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.

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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How Tax Laws May Be Shaping Your Giving

By Rebecca Rothey, Vice President, Development and Senior Philanthropic Advisor

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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 donorservices@thecommunityfoundation.org, to discuss your goals for impacting our community and beyond.

Highlights from the 2019 Celebration of Philanthropy

On March 25, a standing-room only crowd at Arena Stage celebrated the civic leadership of former DC Mayor Anthony A. Williams, and the incredible giving spirit of the national capital region at the 2019 Celebration of Philanthropy.  

In addition to honoring Anthony Williams, CEO of the Federal City Council, with the 2019 Civic Spirit Award, the evening raised more than $670,000 to support local causes, and showcased performers and artists who make up the region’s vibrant local art scene and have benefited from The Community Foundation’s support.  

Proceeds will help The Community Foundation expand charitable resources to ensure that our communities are equitable, just and thriving all who call the region home. The Community Foundation is the largest funder of nonprofits in Greater Washington – having invested more than $1.2 billion in thousands of nonprofit organizations since 1973.

At the event, Community Foundation President and CEO Bruce McNamer said:

“Tonight we gather to celebrate community philanthropy and civic spirit, including the individuals and organizations who dedicate their time and resources to help make our region a more vibrant, equitable and inclusive place to live. Their actions inspire so many of us and demonstrate that in communities throughout the Greater Washington region, we take care of each other. This generous spirit of neighbors helping neighbors is central to our work at The Community Foundation, where we focus on Building Thriving Communities that are ripe with opportunity for all who call our region home.”

Last year, The Community Foundation granted more than $96 million to about 2,600 nonprofit organizations, 68% of which directly serve the Greater Washington region. In addition, it received more than $80 million in contributions during the year — a testament to the generosity and commitment of our community of givers.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton was on hand to congratulate Anthony Williams, and she thanked The Community Foundation for its “wise philanthropy to improve the lives of our citizens and to strengthen the many aspects of our City which make the District of Columbia unique.”

Civic Spirit Award Honoree Anthony Williams remarked on the significance of the evening:

“In these tough times, we’ve got to hang in there, we’ve got to believe, we’ve got to reach, we've got to dream, and then figure out a practical way to do it."

David Bradt and Katharine Weymouth served as co-chairs of the Celebration. Major sponsors included Brown Advisory, Morgan Stanley, Nancy and Jorge Kfoury Foundation, 2030 Group, Capitol One, CareFirst, Kaiser Permanente, PNC Bank, Washington Gas, Pepco, FiscalNote and other businesses, philanthropists, and local civic leaders.

The evening featured performances and exhibits from:

  • CityDance Dream

  • Foundation for the Advancement of Music and Education – FAME

  • Halau Nohona Hawaii

  • The Keegan Theater’s production of From Gumbo to Mumbo

  • Strathmore Artist in Residence Josanne Francis

  • The PB Eclectic Steppers

  • B-Roll Media and Arts Inc.

  • Luis Peralta Del Valle

Photo credit: Platinum Photography by Kevin Fennell

Feeling at Home: Going on a Sharing Montgomery Site Visit

Guest Post By Bobbi Shulman

Editor’s Note: Sharing Montgomery is a strategic, donor-led funding effort for community members who want to give where they live. This year the Sharing Montgomery Fund granted out $385,000 to 62 nonprofits that provide educational, workforce development, safety-net or capacity-building services in Montgomery County. Sharing Montgomery Committee members not only review grant applications – they go out into the community to visit the nonprofits making a difference for low-income children, youth and families. In our latest grant round, the Sharing Montgomery Committee went on 33 site visits from October 2018 to March 2019. Bobbi Shulman contributed this post to share her personal experience serving on the committee.


I’ve been on the Sharing Montgomery Committee since 2015. My family has been connected to The Community Foundation for more than five years, beginning when we started our foundation. I particularly enjoy going on site visits because I am constantly amazed by the depth, scope, and professionalism with which organizations do their jobs. 

Last January, I visited Rebuilding Together Montgomery County with fellow Sharing Montgomery Committee members. Rebuilding Together offers low-income homeowners (50% of area median income) safe and healthy home repairs at no cost to the recipient. In 2018, they completed 240 projects in 113 homes.

I was under the impression that Rebuilding Together was all about construction and repair of homes.  I had no idea of the aggressive wrap-around services they provide by becoming actively involved with the homeowner and engaging a variety of other non-profits to provide them needed services, including facility maintenance. It wasn’t until we conducted a site visit to Jill’s home that I fully understood the depth of their work. Due to unfortunate circumstances, Jill’s house had deteriorated to the point where the house was condemned, and she was forced to move in with friends. Rebuilding Montgomery learned of her difficult situation and pitched in to repair drywall, electrical, plumbing, flooring, and more. The ultimate success of the project allowed Jill to avoid permanent homelessness and return to live in her own home in safe and healthy conditions.

This deeper connection to the community continues to give back, as evidenced by Jill telling Rebuilding Together she hopes to give back by volunteering and paying it forward.

What I learned by visiting Rebuilding Together is just one example of the surprises uncovered in site visits! For the past 40 or so years, my work has been on the policy level, particularly in workforce development.  Sharing Montgomery has given me the opportunity to observe organizations doing the work on a grassroots level.  I appreciate the opportunity to provide input into improving the grantmaking process.  I have seen many positive changes in the quality of the grant applications and in the process of evaluating them. 

I’m so glad that Sharing Montgomery has brought me in contact with a group of people who care about improving the lives of residents of the county.

Bobbi Shulman (the fifth person on the right side of this photo) and other members of the Sharing Montgomery Committee visit Interfaith Works, another nonprofit in Montgomery County.

Bobbi Shulman (the fifth person on the right side of this photo) and other members of the Sharing Montgomery Committee visit Interfaith Works, another nonprofit in Montgomery County.

Fighting Hunger, Feeding Hope

Anna Hargrave, The Community Foundation Executive Director, Montgomery County, and Jackie DeCarlo, Chief Executive Officer of Manna Food Center.

Anna Hargrave, The Community Foundation Executive Director, Montgomery County, and Jackie DeCarlo, Chief Executive Officer of Manna Food Center.

On Thursday, March 28th, the Manna Food Center saluted The Community Foundation as its Community Partner of the Year.  We were proud to accept this award on behalf of all our fundholders who have generously supported Manna over the years as well as the many contributors to our Neighbors in Need Montgomery Fund. Collectively, all those gifts over the last 20 years have tallied up to nearly $1 million. 

Our partnership with the Manna Food Center has evolved significantly in recent years.  A key turning point was in Fall 2008, when the economic downturn was heating up.  We were disturbed to hear that Manna was experiencing a 40% increase in demand.  In fact, people who used to donate during the holidays had to turn to Manna for help.

Cliff White, a newcomer to our Grants Committee at that time, challenged The Community Foundation to do more. 

“Many of us have a financial cushion and are able to weather an economic storm of this magnitude,” he said. “And for those of us who are, we need to give more than ever.”

Believing that people would step up if they were made aware of the growing needs, Cliff helped lead the creation of our Neighbors in Need Montgomery Fund to bolster support for the county’s safety-net providers. This effort galvanized donors of all levels (from $5 to $50,000) by providing them with an easy mechanism to support our key safety-net nonprofits providing food, shelter, clothing, and emergency assistance to prevent evictions.  For Manna in particular, our support enabled them to quickly replenish their supply of food while the need rose exponentially.

After the 2008 economic downturn, the Neighbors in Need Montgomery steering committee decided to take stock of its investments and explore what would be the most strategic use of our dollars going forward.  After listening sessions with community partners, the group challenged itself to pursue giving opportunities which both respond to the immediate needs of our neighbors in crisis while also transforming our safety-net systems to serve more people effectively.

Photo courtesy of Manna Food Center.

Photo courtesy of Manna Food Center.

Again, the Manna Food Center stepped up.  While impressively serving 30,000 people between their headquarters, 6 satellite locations, and 11 partner drop-off sites, they understood those efforts only met about half the need in Montgomery County. To reach even more deeply into our underserved communities, they requested start-up funds to convert a retired school bus into an innovative new kitchen-classroom and mobile food pantry on wheels.  During its inaugural year, this first-of-its-kind bus (nicknamed “Manny”) brought fresh produce to 300 County residents, including many isolated low-income seniors. It also hosted 1,238 class participants in hands-on cooking classes, helping kids learn to enjoy healthy and delicious veggies. 

Photos of programs, staff and volunteers inside Manna Food Center’s bus that serves as a kitchen-classroom and mobile food pantry on wheels. Photos courtesy of Manna Food Center.

Photos of programs, staff and volunteers inside Manna Food Center’s bus that serves as a kitchen-classroom and mobile food pantry on wheels. Photos courtesy of Manna Food Center.

The most rewarding aspect of our work at The Community Foundation is helping people connect with high-impact local nonprofits and discover the joy of making an impact in our home region.  We are grateful to the Manna Food Center for being a great partner for everyone who wants to fight hunger and foster hope throughout our community. 

Thank You for Supporting the 2019 Celebration of Philanthropy

By Bruce McNamer, President and CEO

CityDance Dream students perform at the 2019 Celebration of Philanthropy.

CityDance Dream students perform at the 2019 Celebration of Philanthropy.

Thank you for supporting the 2019 Celebration of Philanthropy! It was a wonderful time to enjoy networking, food, and entertainment with our entire community of donors, nonprofits, businesses, local government, other partners, and special guests of all ages. We were proud to recognize former Mayor Anthony Williams with the 2019 Civic Spirit Award for his contributions over so many years in government and now as CEO of the Federal City Council; and to showcase the incredible talent of local artists and nonprofits supported by The Community Foundation and our donors.

I want to extend a special thank you to the Sponsors, Host Committee, and everyone who contributed to making this Celebration possible. Thanks to your generosity, the Celebration raised a record-breaking $673,000! Your support facilitates critical investments which strengthen our communities. Proceeds from the Celebration of Philanthropy go to the Fund for Greater Washington, which underwrites our work to Build Thriving Communities by making grants, incubating new ideas, convening partners to address community needs, and conducting programmatic initiatives and advocacy work. Your support makes it possible for us to help our marginalized neighbors find pathways out of poverty, deepen culture and human connection, and prepare workers to succeed in our region’s changing economy. 

Accepting the 2019 Civic Spirit Award, Anthony Williams said, 

“In these tough times, we’ve got to hang in there, we’ve got to believe, we’ve got to reach, we've got to dream, and then figure out a practical way to do it." 

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, our President and CEO Bruce McNamer, and former Mayor Anthony Williams.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, our President and CEO Bruce McNamer, and former Mayor Anthony Williams.

By being part of the Celebration of Philanthropy, you’ve already started. We are so grateful to you for supporting and advancing our work to make the Greater Washington region a more vibrant, just and equitable place to live.

There’s still more work to be done. We hope you will help us continue the important and urgent work to address systemic challenges with renewed focus and determination. To join us in this effort, I encourage you to contact me or anyone from our staff to discuss your priorities for making change in our community.