On National Service Recognition Day, AmeriCorps VISTA Member Shares Her Passion for Service

We are excited to celebrate National Service Recognition Day at The Community Foundation!

This annual day recognizes thousands of AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers across the country, issuing official proclamations and taking to social media in a nationwide show of appreciation. AmeriCorps, a US civil society program, pairs individuals in volunteer service positions at organizations throughout the country. 

This year, The Community Foundation is proud to host Grace Kim, an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) member. Below, meet Grace and learn what national service means to her.

 ‘Building a Community of Learning’ 

Grace Kim started her AmeriCorps service at the Children's Opportunity Fund, an initiative of the Community Foundation, in August 2021. After she graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, she taught English to university students in Mexico as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Due to the pandemic, she returned stateside and continued her work in the nonprofit sector.

 Prior to working with the Community Foundation, Grace worked with non-governmental organizations in Guatemala, Haiti, and the United States. She believes that community development is a means to expand more opportunities and level the playing field. Her passion is to encourage others in becoming the best versions of themselves so that they can thrive - and hope they do the same for the people in their lives.

“Since I grew up in Montgomery County, it has been especially meaningful to serve as an AmeriCorps member at the Children's Opportunity Fund, an initiative of The Greater Washington Community Foundation. Working here has been a learning experience that I'll always look back on. I now have a better understanding of the power that comes from the collaboration of public and private partners in figuring out solutions that can lead to social impact. 

Though I've enjoyed my service overall, my favorite part has been talking to community members who are passionate about children and their education. Their insight on the achievement and opportunity gaps highlighted the role we all play in shaping the lives of children - our future is figuratively in their hands. Encouraging children to read early expands their understanding of the world and boosts their imagination. For that reason, I decided to focus on cultural relevance while planning Read Across America Day. By drawing from different cultural backgrounds that children may have, they become more open to reading, which in turn, facilitates their learning. I believe that it's important to be mindful when coming together as a community to support another generation of lifelong learners.”

What a Wonderful World! A Celebration of Cultural Relevancy in Education Through Reading in Montgomery County

By Grace Kim, AmeriCorps member at The Community Foundation

On March 2, 2022, the Children’s Opportunity Fund of the Greater Washington Community Foundation hosted a social media event ‘What a Wonderful World! A Celebration of Cultural Relevancy in Education through Reading in Montgomery County’.

The event was part of Read Across America Day -- the nation’s largest celebration of reading which inspires individuals, both young and old, to pick up a book and read.

This event was completely virtual, with videos being released on our social media platforms (@communityfndn) at the top of each hour from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

Some inspiring takeaways from our spotlights were:

  • Helen Winder, program coordinator for Wheaton Woods Imagination Library program, explained how "culturally relevant books help children shape their identities." The Wheaton Woods Imagination Library program coordinator, provides free books for young students ages 0-5.

  • Cultural relevancy is "not a zero-sum game" where "some groups will lose and others will gain. No one loses, we all gain," from Diego Uruburu, who co-founded the Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Excellence and Equity and is the Executive Director of Identity Youth.

  • Shebra Evans, member of the MCPS Board of Education, shed light on the school district's "asset-approach to expanding culturally relevant literacy into the instruction and that means that we are viewing the skills, knowledge, background that each of our students bring to their educational experience and that we value it."

  • Myrna Peralta of CentroNía explained the influence of linguistic diversity on which educational resources are brought to classrooms with different language-speaking instructors. She also shared that it's a "natural developmental requirement that we acknowledge and promote the diversity with our children from a very early age." CentroNía incorporates bilingual and multicultural supports to provide quality early childhood education to students.

  • For the last segment of the event, Montgomery County Council President Gabe Albornoz and MCPS Principal Shawaan Robinson read aloud Juana Martinez-Neal’s book, Alma and Her Name, in Spanish and English respectively.

Parents, students, and educators were encouraged to participate by using the hashtag ‘#ReadAcrossMoCo’ on social media. See below for the complete list of videos!


Nonprofit Partner Spotlight - Story Tapestries

In this video, we spotlight nonprofit partner, Story Tapestries, and the creative ways that they promote cultural relevancy in learning.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight - Imagination Library

In this video, Helen Winder, Montgomery County Public School Parent Community Coordinator shares the impact that Wheaton Woods Imagination Library is having in the lives of children at Wheaton Woods Elementary.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight - Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity & Excellence

In this video, Diego Uruburu, co-founder of Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence shares what it means to be culturally relevant.

Community Partner Spotlight - Shebra Evans

In this video, Shebra Evans, Montgomery County (MD) Board of Education Member shares why cultural relevancy and literacy are so important to Montgomery County Public Schools.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight - ISPOT

In this video, one family shares the impact that ISPOT, a Children's Opportunity Fund nonprofit partner, has had on their learning experience.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight - CentroNia

In this video, Myrna Peralta, President and CEO of CentroNía shares the importance of incorporating cultural relevancy into everyday classroom learning.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight - Arts on the Block

In this video, Chris Barclay, Interim Executive Director at Arts on the Block explains how their program is supporting culturally relevant learning through the arts.

Read-Aloud in Spanish & English

In this video, Gabe Albornoz, Montgomery County (MD) Council President and Shawaan Robinson, Montgomery County (MD) Public School Principal read "Alma and How She Got Her Name" by Juana Martinez-Neal.

Children's Opportunity Fund and Partners Reactivate Equity Hubs

Recent school closures across Montgomery County, due to the Omnicron variant of COVID-19, led Montgomery County Public Schools to turn to the Children’s Opportunity Fund (COF) at the Greater Washington Community Foundation and its partners to reactivate a proven program to support virtual learning for children and their families.

Initially launched in the Fall of 2020, the Educational Enrichment and Equity Hubs program provides a safe, structured learning environment for children from low-income families who lack internet access or technical support at home.

Each equity hub follows strict safety protocols and has adult staff on-site to support virtual learning and after-school programming. Last year, the program served more than 1,500 students at 70 different locations throughout Montgomery County. For more information about the Equity Hubs Program, click here!

Although the pandemic and necessity of virtual learning may be temporary, the Greater Washington Community Foundation recognizes that many of the challenges that students and families face are not. The Children’s Opportunity Fund will continue working with the community and its partners to understand the evolving needs of the most marginalized youth and families in order to close the opportunity gap in Montgomery County.  

The Children’s Opportunity Fund can only do this work with the help of cross-sector partners across Montgomery County. You can play an active role in ensuring that young people continue to have access to safe, quality learning opportunities and enrichments that support their academic and personal development, regardless of socio-economic status, race, or housing situation. Join us to ensure that all children have access to the essential services and growth opportunities they need to thrive.

Quarterly Community Update

Dear friends of The Community Foundation,

I hope you and your family had a safe and healthy holiday season and a happy new year!

Thanks to the continued compassion and care of our community of givers during a time of deep uncertainty, 2021 was another record year for generosity in Greater Washington. In 2021, we welcomed more than 51 new funds to our Community Foundation family and our donors collectively invested more than $86 million to support nonprofits responding to critical needs, nurturing an equitable recovery, and working to strengthen our region and beyond.

If you plan to continue or grow your giving in the year ahead, please make sure to follow our updated gift transmission guidelines for a variety of ways to contribute to your fund at The Community Foundation. It is crucial that you follow these instructions – especially including the fund name along with your contribution – to ensure timely processing of your gift. If you have any questions or need assistance with your gift, please contact us at 202-955-5890 or donorservices@thecommunityfoundation.org.

At The Community Foundation, we are grateful to be your trusted philanthropic partner and proud of what we have accomplished together for our community. In 2021, your support enabled us to:

As we embark on our new 10-year strategic vision, we plan to engage our entire community in discussions about how we will work together to co-create a brighter future for our region where people of all races, places, and identities reach their full potential and prosper. From our quarterly book club convenings to our grantmaking and investment strategies, we are committed to fully embodying the values of racial equity and inclusion in all aspects of our work and operations. For example, our new Investment Policy Statement outlines our approach to exercising competent and socially responsible stewardship in managing financial resources in alignment with our vision for a just and equitable region.

Thanks to your generosity and the inspiring service of our community partners, I am hopeful about what we can accomplish together in the year ahead. There will be challenges still to come, but I am confident we can continue to get through them together.

Sincerely,
Tonia Wellons
President and CEO

P.S. In case you missed it, our OCIO recently recorded this video to share an investment outlook and performance update.

Top 10 Milestones to Remember: 2021 in Review

Now that 2021 is over, we’re reflecting on and celebrating our most impactful stories from the past year – from releasing our new strategic vision, to historic investments in Black-led change, to a $1 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott that boosted our recovery work for local arts groups. Here are some of our most meaningful milestones from 2021. 

Together, We Prosper: Launching a New Strategic Vision for Closing Our Community’s Racial Wealth Gap

In October, we shared the culmination of months of deep heart work: our 10-year strategic vision to close our region’s racial wealth gap. First unveiled at our annual meeting, the vision centers on three core leadership pillars: leading with racial equity and inclusion, aligning business with values, and closing the racial wealth gap. We envision a future where all have the opportunity to prosper – and know together, we can realize this vision as reality.

Celebrating Our Community’s Champions

View a recording of our Celebration of Community Champions program.

In May, our virtual Celebration of Community Champions lifted up our collective COVID-19 response efforts and the everyday heroes – local individuals and companies – who stepped up for our region in exceptional ways. We were proud to highlight Feed the Fight as our Community Hero; Food for Montgomery as our Collaborative Hero; CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield as our Corporate Hero; and Dr. Monica Goldson, Senator Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. (in memoriam), Steve Proctor, and Dr. Alvin Thornton as our Civic Heroes. The evening also featured special performances from Arts on the Block, DC Jazz Festival, the Prince George’s County Youth Poet Laureate, and Synetic Theater.

Historic Investments in Black Leaders and Black-Led Nonprofits

Jawanna Hardy, a US Air Force veteran, leads an outreach program providing resources to communities affected by youth homicide, suicide, and mental health illnesses.

We were proud to make several historic investments in Black-led change impacting our region. Through our Black Voices for Black Justice Fellows, an initiative launched in 2020 with Bridge Alliance Education Fund and GOODProjects, we selected 10 inspiring Black leaders and activists on the frontlines of advancing racial equity and social justice. Additionally, a generous gift from Facebook enabled investments of nearly $1 million in 17 Black-led organizations leading systems change work. These awards supported the immediate infrastructure needs of grantees, including staffing, strategic planning, marketing and communications, professional development, and more. 

Direct Cash Transfer as a Vehicle for Speed, Inclusivity, and Equity

During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Community Foundation and many of our philanthropic partners embraced giving directly—transferring cash to people—as an effective and efficient means of providing relief to those hit hard by the sudden economic and health emergency. Since the onset of the pandemic and in partnership with donors, nonprofit organizations, and local government agencies, we facilitated the administration of approximately $26 million in funds, distributed in increments of $50 to $2,500 to approximately 60,000 residents across the Greater Washington region. Urban Institute published a report chronicling the goals, strategies, and short-term achievements of our effort to develop and implement cash transfer strategies at the height of the pandemic. 

Advancing Housing Justice and Preventing Evictions

Housing Counseling Services received a grant to help tenants apply for rental assistance by meeting them where they live, learn, pray, and play.

Our Partnership to End Homelessness continued its critical eviction prevention work in response to the pandemic and economic crisis. Its work to advance housing justice included more than $300,000 in grants to address our region’s housing crisis and inequalities by funding seven nonprofits leading advocacy and organizing efforts. Hear from our Community Investment Officer Jennifer Olney on the Partnership’s eviction prevention work and her explanation of common misperceptions about homelessness – and how you can get involved in helping more people obtain and maintain stable housing during a crisis and beyond.  

Improving Equity and Economic Mobility in Prince George’s County

Jacob’s Ladder was selected by ELIF members to receive a microgrant for its Academic Enrichment Program that provides tutoring, basic literacy skills, and mentoring to students.

Our Emerging Leaders Impact Fund (ELIF), a new giving circle for young professionals in Prince George’s County, announced its inaugural grants to five Prince George’s County nonprofits working to combat chronic absenteeism in County schools. ELIF is currently recruiting new members for 2022; Interested candidates can apply here. While our Equity Fund, which works to eliminate social and economic disparities in Prince George’s County, awarded $440,000 in grants to help 19 nonprofits advance food security, affordable childcare, and workforce equity. These grants were made possible thanks to a generous gift from the Ikea U.S. Community Foundation. 

Increasing Food Security and Educational Equity in Montgomery County

Food for Montgomery received our Collaborative Hero Award for its public-private effort to coordinate and expand food distributions, support local farmers and small businesses, and improve food systems to combat food insecurity in Montgomery County.

Our Children’s Opportunity Fund was recognized by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading as a 2021 Bright Spot community for its COVID-19 response work, including the launch of Educational Enrichment and Equity Hubs. Equity Hubs offered a safe place for low-income students to participate in remote learning during school closures, welcoming more than 1,400 students across 70 sites. Our Food for Montgomery initiative has marshaled the resources of nonprofits, faith communities, local businesses, farmers, and county agencies to increase food access and help families recover from crisis. It has raised and deployed over $2.1 million to double the number of food distribution sites, help sustain local farmers and small businesses, and improve the hunger relief system to meet today’s challenges and future crises. 

Gift From Mackenzie Scott Enables Additional Relief Funding For Local Arts Groups

Dance Institute of Washington received a grant to support its facility renovation and a program evaluation with a focus on racial equity.

Arts Forward Fund was established in partnership with The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation to help struggling arts and culture organizations to adapt their programming to survive and recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic. In 2021, the initiative was recognized by philanthropist MacKenzie Scott with a $1 million gift as part of a cohort of equity-focused efforts. Thanks to Scott’s generosity, we were able to award a second round of grants in September 2021, investing in nearly 90 local arts groups. In total, the fund has made nearly $2.7 million in grants to 130+ organizations – 60% of which are BIPOC-led or BIPOC-serving.

Turning Ideas Into Action for Community Change

Learn about several of our Community Action Awards supported projects in this video produced by our partners at Comcast.

As the last step in our three-part VoicesDMV community engagement initiative, we awarded our inaugural Community Action Awards microgrants to 50 local activists, artists, and advocates leading neighborhood-based projects which advance equity and inclusion. Projects included public murals in Brookland, Forest Bathing in Maryland, yoga and dance accessibility, and more. In December, our former Senior Advisor for Impact Benton Murphy reported back how grantees are doing – and the collective impact of these projects - read his post for several inspiring videos and photos. 

Aligning Our Business With Our Values: A New Partnership With SEI

Check out this video featuring our OCIO providing an update on your investment options and their performance.

We believe to truly affect change, our values must inform and drive our actions – and this was the impetus for partnering with SEI as our outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO). The leading global investment firm is known for its focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, values we wholeheartedly share. As an OCIO with 450+ clients worldwide – more than 170 of which are nonprofits – SEI serves as an extension of our staff, providing world-class investment expertise and constant focus on managing the charitable funds you have entrusted to us. Check out this new video featuring our OCIO providing an update on your investment options and the performance of our investment portfolio.

In Memoriam: Diane Bernstein, Jane Bainum, Milt Peterson, Senator Mike Miller, Waldon and Rhonda

As a member of our Partnership to End Homelessness Leadership Council, Waldon Adams was instrumental in our work to ensure everyone has housing they can afford.

Last year, we lost several special members of The Community Foundation family. We pay tribute to former Trustee, donor, and friend Diane Bernstein; Jane Bainum, co-founder of the Bainum Family Foundation and longtime philanthropic partner; Milt Peterson, trusted donor and founder of Peterson Companies; and the beloved Senator Mike Miller, one of our 2021 Civic Hero honorees. We also remember and honor our friends Rhonda Whitaker and Waldon Adams, two tireless advocates for ending homelessness who passed away unexpectedly in April. 


From Crisis to Recovery: A Pivotal Year

You can also view our FY 2021 annual report for more highlights from our crisis to recovery work in 2020-2021.

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.

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.

Our 2020 - 2021 Year in Review

Over the past 18 months, we have all been impacted in some way by COVID-19. Although our experiences may be different, our community came together -– as neighbors helping neighbors -– to support each other through this crisis.

Since March 2020, we have mobilized over $40 million in community support to help our neighbors facing hardship. Thanks to the incredible donors, nonprofit partners, and community leaders who stepped up to meet this challenge, our collective response demonstrated the power of what our community can accomplish by coming together. 

Our Annual Report features the impact that The Community Foundation, our donors, and partners have had on this region from April 2020 – March 2021, and beyond.

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Read our Annual Report

Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Recognizes Children’s Opportunity Fund as a Bright Spot Community During COVID-19 Pandemic

Children’s Opportunity Fund Recognized for Work in Supporting Early School Success

The Greater Washington Community Foundation is pleased to share that the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CLGR) named Montgomery County, Maryland, as a 2021 Bright Spot community for its responses to the COVID-19 crisis last year.

Specifically, CLGR is highlighting communities that developed exemplary or innovative responses to the COVID-19 crisis, including new or adaptive roles, programs, organizational relationships/collaborations, policies and/or resources. In particular, the Campaign is recognizing communities for crafting solutions that seem especially effective, replication-worthy and/or deserving of being sustained during the post-COVID period.

As a co-founder of the Educational Enrichment and Equity Hubs in Montgomery County, we are humbled and proud to be recognized for this COVID-19 response work in the County. Established by The Community Foundation’s Children’s Opportunity Fund (COF), in partnership with certified childcare providers, The Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence, and Montgomery County Public Schools, Equity Hubs offer low-income students grades K-8 a safe place to learn during remote learning due to the pandemic. These enrichment centers continue today, acting as active academic partners in assisting with distance learning and working to ensure that all students can excel.

“We are so thankful for all our community partners who have stepped up to help us close the opportunity gap by addressing racial inequities and expanding opportunities for Black, Brown, and low-income students,” said Anna Hargrave, executive director for Montgomery County at the Greater Washington Community Foundation. “The Equity Hubs are critical in our efforts to support our most marginalized youth and families in Montgomery County and we look forward to continuing this work in the future.”

Since September 2020, the Equity Hubs have welcomed over 1,400 students across 70 sites. Thanks to the support of public and private community partners, COF has raised and administered over $8.3 million to fund the Equity Hubs.

About the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
Launched in 2010, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort of funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that many more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. CGLR focuses on promoting early school success as an important building block of more hopeful futures for children in economically challenged families and communities.

Since its launch, CGLR has grown to include more than 300 communities, representing 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and two provinces in Canada — with 5,000+ local organizations and 510 state and local funders (including 200+ United Ways). To learn more, visit gradelevelreading.net and follow the movement on Twitter @readingby3rd.

About the Greater Washington Community Foundation
The Greater Washington Community Foundation exists to Build Thriving Communities by guiding strategic philanthropy, providing leadership on critical issues, promoting civic engagement, and inspiring local giving. Founded in 1973, The Community Foundation is a public charity made up of hundreds of charitable giving funds established by generous individuals, families, and businesses. We work with donors and partners to enhance the quality of life in the District of Columbia, Montgomery County, Northern Virginia, and Prince George’s County. As the region’s largest local funder, we manage $350 million in assets and have invested nearly $1.3 billion to build more equitable, just, and enriching communities where all residents can thrive.

The Children’s Opportunity Fund is a component fund of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. Funded jointly by the government of Montgomery County, Maryland, and Montgomery County Public Schools to leverage public funds to attract private investment, the Fund champions, plans and funds strategic investments that improve the lives of low-income children and families in the county. With a focus on innovative, evidence-informed efforts targeted at closing the opportunity gap, the Fund identifies priority areas for investment based on unmet need, aligns resources toward effective multi-sector collaborations serving the county’s most marginalized youth and their families, and seeks new funding sources.

Community Foundation Announces $500,000 Gift from Howard Hughes Medical Institute To Children’s Opportunity Fund

The Greater Washington Community Foundation is pleased to announce a new $500,000 contribution from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to the Children’s Opportunity Fund (COF). The gift will help the Educational Enrichment & Equity Hubs to close the opportunity gap by addressing racial inequities and expanding opportunities for Black, Brown, and low-income students and families in Montgomery County, Maryland. This gift recognizes HHMI’s support of the hubs concept and the work of the Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence and its partnership with COF.

COF, an impact initiative of the Greater Washington Community, champions, plans, and funds strategic investments that improve the lives of low-income children and families in the county. The Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence focuses on eliminating systemic barriers for student to thrive. In response to the pandemic and school closures, COF along with the Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence, with certified childcare providers, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), and community members came together to establish the Equity Hubs program in Montgomery County. Since September 2020, the Equity Hubs have welcomed over 1,300 students across 70 sites. Through the support of public and private community partners, COF initially raised over $4.2 million to fund the Equity Hubs for low-income students through the first semester. In February 2021, MCPS and Montgomery County Council provided another $3.6 million to continue this effort into the second semester.

“We are so thankful for partners like HHMI and others who have stepped up to help us close the opportunity gap by addressing racial inequities and expanding opportunities for Black, Brown, and low-income students,” said Tonia Wellons, President and CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. “These contributions help bolster our ability to support our most marginalized youth and families in Montgomery County as schools begin to reopen.”

Recent news coverage has highlighted how the pandemic has exacerbated the documented achievement gap in Montgomery County. The efforts of the Children’s Opportunity Fund and the Black and Brown Coalition and its partners to support the county’s most vulnerable students came to the attention of HHMI President Erin O’Shea, who reached out to explore how HHMI could contribute.

O’Shea notes the value of targeted interventions that leverage school community member expertise to provide students with resources they need.

"We're pleased to support the innovative equity hub model catalyzed by the Children’s Opportunity Fund and the Black and Brown Coalition in Montgomery County," said O'Shea. "By ensuring that students have access to learning tools and support services, the hubs directly address systemic inequities in education that have widened during the pandemic."

Even as schools begin to reopen, the need to support our community’s children and families will continue, especially as the implications of the pandemic are more fully understood. COF will continue working with the community partners to understand the evolving needs of the most vulnerable youth and families to close the steadily increasing opportunity gap in Montgomery County.

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About the Greater Washington Community Foundation

Since 1973, the Greater Washington Community Foundation has been a champion of thriving communities and a catalyst for change through local philanthropic engagement, effective community investment, and civic leadership. We work with donors and partners to enhance the quality of life in the District of Columbia, Montgomery County, Northern Virginia, and Prince George’s County. As the region’s largest local funder, we have invested more than $1.3 billion to build more equitable, just, and enriching communities where all residents can live, work, and thrive.

About the Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence

Cofounded in 2019 by Identity and the NAACP Parents’ Council, the Coalition’s mission is to ensure by 2025, all students, and particularly Black and Brown students, have equitable access to the resources, opportunities and supports they need to be successful in college, career, and life. The Black and Brown Coalition harnesses the power of two historically disenfranchised communities who have not traditionally advocated together. By joining forces, the Black and Latino communities leverage the influence of 54% of the MCPS student body to push to undo the deeply embedded impact of systemic inequity.

About the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

HHMI is the largest private biomedical research institution in the nation. Our scientists make discoveries that advance human health and our fundamental understanding of biology. We also invest in transforming science education into a creative, inclusive endeavor that reflects the excitement of research. HHMI’s headquarters are in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

On National Service Recognition Day, Two AmeriCorps VISTA Members Share Their Passion for Service

We are excited to celebrate National Service Recognition Day at The Community Foundation!

This annual day recognizes thousands of AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers across the country, issuing official proclamations and taking to social media in a nationwide show of appreciation. AmeriCorps, a US civil society program, pairs individuals in volunteer service positions at organizations throughout the country. 

This year, The Community Foundation is a proud host to two AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members. Below, meet our AmeriCorps staff-ers and learn what national service means to them.

 ‘Making a Difference When it Matters’ 

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Toro Olatidoye, AmeriCorps Vista Member, is currently serving as Data and Research Specialist with the Children's Opportunity Fund, an initiative of The Community Foundation. She is an advocate of children’s rights, with particular focus on educational development and the rights of the most vulnerable.

As a graduate of International Human Rights Law with a focus on children’s rights, Toro believes that  service offers a platform to fulfill her dream of ensuring all children receive equal opportunity in the pursuit of knowledge. She hopes to leverage this dream to transform communities--in this case, Montgomery County, Maryland. 

In honor of National Service Recognition Day, we asked Toro to reflect on what, in this moment, being an AmeriCorps member means to her - and how this shapes her work at The Community Foundation, and beyond.

“Being an AmeriCorps member at this moment in time means making a difference, when it matters. I am humbled to be serving in an organization that is focused on positively impacting the  lives of our youngest learners in Montgomery County. Our children deserve an opportunity to achieve their potential in life and need help now more than ever in view of the pandemic. There is a need to make quality education accessible  to all of our children, irrespective of their color.

I want to help find  solutions that address this need, with hopes that it will bring about positive systemic change in my community. As a resident of Montgomery County, I realize the future of our children is really all of our responsibilities.  By empowering our youngest learners, we will give future innovators and solution-makers the opportunity to serve their communities. I believe, when you serve, you become a vehicle of change who inspire others to follow suit. The more people are working towards a common goal, the more positive influence and achievements you will see.”   

‘A Commitment to Coming together’ 

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Jamie Miura joined The Community Foundation in July of 2020 as an AmeriCorps VISTA Member focused on funding and community organizing with the Children’s Opportunity Fund. He is a recent college graduate with diverse experiences in nonprofits and government in Canada, Japan, and the United States.

Jamie is passionate about working with mission driven organizations that are quick and nimble in responding to community needs and work to empower voices that often remain unheard. As a native of Montgomery County, Maryland, he feels that now, more than ever, it is important to be empathetic and supportive towards each other as we move forward together as a community.

In honor of National Service Recognition Day, we asked Jamie to reflect on what, in this moment, being an AmeriCorps member means to him- and how this shapes his work at The Community Foundation, and beyond.

“As we continue to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic, we must recognize that our communities and people are hurting, none more than our youngest learners in Montgomery County, Maryland. As a recent graduate from a Canadian university, I was determined to return to the United States and tomy local community. That sentiment led me to AmeriCorps and its commitment to help Americans come together to help our country and our people prosper.

Montgomery County has been my home since I was born, and I am humbled to be in the position to come back and support our youngest learners. Working at the Children’s Opportunity Fund has been a great opportunity for me to give back to the community that raised me. I will never forget my year of service at The Community Foundation.”

About the Children’s Opportunity Fund

The Children's Opportunity Fund is an impact initiative of the Greater Washington Community Foundation which brings together top government leadership and community partners to plan, advocate for, and fund strategic investments that improve the lives of children and families in Montgomery County. The Children's Opportunity Funds invests in innovative, evidence-based efforts targeted at addressing the achievement gap.

Equity Hubs Help MCPS Students Plug into Learning through Pandemic

Equity Hub students hard at work with their virtual studies.

Equity Hub students hard at work with their virtual studies.

When COVID-19 forced Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) to close in March 2020, families found themselves struggling to adjust to remote learning. As a school district serving 160,000 students, MCPS is comprised of a diverse student body, with students from 164 countries speaking 184 languages. One-third of students benefit from Free and Reduced-Price Meals, and many receive English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) support and in-person special education courses -- all services that changed dramatically when schools closed. 

Due to the closures, students throughout Montgomery County lacked technical support, internet access, and daytime supervision. Students also had to adjust to distractions at home, as well as the social isolation from being away from peers and teachers. 

A Community Approach to Distance Learning

In fall 2020, certified childcare providers, The Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence, MCPS, The Children’s Opportunity Fund at the Greater Washington Community Foundation, and community members came together to establish Educational Enrichment and Equity Hubs in Montgomery County. These enrichment centers, open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. and located in schools throughout Montgomery County, served kindergarten through 8th grade students and offered a safe learning environment for young people from low-income households to receive one-on-one support. All providers followed strict health and safety guidelines, provided meals and exercise/play activities, and assigned two staff members for each group of 13 students.

The Equity Hubs were also active academic partners, monitoring and assisting with distance learning and working to ensure that students excelled. Before joining the Equity Hub, Eduardo, a first grader with community-based partner Kids Co., struggled with number and letter identification, making it difficult to complete homework assignments. 

“With help from staff, [Eduardo was] able to complete more assignments,” said Chantelle Miller, Director of Kids Co. “His teachers identified a new academic plan to measure his academic skills, specifically pertaining to math, and he seemed happier and more comfortable doing coursework.” 

Community partners—from parents to childcare providers—have said the social aspects of the Equity Hubs improved students’ engagement, social-emotional skills, and overall mental health. Social interaction also helped younger students develop their sense of self and reach developmental milestones. 

“All of our students [were] successful once they enrolled in our Hub,” said Jay Gerson, President of Kids Co. “They [were] coming every day and being consistent -- they [had] this fuel and motivation to go to school each day.” 

Enrollment Assistance for Equity Hub Students

Quickly working to support families during a crisis comes with a price. Equity Hub providers initially charged $1,200 per month per child to support technology, certified staff, transportation, meals and snacks, and other resources.  

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The Greater Washington Community Foundation’s Children’s Opportunity Fund connected with concerned community partners and worked collectively to mobilize funds, raise awareness and began providing scholarships for students. In August and September 2020, the Children’s Opportunity Fund raised $500,000 in private philanthropy, allowing for the opening of four sites in September. In partnership with the Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence, The Children’s Opportunity Fund began advocating to MCPS and the Montgomery County Council for additional funds to expand the Hubs to serve more students. Since September, an additional $550,000 in private philanthropy has been raised—leading to a total of over $1 million in private funds to support Equity Hubs. 

Pat Rupert, a Children’s Opportunity Fund donor and Montgomery County resident, said that she first considered supporting the Equity Hubs when she started watching her five grandchildren in spring 2020.

“I kept thinking to myself, what about working parents who don’t have the resources or support from family and friends?” Rupert said. “I reached out to The Children’s Opportunity Fund to figure out what was being done to support these families, and that’s when I learned about Equity Hubs and felt inspired to be a part of [their] crucial work.”

The Power of Collaboration

The Children’s Opportunity Fund coordinated the work of many community partners, which created a single point of entry for families to help them navigate finding an Equity Hub that was a good fit for each family and student. Participating Partners worked to spread the word about the Equity Hubs: sharing flyers in English and Spanish, setting up a hotline to receive phone calls, and bringing on family engagement specialists to help get students enrolled.

Also, in close collaboration with MCPS, Equity Hubs were able to enroll students who were struggling the most with distance learning. Collaboration and coordination enabled this effort to reach students who would benefit from the Equity Hubs the most. 

By blending public and private funds to complement efforts, The Children’s Opportunity Fund and its partners were able to utilize private funds to quickly pilot a new program and then acquire public funds to expand its reach to students throughout the community. In October 2020, the Montgomery County Council contributed $1.8 million to expand the Hubs throughout the County’s elementary schools, and MCPS committed another $1.8 million to support Equity Hubs.

The Children’s Opportunity Fund raised over $4.6 million to help the Equity Hubs enroll 1,500 students across 70 sites. In January 2021, MCPS and Montgomery County Council provided another $3.6 million to support them through March 2021, when in-person learning resumed.  

Dr. Daman Harris, Principal at Wheaton Woods, said the Equity Hubs produced numerous benefits for students and the community.

“Before The Children’s Opportunity Fund got involved and alleviated concerns about costs, there were eight children signed up for our hub,” Harris said. “By February 2021, there were over 50 students enrolled.”

This work is not new to The Children’s Opportunity Fund. Started in 2016 by the Montgomery County Council and then established as a funding initiative led by the Greater Washington Community Foundation, The Children’s Opportunity Fund aims to close the opportunity gap by addressing racial inequities and expanding opportunities for marginalized children and families. The Fund brings together community members and government leadership to plan with, advocate for, and fund strategic investments that improve the lives of children and families. 

Looking Toward the Future

The Equity Hubs successfully served thousands of students throughout the pandemic. Even as schools begin to reopen, the need to support our community’s children and families will continue, especially as the implications of the pandemic are more fully understood. The Children’s Opportunity Fund aims to continue working with the community and its partners to understand the evolving needs of the most vulnerable youth and families in order to close the steadily increasing opportunity gap in Montgomery County.  

The Children’s Opportunity Fund can only do this work with the help of cross-sector partners across Montgomery County. You can play an active role in ensuring that young people continue to have access to safe, quality learning opportunities and enrichments that support their academic and personal development, regardless of socio-economic status, race, or housing situation. Join us to ensure that all children have access to the essential services and growth opportunities they need to thrive.

Children’s Opportunity Fund Hosts Read Across America Day in Montgomery County

By Jamie Miura, AmeriCorps member at The Community Foundation

On March 2, the Children’s Opportunity Fund hosted Read Across America Day in Montgomery County, a virtual panel that examined—and celebrated—the role that schools, the community, and families play in promoting the joy of reading. We welcomed a panel of community leaders, including Kareem Bernard, Craig Rice, Tanushree Dutta Issacmanand Jennifer Sloan McCombs, known for their contributions as authors, advocates, and researchers.

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Council Member Gabe Albornoz kicked the day off with a Read Aloud of Perro Grande... Perro Pequeño to students at an Educational Equity and Enrichment Hub. Following the reading, the group discussed the importance of incorporating diverse perspectives—and coming together to develop impactful solutions that advance early literacy in Montgomery County. 

 Here are a few other take-aways that we found particularly inspiring:

  • Kareem Bernard, author of the children's book series Billy's Adventures, highlighted the importance of leveraging community resources such as banks, barbershops, salons and libraries to create safe spaces for our youngest readers. “We have to create an environment where kids are constantly seeing words.”

  • Children's learning should be a family affair, and jurisdictions must continually focus on the needs of children, parents, and families. Jennifer Sloan McCombs, senior policy researcher at RAND Corporation, stressed this by stating we must "draw in communities by putting families and children at the center of what we are doing."

  • The panel also emphasized the importance of recognizing that “education equity is not an end outcome; it is a continuous process.” Tanushree Dutta Issacman, associate organizer at Action in Montgomery, encouraged us all to recognize that "we need to go back again and intentionally engage with Black, Brown and low-income parents and hear from them what their experiences has been, what are they up at night thinking about, and organize around their needs."

Council Member Craig Rice, Chair of the Education and Culture Committee, wrapped up the discussion by reading Kareem Bernard’s book The Peaceful Protest and acknowledging the value of our civil rights and that, ultimately, we are all one community. 

If you missed the event, or would like to watch again, we invite you to watch our video recording.

You can also continue the conversation on social media by posting or sharing a photo of your favorite book, or the Read Across America postcards that were sent to Equity Hub participants! Please tag us @communityfndn and use the hashtags #ReadMoCo and #ReadAcrossAmerica.

About the Children’s Opportunity Fund

The Children's Opportunity Fund is an impact initiative of the Greater Washington Community Foundation which brings together top government leadership and community partners to plan, advocate for, and fund strategic investments that improve the lives of children and families in Montgomery County. The Children's Opportunity Funds invests in innovative, evidence-based efforts targeted at addressing the achievement gap.

The Children’s Opportunity Fund Awards up to $100,000 to Literacy-Focused Montgomery County Nonprofits

Nonprofits Selected Through A Participatory Grantmaking Process

The Children’s Opportunity Fund (COF), a community impact initiative of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, is pleased to announce up to $100,000 in grants to 4 nonprofit organizations working to improve educational outcomes for Montgomery County’s children, youth, and families.

Each organization will receive funding up to $25,000 for project/program support providing direct service, advocating for, or researching literacy skills for children ages birth to 8 and their families.

 The Community Foundation recognizes that now, more than ever, it is critical to engage with and empower community voices to advance more equitable solutions. In particular, those that often remain unheard are our Black, brown, and low-income neighbors—and they need a platform to share their views. 

 To that end, the Children’s Opportunity Fund used a participatory grantmaking framework for its grant review process. Participatory grantmaking drastically alters the traditional funding model by ceding decision-making power over funding to local community members. 

Our Participatory Grants Committee included Montgomery County community members, educators, students and parents. This offered a diverse mixture of perspectives and experience, which we hope will promote more equitable decision-making. The review process began with several group discussions on the importance of equity in education, and the opportunity and achievement gaps present in Montgomery County. Committee members then focused on these issues, and insights from their group discussions, when reviewing applications and making final funding recommendations.  

Below, meet our new COF grantees and learn how their projects will support and empower students and families in Montgomery County. 

Advancing Black Lives in Education 

Advancing Black Lives in Education (ABLE) will use this funding to address learning loss for Black students by providing tutoring services, family support, critical learning tools and educational supplies.

 “The philosophy behind this impact initiative matches our vision: to provide support to Black children who attend Montgomery County Public Schools in grades pre-K through 5. We’ve seen many parents in the Black community request academic support for their children, as well as assistance in understanding the recovery plan and making informed decisions about their children's return to school. 

It is widely known that Black families are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, economically and with respect to education. This work is important because our children and families need additional support from the community to thrive in the virtual learning environment and after they return to school.” -Natalie Thomas, President

ABLE expects to see a positive impact on children's academic achievement and families' social-emotional stability. ABLE hopes that, by reaching Black parents and providing them with a voice, they will become more actively engaged with their childrens’ school and related activities, such as PTA and school reform. 

Story Tapestries 

This grant will help fund Story Tapestries’ Discover the Power of the Written Word (DPWW) program, which offers high-impact literacy programs to 1300+ economically disadvantaged youth, educators and caregivers in Montgomery County. This includes professional development for educators, family supports through interactive events, and monthly arts and literacy kits for families. 

“Young children in Montgomery County are struggling to adapt to health and safety measures required in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The hardest hit are those who were already experiencing economic hardship. Many of those children were already behind their peers in learning how to read and write. 

Story Tapestries has the tools and community connections to reach these children, their educators and their families - online - with a unique set of resources and services that boost their learning, overcoming barriers such as language, while also increasing an important ingredient in their daily lives - JOY!” -Arianna Ross, Executive Director

Story Tapestries will help bridge the learning gap for children who are behind their peers in learning targets, and generate a feeling of connectedness in 5 school communities, helping promote joy and hope. They will help reconnect educators with their passion for teaching by connect them with Teaching Artist mentors. And, they will help mentor parents on how to support their children more effectively from home.

GapBuster, Inc.

This grant will allow GapBuster, Inc., to offer a Cross-Tutorial Mentoring program to address the widening academic gap for students that have been impacted by COVID-19. It will also help students continue to move from in-person instruction to a virtual learning environment.

“Studies have reported that the digital divide disproportionately impacts students living in poverty and students of color--and COVID-19 has only magnified this problem. Right now communities are suffering, requiring innovative, creative, and aggressive programs that can lead to positive outcomes.” -Yvette Butler-Yeboah, MD, Executive Director 

GapBuster, Inc. hopes to positively impact students with our one-on-one and group Cross-Tutorial Mentoring program, resulting in at least 75% of participants improving at least one grade level in math and ELA by June 30, 2020; and, at least 75% of participants reporting reduced stress as it relates to COVID-19

Loud Voices Together 

Loud Voices Together will use this grant to fund the Harriet Tubman Scholars program, which supports Black and brown students in Montgomery County, MD, in the areas of literacy and math.

“Loud Voices Together was inspired to apply for this grant because of our commitment to equity and education for all students. We are particularly focused on Black and brown students with disabilities, due to the disparities and inequities experienced historically by this community. This funding opportunity will provide these students with the same opportunities as their economically advantaged peers who can secure literacy and numeracy direct services privately.” -Ronnetta Stanley, M.Ed., Executive Director

Loud Voices Together endeavors to help all students develop adequate reading and math skills, to support their long-term academic and professional success. The hope is that all students will make measurable growth in literacy and numeracy skills through this project. 

About the Children’s Opportunity Fund

The Children’s Opportunity Fund is a public-private partnership funded jointly by the Montgomery County Government and Public Schools to leverage public funds to attract private investment. COF champions, plans, and funds strategic investments that improve the lives of low-income children and families in the county. With a focus on innovative, evidence-informed efforts targeted at closing the opportunity gap, COF identifies priority areas for investment based on unmet need, aligns resources toward effective multi-sector collaborations serving the county’s most vulnerable youth and their families, and seeks new funding sources. COF has invested $2 million to expand opportunities for out of school time programs, internships and career prep programs, and early childhood care and education for low-income families. 

COVID-19 Response Fund Issues Over $10 Million in Emergency Grants

300+ Critical Nonprofits Across the Region Received Support to Weather Pandemic

The Greater Washington Community Foundation today announced an additional $2.04 million in phase three grants from the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, reaching a combined total of more than $10 million in emergency support distributed to address the public health and economic crisis. The Fund’s rapid response grantmaking helped local nonprofits to expand critical services, ensure continuity of operations, transition to virtual service delivery, and counteract lost revenue due to closures or event cancellations. 

In total, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund’s impact includes: 

  • Over $10 million raised and invested in regional response efforts

  • 300+ social service and health nonprofits funded

  • Grants range from $1,000 to $250,000

  • 50% of nonprofit partners led by people of color

Phase three funding was spurred in part by a $1 million dollar commitment from IKEA to support COVID-19 relief efforts in Maryland where some of its facilities are located. IKEA calculated unemployment claims submitted by its employees and donated that money back to the state through a partnership with the Greater Washington Community Foundation to disperse the resources to communities in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. 

Phase 3 Grant Highlights

Improving Food Security

$250,000 to Capital Area Food Bank and its partners to address the dramatic increase in food insecurity among Northern Virginia residents in Fairfax, Arlington, and Loudoun counties and the City of Alexandria. CAFB’s goal is to provide an additional 9 million pounds of food in these areas, including to many disproportionately impacted communities of color.

A $200,000 investment in Dreaming Out Loud to address DC’s food security crisis by connecting fresh and nutritious food offerings from local Black-owned farms in our region to food insecure residents, including 1,300 weekly CSA shares and 150,000 prepared meals.

$188,000 allocated to help Food for Montgomery meet the urgent need for food, support restaurants and farmers by purchasing meals and fresh produce, and to strengthen our hunger relief system.

$200,000 to help resource Get Shift Done for DMV operations through the end of the year. The initiative is paying displaced hospitality workers to help local nonprofit providers prepare food and meals for neighbors facing hardship due to COVID-19.

$214,000 to support food assistance providers in Prince George’s County to make and/or deliver prepared meals, produce, and shelf-stable foods, and to connect food insecure households to additional food resources.

Support for Childcare

$188,000 allocated to the Children’s Opportunity Fund to expand affordable childcare and distance learning support options for up to 1,000 low-income families in Montgomery County.

$150,000 allocated to the D.C. Childcare Reopening Fund, in partnership with Mary’s Center, to invest in a network of local family childcare providers to ensure that low-income children and youth remain in licensed childcare programs that support healthy and safe development.

$50,000 investment in the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative, led by the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, supporting advocacy efforts to improve early childhood systems infrastructure, expand access to high quality early education programs, and help early educators effectively meet the needs of all children.

$100,000 invested alongside the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia to support local family-based early care providers through the Infant Toddler Family Day Care, a high-impact local provider that will directly support 85 Northern Virginia-based family childcare providers, all of which are led by women of color.

$50,000 to Prince George’s Child Resource Center to provide support and technical assistance to childcare providers to ensure their sustainability and ability to create healthy and nurturing environments for children by helping families and educating caregivers.

Expanding Employment Opportunities

$300,000 allocated to the Equity Fund in Prince George’s County to support programs selected through an open call for applications that are preparing workers for meaningful employment and ensuring that people facing barriers to employment can access high-quality education and job opportunities which pay a family-sustaining wage.

Eviction Prevention and Housing Stability

$150,000 allocated to The Partnership to End Homelessness for work with DC Bar Foundation and other funders to prevent evictions and help low-income residents maintain stable housing. Initial investments will focus on building the capacity of the system to make sure tenants are aware of their rights and can access the rental assistance and other resources that are available.

Previous Funding and Priorities

The COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund was established on March 12, 2020 and administered by the Greater Washington Community Foundation, which also was a donor to the effort. Community Foundation staff in collaboration with a steering committee and working groups, comprised of regional philanthropic leaders, subject matter experts, and local government advisors, met regularly to discuss needs, vet proposals, and coordinate efforts.

The Fund received contributions from nearly 800 foundations, corporations, and individuals. A list of the major contributors to the Fund can be found here.  

More than 1,600 nonprofits across the region applied for approximately $60 million in grants. Priority was given to direct service providers with deep roots in the community and the ability to both address urgent needs and reach historically underserved populations.

Phases 1 and 2 (March-August) investments were made across five issue areas:

  • To provide cash assistance to impacted workers, including hourly and gig economy workers, contractors, and workers excluded from unemployment or stimulus funds.

  • To bridge the digital divide and expand resources for low-income families, youth disconnected from school or work, and students with special education needs. 

  • To provide PPE and other equipment for frontline workers, expand medical care for marginalized communities, and increase access to mental health support services.

  • To support individuals, families, and youth experiencing homelessness by expanding access to housing/shelter, health care, and other emergency services.

  • To help stabilize nonprofits, expand emergency food assistance, address the uptick in domestic violence, and support the civil legal aid needs of individuals and families.

Phase two investments also included funding for advocacy and community organizing projects focused on improving systems for food security, violence prevention, medical care access, affordable housing, childcare, and more.

A full list of the Fund’s grantees can be found here. To learn more about the unique stories of the organizations supported by the Fund, click here for impact videos.

New Grant Opportunities for Nonprofits Serving Greater Washington

The Greater Washington Community Foundation has opened its Fall 2020 Grant Round and is now accepting applications for Community Action Awards and grants from the Children's Opportunity Fund in Montgomery County and the Equity Fund in Prince George's County. 

VoicesDMV Community Action Awards

VoicesDMV is a three-part initiative that tapped into Community Insights through a regional survey, convened residents for On the Table conversations and Social Just Town Halls to discuss the issues that matter in our communities, and now will provide funding for Community Action Awards to help advance ideas sparked during these conversations.

The application is now open for small awards of up to $2,000 for individuals and nonprofits in Greater Washington working to make our region a more equitable place for everyone to live, work, and thrive. These microgrants are intended to support and advance neighborhood-level projects that will engage diverse communities and help grassroots leaders to implement their ideas. We are especially interested in providing resources to enable ideas and activities that were generated through On the Table conversations, held on or around October 1. The online application closes on Monday, November 2, 2020.


Children's Opportunity Fund

The Children’s Opportunity Fund is focused on funding innovation opportunities that close the achievement gap in Montgomery County, Maryland. As a member of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading network, the Children’s Opportunity Fund is using a participatory grantmaking process to fund organizations providing direct service, advocating for, or researching literacy skills with children ages birth to 8 and their families. The Children’s Opportunity Fund will provide grants up to $25,000 for organizations with a budget of less than $500,000, that are focusing on early literacy, family supports, and tutoring.

Applicants must submit a proposal via The Community’s Foundation’s online application system no later than 4:00 p.m. on Monday, October 26, 2020.


The Equity Fund

The Equity Fund supports nonprofit organizations working to eliminate social and economic disparities and create pathways to economic success for Prince George’s County residents. The focus area for the 2020 Equity Fund grant cycle is workforce equity and economic mobility for low-income people inclusive of people of color and other marginalized or under-represented groups. The Equity Funds seeks to support a diverse range of impactful programs to ensure that people who face social and economic barriers have access to high-quality education and jobs which pay family-sustaining wages.

Grants of up to $25,000 will be awarded for program support. Applicants must submit a proposal via The Community’s Foundation’s online application system no later than 4:00 p.m. on Friday, November 13, 2020.

Our Kids Need our Community to Act Now

By Sophie Felts, donor, concerned neighbor, and Founder of Sophie Felts Floral Design

My husband and I have four elementary school kids in Montgomery County, MD. Their teachers are some of the most creative, dedicated and hard-working teachers in the entire world (in my humble opinion). But distance learning last spring was ROUGH for our family. Our little kids, a 4th grader, a pair of second graders, and kindergartner, needed constant parental help with their Zoom calls. Our family ended the spring semester with academic regression, frayed nerves, and one less full-time job.

Part of me felt relieved, though, when Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) decided to go virtual this fall. At least I wouldn’t have to worry about my kids getting exposed to coronavirus at school. The other part of me remembered how hard the spring semester had been. That’s when the real panic began to set in. It sank into my gut. If MY family was struggling, imagine how thousands of low-income and essential worker families in our community would suffer.

Our county is the 15th largest school district in the nation. Distance learning logistics are intense, and the county has been working hard to deliver academics to every school child. To an extent, it really is working, at least in theory. The academic component of school IS being provided by teachers teaching on-line. But the childcare component of schooling, so crucial to working families, is missing.

Many families are figuring it out. They are moving to one salary, with many women leaving the workforce. They are hiring staff to create learning pods. They are relying on friends and family. Unfortunately, thousands of other families have fewer resources, and their children are left home alone or in the care of older siblings juggling their own schoolwork. 

These problems felt huge and hard and heavy. So, I started to research solutions. I sat in on County meetings, participated in MCPS forums, reached out to principals and PTA presidents, and called up other parents and business leaders. My first glimmer of hope came in the form of a woman named Rory Richardson. Rory, who is brilliantly energetic and insanely hard-working, along with her team at Bar T Ranch (one of the largest childcare providers in the area), had an idea.

Bar-T Ranch teamed up with 15 other certified child-care providers to develop the “Learning Hub” concept. Each hub has two adult staff members to support a group of up to 13 children.  Providers follow strict safety protocols and each hub occupies its own room. Children have staff at the ready to help them log into classes and lots of exercise and play in between classes. With nine hours of childcare coverage each weekday, parents are able to keep their jobs. 

This fall, our local childcare providers hope to operate as many Learning Hubs as possible in MCPS elementary schools. The barrier, of course, is money. It costs $1,200 per month for one child to participate in a Learning Hub. For many parents, this simply is not feasible. 

What could be done to help fund Learning Hubs? 

I decided to ask Anna Hargrave and Kimberly Rusnak from the Montgomery County office of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. Anna and Kimberly take their mission of building more equitable and just communities seriously. They are both determined and dedicated and are doing the hard work day in and day out. 

I was delighted to discover the Children’s Opportunity Fund, one of the foundation’s impact initiatives, was already working to seeking solutions to help address the needs of kids struggling with remote learning.  I was thrilled that Children’s Opportunity Fund could become the primary mechanism to raise childcare “scholarships” for the families who need it the most. 

I’m happy to report that we have raised over $500,000! This week, our first 32 scholarship students started “school” in their hubs and there are more opening up in the coming weeks which are projected to help at least 100 kids. That is but a tiny percentage of the 29,000 county children who need our help.  We, as a community, need to keep going. We have momentum.

Lots of us want to help – we just don't know how. A gift to the Children's Opportunity Fund is a real way to make an impact right away.

In this moment, I know we all have our own “stuff” to deal with. “Stuff” that is panic inducing and keeps us up at night. I have been tempted to put my blinders on, to just focus on my own family. But NOW is the time when our community needs us to show up. To dig deep. To move past the debates over how this problem could have been handled differently. To look the problem right in the eyes. And to collectively wrap our arms around the kids and families who need it the most.

 Join Us

You can support our community’s families and children by giving to the Children’s Opportunity Fund today. Click below to give, or contact Kate Daniel at kdaniel@thecommunityfoundation.org for assistance giving via check, stock gift, IRA charitable rollover, or a grant from a donor-advised fund.

Educational Equity in our Response to COVID-19, and Beyond

By Kimberly Rusnak, Project Director of The Children’s Opportunity Fund

“We do run the risk that the learning loss students experience now will be the enduring legacy of this pandemic.” - Ralph Smith, director of The Campaign for Grade Level Reading, a national advocacy group

During a typical school year, children only spend 15% of their time in school.  For the 2020-2021 academic year, we know that “school” is very different.  Throughout the DMV, all school districts are starting 100% online.  Unfortunately, there are many students who are not fully participating in online learning for a variety of reasons:

  • Insufficient technical support or access to the internet; 

  • Not having a supportive adult on hand for support; 

  • Distractions from pets, siblings, tv, etc.; 

  • Digital eye strain after 3-6 hours of Zoom each day; 

  • Isolation, depression, and mental health challenges; 

  • For older children, they may need to supervise younger siblings; and 

  • Decreasing motivation from not having clarity about academic progress in the virtual setting.  

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated and laid bare many long-standing inequities.  Unfortunately, without significant intervention specifically focused on the needs of children, the challenges will get much worse.  

Our Regional Response to COVID-19 for education

Several years ago, the Montgomery Public School System (MCPS) and Montgomery County Government partnered with the Greater Washington Community Foundation to create the Children’s Opportunity Fund. It works to plan, launch, and expand strategic investments to close the achievement gap by addressing racial inequities and expanding opportunities for marginalized children and families. 

The Fund’s leadership decided to focus on helping kids build a strong foundation for life-long success after discovering only about 50% of third-graders in Montgomery County were able to read at or above grade level.  Research shows third-grade literacy has been tied to dropout rates, higher rates of anxiety and depression and increased behavioral problems. Therefore, ensuring our kids have a strong start is key to the community’s economic viability.   

In response to the pandemic, the Children’s Opportunity Fund is focusing on important programs for elementary school age children, including tutoring, family supports and early literacy interventions. Moving into the 2020-2021 school year, we’ll focus on building out effective, evidence informed programs to expand tutoring for Elementary School age children in reading and math, providing families with supports such as Equity Learning Hubs and access to affordable childcare options for families who cannot afford it otherwise.  We are also partnering with Waterford Upstart, a national evidence-informed program, to provide a virtual kindergarten readiness program for a cohort of four year-olds in Montgomery County. 

Join Us to Make a Difference

Through our COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, we’ve disbursed more than $7 million to local nonprofits—more than $1 million of which supported organizations helping to expand educational opportunities for children and youth, and advocacy around childcare system improvements.

We are proud to help advance educational equity in our region – and hope you will join us in helping to make a difference. 

Provide Critical Support to Advance These Efforts

  • Donate to the Children’s Opportunity Fund.

  • Learn more about and donate to DC Education Equity Fund.

  •  Donate a digital device (or backpacks, activities, and school supplies) to the “Back to School Bash

Learn More 

Black and Brown Coalition Announces Vision to End Inequities in Montgomery County Public Schools

Post by Kimberly Rusnak, Project Director for the Children's Opportunity Fund

Kimberly Rusnak.jpg

“Everyone wins if we can tackle the achievement gap,” said Diego Uriburu, the Executive Director of Identity and a key leader in the Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence.

As I sat in the auditorium at Gaithersburg High School for the Black and Brown Forum for Educational Equity and Excellence on the night of October 15, I was amazed by the power and energy in the room. The Black and Brown Coalition—a group of nonprofit partners led by Identity, a Montgomery County nonprofit serving Latino youth and families, and the NAACP of Montgomery County — shared moving data points, told stories, and led the audience to understand how black and brown children do not have access to the same opportunities as their peers.

Their data came from the Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) system, where educators commissioned a resource study that showed three dramatic inequities:

  • Black and Latino students in MCPS from low-income families are 1.5 times more likely to have a novice teacher than their peers.

  • Lower-income elementary and middle schools are much more likely to attend schools led by novice principals. In Title 1 elementary schools, more than half of the principals have less than 3 years of experience in MCPS, and more than 60% of low-income middle schools have a novice principal.

  • Black and Latino students are less likely to have access to the most rigorous curriculum than their peers.

In addition to these powerful statistics, students shared stories about how this inequality affected their own educational experiences. Giankarlo Vera, an MCPS graduate, shared how he once dreamed of becoming a doctor. Despite an excellent GPA in honors classes, none of the counselors ever encouraged him to look at four-year universities or provided guidance on how to pursue his dream. He reflected,

“Where was all the support that I was promised when I enrolled in MCPS schools?”

Education is a key factor that impacts all aspects of life. A great education can pull an individual out of poverty. It is especially important in Montgomery County, a county with a reputation for an excellent school system, that everyone benefits.

One especially moving moment occurred when Ruby Rubens, a long-time education activist, shared that a group of concerned parents named 1977 made similar requests of MCPS 42 years ago. Despite a positive response from the administration at the time, not much has improved.

The time to act is now. Approximately 1,000 people attended the event on a Tuesday night – including elected officials, community organizations, parents, students, educators, and other groups of concerned citizens. They sent a message, loud and clear, that the Montgomery County community cares about equity in education.

I was proud to participate and represent the Children’s Opportunity Fund to pledge our support to strengthen education for all Montgomery County students. The Children’s Opportunity Fund is a proud partner, planner, and supporter of the Coalition’s work, including this forum. Through the Children’s Opportunity Fund, we will continue to invest in evidence-informed solutions to drive our community toward better outcomes for all. We recognize that no one person or organization can do this work alone. There is power in numbers.

We can no longer stand idly by and wait for others to get this right. We need to get loud. We need to push. We need to influence and demand positive change. The Children’s Opportunity Fund is ready to catalyze this change. In partnership with the Black and Brown Coalition, the Children’s Opportunity Fund will continue working to amplify community voice and ensure that county officials understand the importance of closing the achievement gap for all students in Montgomery County.

If you have questions or would like to support with the Children’s Opportunity Fund, please contact Kimberly Rusnak, Project Director for the Children's Opportunity Fund at krusnak@thecommunityfoundation.org.

Leapfrogging Inequity in Montgomery County

Guest post by Kimberly Rusnak, Project Director for the Children's Opportunity Fund

What is leapfrogging in education? The concept was explored with a group of Community Foundation donors at our most recent President’s Forum in Montgomery County. It is the ability to jump ahead or disrupt existing paradigms to make rapid and non-linear progress. It is the possibility to transform what and how children learn so that young people can develop a broad set of skills needed to thrive. The concept is discussed by Rebecca Winthrop, a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institute, in her new book, Leapfrogging Inequality: Remaking Education to Help Young People Thrive

The first major point covered during the talk sought to answer a critical question: What is the goal of education? Though it seems like such a simple question, the answers in the room were vastly different. Some of the answers were: the goal is to teach basic skills of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. This was countered with the goal to ensure sustainable employment. Or is the goal to provide young people with the tools for a fulfilling life and to encourage active civic participation? Or all of the above?

The answer posed to the group by Ms. Winthrop was called, “Academic +,” also known as The Breadth-of-Skills-Movement. While an education system must prioritize knowledge acquisition, there must also be a strong emphasis on developing skills needed to use that knowledge in different settings overtime. This includes academic subjects, plus globally relevant topics, communication skills, problem solving skills; and trying to prepare students for the future. It’s a tough job—and no single approach is the perfect solution because learning happens everywhere—at home, at school, in the community. 

In an average year, an elementary school student only spends 14% of their time in school (based on a 7-hour school day, 180 days  per year). Roughly 33% of a student’s time is spent sleeping, and 53% of their time is spent awake and out of school. If the majority (53%) of learning happens at home, in the community and among peers, think about what that means. 

For many families that cannot afford quality early learning and pre-K access, fee-based out of school programs, private tutoring and costly summer camps, the opportunities and exposure to academic and non-academic skills and knowledge are very different compared to affluent families who can. The families who cannot afford expensive out-of-school supports are often immigrants and people of color; which is why the opportunity gap and racial inequity exists in almost every county and city in the United States.  Race and poverty are not the same thing, but there are strong correlations in the world of education.  As Kevin Beverly, a Trustee of The Community Foundation reflected:

“Encouraging educators to open the aperture and look beyond the standard approaches is a key to helping our at-risk youth excel.” 

In order to make major strides and changes in education, we must take big leaps and major calculated risks to achieve greater change for children and address this inequity. We must do our work differently so that we can achieve different results. Incremental change is not enough; we must find ways to leapfrog. As Shirley Brandman, an Education Advocate in Montgomery County reflected:

“Our commitment to equity will only become real when we can invest in tangible strategies that catch students up and keep them on track academically.  Making more than a year's worth of progress in a year of schooling is key and the insights shared about how we can harness innovation to leapfrog or accelerate learning should inspire us to rededicate our efforts.” 

There were several examples of this idea shared at the President’s Forum last week.  An initiative called, LEMA (Literacy and Math Education Labs) has created board games that teach literacy, numeracy, teamwork and collaboration at the same time. Another example was Wonderschool in California who works with families, educators and childcare providers to helps individuals start their own businesses by assisting with licensing, marketing and everything in between. 

I have spent my entire career working in education and the field of out of school time.  I am excited for the opportunity to take my experiences and knowledge and put them to work in Montgomery County through the Children’s Opportunity Fund. It is our goal to help every child succeed.  The Fund focuses on supporting and scaling evidence-based initiatives that are meeting gaps in Montgomery County. 

Thank you to Rebecca Winthrop for sharing her knowledge and expertise.  Our community will use these learnings and others to help investigate opportunities to innovate and address inequity in education in Montgomery County, and across the region. 


Kimberly joined The Community Foundation in the summer of 2018.  Through her previous experience as a Program Officer with the Social Innovation Fund, she oversaw a portfolio of innovative interventions ranging from cradle to career.  Kimberly came to The Community Foundation well-versed in program development, nonprofit management and community development.  She is a passionate advocate for young people and believes it is critical that we provide equal opportunities to all.