Protecting Our Community from Unsafe Drinking Water

Guest Post by Emily Franc, Vice President of Development/Philanthropy, Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN)

The Greater Washington Community Foundation manages The Spring Creek Environmental and Preservation Fund, of which the Potomac Riverkeeper Network was a grantee in 2019, 2018 and 2016. The Spring Creek fund was created to support local nonprofit organizations with a demonstrated track record in successfully preserving, protecting or encouraging sustainable use of exceptional natural or built environments in the Greater Washington region, particularly those environments affecting low-income populations.


Possum Point is a sleepy rural community of families and military veterans who live a simple life along Quantico Creek and the Potomac River. Dan and Patty Marrow chose to raise their three children on Possum Point Road because they believed it was a safe, wholesome community. Little did they know that carcinogens had been leaching from toxic coal ash ponds owned by the nearby Dominion Power Plant through ground water, slowly poisoning their drinking wells.  Residents of Possum Point and other communities across Virginia were unaware of the dangers of living next to coal ash ponds.  

That is until newly hired Potomac Riverkeeper, Dean Naujoks, came on the scene in 2015, fresh from battling Duke Energy and its leaking ash ponds in North Carolina. Those lessons learned proved invaluable in the fight to bring polluters to justice and uphold regulations that protect human health and our drinking water supply.

We assume when we turn on our tap, clean water will come out.  The Clean Water Act legitimizes our right to clean water, but right here in the Washington, DC, region, our Riverkeepers uncover illegal pollution regularly.  Ensuring enforcement of Clean Water laws, Riverkeepers become the last line of defense, protecting our waterways on the public’s behalf.  

Photos from Possum Point, showing ash piles being bulldozed into Pond D. Photos by Alan Lehman, Potomac Riverkeeper Network.

What Dean uncovered at Possum Point was alarming – water containing heavy metals called seeps had been leaking from unlined ash ponds for decades into the creek.  Independent lab test results of private drinking wells around Possum Point, commissioned and paid for by Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN), proved “untreated water from the wells at the properties addressed [on] Possum Point Road should not be used for potable purposes.” The wells were contaminated by a cocktail of carcinogenic metals linked to coal ash proving ground water contamination had moved off-site into residential drinking wells. 

“It is not easy to tell someone you believe their drinking wells are contaminated and unknowingly poisoning them,” said Naujoks, “but at the same time they have a right to know if their water is safe to drink!”

With growing momentum, PRKN hosted public forums attended by hundreds of people, engaged elected officials, and mobilized coalition partners and the public to join our “Move Your Ash” coal ash campaign. Property owners on Possum Point Road became outspoken after learning that their children had been exposed to unsafe well water for decades. Our coalition’s outreach committee generated over 1,000 calls, emails, and letters to elected officials in support of coal ash legislation.

In January of this year, the Virginia legislature passed a bill requiring at least 7 million of the 30 million tons of coal ash in the state to be recycled and the rest safely landfilled within 15 years! Without a Riverkeeper conducting investigations, informing the public, and pressuring state agencies to take action, these decades of unimpeded pollution would have continued.

This story is just one of dozens of toxic threats we investigate annually.  Taking the time to deeply investigate and understand the nature of threats to water quality, while locating the actual individual sources of pollution is critical to our approach, credibility, and success.

We are grateful for the support of the Greater Washington Community Foundation’s family of donors and the Spring Creek Environmental Fund for their stalwart support of our efforts.  Together, we took on Dominion and took back our right to clean water.

Potomac Riverkeeper Network works to protect the public’s right to clean water in our rivers and streams by stopping pollution to promote safe drinking water, protecting healthy river habitats, and enhancing public use and enjoyment. Learn more.

Surprising Stats from VoicesDMV

As a community foundation, your perspectives – the voices of our community – are key to our work. We are committed to responding to our community’s needs through responsive grantmaking and by amplifying local voices in public and private sector conversations. To best speak in partnership with our community, we have to listen. We have 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.

About a year ago, the Greater Washington Community Foundation proudly announced the release of Voices of the Community: DC, Maryland, Virginia. Designed to amplify the voice of the people—those who live and work in our region—VoicesDMV included a survey of more than 3,000 of our regional neighbors as well as community conversations with hundreds of stakeholders across the region. This allowed The Community Foundation to hear directly from locals about the region’s strengths, challenges, and overall quality of life.

We saw this as a way to better understand the story of our region. We launched this initiative recognizing that although our region is data rich, few efforts systematically capture the voices, experiences, attitudes, and perceptions of people who live here, especially across jurisdictions.

VoicesDMV was envisioned as a north star for The Community Foundation – a way for us to ensure our grantmaking and community leadership efforts are aligned to the needs most strongly felt by our neighbors. We have also offered the data collected through this initiative as a public good, available to anyone seeking to do good in our region. And we made a commitment to revisit this survey every two years to keep our finger on the pulse of our region.

Our efforts have paid tremendous dividends. Through VoicesDMV we learned so much more about our region, especially our neighbors experiences in their communities and the role philanthropy can play in enhancing or improving those experiences.

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A community member speaks at a community conversation in Northern Virginia.

Photo by AOTA Creative Group.

VoicesDMV revealed that even as our region continues to prosper, deep disparities in income, education and opportunity persist and the gap continues to widen:

  • Nearly one in five residents has faced some form of housing or food insecurity in the past 12 months. That number increases to one in three people for our region’s black and Hispanic populations.

  • One in three people would not have enough savings to continue to live as they do today for more than two months if they lost current income sources.

  • The cost of living, especially renting or owning a home, was raised as one of the most challenging aspects of our region.

  • Nearly a third of Prince George’s County and Montgomery County respondents rated access to education and training as a “major” barrier to finding a job.

  • One in four people were discriminated against in the region in the past year, and the majority said it was because of their race or ethnicity.

VoicesDMV has influenced The Community Foundation at its very core. These findings drove the development of our new Building Thriving Communities framework, which underscores the importance of our continued focus on affordable housing in our region and led us to explore new opportunities to support entrepreneurship and prepare for the Future of Work.

And while we have put so much new work into practice as a result of VoicesDMV, our work to stay in touch with the community is not over. In the nearly two years since we initiated our first VoicesDMV survey, we have seen the birth of the #MeToo movement, new administrations taking the reins of power throughout our region, and Amazon deciding to set up shop.

With so much change happening, we are excited by the opportunity to circle back to the community for our second VoicesDMV survey, this time with a few new bells and whistles and plenty of opportunities to engage with us on the results. Stay tuned for more from The Community Foundation on ways that you can be engaged with VoicesDMV!

If you’d like to sign up for news and more information about our VoicesDMV initiative, please contact Benton Murphy at bmurphy@thecommunityfoundation.org

 

Resilience Fund Grants Respond to Ongoing Impact of Shutdown

The Resilience Fund announced that it has made grants to local nonprofits responding to the most pressing needs of federal workers, contractors and small business owners impacted by the partial Federal Government shutdown. These grants have provided support for emergency response, including funding for emergency cash and food assistance, as well as to help nonprofits restock, replenish and recover from the unexpected increase in demand for their services.

“It is heartening to say that the outpouring of support from our community has been incredible! We have more than doubled our original gift of $50,000 by raising an additional $125,000 in individual donations and institutional commitments, including gifts ranging in size from $10 to $50,000,” said Tonia Wellons, VP of community investment for the Greater Washington Community Foundation, and Terri D. Wright, VP for program and community for the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, who co-chair the Fund’s Steering Committee.

The Resilience Fund’s latest round of rapid response grants provided support to:

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.

This announcement comes as parts of the Federal Government reopened this week following a 35-day partial shutdown affecting an estimated 300,000 federal workers and contractors in our region. While this provides some relief for federal workers who will eventually receive back pay, we remain concerned for local contractors, small business owners, childcare providers, and service sector workers, among others, who may not be able to recover lost income and could continue to fall behind. The Community Foundation will continue to work with the Resilience Fund’s Steering Committee and donors to determine how to further allocate resources to address the ongoing impact of the shutdown on our region. 

You can help support our neighbors in need by making a donation to the Resilience Fund. You can choose for your donation to support nonprofits helping our neighbors affected by the shutdown or to contribute to one of the Resilience Fund’s other funding priorities, including immigration policies, justice reform and civil rights roll-backs, and efforts that expand access to citizenship and democracy.

ABOUT THE RESILIENCE FUND

The Resilience Fund was created in early 2017 as a collaborative partnership of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, and other foundation and individual contributors. The Fund has raised and leveraged more than $1 million and made grants to nonprofits responding to changes in federal policy and the resulting climate of intolerance and hate, disproportionately impacting local people of color and immigrant communities. Grants have supported immigrant-serving organizations responding to changes in immigration and deportation policies by providing advocacy, legal or medical services, training on legal and civil rights, and assistance to reunite families separated at the border. The Fund has also supported efforts to build community cohesion and combat anti-other sentiment by funding grassroots community engagement, voter education services, and the expansion of programs teaching tolerance, respect and inclusion.

Six Things The Community Needs You To Know About The Shutdown

Editor’s Note: Though the federal government has reopened for the next three weeks, we recognize that contractors, childcare providers and many other parties that Tonia Wellons highlights in this blog post may never receive backpay, and certainly still suffer from the consequences of the shutdown. In addition, if no budget is reached by February 15, the partial federal shutdown may resume. In light of these ongoing concerns, Wellons’ reminders and recommendations for ways to help still remain deeply relevant to our community.


By Tonia Wellons, Vice President, Community Investment

It has been one month since the partial Federal Government shutdown began and our neighbors in the Greater Washington region, especially in Prince George’s County, continue to be impacted. Most of you have heard the news stories, may be experiencing this first hand, or you have seen the long lines of working families in search of food and other forms of assistance.

We all know that when shocks like this hit the country, they hit communities of color the hardest. With incomes typically lower, personal savings often thinner, and access to networks with deep pockets limited, communities of color suffer the most and often have the longest recovery time. 

In my role at the Greater Washington Community Foundation, I have had the opportunity to work closely with nonprofits and funders who have organized very quickly to respond. Here’s a summary of what we have learned and how you might be able to help:

  • While federal workers are directly impacted, we must not forget that contractors, small business owners, and child care facilities are also affected. We should also be mindful that offices like child support enforcement can’t disburse what they can’t collect.

  • Local food pantries and food banks need to be replenished. The demographic impacted is unaccustomed to navigating human and social service systems. The response from local grocers, restaurants, and food markets has been welcomed. 

  • Prince George’s County Public Schools has received as many as 500 new applications for free and reduced lunch because of the federal shutdown.

  • There is an increase in concern about eviction prevention, particularly as we move into proximity of a second missed pay cycle. 

  • Child care is an expense that families are most likely to cut first since they are home. There is a ripple effect on child care providers, children, and workers; and it is often difficult for families to return once they leave.

  • Families need food and cash assistance to cover the cost of everyday household expenses and medicine.

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A community member sorts produce at a local food center.

This week as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is only fitting that we look to his words to guide our steps. His life and his legacy represent the importance of pressing forward to change and challenge federal policies that impact the poor, working class, and especially people of color. His life and legacy is one of vision, advocacy, and action. In his honor, I invite you each to consider several ways that we can support our neighbors affected by the shutdown.

“The time is always right to do the right thing.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

How You Can Help Our Neighbors During and After the Shutdown

1.       Ask your friends and neighbors what they need. Reach out to people you know who work for the Federal Government and ask them what they need. Now is the time to get to know your neighbors, to reach out to your friends, and make yourselves available to them. Invite them over for dinner or offer to pay for their children’s school lunch.

2.       Donate food and cash to help families meet immediate needs. You can make a donation to your local foodbank, church or school pantry, or school lunch fund. Several of our nonprofit partners throughout the region have mobilized to offer pop-up markets, hand out food or gift cards, and provide support for household essentials and other resources. We have compiled a list of resources to help furloughed federal employees and contractors in need of assistance – and local governments in DC,  Montgomery County and Prince George’s County have released resource lists.

3.       Encourage those impacted to reach out to their creditors to defer payments. Local banks, utility companies and several other institutions have offered to work with customers to offer loans, flexible payments, and more. The United Way of the National Capital Area has opened four Financial Empowerment Centers located throughout the region, offering direct access to high-quality financial services and guidance at no cost to the client. Check our list of resources for more details.

4.       Consider supporting nonprofits addressing the long-term challenges facing our communities. Even after the shutdown ends, the long-term effects will continue to impact our community. Local nonprofits throughout the region will continue their work to support families in need and find solutions for disparities in income, access and opportunity in our communities. The Community Foundation can help you identify nonprofits working to alleviate poverty and hunger, expand access to a quality education, provide training to obtain a living wage job, and improve the quality of life for our region’s most vulnerable residents. Contact us to discuss.

If you are in a position to help our neighbors who may struggle to meet critical needs for food or other financial assistance during this period of uncertainty, please consider giving to our Resilience Fund. Established by individual and institutional donors in March 2017, and housed at Greater Washington Community Foundation, the Resilience Fund’s mission is to respond to changes in federal policy that negatively impact the most vulnerable in our communities. The Fund has set aside $50,000 to help local nonprofits address the most critical needs. With your support, these organizations can increase capacity to do more during this time of uncertainty for our friends, families, and neighbors. Contributions to this fund will support our neighbors now and in the future.


Tonia Wellons leads the Greater Washington Community Foundation’s Community Investment function, which includes competitive and discretionary grant-making, community engagement efforts, and strategic partnerships. She has over 20 years of experience spanning senior leadership roles at the Peace Corps and the World Bank Group to social entrepreneurship for a community-based fund that she founded. In 2016, Tonia was named one of NBC’s Women of Washington.

Resilience Fund Dedicates $50,000 to Those Impacted By Shutdown

The Greater Washington Community Foundation announced it will dedicate $50,000 in funding for emergency cash and food relief for local workers, contractors and small business owners impacted by the partial Federal Government shutdown. These funds are being made available through the Resilience Fund, which supports the critical needs of nonprofits responding to changes in federal policy, and the climate of intolerance and hate, disproportionately impacting local people of color, and immigrant and refugee communities.

“Our hearts are with all the individuals and families affected by the partial government shutdown, which is estimated to impact 285,000 people in the DMV region alone according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments,” said Tonia Wellons, VP of Community Investment for the Greater Washington Community Foundation. “We know missing even one paycheck can mean members of our community, especially the region’s low-wage workers, struggle to pay rent, afford groceries, and otherwise provide for their families. Our nonprofit partners and other organizations have stepped in to fill gaps left by the government, but many have stretched themselves thin during a historically slow time of year for giving. The Resilience Fund will provide critical support so that these nonprofits have the resources they need to continue their work and meet the increase in demand for their services.”

You can help those affected by the shutdown, too. All donations made to the Resilience Fund from today through the end of the shutdown will be added to the $50,000 in funds set aside to support nonprofits providing aid or assistance to local residents. You may also elect to make a donation to one of the Resilience Fund’s other funding priorities, including immigration and deportation policies, justice reform and civil rights roll-backs, and efforts that expand access to citizenship and democracy.

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ABOUT THE RESILIENCE FUND

The Resilience Fund was created in early 2017 as a collaborative partnership of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, and other foundation and individual contributors. 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 reuniting families separated at the border and detained in Maryland or Virginia. The Fund has also responded to increases in incidents of hate and intolerance in the region by supporting grassroots community engagement, voter education services, and the expansion of educational programs in local schools that teach news literacy as well as tolerance, respect and inclusion.

Resources and Support for Furloughed Federal Government Employees

With the partial government shutdown affecting up to 285,000 people (according to an estimate of affected federal and contract workers provided by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments) in the DMV region alone, many of you have asked how you can help our neighbors who may be impacted or what resources are available to Federal Government employees or contractors in need of assistance. Several companies and local organizations have made resources available to local residents whose livelihoods may be affected, and we have compiled many of these resources into the list below.

If you are in a position to help our neighbors who may struggle to meet critical needs for food or other financial assistance during this period of uncertainty, please consider giving to our Resilience Fund. The shutdown is occurring during one of the driest seasons of giving, which puts an even greater strain on our nonprofit partners who are providing assistance to our neighbors in need. The Resilience Fund, with a mission to respond to changes in federal policy that negatively impact the most vulnerable in our communities, has set aside $50,000 in funding to help local nonprofits address the most critical needs. With your support, these organizations can increase capacity to do more during this time of uncertainty for our friends, families, and neighbors.

Utilities:

Pepco’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)/ Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) provides assistance to low-income customers with their home heating bills. Maryland residents can call 1-800-352-1446 or visit the Office of Home Energy Programs website. DC residents can call 311 or visit ddoe.dc.gov/publication/energy-assistance-program-applications. Pepco is also offering deferred payment plans and other assistance programs, DC residents can find info here and Maryland residents can find info here.

Washington Gas is offering DC, Maryland and Virginia residents flexible payment options for federal workers, including deferred payments and ways to spread the cost of winter heating. You can contact Washington Gas customer service representatives at 1-844-WASHGAS to discuss their individual situations. Washington Gas also offers assistance to customers facing disconnection with a grant of up to $500 once a year through the Washington Area Fuel Fund Partnership administered by the Salvation Army.

DC Water will assist furloughed government employees by offering flexibility for bill payment and making existing programs available to assist customers who are struggling with their bills. You can learn more about options by calling customer service at 202-354-3600 or visiting https://www.dcwater.com/customer-assistance. WSSC, serving Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, will waive late fees and work with customers to establish convenient payment plans.

Another resource is the Greater Washington Urban League, which provides up to $500 in assistance to families needing assistance with their electric and gas bills. For information on getting assistance, you can call the GWUL offices at 202.265.8200.

T-Mobile and Verizon have both announced flexible payment plan assistance.  Customers should contact the companies directly.

Banks and Mortgage:

Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase Bank, and other institutions have offered flexibility with deferred payments, interests and late fees for their customers. Democracy Federal Credit Union is offering a short-term emergency loan with 0% interest. Bankers are also referring customers with specific concerns to their in-house financial counseling service. Other institutions, like USAA Bank and Transportation Federal Credit Union, have said they'll provide low-interest loans to their customers.

The Hebrew Free Loan Association is also making available emergency loans ranging from $500 to $2,000 to current Federal employees affected by the shutdown.

Unemployment Resources:

Federal employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits by following the application process through the state in which you work. To find your state’s office, click here. The Office of Personnel Management has released a resource page with important Unemployment Insurance Information for Federal Workers.

Nonprofit Resources:

The Capital Area Food Bank has a goal to provide 300,000 extra meals in January. This includes launching five free Pop Up Markets on Saturday, January 12 from 9 AM to 12 PM for government employees and contractors affected by the furlough. More information can be found at https://www.capitalareafoodbank.org/pop-up-markets/. You can also locate your local food bank using this online tool https://www.capitalareafoodbank.org/get-help/.

Starting on Monday, January 14, Bread for the City will provide a five-day supply of groceries for furloughed DC federal employees or contractors and their families. A Federal Government employee ID is required, or contractors can bring a picture ID with supplemental information regarding your furloughed status. More information is available at https://breadforthecity.org/food/.

United Way of the National Capital Area announced the launch of its Emergency Assistance Fund, with an initial $50,000 in support to select nonprofit organizations providing vital food, rent and utility assistance which are facing an increased demand for services due to the government shutdown crisis. You can also use United Way NCA’s services to seek financial guidance and one-on-one counseling by visiting one of its four Financial Empowerment Centers located throughout the region. These centers offer direct access to high-quality financial services and guidance in a welcoming, professional environment at no cost to the client. United Way NCA also offers 2-1-1, a free, confidential helpline number that provides callers in need of social services with health and human service resources in their local community 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Resources for DC Residents:

For District residents affected by the shutdown, the DC government has compiled a list of available resources.

Resources for Montgomery County Residents:

The Montgomery County government has compiled a list of resources to help affected workers who live in the county.

A Wider Circle, Interfaith Works and Manna Food Center are nonprofits offering food, household essentials and other resources for Montgomery County Residents.

Resources for Prince George’s County Residents:

For residents in Prince George’s County, the county government has compiled a list of resources to help affected workers in the area.

Resources for Residents Of Northern VirGinia:

Arlington residents affected by the shutdown can find resources complied by the Arlington County government.

For residents of Fairfax County, the county government has complied a list of resources available for affected federal workers.

The City of Alexandria government has created a list of resources for local affected residents.

Northern Virginia Family Service provides housing assistance, emergency financial assistance, emergency food assistance, sample letters to send to creditors, and more.

The Resilience Fund Combats Hate and Intolerance in the Greater Washington Region

Announces New Grants to Local Nonprofits Serving Immigrant and Muslim Communities

The Resilience Fund has announced $200,000 in grants to seven nonprofits supporting our neighbors experiencing hardship as a result of shifting federal policies and growing anti-other sentiment. The grant awards will enable these organizations to provide legal or medical services, conduct advocacy, and help protect the civil rights of immigrants, refugees, Muslims and other vulnerable communities in our region. 

“In light of recent tragedies from Pittsburgh to Louisville, we are reminded of both the strength and the vulnerability of our communities, including in the Greater Washington region,” said Tonia Wellons, VP of community investment for the Greater Washington Community Foundation, and Terri D. Wright, VP for program and community for the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, who co-chair the Fund’s Steering Committee. “The Resilience Fund is one tool to help stem the rising tide of intolerance, fear, bigotry, hate and anti-other sentiments that impact us locally. These grants will support the critical work of nonprofits responding to community needs to ensure our neighborhoods remain resilient, thriving, and more equitable and inclusive places to live.”

Grant Awards

The Resilience Fund’s latest grants will support:

  • DC Law Students in Court to expand immigration representation by leveraging hundreds of pro bono hours from student attorneys who will represent clients seeking release on bond before the Arlington Immigration Court. This will be the first legal clinical program of its kind in DC.

  • Identity, Inc. to help mitigate the negative consequences of new MCPS policies and practices on immigrant students and their families, including the visitor ID policy, Free and Reduced-Price Meals paper application, and high school athletics registration. Identity will advocate for policies that reduce barriers to equitable participation.

  • Jews United for Justice to conduct advocacy around the Montgomery County Trust Act, which would formalize rules preventing police and other local emergency services from cooperating with ICE; and the statewide Trust Act which will amend the Maryland Dream Act, so all young people have equal in-state tuition regardless of DACA status.

  • Justice for Muslims Collective to organize and empower Muslim communities to challenge federal anti-Muslim policies and societal bigotry. JMC will host community-building events, complete a DMV assessment on the needs of Muslim communities, organize rapid response mobilizations, and host community defense and wellness workshops.

  • League of Women Voters of Virginia to conduct voter services and voter education programs in Northern Virginia, specifically Arlington County, Fairfax area, Loudoun County, and Prince William area.

  • Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care to provide medical, dental, and behavioral health services to undocumented children separated from their parents at the border and receiving shelter in the region. Mary’s Center will provide behavioral health care in its School Based Mental Health program at 18 public schools, and wraparound care at its health centers.

  • The Fuller Project for International Reporting to counter hatred and intolerance by expanding its reporting, training, and raising awareness about the issues facing immigrant women, children, and their families.

About the Resilience Fund

The Resilience Fund was created in early 2017 as a collaborative partnership of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, and other foundation and individual contributors. It supports the critical needs of nonprofits who are responding to changes in federal policy and budget priorities, as well as the climate of intolerance and hate, both of which are disproportionately impacting local people of color, and immigrant and refugee communities. 

Since the Fund’s inception, it has raised and leveraged more than $1 million and granted out $550,000 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 representation, medical services, training on legal and civil rights, and assistance with reuniting families separated at the border and detained in Maryland or Virginia. The Fund has also responded to increases in incidents of hate and intolerance in the region by supporting grassroots community engagement, voter education services, and the expansion of educational programs in local schools that teach news literacy as well as tolerance, respect and inclusion. 

Call for Proposals

The Resilience Fund is interested in identifying community-based solutions which respond to federal policy shifts impacting our region. Organizations located in or serving the Greater Washington region may submit a letter of inquiry for a rapid response grant to address current or emerging issues affecting our neighbors and communities. We will entertain inquiries linked to immigration, justice reform and civil rights roll-backs, and efforts that expand access to citizenship and democracy including voter registration and participation efforts (GOTV). New proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed by the Resilience Fund Steering Committee in 2019. 

Grants may support special projects, programs, or include general operating support. Grant awards may range from $10,000-$30,000. For more details on proposal submission guidelines, click here. Letters of inquiry may be submitted through our online application system. Contact Melen Hagos with questions at mhagos@thecommunityfoundation.org.

Join Us!

If you share our commitment to ensuring our communities are strong and resilient, we invite you to stand with us by contributing to the Resilience Fund.

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.

Sincerely,

 
Bruce McNamer, President and CEO

Bruce McNamer, President and CEO

Tonia Wellons, VP of Community Investment

Tonia Wellons, VP of Community Investment