Victories in Advocacy

What do paid sick leave in Maryland, limiting drinking water contamination in Virginia, and protecting housing for Chinese Americans in DC’s Chinatown all have in common? These are victories that were made possible by advocacy, led by our nonprofit partners.

Advocacy—activities that can influence public policy, including work connecting community members to other decision-makers—is a key tool we use to build thriving communities.

“Investing in advocacy is a critical part of creating real and lasting social change,” says Silvana Straw, Senior Community Investment Officer and Philanthropic Advisor at The Community Foundation. “Advocacy efforts increase public awareness and public will, increase public and private funding, and strengthen public policy.”

One example of a recent victory is the work of Washington Interfaith Network (WIN), which we have helped fund. WIN’s campaign in DC’s Northwest One neighborhood engaging community residents and leaders in housing advocacy, led to a plan to build 518 units of affordable housing at 33 K Street NW, formerly Temple Courts. WIN and former tenants have been working with the developer to secure jobs commitments for former and current tenants.

Building on 30 years of experience, including advocacy which preserved $80 million of public funding for safety net services in the region, Straw’s current work focuses on housing and ending homelessness.

DCFPI is a key partner of the Way Home: the campaign to end chronic homelessness in Washington DC and helps organize major advocacy events led by the campaign.

DCFPI is a key partner of the Way Home: the campaign to end chronic homelessness in Washington DC and helps organize major advocacy events led by the campaign.

Straw also works with the DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI), a key partner in the fight for affordable housing and ending homelessness in DC. Their research revealed that in the past decade DC lost more than half of its affordable housing. Last year DCFPI laid out a blueprint for the investments needed to fully address DC’s housing needs. DCFPI’s research shows that extremely low-income families face the greatest need and supports advocacy for DC’s Local Rent Supplement Program, including a 2019 increase which was the largest in years.

Another victory is thanks to Housing Counseling Services (HCS). Their advocacy has helped tenants at Wah Luck House, mostly Chinese American seniors, keep their housing in DC’s Chinatown. They helped tenants exercise their Purchase Rights when their building went up for sale. Ultimately, tenants successfully negotiated a contract with the purchaser that preserves the HUD subsidy for 20 years and guaranteed an entire building upgrade.

Workforce development remains another key advocacy area for The Community Foundation. Benton Murphy, Senior Director, Community Investment, says,

“Over my years at The Community Foundation, my grants portfolio has included a large number of advocacy projects focused on things like encouraging transparency in our local and state government funding and budgets, advocating for better working conditions and rights for undocumented workers and day laborers, and helping more adults with literacy challenges receive better, more targeted education and job training supports.”

Last March, members of Job Opportunities Task Force spent the day in Annapolis, marching, advocating, and meeting with legislators to advance key issues, including colleges and universities removing the arrest/conviction question from applications.

Last March, members of Job Opportunities Task Force spent the day in Annapolis, marching, advocating, and meeting with legislators to advance key issues, including colleges and universities removing the arrest/conviction question from applications.

Some recent workforce victories include the passage of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act. This act will require employers with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven days of paid sick days in one year thanks to work alongside Job Opportunities Task Force and Maryland Center on Economic Policy. Another victory with these groups was the passage of the Maryland Fair Access to Education Act that requires colleges and universities who do not use a third-party admissions application to remove the arrest/conviction question from the initial admissions application, ensuring more equitable access to education.

In DC, the DC Adult and Family Literacy Coalition led by a Steering Committee (Academy of Hope Public Charter School, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, DC Public Library, Literacy Volunteers & Advocates, So Others Might Eat, Southeast Ministry and YWCA National Capital Area) convened at the Community Foundation’s offices, successfully advocated for the District to provide free public transportation to adult learners. This is important because many students miss class and fail to complete their programs if they don't have bus or subway fare. The 2018 DC budget included $2 million so that adult learners can travel for free using public transportation to and from class

Advocacy remains a key practice for community foundations and nonprofits to make the region more equitable for all our neighbors, including our most vulnerable populations.

To read about advocacy in action, check out this blog post from the Potomac Riverkeeper Network about how they worked to ensure passage of a bill to properly dispose of more than 27 million cubic yards of toxic coal ash currently sitting in holding ponds, safeguarding Virginia residents at risk of toxic contamination from pond leakage.

Protecting Our Community from Unsafe Drinking Water

Guest Post by Emily Franc, Vice President of Development/Philanthropy, Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN)

The Greater Washington Community Foundation manages The Spring Creek Environmental and Preservation Fund, of which the Potomac Riverkeeper Network was a grantee in 2019, 2018 and 2016. The Spring Creek fund was created to support local nonprofit organizations with a demonstrated track record in successfully preserving, protecting or encouraging sustainable use of exceptional natural or built environments in the Greater Washington region, particularly those environments affecting low-income populations.


Possum Point is a sleepy rural community of families and military veterans who live a simple life along Quantico Creek and the Potomac River. Dan and Patty Marrow chose to raise their three children on Possum Point Road because they believed it was a safe, wholesome community. Little did they know that carcinogens had been leaching from toxic coal ash ponds owned by the nearby Dominion Power Plant through ground water, slowly poisoning their drinking wells.  Residents of Possum Point and other communities across Virginia were unaware of the dangers of living next to coal ash ponds.  

That is until newly hired Potomac Riverkeeper, Dean Naujoks, came on the scene in 2015, fresh from battling Duke Energy and its leaking ash ponds in North Carolina. Those lessons learned proved invaluable in the fight to bring polluters to justice and uphold regulations that protect human health and our drinking water supply.

We assume when we turn on our tap, clean water will come out.  The Clean Water Act legitimizes our right to clean water, but right here in the Washington, DC, region, our Riverkeepers uncover illegal pollution regularly.  Ensuring enforcement of Clean Water laws, Riverkeepers become the last line of defense, protecting our waterways on the public’s behalf.  

Photos from Possum Point, showing ash piles being bulldozed into Pond D. Photos by Alan Lehman, Potomac Riverkeeper Network.

What Dean uncovered at Possum Point was alarming – water containing heavy metals called seeps had been leaking from unlined ash ponds for decades into the creek.  Independent lab test results of private drinking wells around Possum Point, commissioned and paid for by Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN), proved “untreated water from the wells at the properties addressed [on] Possum Point Road should not be used for potable purposes.” The wells were contaminated by a cocktail of carcinogenic metals linked to coal ash proving ground water contamination had moved off-site into residential drinking wells. 

“It is not easy to tell someone you believe their drinking wells are contaminated and unknowingly poisoning them,” said Naujoks, “but at the same time they have a right to know if their water is safe to drink!”

With growing momentum, PRKN hosted public forums attended by hundreds of people, engaged elected officials, and mobilized coalition partners and the public to join our “Move Your Ash” coal ash campaign. Property owners on Possum Point Road became outspoken after learning that their children had been exposed to unsafe well water for decades. Our coalition’s outreach committee generated over 1,000 calls, emails, and letters to elected officials in support of coal ash legislation.

In January of this year, the Virginia legislature passed a bill requiring at least 7 million of the 30 million tons of coal ash in the state to be recycled and the rest safely landfilled within 15 years! Without a Riverkeeper conducting investigations, informing the public, and pressuring state agencies to take action, these decades of unimpeded pollution would have continued.

This story is just one of dozens of toxic threats we investigate annually.  Taking the time to deeply investigate and understand the nature of threats to water quality, while locating the actual individual sources of pollution is critical to our approach, credibility, and success.

We are grateful for the support of the Greater Washington Community Foundation’s family of donors and the Spring Creek Environmental Fund for their stalwart support of our efforts.  Together, we took on Dominion and took back our right to clean water.

Potomac Riverkeeper Network works to protect the public’s right to clean water in our rivers and streams by stopping pollution to promote safe drinking water, protecting healthy river habitats, and enhancing public use and enjoyment. Learn more.

Apply Today for LEARN Scholarship

The Landover Educational Athletic Recreational Nonprofit (LEARN) was established in 1996 to support education programs for Prince George's County youth residing in the vicinity of FedEx Field stadium. Since its inception, the LEARN Foundation has awarded close to $1 million in scholarships and grants to Prince George’s County students and community organizations.  Embedded in the foundation’s mission is the belief that the future is now, and that through partnerships and collaboration young people residing in the targeted areas can benefit through post-secondary education opportunities. 

In 2002, the LEARN Foundation became a component fund of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. Since that time, hundreds of students have benefited from scholarship awards toward college and other career preparation opportunities.The fund is now accepting applications for 2019 awards. Interested high school seniors must apply by Saturday, April 29, 2019.

For more information please contact The LEARN Foundation via phone (301) 499-3500 or email learnfoundation18@gmail.com.

Farewell to Desiree Griffin-Moore

By Bruce McNamer, President and CEO

This week, we bid a sad farewell to Desiree Griffin-Moore, Executive Director of our local Prince George’s County office. Desiree has been tireless in her efforts, her outreach and her leadership at The Community Foundation for more than 20 years. As Executive Director in Prince George’s County, she has played a vital role in building community, strengthening the capacity of non-profits, engaging with the government and private sectors and raising money to support our work. Underlying all of her work as been her passionate commitment to social justice—a passion that has driven her entire career.

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Desiree arrived at The Community Foundation in 1998 with extensive experience working in the nonprofit sector to advance low-income and marginalized communities through roles with the Freddie Mac Foundation, the United Way of the National Capital Region, and the District of Columbia Department of Human Services. As Executive Director of The Community Foundation in Prince George’s County, she led the way in creating corporate relationships with, among others, the Peterson Companies, Walton Group, and MGM National Harbor.

In times of crisis, Desiree crafted solutions that worked to bring stability and security to our community. During the 2008 housing crisis, she worked with United Communities Against Poverty on foreclosure prevention efforts. And around the same time she helped launch the Neighbors in Need Fund. During her tenure she also initiated Sharing Prince George’s, a communal grant making program; the PGC Coalition for the Enrichment of After School Programs; the PGC Education Initiative Socratic Forum; and the Partnership for Prince George’s County, which raised over a million dollars to support capacity building for non-profits in the County. 

Photo of President and CEO Bruce McNamer, guest Terese Taylor, former Executive Director of The Community Foundation in Prince George's County Desiree Griffin-Moore, and Chair of The Community Foundation's Prince George’s Advisory Board, Bill Shipp, at the Civic Leadership Awards in Prince George's County.

Photo of President and CEO Bruce McNamer, guest Terese Taylor, former Executive Director of The Community Foundation in Prince George's County Desiree Griffin-Moore, and Chair of The Community Foundation's Prince George’s Advisory Board, Bill Shipp, at the Civic Leadership Awards in Prince George's County.

On a day-to-day basis, she was the face of the Foundation in the County, continually engaged with Foundation donors, and acted as our touchstone with literally hundreds of dedicated non-profits. In 2006, she and the Board of Advisors launched the Civic Leadership Awards, which to this day powerfully lift up the civic contributions made in different spheres by so many in building a thriving County.    

And there was more. As important and imaginative as her work has been, we who know her also respect and love her for how she has worked. She is a natural leader and a wonderful human being. Seemingly so comfortable as a speaker, listener, counselor, cheerleader, or friend, Desiree is able to inspire with her passion and her eloquence, to connect with her warmth and great sense of humor, and to lead with purpose, intellect and heart. She is special. We will miss her.


Sincerely,

Bruce McNamer
President & CEO

Promoting Civic Engagement through the Arts

The “DIVAs” may sound like the name of a band or a reality TV show. In fact, it’s a 14-year-old giving circle comprised of about a dozen Montgomery County women who pool their funds and invest in groups that provide life-changing arts experiences to disadvantaged and at-promise youth. “Donors InVesting in the Arts,” or “DIVAs,” is one of the many giving circles managed by the Greater Washington Community Foundation. 

Each year the group, which includes a number of artists and community leaders, focuses its grantmaking on how to use the arts to empower kids and youth. This year’s focus was using the arts to reflect on our democracy and promote civic engagement, “a topic that is always important and relevant, especially at this moment in time,” said DIVAs member Esther Newman, CEO Emeritus and Founder of Leadership Montgomery.

Anna Hargrave, executive director of The Community Foundation’s local office in Montgomery County, agrees:

“Residents of our region are hungry for ways to connect with causes and organizations that are meaningful to them and that have an impact,” she said. “By helping young people develop a voice and shape our democracy now and into the future, the DIVAs are making an investment in the leaders of tomorrow.” 

Newman credits Hargrave with introducing the group to arts organizations with a strong track record. “Anna’s experience and knowledge of Montgomery County-based organizations and her facilitation of our meetings has been invaluable,” said Newman. “With her help, we know our money is being wisely spent.” 

This year, the group made grants to two groups: Young Artists of America (YAA) at Strathmore for its “Hear the People Sing!” social media initiative and Gandhi Brigade, a youth media organization which uses multimedia as tools to promote community building, multicultural understanding and the common good.

YAA provides professional level music theatre training and performance opportunities to the region’s most talented middle and high school instrumentalists and vocalists, resulting in fully-orchestrated works of music-theatre in high-profile venues. As a follow up to last year’s popular performance of “Ragtime,” this spring, YAA will present “Les Misérables,” based on Victor Hugo’s book and featuring YAA’s 60-piece youth symphonic orchestra.

 

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Young Artists of America at Strathmore (YAA) and Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras (MCYO) present RAGTIME: In Concert on April 15, 2018 at the Music Center at Strathmore, North Bethesda, MD.

Titled after one of the most rousing songs in the Les Mis score, YAA’s “Hear the People Sing!” initiative challenges students to make connections between the social challenges in Hugo’s time and those of today, such as class inequity and gender-based oppression. Performers, as well as invited student audience members from low- and moderate-income families, are encouraged to participate in social media journaling and post-rehearsal discussions to spark dialogue, extending and deepening the conversation to a larger audience.  

“We want to make it cool for students to talk about these topics with their peers and get further involved in local issues,” YAA Executive Director Lisa Larragoite said. “Our vision is to help every student ‘take the stage,’ and by that we mean both the literal stage and the stage of life. Specifically, we want students to see how art can help individuals begin to consider social issues they may not directly face but which are important to society at large.”

“To get a grant from such a well-respected group as the DIVAs allows us to work with students on a deeper level and validates our work,” Larragoite added. 

The DIVAs also made a grant to Gandhi Brigade Youth Media, a Silver Spring-based afterschool program that empowers young people to use multimedia tools to promote community building, multicultural understanding and the common good. The funding allows Gandhi Brigade to expand its free afterschool programs in which participants learn media skills, research and interview techniques and produce short films on timely topics. The program not only benefits participating students, but also the broader Montgomery County community by providing an outlet for youth to share their thoughts and perspectives with peers, neighbors and community leaders. Recent films have addressed such pressing issues as bullying, immigration reform, juvenile justice and police accountability. 

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Student filmmakers from the Gandhi Brigade Youth Media 2018 summer documentary program.

“Not only do young people need vehicles to talk about difficult issues, the larger community needs to hear what they have to say,” said Gandhi Brigade Executive Director Anna Danielson. 

The opening of Gandhi Brigade’s new studio later this year will allow the organization to have more of a public face. In turn, the new editing space and screening room will provide opportunities for students to share their work more broadly, through community screenings of their videos, original podcasts and intergenerational activities with seniors. “The grant from the DIVAs is a real vote of confidence in our civic engagement work,” Danielson said.  

To learn more about how The Community Foundation is enhancing community well-being by promoting philanthropy and civic engagement, supporting arts and culture, and advocating for equity, inclusion and justice, please contact Silvana Straw at sstraw@thecommunityfoundation.org.

Nominate an Executive for a David Bradt Nonprofit Leadership Award

 

David Bradt is a quietly effective leader for and champion of the Greater Washington region. In addition to serving as a Managing Director of Andersen Tax, he has invested considerable time and talent into numerous volunteer leadership roles, including the Chair and Member of the Greater Washington Community Foundation’s Board, Chairman and Board member of Greater D.C. Cares, member of the Board of Venture Philanthropy Partners, and a volunteer and fundraising dinner chair for Share Our Strength.

Seeking a meaningful way to salute his years of service, David’s friends and family surprised him by establishing the David Bradt Nonprofit Education Fund as a new fund at the Greater Washington Community Foundation. The fund’s purpose is to provide an annual award that will enable a nonprofit leader in the Greater Washington region to attend an intensive executive training program. Through investing in the leadership of the region’s most effective organizations, the David Bradt Nonprofit Education Fund will have a long-lasting, tangible impact on our community by enhancing the capacity and influence of those groups.

AWARD DETAILS

The David Bradt Nonprofit Leadership Award will grant up to $15,000 for leaders to participate in professional development programs that will enhance their leadership, creative thinking, strategy, and management skills.  The selection committee will prioritize applicants who wish to participate in cohort programs which will expand their professional networks while also deepening their skills.  (Click here to download a list of pre-vetted programs.) Other leadership programs will be given consideration on a case-by-case basis.

Awardees have up to two years to use the award. The award will be primarily applied to the tuition/fees of the selected program but a portion may be allotted for related travel expenses.

Once selected, the awardee must apply and be accepted to a leadership program.  The awardee then will update the Community Foundation on the cost of the program and related travel expenses as well as any other aid awarded by the program itself.  As a final step, the David Bradt Nonprofit Education Fund will make a grant to the awardee’s organization which will pay both the tuition and travel costs directly. 

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Eligible applicants must currently work in a senior leadership role at a nonprofit that directly serves the Greater Washington region. Priority will go to applicants with at least five years of senior leadership experience in the nonprofit sector or equivalent leadership experience from government/business sectors.

Ideal candidates should demonstrate: 

  • Dedication to making a positive impact

  • Passion and the ability to instill passion in the people with whom they work

  • A collaborative spirit when working with other people and organizations as well as across sectors

  • Drive to bring innovative ideas forward and to fruition

  • High integrity and ethical behavior

The selection committee will not consider applications from organizations with a national or international focus. i.e. organizations which are headquartered in the Greater Washington region but provide no direct service to local residents.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Understanding that there are many worthy leaders serving our region who may be interested in this opportunity, the selection committee will have a two-stage process to help streamline the time and effort required:

Stage 1:  Letter of Interest

Applicants may submit a brief (1-2 pages max) Letter of Interest explaining the mission and work of their nonprofit, their particular role in advancing their organization’s mission, the organization’s impact on people living in the Greater Washington region, and their professional development goals. Applicants should also submit a copy of their resume. If you have already identified specific professional development courses/programs you wish to attend, we encourage you to note them in the application.

Additionally, the selection committee will accept a nomination letter if a CEO/Executive Director would like to nominate someone from the organization’s senior leadership team.

All nominations and Letters of Interest must be submitted electronically by 5pm on Thursday, April 18th.

Stage 2:  Full Application

By early June 2019, the selection committee will identify finalists who will be invited to submit a more formal application which will include:

  • A personal statement which includes details about their goals and the professional development programs they would like to attend.

  • Overview of the organization (history, major accomplishments, descriptions of the programs managed by the applicant and outcomes achieved)

  • 2 letters of support 

The selection committee will conduct personal interviews in September before announcing the awardee(s) by early November 2019.

QUESTIONS:

Should you have any questions, contact Kevin Donnelly at kdonnelly@thecommunityfoundation.org. No phone calls, please.

APPLICATION FORM:

Please use the following form to submit your nomination or Letter of Interest by 5pm on Thursday, April 18th.  

 

Announcing the Inaugural David Bradt Nonprofit Leadership Awards

Our new awardees with members of the selection committee. From left to right: Alex Orfinger, Diane Tipton, Lauren Shweder Biel, Patricia Funegra, David Bradt, Adam Rocap, Lidia Soto-Harmon, Lyles Carr, and Tamara Copeland.

Our new awardees with members of the selection committee. From left to right: Alex Orfinger, Diane Tipton, Lauren Shweder Biel, Patricia Funegra, David Bradt, Adam Rocap, Lidia Soto-Harmon, Lyles Carr, and Tamara Copeland.

David Bradt is a quietly effective leader for and champion of the Greater Washington region.  In addition to serving as a Managing Director of Andersen Tax, he has invested considerable time and talent into numerous volunteer leadership roles, including the Chair and Member of the Greater Washington Community Foundation’s Board, Chairman and Board member of Greater D.C. Cares, member of the Board of Venture Philanthropy Partners, and a volunteer and fundraising dinner chair for Share Our Strength.

A few years ago, Alex Orfinger, wanted to find a meaningful way to salute David’s many years of service to our local community.  Teaming up with David’s wife, Diane Tipton, they invited friends and family to join them in establishing the David Bradt Nonprofit Education Fund at the Greater Washington Community Foundation. Their vision was to provide an annual award that will enable a nonprofit leader in the Greater Washington region to attend an intensive executive training program.

As you may imagine, David was shocked and touched by the incredible outpouring from friends and colleagues who rallied to create this special award.  He also was thrilled to discover this award will have a long-lasting, tangible impact on our community by enhancing the capacity and influence of nonprofit leaders and the organizations they serve.

With facilitation by The Community Foundation staff, the steering committee recently selected the inaugural awardees: Lauren Biel, Patricia Funegra, and Adam Rocap.

Lauren Biel is Co-Founder and Executive Director of DC Greens, which works to create a more equitable food system in our community. Nominators specifically recognized for her collaborative spirit in her work.  Biel says,

“I believe it is one of the keys to the success of our movement in the District - our recognition that we are strongest when we stand together, and that all boats rise in the tide. At DC Greens, we have a culture of elevating other organizations, and of working to benefit more than just our own organizational interests.” 

For her award, Lauren is currently selecting an intensive upper level management course that will propel both her and DC Greens forward. 

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Patricia Funegra is the Founder and CEO of La Cocina VA, which uses the power of food to generate workforce and economic development opportunities. Having started in a church basement, La Cocina VA is now getting ready to move to a state of the art Training and Entrepreneurship center. Patricia is known for her passion and the ability to instill similar passion in the people with whom she works serving up grit and determination daily. She explains,

“We [at La Cocina VA] believe that it is not only about what we do, but how we do it. We develop expertise and thought leadership on the intersections of innovation, job creation, and advocacy, to provide systemic opportunities for economic stability.”

Patricia looks forward to using her award to attend the Women's Leadership Forum of the Harvard Business School.

Adam Rocap serves as Deputy Director of Miriam’s Kitchen.  Adam is driven to bring innovative ideas to fruition, and he has been instrumental in shifting the organization’s focus to ending chronic homelessness in DC. Reflecting on the organization’s evolution during his tenure, Adam says,

“Miriam’s Kitchen moved from an agency that historically just provided high-quality meals and case management to homeless individuals to an agency with an expanded portfolio of advocacy, permanent supportive housing, street outreach, and SOAR disability benefits programs that are strategically aligned for Miriam’s Kitchen to help end chronic homelessness at the individual and system-wide levels.” 

Adam plans to split his award between a local leadership course and an Executive Education program at the Harvard Business School.

Bruce McNamer, President & CEO, says:

“On behalf of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, I want to congratulate the awardees and also give thanks to Diane and Alex for their vision, all the friends who gave to make it possible, and David for being the inspiration for this award.  Your investment in these and all the future awardees will have a profound impact on our region for years to come.”

 

Surprising Stats from VoicesDMV

As a community foundation, your perspectives – the voices of our community – are key to our work. We are committed to responding to our community’s needs through responsive grantmaking and by amplifying local voices in public and private sector conversations. To best speak in partnership with our community, we have to listen. We have to connect directly with the people and communities we serve and understand our neighbors’ experiences in their neighborhoods, jobs, schools, with local government, and with each other — and to identify the role philanthropy can play in enhancing or improving those experiences.

About a year ago, the Greater Washington Community Foundation proudly announced the release of Voices of the Community: DC, Maryland, Virginia. Designed to amplify the voice of the people—those who live and work in our region—VoicesDMV included a survey of more than 3,000 of our regional neighbors as well as community conversations with hundreds of stakeholders across the region. This allowed The Community Foundation to hear directly from locals about the region’s strengths, challenges, and overall quality of life.

We saw this as a way to better understand the story of our region. We launched this initiative recognizing that although our region is data rich, few efforts systematically capture the voices, experiences, attitudes, and perceptions of people who live here, especially across jurisdictions.

VoicesDMV was envisioned as a north star for The Community Foundation – a way for us to ensure our grantmaking and community leadership efforts are aligned to the needs most strongly felt by our neighbors. We have also offered the data collected through this initiative as a public good, available to anyone seeking to do good in our region. And we made a commitment to revisit this survey every two years to keep our finger on the pulse of our region.

Our efforts have paid tremendous dividends. Through VoicesDMV we learned so much more about our region, especially our neighbors experiences in their communities and the role philanthropy can play in enhancing or improving those experiences.

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A community member speaks at a community conversation in Northern Virginia.

Photo by AOTA Creative Group.

VoicesDMV revealed that even as our region continues to prosper, deep disparities in income, education and opportunity persist and the gap continues to widen:

  • Nearly one in five residents has faced some form of housing or food insecurity in the past 12 months. That number increases to one in three people for our region’s black and Hispanic populations.

  • One in three people would not have enough savings to continue to live as they do today for more than two months if they lost current income sources.

  • The cost of living, especially renting or owning a home, was raised as one of the most challenging aspects of our region.

  • Nearly a third of Prince George’s County and Montgomery County respondents rated access to education and training as a “major” barrier to finding a job.

  • One in four people were discriminated against in the region in the past year, and the majority said it was because of their race or ethnicity.

VoicesDMV has influenced The Community Foundation at its very core. These findings drove the development of our new Building Thriving Communities framework, which underscores the importance of our continued focus on affordable housing in our region and led us to explore new opportunities to support entrepreneurship and prepare for the Future of Work.

And while we have put so much new work into practice as a result of VoicesDMV, our work to stay in touch with the community is not over. In the nearly two years since we initiated our first VoicesDMV survey, we have seen the birth of the #MeToo movement, new administrations taking the reins of power throughout our region, and Amazon deciding to set up shop.

With so much change happening, we are excited by the opportunity to circle back to the community for our second VoicesDMV survey, this time with a few new bells and whistles and plenty of opportunities to engage with us on the results. Stay tuned for more from The Community Foundation on ways that you can be engaged with VoicesDMV!

If you’d like to sign up for news and more information about our VoicesDMV initiative, please contact Benton Murphy at bmurphy@thecommunityfoundation.org