Community Foundation to Manage Historic Health Equity Fund in Partnership with Committee appointed by Mayor Bowser and CareFirst

 
 

The Greater Washington Community Foundation is pleased to welcome the historic $95 million Health Equity Fund (HEF) to our philanthropic family. The purpose of this transformative fund is to improve the health outcomes and health equity of DC residents. One of the largest funds of any kind focused on community-based nonprofits that serve District residents, the HEF also is the largest in The Community Foundation’s nearly 50-year history.

“The unprecedented $95 million reinvestment in DC neighborhoods and nonprofits is a game changing opportunity,” said Greater Washington Community Foundation President and CEO Tonia Wellons. “As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic further widened and amplified pre-existing health inequities. The Health Equity Fund offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to catalyze systemic, lasting change to improve health outcomes and social social determinants of health.”

The funds will be dedicated not only to closing gaps in healthcare but addressing social determinants of health including education, employment, income, housing, transportation, food, environment, medical care, outdoor environment, and community safety issues that have a positive impact on healthcare outcomes.

The HEF was established last year as a result of the resolution of litigation among the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB); Group Hospitalization and Medical Services, Inc. (GHMSI) – a CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) affiliate – and DC Appleseed Center for Law & Justice. In establishing the HEF, the parties created an innovative and impactful way of addressing DC’s racial health gap.

The Community Foundation will oversee the administration of all aspects of the giving program including providing fund administration, financial management, investment oversight, data management, human resources administration, and compliance oversight, among other responsibilities.

Health Equity Committee

The Community Foundation looks forward to working with the newly created Health Equity Committee, which will oversee the HEF, as stipulated by the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of the District of Columbia and GHMSI. The seven-member committee consists of three members appointed by the Mayor (Lori Kaplan, Dr. Tollie Elliott, and Courtney R. Snowden); three appointed by GHMSI (Dr. Djinge Lindsay, MD, MPH; Shirley Marcus Allen; and Jeffrey Franco); and one selected jointly by GHMSI and the Mayor (Nnemdi Kamanu Elias, MD, MPH). For bios of the seven committee members, click here.

The Health Equity Committee, in partnership with The Community Foundation, will develop a grantmaking strategy, approve a slate of proposed grant recipients, monitor the HEF's investments, ensure compliance with HEF's governing policies, and review all financial and program evaluation reports.

Community Foundation’s Strategic Vision

The Community Foundation was independently selected to manage the fund because of our track record of working with individual donors, businesses, and local government to manage effective community investments and create tangible, lasting change in our community. HEF goals align with our strategic vision of advancing racial equity and economic justice, especially in our region’s historically underinvested neighborhoods. Racial equity is central to our ongoing work and 10-year strategic vision to close the racial wealth gap by eliminating the historic, racialized disparities in our community.

Grantmaking

In the coming months, the Health Equity Committee in partnership with The Community Foundation will gather community and stakeholder input, identify goals and priorities, develop a grantmaking strategy based on input and an analysis of available data on the nonprofit landscape, and prepare the first competitive RFP. According to the Memorandum of Understanding, all funds are to be disbursed within five years.

If you are interested in receiving more information about funding opportunities, please sign up for our newsletter.

We offer a warm welcome to the Health Equity Fund and Health Equity Committee members and look forward to working together to address disparities in health outcomes so that all DC residents can thrive.

Partnership to End Homelessness Awards Housing Justice Grants in Honor of Waldon Adams

The Partnership to End Homelessness (The Partnership) is pleased to announce $350,000 in grants awarded to seven organizations and coalitions leading systems change efforts in DC. Selected nonprofits receive $50,000 in funding to support work to end homelessness and increase the supply of deeply affordable housing.

Systems change is the intentional process of working to make population level change for whole groups of people by disrupting and dismantling the structures of cultural, social, and economic systems that perpetuate inequities. There are many ways to transform and disrupt systems. We know that in order to end homelessness, we must create systems that center people experiencing housing instability and homelessness and that prevent homelessness in the first place. To do that, we focus on efforts developed and led by people most directly impacted by homelessness and housing instability.

Our second round of Housing Justice Grants are made in memory of our Leadership Council member, Waldon Adams, a fierce advocate for ending homelessness who was tragically killed in 2021.

This grant opportunity provides flexible funding to the seven organizations below to support their advocacy, organizing, and other systems change efforts. This funding can be used for local and federal advocacy efforts, community organizing and education, or even infrastructure to increase the capacity of these organizations and coalitions. It can be used for staffing, messaging and communications, research, or meetings and events. We know these grantees share our goal of ending homelessness and increasing the supply of deeply affordable housing and it is important to us that we support them, as the experts in how to make that happen.

SYSTEMS CHANGE Community Partners

  • DC Jobs with Justice

  • DC Fiscal Policy Institute

  • Empower DC

  • Fair Budget Coalition

  • Miriam's Kitchen

  • ONE DC: Organizing Neighborhood Equity

  • The Washington Legal Clinic For The Homeless Inc

Last year, the Partnership awarded our first grants to advance housing justice. Together with tenants and people with lived experience, our community partners led efforts to secure:

  • historic budget investments resulting in Permanent Supportive Housing for over 2,300 households;

  • $50 million for public housing maintenance and repairs;

  • protections for neighbors experiencing homelessness during the pandemic;

  • investments in rental assistance to ensure housing instability during the pandemic; and

  • more just and equitable housing policies.

These grants were made possible thanks to generous partners and donors to the Partnership’s Grantmaking Fund.

Read on to learn more about a few of our partners, their work, and strategic priorities to transform and disrupt systems and advance housing justice. 

WORKING WITH TENANTS TO BRING ABOUT SYSTEMIC CHANGE

Empower DC’s work emphasizes the housing needs of DC’s lowest income residents, those earning 30% of the Area Median Income or below, including people with disabilities, the retired, low wage earners and people coming home from incarceration or experiencing homelessness. Empower DC received $50,000 to engage in community-led planning to expand deeply affordable housing and to preserve existing affordable rental housing, including public housing.  

While DC has affordable housing laws that other cities envy – like Inclusionary Zoning (IZ), and the Housing Production Trust Fund – in reality, these programs have not stemmed the tide of displacement or addressed the need for low- income housing. DC’s existing policies and practices systemically fail to address the need for housing at this lowest income level, targeting instead incomes at 60 or 80% of the Area Median Income when units are built with public subsidy from the Housing Trust Fund or set aside by developers through IZ.

Empower DC addresses this inequity by organizing with people who need deeply affordable housing, including public housing residents, to push for greater investment in and protections for low-income tenants. Using policy, budget, planning and even legal strategies, Empower DC centers the expertise of low- income Black and Brown DC residents with lived experience of housing instability, elevating their voices as visionaries and champions for their communities. For more information or to get involved in Empower DC’s work, go to www.empowerdc.org.

-          Parisa Norouzi, Executive Director, Empower DC

 

WORKING TOGETHER TO SECURE LIFE-SAVING HOUSING INVESTMENTS

Driven by the truth that housing ends homelessness, Miriam’s Kitchen and The Way Home Campaign community worked together to secure historic investments to end chronic homelessness in last year's budget. Now, Miriam’s Kitchen is working hard to ensure that this funding translates into life-saving housing for our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Miriam’s Kitchen received $50,000 to build capacity to push for resources, policies, and implementation that prevents and ends homelessness, and to enhance and expand The Way Home Campaign, a citywide movement to end chronic homelessness.

“Through our leadership of The Way Home Campaign, we continue to convene various stakeholders, including people with lived experience of homelessness, service providers, and advocates, to identify and advocate for policy solutions needed to quickly and effectively implement the over 2,300 new Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) vouchers available this year. Additionally, we, along with local and national partners, have spent much of the past year pushing back against Mayor Bowser’s harmful approach to homeless encampments and ensuring that our neighbors living outside are treated with respect and dignity.  

Mayor Bowser releases her budget proposal on March 16. This is a critical time to ensure that she hears from community members like you! Click here to urge Mayor Bowser to fully fund the recommendations laid out in Homeward DC 2.0, her strategic plan to end homelessness. To read our full budget recommendations and to join the over 7,000 individuals and 110 organizations pushing DC to end chronic homelessness, please visit www.thewayhomedc.org.”

-          Lara Pukatch, Chief Advocacy Officer, Miriam’s Kitchen

Historic Opportunities in the Fight to End Homelessness in DC

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

As the Mayor and City Council are considering the FY2023 budget for DC, we face a historic opportunity to end chronic homelessness in DC. Last year, the DC Budget made significant investments in Permanent Supportive Housing, a proven solution to end housing instability for individuals who have experienced homelessness for an extended period of time and who struggle with complex health challenges such as mental illness, addiction, physical disabilities, or other chronic conditions.

This year, the Partnership to End Homelessness is working with our nonprofit, government, and public sector partners to build on this progress and leverage both federal and local resources available to end homelessness and make even more investments in long-term solutions.

We know that our investments alone will never end homelessness and that public sector resources must be targeted to support our neighbors who are struggling with homelessness and housing instability. That is why we created the Partnership to End Homelessness – to bring together public and private sector around a shared strategy to ensure all our neighbors have a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home.

We hope you will consider joining us in this critical work. There are three immediate and exciting opportunities to help advance the work of the Partnership in 2022:

  1. Securing Public Sector Investments for housing and ending homelessness
    Last week, we sent a letter to Mayor Bowser asking her to use the revised 2022 budget and 2023 budget to continue to address housing challenges — specifically by expanding Permanent Supportive Housing, as well as Rental Assistance and Eviction Prevention.

    In addition to our own advocacy, we’re making our second round of housing justice grants to support our nonprofit partners leading budget advocacy and other essential systems change efforts. Last year their work secured historic investments, including almost 2,300 new vouchers for Permanent Supportive Housing. You can read more about those grants and how to get involved here.

    If you live or work in DC, we encourage you to get involved! Our elected officials need to hear from you. Tell them that increasing access to affordable housing and ending homelessness are a priority and that our future will be stronger if we do these things. Our partners at The Way Home Campaign have made it easy, click hear to send a letter now .

  2. Investing in our nonprofits to leverage federal resources to end homelessness
    DC has an opportunity to leverage up to $20+ million in annual federal resources for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) services in DC. This year, DC will launch a new Medicaid Benefit that will provide higher reimbursement rates for nonprofit providers and new and ongoing federal resources for ending homelessness in DC.

    In order to successfully leverage these resources, nonprofits will need to adopt new practices, quality control checks, and new or updated internal systems related to human resources, accounting, and compliance functions. We are working with our partners to raise critical funds to invest across the system to ensure all nonprofit partners, including smaller Black and Brown-led organizations, are ready to make this transition and leverage these new resources.

    Learn more in our recent blog post or support this work now by contributing to our Grantmaking Fund.


  3. Ensuring housing stability through rental assistance and eviction prevention

    One of the key roles that we, as philanthropy, can play is that of convener. In response to the devastating effects of the pandemic and economic crisis, for over a year now, The Partnership has been working with Urban Institute and The DC Bar Foundation to convene key partners – including local government, philanthropy, legal services, landlords, and housing counseling organizations – to prevent evictions and connect tenants to available rental assistance.

    We know that our Black and Brown neighbors have faced higher rates of unemployment and eviction during the pandemic With 21,000 DC residents currently unemployed, we cannot stop working to ensure tenants can stay in their homes. We will continue to advocate for additional resources for tenants and to work with our partners to develop new systems that support tenants and their landlords to increase housing stability.

We know that increasing housing stability and ending homelessness will pay off, in stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger future for this region. Research confirms that housing instability harms a child’s development and an adult’s ability to get and retain employment, and that providing housing stability creates better health and better futures for children, their families, and single adults.

This year presents an opportunity for DC. How will we respond? Ending homelessness will take everyone working together and doing their part. We hope you will join us.

The Partnership to End Homelessness works to ensure homelessness is rare, brief, and nonrecurring in Washington, DC. By joining together, we can increase the supply of deeply affordable housing, bolster our response system to help more people obtain and maintain stable housing, and ultimately end homelessness in DC

Letter to DC Mayor Muriel Bowser from the Partnership to End Homelessness Leadership Council

Dear Mayor Bowser:

We are writing on behalf of the Greater Washington Community Foundation and its Partnership to End Homelessness Leadership Council to thank you for your commitment to addressing homelessness in DC. As you work to finalize your budget proposal for fiscal year 2023, we ask you to take bold action to end homelessness and make substantial investments in housing that is affordable to DC households with extremely low incomes.

As you know, the Partnership to End Homelessness is a collective effort of private sector business leaders, philanthropists, and national and local nonprofits working to ensure homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring. We are committed to doing our part to end homelessness in DC. However, we know that we cannot do it alone. Public sector investment and commitment, aligned with private sector resources, is the only way to ensure that everyone in our community has the stability that housing provides.

The pandemic has emphasized how critical the role of housing stability is to everyone’s health and security. It has reminded us that far too many DC households are faced daily with housing instability and little or no financial cushion. And it has shown us what we can accomplish as a community when we commit to finding the resources to end homelessness.

As leaders in the business, philanthropic, and nonprofit sectors, we all want to live in a community that has worked to end homelessness, and we know that the District’s future will be stronger if we do. Ending homelessness and ensuring housing security will help children succeed in school, help workers be more present and productive, improve the overall health and well-being of residents, and reduce stresses on DC’s social safety net.

We are deeply appreciative that the budget for the current fiscal year took a major step toward ending homelessness, with funding to help thousands of people to move from homelessness to permanent affordable housing, and that you and the Council devoted a substantial amount of federal pandemic aid to address immediate housing security needs and create more long-term affordable housing opportunities. It is investments like these, sustained year after year, that will bring us to the place we all want: a District of Columbia where everyone has stable, secure, and decent housing that they can afford.

This is why we are asking you to use the revised 2022 budget and the 2023 budget to continue to address pre-pandemic as well as pandemic-driven housing challenges faced by so many, and to make continued progress toward ending homelessness and creating deeply affordable housing. We align with the recommendations of our community advocacy partners in calling on the District to use the Fiscal Year 2023 budget for bold action on our deepest inequities, especially homelessness and affordable housing for extremely-low income and very low income households.

Increased Rental Assistance and Eviction Prevention: The District has done an outstanding job of getting federal emergency rental assistance to those most at risk. Unfortunately, given the major lack of affordable housing, rising rents, inflation and ongoing unemployment, the need is so great that the District is running out of this resource. An estimated 40,000 DC residents remain at risk of eviction. We echo the concerns outlined in the letter submitted by DC Fiscal Policy Institute and 37 other organizations on January 27th, and urge you to invest:

  • Necessary resources – estimated to be $200 million in rental assistance and $20 million in utility assistance – through ERAP or other programs. We urge you to do this now, through a supplemental budget for FY2022 or other means to tap the $566 million FY2021 surplus and higher-than-expected revenues this year.

  • Substantial funding for rental assistance and emergency rental assistance in the FY2023 budget.

Expansion of Permanent Supportive Housing to end chronic homelessness: Even with the substantial investments in the FY2022 budget, under your new comprehensive plan, Homeward DC 2.0, we know that nearly 500 individuals and 260 families still face chronic homelessness. We urge you to implement your plan’s recommendation and invest:

  • $25.9 million in permanent supportive housing for 500 individuals and 260 families

Investments to make homelessness truly rare, brief and non-recurring: The challenge of homelessness is not static, meaning that we cannot house those currently facing homelessness and expect the problem to end. Homelessness is affected by the continued and significant loss of affordable housing and the relentless increase in rents throughout DC– including the increase this year for rent-controlled units. In order to prevent homelessness and the long-term impacts of homelessness on our neighbors and our communities, we urge you to invest:

  • $700,000 to prevent homelessness for 400 additional individuals through Project Reconnect

  • $6.3 million in well-targeted Rapid ReHousing, including high-quality case management, for single adults

  • $27.7 million in Targeted Affordable Housing for 1,040 households

  • $24.2 million toward ending youth homelessness

  • $1 million in workforce programming for homeless youth

  • $558,000 to create a mobile behavioral health team than can meet youth where they are

  • $1.8 million to continue the ReEntry Housing Pilot for Returning Citizens

  • $1 million to fund B24-0106, the “Fair Tenant Screening Act of 2021,” and B24-0229, the “Human Rights Enhancement Amendment Act of 2021”

  • $12.5 million to provide 65 units of transitional housing and 15 affordable housing units to survivors of domestic violence

Outreach and Other Services: While we work to ensure everyone has safe and stable housing, we must:

  • Continue to provide PEP-V, non-congregate shelter options for residents experiencing homelessness who are at high risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19

  • Fund robust street outreach, focused on housing

  • Invest $300,000 in additional capital funds to build two 24-hour, 7-day public restrooms

Preserve Public Housing, Expand Affordable Housing: We urge you to use the FY 2023 budget to make a substantial commitment to deeply affordable housing for households earning 0- 30 percent of the Median Family Income (MFI). Housing that is affordable to households with extremely low-income households is the only real long-term solution to ending homelessness. This includes:

  • At least $12.9 million in Local Rent Supplement Program vouchers to ensure that half of the Housing Production Trust Fund units will be affordable to people below 30 percent MFI, as required by law.

  • Maintain stable funding for the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) and strengthen transparency and reporting requirements to ensure the fund is meeting statutory affordability requirements.

  • $17.3 million for 800 Local Rent Supplement Tenant Vouchers, to assist those on the DC Housing Authority waitlist.

  • $60 million to repair and preserve public housing.

  • $20 million to preserve affordable housing though the Housing Preservation Fund.

  • $1.3 million to expand and provide tenant vouchers to 60 returning citizens .

In a community where over 85% of individuals experiencing homelessness are Black, addressing homelessness and investing in deeply affordable housing is a matter of racial equity and social justice. Our city and nation’s history of denying access to economic opportunity to Black people and those in other marginalized communities – relegating Black people largely to lower-paying occupations, denying access to federally guaranteed mortgages, allowing restrictive covenants and more – created the conditions we now see, where median Black household income is less than one-third median white household income and median wealth for Black households is less than one-eightieth the average white household wealth. The large majority of Black households are renters and thus subjected to the relentless increase in rents as the District develops, and most do not have the finances needed to move to homeownership, leading to displacement and/or homelessness. We have an obligation to reverse these conditions– especially as the Nation’s Capital.

Opening up opportunities to affordable housing and wealth building will pay off, in stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger future. Research confirms that housing instability harms a child’s development and an adult’s ability to get and retain employment, and that providing housing stability creates better health and better futures for children, their families, and single adults.

Thank you again for your leadership and commitment to ending homelessness in our city. We urge you to make 2023 the year that DC makes bold and significant investments to end homelessness and to increase the supply of deeply affordable housing.

Sincerely,

Tonia Wellons
President and CEO, Greater Washington Community Foundation
Partnership to End Homelessness, Leadership Council Co-Chair

David Roodberg
CEO and President, Homing Brothers
Partnership to End Homelessness, Leadership Council Co-Chair

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.

Philanthropy is a journey: Our Tips for Giving With Confidence

By Rebecca Rothey, Chief Philanthropy Officer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wish you a safe and connected holiday season.

Following up with our Community Action Award Winners

By Benton Murphy, outgoing Senior Advisor for Impact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View the Impact of Several Projects

Got You Covered Diaper Bag Project

Live It Learn It for Drew Elementary School

DC KinCare Alliance Relative Caregiver Community Board Outreach and Education Project

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

Investing in Nonprofit Capacity to Leverage Federal Funds to End Homelessness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opportunity for Impact

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

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

Advancing Racial Equity Goals

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

Advancing Public-Private Solutions to End Homelessness in DC

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

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

How Can You Help?

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

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

Changing Perceptions About Homelessness in DC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quarterly Update to the Community

Dear Community Foundation Fundholders,

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

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

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

Last quarter, our community impact work included:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,
Tonia Wellons
President and CEO

Recap from our 2021 Annual Meeting!

Sponsored By

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,
Tonia Wellons
President and CEO
Greater Washington Community Foundation

Community Foundation Statement on DC’s CARE Pilot Program

At the Greater Washington Community Foundation, we know that housing ends homelessness and we believe that everyone deserves a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home. We work closely with the DC government through our Partnership to End Homelessness and we share the goal of ensuring that homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring. We support the city’s efforts to expedite housing placement for people  experiencing homelessness and are encouraged by the number of residents living in encampments who are being offered housing through the city’s new “CARE pilot program.”

However, we share the concerns of our partners at The Way Home Campaign and join them in calling on the DC government to revisit the pilot program. We strongly oppose the creation of “no tent zones” and any criminalization of homelessness or poverty. In alignment with CDC guidance, we urge the city to suspend all encampment clearing while residents wait for housing placement. We know that clearings destroy communities, criminalize homelessness, and push people into different encampments or other hard to locate places, making it difficult to connect them with services, and potentially spreading the Delta variant of COVID-19. 

Addressing homelessness is a matter of racial equity and social justice. We cannot continue to punish individuals for the failures of systems and must instead apply this urgency and attention to connecting residents with housing using a person-centered approach that honors human dignity. 

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

 
Arts Forward Fund.png
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

1st Stage Theater

826DC

Actor's Center

Adventure Theatre

American Poetry Museum

American Youth Philharmonic

Anacostia Playhouse

Arlington Arts Center

Art Enables

Art of Noize

Art Works Now

Artivate

Arts Fairfax

Arts on the Block

ArtStream

Asian Pacific American Film

Atlas Performing Arts Center

Black Artists Of DC

BlackRock Center for the Arts

Capital Fringe

CapitalBop

Capitol Hill Arts Workshop

Capitol Hill Jazz Foundation

GB Youth Media

Church of the Epiphany

Ciesla Foundation

CityDance Viva School of Dance

Coalition For African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA)

Critical Exposure

D.C. Creative Writing Workshop

Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company

Dance Institute of Washington

Dancemakers

Dance Place

DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative

DC Independent Film Festival

DC Jazz Festival

DC Palestinian Film & Arts Festival

DC Youth Orchestra Program

Docs in Progress

East of the River Boys & Girls Steel Band

Educarte

Encore Stage & Studio

Foundation for the Advancement of Music and Education

Friends Of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Gala Hispanic Theatre

Girls Rock DC

Greater Reston Arts Center

Heritage Signature Chorale

IN Series

Inlight Magazine

Joe's Movement Emporium

Kalanidhi Dance

Life Pieces to Masterpieces

Live It Learn It

McLean Project for the Arts

Music for Life

New Orchestra of Washington

Northeast Performing Arts Group

One Common Unity

Oyé Palaver Hut

Pan American Symphony Orchestra

PEN Faulkner

Prince George's Arts and Humanities Council

Princess Mhoon Dance Institute

Project Create

Pyramid Atlantic

Ragbaby Exchange

Sandy Spring Museum

Shout Mouse Press

Sitar Arts Center

Smith Center for Healing and the Arts

Sole Defined

Split This Rock

Step Afrika!

The Essential Theatre

The MusicianShip

Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts

Transformer

UrbanArias

Washington Area Lawyers For the Arts

Washington Bach Consort

Washington Chorus

Washington DC International Film Festival

Washington Project For the Arts

Words Beats And Life

Young Artists of America

Young Playwrights Theater

Zora Neale Hurston Richard Wright Foundation

About Arts Forward Fund

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

Historic Investments and New Opportunities to End Homelessness

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In July 2021, the city released Homeward DC 2.0, the city’s updated comprehensive plan to end homelessness. The plan outlines lessons learned over the last five years, current needs, and strategies to help us achieve the vision that homelessness in DC will be rare, brief, and nonrecurring and that we will eliminate racial inequities in the homeless services system and create systemic fair treatment for all people.

In order to achieve this vision, the plan outlines roles for key stakeholders including the Partnership to End Homelessness. While federal and local government resources are instrumental in this work, there is also an essential role for private philanthropy including individuals, foundations, and corporations. The Partnership to End Homelessness was created to leverage private philanthropy and align with public resources and strategies to create more nimble, strategic, and sustained investments in the homeless services system.

We are excited that both our federal and local government partners have made substantial and unprecedented investments in this work. However, even with these investments there are gaps that public funding cannot fill. In order to take advantage of these historic public sector investments, we must align the private sector to ensure that we leverage these resources for the future. We have an opportunity this year to make huge strides in our efforts to end homelessness. Join us in ensuring that we take advantage of this moment in time and don’t let this opportunity pass. Contact Jennifer Olney or Silvana Straw to find out how you can get involved today.


Celebrating Historic Investments in Ending Homelessness

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This year, DC passed a budget with historic investments in housing justice. We are celebrating with our nonprofit advocacy partners who were instrumental in fighting for these investments that will end homelessness for 3,500 households including 2,370 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. In order to quickly turn these investments into housing for our neighbors, we are working with our public and private sector partners to ensure our homeless response system is able to respond to this growth and move people into housing and out of homelessness as quickly as possible.

For more information about this year’s budget and where some of our advocacy partners are focusing next, read our partner Washington Legal Clinic’s budget recap.


Eviction Prevention: Protecting Low-Income Renters

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Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the long-standing housing crisis and inequities in our country, and our right here in our Nation’s Capital. Thousands of tenants in the city are behind on rent and at imminent risk of eviction. It is estimated that 30,000 households are currently at risk of eviction. Both DC and the federal government have eviction moratoriums in place to protect tenants while they apply for available emergency rental assistance and other resources and supports. Unfortunately, those protections are already starting to phase out and evictions will resume.

The Community Foundation, along with the DC Bar Foundation, has been co-convening a group of key stakeholders including nonprofits, the courts, advocates, public officials, and landlords, to prevent immediate evictions and to create systems and policies that are more equitable and that ultimately lead to greater housing stability in DC.

We have also awarded a grant to Housing Counseling Services (HCS) to support a pilot community outreach program in Washington, DC with a priority on Wards 1, 4, 7 and 8. With this support, HCS will assist low-income tenants at risk of eviction in accessing emergency rental assistance and other services to maintain stable housing. HCS will partner with churches, schools, daycare centers, medical offices, and others to meet tenants where they live, learn, pray and play. HCS will also be present in the courts to help tenants apply for rental assistance and avoid evictions.


Partnership in Action: Preventing Evictions in Ivy City

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In our most recent blog post, Leadership Council Co-Chair, David Roodberg from Horning Brothers, talks about an innovative partnership with Empower DC, one of our grantee partners. Together, they are working to support tenants to access rental assistance and maintain stable housing.

“Evictions aren’t good for anyone. STAY DC provides a win-win opportunity for landlords and tenants.”

-- David Roodberg, CEO and President, Horning Brothers


About the Partnership to End Homelessness

The Partnership to End Homelessness, led by the Greater Washington Community Foundation and the District Government’s Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), brings together the public and private sectors to ensure homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring in DC. We believe that all DC residents deserve a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home.

By joining together, we will increase the supply of deeply affordable housing, help everyone find a home they can afford, and help more people access housing and exit homelessness more quickly.

Get Involved

Every action, whether large or small, can make a difference in ending homelessness. Visit EndHomelessnessDC.org to learn more.

This blog post is from the Partnership to End Homelessness newsletter. Sign up here to receive these quarterly updates.

Partnership in Action: Preventing Evictions in Ivy City

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Since the start of the pandemic, housing stability for tenants has been a focus for the Partnership to End Homelessness and for many of our Leadership Council and nonprofit partners. David Roodberg, co-chair of the Leadership Council and CEO and President at Horning Brothers, recently launched an exciting partnership with one of our grantees, EmpowerDC, aimed at making sure that tenants can access critical rental assistance and remain stably housed. We spoke recently with both David and Parisa Norouzi, Executive Director of Empower DC, about their work together.

How did this partnership start?

David: “We recognized early on in the COVID-19 crisis that our tenants would need support. We invested in a new position on our staff – a housing stability specialist – whose role is to help our tenants connect to resources. Recently, that’s included helping tenants with their applications to the STAY DC program for rental assistance. We’ve had a lot of success with this new position, but there are some tenants who are reluctant to work with staff members hired by a landlord. We knew we needed to find another way to reach that group to ensure everyone got the assistance they needed.”

Parisa: “Empower DC has a longstanding commitment to Ivy City –one of DC’s most historic Black neighborhoods. Our goal at Empower is zero evictions in Ivy City. I’ve worked with David in the past on other tenant issues, and I wanted to make sure his tenants were accessing STAY DC. I decided to reach out to him to see what we could do to help.”

David: “Evictions aren’t good for anyone. STAY DC provides a win-win opportunity for landlords and tenants.”

Parisa: “This is a very clear time when landlords and organizers should also have the same goals. It is important to take advantage of those moments when we have more in common than not, and to leverage our collective ability to make something positive happen. It was great to see a landlord who had already invested their own resources in helping tenants, and who was willing to work with us to do more.”

Your partnership to help tenants apply for rental assistance is a collaboration between property management staff, the Horning Brothers’ housing stability specialist, and Empower DC staff and volunteers. What roles do each of you play?

Parisa: “We take the lead on outreach to the tenants. We also offered up our own space – our Ivy City Clubhouse -- close to the property to meet with tenants and work on applications. We set up appointments for tenants in our space, where they could meet one-on-one with the Horning staff person to complete their application”

David: “We had done everything you can think of to let tenants know about STAY DC – letters, emails, phone calls, door-knocking – but having a nonprofit community-based organization involved was key to reaching tenants who were hesitant.”

Parisa: “When you get a notice from a landlord, your first thought won’t be ‘This is to help me,’ so communication from a third party helps. By collaborating with the landlord, who was able to share information about who needed the assistance, we were able to target our follow up to those tenants who were behind on the rent. Management also understands more about the actual application process and could provide a lot of the necessary information for the applications. Their staff also did a training for our volunteers so they could understand how to help people submit applications for non-Horning tenants as well.”

David: “Spending time on education about the program was important. Some of our tenants thought they didn’t qualify for STAY DC, but they did. By investing in communication and education, we were able to help more tenants apply for and receive more assistance.”

What would you say to others who are interested in setting up a similar partnership?

David: “You also want to make it very easy for tenants to access the assistance. STAY DC is working. The money is getting out to people. This is a great opportunity for landlords and tenants to be on the same side.”

Parisa: “I’d say that it is important to approach potential partners first in the spirit of collaboration and with an interest in creating an equal partnership. If others are interested in working together, I hope that these partnerships can extend beyond STAY DC. We have opportunities to continue these relationships to ensure that there is quality housing for everyone in our city.”


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Parisa Norouzi, Executive Director of Empower DC

Parisa Norouzi has over 20 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations and organizing communities.  Parisa co-founded the city-wide community organizing group Empower DC in 2003, an organization which works to build the confident self-advocacy and organized political power of low-moderate income DC residents with a focus on fighting the displacement of residents amid DC’s gentrification boom. 

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David Roodberg, CEO and President of Horning Brothers

David Roodberg is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the business including operations, development and strategic planning.

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

Deepening Our Impact: 8 Highlights from the Past Year

Along with the release of our annual report, we’re celebrating our most impactful stories from the past year--from helping launch the Black Voices for Black Justice DMV Fellowship, continuing our work to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, to advancing housing justice in partnership with Flock DC’s birdSEED Fund. Read on for stories of meaningful collaboration and coordination that helped make a difference in our community. 

Uniting for Change

We believe true change rises from strong alliances. We’re proud to share stories about how our community partnerships have helped make a difference.

 
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Introducing the Black Voices for Black Justice DMV Fellows

Launched last fall (2020) in partnership with the DC-based nonprofit GOODProjects, and with seed funding from Bridge Alliance Education Fund, the Black Voices for Black Justice DMV Fellowship supports activists, organizers, and leaders who are on the front lines of advancing social justice and racial equity. Each Fellow received a $30,000 grant to support their racial justice work in our region, and beyond. Meet these inspiring change-makers, and learn what fuels their fight for justice.

 

DC Cares Program: $5M Undocumented Workers Relief Package

Thousands of immigrants in Greater Washington were excluded from federal stimulus efforts due to their documentation status. Together with our partners at Events DC and the Executive Office of the Mayor, we launched the DC Cares Program in summer 2020, disbursing a total of $5 million in direct cash assistance to excluded workers experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. In January 2021, we launched Phase II of the program, providing over $8 million in relief funding.

 
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$1 Million Arts Forward Fund

In partnership with the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and eight other funders, we launched Arts Forward Fund to provide critical support to local arts and culture organizations impacted by COVID-19. In October 2020, we awarded over $1 million in grants to 43 arts organizations. Currently, we’re reviewing a second round of proposals, supported by a generous $1 million gift from MacKenzie Scott.

Investing for Impact 

Learn about some of our most impactful investments this year.

 
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Legacy Fund for Small Business Development

Seeded with a $1 million gift from a generous donor, the Legacy Fund for Small Business Development provides critically needed access to capital for small businesses in Prince George’s County. It’s part of our work in Prince George’s County’s to advance equity and economic mobility by eliminating social and economic disparities in the County. In November, we awarded relief funding to 173 small businesses in Prince George’s County to help minimize business closures and retain 650 jobs.

“Ninety-five percent of all businesses in [Prince George’s County] are small businesses and they contribute nearly half of all jobs in the county. Through the Legacy Fund, we hope to preserve the small business infrastructure, ensure job retention, drive economic development, and enable the transfer of wealth from one generation to the next, leaving a lasting legacy for families and Prince George’s County.” --Tonia Wellons, President and CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation.

 
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Fund for Children, Youth, and Families Awards $1.99 Million

At the end of last year, the Fund for Children, Youth, and Families (FFCYF)awarded nearly $2 million in grants to 49 nonprofits serving disadvantaged children, youth, and families. Local WDVM covered the announcement, highlighting the investment’s focus on closing the achievement gap, supporting children in foster care, and helping families experiencing homelessness.

Jana-Lynn Louis, Community Foundation program officer for FFCYF, said:  “It’s all about supporting where our region needs help the most and trying to fill in those gaps that often fall by the wayside.”

Community Connections

Oftentimes, it's our staff and partners who say it best. These guest posts highlight different voices and perspectives in our community on the issues that matter most.

 
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How to reconstruct an equitable future for our region

How can we reconstruct an equitable future for our region coming out of the COVID-19 crisis? In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, our CEO Tonia Wellons and Ursula Wright explore a new framework to respond to emerging needs, re-engage our community, and reconstruct and shape a new normal for this region.

 
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Flock DC: Down payment Grants for a more just future

BirdSEED Fund, launched in partnership with local real estate firm Flock DC, helps advance housing justice by providing down payment grants for first-time Black and Brown home buyers. In her guest-authored blog, Flock DC founder and CEO Lisa Wise shares her passion for justice and why she believes it’s crucial we work together to reimagine a more equitable future.

 
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Food for Montgomery: A Community-Wide Response to the Rise in Hunger

As our community’s need for food skyrocketed during 2020, our Montgomery County leaders, community stakeholders, and The Community Foundation teamed up to create Food for Montgomery. Anna Hargrave, Executive Director for Montgomery County, shares how this remarkable public-private partnership is helping prevent food insecurity in the County, and ensure no residents go hungry.

Hungry for other Community Foundation impact stories? Check out ‘A Year of Impact: Our Top 10 Stories of 2020,’ published as an annual wrap-up last December. 

Eviction Prevention: Working Across Sectors to Ensure an Equitable Recovery

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

Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the long-standing housing crisis and inequities in our country, and even right here in DC. Thousands of tenants in the city are behind on rent and at imminent risk of eviction. Currently, both DC and the federal government have eviction moratoriums in place to protect tenants while they apply for available resources and supports. Unfortunately, those protections are already starting to phase out and evictions in DC are set to resume in October.

The Community Foundation has a long history of supporting housing justice and working to end homelessness in DC. Addressing inequities and supporting our community is at the center of our mission and housing justice is a key component of our work through the Partnership to End Homelessness.

In 2020, the COVID-19 crisis led us to take swift action to address the growing concern for tenants falling behind on rent and at risk of losing their housing in the middle of a global health pandemic.

Even with federal and local eviction moratoriums in place, tenants faced mounting back rent and the severity of the situation continued to threaten the lives and livelihoods of our neighbors. In DC, tens of thousands of households fell behind on rent and we knew that many would be at risk of homelessness if they were evicted.  

In order to prevent a large wave of evictions and increases in homelessness, we convened a group of key partners, including the DC Bar Foundation, for weekly discussions to identify strategic opportunities for private sector investments amid a rapidly changing environment. This group met regularly with our government partners and other nonprofit partners working on the ground to coordinate our learning and response strategies.

From the beginning, our work has focused on creating more equitable outcomes for our Black and Latinx neighbors disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, the economic crisis, and the ongoing housing crisis in the city. Even before the pandemic, 87% of extremely low-income, severely rent-burdened households in DC were headed by a person of color. According to a 2021 report by the Urban Institute, the risk of evictions is greater for Black, Indigenous, and Latinx residents. Almost one in two Hispanic/Latinx renters and more than one in four Black renters were worried about paying next month’s rent.

Through our conversations with partners and by examining new research and data, we identified two key areas for private sector investment that would lead to more equitable access to rental assistance resources.

  1. Support outreach to target communities most at risk of eviction. Using the Urban Institute Emergency Rental Assistance Prioritization Tool we identified areas of the city that had high risk of housing instability; high impact from COVID-19; and a high share of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx renters, extremely low-income renter households, households receiving public assistance, and people born outside of the US. 

  2. Support trusted partners to answer questions and provide support. Many tenants have questions and need assistance to complete the rental assistance application for government resources. Our partners on the ground are critical to the effort to support tenants and share essential information about emergency rental assistance, legal services, and other available resources.

In response, we invested in Housing Counseling Services (HCS) to help tenants apply for rental assistance by meeting them where they live, learn, pray, and play. At these key locations, HCS is providing outreach and assistance to households behind on rent and most at risk of eviction and homelessness. HCS is also providing support in court to help tenants who face evictions apply for assistance.

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We know that our resources are limited and that in order to address the eviction crisis and prevent homelessness, we need everyone working together to create long-term solutions. In June 2021, we were invited to participate in a White House Eviction Prevention Summit as the philanthropic representative from DC. At that summit, we heard Matthew Desmond talk about the devastating impact of evictions and successful diversion efforts across the country. We also heard from leaders in the federal government who were committed to working with communities to help prevent evictions. After meeting with the DC delegation and discussing local opportunities, we agreed to continue convening the group along with our partners at the DC Bar Foundation.

Since the White House Summit, the members of the DC delegation have been meeting weekly to discuss challenges and identify opportunities. This group is comprised of over 65 representatives from nonprofits, tenant advocates, local government agencies, the courts, landlords/housing providers, and philanthropy. Our immediate goal is to prevent evictions by increasing rental assistance to target at risk households and to strengthen legal supports, services, and mediation with the court system.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to support a more equitable recovery and to increase housing stability given the availability of federal resources and this strong partnership with federal government. We have the right people around the table and know that in addition to preventing the immediate eviction crisis, we also have an opportunity to create systems and policies that are more equitable and that ultimately lead to greater housing stability in DC.

If you are interested in this work, please contact Jennifer Olney at jolney@thecommunityfoundation.org or Silvana Straw at sstraw@thecommunityfoundation.org.