The Community Foundation Invests $6.2+ Million in 70 Nonprofits Nurturing Equitable Recovery

Grants aim to increase food security, close the opportunity gap, support survivors of domestic violence, and build stability for more families.

The region’s largest local funder has announced more than $6.2 million in grants to 70 nonprofits addressing issues facing families and communities in the Greater Washington region as they adapt to a post-pandemic life. 

The Greater Washington Community Foundation is investing in equitable recovery targeting a wide range of challenges, from helping families facing food insecurity, to advancing educational equity, supporting survivors of domestic violence, and building stability for more families. 

These grants represent initial investments that lay the groundwork for The Community Foundation’s new 10-year strategic vision to close the region’s racial wealth gap. The Community Foundation’s new strategy focuses on increasing economic mobility by prioritizing historically underinvested BIPOC neighborhoods that have been systematically denied access to wealth building opportunities. The Community Foundation is specifically interested in neighborhoods and census tracts that are experiencing the highest incidences of system-induced inequities in the areas of health, homeownership, education, employment, income, and life expectancy. 

“The pandemic not only increased demand for housing, food, and educational supports, it also exacerbated and brought longstanding inequities into focus,” said Tonia Wellons, President and CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. “These grants will help our nonprofit partners sustain and continue to adapt their services to support equitable recovery by providing individuals and families with what they need to survive and thrive today and for the long-term.”


Food Security

With 1 in 10 Montgomery County residents facing food insecurity due to COVID-19, The Community Foundation’s Food for Montgomery initiative is marshaling the resources of nonprofits, faith communities, local businesses, farmers, and county agencies to increase food access and help families recover from crisis. Grants totaling $959,590 will build the resiliency of 14 nonprofit and faith-based partners to more effectively and efficiently meet the needs throughout Montgomery County.

Afrithrive to support its two-acre farm and community gardening program to engage African immigrants in growing culturally specific produce which is hard to obtain through most food distribution providers. 

American Muslim Senior Society to support staffing, equipment, and cold storage necessary to strengthen its food security work and maximize the power of its volunteer network.

BlackRock Center for the Arts / Up-County Consolidation Hub to hire a bilingual social worker to connect vulnerable families to sustainable food resources and supports that are vital to their recovery.

Celestial Manna for staffing needed to advance food recovery efforts that prevent food waste and save thousands of dollars.

Charles Koiner Center for Urban Farming to support the development of an urban farm and community gardening program in Wheaton, MD that will enable residents to grow their own culturally appropriate food.

Community Health and Empowerment through Education and Research (CHEER) to support community-garden work that will engage Long Branch area residents to grow their own food for their community.

Guru Gobind Singh Foundation to support expanded storage that will enable this volunteer-driven effort to sustain its food security work.

Kingdom Fellowship CDC / East County Consolidation Hub to support the development of an innovative cold storage resource to help hub partners prevent waste and distribute food more efficiently. Hub partners include Kingdom Fellowship, Rainbow Community Development Center, Kings & Priests Court Int'l Ministries, and People's Community Baptist Church. 

Manna Food Center, A Place of Hope, Co-Health, Ethiopian Community Center Maryland, Identity, Kings and Priests’ Court International Ministries, and Southern African Community USA to enable outreach partners to connect residents with Manna Food Center’s resources and provide vouchers to purchase culturally specific foods to meet their needs.

The Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland and its partners, the Crossroads Community Food Network and FRESHFARM, to build the capacity of local farmers markets so they can more effectively reach and serve customers that rely on federal nutrition benefits, thereby increasing access to healthy food from local farmers.

Rainbow Community Development Center for staffing necessary to foster resiliency in the East County region through collaborative work with key partners and to sustain the organization’s expansion spurred by the pandemic.

Red Wiggler Community Farm to employ adults with developmental disabilities to grow healthy food for group homes and food distribution partners throughout the county.

Shepherd’s Table to support the necessary equipment and kitchen improvements to sustain and deepen collaborations bringing prepared meals to individuals and families facing food insecurity.

WUMCO for expanded cold storage that will enable the collection of more donations from local farmers and hunters to distribute in the rural, Up-County area. 


Education and Literacy

The Community Foundation’s Children’s Opportunity Fund (COF) is a public-private partnership that invests in innovative, evidence-informed efforts targeted at reducing educational disparities to close the opportunity gap in Montgomery County. Reading mastery is a key predictor of a student’s career attainment, and the most critical time to gain these skills is between birth and third grade. Recent grants of $200,000 will further COF’s strategy to improve third grade literacy rates by supporting early literacy programs, tutoring programs, and out of school time activities. 

Kid Museum to create an intentional curriculum for students in Grades K-3 that integrates STEM, literacy, and social emotional learning at Rolling Terrace and Strathmore, two Title 1 Elementary Schools -- in the spring the program will be piloted at additional elementary schools. 

Imagination Library to expand its program developed for children from birth to age 5 in seven zip codes to receive free, high-quality, age-appropriate books delivered to their home every month. 


Survivors of Domestic Violence

In partnership with the Prince George’s County Department of Family Services, The Community Foundation administers the Domestic Violence Community Grants Fund to support nonprofits assisting families and survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking to achieve a greater level of independence and self-sufficiency, cope with healing, and rebuild the family unit. Grants of $120,00 to four organizations will support counseling services, housing and transportation, and legal services.

Community Advocates for Family and Youth to support the recently launched Begin Again and Thrive program to address housing needs by providing emergency accommodation, permanent relocation, and financial assistance. 

Community Crisis Services to provide shelter transportation, limited rental support, and to meet individual needs such as school lunches or school supplies for a family or student. 

Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County to continue funding a staff attorney position and program offering legal assistance.

House of Ruth Maryland to support the provision of counseling/therapy services including IPV education, safety planning, and trauma reduction. 


Children, Youth, and Families

The Community Foundation administers the Fund for Children, Youth, and Families, a five-year initiative, to invest in effective organizations working to make the community more vibrant, healthy, and stable. The 2021 cycle includes nearly $4.8 million in multiyear grants to 50 nonprofits offering housing services, permanency support, academic support, and early career development programs.

826DC to help students improve writing skill development and increase fluency with writing based on the National Writing Project standards.

Adoptions Together to provide training for families interested in fostering and to place foster children in permanent homes.

The Arc of Prince George’s County to support participants of the Ready@21 Program, which helps young adults through career coaching and resume development to increase job readiness, improve college awareness, and develop self-advocacy skills.

Aspire! Afterschool Learning to improve reading instructional level by one grade or more for students in its afterschool care program.

The Barker Adoption Foundation to provide older foster child adoption training and facilitate the placement of older foster children and/or sibling groups.

Bread for the City to support advocacy efforts for families at risk of housing displacement and to provide direct services to families through the Food Program, Clothing Program, Medical Clinic, Social Services Program, and Legal Clinic.

Bright Beginnings to support early childhood development for children ages 0-5.

Carpenter's Shelter to help families who enter shelter to gain stability and transition to permanent housing and sustain independent living.

CASA for Children of DC to provide advocacy support for reunification, adoption, or guardianship for foster youth and workforce development activities for older foster youth.

Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) to provide trainings and support for pre-adoption and post-adoption guardians.

Central American Resource Center to provide financial training and planning to support stable housing for Latino immigrants.

Children's Law Center to provide legal representation for child welfare cases to ensure children are growing up in permanent, stable families.

Community Crisis Services, Inc. to assist households experiencing homelessness and/or domestic violence to access safe, permanent housing.

Community Family Life Services to provide intensive financial coaching, financial case management, and wrap around supports for women seeking housing stability.

Cornerstones, Inc. to provide rental assistance services for at-risk tenants.

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)/ Prince George's County, Inc. Support the Job Readiness and Transitioning Youth program, which ensures that at youth participants who emancipate will do so with stable housing

Voices for Children Montgomery to provide placement in safe homes for clients at case closure.

DC SAFE to help clients move to safe transitional or permanent housing after their stay in SAFE Space.

DC Volunteer Lawyers Project to offer advocacy and referrals, including enforcing victim rights in housing, employment, and public benefits, as well as provide legal assistance and advocacy with victim legal rights.

DC127 to help teen parents who are aging out of foster care be prepared for a life of independence with stable housing, jobs, and increased access to supportive services.

District Alliance for Safe Housing to help families transition from emergency shelter to more permanent housing with increased economic and housing stability.

District Of Columbia Grassroots Empowerment to help secure long-term housing for residents displaced and impacted by public housing redevelopment.

Doorways for Women and Families to provide re-housing supportive services to help participants achieve stability and transition to permanent housing.

The Dwelling Place, Inc. to help program residents remain stably housed and maintain compliance with program requirements through case management, increasing financial stability, and home visits.

Family & Youth Initiative to assist participant teens in foster care with finding an adoptive family and provide continuing support to participant youth who age out of foster care.

Fihankra Akoma Ntoaso to provide afterschool and summer programs for children in the child welfare system to allow them to develop positive relationships with adults and peers.

Crittenton Services of Greater Washington to increase school attendance, academic engagement, and grade point average for Goal Setting Girls participants.

Foster and Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center (FAPAC) to provide training, peer support, financial stability, and individual advocacy to foster families in DC.

Homeless Children's Playtime Project to provide ongoing play programs and supportive services for homeless children in DC.

Hope And A Home, Inc. to help resident families increase financial stability and make progress towards transitioning into and/or maintain permanent, stable housing.

Horizons Greater Washington to provide literacy and math academic enrichment support for students.

Housing Up to provide employment support, rental assistance, and financial support services for affordable rental housing buildings.

Interfaith Works Inc. to help families experiencing homelessness achieve stability and transition to permanent housing with the assistance of case management and supportive services.

Martha’s Table to support academic enrichment for the six developmental domains — early literacy, early math, language, cognition, physical development, and socioemotional development.

Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care, Inc. to support the Home Visiting Program, which encourages early childhood development through reading, storytelling, and singing with young children daily.

Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, Inc. to help residents maintain on time rent payments and permanent, stable housing.

My Sister's Place to help residents increase income, provide case management, and transition to transitional or permanent housing.

National Housing Trust Enterprise to help NHT households participate in financial programs and maintain stable housing.

Neighborhood Legal Services Program to host “Know Your Rights” presentations and represent clients in cases involving housing discrimination, illegal eviction, rent increases, housing conditions, voucher termination, and loss of subsidies.

Neighbors Consejo to assist low-income families in transitioning from shelter to rental housing, while helping them improve their personal and financial stability.

Northern Virginia Family Service to provide foster care pre-service training and Resource Parent certification.

One Common Unity to improve course grades, increase class attendance, and reduce punitive disciplinary actions for students in the Fly by Light program.

One World Education to increase research and writing skills as well as social and emotional learning for students.

The Platform of Hope to provide housing, education, employment, family stability, finances, and health support services for low-income families at risk for homelessness.

Prince George's Child Resource Center, Inc. to improve language and cognitive abilities through participation in child development and parent/child learning activities.

Reading Partners to help students meet or exceed their primary, individualized end-of-year literacy growth goal.

Right Beginnings Inc. to provide career development, mentoring, and career counseling to homeless women seeking to increase financial stability to find housing.

Rising for Justice to provide tenant rights educational trainings and legal services for tenants in need of improved housing conditions or facing eviction.

Sasha Bruce Youthwork to help at-risk youth achieve safe and stable living environments.

Stepping Stones Shelter to help resident families increase their income during stay and move on to stable housing utilizing a subsidy program.

Philanthropy is a journey: Our Tips for Giving With Confidence

By Rebecca Rothey, Chief Philanthropy Officer

As I was listening to a presentation by the author of a new book, In Defense of Philanthropy by Beth Breeze, it struck me that the need to defend philanthropy may come as a surprise to some readers. However, as Beth pointed out, there is a growing effort to denigrate philanthropy and the value it brings to our communities. At The Community Foundation, we have the privilege of  working directly with generous individuals and families who care about their community, and seeing firsthand the impact that philanthropy can and does accomplish for our region and beyond.

As we enter a new year with continued uncertainty about the pandemic, our economy, and even the very future of our democracy, philanthropy remains more important now than ever. I remain heartened by the many ways in which our donors have stepped up in response to community challenges – from combating gun violence to supporting animals, the arts, and the environment. Notable examples include:

Peace For DC was established by a grieving father to address the rise of gun violence in DC. Peace for DC will build community capacity and fund evidence-based gun violence intervention solutions to drastically reduce DC homicides over the next 5 years—and help bring racial and economic justice to DC’s most under-resourced communities.

Ann Manheimer established her legacy to provide a way for people to prepare for service-oriented work that will meet future societal needs. Her inspiration grew from her career at the US Department of Education, volunteer work with seniors and animal rescue, and travel to places of both great natural beauty and stunning man-made art.

On July 4, 2020, 11-year-old Davon McNeal lost his life to gun violence as he was leaving a Stop the Violence cookout with his mother. After consulting Davon’s mother, DC residents Mary Grace and Al Rook founded the Davon McNeal Memorial Fund to give at-risk youth in Wards 7 and 8 a respite from potential violence through pro-social programs in sports, the arts, and education.

We are proud to partner with these donors to help pursue their philanthropic goals by making the set up and administration of their charitable giving simple and convenient for them -- including suggesting the best structure for the charitable fund, providing staff expertise, receiving gifts, making grants, and covering accounting.

While the word “journey” has become over-used, through the course of my career I have learned that those moved to address concerning challenges or to preserve valued purposes engage in an ongoing learning process. Philanthropy does not have all the answers. What it has is a commitment to asking questions and to acting in response to current answers. Answers inevitably lead to more questions. Better to generate a new set of questions, and possibly more effective answers, than to do nothing.

We are grateful that you have chosen to partner with The Community Foundation on your philanthropic journey. As we approach the end of another unprecedented year, I want to leave you with a few of my top tips for the most effective way to maximize your giving and philanthropic work, now and in the future:

  • Gift appreciated stock that you have owned for more than one year. With the possibility of capital gains tax rates going up next year, this year may be an especially advantageous time to gift assets held long-term. With the past year and a half’s market gains, you may still have long-term gains in your portfolio and there is an opportunity to capture the gains into a philanthropic fund. Donating appreciated securities to your fund may mitigate the impact of capital gains taxes. As a reminder, always let us know when you are making a gift of stock.

  • If you are over 70.5 years old, make a qualified charitable distribution from your IRA. While these gifts may not be granted to a donor-advised fund, there are several other ways for you to directly transfer up to $100,000, including your required minimum distributions, from your IRA to minimize your reportable taxable income . Ask us how!

  • Bundle your giving into a donor-advised fund. With the currently higher standard deduction and limitations on SALT deductions, only approximately 8% of tax filings now itemize. A large gift in one year to a donor-advised fund can potentially lead to a larger charitable income tax deduction in the year given and the grants can be made over a period of two or three years.

  • Maximize your gifts of cash to take advantage of the opportunity to deduct up to 100% of your adjusted gross income through the end of this year. These gifts may not be made to a donor-advised fund.

I encourage you to speak with your financial advisor or accountant about the most tax efficient ways to give.

As always, feel free to reach out to us if you have questions or want more information about any of these options. You can reach us Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Please note our holiday closures on December 24 and 31, and special hours on December 23 and 30 when we will close at 1 p.m.

I wish you a safe and connected holiday season.

Following up with our Community Action Award Winners

By Benton Murphy, outgoing Senior Advisor for Impact

Earlier this year, the Community Foundation issued $100,000 in small grant awards to community partners across the region through our Community Action Awards. The Awards were provided to a cohort of 50 activists, artists, and advocates leading neighborhood-based projects that would spark change in their communities. 

The Community Action Awards are part of our three-part VoicesDMV series, a powerful community engagement initiative launched in 2017 to explore our region’s most pressing challenges and opportunities. In 2020, VoicesDMV tapped into Community Insights through a regional survey and convened hundreds of residents from across the region to discuss ways to make our communities stronger through On The Table conversations.

While many of our Awardees are still working to finalize their programs, we are thrilled to share some highlights of some excellent programs that have taken place over the past year.

American University and EL Haynes Public Charter School received an award to support their Action Research for Community Change project. The project, sparked by a conversation that took place as a part of our On the Table day of dialogue in 2020, was an innovative and impactful partnership that paired AU college students and high schoolers at EL Haynes Public Charter School in conversations on race and equity. Students at both institutions participated in virtual classrooms together, co-learning and co-designing a community action research project. AU students developed a curriculum and guide for community action research. EL Haynes students conducted a bilingual survey of the student body with more than half of student responding. Based on student responses, the action researchers made a series of recommendations that yielded commitments from school leadership to hire a new social worker, offer two new elective courses focused on centering Black lives, and a commitment to using student surveys to inform future teacher professional development. What’s more—AU students developed a workbook on action research that the students can use in future years to continue to lift up student voices for change!

The Brem Foundation received an award to provide funding for its Wheels for Women program which helps connect women to breast care appointments. The District of Columbia has the highest death rate for breast cancer in the United States, and despite being diagnosed at the same rate, Black women have a 40% higher death rate from breast cancer than white women. Brem used funds to support 76 one-way rides for women to get to their breast care appointments, the majority of recipients were Black women. Brem also was able to use funds to expand from 8 to 9 community partners for rides, which will be useful for the many recipients who live very far from their health care provider.

IMPACT Silver Spring used its award to support its Sewing Academy for Latina Women. The Academy was the brainchild of IMPACT’s Women’s Empowerment Collective, composed mostly of parents of IMPACT’s youth programming or who became interested through direct outreach at local schools. The award funded the purchase of sewing machines and supplies, as well as compensation for experienced seamstresses who served as instructors in the program. Twenty women registered for the Academy over a six-month period. The women of the Academy both built their sewing skills as well as strong bonds and a new support network. Participants were also supported to participate in civic actions, including providing testimony at Montgomery County Council hearings on the importance of affordable vocational education. When the Academy students gathered with their family, friends, and IMPACT staff for their graduation in July they held a fashion show to showcase the students’ work, with one participant noting: “I made three dresses. I never thought I could do this. I’m making my dreams come true.”

This has been an especially meaningful program for me to take on as I wrap up a 17-year stint here at The Community Foundation to move on to other opportunities. Having led our inaugural Community Action Awards program, it is so wonderful to see how impactful these small-dollar grant awards can be. It is instructive for us as funders and individual donors that even a small gift can be meaningful for those who are striving to make the world a better place for everyone. I am hopeful that you will find our next crop of Awardees as inspiring as I have found this one!

View the Impact of Several Projects

Got You Covered Diaper Bag Project

Live It Learn It for Drew Elementary School

DC KinCare Alliance Relative Caregiver Community Board Outreach and Education Project

Zoom Pals, an intergenerational pilot project in a partnership between American University and Hyattsville Aging and Place

Meet our 2021 Montgomery County Philanthropist of the Year, Kevin Beverly

Kevin Beverly grew up in a segregated community on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Finding inspiration in his mother’s support and older brother’s example, and he left to pursue his higher education goals at the University of Maryland where he met his wife, Diane. After graduation, they moved to Bethesda, Maryland where they raised their two boys. Kevin’s career took him to the World Health Organization, National Library of Medicine, PSI International, Computer Sciences Corporation, BAE Systems, and Abt Associates. He ultimately then came to Social & Scientific Systems, Inc. where he served as Vice President and Executive Vice President from 2003 to 2014 and President & CEO from 2014 to 2020.

Kevin’s thoughtful approach to philanthropy is grounded in a practice of listening and learning from the community. As a corporate leader, Kevin empowered the Social & Scientific Systems employees to shape the company’s giving priorities. Leading by example, he encouraged them to develop relationships with high-impact nonprofits addressing the most pressing needs throughout the community where they lived and worked. From literacy to hunger and much more, Kevin rolled up his sleeves alongside his employees, demonstrating the profound satisfaction and deep impact one can make from investing time, talent, and treasure.

Knowing education was key to his success, Kevin has devoted much of his personal time and resources to advance organizations helping children and youth achieve their full potential. He has chaired the boards of CollegeTracks and Bethesda-Chevy Chase YMCA and the steering committee for the Children’s Opportunity Fund at The Community Foundation. He also served on many other key youth-focused boards: Boys and Girls Club of Montgomery County, Montgomery Moving Forward, Passion for Learning, and Universities at Shady Grove.  He also chairs the Mission and Oversight Committee on the Board of CareFirst of Maryland.

The Community Foundation also had the great fortune of having Kevin serve two terms and chair our Montgomery County Advisory Board plus serve on our regional Board of Trustees. His leadership has been pivotal in helping more people and businesses learn about the needs in our community and how to make a powerful impact by teaming up with others who care.

We have seen firsthand how his knowledge, keen insights, and strategic thinking enable organizations to tackle problems, reimagine what’s possible, and pursue bold goals for our community. We are especially grateful for how Kevin’s passionate leadership inspires others to join in supporting worthy causes throughout our community.

On behalf of the thousands of lives touched by his leadership and generosity, we congratulate Kevin on being named the 2021 Montgomery County Philanthropist of the Year. We know his story will continue to inspire many more by showing the powerful difference we all can make when we give where we live.

Investing in Nonprofit Capacity to Leverage Federal Funds to End Homelessness

The Partnership to End Homelessness is excited to announce a $250,000 investment from The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation to double our support for this important project. Together, we are working to leverage ongoing federal funding to support our nonprofit partners providing Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH).

In April 2022, DC is expected to launch a new Medicaid Benefit that could result in an additional $20+ million in annual federal resources for PSH services in DC.

The new benefit will allow nonprofit providers to bill Medicaid for PSH services. The additional federal funding that will be leveraged through this investment will result in higher reimbursement rates for nonprofit providers, meaning the ability to improve retention of talented, experienced staff and build internal capacity to meet new quality and outcome metrics.

PSH is a proven model for ending chronic homelessness and an effective tool that works by pairing housing with wrap-around support services. PSH services are voluntary, flexible, and individualized to help people achieve their personal goals, such as stabilizing and improving their physical and mental health, gaining employment, reconnecting with family, and participating in the community. These supports help people experiencing chronic homelessness obtain affordable housing and remain permanently housed. 

To learn more about Permanent Support Housing, check out our blog post featuring former Leadership Council member, Waldon Adams.

Image courtesy of Open Arms Housing, one of our PSH provider partners

In DC there are currently around 4,000 clients in the PSH program. Across the city, nonprofits provide supports for clients in the PSH program including housing navigation, housing stability and the basics of landlord-tenant relationships, connection to employment and training, navigation through public systems, and connection to community resources. Services can also provide clients with tools to cope with mental health, addiction, trauma, physical health problems, and other issues they might be experiencing that jeopardize housing stability.

Opportunity for Impact

In order to make this transition to billing Medicaid, nonprofits will need to adopt new practices, quality control checks, and new or updated internal systems related to human resources, accounting, and compliance functions.

Through the Partnership to End Homelessness, The Community Foundation is uniquely positioned to leverage and align private sector resources to support PSH providers to increase capacity and begin billing Medicaid. This could include technical assistance and coaching from consultants with expertise and experience with Medicaid billing and enrollment, or one-time technology investments to set-up necessary systems and tracking to bill Medicaid.

Advancing Racial Equity Goals

Ensuring all PSH providers, big and small, are able to make the transition to Medicaid billing is an important part of our goal to increase racial equity in the homeless service system. Smaller organizations, many led by Black and Brown leaders, are often the organizations that don’t have additional support and resources to increase capacity. By investing across the system and ensuring all providers have access to capacity building resources, it is our goal to ensure that all organizations will have the support they need to make the transition to Medicaid billing and benefit from federal funding and higher reimbursement rates for services. 

Advancing Public-Private Solutions to End Homelessness in DC

The Partnership to End Homelessness was created to leverage private philanthropy, in alignment with Homeward DC, the city’s Plan to End Homelessness, to create sustained investment in the homeless services system.

The Partnership is working with partners at the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) to coordinate these funds and support PSH providers and the system as a whole to make the necessary investments to access ongoing federal funds.

How Can You Help?

Join the Partnership to End Homelessness and The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation in our efforts to leverage federal funding and increase the capacity of our nonprofit providers. We are bringing together private funders in order to bridge the gap between opportunity and impact. Contributing to this project can make a significant impact in ensuring support and stability for our neighbors in Permanent Supportive Housing.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Olney, Community Investment Officer, Partnership to End Homelessness, at jolney@thecommunityfoundation.org.

Three Ways to Address Hunger Across Our Community

By Anna Hargrave, Executive Director for Montgomery County

Since the pandemic struck, I have watched with deep admiration as our region’s food security leaders stepped up to the challenge of a lifetime. On top of skyrocketing need, our nonprofits and faith-based partners faced plummeting food donations, massive disruptions to the supply chain, and a significant drop in their volunteer workforce. It was clear that our community had to act fast to prevent our neighbors from going hungry, and we did! 

In addition to the investments from our COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, The Community Foundation launched Food for Montgomery, a public-private initiative leading a coordinated response to the hunger crisis. This effort is marshalling over 100 nonprofit & faith-based food distributors, farmers, restaurants, county agencies, and generous donations from hundreds of donors. As a result, we’ve expanded access to healthy foods throughout the county to reach the 1 in 10 residents who otherwise didn’t know where their next meal would come from.

While talking with food security leaders about what they’ve accomplished and their projections for the coming year, I’ve noticed a shared concern. Many vividly recall the lopsided recovery from the 2008 economic downturn, when our lowest-income neighbors were hit the hardest and took the longest to recover. They worry that between the rise in vaccinations and improvements in the economy, donors and volunteers might think the pandemic is effectively over. In truth, our nonprofits and faith-based food distributors are serving thousands of children, seniors, adults, and people with disabilities who are still struggling. This includes many low-income essential workers (who were heralded as heroes just last year) plus families rebounding from the loss of breadwinners and caregivers due to COVID-19. 

After reflecting on the herculean efforts of our food security partners over the last year and the work ahead, I have three pieces of advice for anyone who is passionate about fighting hunger:

Support Creative & Nimble Partnerships

Manna Food Center worked with grassroots leaders, schools, county agencies, faith-communities, farmers, and other nonprofits to get food to those in need.

The most effective organizations foster strategic partnerships with other nonprofits, local businesses, farmers, etc. If you’re thinking about starting a brand new effort, I encourage you to first look into volunteering for an existing organization or explore how you might foster connections between new partners.  For donors, I strongly recommend providing flexible general operating support which was pivotal over the last year, enabling nonprofits to problem-solve quickly and work strategically to increase the number of people they could serve. If you’re looking inspiration, you give to one of The Community Foundation’s strategic response initiatives or browse our grantee lists for vetted organizations you can support directly. 

Invest in Building A More Equitable Food Security System

The deepest impact came from organizations that set racial equity as a top priority guiding all they do. For many, that means taking the time to develop relationships with the people relying on their food distributions. By listening and learning, they’ve continuously improved their services and how they reach people. I’ve also been inspired by nonprofits that partner with grassroots community leaders, empowering them to serve as connectors, identify solutions, and drive change in the neighborhoods where they live. If you are a prospective volunteer or donor, be sure to browse our grantee list to learn about the impact of these organizations. For nonprofit leaders wanting to deepen their impact, be sure to connect with your peers and The Community Foundation so we all can continue to learn together. 

Scale Innovation & Efficiency

Our partners from The Healthcare Initiative Foundation, GRO Consulting, and BlackRock Center for the Arts teamed up to create the very first consolidation hub to connect people to food and other vital supports.

In the early days of the pandemic, many partners across the region could not obtain the food, equipment, and supplies needed to keep their doors open. Fortunately, the advocacy of key local conveners — such as the Montgomery County Food Council and Prince George’s Food Equity Council — enabled nonprofits and faith communities to partner with each other and local government. By working together, we’ve been able to maximize both public and private dollars to meet the need. However, without leadership and investment, there’s a risk that we’ll fall back to the pre-pandemic levels of support to food partners. That was not enough to meet the need back then, let alone now. In addition to supporting vital advocacy and convening partners, all of us — nonprofits, volunteers, and donors — must tell our local government leaders that food security is a top priority that requires system-wide solutions. To learn about some ideas in the works, check out this recent Washington Post article featuring quotes from local government and nonprofit food champions.

One silver lining coming of this crisis is that it forced us to reimagine what’s possible and stretch the limits of what we can achieve.  For those of us who are passionate about food, that means we must continue to work together toward the goal of a community free from food insecurity. 

I hope you will join us in this work!

Changing Perceptions About Homelessness in DC

By Jennifer Olney, Community Investment Officer, Partnership to End Homelessness

This week, communities across the country marked Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week, an annual program designed to bring people together to share information and stories that help draw attention to the persistence of hunger and homelessness in our community. Through our Partnership to End Homelessness, one of our goals is help to our partners and community members better understand who experiences homelessness and why, and what we can do about it.

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about homelessness and housing instability.

It is no secret that DC has a severe shortage of affordable housing. As local housing costs continue to outpace people’s incomes, nearly 1 in 5 residents reported they could only make it by for less than one month if they lost their current sources of income. A person working a minimum wage job would have to work two full-time jobs in order to cover rent on a one-bedroom apartment in DC. Without stable housing it is hard to focus on your health, get an education, maintain employment, or take care of other basic needs.

It’s important to remember that homelessness is not a choice or an individual failure. Homelessness is the result of systems that are failing our neighbors and as a result, failing our community. Due to systemic racism and decades of discrimination in housing, employment, and access to healthcare, Black and Brown residents are much more likely to struggle with housing instability and to experience homelessness. Although Black residents make up less than half of DC’s overall population, they make up 87% of people experiencing homelessness in DC. As we talk about racial and social justice, we must also talk about housing justice.

It’s important to remember that people who lose their housing and experience homelessness and housing instability are our neighbors.

People like Shelley, a mother and veteran, who could not make enough income to afford housing for her and her daughter. Or Janet, who lost her apartment after she was laid off when her employer shut its doors.

In DC, nearly 1 in 100 residents are without housing on any given night. They’re our neighbors including working adults, people suffering from chronic health conditions, families, college students, senior citizens, LGBTQ+ youth, and veterans. With the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, many households who were already struggling, lost their jobs or childcare and quickly fell behind on rent. According to a recent analysis by DCFPI, renters in DC still owe over $70 million in back rent.

We know that in order to reach our goal of preventing and ending homelessness, it will take all of us working together and doing our part. Over the past year, we have been working closely with our nonprofit and government partners to ensure that no one loses their housing during the pandemic. We’ve also been inspired by innovative partners like Empower DC and Horning Brothers who are going above and beyond to connect tenants with available resources to help them remain stably housed.

Join us in our work to ensure everyone has safe and stable housing that they can afford.

In 2019, we launched The Partnership to End Homelessness, a public-private partnership aimed at uniting DC government and the private sector around strategies to ensure homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring. We believe that ending homelessness in DC starts with creating more supportive and deeply affordable housing and strengthening our system so people have the supports they need to obtain and maintain stable housing.

With support from our donors and investors, the Partnership has helped to leverage and align over $12 million in funding to build and preserve affordable housing, provide critical support to nonprofits working on the front lines with people experiencing homelessness, and to support advocacy efforts that secured funding for housing for an additional 3,500 households in this year’s city budget.

We are making progress, but there is more to do. During Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, the Partnership is ramping up its efforts to end homelessness in DC and I hope you will join us. To learn more about our work, and how you can get involved, we invite you to explore our website or our most recent Impact Report, and consider supporting our work with an a donation to our grantmaking program.

Quarterly Update to the Community

Dear Community Foundation Fundholders,

I hope you and your family are enjoying the beautiful fall weather!

 Thanks to the continued generosity and care of our community of givers, we collectively awarded more than $21 million in grants last quarter to nonprofits working to strengthen our region and beyond.

In August, we were proud to release our 2020-2021 Annual Report and share how we mobilized $40 million in community support to help our neighbors facing hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis. Thanks to the incredible donors, nonprofit partners, and community leaders who stepped up to help us meet this challenge. In case you missed our 2021 Annual Meeting or the release of our Annual Report, you can find the recording and resources here.

Last quarter, our community impact work included:

  • A new partnership between our Food for Montgomery initiative and Feed the Fridge to provide meals for families in need at Mary’s Center.

  • Our Partnership to End Homelessness participated in the White House Eviction Prevention Summit and invested in Housing Counseling Services to help more tenants apply for and access rental assistance.

  • Historic investments to address the infrastructure needs of 17 Black-led organizations, enabled through a generous $1 million gift from Facebook. 

  • Additional investments from Arts Forward Fund totaling nearly $1.7 million to help 89 arts and culture organizations recover from the impact of the pandemic.

  • Welcoming new funds like America Remembers Fund, which supports the “In America: Remember” art exhibition that blanketed the National Mall with 660,000+ white flags, each honoring a person lost to COVID-19.

We were proud to welcome new and diverse leaders to our Board of Trustees, Advisory Boards, and staff.

This month, we are excited to release our new 10-year strategic vision with a sharpened focus on closing the racial wealth gap in our region's underinvested neighborhoods where racialized disparities are the greatest. As we begin this journey, our intent is to engage you and our entire community in conversation to inform our learning journey and align our understanding about the root causes and the most effective solutions for closing the racial wealth gap.

With the end of year approaching, our staff can assist with carrying out your philanthropic goals for 2021. Please be mindful of our December 17 deadline for your year-end grantmaking activities to ensure your nonprofit partners receive their funds by December 31.

Thank you for your continued partnership in serving our community’s needs today, and in building a better tomorrow for the Greater Washington region. 

Tonia Wellons
President and CEO

Emerging Leaders Impact Fund Awards Inaugural Grants to Combat Chronic Absenteeism

The Emerging Leaders Impact Fund (ELIF), a new giving circle for young philanthropists in Prince George’s County, recently completed its inaugural cohort and culminating grant round. ELIF members – 40 young professionals from area colleges, businesses, and civic organizations – selected 5 Prince George’s County nonprofits to receive $11,500 in micro-grants to provide a broad range of services that are designed to address chronic absenteeism and high truancy rates in Prince George’s County schools.

School absenteeism, a problem that leads to learning loss and other negative outcomes, has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis and the need for a transition to remote learning. Children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are less likely to be proficient readers by third grade. By sixth grade, those who miss more than 10 percent of school are more likely to drop out altogether. Frequent school absenteeism has long-term negative effects on academic performance, income, and health. The ELIF has partnered with five nonprofit organizations to address this pressing issue:

  • Jacob’s Ladder to support the Academic Enrichment Program that provides tutoring, basic literacy skills, one on one instructions, small group sessions, confidence building and mentoring to students that have low grades, high rates of truancy, absenteeism, suspensions, and behavioral issues.

  • L.E.E.P. to College Foundation to support pilot learning pods to enrich student learning, increase student engagement, and provide mentoring and emotional well-being support.

  • Mentoring Through Athletics to support tutoring services in mathematics, reading comprehension, and writing as well mentoring and physical activities.

  • S.E.A.C., Inc. (Seaton Empowering Action in the Community) to support the Math Achievers Program that provides individualized and/or small group instruction, consistent relationships between instructors and students, parental involvement, and reinforcing that learning math can be fun. 

  • Sisters4Sisters, Inc. to support the Daughters of Destiny mentoring program for girls which provides workshops focusing on leadership skills, career mentoring, developing self-esteem and avoiding peer pressure.

Jacob’s Ladder Founder and Executive Director Jarriel Jordan, Sr. talks about the organization’s mission and its Academic Enrichment Program.

L.E.E.P to College Foundation Founder and Executive Director Lisa Rowe talks about how ELIF funding will help create an academic enrichment program.

Mentoring Through Athletics supports kids and families on and off the field with mentoring, tutoring, food support, and athletic programming.

“School absenteeism and truancy threatens to undermine our children’s success. We’re pleased to be partnering with so many great organizations to address the issue. These grants will help ensure that every Prince Georgian has the opportunities necessary to reach their full potential,” said Davion Percy, Co-Chair, ELIF.

The strength of ELIF lies not just in how many grants it awards, but more importantly in its ability to bring a diverse group of people together to learn about issues affecting Prince George’s County residents and make investments in programs that can help transform our communities.

The ELIF enrollment period is now open to all emerging leaders (45 years of age and under) and others that support the County’s future leaders. If you’re interested in joining a diverse group of passionate people who use the power of philanthropy to make a positive difference in Prince George’s County, click here to learn more about ELIF and become a member today!

A Thankful Tribute: Uplifting Community Foundation Trustees

This fall, we welcomed Sarah Moore Johnson to our Board of Trustees and bid farewell to two long-standing members: Kenny Emson and Mary Pat Alcus. As a warm welcome and thankful tribute, we share their stories below – and celebrate what makes each one of them an invaluable part of The Community Foundation family.

Fueling the Power of Disruption

Sarah Moore Johnson, our newest Trustee, is a passionate champion for racial justice. As a tax and estate planning attorney, she leverages her positions of influence to advocate for racial equity and inclusion.

“I’ve been troubled by how under-represented Black and Latinx communities are in the wealth planning industry,” Sarah says, “and I see a connection between this and the racial wealth gap. Tax policy can be a means of restorative justice.”

As co-chair of The Community Foundation’s Professional Advisor Council, Sarah was inspired by the organization’s focus on racial equity - and knew she must get involved. She joined the Board of Trustees this fall, and hasn’t looked back since.

“I believe in the power of disruption,” Sarah says. “The Community Foundation is positioning itself as an innovation lab for ideas which disrupt the racial wealth gap. It’s exciting to collaborate with talented people who share the same goals.”

Sarah is a founding partner of the law firm Birchstone Moore LLC, and immediate past president of the Washington, DC Estate Planning Council, where she established its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force. She’s also spoken out publicly in support of H.R. 40, the House Bill to study reparations for African Americans - and is working with Howard University’s law school to develop an externship program for underserved Black and Latinx communities.

We’re thrilled to welcome Sarah to the board, and look forward to partnering with her to advance racial justice in our community, and beyond.

A Legacy of Impact

“Proud, honored, and excited.” These are the words Kenny Emson, former Community Foundation Trustee and staff member, uses to describe his service.

Emson, who just concluded six years of service on the board, also worked on staff from 1990-2011. During his 20-year tenure as staff, he was Director of Finance, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Development Officer, helping grow The Community Foundation’s assets from $15 million to $350 million.

Current staff member Silvana Straw, who joined the organization around the same time as Kenny, salutes his deep expertise and passion for the work:

“Kenny’s strong financial and development expertise, work ethic and people skills, along with his genuine care for the community, is a very important part of The Community Foundation’s success story. He gave so much through the decades, and worked hard and had fun doing it. He was truly mission-driven.”

Kenny will continue to support The Community Foundation through donor stewardship and cultivation. He hopes cultivating additional investments will help propel the organization’s new strategic focus on closing the racial wealth gap.

“My hope (and expectation) is we have just started to scratch the surface,” he says. “I believe The Community Foundation is well-positioned to achieve the growth required to help our community bridge the racial wealth gap.”

Thank you, Kenny, for your words of support and tireless years of service. We will miss you at The Community Foundation - but look forward to nurturing our continued friendship.

Kenny Emson (far left, back row) and Silvana Straw (far right, front row) joined The Community Foundation staff together in 1990.

Kenny Emson (right) pictured with our former CEO Bruce McNamer (center) at the 2019 Celebration of Philanthropy.

Head (and Heart) First

Mary Pat Alcus was first introduced to The Community Foundation in 2008 through the mother-daughter giving circle in Montgomery County. A friend invited her and her daughter Claire to join - an experience she says “opened a whole new world.”

Soon after, Mary Pat joined our Sharing Montgomery Grants Committee and the Montgomery County Advisory Board. In 2013, she became a Trustee, eventually chairing the Investment Committee and serving on the Professional Advisors Council, along with other special committees.

“We discovered when Mary Pat makes a commitment, she dives in head (and heart) first,” says Anna Hargrave, Executive Director for Montgomery County at the Greater Washington Community Foundation.

This fall, Mary Pat concluded eight years of board service, with 13 years of volunteering with the organization overall. For her, contributing a professional skill set as an investment advisor was especially meaningful - and helping directly impact the region by providing donors with strong investment results and more philanthropic funds.

“I hope I have demonstrated to my peers that the time, talent and treasure you put into The Community Foundation is deeply rewarding,” says Mary Pat. “I’ve learned so much about the community and its most pressing needs.”

We will be forever grateful to Mary Pat for all the ways she has advanced our mission and impact throughout the community. She truly is a champion of The Community Foundation.

Mother-Daughter Giving Circle donors Mary Pat Alcus (left) and Susan Freed worked with The Community Foundation to establish a legacy of giving–especially giving locally–in a new generation of young women.

Recap from our 2021 Annual Meeting!

Sponsored By

Thank you for joining us at the intersection as part of our 2021 Annual Meeting! It was an incredibly powerful and inspiring conversation -- from Michelle Singletary sharing her reflections and personal experiences with misperceptions about race and inequality, to the stories of impact from our community, to the exciting preview of our new strategic vision. Together, we will chart a path toward a just, equitable, and thriving region where everyone prospers and thrives. 

In lieu of providing lunch for the meeting, we invited participants to help us select a hunger relief nonprofit to receive a special grant. Thanks to a generous challenge match by several Community Foundation Trustees -- Dr. Charlene Dukes (who instigated the challenge), David and Peggy Shiffrin, and Sarah Moore Johnson -- we are able to award grants of $2,500 each to Bread for the City, Capital Area Food Bank, Manna Food Center, and United Communities Against Poverty. What an incredibly inspiring act of generosity!

In case you missed the discussion, or would like to revisit the conversation, you can now watch a recording of the event. You can also learn more about your investment options as a fundholder on our website.

And finally, we hope you will join us on Friday, October 29 at 9:00 a.m. for our next quarterly book group discussion of Michelle Singletary's 10-part series for the Washington Post. Click here to register to join us for this continuing conversation.

We appreciate that you have entrusted us as your charitable giving partner. Thank you for sharing your passion for philanthropy and service with us.

If you have any questions, you can reach us at 202-955-5890 or email donorservices@thecommunityfoundation.org.

We remain committed to working with you to strengthen and support our region now and for the future.

Tonia Wellons
President and CEO
Greater Washington Community Foundation

2021 Year End Gifts and Grantmaking

Please note: The Community Foundation will be closed for Thanksgiving (November 25 and 26), Christmas Eve (December 24), New Year’s Eve (December 31), and on January 3. We will also close at 1 p.m. on December 23 and 30. This year, checks must be postmarked by December 30 due to the federal holiday on December 31.

As we near the end of the year, we would like to recognize our donors and their generosity throughout 2021. Thank you for standing with us as we worked tirelessly to respond to our community’s urgent health and economic needs. You’ve continued to demonstrate the strong philanthropic spirit that empowers our community. 

In an effort to assist you with carrying out your philanthropic goals, please see below for The Community Foundation’s deadlines regarding year-end giving and grantmaking activities.


Grant recommendations submitted by December 17 will be processed by December 31, provided the grantee organization meets The Community Foundation’s due diligence requirements. Due to increased volume, we cannot guarantee that grant recommendations submitted after December 17 will be processed in 2021.

PLEASE NOTE: Grants submitted prior to December 17, 2021 must also meet The Community Foundation’s due diligence requirements to be processed by December 31, 2021.

Grant recommendations should be submitted through your Donor Central account. Questions regarding Donor Central can be forwarded to Emily Davis (202-973-2501, edavis@thecommunityfoundation.org).


All gifts submitted to The Community Foundation by December 31 will be earmarked as a 2021 contribution. Please note: The gift must be in The Community Foundation’s account by this day to be eligible for a 2021 tax deduction. 


Gifts can be made online at www.thecommunityfoundation.org/donate.  


Greater Washington Community Foundation 
PO Box 49010
Baltimore, MD 21297-4910 (please include 4-digit code 4910 or processing may be delayed)

Please note: checks sent by US Postal Service mail can be earmarked as a 2021 contribution if postmarked by the US Postal Service before December 31. This year, checks must be postmarked by December 30 due to the federal holiday.


With the possibility of capital gains tax rates going up next year, this year may be an especially advantageous time to gift appreciated assets to your fund. Please see the instructions for making gifts via ACH or wire transfer. Make sure to include your or the donor’s name/fund name in the reference section of the transfer. You can contact the Finance Department at 202-955-5890 if there are any questions. Monies must be in The Community Foundation’s account by December 31, to be earmarked as a 2021 contribution.


In order for gifts made from mutual funds submitted to The Community Foundation to be received by December 31 and earmarked as a 2021 contribution, the transfer must be initiated early enough to be posted into our account. Please check with your broker on their internal timelines.


As a reminder, qualified charitable distributions (if you are at least 70.5 years of age) cannot be used for donor-advised funds. They may be used for designated, field of interest, and other types of funds. Notify your plan administrator no later than December 15 if you intend to make a gift from your IRA. Please contact us for help with these types of gifts.

Innovation and Healing: How the Arts Survived COVID-19

Source Theatre doesn’t typically broadcast plays on its lobby windows. Like most DC theaters, though, the CulturalDC-owned and operated nonprofit needed to get creative during COVID-19. 

In partnership with Theater in Quarantine, an NYC-based digital performance lab, CulturalDC presented a 4-part video installation on Source Theatre’s storefront windows. DC residents could experience the movement-based projections from March 5-April 5, 2020, while socially distancing outside the theater.

“It was an incredible outpouring of creativity,” CulturalDC Trustee David Shiffrin says. 

Shiffrin, who also serves on the boards for The Community Foundation and Arena Stage, cites CulturalDC’s partnership with Theater in Quarantine as one of many creative pivots in DC’s arts community. To stay afloat, arts organizations innovated their art forms, he says. 

Healing Through the Arts

For Community Foundation Trustee Rachel Goslins, who directs the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building, innovation in the arts is also a pathway to healing. 

“[The remote environment] forced us to consider how we could continue to provide value,” she says. “The arts have this special ability to help people heal and process their emotions. We need that now, more than ever.”

(In America: Remember art exhibition, photo credit Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(In America: Remember art exhibition, photo credit Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

She cites “In America: Remember,” which runs through Oct. 3, as an especially poignant example of the arts as healing. The art exhibition—supported by America Remembers Fund, a component fund at The Community Foundation—blankets the National Mall with 660,000+ white flags, each honoring a person lost to Covid-19. Visitors are invited to personalize flags for lost loved ones. 

Conceptualized by local artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg, “In America: Remember,” builds on the fall 2020 installation “In America: How Could This Happen.” Firstenberg’s fall exhibition also honored COVID-19 victims with small white flags, covering a four-acre site outside RFK stadium. 

“There’s just such poetry in that,” Goslins says. “The arts are so important to the well-being of communities.” 

Looking Toward the Future

At the Smithsonian, Goslins is busy preparing for a different type of exhibition. This winter , Smithsonian will open “FUTURES,” a part-exhibition, part-festival celebrating the institution’s 175th anniversary. The exhibition will showcase future-focused artwork, interactive displays, and technology spanning 32,000 square feet across the National Mall. 

Running Nov. 2021-July 2022, “FUTURES” is intended to inspire people to reflect and to dream—another healing mechanism of the Arts.

“In our society, we are constantly imagining what could go wrong. We need to be able to also imagine what could go right,” she says. “We hope ‘FUTURES’ will encourage visitors to think about the future they want, not just the future they fear.” 

“We wanted to use our anniversary to help people look ahead at this pivotal moment in time,” Goslins continues. “I hope this can just be one more step forward for our community, and the arts.”

The Power of Philanthropy 

As cultural organizations work toward post-pandemic recovery, groups face a critical period—one with “no magic formula for success,” says Shiffrin. With continued uncertainty around the Delta variant, arts organizations need support now more than ever.

As a steering committee member for Arts Forward Fund, a collaborative partnership with The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and other funders to help arts and cultural institutions survive and recover from the pandemic, Shiffrin has seen the impact investments can make. In total, the fund has made nearly $2.7 million in grants to 130+ organizations, 60% of which are BIPOC-led or BIPOC-serving. 

This summer, Arts Forward Fund was one of 289 equity-focused efforts nationwide to receive support from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Arts Forward received $1 million for 2021 grantmaking, allowing us to make investments in 89 local arts organizations to support COVID-19 recovery.

“MacKenzie Scott’s gift was truly transformative,” Shiffrin says. “The need is even greater this second round. Continued advocacy [will be] essential.”

Aspirations for the Arts

The current environment with COVID-19 makes it difficult to forecast the future, Shiffrin says, but he has many hopes for the arts sector. Post-pandemic, he hopes organizations can continue to innovate their work, and inspire personal transformation. 

He cites MacKenzie Scott’s recent quote as illustrative of his aspirations for impact beyond the pandemic:

"Arts and cultural institutions can strengthen communities…by transforming spaces, fostering empathy, reflecting community identity, advancing economic mobility, improving academic outcomes, lowering crime rates and improving mental health."

For Goslins, hope is the driving force.

“I’m very hopeful about the cultural sector and our ability to help people process what’s happened over the last year and a half,” she says. “It’s a testament to why the arts aren’t only valuable--they’re essential.”

Arts Forward Fund Announces $1.7 Million in Grants to 89 Local Arts Groups Impacted by COVID-19

Arts Forward Fund.png

Arts Forward Fund, a partnership between the Greater Washington Community Foundation, The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and 10 other foundations and individual donors, is proud to announce new grants totaling nearly $1.7 million to 89 arts and culture organizations in the DC region.

These grants will help organizations address the challenges of reopening and recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 60 percent of grants and grant funding will go to organizations that are led by Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) and predominantly BIPOC-serving. Based on feedback from a community advisory committee and last year’s applicants, these grants will support general operations rather than specific projects. Grant recipients include six theaters, nine dance schools and dance companies, five film and music festivals and more than 20 youth-serving organizations across DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

In response to a call for applications released in early July 2021, Arts Forward Fund received 131 applications totaling nearly $2.7 million. Thanks to a generous gift of $1 million from billionaire Mackenzie Scott and her husband Dan Jewett, Arts Forward Fund was able to support more than two-thirds of 2021 applicants and award more than 60% of total funds requested.

“Our region’s arts and culture organizations will take years to recover from the impact of this pandemic,” says Calvin Cafritz, President and CEO of The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, which made a lead grant of $500,000 to establish Arts Forward Fund in 2020 and contributed an additional $400,000 in 2021. “As the region’s leading funder of arts and culture organizations, The Cafritz Foundation is honored to join so many of our funding colleagues in this remarkable collective effort to help our local cultural organizations reopen and thrive.”

“Through some of the darkest days of this crisis, many of our region’s arts and cultural organizations found innovative ways to inspire, uplift, and support our community. As we continue to recover from this crisis and adjust to a new normal, it is important to acknowledge that arts groups were disproportionately impacted and that recovery will take time and require sustained investment,” says Tonia Wellons, President and CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. “We are proud to be part of this equity-focused funder collaborative investing in the stability of our region’s arts sector to contribute to the vitality of our region.”

Following is a list of Arts Forward Fund grant recipients. All grants support general operations.

1st Stage Theater


Actor's Center

Adventure Theatre

American Poetry Museum

American Youth Philharmonic

Anacostia Playhouse

Arlington Arts Center

Art Enables

Art of Noize

Art Works Now


Arts Fairfax

Arts on the Block


Asian Pacific American Film

Atlas Performing Arts Center

Black Artists Of DC

BlackRock Center for the Arts

Capital Fringe


Capitol Hill Arts Workshop

Capitol Hill Jazz Foundation

GB Youth Media

Church of the Epiphany

Ciesla Foundation

CityDance Viva School of Dance

Coalition For African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA)

Critical Exposure

D.C. Creative Writing Workshop

Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company

Dance Institute of Washington


Dance Place

DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative

DC Independent Film Festival

DC Jazz Festival

DC Palestinian Film & Arts Festival

DC Youth Orchestra Program

Docs in Progress

East of the River Boys & Girls Steel Band


Encore Stage & Studio

Foundation for the Advancement of Music and Education

Friends Of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Gala Hispanic Theatre

Girls Rock DC

Greater Reston Arts Center

Heritage Signature Chorale

IN Series

Inlight Magazine

Joe's Movement Emporium

Kalanidhi Dance

Life Pieces to Masterpieces

Live It Learn It

McLean Project for the Arts

Music for Life

New Orchestra of Washington

Northeast Performing Arts Group

One Common Unity

Oyé Palaver Hut

Pan American Symphony Orchestra

PEN Faulkner

Prince George's Arts and Humanities Council

Princess Mhoon Dance Institute

Project Create

Pyramid Atlantic

Ragbaby Exchange

Sandy Spring Museum

Shout Mouse Press

Sitar Arts Center

Smith Center for Healing and the Arts

Sole Defined

Split This Rock

Step Afrika!

The Essential Theatre

The MusicianShip

Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts



Washington Area Lawyers For the Arts

Washington Bach Consort

Washington Chorus

Washington DC International Film Festival

Washington Project For the Arts

Words Beats And Life

Young Artists of America

Young Playwrights Theater

Zora Neale Hurston Richard Wright Foundation

About Arts Forward Fund

Launched in July 2020 with lead grants from The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the Harman Family Foundation, the Weissberg Foundation, and and more than a dozen other funders, Arts Forward Fund is an equity-focused funder collaborative housed at and administered by the Greater Washington Community Foundation. Additional supporters in 2021 include Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Diane & Norman Bernstein Foundation, Lois and Richard England Family Foundation, Linowitz Family Fund, Nancy Peery Marriott Foundation, Robin B. Martin Family Foundation, Howard and Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation, and other individual contributors.

Senior Nonprofit Leader Joins Our Prince George's County Team

We are thrilled to welcome Darcelle Wilson as our new Senior Director for Prince George’s County.


Darcelle brings deep expertise in fundraising and community engagement. Darcelle has worked with some of the leading nonprofit organizations in our region including Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, and University of Maryland. She’s helped raise millions of dollars to address community needs, and we couldn’t be more excited that she has joined our team.

As the new Senior Director in Prince George’s County, Darcelle will work with donors to explore opportunities for achieving their philanthropic goals and facilitating their commitment on critical community issues affecting county residents. She will also prioritize developing and deepening relationships with community leaders and organizations throughout the county.

This leadership change in Prince George’s County is occurring because our beloved colleague Amina Anderson is leaving The Community Foundation after 14 years to spend more time with family and friends and work on special projects.

Our President and CEO Tonia Wellons shared, “Amina’s contributions to the Greater Washington Community Foundation have been numerous. She started as a program lead in Prince George’s County, then shifted to working with and understanding the priorities of our DC-based fundholders, before returning to Prince George’s County two years ago and elevating our presence there. Amina moves seamlessly with a keen thoughtfulness and quiet power that is incredibly valued and will be sorely missed.”

Please join us in welcoming Darcelle Wilson and wishing Amina Anderson all the best on her new adventures!