A (Fiscal) Year of Impact in Our Community

By Bruce McNamer, President and CEO

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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.

In January 2019, volunteers sorted produce the Capital Area Food Bank provided to furloughed federal workers and contractors at popup markets around the region during the government shutdown. Photo provided by the Capital Area Food Bank.

In January 2019, volunteers sorted produce the Capital Area Food Bank provided to furloughed federal workers and contractors at popup markets around the region during the government shutdown. Photo provided by the Capital Area Food Bank.

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.

In November 2018, members of our Sharing Montgomery Committee visited the nonprofit Identity to   learn about its trauma-informed, positive youth development approach to serving 3,000 Latino youth and families.

In November 2018, members of our Sharing Montgomery Committee visited the nonprofit Identity to learn about its trauma-informed, positive youth development approach to serving 3,000 Latino youth and families.

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.

Resilience Fund Announces New Grants to Nonprofits Supporting Immigrants and Sexual Assault Survivors

The Resilience Fund has announced $90,000 in grants to three local organizations conducting advocacy on behalf of immigrants and victims of sexual assault and providing direct support for immigrants facing deportation or applying for benefits. These grants fit within the Fund’s overall focus on responding to federal policy shifts affecting our neighbors and communities in the Greater Washington region.

The Resilience Fund’s latest grants will support:

  • $35,000 grant to Civic Nation’s It’s On Us program to conduct advocacy with local and national partners to combat harmful proposed rule changes to Title IX that will infringe on the civil rights of sexual assault survivors on college campuses.

  • $30,000 grant to support Northern Virginia Family Services’ immigration legal services program to provide consultations and representation to more than 1,700 individuals annually in deportation defenses and applications for immigration benefits.

  • $25,000 grant to support Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy to engage at least 20 immigrant congregations in advocacy on policies to make Virginia more welcoming to immigrants and to build relationships between 50 ally congregations and immigrant leaders.

According to Tracey Vitchers, the executive director of It’s On Us, “The grant received by Civic Nation for It's On Us will empower our staff and students in the Washington, DC area to fight back against the Federal Department of Education's harmful proposed rule changes to Title IX that will make college campuses less safe and leave survivors more vulnerable to ongoing harm. We are grateful to the Resilience Fund for supporting our work to combat sexual violence.”

“NVFS Immigration Legal Services strives to respond to the needs of vulnerable immigrant communities in Northern Virginia by ensuring access to competent, trauma-informed, affordable legal advice and representation,” said Tori Andrea Babington, NVFS Director of Legal Services. “This has been challenging in recent years given the rapid and continuing changes to immigration policy and the fear that our immigrant neighbors are experiencing in response. We are so grateful to the Resilience Fund for supporting these critical legal services, giving us the flexibility to go where the need is greatest.”   

Kim Bobo, Co-Executive Director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, said, “Thanks to the timely grant from the Resilience Fund, we’re reaching out to immigrant congregations around the state to engage them in advocating for a Driver’s Privilege Card for immigrants and in-state tuition for immigrants students. ‘Welcome the immigrant,”’ a core tenant of faith communities, is especially poignant for immigrant congregations and we need their engagement on these critical fights.”

These three grants show the range of the Resilience Fund’s investments in both policy interventions through Civic Nation and Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy and nonprofits providing direct service work through Northern Virginia Family Services.

About the Resilience Fund

The Resilience Fund was created in early 2017 as a collaborative partnership of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, and other foundation and individual contributors. It seeks to address the critical needs of nonprofits responding to changes in federal policy and budget priorities, as well as the climate of intolerance and hate, both of which are disproportionately impacting local people of color, and immigrant and refugee communities.

Forward With Hope: Remembering 2nd LT. Richard W. Collins III

Guest Post by Richard Collins II

On May 20, 2017, a local tragedy occurred when 2nd Lieutenant Richard W. Collins III was fatally stabbed in an apparent hate crime three days before he was set to graduate from Bowie State University. We are honored to share this post from his parents, Richard and Dawn Collins, who have decided to pay tribute to their son’s legacy through a memorial fund at The Community Foundation.


Richard Collins II

Richard Collins II

We first learned of the Greater Washington Community Foundation through a long-time family friend who happens to be an attorney.  Following the tragic death of our son, my wife and I contacted the foundation to discuss establishing a foundation to continue his legacy and build a lasting tribute to honor our son’s memory.

Our vision for creating our foundation was two-fold.  First, we believe that it is important for us to make sure that our son’s life is given purpose even though he can no longer be present with us physically.  While the pain of no longer being able to speak with him or hear his voice is at times overwhelming, the work involved in continuing his legacy through our foundation provides us with some measure of comfort. 

Secondly, we intend to use our foundation as a vehicle of change through which private citizens are educated of their civic empowerment under the law in the communities where they live. It is intended to raise individual awareness of the civic duty of all of us to acquire and act upon the knowledge of the law regarding individual rights and protections. In addition, we must hold our elected officials and civic institutions accountable to ensure that the law protect, respect, and value the right to life of all citizens.

We partnered with The Community Foundation when we realized we did not know anything about starting a foundation on our own. We concluded we’d be able to get up and running faster if we used the experience of an established organization. 

2nd Lieutenant Richard W. Collins III

2nd Lieutenant Richard W. Collins III

We officially launched our foundation four days prior to our son’s 25th birthday on December 12, 2018.  Although taking this step provided us with a sense of accomplishment, it was also a bittersweet reminder of the reason that we found ourselves on this path in life. 

As the date marking the second anniversary of our son’s murder approaches, we still struggle to understand why God chose our family to experience this horrific ordeal.  It is a date that for us marks the month of May with dread rather than the anticipation that normally accompanies the spring season.  It is our hope and prayer that at some point, our heartbreak will transform itself into a state of consciousness that provides us with a sense of peace.  We feel it is our purpose to stay connected with our son by turning sorrow into an opportunity to bless the lives of others.  Our goal is to use the platform we have been placed on to bring attention to the need for confronting the challenge represented by hate and bias violence and to help provide education opportunities through our foundation.  We believe our foundation provides us the best avenue to have a positive impact in the lives of people and in their communities.

Help Victims of the Landover Hills Fire

On Tuesday morning, our community was shocked to learn a fire has severely damaged an apartment complex in the Landover Hills neighborhood of Prince George’s County, Maryland. Thankfully, all residents escaped the fire. Three firefighters and one resident sought treatment for injuries suffered during the fire. The former residents will need assistance relocating and other support after the loss of their homes.

If you would like to support the Landover Hills residents in this time of need, you can make a gift (or grant from your fund) to the Prince George’s County Neighbors in Need Fund. The Community Foundation will work in partnership with the Department of Social Services to support the immediate needs of those impacted including temporary housing, clothing and food.

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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.

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.

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