For Both Donors and Scholars, 'We Take Away the Worry'

Denton Scholars at the 2018 Awards Banquet

Denton Scholars at the 2018 Awards Banquet

When journalist Herbert Denton Jr. died suddenly in 1989, his Washington Post colleagues were heartbroken. A distinguished reporter, editor and foreign correspondent who was a champion of black achievement in his profession and mentor to numerous black journalists, Denton was remembered by colleague Juan Williams. “What Denton did was to establish black journalists at The Post and make a way for black journalists in the future in a way no lawsuits and no rhetoric have ever approached,” Williams wrote in a Post column at the time. “And in the process, he increased the newspaper’s awareness of black Washington. This…puts him among the legends of journalism.” 

Another Washington legend – former Washington Post publisher Donald E. Graham – along with coworkers such as Milton Coleman, came up with a fitting way to honor their friend: the Herbert H. Denton, Jr. Memorial Scholarship.

The scholarship has been awarded annually since 1990 to a graduating senior from a list of participating area high schools. Criteria include general character and academic achievement, demonstrated ability in non-fiction writing, and financial need. The 2018 scholar, Rhema Jones, is a graduate of KIPP DC College Preparatory and will begin at McDaniel College this fall. Past scholars have graduated from colleges large and small, private and public, and have gone on to careers in medicine, investment banking, education, government, public health, journalism and others. Alumni who make up “the Denton Scholar family” include Curtiland Deville, clinical director and chair of Sibley radiation oncology at Johns Hopkins; Erin Michele Roberts, a published short story writer; and Benjamin de la Piedra, who teaches oral history workshops and is writing a biography of Denton, among many others. 

Graham established a scholarship fund with the Greater Washington Community Foundation in 2004. Since then, The Community Foundation “has been an ideal partner,” said Graham. The staff “couldn’t be more helpful.”

Pam Kendrick, a former Post employee who serves as administrator of the scholarship program and works closely with The Community Foundation staff, agrees, adding that the fund pays for everything from tuition to room and board (including off-campus housing and study abroad) to the many expenses that financial aid does not typically cover, such as books, computers and other school supplies.

“We take away the worry – for both the donor and for the scholars,” says Amina Anderson, The Community Foundation’s Director, DC Office of Philanthropy and Donor Services. “That way the donor can focus on awarding scholarships and the students can focus on their education.” The Community Foundation manages several scholarship funds in a variety of ways, from administering payments and managing assets to being involved in the selection of scholars.

“The Denton scholarship has brought a lot of really impressive young people into the Washington community – doctors, lawyers, businesspeople,” Graham said. Equally impressive, he adds, is that they are “very dedicated to those who come after them.” For instance, when one candidate said she wanted to be a doctor but didn’t know anyone to talk to about the field, a former scholar who is a physician came forward and offered to guide her. It left her speechless. That is the power of the Denton Scholar family.

Coleman heads the selection committee. “For some,” he says, “the scholarship has meant being able to go to a four-year college, instead of a community college. For others, it meant graduating from an Ivy League school with no debt. And for some, it meant the difference between going to college – or not going at all.”

Learn more about the life of Herbert Denton and the scholarship fund named in his honor by visiting www.dentonscholars.org.

Starting a scholarship fund at the Greater Washington Community Foundation is easy and rewarding, and the best part is that students, their families and communities will benefit from your generosity for years to come. For more information about creating a scholarship fund at The Community Foundation, please contact us at 202-955-5890 or donorservices@thecommunityfoundation.org.


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:

  • Make homelessness in the District rare, brief and non-recurring by accelerating the implementation of the District’s strategy;

  • 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 and sustained investment in the homeless services system; and

  • Provide a broad-based platform for continued resource mobilization and coordination.

The Community Foundation is laying the groundwork for the launch of this partnership and 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 join our Partnership to End Homelessness email list.


Additional resources:

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.