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Rock Recovery: Bodily Trust is a Two-Way Street

Rock Recovery: Bodily Trust is a Two-Way Street

Rock Recovery works to bridge gaps in resources for eating disorder treatment and education by removing the barriers of stigma, cost, and accessibility and by connecting people to clinical community and quality care. The Catalogue for Philanthropy recently had a chance to interview Heather Clark, their new Clinical Director, about her work and why it’s so important to make peace with food and our bodies.

Photo of a person with long, curly blonde hair smiling at the camera wearing a dark green jacket, green top, and a necklace with a key on it

Catalogue: What led you to become a counselor and Clinical Director with Rock Recovery?

Heather: My path into the counseling field was very circuitous. I’ve always found psychology fascinating, and I’m very people-oriented, so counseling turned out to be a good fit for me. I’m also over 15 years into recovery from my own eating disorder, so I have always gravitated toward working with clients struggling with food and body issues.

I did my clinical internship at an eating disorder treatment center. I loved working as a part of a team and have been waiting for the right opportunity to get back into a team setting ever since then. When I saw this opportunity at Rock Recovery, I was very excited because it feels like such a good match with my values. I’ve been acquainted with Rock Recovery since I started in private practice six years ago and I have loved their mission to increase access to eating disorders care.

I really appreciate how their therapy groups fill a real gap in outpatient care for disordered eating. I also find Rock’s nationwide faith-based support groups to be such a unique and powerful offering. And, on top of all this, they operate from a weight-inclusive, Health At Every Size® stance, which is a top priority for me. So, it was a perfect fit.

The Health At Every Size® Principles and framework are a continuously evolving alternative to a weight-centered approach and promote health equity, support ending weight discrimination, and improve access to quality healthcare regardless of size.

Catalogue: How would you describe your philosophy and approach to your work?

Heather: My approach is weight-inclusive, trauma-informed, and strengths-based. I understand healing food and body issues to be a rebuilding of trust between the self and the body. It’s a two-way street – the body learns that you are trustworthy to care for it, and you learn that you can trust your body to always give 100% for you, and to manage your energy storage (weight) without your interference. I value Health At Every Size®, body diversity, and food freedom. I also emphasize the acceptance of emotions, self-compassion, assertiveness, and building shame resilience.

Catalogue: What is something you aren’t often asked about your work that you’d like to share?

Heather: Eating disorders are the second most deadly mental health condition, second only to opioid use disorder. This is really serious, and I wish that parents, educators, and policymakers would recognize this, seek out education about prevention, and enact change.

In fact, kids are 242 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than Type 2 diabetes, based on the CDC’s numbers on the incidence of these two conditions. And yet, when we hear people sounding the alarm about the health of our kids, it’s centered around weight suppression (during a time when kids should be gaining weight, not less) and avoiding certain foods.

Catalogue: What is a challenge you’re facing in your work with Rock Recovery and how are you dealing with it?

Heather: I think the evergreen answer to this question among nonprofit organizations is funding, right? Besides that, I think a lot of therapists right now are either maxed out or over-worked, and I think our team is no exception. The need is so great, but there are only so many hours in the day, and we all have families and personal lives of our own to juggle, as well.

Catalogue: What about your work with Rock Recovery excites you or gives you hope?

Heather: I get excited about seeing more and more people gain increasing levels of freedom in their recovery. For so many, lack of access to care is a real barrier to this freedom. Rock Recovery is working to change that.

Rock Recovery never wants finances to be a barrier to accessing the care people need and deserve. We offer all our services – from therapy groups, to individual therapy, to nationwide faith-based support groups – on a sliding scale, which means that we adjust the fee for the service according to the person’s income. This excites me and gives me hope for the mental health field. I hope more organizations will follow a similar model in other niches within mental health care.

Catalogue: What is something about Rock Recovery’s work or impact that you’d like to celebrate?

Heather: Rock Recovery is growing rapidly and we’re expanding our Maryland services to meet the needs of the people we serve. We’re now accepting Maryland residents for individual counseling and in our Breaking Bread meal support and therapy group, which is very exciting.

Catalogue: What is coming next for Rock Recovery?

Heather: We’re very excited to start two new therapy groups in the fall to be able to serve even more adults and adolescents who need our help! We’re launching a lunch break meal support and therapy group for adults, as well as an 8-week therapy group for teens ages 14-18.

We are also hosting a continuing education event on body-positivity in youth, coming up on June 2nd, that is aimed at helping educators, doctors, and others to recalibrate their approach to health and wellness teaching in school settings to prioritize body acceptance and eating disorders prevention.

Catalogue: Finally, how can readers help support and advocate for Rock Recovery’s mission?

Heather: We’d love for readers to support our work by donating one-time or becoming a monthly donor so that more people can access the treatment they need and find freedom from disordered eating.

If you or a loved one are currently struggling or wondering if it might be time to get help, please reach out to see whether we might be a good fit for your needs and schedule an interest call on our website.

I’d (also) encourage everyone to learn more about Health At Every Size® and to promote body diversity every chance they get.

Local Nonprofit Bulletin (5.27.22)

Local Nonprofit Bulletin


Philanthropic resources, news from small nonprofits in the DMV, upcoming events, and a roundup of opportunities to volunteer and offer your support! Have questions or an opportunity you want featured? Reach out to Amanda, our Communications and Marketing Coordinator, for shoutouts and collaborations!

Memorial Day

This Memorial Day and weekend, we honor and remember those who died in service of the United States while uplifting the small nonprofits in this region who work to empower the veterans in our community and their loved ones.

  • Operation Second Chance provides direct support to wounded service members in financial crisis and helps veterans transition back into civilian life, reconnect with family, and build a network of peers.
  • Dog Tag Bakery, through their one-of-a-kind entrepreneurship program, equips veterans, military spouses, and caregivers with the tools and education to build resilience, find renewed purpose, and forge community beyond the military.
  • Operation Renewed Hope Foundation helps hundreds of homeless and at-risk veterans secure safe, permanent homes, and overcome the root causes of homelessness and instability in their lives.
  • The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program provides assistance to unrepresented veterans or their family members seeking to appeal and overturn their denial of benefits claims so that they can access the life-changing benefits our country has vowed to provide.

Take a moment to engage with the critical work of these nonprofits and offer your support. You can also learn about more nonprofits serving veterans and military families on our website.


The Prince William County Community Foundation, Inc. was recently awarded $203,920 by Prince William County to support their community feeding assistance program. Congratulations! Learn more about their Combating Hunger on Wheels (C.H.O.W.) Wagon initiative on their website.

Join DC Strings Workshop as they kick off the return of their in-person summer music camps! Band Camp will provide middle school students with the opportunity to begin or continue their instrumental music learning, and will conclude with a final performance for the community. Registration closes on June 1!

“No matter what you want to be, reading unlocks the pathways. (Washington Literacy Center) is one of the few providers focused on pre-workforce development,” said Eboni-Rose Thompson, Ward 7 State Board of Education Representative at WLC’s grand opening event. Read more about their work and new space in the Washington Informer.

Laurie Strongin, CEO of the Hope for Henry Foundation, was recently featured on an episode of Help and Hope Happen Here: A Pediatric Cancer Podcast! Listen to hear what they do, how they do it, and why.

On June 23, the 50th anniversary of Title IX, Leveling the Playing Field and four women’s teams in the DC area are partnering to positively impact the next 50 years of Title IX, the historic legislation that changed women’s sports. “We are beyond thrilled to play a role in building this coalition of phenomenal women’s professional sports teams here in the DMV region,” Kaitlin Brennan, Director of Operations at Leveling the Playing Field, told Forbes.

Congratulations to Beacon House, Capital Area Asset Builders, My Sister’s Place, and Nueva Vida, this year’s Many Hands grantees! Watch the Many Hands 2022 Annual Meeting recording to hear them speak about their work.

The Community Family Life Services Children’s Nook is a read-aloud program for children impacted by family trauma and incarceration. This online academic resource can be used as a learning tool to help children foster reading.

Did you know that plastic bag bans are in effect in Takoma Park and Baltimore County, and that straw bans and foam container bans are in effect in the District, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County? Learn more about how organizations like Potomac Conservancy are fighting for litter-free waterways and read their blog on why people litter.

The Hamkae Center is hosting a series of discussion-based workshops on Asian American topics on the last Thursday of every month from 7:00 – 8:30 PM. Join them virtually to examine the roots of racism, language justice, and education equity to share your experiences and process your thoughts through creative expression. Free and open to Asian Americans of all ages!

Celebrate nature with a collage, learn the fundamentals of art, burn unique designs into wood, and more with VisArts! Their education department offers art classes for all ages and experience levels in a wide variety of media. Discover or further your interest this summer!


May 31, 12:00 PM | Friendship Place webinar on “How to Recognize When Someone is in Crisis”

June 2, 5:30 – 7:00 PM | Join Critical Exposure for “Shutter Speed: How We’re Living Now” to see and hear the unique perspective of DC youth on how they’re living inside of new norms

June 3, 5:00 – 7:00 PM | Meet VisAbility Art Lab artists at the VisAbility Art Lab Open House

June 3, 7:00 PM | Attend the Wear Orange Rally with Casa Chirilagua to remember lives lost to gun violence and raise awareness about this public health crisis

June 4, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM | Join Dreaming Out Loud as they announce the return of their farmers market season with a celebration featuring The Experience Band, family-friendly activities, farm tours, and more!

June 5, 1:00 – 4:00 PM | Tour green homes, gardens, and community spaces throughout Arlington on EcoAction Arlington’s 19th Annual Green Community Tour!

Multiple, starting on June 7, 6:30 PM | Community Family Life Services is presenting a series of events, “We Got You Covered: HIV Awareness Wrap Sessions”

June 7, 6:30 – 8:00 PM | Split This Rock and The Poetry Coalition will gather a virtual roundtable on disability justice and poetry

June 8, 6:00 – 9:00 PM | Support women and children in DC who have experienced homelessness over drinks, conversation, and live music at New Endeavors by Women’s spring FUNdraiser

June 8 and 9, 12:00 – 1:30 PM | Nonprofit Montgomery has invited county council candidates from districts 2, 3, and 4, as well as districts 5, 6, and 7 to meet with local nonprofit leaders

June 10, 7:00 – 9:30 PM | Enjoy an evening of great classical music at the DC Strings Orchestra’s Season 6 Finale!

June 11 | Hear stories of promise and hope at the 2022 DC Strings Workshop Annual Gala

June 11, 10:00 AM | Participate in the TowpathGO 5K Challenge to support the C&O Canal Trust and The C&O Canal National Historical Park

June 16, 6:00 – 9:00 PM | Celebrate Friendship Place‘s 30th Anniversary!

June 16, 7:00 – 8:00 PM | Join renowned autism advocate, author, and scientist Temple Grandin in a Great and Small conversation about the benefits of therapeutic riding


Join Potomac Conservancy on June 4 in celebrating National Trails Day by cleaning up the trails along the river at Turkey Run, Jones Point Park, Wheaton Claridge Local Park, Martin Luther King Jr. Recreational Park, and Gravelly Point Park!

Reading Partners DC is recruiting volunteers to offer one-on-one reading help for students to combat learning loss during the pandemic. Hear from a volunteer about their experience on NBC Washington and sign up to volunteer!

So What Else is gearing up for 55 weeks of summer camp across Maryland and DC. They are collecting materials for students. Check out their Amazon wishlist and donate what you can!

Casa Chirilagua is throwing a community-wide graduation celebration on June 3 and they’re looking for event volunteers! Can’t make it that day? You can also sign up to volunteer with them over the summer to help with summer camps, tutoring, chaperoning field trips, and more.


Workshop: How Oral History Storytelling Can Support Ethical Fundraising | Voice of Witness

This workshop, taking place on June 7 from 5:00 – 6:00 PM ET, will provide an introduction to ethics-driven oral history storytelling and share best practices that can help nonprofit fundraisers and development staff engage with personal narratives using processes that foreground the dignity, ownership, and authority of those sharing their stories.

“Know Thyself: A New Assessment Tool Asks Funders to Take a Hard Look in the Mirror” | Inside Philanthropy

“As uncomfortable as it may be, leaders need to ask deep questions about their strengths and weaknesses. Have their efforts thus far actually generated real impact? Should they alter their practices further? And if so, how?” Mike Scutari writes about Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ latest offering “Operating Archetypes: Philanthropy’s New Tool for Strategic Clarity” for Inside Philanthropy.

2022 Community Survey Insights | Trust-Based Philanthropy Project

This report is based on the 141 responses received by the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project when they shared their Community Survey with the trust-based funder-practitioners who are leading and learning about this work. It yields insights into opportunities for continued adoption of trust-based philanthropy by the wider philanthropic community.

Mapping your organization’s role in an ecosystem: What, why, how? | Big Duck

In this session on June 8, participants will explore ways to broaden perspective on the role their nonprofits play in creating change.

An Open Book Foundation: Learning is Like Planting Seeds

An Open Book Foundation: Learning is Like Planting Seeds

“I never knew birdwatching could be so fun,” a student, and now citizen scientist, at Cleveland Elementary School exclaimed while on a nature walk around the school.

Earlier this May, students were visited by Lenora Todaro, sidewalk naturalist and author of Sea Lions in the Parking Lot: Animals on the Move in the Time of Pandemic, a children’s book containing twelve real-life stories of creatures around the globe who reclaimed their habitat during the COVID-19 quarantine. Over the course of three days, students brought the urban wildlife lessons from the book to life with discussions of the habitats they found around DC and how to make these more welcoming for birds. They also build seed bombs together – clay balls filled with dirt and seeds that can be tossed anywhere for wildflowers to grow.

In a previous residency, students worked alongside author-scientist Heather Montgomery to build model bridges that would conserve wildlife by helping them across busy expressways.

Photo taken of a classroom desk where students are building creative bridges to help animals cross expressways

These hands-on activities are intentionally coordinated by the team at An Open Book Foundation, a children’s literacy nonprofit that just launched a new STEM residency program to connect different writers, scientists, and researchers with classrooms across the Greater Washington area. “Science tells us that the probability of learning something is (higher) when we’re actually doing it,” says Josarie Molina, their Education Director. “(That’s why) we’re creating opportunities that are concrete and experiential, and those are the ones that’ll most likely stick.”

As someone who’s melding her previous experience as an art teacher, school librarian, museum educator, and more in this role, Josarie knows how to create and iterate spaces that are collaborative, experimental, and, most importantly, joyous. “Stress is not conducive to learning or teaching. So, what An Open Book does is the total opposite. We’re creating spaces (where students are comfortable and happy), so they can just enjoy knowing each other, the books, and learning. I think that is certainly paying off.”

Inspired by another program they started during the pandemic that brought artists and illustrators into classrooms, these STEM residencies allow An Open Book (AOB) to excite students who are already interested in nonfiction and figuring out how things work while providing teachers with one more way to align with school curricula.

Prior to each residence, teachers and authors are invited to engage with each other so that teachers can share what their students are interested in, what the classroom culture is like, and what students have been studying recently, while authors can inform teachers of how to prepare for the residency environment. This ensures that authors can really connect with students and share their experiences from a genuine place.

Photo of two young students outside with an adult. One is using binoculars to look up while another is seated next to the adult and having a conversation

The AOB team then assembles all the materials students will need into packages that they deliver to students at school. From the book students will read to pens and pencils to items like binoculars for the nature walk, no item is too small for these packages, which also come with a short letter telling students – in both English and Spanish – that these materials are now theirs to keep and use during the residence and beyond.

“This is another aspect that’s really important for the residence,” Josarie states. “There’s a vision and hope that students will pick up a practice that they can continue working on. With the (urban wildlife) residence, hopefully the students will continue using their binoculars and paying attention to all the city wildlife, looking at birds in different ways, and talking to other people about it.”

86% of students who participated in the STEM residence program said they’d like to learn more about science – a strong indicator that AOB’s experiential model makes an impact. In addition to giving students pre- and post-program surveys, the AOB team also collects quantitative and anecdotal feedback from the teachers and authors they work with to continually refine and improve their programming.

Photo of author Tony Hillery wearing glasses and a mask, pointing at something on a student's classroom desk and having a conversation with the student

Most recently, students at Houston Elementary School connected with Tony Hillery, Founder and Executive Director of Harlem Grown, a nonprofit that inspires youth through urban farming, and the author of a book by the same name that tells the true story of students from an underfunded school who turned a vacant lot into a functional farm. The AOB residence ended with students planting their own seeds that they can return to, and watch grow.

“I like to think these students will carry this as a positive experience throughout their lives,” Josarie shares. “We’re metaphorically and physically planting a seed. In my mind, that’s how I see the residence – it’s like planting something that will continue.”

Photo of a student wearing a blue shirt taking seeds and planting it in a container

You can support An Open Book Foundation by donating, visiting their website, and staying updated on their work through email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Local Nonprofit Bulletin (5.13.22)

Local Nonprofit Bulletin


Philanthropic resources, news from small nonprofits in the DMV, upcoming events, and a roundup of volunteer opportunities! Have questions or an opportunity you want featured? Reach out to Amanda, our Communications and Marketing Coordinator, for shoutouts and collaborations!


Farmers market in the classroom! At Francis-Stevens, middle schoolers get to choose a FRESHFARM FoodPrints recipe as a class, “shop” for ingredients that they take home, and cook dinner while gathering with other students and teachers virtually. Learn more about how FRESHFARM builds these classroom “farmers markets” and engage students through cooking!

Interested in examining how community organizing can be used to build a more just world and strengthen our communities? Learn more about JOIN for Justice’s “Don’t Kvetch, Organize!” course that is designed especially for Jews United for Justice!

The ACT Initiative hosted a series of virtual events, now available online, to help people understand and empathize with the experiences of returning citizens. Watch “A Deeper Look at Second Chances,” a vibrant conversation about the challenges of returning home following a period of incarceration, sponsored by Community Family Life Services. And watch their other past events with Free Minds, Thrive DC, and Jubilee Housing!

Know a 4th or 5th grader who wants to learn more about theatre, make new friends, and have fun? Sign them up for Young Artists of America‘s KIDS Academy, a summer daytime training program at their new campus in Olney, Maryland!

The C&O Canal Towpath has been named USA Today‘s 7th best recreational trail! This spring, experience a history lesson, unique boat ride, and the famous C&O canal mules by taking a trip at the historic Great Falls Tavern!

Grammy Award-winning folk icons Tom Paxton, and Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer recently released “Don’t Say Gay,” featuring the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC in their song and video!

“It’s really vital to ensure that arts organizations can have permanent homes,” Diana Movius, founder of Dance Loft on 14, told DCist. “The more of those spaces that disappear, the less of a grassroots arts culture D.C. will have.”


May 13, 6:00 – 8:00 PM | Join Common Good City Farm for Salad Slam!

May 13, 6:30 PM | Join Young Playwrights’ Theater and SAFER (Students Advocating for the Eradication of Racism) at Sitar Arts Center

May 13, 8:00 – 10:00 PM | Edu-Futuro’s first-ever Viva La Salsa fundraiser!

May 14, 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM | Soulfull Springfest: Cafe Grand Reopening

May 14, 1:00 – 5:00 PM | Girls Rock! DC’s Hat Band Showcase 2022

May 14, 2:00 – 5:00 PM | Project Create’s 2022 Student Art Showcase

May 15, 6:00 PM | Sex Worker Advocates Coalition, #DecrimPovertyDC, and HIPS presents their first annual open mic night!

May 17, 5:00 – 7:00 PM | Mikva Challenge: Youth Led Mayoral Candidates Forum

May 19, 6:00 PM | presents their first-ever student-led Youth Advisory Panel Webinar!

May 21, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM | Join C&O Canal Trust for National Kids to Parks Day!

May 25, 7:00 – 9:00 PM | Barker Adoption Foundation’s 2022 Annual Meeting

June 2 | Shutter Speed: How We’re Living Now

June 6, 6:30 PM | IN Series: Ruby Anniversary Gala

June 7, 6:00 – 8:00 PM | One World Graduation Celebration

June 8, 6:00 – 9:00 PM | New Endeavors by Women’s Spring FUNdraiser

June 9, 5:00 – 8:30 PM | Common Good City Farm: A Night on the Farm


The Georgetown Ministry Center has many open shifts! Volunteers do a variety of jobs, including: signing guests in, coordinating shower and laundry services, distributing meals, sorting clothing donations, and talking with their guests.

Volunteering with DC127 is a unique opportunity to form an intentional relationship with a family to provide much-needed social and emotional encouragement to parents who are isolated and overwhelmed. Learn more about serving as a DC127 Communities for Families volunteer!


Pathways Partnership | Fair Chance

Pathways is an 8-month Partnership that deepens nonprofit leaders’ knowledge and skills across four key areas of an organization (Board Development, Fundraising, Leadership and Management, and Program Evaluation) and provides tools and support to advance the organization’s mission, stability, and growth.

Investing in Native Communities | Native Americans in Philanthropy and Candid

Native Americans in Philanthropy has built a resource center to keep track of the latest information and response funds for Native communities and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. You can also learn more about supporting solutions led by and for Native communities, expand your understanding of history through a Native lens, and more.

“Beyond ‘X Number Served’” | Stanford Social Innovation Review

“Getting metrics right is a dynamic process that evolves over time.” This article by Mona Mourshed dives into complexity and plurality with metrics and how to expand a nonprofit’s impact by building programs on three pillars: breadth, depth, and durability.

Tenants and Workers United: To Organize a Community is to Walk Behind the People

Tenants and Workers United: To Organize a Community is to Walk Behind the People

“If your voice is very thin when you go to that management office, how about 30 thin voices altogether? They sound much stronger when we do that.”

Painting of a woman wearing a pink shirt on the left laughing with an older man wearing a blue and white striped shirt on the right.

Paintings of the community courtesy of Elsa Riveros.

What does it mean to organize a community? For Elsa Riveros, a Community Organizer with Tenants and Workers United (TWU), the day-to-day looks like door-knocking and running meetings but underlying all of that is empowering community members to tell their stories.

“Asking a person to speak and say something (sounds) so simple, but how far from the truth is that?” Elsa asks. “When you’re eating with your children and you see mice and roaches running up and down your apartment, it has a lot to do with your self-esteem. We have been on our knees, and when you’re on your knees, everybody’s much taller and bigger and stronger than you. So, just stand up and say, “I am demanding this because the law protects me.” And it’s beautiful to see that’s collectively what we’re doing.”

Formerly a professional singer in Colombia, Elsa joined TWU after finishing her studies in political science to organize the largely Latino community in Arlandria – affectionately dubbed Chirilagua by its residents – around the Living Wage campaign. After four years of intense work, their efforts helped to create a living wage law in Alexandria that resulted in the total wage increase of $450,000 for the lowest-paid municipal and outsourced workers in the city.

“It was a beautiful campaign – marches on the street with hundreds of people,” Elsa shares. “One of them told me they can now quit one of their jobs and go home to help their children with homework instead of taking another job. See what you can do when you have a campaign and you’re organized? It’s just unbelievable.”

A painting with a green background depicting a mother carrying a child on her back.

In addition to organizing for workers’ rights, immigrants’ rights, and police-free schools, one of TWU’s large issue campaigns centers on affordable housing. Even before Amazon announced its new Northern Virginia headquarters more than three years ago, rising rent prices had already been steadily displacing low-income residents. Amazon’s arrival only exacerbates the region’s decades-long affordable housing crisis. To address some of these fears, Amazon created a $2 billion Housing Equity Fund but, as Teo Armus reported in the Washington Post, only 215 units of more than 4,100 units they’ve funded so far will be set aside for residents making 50% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI).

A 2019 TWU survey conducted in the neighborhood revealed that 95% of residents earn less than 40% of the AMI. “Amazon’s investing in housing development here,” Mia Taylor, Development Lead at TWU, states. “But not for the communities we work with, who have lived in Chirilagua for decades. We are facing the threat of mass displacement.” Furthermore, 48% of the households they surveyed are paying 50% or more of their yearly income in rent. These are residents who, on average, have been in the neighborhood for more than 12 years.

“For people who have a lot of money,” Elsa chimes in, “you never see them on the street saying, “We want a golf club, we want a tennis court, we want a pool.” When they say they need to have it, they’re going to have it and it’s okay. But why would you come to a neighborhood to make it more beautiful and then say that we don’t deserve to live here because we ruin the neighborhood? Now,?we have to shout, “We want to continue living here, we want to stay, we deserve to be here.””

A painting of three young faces against a light purple background.

TWU first organized in the mid-1980s to stave off scheduled mass evictions of thousands of low-income renters in the neighborhood, and their desire to stay and fight to improve their community has led them through multiple victories. At the heart of their work is building relationships. From tenants rights education to leadership development, TWU helps residents feel prepared to speak in public, run meetings, and tell their stories authentically.

“(Residents) would tell you, “I’ll never talk in front of people. I can never do it.” And I say, “Yes, you can,”” Elsa recounts. “I give them a mic and they give a speech any president around the world would love to give because it’s honest and sincere and beautiful.”

Together, this rising tide of voices has won the community more than $100 million in living wage jobs, health care, public education resources, and more. They have founded a democratically owned and operated housing cooperative, the only home ownership opportunity available for low-income people in Northern Virginia. They have eliminated over $1 million in medical debt for low-income residents, and they have launched a worker-owned and -operated business with more than 230 cab drivers.

“TWU is so loud despite how small we are,” Elsa says. “You’ve got a main campaign, but you have all these individuals making things happen. They lead the campaign. You’re just walking behind them. And these individuals all have stories.”

Painting of a man with short black hair against a yellow background. He is wearing a red shirt.

You can support TWU’s work by making a donation or volunteering your time. Stay informed about their ongoing fights for social justice by subscribing to their email list or following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Caring Unites Us: Greater DC Diaper Bank

Caring Unites Us
Greater DC Diaper Bank

Greater DC Diaper Bank was founded by a caregiver, for other caregivers.

In 2009, Corinne Cannon had her first child – and was struck by how difficult it was, even with all the support in the world. What if she didn’t have the resources that allowed her to provide the basic necessities for her child? Thus, the Diaper Bank was born.

1 in 3 Americans face diaper need – the inability to provide an adequate supply of clean diapers to their child(ren). For infants, that averages between 8-10 diapers a day.

Top-down photo of a smiling baby lying on a white bed who is wearing a blue onesieGreater DC Diaper Bank (GDCDB) addresses diaper need and supports vulnerable families in our region by collaborating with partners to distribute essential baby and hygiene products and expand access to critical services. With over 75 partners in the region working in fields from healthcare to education, our partners use diapers as a gateway resource to build relationships with families. Partners are already providing a multitude of social services to the community – by offering diapers to families, those families are more likely to come in for health checkups, meetings with their case manager, or to start conversations about other needs that they have. 96% of surveyed partners agree that offering diapers helps build trust with their clients, and 88% agree that providing diapers makes clients more likely to keep scheduled appointments.

At the core of our work are moms and caregivers. Moms can be made to feel guilty or inadequate for not being able to provide diapers for their children – a feeling that leads to increased stress and emotional turmoil, which increases risk for maternal depression. 98% of the families we serve agree that receiving diapers allows them to parent how they want to and reduces their stress as a caregiver. It also increases their children’s health by reducing diaper rash, improving sleep performance, and creating happier babies overall.

Healthy, happy babies lead to happier, healthier communities. Every child deserves an equal chance and no mom or caregiver should have to go without the hygiene essentials they need to care for their baby.

“Each time I received (the pack of diapers), it was just like a load lifted off my shoulders. It’s one less thing – and one less major thing – to have to worry about. It’s just pure sadness, really, having to try to decide where to spend your last $25.” – Jessica, diaper recipient

Photo of two Black women dressed warmly posing for the camera and carrying packs of diapers

A story from one of our partners emphasizes the importance of the relationship between the Diaper Bank, its partners, and parents:

One of our partners, Bright Beginnings, is a childcare center for homeless families located in DC that offers childcare five days a week. They were working with a mother who was bringing her daughter in, but not on a consistent basis. The social worker overseeing the mother’s case spoke with her, asking why the daughter wasn’t coming consistently to see how they could help. Though the mother said she would look into coming more often, the same cycle continued for a while.

Then, we began partnering with Bright Beginnings so that they could distribute diapers to the parents at their childcare center. This mom was one of the clients who began receiving diapers. Suddenly, the little girl was attending the daycare five days a week and showing up every day. The social worker overseeing her case spoke to the mother to ask her what had changed and why she was suddenly able to come five days a week. “With you buying my diapers, I can afford bus fare now,” responded the mother.

This mother had been rationing her bus fare, stretching out the days her daughter could attend the childcare center, to save money for diapers. With the 50 diapers she was now allotted each month, made possible by Bright Beginning’s partnership with Greater DC Diaper Bank, she was able to put that money towards bus fare, and towards her daughter’s overall wellbeing. Her daughter was now getting three full meals a day, socializing with other kids in a safe environment, and getting her physical, mental, and emotional needs comprehensively taken care of through a community of caregivers – all essential components of a child’s development.

While this number of diapers may seem small or insignificant, to a parent struggling to ration that $3.50 roundtrip bus fare, it makes an immense difference. Providing diapers to parents who need them creates a positive feedback loop of overall care for their child, opening them up to further services and resources that are essential for their physical and emotional health.

“Imagine how the trajectory of a family’s life changes with one diaper… (It says) come, let us help you, let us serve you, let us strengthen you as a family.” – Centro Nia, GDCDB Partner

Photo of two people wearing masks and posing for a camera by the open trunk of a car, which is full with packs of diapers

We are proud to serve moms and families with our work and, during this time of year, we want to recognize all the moms we serve, in all the forms that they come in – a mom, an auntie, a grandma, a sibling, a neighbor, those we are connected to through life and love, some who chose us, and some we chose – all part of the network of caregivers working to raise the next generation.

Throughout the month of May, Greater DC Diaper Bank’s Caring Unites Us Campaign is raising money to serve and empower mothers in DC, Maryland, and Virginia by providing hygiene essentials to families in need. Learn more about diaper need, including how to get involved, on the Greater DC Diaper Bank website.

Why are we making donors the hero of the story?

Why are we making donors the hero of the story?

In a panel at this year’s National Small Nonprofit Summit (NSNS), Marisa Stubbs, Director of Development and Communications at Critical Exposure, and Loree Lipstein, Founder and Principal Consultant of Thread Strategies, shared their journey in Community-Centric Fundraising (CCF), a growing movement to evolve the philosophies and practices of the nonprofit sector.

The Catalogue for Philanthropy is deeply appreciative of Marisa Stubbs and Loree Lipstein for introducing us and other Summit participants to the CCF movement, as well as to the movement itself for inspiring this session and providing some of the materials that were covered during this session. Further resources are linked at the bottom of this article.

Many of the current best practices we learn as new and seasoned development professionals uphold a donor-centric narrative that positions donors as the protagonists of the nonprofit stories we tell. Often, this looks like:

  1. Messaging that frames the donor as the person making an impact.
  2. Competing with other nonprofits for the attention of donors and funders.
  3. Privileging wealthy donors and their perspectives over those of staff, volunteers, and the people we serve.

This narrative directly harms under-resourced communities of color by perpetuating a model of charity, not solidarity, that is rooted in white saviorism and that replaces the agency of these communities with a need to be “rescued.” It also maintains a scarcity mindset that pits nonprofits against each other instead of uplifting all nonprofits as collaborators and co-conspirators within a larger ecosystem.

What could our fundraising practices look like if they center the communities we serve instead of our donors? How might nonprofits be in right relationship with our communities such that we can fundraise to build their power and voice?

Fundraising with New Principles

Central to the CCF movement are ten principles that we, as nonprofit professionals, can commit to advancing through our work.

Ground our fundraising in race, equity, and social justice: It is valuable for fundraisers to be trained in anti-racism, equity, and social justice issues. Increasingly, we should invite donors and funders into difficult conversations about money and power because they affect the whole nonprofit sector.

Prioritize the collective community over our individual organizational missions: Our nonprofit missions do not exist in a vacuum. Our communities are best served by collaborating with other local nonprofits. It’s time to move from a scarcity mindset to a mindset of abundance and trust that we’re there to support each other.

Be generous with and mutually supportive of other nonprofits: Examine how we can truly build community with other nonprofits, such as by sharing fundraising opportunities and finding ways to partner with each other.

Value everyone who strengthens the community equally: Volunteers, staff, donors, and board members all engage with and contribute to a nonprofit. While donors and board members play a part in making the work happen, they are by no means the only stakeholders who matter.

Value time as equally as money: Time, lived experience, and knowledge of a community are just as valuable as money. Instead of asking for donations from 100% of your board, what if you ask about the percentage of your board members who have experience with the community you serve? As another idea, could you make your board more accessible to new members by asking them to pledge a commitment to your nonprofit by percentage of their giving, rather than a fixed monetary amount?

Treat donors as partners: Strive to be transparent with donors in a way that’s rooted in your values. Don’t let a donor’s money outweigh the need to have a conversation with them about how your values align.

Foster a sense of belonging, not othering: Use language that centers “we” over “you” to show donors how they are part of the greater community. Share stories of the people you serve in ways that honor their dignity and make sure that you have consent to share people’s stories.

Promote the understanding that everyone benefits from engaging in the work of social justice: The work that we do is not about charity or compassion. Rather, everyone who is personally investing in the community, from donors and volunteers to staff and board members, benefits from this investment.

See the work of social justice as holistic and transformative, not transactional: As an example, nonprofits are often asked to differentiate their overhead costs from their program costs because donors and funders prefer to “directly support” programming. As nonprofit professionals, we know that funding salaries, administrative costs, and other general costs is necessary for us to make the programming happen. It is important to show donors that your nonprofit works in a holistic way.

Commit to economic justice for healing and liberation: We need to address the root causes of equity, including the destructive effects of capitalism. Many of the imbalances in power and wealth underlying the issues and challenges our nonprofits face stem from the way capitalism has been operating in our society. A commitment to equity must include a deep examination of the causes of economic injustice.

Leading with our Values

“It’s less about what your mission is and I think it’s more about the values of your organization,” Marisa Stubbs shared during the panel. “It’s about the values that you’re also then bringing to fundraising… It’s not about stated values. I think it’s more about how you’re actually living and breathing and acting.”

Stating your organizational values is easy. Applying these values in practice throughout the work that you do, especially in fundraising, is a much more challenging and ongoing journey.

But none of us are alone. A step you can take is to begin having conversations about CCF with your team. Pick one or two of these principles to explore more deeply and adapt for your organization.

For instance, you can start by shifting the language you use when you write to donors and funders. “What would I say if I had to say this and everybody was in the room?” From donors to staff to volunteers to the community, “What is the thing that I could say and say honestly and everybody would walk away feeling wonderful?” This is the question Marisa asks herself when she writes, even if she’s writing only to a funder. Across all your communications, make sure you honor the feelings and agency of the communities you serve.

You can also work towards approaching your donors as partners and asking them to have open conversations with you. “Part of doing the work of community-centric fundraising is actually about educating and being open to educating your funders,” Loree Lipstein said. “We’re not used to educating our funders about fundraising… but I do think it’s an important part of the movement, as a fundraiser, to be sharing this.” As you do this, consider the donors you’re stewarding and ensure that you build relationships with people who give $5 just as you do with people who give $500.

Further Resources

Watch “An Introduction to Community-Centric Fundraising” in full on the Summit website and dive into the existing resources available on the Community-Centric Fundraising website. Readings recommended during the session include: The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas, and Decolonizing Wealth by Edgar Villanueva.