Strategic Emergency Response Insights from the 2019 Partial Federal Government Shutdown

"People know what their needs are. We [funders] need to listen."

These words from Terri D. Wright, Vice President of Program and Community at the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, kicked off our roundtable discussion about the partial federal government shutdown. Six months and two days after the end of the shutdown, which ran from December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019, The Community Foundation, our Resilience Fund Steering Committee, and our partners at United Way of the National Capital Area convened funders, nonprofits, and experts to discuss lessons learned about what worked well and what we could have done better.

During the shutdown, our Resilience Fund, which responds to changes in federal policy and the resulting climate of intolerance and hate, disproportionately impacting local people of color and immigrant communities, mobilized community support from our neighbors. The response was inspiring.

Giving during the shutdown reflected an outpouring of philanthropic support at all levels. The Community Foundation received gifts ranging in size from $10 to $50,000, in total receiving $125,000 in individual donations and institutional commitments. We provided funding to the Capital Area Food Bank, United Communities Against Poverty in Prince George’s County, Manna Food Center in Montgomery County, the Greater DC Diaper Bank, and the Excellence in Education Foundation for Prince George’s County Public Schools and the Dine with Dignity Program of Montgomery County Public Schools Foundation.

“It's truly satisfying to hear how our neighbors and local nonprofits rose to meet community needs during the shutdown," said Resilience Fund steering committee member Elaine Reuben. "The shutdown was so hard on so many; it's good that we can shed light on some of the incredible community responses."

Our nonprofit partners shared stretched themselves more than ever before to keep up with increased demand during the shutdown. One challenge for nonprofits was how to find a way to provide services to communities they’d never reached before. Corinne Cannon, Founder and Executive Director of the Greater DC Diaper Bank, said, “People were in need but didn't want to go to food banks. People thought 'I'm not in poverty, this isn't for me’.” Despite that reluctance, the Greater DC Diaper Bank staff were able to distribute 102,000 diapers, 161,000 period products, 20,000 incontinence pads and 850+ 8oz bottles worth of baby formula.

Volunteers sort 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.

Volunteers sort 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.

Radha Muthiah, CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank, shared how the food bank relied on data about where most GS6 and GS7 employees lived. They partnered with Giant Foods and Safeway to distribute supplies in their parking lot, where these employees were already used to going to get groceries, and they relied on local media to help spread the word. In total the food bank served a total of 4,189 individuals during the shutdown. Partners for distribution sites and communication are key to make sure people know where they can receive emergency cash, food and other assistance during an emergency. During the shutdown, the Capital Area Food Bank was supported both by the Resilience Fund and by United Way of the National Capital Area.

In addition, our Resilience Fund supported Manna Food Center in Montgomery County providing food support to 748 people - 304 children and 444 adults. United Communities Against Poverty in Prince George’s County thought outside the box during the shutdown. They provided rent assistance that kept those affected from suffering eviction, in addition to meals for 109 individuals. They helped enroll recipients into peer support programs to deepen networks within the communities of those affected.

Our nonprofit partners also let us know that monetary donations at all levels are more useful than donations of goods. Physical donations take staff time to sort through, but in an emergency, staff need to prioritize distribution to the community.

Robert G. Ottenhoff, President and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, reminded us that emergency relief plans are most effective when they are written well in advance of emergencies. Ottenhoff suggested organizing a committee that meets regularly so that communities are prepared to lead in a crisis. It can be helpful to have first responders identified in advance, as well, so that they can be funded as quickly as possible in advance of – or during! – a crisis. The Center also offers a Disaster Philanthropy Playbook that offers promising practices and innovative approaches to keep in mind in advance of disasters.

“We are so proud of the community’s response to the shutdown, and we want to learn as much as we can for this event,” says Tonia Wellons, our Vice President of Community Investment. “We are excited to continue to share our insights and new plans with the greater community at large.”

We’re partnering with United Way of the National Capital Area and Metropolitan Washington Council on Governments to continue our deeper look at how our philanthropy can be prepared in case of emergency.

How Budgets Shape Communities: Race Equity Analysis in Maryland and DC

There is no better way to understand a society’s priorities than to look at how they are spending their resources.  One only needs to look at the newspaper during budget season to understand that states, counties, and cities in our region face difficult budget choices every year. Many jurisdictions have expressed a desire to do more to ensure their work is addressing race-based inequity. But are they putting their money where their mouth is?

At The Community Foundation, we are increasingly seeking to center our work and investments on race equity. The Workforce Collaborative seeks to support our local jurisdictions to better use the power of the budget to achieve equity goals. DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) and the Maryland Center on Economic Policy (MDCEP) are two grantees that are working to raise awareness of how well the District government and the Maryland State government, respectively, are budgeting for equity. We asked Kamolika Das, Policy Analyst at DCFPI, and Kali Schumitz, Director of Communications and Partner Engagement at MDCEP, to share what they learned in their recent budget analysis.  


Kamolika Das, Policy Analyst at DCFPI:

The DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) influences DC budget and policy decisions to reduce poverty and income inequality and to give residents the opportunity for a secure economic future. Funding from the Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative housed at the Greater Washington Community Foundation allows DCFPI to support research, education and advocacy efforts to promote better workforce development programs in DC.

Staff members of the The DC Fiscal Policy Institute presenting their 2020 DC budget analysis.

Staff members of the The DC Fiscal Policy Institute presenting their 2020 DC budget analysis.

For the last several years, DCFPI has worked with partners to advocate for issues including increased funding for the Career Pathways Innovation Fund, free public transportation for adult learners, and increased transparency about District-wide workforce spending. As a leading source of information on the DC budget, DCFPI releases analyses of the workforce development budget, as well as other issue areas, through the annual “Budget Toolkits”. DCFPI also finalized a report that highlighted the number of workforce development providers in the District that could qualify for federal funding through the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program and shared the results with the Department of Human Services which operates DC’s SNAP E&T program.

DCFPI is consistently working to embed a racial equity analysis into our work and is currently in the process of completing a report highlighting the working conditions of Black DC residents. The report will highlight how systemic racism has contributed to inequities in job quality between Black residents and white residents and provide recommendations for workforce development providers and policymakers to design training and education programs that lead workers to high-quality jobs.

The Workforce Collaborative’s funding is crucial for maintaining the capacity needed to create independent research, engage with policymakers, bring diverse advocacy groups together, and collectively work towards a more equitable future for all DC residents.


Kali Schumitz, Director of Communications and Partner Engagement at MDCEP:

Much of the Maryland Center on Economic Policy’s work focuses on the state budget because it provides the clearest reflection of our priorities as a state. Choices about where we invest our shared resources can help or hinder children’s education, economic security for families and communities, and public health and safety.

06-adequacy-bar-chart (002).png

In 2018, MDCEP published its first “Budgeting for Opportunity” report looking at portions of the state’s budget through this lens. The first report focused on the health, education, and transportation portions of the budget. It highlights the ways the state spending choices affect people’s lives and often reinforce inequity. For example, more than half of Black students in the state attend a school that is under-funded according to state standards, and Black workers in southern Prince George’s County spend an average of 55 more hours per year commuting than their white neighbors. The report recommends policy solutions that support thriving communities in all parts of the state.

08-commute-maps.png

MDCEP is using this report to help our partners, policymakers, and the public better understand how choices in the budget affect families and communities across the state, and to advance policy changes that can improve equity. We also conducted several trainings aimed at helping other nonprofit advocates do their own racial and ethnic equity analysis of the portions of the budget that they focus on.

Thanks in part to support from Workforce Collaborative housed at the Greater Washington Community Foundation, we are now working to expand our analysis to other sections of the budget. Our forthcoming report will focus on criminal justice and workforce development. We are looking forward to sharing our findings later this year.

Investing in the Future of Our Communities: The Fund for Children, Youth and Families

Many of our neighbors face inequitable access to quality education, gainful employment, and safe and stable housing. These inequities highlight the urgency of our mission to build thriving communities, a mission shared by many in the funding and nonprofit sector. The Fund for Children, Youth and Families makes investments to help advance this mission with our nonprofit partners.

Since 2016, the Greater Washington Community Foundation has managed three grant cycles through the Fund for Children, Youth and Families, a fund established by the former Freddie Mac Foundation to continue its groundbreaking legacy of investing in the betterment of underserved children, youth and families.  The fund’s third and most recent grant cycle awarded grants totaling $1.95 million to 46 nonprofit organizations. The Community Foundation will continue administering future investments through the Fund until grantmaking concludes in approximately 2020.

The Fund for Children, Youth and Families invests in organizations addressing the following issue areas:

  • The Stable Homes Stable Families issue area supports programming effectively moving families-in-crisis, especially families experiencing homelessness to stabilization and self-sufficiency, which is critical to developing homes that can nurture and support children to their fullest potential.

  • The Foster Care and Adoption issue area supports programming successfully transitioning children in the foster care system to permanent and safe homes, as well as programming successfully transitioning youth exiting the foster care system achieve self-sufficiency.

  • The Academic and Career Success issue area supports programming advancing children and youth along the academic continuum, including early childhood education, primary education, higher-education and career training. Especially programming working to close the achievement gap based on income and race/ethnicity.

The Fund for Children, Youth and Families requires a rigorous and highly competitive grantmaking process.  A large resource gap for disadvantaged children, youth and families continues to be demonstrated through the overwhelming response to the Fund, a response that continues to surpass the funding available.  To date, the Fund has received more than 650 funding requests, totaling $29.6 million.

“This speaks to the tremendous efforts of funders and nonprofits to navigate a challenging funding climate,” said Alicia Reid, Community Investment Officer for the Fund for Children, and Families.

Despite these challenges, Reid says the Fund for Children, Youth and Families grantmaking process has been incredibly rewarding. To date the fund has granted 139 grants, totaling $5.86 million to nonprofits servicing Washington DC, Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland.

“It has been an invaluable experience to learn about the organizations who accept the challenge to lead in our communities by providing effective programming and services for low-income children, youth and families,” said Reid.

For more information regarding the Fund for Children, Youth and Families please visit www.fund4cyf.org. Read more about the Fund for Children, Youth and Families’ latest grants.

Fund for Children, Youth and Families Awards $1.95 Million to Greater Washington Region Nonprofits

The Fund for Children, Youth and Families at the Greater Washington Community Foundation is proud to announce $1.95 million in grants to 46 nonprofits serving disadvantaged children, youth and families across the Greater Washington region.

These organizations will receive grants up to $50,000 for project/program support or general operating support addressing the following issue areas: Stable Homes Stable Families, Foster Care & Adoption, and Academic & Career Success.

“These nonprofits all work to build thriving communities for today and for future generations,” said Bruce McNamer, President and CEO of The Community Foundation. “We are committed to addressing inequities for youth and families to help our most marginalized neighbors—people experiencing homelessness, unstable housing, or underemployment—find pathways out of poverty. These grants allow some of our region’s most effective nonprofits to make a difference around some of our region’s biggest challenges in education, homelessness, and foster care.”

The Community Foundation administers the Fund for Children, Youth and Families, charged with implementing its grantmaking by the former Freddie Mac Foundation. This is the third grant cycle of a five-year implementation structure. The Community Foundation continued to employ a substantial, rigorous, and highly competitive grantmaking process for the Fund for Children, Youth, and Families’ third and latest grant cycle. The grantmaking process utilizes a grant review committee of regional partners, issue experts, and staff to review grant applications against the criteria established by the Freddie Mac Foundation before its wind down.  

The organizations who received grants stood out through our substantial, rigorous and highly competitive grantmaking processes, in which the Community Foundation utilized a grant review committee of regional partners, issue experts, and staff to review grant applications against the criteria established by the Freddie Mac Foundation before its wind down.

“The Community Foundation received over 200 proposals totaling approximately $8.6 million in funding requests,” said Tonia Wellons, Vice President of Community Investment at The Community Foundation. “The funding opportunity highlights the intense need in the community and the great value that organizations throughout the region offer in responding to this need.”

In mid-late 2019 The Community Foundation will release information regarding the 2019 Fund for Children, Youth and Families grant cycle.  Please visit www.fund4cyf.org for more information.

About the Greater Washington Community Foundation

Since 1973, the Greater Washington Community Foundation has been a champion of thriving communities and a catalyst for change made possible through local philanthropic engagement, effective community investment, and civic leadership. The Community Foundation works with donors and partners to make a real difference every day in the District of Columbia, Montgomery County, Northern Virginia and Prince George’s County by aligning resources and leveraging shared interests to amplify impact. As the region’s largest local funder, The Community Foundation has invested more than $1.2 billion to build more equitable, just, and enriching communities where all residents can live, work, and thrive.

About the Fund for Children, Youth and Families

The Fund for Children, Youth and Families was established to invest in the betterment of underserved children, youth and families in the Greater Washington region – specifically to invest in organizations achieving significant impacts across the fund’s three issue areas and eight outcomes. Through its grantmaking, the fund supports effective organizations working to make the community healthy and stable. Please visit www.fund4cyf.org for more information.

Latest Fund for Children, Youth and Families Grant Recipients

Viewpoint: What business can do to ease homelessness

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.

2020 Count DMV In Census Project Offers Grant Opportunity

Please note these two updates to our grant opportunity as previously posted:

The review committee will now consider (on a case by case basis) larger grants for comprehensive coordinated proposals from applicants that seek to work in multiple jurisdictions.

Additionally, organizations may apply to the 2020 Census opportunity AND the Resilience Fund if they fit the eligibility criteria for both RFPs.


Currently we are less than one year from the commencement of the 2020 Census. Increased understanding of the importance of the census, how it is used, and the potential impact of a complete and accurate count, messaged for relevance, can inform regional awareness and inspire local action.

The 2020 Count DMV In Census Project will entertain applications from nonprofit organizations who will undertake activities that will focus on hard to count communities in the Washington, DC region. For information about the hard to count communities in our region, click here.

Funding will be provided for activities, including, but not limited to:

  1. Public education and information activities

  2. Outreach and mobilization

  3. Indirect assistance to individuals and families completing the 2020 Census Form

  4. Communications and media work

  5. Partnerships with community and nonprofit organizations, small businesses, and local governments to conduct public education and outreach

Grants Available

Grant awards will range between $5,000-$20,000 for program requests only.  General operating requests will not be accepted. The Review Committee will consider (on a case by case basis) larger grants for comprehensive coordinated proposals for applicants that seek to work in multiple jurisdictions.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Organizations must be 501(c)3 nonprofits or have partnerships that appoint a 501(c)3 nonprofit institution as their fiduciary agent.

  2. Organizations are required to operate in Washington, DC or the following counties: Montgomery and Prince George’s, MD; Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun, and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas Park in Virginia.

  3. Organizations that are valued by the community as a “trusted messenger” and resource as evidenced by extensive experience or a mission that includes providing direct services, outreach, and engagement of hard to count communities.

Application Process

Proposals must be submitted through our online grant application system, Gifts Online. No hard copy, email or faxed proposals will be accepted. Applications are due by 4:00 p.m. on Monday, July 29. Proposals will be reviewed in August 2019 and applicants will be notified if they have been selected for funding by September 2019.

Please note: Applicants must have a functioning Internet connection and one of the following browsers, with cookies enabled: Internet Explorer v7 or higher Firefox v3 or higher.

Questions

For any questions regarding this funding opportunity or technical assistance with the online application system, please reach out to Melen Hagos. No calls, please.

Let’s End Homelessness Together: The Daniel and Karen Mayers’ Challenge

Daniel and Karen Mayers

Daniel and Karen Mayers

There was a time when ending homelessness in the District of Columbia seemed impossible. Today, many people, including Daniel and Karen Mayers, believe that goal is within reach. That is why they have donated $100,000 to begin the Dan and Karen Mayers’ Challenge. The Challenge aims to raise $1 million for the Partnership to End Homelessness. It is with a sense of both urgency and optimism that Dan and Karen challenge others to join them in ensuring that homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurring in DC.

“In the past, homelessness was seen as an intractable problem,” says Dan, a leader in charitable giving in DC for nearly six decades. “Today, we have the leadership, tools, plan, and political will to end homelessness. The only thing missing is critical resources.”

“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed trying to address the many important issues facing our city,” adds Karen. “Here is a concrete problem with a concrete solution.”

In partnership with the District government’s Interagency Council on Homelessness, The Community Foundation has identified an effective way for the local philanthropic community to play a significant role in ending homelessness. The core elements of the Partnership include coordination and engagement of the local business and philanthropic communities, a grant fund to support expenses that transition individuals and families from shelters into homes, and an impact investment that aims to increase the supply of deeply affordable and supportive housing for the District’s most marginalized residents.

A Long History of Philanthropy

Dan and Karen credit The Community Foundation with informing their philanthropy and introducing them to the region’s most effective nonprofits going back many years. Dan is The Community Foundation’s longest serving board member, having previously served as chair of the Board of Directors and of the Governance Board of The Community Foundation’s September 11 Survivors’ Fund. A retired senior partner at the Washington, DC, law firm WilmerHale, he was board chair of the Harvard Law School Visiting Committee, Legal Action Center, National Child Resource Center, National Symphony Orchestra, Sidwell Friends School and WETA.

A retired social worker, Karen also has seen the District’s challenges up close while serving as board chair of House of Ruth, vice chair of Iona Senior Services, board member of Home Care Partners and the Higher Achievement Program and, most recently, as a member of The Community Foundation’s Sharing DC Advisory Committee.

More and more, Dan and Karen have focused their philanthropy on groups serving low-income individuals and families. Dan helped to guide The Community Foundation’s Neighbors in Need Fund, established during the recession to strengthen the region’s safety-net providers and services, and the couple were major donors to the fund.

A Lasting Impact

In making the inaugural gift to launch the Dan and Karen Mayers’ Challenge, they hope to inspire others who share their concern for the District’s marginalized residents. They also are motivated by a desire to have a lasting impact in the city they have called home for 60 years.

Dan and Karen recognize that their gift—a substantial percentage of their philanthropic dollars—is just a beginning. But, says Karen, “we have no doubt that the community is up to this challenge.” So far, the Challenge has raised $600,000 from the Mayers’ family, friends and The Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

“This is what community foundations do—they respond to community need,” adds Dan. “Time and again, I’ve witnessed The Community Foundation galvanize the generosity of concerned residents. I’ve seen compassionate people rally around urgent community needs, from natural disasters to 9/11 to the recession.”

Bruce McNamer, The Community Foundation’s President and CEO, echoed Dan and Karen’s optimism: “It’s hard to fathom living in such a wealthy society and not coming together to solve this problem. Together, let’s ensure that every one of our neighbors has a safe and stable place to call home.”

Learn More

To learn more about the Partnership to End Homelessness, visit EndHomelessnessDC.org. If you would like to contribute to the Mayers’ Challenge, please contact Angela Willingham, Associate Vice President of Development or give online.

 

How Do We End Youth Homelessness in DC?

Guest Post by Ramina Davidson, Director of Housing Stability & Youth Initiatives, DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA)

The Greater Washington Community Foundation and our community of donors have funded DCAYA since 2005, when The Community Foundation served as DCAYA’s fiscal sponsor during the organization’s development. Funding has been awarded for general operating support, program support and organizational capacity building, as well as youth civic engagement, youth homelessness/housing and youth workforce-related initiatives.


Washington, DC has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the nation. The 2018 Youth Count DC estimated that more than 1,300 unaccompanied youth, youth separated from family, and youth heads of household were experiencing homelessness or housing instability (e.g. couch surfing or doubled up) in September 2018. Data from DC’s education agencies also revealed almost 6,000 students enrolled in school are homeless or housing unstable. How do we end youth homelessness in the District of Columbia?

Homelessness or housing instability, generally, is the denial of the right to stable, safe housing. For youth, this denial often manifests through multiple, recurring inequities in the systems that support families and youth (e.g. educational agencies, child and family services agencies) and societal inequities generally (e.g. racism, homophobia, generational poverty). In order to correct systems inequities, power over those systems must be ceded to those individuals the systems have failed to serve.

Over the last decade, DCAYA has steadily been working to shift power to the youth who are experiencing homelessness and housing instability themselves. This led to the creation of DC’s Interagency Council on Homelessness’ Youth Committee, a committee where dozens of organizations, agencies, advocates, and individuals work together to end youth homelessness—including youth who are directly affected by these issues.

In Spring 2017, in partnership with the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), The Community Foundation hosted a special event to release Solid Foundations DC, the  District’s first-ever strategic plan to prevent and end youth homelessness . Solid Foundations DC is the first data-driven youth homelessness plan in the country.

In Spring 2017, in partnership with the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), The Community Foundation hosted a special event to release Solid Foundations DC, the District’s first-ever strategic plan to prevent and end youth homelessness. Solid Foundations DC is the first data-driven youth homelessness plan in the country.

Last year, through persistent advocacy, DC’s youth homelessness system saw several advancements inching us closer to shifting the balance of power. The most notable advancement was the establishment of “Through the Eyes of Youth,” a workgroup of the Youth Committee and DC’s first advisory group of youth with lived experience of homelessness or housing instability. Tasked with guiding the Youth Committee’s implementation of Solid Foundations DC, DC’s first comprehensive plan to end youth homelessness, these youth are paid advisors who share their expertise regarding failures and successes of the systems meant to serve them. These advisory group members guide all aspects of the plan, from bettering the annual homeless youth census to improving resource allocation to developing new and innovative programs.

For example, inspired by feedback from the youth advisory group, the system improved the implementation of its annual homeless youth census, Youth Count DC, to reveal a clearer picture of how young people experience homelessness. For the first time, the census captured where youth have stayed in the past, as well as where they think they may stay in the future. As a result, the total number of youth experiencing homelessness and housing instability rose by hundreds, reflecting more accurate counting that gives policymakers a better understanding of the causes of youth homelessness, and thus better ability to implement successful interventions.

In addition, system improvements included development of three new youth homelessness initiatives: Rapid Rehousing for Youth, Extended Transitional Housing (a new longer-term housing program), and a Drop-In Center that provides 24-hour care. Because DCAYA was able to secure full funding for all new projects in 2018, these new initiatives are currently being implemented and will ensure that hundreds more youth in DC have access to tailored resources than in years prior.

DC’s youth homelessness services system continues to gain momentum in its effort to end youth homelessness. Through collaborative education and advocacy, more partners join in the fight to end youth homelessness every day, and we couldn’t do this work without the support of funders like the Greater Washington Community Foundation. Driving major system change requires stable, multi-year investments. Realizing the change we seek is not a one- or even two-year endeavor. The multi-year funding support and thought partnership of the Greater Washington Community Foundation has been integral to the progress our community has made.

As we continue work to transfer power over systems that serve youth experiencing homelessness and housing instability into the hands of those youth themselves, we know we must not rest on our laurels. A seat at the table is a start, but our work is not done until youth are calling the meeting.