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Feeding Family, Feeding Community with AfriThrive

Feeding Family, Feeding Community with AfriThrive

Lydiah Owiti came to the U.S. from Kenya to join her husband. They had moved several times for his job in the military, in which they served for 12 years. When his California office closed during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, they moved to Maryland. However, soon after arriving here with their three children — a 10-year-old son, and daughters ages 9 and 3 — the Maryland office closed as well, and Lydiah’s husband was out of work.

“Panic sets in,” Lydiah remembers. At the time, she was a full-time mom with no income of her own to fall back on. The family had just signed a lease in Maryland and, immediately, they began worrying about how they would manage.

Lydiah started exploring options, seeking connections in her new community, just as she had done with every move the family had made. Soon, she came across AfriThrive and learned that the organization provides food to African immigrant families.

Within two days of reaching out to AfriThrive, food was delivered to her doorstep. Lydiah knew they gave food out at central distribution spots, but because she was not near one of these locations, AfriThrive came to her. “That really touched me,” she says.

But food was not the only thing they offered. The people at AfriThrive wanted to learn more about their situation and find out how else they could help. “It was such an amazing thing,” Lydiah says, “to have people come out to see us and care so much.”


Thanks to the food from AfriThrive, Lydiah and her family could use their limited savings for rent. Fortunately, the military still provided for their healthcare. “Too often, families in financial straits have to choose between a place to sleep or feeding their family, but AfriThrive meant we did not have to make such a difficult choice.”

In addition, the food AfriThrive provided was not the canned food that Lydiah expected. “That’s what most food pantries provide, and while it’s very helpful, that’s not something I was used to preparing,” she remembers. “AfriThrive’s fresh vegetables, like collard greens, made me feel at home.”

Lydiah was so touched by the generosity of AfriThrive that she began volunteering herself. “People from my culture are reluctant to ask for help because they see doing so as a sign of weakness. I don’t care about that — and I knew there had to be many people who would need assistance and I wanted to volunteer my time to help.”

“I volunteered with my kids to distribute food door-to-door to our neighbors. We made so many friends along the way, and the more we distributed the more people came out who needed it.”

Lydiah’s husband landed a new job that took them to Connecticut and although she was sad to leave the AfriThrive community, she continues to stay in touch and help out with AfriThrive’s youth mentoring program. Now, she also works for Blue Star Families, a nonprofit providing suport for active duty military and veteran families.

Lydiah will always remember what AfriThrive did for her and her family at a time of great desperation. “Just seeing how someone would go out of their way for my needs and come to my doorstep was so comforting and reassuring. There’s still so much good out there, and people for whom other people’s needs are that important.”

AfriThrive pairs food with critical services that empower underserved Black immigrant and refugee families. In addition to sourcing locally grown, culturally appropriate fresh fruits and vegetables for weekly distribution to thousands of community members, they also offer a youth engagement and life skills program, as well as connects youth with employment opportunities. Learn about this work, and more, by visiting their website and subscribing to their newsletter. Support them this GivingTuesday and holiday season!

Confidence, Self-Expression, and Mindfulness at Legacy Farms

Confidence, Self-Expression, and Mindfulness at Legacy Farms

Guest blog by Legacy Farms

There are very few jobs where employees are not only learning new job skills, but are also learning about their capabilities, their worth, and how to bring peace into their own lives; yet this is a daily occurrence at Legacy Farms for all our apprentices.

Legacy Farms’ mission is to empower neurodiversity in the workplace, which we accomplish through our signature mentor / apprentice program, Growing Together. Through Growing Together, neurodivergent apprentices are hired, beginning as volunteers receiving educational training and advancing to paid positions working alongside mentors in our garden. During the program, mentors coach our apprentices on job skills, social awareness, and self-advocacy. Apprentices work in the garden or on special projects that further their talents, such as doing videography for social media, developing relationships with our garden’s distributors, and coordinating events or other projects.

Our apprentices are individuals who are 16 years or older and identify as neurodivergent. Our apprentices are individuals with autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, PTSD, and anxiety — neurotypes that vary from perceived norms and affect an individual’s ability to achieve independence in the current job market. Many of our apprentices are in the process of transitioning beyond the educational system and have difficulty finding and maintaining employment. Our program primarily serves individuals in Loudoun and Fairfax counties, but is open to any neurodivergent individual who can commute to our gardens for weekly work responsibilities during the growing season.

We focus on teaching work responsibilities and competencies while increasing personal awareness and self-regulation as these are foundational capacities that lead to improved employment and job retention. Through relational modeling, we mentor and support our apprentices to be their authentic selves by engaging their talents and capabilities. By working as equals who are all focused on the same goals and by relying on our apprentices to complete customer deliverables, our program strengthens apprentice capacities for self-organization, initiative, and leadership. It isn’t just about building their skills, but more importantly about increasing their confidence; apprentices achieve a higher level of personal adjustment and can further their contributions as members of society.

“He feels so confident and comfortable that when he was talking with professors during college seminars and asking questions about their programs, he was able to have a really great conversation and sound very professional,” Angela said about her son, Colin. Not only is Colin one of our apprentices who has worked in our garden, but he also lent his talents as an entrepreneurially focused Writing Apprentice, creating a blog for Legacy Farms called The Green Thumb. Speaking to Colin’s participation in Growing Together and how it has made him more confident and self-assured in the world outside of the farm, Angela elaborated, “He could actually talk about what he was doing at Legacy Farms. He felt really proud about it, just being in the professional work as a writer.”

In 2022, Legacy Farms served 32 neurodivergent individuals in apprenticeship, garden team lead, mentor, and committee/Board roles, while also providing support for over a third of those individuals in secondary jobs and/or outplacement. Our goal in 2023 is to expand our farm space as well as expand the number of CSA’s that we are able to offer. This GivingTuesday, help Legacy Farms raise $10,000 so that we can expand the number of apprentices we are able to serve in 2023!

Learn more about Legacy Farms by visiting their website.

End-of-Year Tips & Tricks

End-of-Year Tips & Tricks

End-of-Year (EOY) is often a stressful and chaotic time for fundraisers. With a little planning, you can reduce stress for you and your team, and still meet your EOY goals! In this article, we’ve outlined some helpful hints and tips to keep in mind as you plan your End-of-Year fundraising campaigns.

Planning and Goal-Setting

First, do a little planning. Pull out your calendar and figure out key dates for your campaign. When and for how long do you want your EOY campaign to run? Will you include GivingTuesday as part of your campaign, or do you prefer to run that separate from EOY? As you determine the timing of your campaign, consider who else is helping you and when. If you’re a development team of one, see if other staff at your organization can help pitch in, even if it’s just folding letters and stamping envelopes. Put on some music and make it festive, if that’s your thing!

As you consider the timing of your campaign and your capacity, set some realistic goals; these don’t have to be just about money! You can set a goal for how much you’d like to raise, but do also consider a few goals around your initial outreach and follow up. These are the low-hanging fruit that will help you evaluate your campaign and plan for next year!


Now that you’ve outlined the campaign on your calendar, figured out your capacity, and set a few goals, it’s time to think about the messaging. Your communications should be focused on the future and the problem or issue that donors to your campaign will help you solve. Bring them into the fold even more by using donor-focused language and explain how their support is needed at this particular time. Create urgency — but be realistic about it as well. What difference does a donor’s gift make to your organization, and how quickly will you use these funds to solve the problem?

You don’t need to cram all your messaging and urgency into one email or one letter. Spread it out over a few emails throughout the timeline of your campaign and use a few different communications channels. These different communications channels are your friends! It takes a little more work at the outset to segment your lists and develop targeted messaging for each, but it is well worth it in the end.

Consider your message to your social media audience, your email newsletter audience, as well as your donors who receive a letter in the mail. Chances are there is some overlap in each of these audiences, but not much. You can vary your asks here as well. For example, while email and direct mail are great places to make specific asks, social media can perhaps be leveraged for its multiplier effects so that you can amplify the pithiest parts of your EOY messaging to your followers’ networks. You might also utilize phone calls or other one-on-one meetings if reaching out to major donors is part of your EOY strategy.

Additionally, it might seem counterintuitive, but not all your communications need to be asks for support. Instead, sprinkle some cultivation touchpoints throughout your EOY campaign. This could include sending a holiday newsletter about your work or pushing out some infographics on social media highlighting your organization’s impact over the past year. This helps donors know what their past dollars have done and connects the dots to what their future contributions can do for your organization.

Post-Campaign and Other Tips

As you continue to plan your campaign, consider any additional opportunities to pique donors’ interest and garner support. One way is through matching gifts. Often, your foundation partners, corporate supporters, or Board members can be sources of matching gifts to challenge donors to give, creating another layer of engagement for your campaign. A matching gift should be discussed and planned out more than just a few weeks from the beginning of your campaign, so if it isn’t in the cards for this year, it’s a great idea to put in your back pocket for EOY 2023!

In January, make sure to take some time to celebrate your EOY success with your team and the donors who made it possible. Promptly send thank-you letters and receipts. If your campaign was primarily via email and donors gave through an online portal, they likely already received an acknowledgement note and a tax receipt. If your donors gave through the mail, tally up those gifts throughout your campaign and issue letters and receipts as soon as you can. Either way, follow up again with donors about 4-6 weeks after your campaign wrapped up to thank them once more and let them know how their contributions are being used. They’ll be glad to hear from you!

End-of-Year doesn’t have to be stressful. Taking some time to plan out your campaign, setting some (realistic) goals, and considering your messaging and audience will put you on the path to success! With each year, you can continue to build upon your successes from the year before and make any improvements or adjustments. Step by step, EOY will hopefully get a little easier and a little more fun!

Found this article helpful? The Catalogue for Philanthropy offers similar resources through our Learning Commons membership, which provides access to 80+ live webinars every year and a portal that houses over 200+ existing tools, recorded webinars, and more. If you’re not a nonprofit in the Catalogue network and you’re interested in learning more about a membership, please contact Chiara Banez, our Nonprofit Programs Manager.

Rest, Dream, & Build: The Fight for Guaranteed Income in DC

Rest, Dream, & Build: The Fight for Guaranteed Income in DC

“The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct, and immediate abolition of poverty,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in 1967. The last book he published before he was assassinated laid out the case for guaranteed income, a vision that the Mother’s Outreach Network (MON) continues to make a reality here in Washington, DC, today through the work of the DC Guaranteed Income Coalition.

This November 17th, the Coalition celebrates its second anniversary. Though MON was founded in 2010 to build the power of parents and achieve economic security for families — and especially for Black mothers who are either formerly incarcerated or who have children in the child welfare system — it was during the pandemic that Melody Webb, Executive Director of MON, became interested in furthering the emergency pandemic relief programs that the government had started through exploring guaranteed income policy.

“The time seemed ripe because suddenly many Americans and policy makers at all levels woke up to the long-standing need for deeper systemic solutions. That was the genesis,” Melody shared with the Catalogue in a recent interview. “Because there were so many efforts underway, like Thrive East of the River, including programs growing up across the country and abroad, it just made common sense.”

Since the Coalition was conceived in 2020, their push for the city’s first pot of guaranteed income public funding helped result in a one-time $1.5M appropriation for guaranteed income pilots here in DC. This represents a step towards an economically just future for a wide range of DC communities who are excluded from the current social safety net. But there is still so much more to be done.

What is guaranteed income?

So, what is guaranteed income? As the Guaranteed Income Community of Practice defines, it is “a regular cash payment accessible to members of a community, with no strings attached and no work requirements.” According to the Economic Security Project, “nearly half of all households don’t even have $400 in cash on hand to deal with an emergency or unexpected bill.” Instead, due to austerity politics and systemic racism, it is now nearly impossible for people “to build a strong economic foundation for themselves and their families.” Many of us are actually familiar with such direct cash payments from the federal government — namely, the stimulus payments that were provided during the height of the pandemic.

“Cash can make all the difference for you,” said Hanh Le, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at if, A Foundation for Radical Possibility, a Coalition member. “That’s one of the things we talk about with our (Let’s GO DMV! guaranteed income pilot for hospitality workers). When has cash made a difference in your life? Whether it’s $5, $500, or $5,000, everyone has a story about the impact extra cash can make. We can all relate to that.”

In contrast to a Universal Basic Income, which would give everyone identical cash payments, guaranteed income is a targeted measure that provides money on a regular basis to lower-income individuals regardless of their age, health, or employment status — and is specifically meant to lift them above a minimum income floor. In the 1960s, Black mother and economic justice advocate Johnnie Tillmon fought for Guaranteed Adequate Income through the National Welfare Rights Organization to dismantle conditions keeping “all women on their knees.”

“(Tillmon) saw Guaranteed Adequate Income as a way to break down the categories we use to give people cash based on who they are,” Melody echoed. “She held a vision to address the needs of those living below an income floor without regard to their identities — whether they’re a parent, or a mom of a young enough child to qualify for benefits.”

15% of DC residents live below the federal poverty line. Though this is only one measure of economic security, in 2022, the federal poverty line is approximately $13,000 for a one-person household. “For me, that’s shameful,” said Melody. “In this nation of such wealth there’s no reason anyone should live below this already meager federal poverty line. The biggest goal is to have us all work together, rise up, and demand city leaders put in place a guaranteed income and fixes to existing safety net programs to provide people with higher incomes without cutting their Medicaid and disability insurance.”

Why should you join the fight for guaranteed income?

As part of the Coalition’s push to educate and draw support from the broader DC community, Coalition members and volunteers canvass different parts of the city to talk about guaranteed income. Often, in conversations about guaranteed income, harmful narratives pop up around what people who are lower- or no-income, or working people, do when they get extra cash.

“Some of us judge our neighbors who don’t have extra money when they receive it and spend it on ensuring they can rest and take their kids to the beach for the first time,” Melody explained. A core value underlying guaranteed income is self-determination and trusting that people make the best choices for themselves, their families, and their communities.

“We believe people will take care of their basic needs,” Melody stated. “Who are we to determine what those needs are? If we give people cash, they deserve the agency to determine how to use their money.” Reports on other pilot programs show that when you give people money, they spend it on things like healthcare or tutoring their kids or traveling back and forth from work.

But we need to move beyond this framing, too. As Hanh shared, people should be able to spend their money to “rest, dream and build power, whatever they want to build for their families and communities.” Guaranteed income can lead to the systems change we need for people to move out of poverty.

Moreover, “there’s a moral force behind guaranteed income that’s powered by the racial equity outcomes that it has the potential to achieve,” Melody emphasized. “We think this is the way we should lead — with Black and Brown people at the forefront of our cause.” This includes people like Vee Tucker, the life-long activist and worker-leader who innovated the concept of the Let’s GO DMV! pilot.

“(Vee) came to if with the vision for Let’s GO DMV! for hospitality workers who are un- and under-employed because of COVID-19,” Hanh elaborated. “She and her fellow hospitality workers have been out there with the Coalition canvassing, testifying, and delivering petitions to Mayor Bowser. It’s pretty amazing, the power they have.” Most importantly and inspirationally, “None of us alone, including our institutions, can be making the changes we hope to make.”

While the Coalition celebrates change happening in DC, such as publicly-funded pilots, their ultimate goal is greater policy change for a permanent, government-supported guaranteed income and a more effective public benefits system. Join if, Diverse City Fund, Meyer Foundation, and the Coalition’s other supporters in getting engaged by signing/sharing their petition, volunteering, or offering your financial support! You can learn more about the Coalition at their virtual 2nd anniversary celebration on November 17, by joining their monthly working group meetings, and by visiting their website.

Local Nonprofit Bulletin (11.11.22)

Local Nonprofit Bulletin


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