A Framework for Building Thriving Communities

Dear friends and community members,

As a community foundation, having a finger on the pulse of our community is central to who we are and our ability to make a difference in the lives of those who call our region their home. Last year, in partnership with Urban Institute, we launched Voices of the Community: DC, MD, VA (VoicesDMV) 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.

VoicesDMV revealed a region in which, while separated by income, education or geographic boundaries, all of us share similar hopes and dreams. We all want a better overall quality of life for ourselves and our families, including the opportunity to live in a safe and welcoming environment, obtain a quality education, earn a living wage, and build assets for a secure future. And yet, as prosperous as our region is, our survey found that deep disparities in income and opportunity persist and the gap continues to widen, preventing many of our neighbors, particularly people of color due to historical discrimination, from accessing the region’s economic growth and prosperity.

A decade ago, our Economic Security Framework was created as a direct response to the economic crisis and its impact on the region, with a focus on workforce development, safety-net services, and education. But the nature of today’s challenges requires a different approach, one that goes deeper toward addressing systemic issues to improve the economic and social well-being of people and communities who have long been marginalized, particularly communities of color. While economic security will remain part of our work going forward, we have taken this opportunity to refresh our focus areas to fully capture the range of efforts that are critical to building thriving communities. Our new Building Thriving Communities Framework will broaden our work with donors and partners across the region to disrupt poverty, deepen human connection, and prepare for the future of work.

With this refresh, we seek to deepen and expand existing work by leveraging new tools, prioritizing strategic partnerships across sectors, and developing innovative approaches to addressing the region’s most pressing challenges. This includes a new partnership with the District of Columbia Interagency Council on Homelessness to launch a broader public-private partnership that will build off the District’s plans to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring by making critical investments to accelerate our community’s response.

We are also deliberately centering racial equity and community voice in our community leadership efforts and in our grantmaking. For example, as our Workforce Development Collaborative celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the focus will remain on supporting programs and policies which help workers advance their skills and credentials, but with a special emphasis on eliminating inequities based on race, ethnicity or gender and providing new career pathways and wealth-building opportunities.

We hope you see a connection between our Building Thriving Communities Framework and your own charitable giving plans. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss how The Community Foundation can support your broader interests. You can also make an unrestricted gift to the Fund for Greater Washington to support our ongoing community change work across the region. Your continued partnership and support are crucial as we seek to build thriving communities today and for generations to come.

Sincerely,

 
 Bruce McNamer, President and CEO

Bruce McNamer, President and CEO

 Tonia Wellons, VP of Community Investment

Tonia Wellons, VP of Community Investment

 

Building Thriving Communities

The Greater Washington Community Foundation has three focus areas which guide our interconnected and strategic approach to Building Thriving Communities. These focus areas represent the range of efforts that The Community Foundation, our donors, and partners individually and collectively undertake to strengthen our region and create a brighter future for our most vulnerable neighbors. Through support for direct services as well as research, advocacy, and grassroots community engagement, we are contributing to systems change in the following areas: 

Poverty

Approach: Respond to the multi-dimensional nature of poverty by addressing basic needs – food, shelter, education, health – while also working on systemic approaches to dismantling its impact.

The Community Foundation has long advocated for and supported education and safety-net services as part of our economic security framework. But the persistence of poverty—often predicted by zip code and race or ethnicity—remains one of the biggest challenges affecting families across the region. We are committed to addressing inequities and helping our most vulnerable neighbors—people experiencing homelessness, unstable housing, or underemployment—find pathways out of poverty by supporting both direct services and systems-level interventions.

Related Funds and Initiatives:

  • Fund for Greater Washington
  • Partnership to End Homelessness in DC
  • Children’s Opportunity Fund (Montgomery County)
  • Sharing Funds
  • Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative
    Prince George’s County)
  • Fund for Children, Youth and Families
  • Raise DC
  • Scholarship funds
  • Neighbors in Need Montgomery Fund

Broader Foundation and Donor Interests:

  • Safety-net services
  • Affordable housing
  • Homelessness
  • Hunger
  • Education and scholarships
  • Economic development
  • Public Health
  • Early Childhood Development
     

Culture and Human Connection

Approach: Foster diverse and inclusive connections by promoting philanthropy and civic engagement, supporting arts and culture, and advocating for equity, inclusion, and justice.

Our region is one of the most culturally, ethnically, geographically, and economically diverse areas in the country. Yet underlying discrimination and disparities based on race, income or gender continue to threaten community cohesion. We can enhance community well-being by celebrating our region’s diversity and the economic and social benefits therein, facilitating civic participation by all and advocating for more just policies and investments that support members of our community who are economically and/or socially marginalized.

Related Funds and Initiatives:

  • Fund for Greater Washington
  • VoicesDMV
  • Resilience Fund
  • Sharing Funds
  • Celebration of Philanthropy, Celebration of
    Giving, and Civic Leadership Awards
  • Spring Creek Environmental Fund
  • Corporate disaster relief funds and other
    responsive funds

Broader Foundation and Donor Interests:

  • Race equity and inclusion
  • Social justice
  • Civic engagement
  • Disaster Relief
  • Arts and Culture
  • Environment
  • Human rights
  • Criminal justice reform
  • Public spaces

The Future of Work

Approach: Prepare workers and entrepreneurs to build the skills and resources they need to succeed in our region’s changing economy.

As our region grows and adapts to a changing global economy, local employers increasingly demand a higher level of skill and knowledge from workers. Thousands in our region are unemployed, under-employed, or stuck in low-wage employment because they lack the tools and training. We will continue our work to eliminate income gaps, especially those based on race or ethnicity, and advocate for fair wages, portable benefits, and state of the art workforce systems. Ultimately, we aim to connect workers to career pathways and industry-recognized credentials to help them enter and advance in their careers, build skills, and increase wages.

Related Funds and Initiatives:

  • The Catalyst Fund
  • Workforce Development Collaborative
    • Greater Washington Works: IT and
      Health Careers with Promise
  • Sharing Funds

 

 

Broader Foundation and Donor Interests:

  • Career pathways
    and advancement opportunities
  • Adult education, training
    and credentials
  • Income inequality
  • Workforce development programs
  • Wealth-building, entrepreneurship and small business
  • Portable benefits
  • Research and advocacy

Centering Race Equity and Inclusion at The Community Foundation

The Community Foundation is building on a rich history of social justice grantmaking and community leadership initiatives—including funding collaboratives such as the Washington Area Partnership for Immigrants and the Common Ground Fund, which originated our acclaimed “Putting Race on the Table” discussion series—as we renew our institutional commitment to race, equity and inclusion. Our priority is to ensure that our leadership team and staff have a full appreciation for what it means to apply a racial equity lens to our day-to-day work. This includes revisiting our internal processes and institutional infrastructure to make sure they reflect our values for racial equity in pay, voice, contracting, hiring, governance, and in our grantmaking process. Similarly, we look to achieve racial equity in our programmatic and community leadership work by explicitly acknowledging systems and policies that have led to disproportionate negative outcomes for people of color, and by disaggregating data as we consider current and future programmatic interventions. We seek to center racial equity at The Community Foundation by actively engaging people and communities most impacted, particularly as we pursue solutions and investments.

This is a work in progress, but our commitment to this work remains steadfast.

Amazon HQ2 journey exposes region's challenges

In a new op-ed for the Washington Business Journal, Bruce McNamer and Sarah Rosen Wartell from Urban Institute discuss how racial and economic inequities that have long plagued our area could threaten our progress, and they offer 3 strategies to get the region on a path for inclusive growth.

New Investments in Job Training to Benefit More than 100 District Residents

The Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative, an initiative of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, today announced new investments in five local community-based organizations designed to help DC residents get the skills and training they need to gain employment. The funded programs will offer training in a host of industries including hospitality, IT, healthcare, education, and the construction trades.

These investments are the result of a philanthropic partnership between the Workforce Collaborative and the developers of a new mixed-use property at 965 Florida Avenue NW in the District, a joint venture between MRP Realty, JBG Smith, and Ellis Development. As a part of the Planned Unit Development for this 10-story mixed use project, the developers have worked in partnership with The Community Foundation to establish the 965 Florida Avenue NW Job Training Grant Program, administered by the Workforce Collaborative.

The Workforce Collaborative is a partnership comprised of local foundations, philanthropists, and business. Its investments help workers acquire the skills and credentials they need to launch successful, family-sustaining careers, and help businesses attract, retain, and advance the skilled workforce they need to provide critical services to our community and remain globally competitive.

All five funded projects were asked to propose work that will specifically focus on residents living within one mile of the 965 Florida Avenue NW development.

The 965 Florida Avenue project will help prepare local residents with the workplace skills and training they need…" said MRP Realty Vice President for Development Michael Skena, "…it is this type of public-private partnership between business, philanthropy, and the nonprofit sector that will provide high quality career opportunities for residents in our neighborhood."

Partnering Together for Community Benefit

The developers worked alongside The Community Foundation and the Workforce Collaborative to develop a targeted grantmaking approach to ensure residents have access to a wide-range of services and opportunities to learn new skills and launch living-wage careers in industry sectors primed for growth. The Community Foundation developed its Request for Proposals and vetted applications from local training providers in lockstep with representatives of ANC 1B, the ANC in which the 965 Florida Avenue NW development sits.

“The process that The Community Foundation developed was inclusive and took into consideration the needs of our local community,” noted James A. Turner, Chairman of ANC1B. “We are thrilled to have been able to help drive the process that has yielded grants to these five great local nonprofits.”

Funded partnerships include:

Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School will serve 25 residents of the target area through their integrated Adult Basic Education, Adult Secondary Education and Career Pathways program. Their goal is to help each adult learner attain a high school credential and enter post-secondary workforce training or higher education. Academy of Hope focuses its efforts in the area of hospitality, healthcare and IT careers for adult literacy learners.

Community Services Agency of Metro Council AFL_CIO will provide construction pre-apprenticeship training, case management and job placement services to 20 low-income residents of the target geographic area to be served.

Literacy Lab will build capacity to recruit ten young men of color from DC public high schools in Ward 1 to participate in the Leading Men Fellowship, a program to increase workforce readiness by engaging young men of color in careers in early childhood education.

Literacy Volunteers and Advocates will create a program for 30 adults with an interest in obtaining a job in the technology field who need to improve their basic skills in order to become employment ready. The development of the AT Work! (Adults, Trained and Working) program will focus on integrating adult basic literacy skills with Information Technology skills, with a specific focus on preparing these adults for entry level administrative or help desk positions.

New Futures will provide comprehensive services to 15 low-income, first generation young adults pursuing degrees in IT and healthcare, including scholarships, post-secondary persistence and completion support, and career planning, skill-building, and preparation programs—all in service of launching high-growth careers that lead to financial stability.

A Win for Workers, Employers, and Our Community

Greater Washington is home to hundreds of thousands of working age adults who lack a post-secondary credential, most of whom currently work in front-line or entry-level jobs in every sector. Despite our region’s return to historically low unemployment rates, stubborn pockets of un- and under-employment persist. Initiatives like the 965 Florida Avenue Job Training Grant Program will target investments to those who need assistance most.

The Workforce Collaborative has a long history of supporting job training grantmaking as a component of community benefit agreements for clients including Hines, Walmart, and Trammel Crow.

“Supporting local business and employers to meet their philanthropic goals is core to our mission at the Greater Washington Community Foundation,” notes Benton Murphy, Senior Director of Community Investment at The Community Foundation. “We are proud to partner with ANC 1B, MRP Realty, JBG Smith, and Ellis Development on this project that will directly impact the lives of local residents.”

More information on the Workforce Collaborative is available online at www.gwwdc.org.  

Paying Tribute to Nancy Fax

It is with great sadness that we share news of loss of The Community Foundation’s long-time friend, Nancy Fax, who passed away Monday, June 4 after a brief illness.

Nancy had a long-standing relationship with The Community Foundation in Montgomery County. She was a two-time member of the Advisory Board, and chair from April 2004 to March 2006. She also co-chaired The Community Foundation’s Professional Advisors Council for many years. During her Board tenure, she was responsible for significant growth in The Community Foundation’s charitable assets and giving.

Her leadership was also pivotal to Sharing Montgomery, our strategic, donor-led funding effort to support organizations serving the County’s growing population of low-income children, families, and seniors. Each year, it educates people about the nonprofit community serving Montgomery County, engages donors in strategic grantmaking, and supports nonprofit capacity building. This spring, thanks to the contributions for many people and businesses, Sharing Montgomery granted $375,000 to 60 organizations.

A memorial service honoring Nancy's life will be held at 1:00 PM on Tuesday, June 26th in the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park (7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, Maryland). In lieu of flowers, the family invites Nancy's friends and colleagues to make a contribution to one of the following organizations:

Please contact Anna Hargrave (Executive Director, The Community Foundation in Montgomery County) at ahargrave@thecommunityfoundation.org if you have questions about the memorial service or other ways to donate in Nancy’s memory. 

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A Partnership to End Homelessness in DC

Washington, DC, like every major city across America, faces an affordable housing crisis. Housing plays a critical role in disrupting poverty, providing stability and creating a foundation for success in life. Yet a growing number of DC residents are experiencing housing instability and homelessness as a result of loss of affordable housing stock, major rent increases and low wages. According to the District’s recent Point-in-Time (PIT) Count, approximately 6,900 people at any given point in time are literally homeless—living on the streets or in the city's emergency shelters. Lack of stable housing makes it difficult for people to obtain or maintain employment, address health needs and keep families together.   

The Community Foundation, in partnership with the District of Columbia Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), is preparing to launch a public-private partnership focused on ending homelessness in the District by ensuring that homelessness is a rare, brief, and non-recurring event. Spurred in part by the District Government’s own plans* to address homelessness, we believe there is an immediate opportunity to align public and private sector resources and strategies to tackle this persistent challenge with renewed vigor and innovative solutions. Leveraging our experience as a convener, funder, community leader and advocate, we will bring together key public and private sector partners as we identify gaps and leverage points in the District’s plan in order to pinpoint how the private sector can make critical investments to accelerate our community’s response.

We seek to:

  • Support homeless individuals, families, and youth to exit homelessness and obtain stable housing; 
  • Leverage and align public and private philanthropic resources, leading to more strategic investments; 
  • Accelerate the implementation of the District’s strategy to end homelessness in DC, as laid out in Homeward DC (focused on single adults and families) and Solid Foundations DC (addressing unaccompanied youth); and
  • Address key recommendations of The Community Foundation’s 2014 Housing Security Study.

The Community Foundation is laying the groundwork over the next several months for the launch of this partnership in fall/winter 2018. We are currently engaged in the next phase of program design and fundraising planning. As a starting point, we are focused on our most vulnerable neighbors, those who have no or extremely low/very low income (0-50% AMI). Our approach will focus on expanding the supply of supportive housing more quickly and supporting nonprofit provider capacity to serve people exiting homelessness more efficiently and effectively.

The Community Foundation has a long history of making investments to help people meet basic needs for shelter and housing. In 2008, we galvanized the generosity of our community to establish the Neighbors in Need Fund which raised $5 million in aid for neighbors hit hardest by the economic crisis and to support advocacy and systems change. In 2014, we commissioned the study, Housing Security in Greater Washington, the first of its kind to quantify the need for shelter and housing across a range of income levels and inform strategic investments by the private and public sector. Many of our donors have given significantly in this area for the past 40+ years, including millions of dollars for the preservation of affordable housing in the District in addition to housing advocacy and community organizing. And in the past two years, our Fund for Children, Youth and Families has awarded over $2 million for Stable Homes/Stable Families in the region.

We are excited by the opportunity to refresh our commitment in this space and lay the groundwork to launch a new public-private partnership focused on ending homelessness in Washington, DC. If you are a funder or donor and are interested in learning more about our partnership to end homelessness in DC, please complete this brief form and we will follow up with you.

 
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Additional resources:

Coaching Prince George’s County’s Youth to College Success

This post is part of a series highlighting the amazing impact that results when our generous donors take a hands-on approach to the grantmaking process through our various Sharing funds.

Sharing Funds in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and DC represent The Community Foundation’s community-led grantmaking approach through a collection of philanthropic funds that provide financial support to local nonprofit organizations. The initiative helps donors strategically leverage their resources to create even greater impact in their own communities by pooling resources in support of effective nonprofits. It also brings donors, and other stakeholders, together to learn first-hand about the challenges facing the area’s most vulnerable residents. They engage in a peer-led grant review process to identify and support organizations that are effectively responding to the most critical needs. 

Sharing Prince George’s, operating out of the local office in Prince George’s County, helps donors to strategically leverage their resources to support the nonprofit organizations that are addressing the county’s most critical needs. It currently consists of the Prince George’s Neighbor to Neighbor Fund and the MGM National Harbor Fund.

The Sharing Prince George’s initiative is a clear demonstration of the Community Foundation’s role as a convener in the philanthropic community. By providing a mechanism for corporate members of our community to pool resources so that grants can then be distributed directly to nonprofits doing important work in our community, The Community Foundation is leveraging its expertise to create a better Prince George’s.

—     William M. Shipp, Trustee of The Community Foundation

In 2017, the Sharing Prince George’s fund granted $188,000 in awards to nonprofits in Prince George’s County, MD. First Generation College Bound (FGCB) was one of the 15 recipients in the latest round of awards.

FGCB helps youth realize that being the first in their family to earn a post-secondary degree is no longer a dream out of reach. For more than 25 years, FGCB has provided pathways through high school into college for low- to moderate-income, at-risk, and/or underrepresented youth attending Prince George’s County Public Schools.

According to the US Census, only 46% of low-income American students matriculate to college nationally. With limited opportunities for employment, low- and moderate-income students without college degrees will likely encounter a poorer quality of life, marked by inadequate housing, poor health care, food insecurity and the inability to build sustainable futures.
As a society, unless we do more to encourage first generation students to obtain college degrees, we risk becoming a more divided nation: between those who are moving forward, and those left behind.  And our most serious social problems – poverty, racism, violence, substance abuse, and mass incarceration – will grow more intractable.
General Operating Support from the Sharing Fund gave FGCB the flexibility to assure we addressed our most critical needs and gave our Coaches proper administrative and technical support to improve the quality of our services and enhance our mission’s delivery.

—     Joseph Fisher, Executive Director, First Generation College Bound

In 2016-2017, First Generation College Bound served 1,210 students across three programs: the Homework Club (27 students), College Access (223 students), and College Retention (960 students). College Access Coaches conducted a workshop series that educated high school seniors on the importance of taking the SAT, the financial aid system, the college admissions process, and how to successfully transition to college. A record number of students in the program – 98% of the 223 participants – matriculated to college.

The Community Foundation is happy to announce the next grant round for the Sharing funds is opening on June 4, 2018. To stay updated on our grant availability, visit our nonprofit page or join our mailing list.

The Impact of Hands-On Grantmaking in the District

This post is part of a series highlighting the amazing impact that results when our generous donors take a hands-on approach to the grantmaking process through our various Sharing Funds.

Sharing Funds in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and DC represent The Community Foundation’s community-led grantmaking approach through a collection of philanthropic funds that provide financial support to local nonprofit organizations. The initiative helps donors strategically leverage their resources to create even greater impact in their own communities by pooling resources in support of effective nonprofits. It also brings donors, and other stakeholders, together to learn first-hand about the challenges facing the area’s most vulnerable residents. They engage in a peer-led grant review process to identify and support organizations that are effectively responding to the most critical needs.

Sharing DC supports nonprofit organizations based in and directly serving low-income children, youth, adults and families in the District of Columbia. Its focus for the most recent grant cycle was on youth post-secondary success, with a primary goal to help DC youth access and be successful in post-secondary education and training, including traditional college, university credentials and industry recognized certifications.

If you’re like me, donating to charity requires a certain amount of finger-crossing. You have a few favorites you give to every year, because you know they do a good job. But then there are all the others: a little here to one group, and a little there to another. Maybe their literature caught your eye, or a friend told you about them, or you read about them somewhere. I often feel like it’s a shot in the dark. But Sharing D.C. is different. The support from The Community Foundation’s staff and the evaluations I conduct with my fellow donors make me comfortable that our money is going to good causes.

—    Marcus Rosenbaum, Sharing DC Committee Member

In 2017, the Sharing DC fund granted $140,000 in awards to nonprofits across Washington, DC. Urban Ed, Inc. was one of the seven recipients in the latest round of Sharing DC awards.

Urban Ed’s mission is “to provide District of Columbia children, youth and adults with technology-driven education, information and skill development for sustained futures.” The organization helps DC residents gain marketable workplace skills in information technology and coordinates educational initiatives that address truancy and low literacy with the use of various levels and forms of technology.

With more than 19,000 people out of work, half of which are youth between 18-29, these high levels of unemployment perpetuate several community issues such as crime rates, substance abuse, domestic violence and ongoing high poverty. Helping young people find careers in high growth occupations establishes the footing for personal and family sustainability [and alleviates] many societal issues, particularly within the Ward 8 community.
Having strategic funding partners, like The Community Foundation and this Sharing grant, is essential to the growth of our TechnoForce program (now called the STEMAcad) and our ability to reach our goals to provide the city more career pathways in IT and serve more residents in need. With this grant, we were able to expand our program to provide 4 career pathways, bring accredited IT curriculum to the ward 8 community, and build a pool of 75 local minority IT talent for regional employers. [We are] bridging more corporate partnerships to support IT workforce development, diversity, and inclusion, [and] we are now conferred as a non-degree granting educational institution by OSSE.

—    Roxanne J. Williams, President

The Community Foundation is happy to announce the next grant round for the Sharing Funds is opening on June 4, 2018. To stay updated on our grant availability, visit our nonprofit page or join our mailing list.

On the 50th Anniversary of MLK's Assassination

The anniversary of MLK’s assassination is a reminder of Dr. King’s remarkable legacy and how his message is both timeless and still so timely today. It is one that I often reflect on when thinking about The Community Foundation’s work and of our responsibility to our own community. But this particular anniversary also has special significance to myself and the donors and staff of The Community Foundation who have the opportunity every day to live the legacy of leadership of our former CEO Terri Freeman. For 17+ years, Terri led The Community Foundation’s efforts to advance equity, social justice, and the well-being of all in our community, doing so in ways that were reflective of Dr. King’s own leadership, commitment and vision. We are especially proud of the leadership role Terri now plays in advancing Dr. King’s dreams as the President of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis – located at the site of his assassination on this day in 1968. I hope that on this anniversary, you will join us in recommitting to his legacy, and in acknowledging Terri’s lifetime of effort to make his dream a reality.

Bruce McNamer

President and CEO

Greater Washington Community Foundation