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

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 Address the “Hidden” Issues Undermining our Kids’ Futures

By Agnes Leshner, Steering Committee member of the Children’s Opportunity Fund and Board member of 4Montgomery’s Kids


“The child may not remember, but the body does.” 

This quote stuck with me after watching the documentary, Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope How does one truly overcome trauma?  How can we break cycles of poverty and toxic stress from perpetuating across generations?

Still from the film  Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope.

Still from the film Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope.

These questions have been at the heart of my 25-year career in Child Welfare Services of Montgomery County, MD.  That is why I was so pleased to join the most recent Funders’ Roundtable gathering, which featured a rich discussion with local foundation leaders and Community Foundation donors after watching Resilience

Resilience centers on a seminal study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente which demonstrates how high exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can wreak havoc on children’s brains and bodies. In addition to hindering academic achievement, exposure to multiple traumatic childhood events (such as abuse, neglect, persistent hunger, parental conflict, mental illness, and substance abuse, etc.) can result in long-term negative effects on learning, behavior, and health.

Many attendees were shocked to learn…

  • ACEs are common.  In fact, one in four people have had at least one adverse childhood experience. 

  • Individuals with three ACEs were found to be twice as likely to develop heart disease.

  • Individuals with four ACEs were found to be four times as likely to suffer from depression.

  • Individuals with six ACEs have a 20 years lower life expectancy.

For many low-income children ACEs are even more damaging. Experiencing a high number of ACES alongside additional challenges, such as racism and community violence, without the buffer of supportive adult relationships, can cause toxic stress.  While we all need a certain amount of stress to promote positive growth, children whose stress responses are constantly active due to ACEs actually experience physiological changes to the brain that can disrupt learning, change behavior, and even modify their DNA. Because of this linkage, the American Academy of Pediatrics asserts that ACES are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat for children in the United States.

But history is not destiny.  The studies around ACEs have led schools, healthcare providers, nonprofits, and social service agencies to try bold new interventions. Here are some examples:

  • The Center for Youth Wellness in the Bayview-Hunter’s Point neighborhood of San Francisco, CA – a traditionally underserved community - has established a protocol to screen all its pediatric patients for ACEs. Center staff work with local social service providers to pilot treatments for toxic stress and share their findings nationally.

  • In New Haven, CT, Strong Elementary School partnered with the Center for Post Traumatic Stress to bring Miss Kendra’s List to students beginning in kindergarten. This program teaches children the norms of child safety and gives them an outlet to express their worries to guardian figure named Miss Kendra, a fictional character who has overcome adversity and demonstrated resiliency. ALIVE Counselors write back to every child to help build their inner strength.

  • In the early 2000s, over 30 counties in Washington state brought together educators, social workers, parents, police officers, and healthcare professionals to spur education, dialogue, and community building around ACEs. By implementing specific strategies, the counties were able to significantly lower suicide rates, incidents of domestic violence, and youth arrests, which has saved the state $1.4 billion over 10 years.

If you are passionate about this issue, please join us!  Contact Kimberly Rusnak, Project Director of the Children’s Opportunity Fund to learn more about innovative strategies at work right here in our local community and help us bring together more people who will want to use these findings to improve the lives of children throughout our Montgomery County community.

After the screening of  Resilience,  the Community Foundation hosted a post-film discussion with Anna Hargrave, Executive Director in Montgomery County, Mindi Jacobson, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Future Link, Diego Uriburu, Executive Director of Identity, Dr. Carrie Zilcoski, Executive Director of Aspire Counseling, and Terrill North, Executive Director of Montgomery County Collaboration Council.

After the screening of Resilience, the Community Foundation hosted a post-film discussion with Anna Hargrave, Executive Director in Montgomery County, Mindi Jacobson, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Future Link, Diego Uriburu, Executive Director of Identity, Dr. Carrie Zilcoski, Executive Director of Aspire Counseling, and Terrill North, Executive Director of Montgomery County Collaboration Council.

New Grant Opportunities from The Sharing Montgomery Fund

The Sharing Montgomery Fund provides grants to 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations with programs or services which directly serve low-income children, youth, adults, families, and/or seniors living in Montgomery County. Specifically, Sharing Montgomery has three priority focus-areas:

  • Safety-net. Emergency services which address the basic needs of low-income children, single adults, families, and seniors in crisis, and also prevention programs in health and human services which help residents as they work to lift themselves out of poverty.

  • Education. Academic and enrichment opportunities which empower youth from low-income families to make smart choices, discover their talents, succeed in school, and gain skills necessary for adulthood.

  • Workforce Development. Skill-building, professional accreditations, literacy, income generation, and other programs which enable unemployed and low-income individuals to achieve financial self-sufficiency.

Grants may support special projects, programs, or continuation funding, including general operating support. Grant awards may range from $5,000-$10,000.  The Community Foundation is now accepting Letters of Inquiry for the Sharing Montgomery Fund’s FY 2020 Grant Cycle by 4:00 p.m. on Monday, July 29, 2019. To apply, and to learn more about eligibility criteria, please follow the link below.

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.

Please contact Kevin Donnelly with questions: kdonnelly@thecommunityfoundation.org

Resilience Fund Offers New Grant Opportunity Addressing Federal Policy Impacts

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

Since the Fund’s inception, it has raised and leveraged more than $1 million and made grants to organizations supporting our neighbors affected by changes to immigration and deportation policies, as well as efforts to build community cohesion and combat “anti-other” sentiment. Grants have supported immigrant-serving organizations providing advocacy, legal, or medical services; training on legal and civil rights; and, assistance with family reunification.

Grantmaking Opportunities

For our 2019 giving round, The Resilience Fund is accepting proposals from organizations who are responding to changes in federal policy and budget priorities impacting the Greater Washington region. Grant awards may range from $10,000-$30,000.

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 must demonstrate that the proposed work is directly responding to changes in the federal policy landscape over the past two years.

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 July/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 either funding opportunity or technical assistance with the online application system, please reach out to Melen Hagos. No calls, please.