In a new op-ed for the Washington Business Journal, our President and CEO Bruce McNamer discusses what we learned from a conversation with Mayor Bowser and corporate executives at Salesforce, Zillow, Cisco, and Kaiser Permanente about what it will take to address homelessness and the affordable housing crisis. He shares key takeaways about how the local business community can step up its investments of resources, voice, and leadership to help ensure more of our neighbors have a place to call home.
By Agnes Leshner, Steering Committee member of the Children’s Opportunity Fund and Board member of 4Montgomery’s Kids
“The child may not remember, but the body does.”
This quote stuck with me after watching the documentary, Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope. How does one truly overcome trauma? How can we break cycles of poverty and toxic stress from perpetuating across generations?
These questions have been at the heart of my 25-year career in Child Welfare Services of Montgomery County, MD. That is why I was so pleased to join the most recent Funders’ Roundtable gathering, which featured a rich discussion with local foundation leaders and Community Foundation donors after watching Resilience.
Resilience centers on a seminal study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente which demonstrates how high exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can wreak havoc on children’s brains and bodies. In addition to hindering academic achievement, exposure to multiple traumatic childhood events (such as abuse, neglect, persistent hunger, parental conflict, mental illness, and substance abuse, etc.) can result in long-term negative effects on learning, behavior, and health.
Many attendees were shocked to learn…
ACEs are common. In fact, one in four people have had at least one adverse childhood experience.
Individuals with three ACEs were found to be twice as likely to develop heart disease.
Individuals with four ACEs were found to be four times as likely to suffer from depression.
Individuals with six ACEs have a 20 years lower life expectancy.
For many low-income children ACEs are even more damaging. Experiencing a high number of ACES alongside additional challenges, such as racism and community violence, without the buffer of supportive adult relationships, can cause toxic stress. While we all need a certain amount of stress to promote positive growth, children whose stress responses are constantly active due to ACEs actually experience physiological changes to the brain that can disrupt learning, change behavior, and even modify their DNA. Because of this linkage, the American Academy of Pediatrics asserts that ACES are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat for children in the United States.
But history is not destiny. The studies around ACEs have led schools, healthcare providers, nonprofits, and social service agencies to try bold new interventions. Here are some examples:
The Center for Youth Wellness in the Bayview-Hunter’s Point neighborhood of San Francisco, CA – a traditionally underserved community - has established a protocol to screen all its pediatric patients for ACEs. Center staff work with local social service providers to pilot treatments for toxic stress and share their findings nationally.
In New Haven, CT, Strong Elementary School partnered with the Center for Post Traumatic Stress to bring Miss Kendra’s List to students beginning in kindergarten. This program teaches children the norms of child safety and gives them an outlet to express their worries to guardian figure named Miss Kendra, a fictional character who has overcome adversity and demonstrated resiliency. ALIVE Counselors write back to every child to help build their inner strength.
In the early 2000s, over 30 counties in Washington state brought together educators, social workers, parents, police officers, and healthcare professionals to spur education, dialogue, and community building around ACEs. By implementing specific strategies, the counties were able to significantly lower suicide rates, incidents of domestic violence, and youth arrests, which has saved the state $1.4 billion over 10 years.
If you are passionate about this issue, please join us! Contact Kimberly Rusnak, Project Director of the Children’s Opportunity Fund to learn more about innovative strategies at work right here in our local community and help us bring together more people who will want to use these findings to improve the lives of children throughout our Montgomery County community.
Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser along with her Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) and the Greater Washington Community Foundation announced the launch of the Partnership to End Homelessness. This first-of-its-kind initiative in the District aims to galvanize private sector engagement and unite the public and private sectors around a shared strategy to address homelessness and housing insecurity in the nation’s capital.
The Partnership will advance effective and innovative solutions to help our most marginalized and economically disadvantaged neighbors (0-60% Area Median Income) and ensure that homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurring in DC.
On any given night, more than 6,500 individuals, youth and families experience homelessness, including more than 1,500 children. This is due in large part to rising housing costs that outpace local incomes and a shortage of affordable housing, which are preventing many people from participating in the region’s economic growth. In DC, a person earning minimum wage would have to work nearly three full-time jobs to afford an apartment suitable for a family, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
The Partnership aims to increase the availability of philanthropic and private capital to expand the capacity of nonprofit housing developers and supportive service providers to help more of our neighbors transition from the streets or emergency shelters into permanent homes. It will also offer an impact investment option to reduce housing insecurity by financing the development of deeply affordable and supportive housing.
“We know that ending homelessness is possible, but that it is going to take all of us from the public and private sectors working together across all eight wards,” said Mayor Bowser. “Through our Homeward DC plan, we are implementing evidence-based solutions and transforming our homeless services system. And while there is more work to do, we are on the right track—family homelessness has decreased by nearly 45 percent and the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness in the District is lower today than it has been in the last 15 years. The time to double-down on and accelerate our progress is now, and that is why we are so grateful to be partnering with the Greater Washington Community Foundation on these critical efforts to end homelessness in Washington, DC.”
“Homelessness and housing insecurity have not always existed the way they do today. We believe that homelessness is solvable, and we also believe that our community is stronger when we bring everyone along,” said Bruce McNamer, President and CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. “Over the last four years, we have witnessed that our community has the political will, leadership and expertise to move the needle on homelessness. The Bowser Administration has established a strong foundation, but private sector engagement will be critical to long-term success. We cannot afford to waste this moment—we must act now and capitalize on the city’s momentum. Together, we can ensure that every one of our neighbors has a safe, stable and affordable place to call home.”
The Partnership will work to:
Increase the supply of deeply affordable and supportive housing;
Expand nonprofit capacity to help our neighbors exit homelessness;
Shift public perceptions of homelessness through education, community mobilization and advocacy efforts; and
Coordinate cross-sector participation to complement government funding and programming.
The Partnership’s Investment Vehicles
The first phase of the Partnership will utilize two different funding vehicles.
The Community Foundation will seed $5 million from its combined investment fund to launch an impact investment option available to its donors and others who join the Partnership.
The Partnership strives to raise $10 million in investments to help Enterprise Community Loan Fund build and preserve housing units for hundreds of people across the region. While fund investments earn a fixed return, they will aid in bringing financial resources to bear in the fight to end homelessness and housing insecurity by increasing the production of deeply affordable and supportive housing.
Impact Note investments provide financing to organizations building and preserving deeply affordable and supportive housing units. Housing providers leverage this investment capital to create more homes for our most marginalized neighbors.
The Partnership’s Grantmaking Fund will:
Enhance the capacity and expand the network of affordable housing developers and supportive service providers in the community;
Provide flexible funding to help nonprofits pay for small expenses not covered by federal and local housing programs—such as rental application fees, security deposits and moving expenses—which can create big barriers to stable housing; and
Support innovative approaches and advocacy efforts focused on strengthening policies that impact housing and homelessness.
The Partnership’s first competitive grant cycle will open in August 2019. The first round of grants will provide support for nonprofit providers in DC to help people obtain and maintain permanent housing and reduce the amount of time spent in the homeless services system.
Funding the Partnership
The Partnership has raised and committed $6.6 million to date, including $1.6 million for the grantmaking fund.
The A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation has made the lead investment of $1 million to help launch the Partnership’s Grantmaking Fund. The Clark Foundation’s mission is to expand opportunities for those who demonstrate the drive and determination to better themselves and their communities.
“The Clark Foundation is committed to partnering with regional leaders like The Community Foundation to provide members of the DC community with the best opportunity to thrive,” said Ryan Palmer, Director, DC Community Initiatives for the Foundation. “Stable housing is a critical factor in a person’s path to reaching their full potential. And while homelessness is a significant challenge in our city, it is through collaborating together in partnerships like these that we can make an impact.”
Additionally, The Community Foundation’s longest-serving Trustee, and former Chair of its September 11 Survivors’ Fund, and his wife have donated $100,000 as the inaugural gift to launch the Dan and Karen Mayers’ Challenge. The Mayers issued this challenge to inspire others to help raise $1 million for the Partnership. So far, the Challenge has raised $600,000 from the Mayers’ family, friends and The Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
More information about the Partnership can be found at EndHomelessnessDC.org. The Partnership’s website offers resources and a variety of ways for individuals and organizations to get involved in our community’s effort to end homelessness in DC.
By Bruce McNamer, President and CEO
As we reflect on our 2019 fiscal year (April 1, 2018 – March 31, 2019), the generosity and community spirit of our donors, partners, and community members gives us so many reasons to celebrate.
This year, the launch of our new Building Thriving Communities framework refocused our strategic grantmaking approach on addressing poverty, deepening culture and human connection, and preparing for the future of work. This refresh deepens and expands The Community Foundation’s existing work by leveraging new tools, prioritizing strategic partnerships, and developing innovative approaches to address the region’s most pressing challenges. Inspired by this framework, we are excited to lead a public-private partnership with the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness to build off District Government’s strategies and momentum by making critical investments to ensure homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurring in DC.
Our Resilience Fund continued to provide emergency grants to nonprofits responding to the local impact of federal policy changes, including assisting with reuniting families separated at the border and detained in MD or VA, and providing legal or medical services and advocacy for immigrants, refugees, Muslims and other vulnerable communities in our region. The Fund also responded to the recent partial Federal Government shutdown by mobilizing community support for nonprofits providing vital relief, such as emergency cash and food assistance, to our neighbors experiencing hardship.
Our Sharing Funds brought together donors for nearly 50 nonprofit site visits to learn about work to improve outcomes for low-income children and families. Donors participated in a review process and selected 77 local nonprofits to receive $685,000 in grants. Sharing DC addressed homelessness with flexible funding to help our neighbors obtain and move into permanent housing and provided support for youth homelessness prevention and intervention programs, including services for LGBTQ youth. Sharing Montgomery and Sharing Prince George’s focused on the economic security needs of county residents by supporting nonprofits providing educational, workforce development, safety-net, or capacity-building services.
Our community celebrated the spirit of local giving at our annual receptions in DC in March, and in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County last fall. These events brought together a thousand community leaders and raised nearly $1 million for the Fund for Greater Washington, which enables The Community Foundation to provide vital resources to civic and community organizations, incubate new solutions, and conduct programmatic initiatives and advocacy.
Despite a volatile stock market and uncertainty around the implications of the new tax law, our donors continued to give to the causes that matter most to our community. During the last fiscal year, our community of givers contributed more than $66 million to charitable giving funds at The Community Foundation. Together, we continued to invest in enhancing our communities with more than $64 million in grants to a diverse range of issues from human services to education, workforce development, health care, the arts, economic development, and so much more. Our donors’ actions inspire us and demonstrate that in communities throughout the Greater Washington region, we take care of each other.
Our impact is immeasurable in terms of the hope and opportunity it provides. Together, we have helped more youth prepare for college or career, more families to access critical supports and services, and more workers to launch family-sustaining careers. Together, we are making the Greater Washington region a more thriving, just and enriching place to live for all.
Thank you for continuing to be our partner in strengthening our communities every day.
By Rebecca Rothey, Vice President, Development and Senior Philanthropic Advisor
Well, you’ve made it! You have filed your 2018 income tax returns. You may have even received a modest or larger than expected return and might be considering ways to expand your charitable giving this year.
At The Community Foundation, we always consider how tax law impacts our community’s giving spirit. While many had feared that the Tax Cut and Jobs Act would result in a decrease in giving in 2018, a report prepared by the Blackbaud Institute indicates that overall giving was up by 1.5%. However, this increase was not evenly distributed across the nonprofit sector. Fundraising by large organizations (those raising $10 million or more) was up by 2.3%, while giving to smaller organizations (those with budgets of less than $1 million) was down 2.3%.
There are advantages to giving to larger organizations. Many of our donors have funded breakthroughs in health and education and provided essential support for the arts. At The Community Foundation, we are honored to assist donors who choose to fund these goals as their area of impact.
Yet, we can’t forget that smaller nonprofit organizations are pioneering new ideas and implementing change-making strategies. They are organizations working on challenging social issues with extremely limited resources. They are focused on the local communities they serve, and they can make change based on direct community feedback. They are innovative, idealistic, and hopeful about our society’s future. And they need the funding to realize these dreams.
Our professional staff work locally with thousands of community-based organizations and would be happy to assist you with identifying organizations that match your interests. I also encourage you to visit The Catalogue For Philanthropy, which is supported by The Community Foundation, to learn about such organizations in the region.
As you reflect on what you have learned this tax season, I encourage you to think about how the new law impacted your philanthropy. Many of our donors chose to bundle their giving, either in 2017 to take advantage of the higher charitable income tax deduction, or in 2018 to bundle giving to get above the standard deduction. This consolidated giving provides an opportunity to ask:
What impact do I want my philanthropy to make?
How will I know I’ve made it?
Do I wish to keep supporting the same organizations or find new ones?
Is it time to narrow the focus of my giving?
Should I support large, established organizations or scrappy startups?
When is the right time to involve my children/grandchildren in giving?
As you think through these questions, please consider The Community Foundation staff as a resource to help you identify the best strategies to achieve your charitable goals. Contact a member of our donor services team, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, to discuss your goals for impacting our community and beyond.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 email@example.com.