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.

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.

Recap from our 2021 Annual Meeting!

Sponsored By

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tonia Wellons
President and CEO
Greater Washington Community Foundation

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.


Read our Annual Report

Community Foundation to Honor Community Champions

Hundreds will gather virtually to celebrate the individual and collective efforts to address the most pressing needs of our community

In celebration of what makes the Greater Washington region truly remarkable, the Greater Washington Community Foundation has announced the honorees for its upcoming Celebration of Community Champions on Thursday, May 20, 2021. 

The virtual Celebration will uplift and honor several local Heroes for their exceptional efforts to help our community navigate the pandemic and economic crisis.

CareFirst workers delivering PPE.

CareFirst workers delivering PPE.

  • Corporate Hero: CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
    For committing to distributing 1.6 million units of PPE at no-cost to nonprofit health centers and independent providers on the frontlines of the pandemic.

  • Community Hero: Feed the Fight
    A community-driven, volunteer effort with a dual mission to support local restaurants and provide meals to healthcare and frontline workers.

Food for Montgomery volunteers distributing food at a food distribution site.

Food for Montgomery volunteers distributing food at a food distribution site.

  • Collaborative Hero: Food for Montgomery
    A 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.

  • Civic Heroes
    For demonstrating outstanding civic leadership and service dedicated to improving the lives of Prince George’s County residents.

    • Dr. Monica Goldson, CEO, Prince George’s County Public Schools

    • Steve Proctor, President and CEO, G.S. Proctor & Associates, Inc.

    • Dr. Alvin Thornton, former chairman, Prince George’s County Board of Education

    • Senator Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., in memoriam

While 2020 was an incredibly challenging year, the generosity and commitment of our community has been nothing short of incredible. Since the early days of this crisis, our community has stepped up to provide much needed support and resources to help our neighbors facing hardship due to COVID-19. 

The Community Foundation was proud to partner with and serve this community during its time of need. Since March 2020, The Community Foundation has mobilized over $10.5 million in community support to help families put food on the table, keep a roof over their heads, access medical care, find or maintain a job, and fully participate in remote learning.

The Celebration of Community Champions will honor the generosity of our community and help The Community Foundation continue to raise vital support to respond to this ongoing crisis and work toward an equitable recovery for our region.   

“Small actions can add up to make our community a better place,” said Tonia Wellons, President and CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. “Over the past year, our community has come together to respond to the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic, economic crisis, and racial reckoning. This virtual Celebration will recognize and honor the people and partners who stepped up to meet these challenges with equally unprecedented generosity, creativity, and compassion.”

 The Celebration will feature special performances from local artists and arts organizations supported by the Arts Forward Fund and representing a range of creative expression including music, theater, visual arts, and dance. The Arts Forward Fund is a funder collaborative at The Community Foundation which provided $1 million in emergency support to help struggling arts organizations, especially nonprofits led by and serving BIPOC communities in our region. 

Celebration of Community Champions

Invite Card_20th_F.png

On Thursday, May 20 at 6 p.m., join us for an hour of inspiration and celebration of our collective efforts and impact. As a champion for your community, we want to uplift you and the everyday heroes - including the donors, nonprofit partners, corporate supporters, and local government advisors - who stepped up to help our community navigate this crisis.

This virtual Celebration will share the incredible stories of neighbors helping neighbors that have continued to inspire us. You will also enjoy special performances from local artists and arts organizations, supported by the Arts Forward Fund, representing a range of creative expression including music, theater, visual arts, and dance.

Save the date for May 20 to recognize and honor our community of changemakers.

Registration opens in early April and is free to our community (though donations are appreciated!).

Quarterly Update to the Community

Dear friends of The Community Foundation,

I hope this finds you enjoying a happy and healthy start to your new year. Thanks to the continued care for our community, last quarter our community of givers awarded more than $23+ million in grants to organizations serving our region and beyond.

The Community Foundation remains focused on meeting our community’s evolving needs through leading critical community impact initiatives. Last quarter, our activities included:

  • Issuing an additional $2 million in grants from the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, for a total of $10 million to address the public health and economic crisis.

  • Funding equity hub scholarships through the Children’s Opportunity Fund for low-income families in Montgomery County to receive childcare and remote learning support in a safe environment.

  • In partnership with FSC First, distributing more than $1 million in emergency relief to support 173 small businesses in Prince George’s County through the Legacy Fund.

  • Celebrating the Power of Our Community with virtual convenings reflecting on the heart and spirit of our communities in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

  • Welcoming experts on racial equity and community building to our board and staff, including new Trustee Dr. Rashawn Ray and new Managing Director of Community Investment Ronnie Galvin.

Our collective efforts have been recognized with several notable awards. I was proud to represent all of you when accepting the Washington Business Journal’s Nonprofit Leader of the Year award and I was humbled to be named a Hero of the Crisis by Washingtonian Magazine. And, our partnership with CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield received the Washington Business Journal's 2020 Citizenship Award for our efforts to distribute thousands of PPE units to frontline workers at qualified health clinics across the region.

As our community continues to recover from this crisis, we are working to build a more equitable and resilient future for our region. With this in mind, we have embarked on a strategic planning process to identify ways to develop a fresh roadmap for the organization and how we serve this community.

Over the next several months, we will examine and fine-tune our organizational processes to serve our fundholders and our community with strengthened excellence and efficiency. We will also get crystal clear about our strategy, how to best center racial equity, and what it means to be a regional organization with the need for local, jurisdictional, and community nuance. And we will look at how we partner with our donors and fundholders so that we can fully and thoughtfully leverage your philanthropic passions into lasting community impact. 

I look forward to sharing an update with you soon. Thank you for being our partner in strengthening our communities now and for the future.

Tonia Wellons
President and CEO

COVID-19 Partners Advance Food Security and Equity in Region

More than 15% of residents in our region struggle with food insecurity—and we anticipate this only getting worse as the cold winter months continue. In response to this emergency community need, we recently distributed an additional $2.04 million in phase 3 grants from our COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, helping support local nonprofits that are providing food assistance, as well as childcare, eviction prevention, and unemployment support.

Our nonprofit partners have stepped up to feed our community, and we are excited to share a few of their stories. Read on for more.

Community Outreach and Development CDC

Community Outreach and Development CDC, a Prince George’s County-based nonprofit, works to provide quality services so residents can become self-sufficient, productive members of our community. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has expanded their food assistance program to deliver to over 1,000 households who are homebound, including seniors and those who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. 

“Elderly individuals called our agency thanking us for our delivery service, especially during a time when persons were anxious about being in the public and they had underlying medical conditions. One family called stating that they tested positive for COVID-19 and had no groceries. We were able to assist that family with two weeks' worth of food while going through isolation, and provided a tub of cleaning products to help with disinfecting their home.”  -Community Outreach and Development CDC staff member

 In the below, short impact video, Corae Young, Assistant Director of Community Outreach and Development, shares more of their story.

Dreaming Out Loud

Since the onset of COVID-19, Dreaming Out Loud (DOL) quickly pivoted their program model to include meal preparation for vulnerable populations, as well as supporting mutual aid programs for residents across Wards 1, 7, and 8. This directly supports this local nonprofit’s mission—creating economic opportunities for the DC metro region’s marginalized communities through building a healthy, equitable food system.

With support from The Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, DOL provided logistics and coordination support to provide more than 200,000 meals. And, they procured produce from Black BIPOC farmers, and helped maintain community-based hires to pack and distribute food. In total, their direct COVID-19 food support has served an average of 2,000 people per week to DC residents.

“This grant allowed DOL to add capacity to support food aid to thousands of DC residents,” said Christopher Bradshaw, Executive Director. 

“It was very important the way that the food aid resources were deployed. They supported Black food makers and workers and farmers, hiring from within the community – while reaching vulnerable residents with healthy, delicious food. This is in line with our mission of creating economic opportunities within marginalized communities, while building a health equitable food system.” 

Institute for Public Health Innovation

The Institute for Public Health Innovation is focused on improving the public’s health and well-being, across Northern Virginia, Maryland, and DC. And with our region’s current food security crisis, that includes providing urgent food assistance to those in need. In response to COVID-19, the Institute has:

  • Provided grant writing and development support for food assistance providers

  • Developed an extensive COVID-19 resource hub for food access on their website

  • Developed a partnership with La Clinica Del Pueblo that allows us to refer requests for food assistance support form Spanish speaking residents to support staff at the organization

  • Acted as a liaison between donors, food providers, and Council members to help coordinate large donations

…among many others. In partnership with World Central Kitchen and National Philanthropies, the Institute was able to provide county partners with over 10,000 meals served weekly from April to June, and 8,000 weekly for the months of July and August.

“We were able to leverage our deep relationships with food and farm stakeholders, regional organizations, and county agencies to lead the County’s COVID-19 emergency food response. Support from the Greater Washington Community Foundation enabled us to quickly build staffing capacity and launch new initiatives,” said Sydney Daigle, Food Equity Council Director. 

“The programs we have launched during our grant period will support residents during the pandemic and during our County's recovery.” 

Partnership to End Homelessness Update: A Year in Review

Partnership to End Homelessness Orgs.png

This year, our work to end homelessness in DC has been more critical than ever, as our neighbors without housing were at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, on top of the risks people experiencing homelessness face every day. Throughout 2020, and always, our focus has been on working with our partners to look at the efforts happening across the city and to identify strategic opportunities for investment.

So, this holiday season, as we reflect on our first full calendar year of the Partnership to End Homelessness, we want to say thank you. Thank you to our donors who trusted us to stay informed and to make strategic investments that will result in fewer people experiencing homelessness and more people maintaining safe and affordable housing. Thank you to our nonprofit partners on the frontlines working to make sure our neighbors have food, shelter, medical care, and other basic necessities, in such a scary and uncertain time. And finally, thank you to our government partners who are working tirelessly to respond and direct resources where they are needed most.

Volunteers for Church of the Epiphany, a COVID-19 Response Fund partner, hand out food and supplies topeople experiencing homelessness

Volunteers for Church of the Epiphany, a COVID-19 Response Fund partner, hand out food and supplies topeople experiencing homelessness

a year in review

With your help, this year we have provided over $1.25 million in grants to organizations supporting individuals and families experiencing homelessness and housing instability during the pandemic. These grants included COVID-19 response partners Mi Casa Inc., which provides long-term support and critical housing resources; the Church of the Epiphany, which provides food to people experiencing homelessness in the community; and Bethesda Cares, which provides case management and counseling services. You can learn more about these partners and others here.

In addition to our grantmaking, since 2019 we have supported the development and preservation of over 530 affordable homes through our partnership with Enterprise Community Loan Fund. These investments will create long-term housing options for our neighbors and help to preserve and increase the supply of deeply affordable housing in DC.

Together, we have continued to invest in the strength of our system and helped to provide our neighbors without housing access to healthy meals and medical care when they needed it most. Even in uncertain times, we remain committed to supporting the creation of processes and systems that will help people exit homelessness more quickly or avoid homelessness altogether.

As we head into the new year, we know that tens of thousands of our neighbors are behind on rent and at risk of eviction. We know we must continue our emergency response, while also investing in long-term solutions and systems change that will mean less people experiencing homelessness and a more equitable response for those that do.

COVID-19 Response Fund partner Mi Casa Inc. works with Girard House Co-op to preserve affordable housing

COVID-19 Response Fund partner Mi Casa Inc. works with Girard House Co-op to preserve affordable housing

Ways to join us

Next year, keep an eye out as we ramp up our advocacy work and continue to coordinate with our public and private sector partners. As Congress appears to be moving forward on a new COVID-19 relief package, join us in sending a message to your Members of Congress to let them know that now, more than ever, we must make investments that ensure everyone has housing where they can isolate to stay healthy, continue their education, and work to address other needs.

We hope this year, in addition to supporting the amazing frontline providers in our community, we can count on you to support our work as we continue to identify strategic investments to ensure everyone has safe and stable housing.

So once again, thank you. Thank you for all you have done this year and for joining us in our efforts to make sure that no one in DC experiences homelessness and that everyone has housing they can afford.

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.

A Year of Impact: Top 10 Stories of 2020

#1: Tonia Wellons Named Hero of the Crisis, Nonprofit Leader of the Year

It’s been a busy year for Community Foundation staff—especially for Tonia Wellons, who was named permanent President and CEO just weeks after the pandemic hit. Tonia was recently named Washington Business Journal’s 2020 Nonprofit Leader of the Year for her role and leadership in our region’s COVID-19 Response efforts; and “Hero of the Crisis” from Washingtonian Magazine. We are so proud of Tonia, and the incredible leadership she’s provided throughout this crisis. 

#2: COVID Impact Stories: Bringing Partner Voices to Life 

This special video highlights our COVID-19 nonprofit partners’ impact —and thanks donors for their incredible generosity and support throughout this crisis. 

Highlights are pulled from our individual, 2-minute COVID impact story videos, including local organizations like Black Swan, Generation Hope and Montgomery Hospice. Click here to access a full list of videos—and hear more of our nonprofit partner’s stories first-hand. 

 #3 Your Voices Matters: VoicesDMV On the Table Conversations

This WDVM segment highlights how VoicesDMV On the Table conversations brought together residents throughout the DMV area to talk about ideas for improving their communities.

On October 1, we hosted our inaugural VoicesDMV On the Table conversations, bringing together hundreds of residents from across the region for small-group conversations, remotely. Groups discussed and reimagined the future of our community, offering meaningful, action-oriented perspective on how to improve the lives of our neighbors in the DMV. Read more from Benton Murphy, Senior Advisor for Impact, who led the initiative.

#4: Arts Forward Fund Announces $1 Million in Grants to Local Arts Groups Impacted by COVID-19

This fall, together with the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and 16 other foundations and individual donors, we launched the Arts Forward Fund, an initiative to help local arts and culture organizations weather the impact of COVID-19. We were so excited to announce $1 million in grants from the fund, helping arts and culture nonprofits make essential shifts needed to sustain their work—and respond to the national movement for racial justice. 

 #5: Back to School Means Facing the Digital Divide


As remote learning continues, schools still don’t have enough devices for every student, and too many homes in DC lack access to high-speed internet. Together with the DC Public Education Fund and Education Forward DC, we established the DC Education Equity Fund, which has provided 4,000+ students with internet access. and 3,000+ students with personal devices. Read more in “Back to School Means Facing the Digital Divide,” by our partner Erin Sheehy of Education Forward DC. 

#6: #MakeADifference Mondays

This bi-weekly blog series features our COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund partners’ stories, grouped by funding priority: housing and homelessness, medical care and access, education and youth, domestic and community violence, and workforce and small business. Take our #MakeADifference Monday: Housing and Homelessness blog, for example, which includes a feature on Mi-Casa, Inc.:

Through its Emergency Rental Assistance and Tenant-Based Rental Assistance programs, [Mi Casa] helped more than 15 residents access critical housing resources. More than 400 households received virtual trainings around financial education, food banks, unemployment benefits, and the financial effects of the pandemic.

Read our blog for a full list of our #MakeADifference Monday posts, sharing the difference your support has made for our community.

#7: How to Reconstruct an Equitable Future for Our Region

In this opinion piece for the Washington Post, our President and CEO Tonia Wellons and Ursula Wright, Managing Director for FSG, explore a new framework for reconstructing a more equitable future for our region. In the article, they refer to our country’s current situation as a “trifecta of crises” that threatens our nation’s public health, economic security, and democracy. 

Though this pandemic is new, racism and economic injustice are not. The pandemic has served to further reveal preexisting inequities in housing, education, health care, food security, policing and criminal justice, income and employment.

 #8: Celebrating Three Leadership Legacies


Richard Bynum, board member and President of PNC in Greater Washington and Virginia, was honored by the Washington Business Journal with the Minority Business Leader Award—an honor that coincided with two other major board member milestones. Dr. Charlene Dukes, Secretary of our Board, retired as President of Prince George’s Community College after 13 years of service. And Artis Hampshire-Cowan, Vice Chair of our Board, was honored by Leadership Greater Washington as the 2020 Leader of the Year.

Read more about their achievements and success stories. 

#9: Legacy Fund Supports Small Businesses in Prince George’s County

This fall, we were proud to launch The Legacy Fund for Small Business Development, seeded with a $1 million gift directed by Sam Brin and support from Meridiam, to provide critically needed access to capital for small businesses in Prince George’s County—one of the hardest hit groups in the County. We have disseminated $1 million in relief funds to 173 small Prince George’s County small businesses, helping them minimize vulnerability to closure and enabling them to thrive. 

#10: Celebrating the Power of Our Community

It’s been challenging year, but our community stepped up in amazing, awe-inspiring ways. Our community recently came together to celebrate these efforts at the Power of Our Community, Montgomery County and Power of Our Community, Prince George’s County, two virtual convenings that applauded the cooperative spirit of these communities and the collective impact of our work.

Read our Power of Our Community recap to watch the event recordings and view our key-takeaways and impact video updates.

Fund for Children, Youth And Families Awards $1.99 Million to Greater Washington Region Nonprofits

The Fund for Children, Youth, and Families (FFCYF) at the Greater Washington Community Foundation is pleased to announce $1.99 million in grants to 49 nonprofit organizations serving disadvantaged children, youth, and families across the Greater Washington region. The organizations will receive grants of up to $50,000 for project/program support or general operating support.

These grants support organizations that are:

  • Helping families experiencing homelessness, and those participating in housing-based service programs

  • Closing the achievement gap for students from various racial and ethnic backgrounds

  • Closing the achievement gap between low-income and high-income families by investing in early childhood education, academic achievement for school-aged children, and college preparation and career training

  • Supporting children in the foster care system by promoting permanency and helping youth leaving the system achieve self-sufficiency

Watch coverage of our FFCYF grants in this Local WDVM segment

Watch coverage of our FFCYF grants in this Local WDVM segment


Take the Wesley Housing Development Corporation, for instance, awarded funding to help low-income households avoid eviction. The grant will help 139 households in DC to maintain their housing. Of these households, nearly 50 residents will participate in one-on-one career coaching to attain unemployment benefits or re-enter the workforce. And, they will receive material assistance, such as grocery store gift cards, hygiene items, and youth “Study & Snack Packs,” at no additional cost.

Or, CollegeTracks, a Montgomery County nonprofit that that helps prepare high school students for higher education. Our grant will help fund their College Access Program, focusing on college admissions and counseling. Of the 784 students who were enrolled in the program in Spring 2020, nearly 630 will enroll in college within a year of their high school graduation.

Our grant to Prince George’s Child Resource Center will provide child development and parent/child learning activities for 95 participants, with the goal of improved language and cognitive abilities. Within one year, we also anticipate participating parents to demonstrate an improved understanding of nurturing parenting techniques.

These are just a couple organizations and projects that we’re proud to support. Below, read on for a full list of our FFCYF grantees and their projects.

  • Adoption Together
    To host informational meetings on foster care and adoption with 250 prospective families

  • AHC, Inc.
    To support the development of literacy and social engagement skills for 112 students in its afterschool program

  • Aspire Afterschool Learning
    To support 80 children in its LearningROCKS! afterschool program

  • Center for Adoption Support and Education
    To provide therapy sessions for 33 children who are moving from the foster care system into permanent, loving families

  • Central American Resource Center
    To provide housing counseling services to help 50 participants maintain stable housing

  • Children’s Law Center
    To provide legal support and other service to help children grow up in permanent, stable, loving families

  • Collaborative Solutions for Communities
    To help 12 families transition to permanent housing

  • CollegeTracks
    To help almost 800 high school seniors enroll in college or vocational programs

  • Community of Hope
    To help 14 families in remain stably housed or transition to another positive housing situation

  • Cornerstones
    To help 25 families move into stable, permanent housing

  • Court Appointed Special Advocate - Montgomery County, MD
    To recruit and train 100 additional CASA volunteers

  • Court Appointed Special Advocate - Prince George's County, MD
    To increase capacity for its Transitioning Youth program

  • Court Appointed Special Advocates – Fairfax County, VA
    To provide the services of a CASA volunteer to 292 children

  • DC Bilingual Public Charter School
    To enroll 34 children in PK-3

  • DC Volunteer Lawyers Project
    To train 38 volunteer lawyers to offer 140 victims legal and/or advocacy assistance

  • District Alliance for Safe Housing
    To assist families through its Cornerstone Program, Empowerment Project and Survivor Resilience Fund

  • District of Columbia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice
    To improve the capacity of the District's 2,300 early childhood educators to identify children at risk for developmental disabilities

  • Doorways for Women & Families
    To provide safe housing, life skills and employment services to 30 households experiencing homelessness

  • Edgewood Brookland Family Support Collaborative
    To help 80 families and individuals obtain or retain stable housing

  • Family and Youth Initiative
    To match four teens with an adoptive family

  • Friends of the National Arboretum
    To provide career awareness workshops to youth from low-income communities

  • Generation Hope
    To offer college readiness workshops, application and enrollment services, and ongoing support throughout college for 170 teen parents

  • Good Shepherd Housing & Family Services, Inc.
    To place 90 vulnerable and homeless participant families in affordable housing

  • Healthy Babies Project
    To help pregnant/parenting youth find stable housing and create educational or job readiness plans

  • Homeless Children's Playtime Project
    To increase the number of advocacy coalition partners and expand support services for children in families experiencing homelessness

  • Homestretch
    To provide debt and financial services and help four homeless adults transition to stable housing

  • Hope House
    To provide college preparation services to high school students and ongoing support to students while in college

  • Housing Up
    To help 686 families obtain and/or maintain stable housing

  • Identity, Inc.
    To help 50 students demonstrate improvement or achieve their grade-level target in key literacy skills

  • International Rescue Committee
    To help 70 refugees increase their incomes through public benefits and securing entry-level jobs

  • Legal Aid Justice Center
    To provide housing-related legal services to more than 300 households

  • Main Street Child Development Center
    To help children achieve or make progress toward school readiness goals

  • Mental Health Association of Frederick County
    To close 15 cases and place foster children in permanent homes

  • Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless
    To help 126 families maintain stable, permanent housing through its Partnership for Permanent Housing (PPH) program

  • Neighborhood Legal Services Program of The District of Columbia
    To provide low-income DC residents and homeless families with legal and housing services

  • Northern Virginia Family Service
    To help 130 households transition from homelessness into temporary housing or from temporary into permanent housing

  • Prince George's Child Resource Center
    To provide child development and parent/child learning activities that improve language and cognitive abilities for 95 participants

  • Reach Education
    To help high school and elementary students develop and grow their literacy skills

  • Rising for Justice
    To help 1,500 tenants and their families avoid eviction

  • Sasha Bruce Youthwork
    To support homeless youth and runaways with housing and family strengthening services

  • Stop Child Abuse Now of Northern Virginia
    To help 75 children served by the CASA program achieve permanency in their family placements

  • Shelter House
    To help 19 families achieve housing, public benefits and income stability through its RISE program

  • Stepping Stones Shelter
    To help 30 families move into stable housing and increase their income

  • Survivors and Advocates for Empowerment (DC SAFE)
    To assist 300 participants in successfully moving to safe transitional or permanent housing

  • The Arc Prince George's County
    To support more than 40 participants with training and employment services through its Project SEARCH and Ready@21 programs

  • The Barker Adoption Foundation
    To provide clients with lifelong services and advocate for ethical, respectful and child-centered adoption practices

  • The Platform of Hope
    To help 60 low-income families develop life goals, increase their resource networks and participate in programs that help achieve their goals

  • Voices for Virginia's Children
    To collect and distribute data-driven information to policy makers and support 1,000 children in the foster care system

  • Wesley Housing Development Corporation
    To help 139 low-income households avoid eviction and maintain housing

About the Fund for Children, Youth And Families

The Fund for Children, Youth and Families (FFCYF) was established to invest in the betterment of underserved children, youth, and families across the greater Washington region - specifically, to invest in organizations achieving significant impact providing services and programming across the following program areas: Stable Homes Stable Families, Foster Care and Adoption, and Academic and Career Success. Through its grantmaking, the fund supports effective organizations working to make the community healthy and stable. Please visit www.fund4cyf.org for more information.

Deciding which charity to support doesn’t have to be hard. These tips will help.

Giving Tuesday is a global movement that’s more important now than ever - and every act of generosity counts.

Not sure where to begin? In her interview with The Washington Post, Anna Hargrave, Executive Director for our Montgomery County office, offers giving tips to get you started - beginning with what moves you.

Tonia Wellons Named Nonprofit Leader of the Year by Washington Business Journal

Dear Friends of The Community Foundation,

Photo by EMAN MOHAMMED/WBJ Courtesy of Washington Business Journal

Courtesy of Washington Business Journal

What a year it has been! In light of the ongoing crisis and continuing cycle of bad news, I wanted to share the exciting news that Tonia Wellons, our fearless CEO, has been named Nonprofit Leader of the Year by The Washington Business Journal.

Tonia could not have taken over as The Community Foundation's permanent President and CEO at a tougher time. Tonia has proven to be the exact right leader for this moment and for our community. Under Tonia’s leadership and with the tireless work of our amazing staff, together with the generosity of all of you and many others in our community, we have raised over $10 million to date for our COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.

As we continue to respond to the ongoing crisis and move forward with other critical initiatives, I hope you will join me in congratulating Tonia by making a gift to support The Community Foundation's work.

Congratulations to Tonia for this well-deserved recognition of your hard work!

Katharine Weymouth
Chair, Board of Trustees
Greater Washington Community Foundation

Magnifying Our Power for Change

By Karla Bruce, Chief Equity Officer for Fairfax County

Nationally and locally, there has been a growing understanding of the role of federal, state, and local government in creating and maintaining inequity—specifically racial inequity—through policy and practice. While overtly discriminatory acts based on race are now illegal, the effects of policies from previous generations, often considered “race neutral,” that regulated features of communities, including who could live where and how wealth could be built, still linger. 

Reports from the Urban Institute, and the Northern Virginia Health Foundation have documented this variance in opportunity and vulnerability within Fairfax County and across the region. The Equitable Growth Profile, produced for Fairfax County by PolicyLink in 2015, established that people of color are driving Fairfax County’s population growth, and their ability to participate and thrive is central to the county’s continued economic success. 

Adopting an Equity Lens

Fairfax County, as a local government and a community of committed service providers, has exerted considerable effort and resources to meet the basic needs of our most vulnerable residents, yet our work has not produced improvements in life outcomes at the scale desired.  The efforts, while well-intended, have focused primarily on the delivery of programs and services to individuals and families, often missing the root causes of these differences in outcomes.  

Through an “equity lens” however, the focus is shifting from centering on addressing perceived "lack” in people, to tackling the situations and conditions that are driving the inequities people face.

One Fairfax

November 2020 marks three years since the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and School Board adopted the One Fairfax Policy, committing the county government and Fairfax County Public Schools to intentionally consider equity when making policies and delivering programs and services.

We are now gaining a better understanding of how opportunity varies, depending on who you are and where you live in the county. Our Countywide Strategic Plan is connecting our jurisdiction’s success to our ability to address the structural barriers to opportunity that exist—and build the productive capacities of all neighborhoods and residents. The plan is grounded in the concepts of Targeted Universalism and building Communities of Opportunity, which abandon a one-size-fits-all policy formula, in favor of an approach that is more place and population focused. 

Ultimately, inequities must be challenged and dismantled through the collective action of government and all aspects of community. The transformative institutional work happening inside government is informed, enhanced, and emboldened by the outside work happening with residents, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, business, and philanthropy.

Inclusive Prosperity  

The cornerstone of Fairfax County’s approach to advancing equity is addressing the wide gaps in income, employment, entrepreneurship, and other wealth-building opportunities by race and geography. With the Greater Washington Workforce Collaborative (an initiative of the Greater Washington Community Foundation) and support from Capital One, we are working with an expanding group of stakeholders, representing county agencies and nonprofits, to align efforts and fill gaps through the formation of an Inclusive Prosperity Network.  

This network will align, leverage, and develop strategies to create an ecosystem that will support the full integration of people of color into the economy, putting more residents on the path toward reaching their full potential. Initially focused on the Richmond Highway Corridor, but with a goal of applying successes and lessons learned to other lower opportunity areas across the county, the Inclusive Prosperity Network is positioned to inform the county’s future economic growth. And now, in the context of COVID-19, the Network is also positioned to foster sustained economic prosperity in Fairfax County in the county’s equitable recovery.

I appreciate having The Greater Washington Workforce Collaborative as a partner in the work of becoming One Fairfax.  

When we come together as institutions, government and philanthropy, and live into our unique roles, we are able to magnify our power to disrupt the status quo and dismantle the deeply rooted inequities that plague us and hinder our community’s progress.  Working together, we can bolster connections to the region’s assets and resources and facilitate full participation in and contribution to the region’s economic and social vitality and readiness for the future.

About Karla Bruce

Karla Bruce - Headshot.jpg

Karla Bruce has over 20 years of local government management experience and is known as a driver of innovation in public service delivery, bridging the efforts of local government with the collective action of residents and broad networks of partners to strategically address issues facing vulnerable populations and neighborhoods.  Karla currently serves as the Chief Equity Officer for Fairfax County, Virginia where she successfully championed the adoption of the One Fairfax Racial and Social Equity Resolution and Policy and provides overall management of the One Fairfax strategic framework, advising and supporting the Board of Supervisors and Executive Leadership in shaping and directing policy and practice to foster equitable opportunity for all Fairfax County residents.

Washington Business Journal Recognizes Community Foundation with 2020 Citizenship Award

We are proud to share that the Greater Washington Community Foundation and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield are recipients of the 2020 Citizenship Award, part of the Washington Business Journal's annual Philanthropy Awards program. The award recognizes our partnership on the CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield PPE Response Fund to distribute thousands of PPE units to frontline workers at health clinics across the region.

Pathways to Housing staff receive a shipment of PPE

Pathways to Housing staff receive a shipment of PPE

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Mission of Mercy provided free medical and dental care during COVID-19 using the gift of PPE from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield PPE Response Fund.

Mission of Mercy provided free medical and dental care during COVID-19 using the gift of PPE from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield PPE Response Fund.

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

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

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

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

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

  • 300+ social service and health nonprofits funded

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

  • 50% of nonprofit partners led by people of color

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

Phase 3 Grant Highlights

Improving Food Security

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

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

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

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

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

Support for Childcare

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

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

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

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

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

Expanding Employment Opportunities

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

Eviction Prevention and Housing Stability

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

Previous Funding and Priorities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quarterly Community Update

Dear Community Foundation fundholder,

I hope this note finds you enjoying a happy and healthy start to your holiday season. Thanks to your continued care for our community, last quarter our community of givers awarded more than $17.6 million in grants to organizations serving our region and beyond.

At The Community Foundation, we remain focused on meeting our community’s evolving needs through the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. Last quarter, our work coordinating the region’s philanthropic response to this ongoing crisis included:

  • Joining The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and eight other funders to launch the Arts Forward Fund, providing $1 million in relief to arts and culture organizations across the region.

  • Distributing more than $2 million from the DC Education Equity Fund to ensure students have the resources and materials they need to continue their education.

  • Raising over $500,000 through the Children’s Opportunity Fund to support learning hub scholarships for low-income students in Montgomery County to receive supervision and help with remote learning.

  • Partnering with FSC First and a generous donor to launch a $1 million grants program to provide emergency relief to small businesses in Prince George’s County.

  • Partnering with Ikea to distribute over $1 million in funding to address childcare, unemployment, and food security in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

As our community continues to recover from this crisis, our goal is to work together to build a more equitable future for our region. We are approaching this work by listening to and learning from our community.

This summer, through our VoicesDMV initiative, we released new data from our Community Insights survey of residents conducted by Gallup, and launched a series of Social Justice Town Halls to unpack findings related to inequities in housing, education, employment, food access, and entrepreneurship. Earlier this month, we brought together residents from across the region for On the Table conversations to discuss and reimagine the future of our communities. Now, we are offering Community Action Awards – small grants to help individuals and nonprofits implement ideas to improve their neighborhoods.

In September, we partnered on the national launch of the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund. This innovative new fund is supporting Black leaders on the frontlines of shaping the urgent movement to build a fair, equitable, and anti-racist America. As a local partner to this national philanthropic initiative, we are proud to provide support for local Black leaders who are grassroots advocates, organizers, and emerging voices in the Greater Washington region.

With the end of year approaching, our staff can assist you with carrying out your philanthropic goals for 2020. Please be mindful of our December 18 deadline for your year-end grantmaking activities to ensure your recommended grantees receive their funds by December 31.

Your continued partnership and support are crucial as we seek to build thriving communities now and for generations to come. Thank you for standing with us!

Tonia Wellons,
President and CEO

P.S. In case you missed our 2020 Annual Meeting or the release of our 2020 Annual Report, you can find the recording and resources here.


A commitment to support the activists, artists, and organizers working locally to build an anti-racist America

Washington, D.C. -- The Greater Washington Community Foundation today announced the launch of The Black Voices for Black Justice Fund DMV and has partnered with the DC-based nonprofit, GOODProjects, to bring its mission to life with the Black Justice Fellowship. Ten Black Leaders representing the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia will be selected to receive monetary and meaningful support to scale their activism. They will each receive a personal grant of $30,000 to support their work and living expenses for a year. Nominations for the first cohort can be submitted via an online form at www.blackjusticefellows.org.

Led by visionary committee leaders Angela Rye, Linda Wilson, Tonia Wellons, Cherrelle Swain, and Darius Baxter, The Black Justice Fellows is redefining the way philanthropy identifies and invests in Black leaders.

“Black Leaders have been actively working for years to create a more just America, yet too many are underestimated, underfunded, and underrepresented,” says fund co-chair Baxter. “We declare the success of Black Leaders will not be determined by how much they can fundraise or their proximity to whiteness.”

The Racial Equity in Philanthropy Report states that white-led organizations had budgets that were 24 percent larger than those led by people of color. It also found that groups led by Black Women received less money than those led by Black Men or White Women. Further, disparities by the race of the leader repeatedly persist even when taking into account factors like issue area and education levels.

Co-Chair Tonia Wellons explains, “Historically, we know that there has been an underinvestment in Black leaders who are on the frontlines of fighting for justice and equality. We are excited to help scale the work of emerging leaders in the Greater Washington region by providing financial support so they can continue to live while they lead. This initiative will help elevate the voices of Black leaders and invest in solutions led by Black leaders to fuel their efforts to address structural and systemic racism.”

The Black Voices for Black Justice Fund (DMV) was seeded by the Bridge Alliance Education Fund and Greater Washington Community Foundation. This local initiative stemmed from the national Black Voices for Black Justice Fund which was launched from a partnership between many philanthropic organizations across the country.

"We are pleased to support communities and leaders in the Washington, DC area by partnering with the Greater Washington Community Foundation to provide resources to Black leaders at the forefront of community work that is strengthening our communities and our nation,” says David Nevins, Chairman of the Board of Bridge Alliance Education Fund.

For more information or to nominate a local leader for the fellowship, please visit www.blackjusticefellows.org or @blackjusticefellows on all social media platforms.

Arts Forward Fund Announces More Than $1 Million in Grants to Local Arts Groups Impacted by COVID-19

Arts Forward Fund, a partnership between the Greater Washington Community Foundation, The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and 16 other foundations and individual donors, announces grants totaling $1,048,500 to 43 arts and culture organizations in the DC region.

These grants will help organizations make essential shifts needed to sustain their work through the COVID-19 pandemic and to respond to the national movement for racial justice. A majority of the grants will be used to support expanded digital and online programming. More than 60 percent of grants and grant funding will go to organizations that are BIPOC-led and predominantly BIPOC-serving.

In response to a call for applications released in early August 2020, Arts Forward Fund received 227 applications totaling nearly $8 million.

“The volume of applications illustrates the devastating impact of the pandemic on arts and culture organizations in our region,” says Calvin Cafritz, President and CEO of The Cafritz Foundation, which made a lead grant of $500,000 to establish Arts Forward Fund. “The pandemic has exacerbated challenges for groups that have historically had inequitable access to philanthropic capital, and these grants reflect the collective commitment of our funding collaborative to prioritize those organizations.”

“Arts and culture organizations are a critical economic engine for the region and they contribute immeasurably to our sense of community and our well-being,” says Tonia Wellons, President and CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. “We are proud to partner on the Arts Forward Fund to bring much needed relief to these organizations that enrich our communities and touch our lives.”

Following is a list of Arts Forward Fund grant recipients, grant amounts, and a brief description of how grant funds will be used.

  • 826DC
    $25,000 to support the shift to online and small group programming, including increased training for volunteers

  • Anacostia Playhouse
    $25,000 to support the shift to digital content

  • Arch Development Corporation
    $30,000 to support transition to online programs

  • Art Enables
    $25,000 to implement an enhanced digital marketing plan

  • Art Works Now
    $25,000 to support the shift to virtual programming, including an expansion of the Creative Aging program

    $25,000 to support the WORK-SMART training series for Fairfax County arts organizations

  • Arts on the Block
    $25,000 to upgrade IT and HR capacity with a focus on equity and human-centered design

  • ArtStream
    $25,000 to hire a virtual programming manager and develop a new evaluation system for online programs

  • Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA)
    $25,000 to support the shift to virtual programming

  • Critical Exposure
    $20,000 to support the shift to digital curriculum

  • Dance Institute of Washington
    $30,000 to support facility renovation and program evaluation with a focus on racial equity

  • Dance Place
    $30,000 to support diversity, equity, and inclusion training

  • DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative
    $50,000 to support a distance-learning database and virtual projects

  • DC Jazz Festival
    $30,000 to support a new digital content initiative

  • Foundation for the Advancement of Music and Education (FAME)
    $25,000 to support an online learning platform

  • Gala Hispanic Theatre
    $30,000 to build fundraising capacity and create online programming

  • Greater Reston Arts Center
    $20,000 to support digital content

  • Heritage Signature Chorale
    $20,000 to support digital content

  • InterAct Story Theatre
    $10,000 to support the shift to virtual and blended programs

  • Joe's Movement Emporium
    $30,000 to support the transition to a new online teaching platform

  • Kalanidhi Dance

    $10,000 to support website development

  • Life Pieces to Masterpieces
    $30,000 to support outdoor programming, PPE and safety precautions

  • Live It Learn It
    $25,000 to support equipment and curriculum to adapt to distance learning

  • Museum of the Palestinian People
    $20,000 to strengthen the museum’s online presence and create a new online exhibition

  • Music for Life
    $10,000 to support the shift to online programs

  • One Common Unity
    $20,000 to support software and training for a digital platform

    $15,000 to support online content platforms and web development

  • PEN/Faulkner
    $50,000 to support online accessibility (joint proposal with Split This Rock, The Writer's Center, 826 DC)

  • Prince George's African American Museum and Cultural Center
    $25,000 to support virtual programming

  • Project Create
    $17,500 to support rebranding and marketing

  • Restoration Stage
    $25,000 to support the transition to digital programs

  • Shout Mouse Press
    $20,000 to increase digital and print sales and engage a DEI consultant

  • Step Afrika!
    $30,000 to support the shift to virtual programs

  • Synetic Theater
    $25,000 to support the shift to online content

  • Teatro de la Luna
    $20,000 to support the shift to online content

  • The Essential Theatre
    $25,000 to support capacity-building

  • Theatre Alliance
    $25,000 to support the shift to online programs

  • Urbanarias
    $16,000 to support expanded digital marketing and improved ticketing and production for digital content

  • Washington Jazz Arts Institute
    $20,000 to support an online music collaboration project

  • Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
    $25,000 to support innovative online productions, anti-racism training, marketing

  • Words Beats And Life
    $25,000 to support the shift to online programs

  • Young Playwrights Theater
    $25,000 to support the shift to online programs

  • Zora Neale Hurston Richard Wright Foundation
    $20,000 to support the shift to online programs

About Arts Forward Fund

Launched in July 2020 with lead grants from The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the Harman Family Foundation, and the Weissberg Foundation, Arts Forward Fund is a funder collaborative housed at and administered by the Greater Washington Community Foundation. Additional supporters include Linowitz Family Fund, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, S & R Foundation, Diane & Norman Bernstein Foundation, Lois and Richard England Family Foundation, Philip L. Graham Fund, Greater Washington Community Foundation, Share Fund, Walter Brownley Trust, Nancy Peery Marriott Foundation, and other individual contributors.