)."

At the community conversation, we discussed everything from healthcare to education, from housing to transportation, from crime to overall community well-being. We also separated the real issues from the ‘fake’ news. What became evident is that all of us who showed up desire a community built by design and not as a reaction to perceived crisis or merely by accident.   

Nearly five years ago, when my wife and I relocated to the Metro DC area, we made a decision to live, worship, and raise our two boys in Prince George’s County.  We could have chosen some of the local areas often profiled as being a better choice for families with school-aged children, but we were convinced that Prince George’s County was for us.  Even amidst some of the negative press, both warranted and unwarranted, we have not regretted our decision. 

Even evident during the night’s dialogue, one of the areas that is often scrutinized about Prince George’s County is public education.  While there have been times in which we have wanted more out of our school’s, our oldest son has excelled.  Many times that required action on our part as parents, but in making a decision to enroll him in the local public system, we also were committed to showing up and making our children’s education a joint effort between us and the school.  We believe in placing high expectations on those who serve our children, but we also believe that in order for any community endeavor to succeed, we must also show up.

By the attendance alone, it was clear that people in Prince George’s County are willing to show up. Perhaps the most valuable thing that I took away from joining this conversation is that Prince George’s County is comprised of people who care. As we discussed perceived strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, not everyone agreed, but everyone communicated a shared interest in seeing Prince George’s County thrive and flourish.

In the end, my hope is that this conversation leads to a stronger investment in the people that have decided to make Prince George’s County home.  We can point to so many individuals that are already engaged in small scale interventions - family, church, mentoring, fraternities and sororities, etc. - that are worthy of being acknowledged, but are typically small scale and under-resourced.  I often muse about the impact that a collective effort of adequately resourced folks with ‘skin in the game’, committed to the long path would have. As I stated before, the possibilities are endless.