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.

The Resilience Fund: A Year in Review

It has been one year since the Greater Washington Community Foundation and the Meyer Foundation launched the Resilience Fund as a rapid response vehicle to address changes in federal policy and budget priorities and the increasing climate of intolerance, hate, and anti-other, which disproportionately impact people of color, and immigrant and refugee communities. In that time, we have raised more than $630,000 from institutional and individual donors across the region. We are incredibly proud to share that we have also leveraged as much as $450,000 through parallel commitments from donors to organizations funded through the Resilience Fund. That is more than $1 million to support local nonprofits serving the urgent and emerging needs of our region's most vulnerable residents. This is a true testament to the commitment of incredibly generous people in our region who care deeply about their neighbors and communities. 

Reflecting on the past year, we wanted to share some of the important work this Fund has contributed to.

Helping Immigrant Communities

Initially, the Resilience Fund focused last fall on supporting residents and families affected by the new Administration’s changes to international travel, immigration, and deportation policies. The Resilience Fund’s first round of grants supported work to ensure community members understand their legal and civil rights, take precautions to stabilize their families in the event they are detained, and receive legal representation.

  • Know Your Rights education: As ICE changed its enforcement priorities and stepped up detentions, CAIR Coalition responded by delivering 12 presentations across the region educating 326 immigrant youth and adults about their constitutional rights. It also intervened in the bond cases of 18 detained individuals, securing the release of 12 on bond and with three more are awaiting hearings.
  • Legal defense training: Noncriminal arrests of immigrants have increased by nearly 300%. Legal Aid Justice Center is combating ICE abuses by training 64 lawyers to defend immigrants in deportation proceedings by challenging constitutional violations. Without the Resilience Fund’s support, LAJC would not have had the funding to provide this training to nonprofit providers and private attorneys.
  • Legal services: CASA sought to address threats facing immigrants due to increased enforcement and changes to DACA and TPS. It held 46 know your rights workshops attended by 6,740 people, screened 415 people at risk of deportation to identify potential forms of relief, provided DACA application assistance to 320 youth, held bystander trainings for 300 people and mobilized a national day of action.
  • DACA application support: The President’s decision to rescind DACA provided only one month for eligible recipients to renew their status – affecting an estimated 20,000 people in the region. Ayuda received an emergency grant to conduct outreach and organize two free DACA clinics – helping 45 clients prepare renewal applications, receive in-depth legal consultations, and open long-term representation cases. The future of DACA remains uncertain but, with the Resilience Fund’s support, Ayuda continues to assist DACA recipients with legal advice and representation.

Countering Hate and Intolerance 

Recent increases in incidents of hate, intolerance and incivility in the Greater Washington region led the Resilience Fund to refocus its second round of grantmaking on building community cohesion and combating anti-other sentiment. In late December, the Fund made grants to local organizations focused on grassroots community engagement and national organizations combating bullying, bigotry, and fake news through education. While much of the work funded this round is still in process, some early notable achievements include:

  • Anti-bias education: The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has tracked a disturbing trend of increasing bias incidents in schools, where it’s estimated that 1 in 4 students are bullied. With support from the Resilience Fund, ADL doubled the size of its No Place for Hate program to reach more than 25,000 students in 25 K-12 schools throughout the region. The program is helping local schools foster an accepting and safe climate using ADL’s framework to teach respect and inclusion.
  • Digital literacy tools: More educators are seeking tools to teach students how to sort fact from falsehood in the digital age so they can be informed and engaged citizens. A grant from the Resilience Fund enabled the News Literacy Project to expand its program into Arlington County, Virginia, where it will host a NewsLitCamp for teachers in August and make 2,500 subscriptions to its virtual classroom available.
  • Community engagement: Prince George’s County residents care deeply about the well-being of their communities but lack a space to discuss relevant issues. With support from the Resilience Fund, the Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund partnered with the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative and will host a town hall style gathering on April 23, for discussions of economic, health, public safety and educational challenges in the County.
  • Training future leaders: Disenfranchised communities have long been left out of conversations about economic improvement and systems change. Progressive Maryland offered 5 trainings to empower 50 members to become agents of change and advocates for social and economic justice. These members have since taken on leadership positions within their local chapters to help strengthen their community’s grassroots capacity to advocate for their needs.

While many similar rapid response funds launched in other parts of the country are winding down, the Resilience Fund is gearing up for its second year. The Steering Committee is in the process of building out its agenda. We invite you to join us in our efforts. For more information contact Tonia Wellons, Vice President - Community Investment at twellons@thecommunityfoundation.org

Sincerely,

 
Nicky+Goren_credit+Lisa+Helfert[1].jpg
2317+-+Bruce+McNamer+-+Sitting[2].jpg
 

Bruce McNamer

President and CEO

Greater Washington Community Foundation

Nicky Goren

President and CEO

Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation

Resilience Fund Steering Committee

Greater Washington Community Foundation

Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation

The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation

Harman Family Foundation

June Linowitz

Elaine Reuben

Rob and Sheri Rosenfeld

Mauri Ziff and Jeff Hamond

Winter/Spring 2018 Site Visit Schedule

This calendar is exclusively for The Community Foundation's network of donors to learn about the needs of our region, discover great organizations, and share ideas with other donors looking to make an impact. Space at these events is limited. Please RSVP to rsvp@thecommunityfoundation.org. Directions and additional information about each visit will be sent to guests who have submitted an RSVP.

February 20, Montgomery County: Making A New United People

3:00PM – 4:00PM Making A New United People develops teen leaders social emotional and employment skills by providing them with supports, resources, and training to ensure that they are resilient, healthy, and contributing community members.

March 1, Montgomery County: IMPACT Silver Spring

6:00PM – 7:00PM Community networking programs and events focused on building intentional relationships among diverse peoples to foster trust, collaboration, and value exchange in the pursuit of healthier individuals, families, and neighborhoods. For this visit, we’ll get to hear from leaders who formed the Montgomery Community Investment Corporation (MCIC), a cooperative model that started a loan fund has raised over $90,000 from micro-entrepreneurs to support each other in expanding their businesses.

March 5, Montgomery County: Urban Alliance

3:30PM – 4:30PM Urban Alliance provides paid, professional internships, job skills training, and one-on-one mentoring to economically-disadvantaged high school seniors.

March 9, Montgomery County: Sunflower Bakery

10:30AM – 11:30AM Sunflower Bakery prepares individuals with developmental or other cognitive disabilities for employment in baking and related industries through on-the-job training.

March 13, Montgomery County: YMCA Youth and Family Services

3:00PM – 4:00PM YMCA Youth and Family Services provides mentoring, therapy, and case management programs geared to help children and adolescents, as well as their families, who are struggling with trauma, poverty, and food insecurity.

March 14, Montgomery County: Youth/Police Dialogue

3:00PM – 4:30PM Identity, Inc.— A series of discussions between youth and police geared to improve communication, understanding, and trust between youth and law enforcement.

March 15, Montgomery County: Manna’s Mobile Kitchen & Pop-Up

3:15PM – 4:15PM Manna’s Mobile Kitchen & Pop-Up Pantry provides access to healthy foods and nutrition education to low-income kids and seniors at risk of food insecurity.

March 20, Prince George’s: Greater Riverdale Career Empowerment Center Site Visit

10:00AM - 11:00AM The Central Kenilworth Avenue Revitalization Community Development Corporation (CKAR) implements projects throughout the Greater Riverdale community that include workforce training/job development, environmental sustainability, business retention, advocacy and economic and community development. To curb unemployment, CKAR has developed the Greater Riverdale Career Empowerment Center where they offer certified workforce training, career development programming and legal services.

March 22, Northern Virginia: Offender Aid and Restoration Site Visit

12:00PM - 1:00PM Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR) is a community-based restorative justice organization that blends compassion and accountability to assist offenders in leading productive and responsible lives. OAR participants are invited to take responsibility for past actions and repair the damage done by giving back to the community and providing a service that enriches the lives of others.

March 22, Northern Virginia: Legal Aid Justice Center Site Visit

TBD Legal Aid Justice Center battles poverty and injustice by solving critical legal problems for individuals and communities. Housed in over 40 offices throughout Charlottesville, Falls Church, Petersburg and Richmond, they provide a full range of services to their clients, utilizing a mix of zealous individual representation, group and class litigation, community organizing, policy advocacy, and media relations.

April 12, Prince George’s: Housing Initiative Partnership Site Visit

10:00AM - 12:00PM Housing Initiative Partnership, Inc. (HIP) is an innovative, green nonprofit developer and counseling agency dedicated to revitalizing neighborhoods. HIP creates housing and economic security for low- and moderate-income households and provides services that improve the quality of life in the communities they serve.

April 17, Prince George’s: Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Site Visit

10:00AM – 12:00PM CASA, Inc. is a volunteer-based organization that partners with the juvenile court to improve the lives of children living in foster care who have suffered from abuse and neglect. With a strong commitment to diversity, CASA trains and supervises volunteers from the community who advocate for the best interest of children, recognizing and respecting each child’s individual needs.

May 11, Prince George's: Mistaken Identity Foundation

10:00AM - 12:00PM Mistaken Identity Foundation focuses on emotional education, workforce training and employment for teens and young adults. They also offer programs for adults re-entering society after short or long-term incarceration. Their intent is to help participants understand how to translate their frustrations, emotions, and fears into a productive lifestyle that benefits them and their community.


Journey to Security: An Immigrant Woman's Path to Launching a Career in IT

When Betty Gebremariam, an Ethiopian immigrant, sought a new position in the US to support her family, she knew a few challenges lay ahead. Most of her work experience was in Ethiopia, and English was her second language. And, though educated at Admas College in Ethiopia, Betty had no United States based training or education. Her husband was employed, but with two children, the family still struggled financially.

Motivated and determined, Betty decided to focus her energy not only on getting a job, but on launching a career with longevity and financial security for her family. She knew that the IT industry was in-demand and saw many opportunities in the field, so Betty set her sights on a position as a help desk technician.

In February 2016, Betty turned to the Skillsource Group, a nonprofit organization that offers employment and training services to Northern Virginia area employers, job seekers and youth. The Northern Virginia IT Employment (NVITE) Partnership, led by Skillsource, was one of three grantees selected by The Community Foundation’s Workforce Collaborative to provide unemployed and underemployed low-income job seekers with intensive case management, employment coaching and skills training to launch or advance them into entry-level Information Technology living wage careers as Computer User Support Specialists.

That May, Betty started training at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and earned a JAVA programming certification. Intellectual Point, a technology company in Reston, had an open position for a help desk technician. Betty’s case manager submitted her resume, now equipped with a new skillset, for the On-the-Job Training (OJT) opportunity, and Betty was hired after interviewing with the owner. She excelled and retained employment with Intellectual Point, earning $15 an hour.

“I am so grateful to Skillsource Group for assisting me in training and job placement. I am now starting my dream job path,” Betty says. “I have been energized to traverse the road ahead in success.” Betty adds her financial distress is gone, and remarks how patient and helpful Skillsource Group and her new employer Intellectual Point were in her journey.

The Workforce Collaborative congratulates Betty on her new career — Betty is the very first job candidate to graduate and achieve a job placement through the Collaborative’s Greater Washington Works initiative.

The Workforce Collaborative is a coalition of local workforce investors who share a common commitment to addressing poverty and income inequality by helping workers advance their skills and credentials so they can earn family-sustaining wages. Current Collaborative partners include The Community Foundation, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase & Co., the Consumer Health Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, the Moriah Fund, Northern Virginia Health Foundation, the Weiss Fagen Fund, the Marian Osterweis Fund, United Way of the National Capital Area, and the Washington Area Women’s Foundation.

Greater Washington Works is a $1 million grantmaking initiative of the Collaborative designed to address local employer hiring challenges by meeting the talent needs of local IT and Healthcare employers. Greater Washington Works will support at least 250 local workers to launch living-wage careers in the IT and Healthcare sectors.

To learn more about The Workforce Collaborative, visit www.gwwdc.org.