Remembering 9/11

On the 17th anniversary of September 11, 2001, we honor and remember the innocent people who lost their lives in the horrific terrorist attacks carried out on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a crash site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We mark this tragedy by finding hope in the response of our community which came together to help victims and their families during a time of immense devastation and loss. Following the attack on the Pentagon—which claimed the lives of 184 innocent people and directly affected thousands of other individuals and families—the Survivors’ Fund was established at The Community Foundation to direct the charitable response and caring spirit of some 12,000 donors, including families who sponsored lemonade stands and bake sales to major corporations and foundations contributing millions of dollars. Their generosity and care amounted to a $25 million fund, the largest dedicated solely to the Pentagon attack, which aided 1,051 victims and their families by providing access to both financial support and case management services needed to achieve long-term financial and emotional stability. Donors’ contributions, compassion and hope helped to sustain the Fund and, in turn, survivors of that terrible day, for nearly seven years (from 2001-2008). As our country reflects on these tragic events, we find inspiration from the stories of the individuals and families helped by the Fund and the generous contributions of our community. You can read more about the Fund and the people it served in a final report to the community released in 2008.

A Framework for Building Thriving Communities

Dear friends and community members,

As a community foundation, having a finger on the pulse of our community is central to who we are and our ability to make a difference in the lives of those who call our region their home. Last year, in partnership with Urban Institute, we launched Voices of the Community: DC, MD, VA (VoicesDMV) to connect directly with the people and communities we serve and understand our neighbors’ experiences in their neighborhoods, jobs, schools, with local government, and with each other — and to identify the role philanthropy can play in enhancing or improving those experiences.

VoicesDMV revealed a region in which, while separated by income, education or geographic boundaries, all of us share similar hopes and dreams. We all want a better overall quality of life for ourselves and our families, including the opportunity to live in a safe and welcoming environment, obtain a quality education, earn a living wage, and build assets for a secure future. And yet, as prosperous as our region is, our survey found that deep disparities in income and opportunity persist and the gap continues to widen, preventing many of our neighbors, particularly people of color due to historical discrimination, from accessing the region’s economic growth and prosperity.

A decade ago, our Economic Security Framework was created as a direct response to the economic crisis and its impact on the region, with a focus on workforce development, safety-net services, and education. But the nature of today’s challenges requires a different approach, one that goes deeper toward addressing systemic issues to improve the economic and social well-being of people and communities who have long been marginalized, particularly communities of color. While economic security will remain part of our work going forward, we have taken this opportunity to refresh our focus areas to fully capture the range of efforts that are critical to building thriving communities. Our new Building Thriving Communities Framework will broaden our work with donors and partners across the region to disrupt poverty, deepen human connection, and prepare for the future of work.

With this refresh, we seek to deepen and expand existing work by leveraging new tools, prioritizing strategic partnerships across sectors, and developing innovative approaches to addressing the region’s most pressing challenges. This includes a new partnership with the District of Columbia Interagency Council on Homelessness to launch a broader public-private partnership that will build off the District’s plans to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring by making critical investments to accelerate our community’s response.

We are also deliberately centering racial equity and community voice in our community leadership efforts and in our grantmaking. For example, as our Workforce Development Collaborative celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the focus will remain on supporting programs and policies which help workers advance their skills and credentials, but with a special emphasis on eliminating inequities based on race, ethnicity or gender and providing new career pathways and wealth-building opportunities.

We hope you see a connection between our Building Thriving Communities Framework and your own charitable giving plans. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss how The Community Foundation can support your broader interests. You can also make an unrestricted gift to the Fund for Greater Washington to support our ongoing community change work across the region. Your continued partnership and support are crucial as we seek to build thriving communities today and for generations to come.


Bruce McNamer, President and CEO

Bruce McNamer, President and CEO

Tonia Wellons, VP of Community Investment

Tonia Wellons, VP of Community Investment


Closing the Achievement Gap in Montgomery County

The Children’s Opportunity Fund champions and supports strategic investments to improve the lives of low-income children and families in Montgomery County. The Fund was launched jointly by the Montgomery County Government and Montgomery County Public Schools to identify priority areas for investment based on unmet need and to help align resources toward effective multi-sector collaborations serving the County’s most vulnerable youth and their families. In July 2017, the Fund made its inaugural grants which were leveraged against matching dollars to launch and expand innovative, evidence-informed programs throughout the county. We are pleased to report that the Fund recently made another $623,000 in grants to these high-impact organizations to further support their vital work:

Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) works to create high-quality learning opportunities for the children who need them most, mobilizing schools and communities to expand learning time beyond the traditional school day and school year. The 2017 grant from the Children’s Opportunity Fund supported BELL’s Summer program which provided educational services to 1,134 rising 3-5th graders. For six and one-half hours per day, five days a week, the program blended academics with nutrition, enrichment, and mentorship at no cost to lower income families. The result was an increase in the average scholar’s literacy by 1.5 months and math skills by 3 months, increased self-confidence for 98% of scholars, and improved scholar attitudes about school which led to a 93% average daily attendance rate. Read about Bell’s efforts to prevent the ‘summer slide’ in an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun.

I have been inspired by Montgomery County’s commitment to equity in education. Families and MCPS educators have advocated for increasing access to the BELL Summer program with evidence-based instruction and engaging resources to accelerate scholars’ learning year-round. The Children Opportunity Fund’s visionary investment in BELL Summer has helped us double this collective impact in summer 2018 and serve 2,100 young people across 11 Title I MCPS schools!
— Damon Johnson, Vice President, Partner Impact, BELL

Family Service’s Thriving Germantown Collaboration. As Germantown has grown and become more diverse, so has the rate of increased poverty (16% versus 6% countywide) and the economic, health, and educational disparities for the most vulnerable residents. Over 20 community nonprofit partners established a five-year collective impact initiative, Thriving Germantown Community HUB, designed to help Germantown families connect to health care, early child care, adult education, employment, and more. Family Services, Inc. was selected to provide leadership for this multi-sector, multi-generational care coordination initiative to improve student/family health and wellness outcomes, achieve academic success, and ensure that children have safe, stable and nurturing environments in which to live. A grant from the Children’s Opportunity Fund supported the coordination of work around early childhood care and education. In its first year, Thriving Germantown provided 99 comprehensive family risk assessments and facilitated referrals and linkages to appropriate resources and services for 131 children, adults and families. Read more about the school and leaders behind the Thriving Germantown collaboration in Bethesda Magazine’s 2017 December cover story, “Hope Lives Here.”

TG families.jpg
Partnerships are at the heart of Thriving Germantown – with families from the Daly School community, school staff, and over a dozen community health and social services organizations. The investments from COF are particularly helpful in supporting our early care and academic related service coordination. We’re excited to include as goals for the new year deepening our reach into the community, enhancing data sharing and collaboration with our partners, and developing a permanent shared nonprofit services facility for the Germantown community.
— Kylie McCleaf, CEO Family Services, Inc.

Urban Alliance is committed to helping underserved youth gain the experience, support, and training necessary to compete in the labor market and embark on a pathway to self-sufficiency. With the grant from the Children’s Opportunity Fund, Urban Alliance expanded its High School Internship Program into Montgomery County to provide career preparation and internships to high school seniors in the East County area. Through the program, students had the opportunity to gain significant professional development training, one-on-one mentoring from adult professionals, and paid, real-world work experience. The program placed 30 interns at worksites around the county, with a 100% retention rate – all youth who began the program in the fall are still actively enrolled. While their post high school plans are still in progress, all Montgomery interns have applied to college, all have been accepted to at least one institution, and all have completed a resume.

Anna Hargrave, Executive Director of the Community Foundation in Montgomery County, poses with Urban Alliance Scholars.

Anna Hargrave, Executive Director of the Community Foundation in Montgomery County, poses with Urban Alliance Scholars.

“The Children’s Opportunity Fund is making it possible for Urban Alliance to provide even more young people in Montgomery County with early, meaningful work experience and professional development to help them succeed in adulthood. We’re so grateful to the Greater Washington Community Foundation for their dedication to improving outcomes for underserved youth by helping us to sustain and grow our program here in the county.”
— Eshauna Smith, CEO of Urban Alliance

Amazon HQ2 journey exposes region's challenges

In a new op-ed for the Washington Business Journal, Bruce McNamer and Sarah Rosen Wartell from Urban Institute discuss how racial and economic inequities that have long plagued our area could threaten our progress, and they offer 3 strategies to get the region on a path for inclusive growth.

New Investments in Job Training to Benefit More than 100 District Residents

The Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative, an initiative of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, today announced new investments in five local community-based organizations designed to help DC residents get the skills and training they need to gain employment. The funded programs will offer training in a host of industries including hospitality, IT, healthcare, education, and the construction trades.

These investments are the result of a philanthropic partnership between the Workforce Collaborative and the developers of a new mixed-use property at 965 Florida Avenue NW in the District, a joint venture between MRP Realty, JBG Smith, and Ellis Development. As a part of the Planned Unit Development for this 10-story mixed use project, the developers have worked in partnership with The Community Foundation to establish the 965 Florida Avenue NW Job Training Grant Program, administered by the Workforce Collaborative.

The Workforce Collaborative is a partnership comprised of local foundations, philanthropists, and business. Its investments help workers acquire the skills and credentials they need to launch successful, family-sustaining careers, and help businesses attract, retain, and advance the skilled workforce they need to provide critical services to our community and remain globally competitive.

All five funded projects were asked to propose work that will specifically focus on residents living within one mile of the 965 Florida Avenue NW development.

The 965 Florida Avenue project will help prepare local residents with the workplace skills and training they need…" said MRP Realty Vice President for Development Michael Skena, "…it is this type of public-private partnership between business, philanthropy, and the nonprofit sector that will provide high quality career opportunities for residents in our neighborhood."

Partnering Together for Community Benefit

The developers worked alongside The Community Foundation and the Workforce Collaborative to develop a targeted grantmaking approach to ensure residents have access to a wide-range of services and opportunities to learn new skills and launch living-wage careers in industry sectors primed for growth. The Community Foundation developed its Request for Proposals and vetted applications from local training providers in lockstep with representatives of ANC 1B, the ANC in which the 965 Florida Avenue NW development sits.

“The process that The Community Foundation developed was inclusive and took into consideration the needs of our local community,” noted James A. Turner, Chairman of ANC1B. “We are thrilled to have been able to help drive the process that has yielded grants to these five great local nonprofits.”

Funded partnerships include:

Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School will serve 25 residents of the target area through their integrated Adult Basic Education, Adult Secondary Education and Career Pathways program. Their goal is to help each adult learner attain a high school credential and enter post-secondary workforce training or higher education. Academy of Hope focuses its efforts in the area of hospitality, healthcare and IT careers for adult literacy learners.

Community Services Agency of Metro Council AFL_CIO will provide construction pre-apprenticeship training, case management and job placement services to 20 low-income residents of the target geographic area to be served.

Literacy Lab will build capacity to recruit ten young men of color from DC public high schools in Ward 1 to participate in the Leading Men Fellowship, a program to increase workforce readiness by engaging young men of color in careers in early childhood education.

Literacy Volunteers and Advocates will create a program for 30 adults with an interest in obtaining a job in the technology field who need to improve their basic skills in order to become employment ready. The development of the AT Work! (Adults, Trained and Working) program will focus on integrating adult basic literacy skills with Information Technology skills, with a specific focus on preparing these adults for entry level administrative or help desk positions.

New Futures will provide comprehensive services to 15 low-income, first generation young adults pursuing degrees in IT and healthcare, including scholarships, post-secondary persistence and completion support, and career planning, skill-building, and preparation programs—all in service of launching high-growth careers that lead to financial stability.

A Win for Workers, Employers, and Our Community

Greater Washington is home to hundreds of thousands of working age adults who lack a post-secondary credential, most of whom currently work in front-line or entry-level jobs in every sector. Despite our region’s return to historically low unemployment rates, stubborn pockets of un- and under-employment persist. Initiatives like the 965 Florida Avenue Job Training Grant Program will target investments to those who need assistance most.

The Workforce Collaborative has a long history of supporting job training grantmaking as a component of community benefit agreements for clients including Hines, Walmart, and Trammel Crow.

“Supporting local business and employers to meet their philanthropic goals is core to our mission at the Greater Washington Community Foundation,” notes Benton Murphy, Senior Director of Community Investment at The Community Foundation. “We are proud to partner with ANC 1B, MRP Realty, JBG Smith, and Ellis Development on this project that will directly impact the lives of local residents.”

More information on the Workforce Collaborative is available online at  

Paying Tribute to Nancy Fax

It is with great sadness that we share news of loss of The Community Foundation’s long-time friend, Nancy Fax, who passed away Monday, June 4 after a brief illness.

Nancy had a long-standing relationship with The Community Foundation in Montgomery County. She was a two-time member of the Advisory Board, and chair from April 2004 to March 2006. She also co-chaired The Community Foundation’s Professional Advisors Council for many years. During her Board tenure, she was responsible for significant growth in The Community Foundation’s charitable assets and giving.

Her leadership was also pivotal to Sharing Montgomery, our strategic, donor-led funding effort to support organizations serving the County’s growing population of low-income children, families, and seniors. Each year, it educates people about the nonprofit community serving Montgomery County, engages donors in strategic grantmaking, and supports nonprofit capacity building. This spring, thanks to the contributions for many people and businesses, Sharing Montgomery granted $375,000 to 60 organizations.

A memorial service honoring Nancy's life will be held at 1:00 PM on Tuesday, June 26th in the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park (7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, Maryland). In lieu of flowers, the family invites Nancy's friends and colleagues to make a contribution to one of the following organizations:

Please contact Anna Hargrave (Executive Director, The Community Foundation in Montgomery County) at if you have questions about the memorial service or other ways to donate in Nancy’s memory. 


Fill out my online form.

A Partnership to End Homelessness in DC

Washington, DC, like every major city across America, faces an affordable housing crisis. Housing plays a critical role in disrupting poverty, providing stability and creating a foundation for success in life. Yet a growing number of DC residents are experiencing housing instability and homelessness as a result of loss of affordable housing stock, major rent increases and low wages. According to the District’s recent Point-in-Time (PIT) Count, approximately 6,900 people at any given point in time are literally homeless—living on the streets or in the city's emergency shelters. Lack of stable housing makes it difficult for people to obtain or maintain employment, address health needs and keep families together.   

The Community Foundation, in partnership with the District of Columbia Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), is preparing to launch a public-private partnership focused on ending homelessness in the District by ensuring that homelessness is a rare, brief, and non-recurring event. Spurred in part by the District Government’s own plans* to address homelessness, we believe there is an immediate opportunity to align public and private sector resources and strategies to tackle this persistent challenge with renewed vigor and innovative solutions. Leveraging our experience as a convener, funder, community leader and advocate, we will bring together key public and private sector partners as we identify gaps and leverage points in the District’s plan in order to pinpoint how the private sector can make critical investments to accelerate our community’s response.

We seek to:

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

  • Support homeless individuals, families, and youth to exit homelessness and obtain stable housing;

  • Leverage and align public and private philanthropic resources, leading to more strategic and sustained investment in the homeless services system; and

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

The Community Foundation is laying the groundwork for the launch of this partnership and currently engaged in the next phase of program design and fundraising planning. As a starting point, we are focused on our most vulnerable neighbors, those who have no or extremely low/very low income (0-50% AMI). Our approach will focus on expanding the supply of supportive housing more quickly and supporting nonprofit provider capacity to serve people exiting homelessness more efficiently and effectively.

The Community Foundation has a long history of making investments to help people meet basic needs for shelter and housing. In 2008, we galvanized the generosity of our community to establish the Neighbors in Need Fund which raised $5 million in aid for neighbors hit hardest by the economic crisis and to support advocacy and systems change. In 2014, we commissioned the study, Housing Security in Greater Washington, the first of its kind to quantify the need for shelter and housing across a range of income levels and inform strategic investments by the private and public sector. Many of our donors have given significantly in this area for the past 40+ years, including millions of dollars for the preservation of affordable housing in the District in addition to housing advocacy and community organizing. And in the past two years, our Fund for Children, Youth and Families has awarded over $2 million for Stable Homes/Stable Families in the region.

We are excited by the opportunity to refresh our commitment in this space and lay the groundwork to launch a new public-private partnership focused on ending homelessness in Washington, DC. If you are a funder or donor and are interested in learning more about our partnership to end homelessness in DC, please join our Partnership to End Homelessness email list.


Additional resources:

Coaching Prince George’s County’s Youth to College Success

This post is part of a series highlighting the amazing impact that results when our generous donors take a hands-on approach to the grantmaking process through our various Sharing funds.

Sharing Funds in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and DC represent The Community Foundation’s community-led grantmaking approach through a collection of philanthropic funds that provide financial support to local nonprofit organizations. The initiative helps donors strategically leverage their resources to create even greater impact in their own communities by pooling resources in support of effective nonprofits. It also brings donors, and other stakeholders, together to learn first-hand about the challenges facing the area’s most vulnerable residents. They engage in a peer-led grant review process to identify and support organizations that are effectively responding to the most critical needs. 

Sharing Prince George’s, operating out of the local office in Prince George’s County, helps donors to strategically leverage their resources to support the nonprofit organizations that are addressing the county’s most critical needs. It currently consists of the Prince George’s Neighbor to Neighbor Fund and the MGM National Harbor Fund.

The Sharing Prince George’s initiative is a clear demonstration of the Community Foundation’s role as a convener in the philanthropic community. By providing a mechanism for corporate members of our community to pool resources so that grants can then be distributed directly to nonprofits doing important work in our community, The Community Foundation is leveraging its expertise to create a better Prince George’s.

—     William M. Shipp, Trustee of The Community Foundation

In 2017, the Sharing Prince George’s fund granted $188,000 in awards to nonprofits in Prince George’s County, MD. First Generation College Bound (FGCB) was one of the 15 recipients in the latest round of awards.

FGCB helps youth realize that being the first in their family to earn a post-secondary degree is no longer a dream out of reach. For more than 25 years, FGCB has provided pathways through high school into college for low- to moderate-income, at-risk, and/or underrepresented youth attending Prince George’s County Public Schools.

According to the US Census, only 46% of low-income American students matriculate to college nationally. With limited opportunities for employment, low- and moderate-income students without college degrees will likely encounter a poorer quality of life, marked by inadequate housing, poor health care, food insecurity and the inability to build sustainable futures.
As a society, unless we do more to encourage first generation students to obtain college degrees, we risk becoming a more divided nation: between those who are moving forward, and those left behind.  And our most serious social problems – poverty, racism, violence, substance abuse, and mass incarceration – will grow more intractable.
General Operating Support from the Sharing Fund gave FGCB the flexibility to assure we addressed our most critical needs and gave our Coaches proper administrative and technical support to improve the quality of our services and enhance our mission’s delivery.

—     Joseph Fisher, Executive Director, First Generation College Bound

In 2016-2017, First Generation College Bound served 1,210 students across three programs: the Homework Club (27 students), College Access (223 students), and College Retention (960 students). College Access Coaches conducted a workshop series that educated high school seniors on the importance of taking the SAT, the financial aid system, the college admissions process, and how to successfully transition to college. A record number of students in the program – 98% of the 223 participants – matriculated to college.

The Community Foundation is happy to announce the next grant round for the Sharing funds is opening on June 4, 2018. To stay updated on our grant availability, visit our nonprofit page or join our mailing list.