Promoting Civic Engagement through the Arts

The “DIVAs” may sound like the name of a band or a reality TV show. In fact, it’s a 14-year-old giving circle comprised of about a dozen Montgomery County women who pool their funds and invest in groups that provide life-changing arts experiences to disadvantaged and at-promise youth. “Donors InVesting in the Arts,” or “DIVAs,” is one of the many giving circles managed by the Greater Washington Community Foundation. 

Each year the group, which includes a number of artists and community leaders, focuses its grantmaking on how to use the arts to empower kids and youth. This year’s focus was using the arts to reflect on our democracy and promote civic engagement, “a topic that is always important and relevant, especially at this moment in time,” said DIVAs member Esther Newman, CEO Emeritus and Founder of Leadership Montgomery.

Anna Hargrave, executive director of The Community Foundation’s local office in Montgomery County, agrees:

“Residents of our region are hungry for ways to connect with causes and organizations that are meaningful to them and that have an impact,” she said. “By helping young people develop a voice and shape our democracy now and into the future, the DIVAs are making an investment in the leaders of tomorrow.” 

Newman credits Hargrave with introducing the group to arts organizations with a strong track record. “Anna’s experience and knowledge of Montgomery County-based organizations and her facilitation of our meetings has been invaluable,” said Newman. “With her help, we know our money is being wisely spent.” 

This year, the group made grants to two groups: Young Artists of America (YAA) at Strathmore for its “Hear the People Sing!” social media initiative and Gandhi Brigade, a youth media organization which uses multimedia as tools to promote community building, multicultural understanding and the common good.

YAA provides professional level music theatre training and performance opportunities to the region’s most talented middle and high school instrumentalists and vocalists, resulting in fully-orchestrated works of music-theatre in high-profile venues. As a follow up to last year’s popular performance of “Ragtime,” this spring, YAA will present “Les Misérables,” based on Victor Hugo’s book and featuring YAA’s 60-piece youth symphonic orchestra.

 

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Young Artists of America at Strathmore (YAA) and Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras (MCYO) present RAGTIME: In Concert on April 15, 2018 at the Music Center at Strathmore, North Bethesda, MD.

Titled after one of the most rousing songs in the Les Mis score, YAA’s “Hear the People Sing!” initiative challenges students to make connections between the social challenges in Hugo’s time and those of today, such as class inequity and gender-based oppression. Performers, as well as invited student audience members from low- and moderate-income families, are encouraged to participate in social media journaling and post-rehearsal discussions to spark dialogue, extending and deepening the conversation to a larger audience.  

“We want to make it cool for students to talk about these topics with their peers and get further involved in local issues,” YAA Executive Director Lisa Larragoite said. “Our vision is to help every student ‘take the stage,’ and by that we mean both the literal stage and the stage of life. Specifically, we want students to see how art can help individuals begin to consider social issues they may not directly face but which are important to society at large.”

“To get a grant from such a well-respected group as the DIVAs allows us to work with students on a deeper level and validates our work,” Larragoite added. 

The DIVAs also made a grant to Gandhi Brigade Youth Media, a Silver Spring-based afterschool program that empowers young people to use multimedia tools to promote community building, multicultural understanding and the common good. The funding allows Gandhi Brigade to expand its free afterschool programs in which participants learn media skills, research and interview techniques and produce short films on timely topics. The program not only benefits participating students, but also the broader Montgomery County community by providing an outlet for youth to share their thoughts and perspectives with peers, neighbors and community leaders. Recent films have addressed such pressing issues as bullying, immigration reform, juvenile justice and police accountability. 

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Student filmmakers from the Gandhi Brigade Youth Media 2018 summer documentary program.

“Not only do young people need vehicles to talk about difficult issues, the larger community needs to hear what they have to say,” said Gandhi Brigade Executive Director Anna Danielson. 

The opening of Gandhi Brigade’s new studio later this year will allow the organization to have more of a public face. In turn, the new editing space and screening room will provide opportunities for students to share their work more broadly, through community screenings of their videos, original podcasts and intergenerational activities with seniors. “The grant from the DIVAs is a real vote of confidence in our civic engagement work,” Danielson said.  

To learn more about how The Community Foundation is enhancing community well-being by promoting philanthropy and civic engagement, supporting arts and culture, and advocating for equity, inclusion and justice, please contact Silvana Straw at sstraw@thecommunityfoundation.org.

Announcing the Inaugural David Bradt Nonprofit Leadership Awards

Our new awardees with members of the selection committee. From left to right: Alex Orfinger, Diane Tipton, Lauren Shweder Biel, Patricia Funegra, David Bradt, Adam Rocap, Lidia Soto-Harmon, Lyles Carr, and Tamara Copeland.

Our new awardees with members of the selection committee. From left to right: Alex Orfinger, Diane Tipton, Lauren Shweder Biel, Patricia Funegra, David Bradt, Adam Rocap, Lidia Soto-Harmon, Lyles Carr, and Tamara Copeland.

David Bradt is a quietly effective leader for and champion of the Greater Washington region.  In addition to serving as a Managing Director of Andersen Tax, he has invested considerable time and talent into numerous volunteer leadership roles, including the Chair and Member of the Greater Washington Community Foundation’s Board, Chairman and Board member of Greater D.C. Cares, member of the Board of Venture Philanthropy Partners, and a volunteer and fundraising dinner chair for Share Our Strength.

A few years ago, Alex Orfinger, wanted to find a meaningful way to salute David’s many years of service to our local community.  Teaming up with David’s wife, Diane Tipton, they invited friends and family to join them in establishing the David Bradt Nonprofit Education Fund at the Greater Washington Community Foundation. Their vision was to provide an annual award that will enable a nonprofit leader in the Greater Washington region to attend an intensive executive training program.

As you may imagine, David was shocked and touched by the incredible outpouring from friends and colleagues who rallied to create this special award.  He also was thrilled to discover this award will have a long-lasting, tangible impact on our community by enhancing the capacity and influence of nonprofit leaders and the organizations they serve.

With facilitation by The Community Foundation staff, the steering committee recently selected the inaugural awardees: Lauren Biel, Patricia Funegra, and Adam Rocap.

Lauren Biel is Co-Founder and Executive Director of DC Greens, which works to create a more equitable food system in our community. Nominators specifically recognized for her collaborative spirit in her work.  Biel says,

“I believe it is one of the keys to the success of our movement in the District - our recognition that we are strongest when we stand together, and that all boats rise in the tide. At DC Greens, we have a culture of elevating other organizations, and of working to benefit more than just our own organizational interests.” 

For her award, Lauren is currently selecting an intensive upper level management course that will propel both her and DC Greens forward. 

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Patricia Funegra is the Founder and CEO of La Cocina VA, which uses the power of food to generate workforce and economic development opportunities. Having started in a church basement, La Cocina VA is now getting ready to move to a state of the art Training and Entrepreneurship center. Patricia is known for her passion and the ability to instill similar passion in the people with whom she works serving up grit and determination daily. She explains,

“We [at La Cocina VA] believe that it is not only about what we do, but how we do it. We develop expertise and thought leadership on the intersections of innovation, job creation, and advocacy, to provide systemic opportunities for economic stability.”

Patricia looks forward to using her award to attend the Women's Leadership Forum of the Harvard Business School.

Adam Rocap serves as Deputy Director of Miriam’s Kitchen.  Adam is driven to bring innovative ideas to fruition, and he has been instrumental in shifting the organization’s focus to ending chronic homelessness in DC. Reflecting on the organization’s evolution during his tenure, Adam says,

“Miriam’s Kitchen moved from an agency that historically just provided high-quality meals and case management to homeless individuals to an agency with an expanded portfolio of advocacy, permanent supportive housing, street outreach, and SOAR disability benefits programs that are strategically aligned for Miriam’s Kitchen to help end chronic homelessness at the individual and system-wide levels.” 

Adam plans to split his award between a local leadership course and an Executive Education program at the Harvard Business School.

Bruce McNamer, President & CEO, says:

“On behalf of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, I want to congratulate the awardees and also give thanks to Diane and Alex for their vision, all the friends who gave to make it possible, and David for being the inspiration for this award.  Your investment in these and all the future awardees will have a profound impact on our region for years to come.”

 

MGM National Harbor: A Dedicated Philanthropic Partner

MGM National Harbor is well-known for its stunning views of the Potomac River and expansive resort, but it has also contributed to the local economy while working to make positive contributions that benefit its employees, its community and the environment. When it opened in late 2016 in National Harbor, Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan called the entertainment destination “one of the most important economic development projects in Maryland history.” 

From the beginning, MGM set out to enhance its community by making meaningful investments in workforce development, economic inclusion, and community engagement. Soon after signing a community benefits agreement with the County, MGM chose the Greater Washington Community Foundation to manage its grantmaking through the MGM National Harbor Community Fund. 

“We bring to the process a long history in the County, our knowledge of community needs and a commitment to being transparent throughout the grantmaking process,” said Desiree Griffin-Moore, executive director of The Community Foundation’s local office in Prince George’s County. “In turn, MGM adds value to the community as a responsible corporate partner who is actively engaged in multiple ways. Over time, our relationship has truly blossomed.”

For instance, MGM Resorts International Regional Vice President of Community Engagement Danielle White serves on The Community Foundation’s Advisory Board in Prince George’s County, MGM National Harbor has hosted The Community Foundation in Prince George’s County’s Civic Leadership Awards for several years and Community Foundation staff have been invited to brief MGM’s internal grants council on pressing community needs. “It’s a tight-knit relationship,” says White.

MGM National Harbor employees volunteer at local nonprofit Food & Friends.

MGM National Harbor employees volunteer at local nonprofit Food & Friends.

Nowhere is that more evident than the confidence MGM has placed in The Community Foundation’s management and distribution of $150,000 in annual grants through Sharing Prince George’s. This funding goes to effective nonprofit organizations addressing the economic security needs of county residents by providing education, workforce development and safety-net services. “The bottom line is The Community Foundation makes sure Prince George’s County is successful by identifying funding opportunities that provide a direct impact to the people,” said White.

“Through the course of time The Community Foundation has developed strong partnerships with local nonprofit organizations.” says White. “When they make a recommendation, it involves a rigorous review of large and small institutions that may be unfamiliar to us.” For instance, White was recently introduced to Nick’s Place, a 20-year old organization with a mission to assist young men in their journey through the disease of addiction and alcoholism. 

“We are seeing so many young men who are desperate to have a sober and safe community,” said Rhea McVicker, founder of Nick’s Place, named for her son, Nicholas Cristarella, whose life ended at age 22 as a result of the disease of addiction and alcoholism. “We don’t receive funding from the government, so any grant we receive is meaningful, but the $20,000 grant from Sharing Prince George’s is especially meaningful,” said McVicker. The funding will support the organization’s relapse prevention education and weeknight dinner program. 

In addition to Nick’s Place, the full list of 2018 Sharing Prince George’s grantees is available here. You can learn more about Sharing Prince George’s here

The Community Foundation has a long history of helping businesses establish and manage their philanthropic investments to create benefits for communities throughout the Greater Washington region. The DC Convention Center and Jack Cooke Kent Stadium (now FedEx Field) are among many examples over our 46-year history. If you are interested in learning more about our philanthropic advisory services for businesses, including the facilitation and execution of Community Benefit Agreements, please contact Desiree Griffin-Moore at dgriffin@thecommunityfoundation.org

Sharing Prince George’s Announces New Investments to Benefit Thousands of County Residents

The Greater Washington Community Foundation’s Sharing Prince George’s Fund is excited to announce $140,000 in new investments in seven local nonprofits serving County residents.

Sharing Prince George’s is a strategic funding effort representing a collection of philanthropic resources, including the Prince George’s Neighbor to Neighbor Fund and the MGM National Harbor Fund. It aims to increase economic security for residents of Prince George’s County by providing support for safety-net programs which help individuals in crisis to lift themselves out of poverty, educational activities that prepare young people for a successful transition to adulthood, and workforce development opportunities that will help residents earn a living wage. Since its inception, Sharing Prince George’s has awarded more than $1 million in grants to some of the best community-based nonprofit organizations serving Prince George’s County residents.

The seven nonprofits selected for funding in 2018 include:

Community Outreach and Development CDC’s Labor of Love Human Services Center will provide families with financial assistance subsidies to help avoid evictions or utility disconnections, and supply food and other gap-filling needs. 

“Thanks to the Sharing Prince George’s Fund, Community Outreach and Development was able to assist 260 families (747 individuals) each with Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday food baskets, provide upgrades to our clothing closet, and also ensure our food pantry stays stocked. We appreciate the opportunity to serve our most vulnerable residents.” – Sandy Washington, Executive Director

Food & Friends will prepare and deliver 258,432 medically-tailored meals to 810 people living in Prince George’s County—individuals who are living with HIV/AIDs, cancer, or another serious chronic illness, as well as their children and caregivers. 

“At Food & Friends, we are committed to bringing the community together to help our neighbors battling serious illnesses. We are proud to partner with the Sharing Prince George’s Fund: this grant will help 800 County residents in 2019, supporting costs associated with preparing and delivering our nutritionally-tailored meals.” – Carrie Stoltzfus, MPH, Executive Director

Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services, Inc.’s Emergency Services program will help 1,500 Laurel residents who face financial crisis to meet basic needs for food, rent, utilities, prescriptions, clothing and furniture.

"Laurel Advocacy & Referral Services, Inc. (LARS) is grateful for the continued support of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. The Sharing Prince George’s grant fuels our daily efforts to not only meet the basic needs of our community, but also to empower people with the skills and habits to maintain financial stability." - Leah Paley, Executive Director

Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area’s workforce development program will provide low-income immigrants who are refugees, asylees or victims of human trafficking with job readiness training, one-on-one job counseling, resume development, job placement and follow-up post placement.

“Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area has a long history of serving our newest neighbors through refugee resettlement. We are grateful for the award from the Sharing Prince George’s County Fund as it increases our ability to help our neighbors become active members of the Prince George's community.” – Christine Connell, CEO

Maryland Community Connection will create stable environments for County residents with developmental disabilities by providing support for basic needs and essential life services, such as hunger relief, eviction and utilities disconnection assistance, uninsured medical expenses, and employment placement and job retention services.

“Crisis isn’t expected. Planning for basic needs isn’t a luxury. Food and a place to call home is a necessity. And being asked for help isn’t an inconvenience. Maryland Community Connection is humbled and appreciative to provide basic needs/safety net services to individuals with disabilities, thanks to Sharing Prince George’s.” – André Coates, Executive Director

Nick’s Place Relapse Prevention Education Program will help homeless young men exiting in-patient drug and alcohol addiction treatment facilities with housing, food, employment services and addiction recovery support for 6 months to a year. 

"It is a real privilege to have our 19 years of work in Prince George's County acknowledged with a grant that will help us continue to provide clean, safe, sober housing and life management programming to young men beginning recovery from the disease of addiction.” – Rhea McVicker, Executive Director

Prince George’s Child Resource Center, Inc. Healthy Families program will provide free, weekly in-home intervention services for 170 at-risk mothers to combat health disparities associated with poverty and promote children’s healthy development.

“It is an honor to be a grantee of Sharing Prince George's! This funding will make a difference for our Healthy Families Prince George's program. When offering home visiting services that provide new moms with much-needed support, this funding ensures that we can meet unique needs encountered by the families we serve.” – Jennifer Iverson, Executive Director

The Community Foundation’s Sharing Prince George's County Fund facilitates education and civic engagement around local issues and encourages more residents and businesses to collectively give where they live. The initiative helps donors strategically leverage their giving to create even greater impact in our communities by pooling resources to support nonprofits responding to the most critical needs. It also brings together donors and other stakeholders to learn first-hand about the challenges facing the area’s most vulnerable residents and engage in a peer-led grant review process, supported by The Community Foundation’s professional staff. 

If you would like to learn more about Sharing Prince George’s, please visit our website or contact Desiree Griffin-Moore at dgriffin@thecommunityfoundation.org.

New Investments in Preventing and Ending Homelessness to Impact Hundreds of DC Residents

The Greater Washington Community Foundation’s Sharing DC Fund has announced $160,000 in new investments in eight nonprofits working to address homelessness in DC. Sharing DC will award grants toward two separate funding priorities: offering flexible funding to programs that help people with costs related to obtaining and moving into permanent housing and providing support for youth homelessness prevention and intervention programs.

Sharing DC, established in 2013, is dedicated to improving the quality of life for the District of Columbia’s most vulnerable residents. Stewarded by an Advisory Committee of donors, in collaboration with The Community Foundation’s staff, Sharing DC gives donors the opportunity to learn first-hand about the challenges facing our community and identify nonprofits working to make a difference in the lives of children and families. The focus area is determined annually by the Sharing DC Advisory Committee.

Advisory Committee Chair, Laura Stone, explained the collaborative process that resulted in these grants: "This year, the Committee chose to focus on homelessness prevention and intervention in alignment with The Community Foundation’s broader impact initiative strategy for DC. As part of the planning process for a forthcoming partnership between The Community Foundation and The District of Columbia Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), these funding priorities were identified as two areas where private philanthropy can augment the District Government's homelessness service delivery. Sharing DC released an RFP focused on these areas and conducted a thorough and collaborative grant review process. We are proud of our list of grantees."

Kristy Greenwalt, Director, DC Interagency Council on Homelessness, Executive Office of the Mayor, shared, “We are so excited to be working in partnership with the Greater Washington Community Foundation. We all have a role to play in ending homelessness — it is not something one agency, or even one sector, can do alone. Our efforts must be strategically aligned to have maximum impact, which is why we are so excited The Community Foundation is piloting this grants program which supports implementation of the District’s Homeward DC and Solid Foundations DC plans.”

Addressing Youth Homelessness in DC

Youth experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable to harm and exploitation. The trauma and instability that results from homelessness can impact a young person’s development and have long-lasting effects on their well-being.

Sharing DC’s youth homelessness program grant recipients include: the Latin American Youth Center, Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL), Casa Ruby, and Sasha Bruce Youthwork. Funding will support street outreach, drop-in centers, hotline, prevention and stabilization services, emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent housing solutions.

Lupi Quinteros-Grady, President and CEO at Latin American Youth Center, noted, “With support from Sharing DC, LAYC’s bilingual, culturally competent staff will provide 400 runaway and homeless youth in DC with comprehensive services, including emergency care and supplies, crisis intervention, coordinated entry assessment, referrals to housing and other supports, case management, family intervention, and aftercare support.”     

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Sasha Bruce staff and clients at its emergency youth shelter, the Sasha Bruce House.

In DC, 17% of homeless youth self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning, while 7% self-identify as transgender. With this in mind, Sharing DC chose to invest in SMYAL and Casa Ruby, two of the District’s premier LGBTQ-led service providers. Ruby Corado, Executive Director at Casa Ruby, shared, “Casa Ruby is really happy and in need of the grant received from The Community Foundation. Our LGBTQ Respite Center and Housing Program will greatly benefit from the ability to purchase the most comfortable bedding we can provide our youth." SMYAL’s Executive Director Sultan Shakir expressed that they are “incredibly grateful to Sharing DC for partnering with us to change the lives of homeless LGBTQ youth. We know our youth face a number of challenges, and we’re working together to ensure young people can overcome whatever gets put in their way.” 

Flexible Funding

District government dollars cover the large, recurring costs of helping residents obtain and maintain housing, however, there are small expenses associated with helping clients return to stable housing that aren’t covered by existing federal and local government housing assistance programs.  

Sharing DC’s flexible funding program grant recipients include: Pathways to Housing, Community of Hope, Friendship Place, and Miriam’s Kitchen. These grants will allow providers to help single adults, families, and youth move to permanent housing by funding key needs which often present barriers to exiting homelessness. Funding will help with small costs related to obtaining and moving into permanent housing that are not otherwise covered by government funding sources — such as security deposits, rental application fees, transportation to see rental units, moving costs and household furnishings.

Catherine Mitchell, Director of Neighbors First Families at Friendship Place, noted that "This grant fills in a gap in DC's funding for our permanent supportive housing program for formerly homeless families. Some of our families are living in unsafe conditions, and now we will be able cover their costs to relocate to safer and more stable housing, where they can move ahead toward goals for recovery, health, wellness, financial stability and educational and career advancement."


The Community Foundation is excited by these investments and the opportunity to mobilize private funding to help expand services for people experiencing homelessness. If you are a funder or donor interested in learning more about our work to end homelessness in DC, or would like to learn about how to become engaged in Sharing DC, learn more on our website.

2019 Montgomery County Philanthropist of the Year Nominations Now Open!

Nomination Guidelines

Purpose: To honor an individual who has made a positive impact in our community through giving, and whose philanthropic leadership sets an inspiring example for us all. 

Nomination Process:

Complete the official nomination form and a letter explaining why your nominee should be selected as the Montgomery County Philanthropist of the Year. 

Please note that the cover form must be completed in its entirety in order for the nomination to be eligible. The Awards Committee will not accept nominations which rely solely on resumes, newspaper articles, annual reports or the like in substitution for concise responses to the criteria outlined below. Pending review by the Philanthropist of the Year Selection Committee, The Community Foundation staff may contact you for additional information. 

For inspiration, look no further than our past honorees.

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Our 2018 Montgomery County Philanthropist of the Year, Linda Youngentob, and her family at the Celebration of Giving on November 1, 2018.


Eligibility Criteria: 

All nominees must…

  • Be a resident of Montgomery County

  • Have a demonstrated track record of charitable giving to one or more nonprofit organizations based in and working in Montgomery County

  • Have made a positive impact in the lives of county residents through their giving

  • Encourage/motivate others to become philanthropic

Note: The level of charitable dollars given is secondary to its impact and potential to inspire others to follow suit. Creative approaches to philanthropy are welcome!  Nominees may be of any age.

In exceptional circumstances, the Award Committee may consider a former resident, a family unit, or a philanthropist who is deceased. 

Deadline: March 8, 2019

The nomination form and letter must be postmarked or emailed by close of business on Friday, March 8, 2019 to:

The Community Foundation in Montgomery County

Attn: Kevin Donnelly

8720 Georgia Avenue, Suite 202

Silver Spring, MD 20910

kdonnelly@thecommunityfoundation.org

The Community Foundation in Montgomery County will contact the selected awardee and her/his nominator by the end of May. All other nominations will remain confidential.

Questions: Contact Kevin Donnelly at kdonnelly@thecommunityfoundation.org or 301-495-3036 x162.

Reflecting on the Legacy of Vicki Sant

All of us at the Greater Washington Community Foundation were deeply saddened to learn of Victoria (“Vicki”) Sant’s passing on Tuesday, December 11, 2018. Vicki was a long-standing champion of The Community Foundation’s ideals, having served as vice chair of the board, an emeritus board member, major donor, and President of the Summit Fund.

“The Community Foundation would not be the thriving organization and community leader that it is today if it wasn’t for Vicki Sant’s hands-on leadership and stewardship,” said Bruce McNamer, President and CEO of The Community Foundation. “Vicki was instrumental to our early growth and success, and The Summit Fund provided major financial support which enabled us to address community needs and to develop as a community leader.”

Vicki began an over 35-year relationship with The Community Foundation in the early 80s when she and her husband, Roger — the co-founder of a global power company — established The Summit Fund as a donor-advised fund at The Community Foundation. As a board member, she chaired The Community Foundation’s grants and programs committee and served on the Steering Committee for the Creative Communities Initiative, focused on creating a strong support system for artists in the region. Vicki was eventually named a board member emeritus, a position of honor she shared with the late R. Robert Linowes.

The Summit Fund of Washington, established by Roger and Vicki Sant, was the first supporting organization of The Community Foundation. Vicki was the co-founder and president from 1993 to 2015, focused on two specific causes of importance to her: restoring and protecting the Anacostia River and reducing teen pregnancy in the District of Columbia. Her other passions included international population issues, global environmental issues and the arts.

“Vicki embodied the true spirit of philanthropy.  She became a mentor of mine in the early 90s when I was a young program officer just starting out at The Community Foundation, and her love and guidance made such a huge difference in my life. Her impact came not just from her strategic mind but also from her enormous heart and emotional intelligence,” said Silvana Straw, Senior Community Investment Officer and Philanthropic Advisor at The Community Foundation.

Vicki’s long history as a fundraiser for nonprofit organizations also gave her a unique nonprofit -friendly perspective on philanthropy. She once shared that, “Knowing the complexity of running a nonprofit has helped me enormously as a donor and helped me experience the partnership donors and grantees share as they each work toward the same common goal.”

“Vicki was my great friend—kind, caring and funny.  Most of all we shared a total commitment to children both here and around the world.  She was always an inspiration and had the attitude that anything good was possible, and that attitude meant that good came to pass,” said Charito Kruvant, a Community Foundation donor and former board member, and Founder and Chairperson of the Board of Creative Associates International. 

Underlying her commitment was a belief that, in her eloquent words, “our community’s greatest assets are its citizens, and that their creativity, ideas and energy are essential to the resolution of the challenges facing our community.”

Year-End Giving Tips from Leslie Smith of Chevy Chase Trust

With the end of the year quickly approaching, professional advisor Leslie Smith hopes individuals, families and businesses recognize that expertly managed and cost-effective donor-advised funds offer numerous financial advantages. Leslie, Senior Managing Director with Chevy Chase Trust, notes that a fund at the Greater Washington Community Foundation offers a special opportunity to learn about the issues facing the community and can support worthy causes, such as providing scholarships for students or helping to create a brighter future for vulnerable neighbors. There’s no better time to consider the financial benefits than in the last days of December.

Leslie has a long history with The Community Foundation—including as co-chair of The Foundation’s Professional Advisors Council and serving on The Community Foundation’s Advisory Board in Montgomery County and its Sharing Montgomery Grants Committee.

“I quickly went from having an academic understanding to comprehending the tremendous benefits of community foundations and donor-advised funds,” she says. “The bottom line is private foundations are not a very efficient option for most donors.” 

Leslie estimates that she and her colleagues have helped dozens, if not 100 or more clients set up donor-advised funds over the years. One client told Leslie that she wanted to focus on her own charitable giving after her husband passed away. A volunteer with the Literacy Council, the client was personally moved by stories of her immigrant neighbors who were determined to learn English while raising their families and working full-time, usually at low paid jobs. She wanted to find a way to help their children go to college. Leslie introduced her to Anna Hargrave, executive director of The Community Foundation’s local office for Montgomery County. Anna arranged a meeting with staff from the Literacy Council and Future Links, a nonprofit that provides academic support, internships and scholarships to underserved high school students. Fast forward four years: Leslie’s client has provided scholarships to three students, so far. 

“Every time we meet, she talks about those students and her terrific experience with The Community Foundation,” Leslie says. “Of course we also talk about her portfolio, but it’s her charitable giving and those scholarships that really make her light up.”

Leslie and her colleagues at Chevy Chase Trust not only refer clients to The Community Foundation, they also host learning events for clients on topics like hunger and poverty and roll up their sleeves and volunteer in the community. They are not alone. The Community Foundation partners with many corporations, professional advisors and financial institutions throughout the region who have demonstrated a strong commitment to addressing the community’s greatest challenges. 

Leslie recognizes that giving through The Community Foundation makes it possible to maximize the tax benefits and impact of philanthropy. As 2018 comes to a close, Leslie offers these five tips for end-of-the-year giving:

  • As you are considering your 2018 tax situation, you may find the cap of the deduction for state and local income tax as well as property taxes (a $10,000 deduction limit for all) results in higher than expected taxes, despite the reduction in federal rates. It may make sense to give more to charity, or to accelerate charitable giving into the current year.

  • Always consider gifting appreciated securities rather than cash, to avoid the capital gain on the securities. 

  • If you want to take advantage of the standard deduction rather than itemize, it could make sense to bunch charitable giving into alternate years so that one year you itemize and the next you use the standard deduction. 

  • If you don't want to make larger gifts to your usual charities in one year, a donor-advised fund can provide the mechanism to make a large deductible gift now, then take your time deciding how it will be used to benefit the community in the future.

  • If you are at least 70 1/2 years old, consider using your IRA to make a direct contribution to charity. You may give up to $100,000, which can include your Required Minimum Distribution. A donor-advised fund does not qualify for these donations, however, The Community Foundation offers other giving vehicles that allow you to take advantage of this type of gift.