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Guest Post: HomeAid Northern Virginia

Catalogue nonprofit HomeAid Northern Virginia is in the business of connecting local housing organizations and emergency shelters with professional homebuilders, trade partners, and sub-contractors who can offer the best renovations at the lowest costs. In this guest blog post, Executive Director Christy Eaton discusses one partnership that helped change the lives of hundreds of homeless residents. Read more about HomeAid Northern Virginia on their website, and learn more about other Catalogue nonprofits working to end homelessness here.

Public-Private Partnership Results in Renovation for Transitional Housing Program – and Brings Hope to Formerly Homeless Women and Families

By Christy Eaton, Executive Director, HomeAid Northern Virginia

The Washington, D.C., area is the ninth most expensive place to live in the U.S., with area homeowners averaging $8,798 in monthly living expenses and renters averaging $6,444 (Council for Community and Economic Research). In Virginia, 15 percent of children are living in poverty (Kids Count).

In Northern Virginia, home to some of the nation’s richest counties, nearly 1,000 children in families were identified as being homeless in 2012 (Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments).

It’s a dichotomy that HomeAid Northern Virginia has been seeking to change since we were established in 2001. We have built and renovated homeless shelters, transitional houses and other facilities throughout Northern Virginia in an effort to end homelessness in a region where many think no such problems exist. But we don’t do it alone: working with homebuilders, trade partners, government officials, and private and corporate donors, we have completed 77 projects with a retail value of nearly $12 million more than half of which was donated and has allowed service providers the ability to focus millions more of their funding on programs and services for their clients rather than on facility repairs. Together, we’ve given new hope to more than 20,000 individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet in our region.

What is perhaps most critical to our success is our ability to develop public-private partnerships between homebuilders, non-profits and government agencies. For one of our most recent projects, a $250,000 renovation of eight apartments at the Loudoun Transitional Housing Program, we brought together the Loudoun County government, which owns the property; Volunteers of America Chesapeake, which operates the transitional housing program at the shelter; and homebuilders Miller & Smith and Winchester Homes to lead the renovation, along with 32 trade partners, suppliers and manufacturers.

I worked closely with builder captain project managers Scott Alford, operations manager, Miller & Smith, and Brian Phebus, director of production, Winchester Homes; Russell K. Snyder, president of Volunteers of America Chesapeake; and Hope Stonerook, deputy director of the Loudoun County Department of Family Services. Together, as a team, we were able to bring this project to completion, on time and on budget. It was a partnership in the truest sense of the word, and everyone throughout Loudoun County will benefit.

The homeless families and single women who live in the transitional shelter are, of course, among our greatest beneficiaries. Living in well-designed, high-quality homes returns much-needed dignity to peoples lives and boosts their self-esteem, allowing formerly homeless clients to regain confidence and long-term stability.

In fact, Scott York, Chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, pointed out that providing housing and supportive services to homeless families and single women has had very real impact: “Since the Department of Family Services began managing the program in 2006,” he said, “more than 200 individuals have been served. In the last five years, 96 percent of the people discharged from the program have moved to a permanent housing situation.”

Upon seeing their new apartments for the first time, we heard one mom say, “I was completely shocked to see the new rooms; what a feeling to have the help my family and I are getting through this program, and to be able to come back each day to these rooms. They’re like luxury apartments, and they make me feel worth something.”

Interestingly, the Loudoun facility was, according to Hope Stonerook, a joint effort between the County and the building industry when it was first built in 1991. “Even then,” she said, “the County donated the land, and the building industry donated the materials and labor.”

Finding two Builder Captains to take on the job of renovating all eight apartments this year was not difficult: Miller & Smith has worked with HomeAid Northern Virginia on nearly 10 other projects, and Winchester Homes has served as Builder Captain for a half-dozen of our projects over the years. Both companies are committed to corporate philanthropy, have made giving back a core value, and are always among the first to step up and do whatever it takes to help us make a difference in the lives of those who need help.

For this project, all eight apartments now feature entirely new kitchens with granite countertops, seating and custom-designed tables with peninsula tops; upgraded bathrooms with custom shelving; laminate hardwood flooring in the entry and living areas; improved light fixtures, electrical systems and plumbing work; built-in storage by each bed; bedding, doors, blinds and wire closet shelving systems; and interior furnishings.

Interior design team, Carlyn and Company Interiors + Design, helped maximize functionality of the relatively small apartment spaces, focusing on maximizing storage and reconfiguring the living space. They transformed plain, small apartments into homes that residents could feel proud of.

For the $250,000 project, 87 percent of the total cost was donated by builders, trade partners and HomeAid. The remaining cost, a little more than $30,000, was paid by Volunteers of America Chesapeake. There was zero cost to Loudoun County taxpayers.

“We couldn’t have imagined the transformation made possible by this partnership,” Volunteers of America’s Russ Snyder told me, “and because of it, we can change lives and give people independence. So many people in our communities are living on the edge due to loss of employment; loss of primary support in the household; domestic violence; medical or mental health issues; and a lack of affordable housing and without fail they’ve always been thankful for whatever we could provide them. But we knew that they could have a much better experience through this renovation. They’ll be happy to come home now.”

I knew Russ was right when I heard another mom say, “I think that these rooms are really good for my children. They see these rooms, and they know that there are people who care about us. These rooms give all of us something to work toward – the people who did this for us are God’s angels.”

Smart renovations and design maximized the functionality of eight apartments at the Loudoun Transitional Housing Program, turning small, stark spaces into beautiful, welcoming ones.



Guest Post: Washington Youth Garden

The Washington Youth Garden uses the garden cycle as a tool to enrich science learning, inspire environmental stewardship and cultivate healthy food choices in youth and families. Their blog chronicles nature adventures at the Garden, and a recent post by Emily Roberts, the 2013 Garden Education Assistant, shares her experience during her first week on the job through pictures. Find the original post and read more online here!

Hello there! My name is Emily and I’m the 2013 Garden Education Assistant at the Washington Youth Garden (WYG). Founded in 1971, the WYG (located at the U.S. National Arboretum) provides a unique, year-round environmental science and food education program for D.C. youth and their families. Using the garden and Arboretum as a living classroom, our programs teach participants to explore their relationships with food and the natural world.

This season I’ll be working with the other WYG staff to make SPROUT field trips run smoothly and plants grow strong. SPROUT stands for Science Program Reaching OUT, and is our widest-reaching program which invites youth and educators from all over the Washington metro area to visit to our demonstration garden site at the Arboretum. The program is offered three days a week (Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays) from April through October.

I’m no stranger to the garden, though – I’ve been volunteering nearly every Saturday morning during the growing season for the last three years. You should come volunteer with us too!

Here are a few photos I took during my first week. I hope you enjoy them, and hope to see you soon out at the garden.

Tuesday, April 30th was a much-needed rain day. I caught this globe allium hanging onto some water droplets.

On Wednesday, May 1st in the afternoon we were visited by some 5th and 6th graders from Washington Middle School and went through a number of Garden Basics - including a stop to taste some delicious sorrel.

In the morning on Thursday, May 2nd, first graders from Two Rivers School visited to go on what they called a “Pollinators Expedition!” As a part of our Pollination curriculum, we explored the butterfly garden, played the pollinator game, and checked out these awesome pollinator displays.

Meanwhile, soaking up all that rain from Tuesday, our broccoli florets silently began to form.

Visitors are welcome anytime the National Arboretum is open, Friday through Monday 8am to 5pm. Families are also invited to join in a Saturday morning Family Garden Day – you can learn more on our website.

In The News…

Charters not outperforming nation’s traditional public schools, report says (Washington Post) A recent report released by the Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes shows divergent success rates for charter schools, compared with traditional public schools, across the nation. In the aggregated results, charter schools nationwide didn’t show significantly better results than public schools 56% of the time for reading and 40% of the time for math. However, in the District of Columbia, charter schools showed much more impressive academic results in both subjects – outperforming traditional public schools. This is seen as a major win for the D.C. Public Charter School Board, as two new charter schools are set to open next year and over 40% of DC students attend charters.

Latest Projections Show Increase in DC FY14 Surplus (DC Fiscal Policy Institute) The latest revenue forecast for the District of Columbia shows a substantial surplus for both the FY13 and FY 14 years: an additional $86 million in revenue for fiscal year 2013 (the current fiscal year), and $92 million for fiscal year 2014. The DC Fiscal Policy Institue (DCatalogueI) argues that these funds should be spent to keep economic growth strong, while supporting struggling residents. Programs could include increased investments in adult literacy, child care, job training, and housing. The Washington Business Journal reports that Mayor Vincent Gray would like to see increases in spending for pre-school, mental health programs, and the arts — among other areas that overlap with DCatalogueI’s priorities.

Volunteers More Likely to Land Jobs, Study Finds (Corporation for National & Community Service) We always knew that volunteering was an intrinsically good thing to do, but the Corporation for National and Community’s Service (CNCS) recent report on volunteerism and employment makes a different case for it. The report finds that unemployed individuals who volunteer over the next year have 27 % higher odds of being employed at the end of the year than non volunteers. “This research has far-reaching implications for the volunteer sector, for workforce agencies, for policymakers, and for those who are out of work,” Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS, said. “We encourage nonprofits across the country to engage out-of-work Americans as volunteers, and to help them develop skills and contacts and take on leadership roles.”

And finally, the US Supreme Court issued rulings in four high profile cases this week — avoiding a major ruling on affirmative action in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, invalidating part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, and supporting the right of gays to marry and receive federal protection in Windsor v. United States and Hollingsworth v. Perry.

Equalizing Education

Last week, I came across an interesting article in Greater Greater Education, which considered the unintentional effects of emphasizing equality (and not necessarily equity) in education. Setting aside the conversation about whether our country’s attempts at providing an “equal education” are, in fact, equal, the author offers thought-provoking commentary on the philosophical and pragmatic tensions of a education focused on college preparation versus a more practical post-graduate path (equality vs adequacy).

While not offering a solution to this inherent conflict, the piece considers why equality in education is failing many of our public school students and not preparing them for the realities of working life:

…Only 32% of young adults complete an undergraduate degree by 29, meaning the vast majority of high school students need preparation for a decade or more of life without any further education. These students…need classes that prepare them to navigate government programs, secure employment, understand the contracts they sign, nurture relationships and build a family. They need to be taught about the structure of the US workforce, and what the requirements are on paper and in practice to advance in different industries. They need to be taught consumer financial skills.

On the other hand, free education is seen as the “great equalizer” in American society – the only opportunity equally afforded to all children regardless of race, class, gender, ancestry, disability, or any other status. Many first-generation college-bound students only learn about opportunities to climb the ladder from that one dedicated teacher or guidance counselor at school. Ideally, any student who is presented with these opportunities and encouraged enough would pursue the college dream, succeed, graduate, and provide a strong and supportive environment for her children to do the same. At least in theory, this is how marginalized and disadvantaged groups gain a greater level of wealth, power, and status within society.

In practice, many of us know this isn’t true. Public education has existed in this country for over 150 years, and yet the system has promoted institutionalized biases for much of that time – against women, minorities, and immigrants, among other groups. How do we recognize the failings in our current system of public education, while preserving its idealistic integrity, and equitably meet the needs of all students?

The nonprofit community has stepped up to tackle this challenge, providing educational enrichment programs that try to cover the spectrum of students’ needs. College prep nonprofits, like Collegiate Directions Inc, identify students who have high potential for success in college and offer them intensive support, beyond what public school can provide. The results are impressive, according to a recent opinion piece in the Washington Post:

Since we began in 2005, 98 percent of our scholars have graduated from four-year colleges within six years, compared with only 11 percent of low-income, first-generation students nationally, according to a 2008 Pell study. Our scholars exemplify how earlier intervention, personal advising and academic support are essential to finding, gaining admittance to and succeeding in a best-fit college.

Other nonprofits offer nontraditional high school programs that address head-on the reality that many students will face after graduation. For example, Youth Build Public Charter School prepares students for post-secondary education and the workplace by offering, in English and Spanish, academic, vocational and workforce development programs. The D.C. Students Construction Trades Foundation offers students the opportunity to explore a broad range of careers in the building industry and gain experience in those fields through a hybrid high school program.

As important as it is to strive towards the lofty goals of our public education system, it’s more of an injustice to our diverse student population today to ignore their realities. That doesn’t make the dilemma any less uncomfortable to face. We’re faced with providing a band-aid solution to overall economic inequality while our society figures out how to heal the deeper wounds. Ultimately, the patient can’t survive without either the band-aid or the surgery – something we shouldn’t forget when providing immediate solutions to education inequality in the United States.

Fighting to Read

Over the past few weeks, we’ve written about the importance of the DC One City fund as a support for the nonprofit sector (see posts here and here). At the same time, adult education advocates have waged another local budget battle over funding for the Pathways to Adult Literacy Fund. Yesterday, Catalogue nonprofit Academy of Hope Executive Director Lecester Johnson joined Community Foundation for the National Capital Region President Terri Lee Freeman to publish an op-ed in the Washington Post about this issue.

Johnson and Freeman tell the stories of Academy of Hope students who have changed their lives by completing a GED program. They also share compelling reasons for why adult literacy is so crucial – not only in general, but specifically in the District of Columbia:

More than 64,000 D.C. adults lack a high school credential. With limited basic math, reading and digital literacy skills, these residents have difficulty following written instructions, completing paperwork, communicating effectively with colleagues or helping their children with homework. This undermines the job security of workers, the economic viability of local businesses and the well-being of families…

Literacy is one of those root problems that, if addressed with serious investments, will pay off in multiple ways. For instance, earning a diploma is not only good for adult students; it also is good for their children. Parents with strong literacy skills can better help their children do homework, study and succeed in school. And young adults whose parents have a high school diploma are more likely to complete high school than are those whose parents do not, according to a 2012 Urban Institute report.

The DC City Council is still making decisions on the FY2014 budget. You can read more about current hearing and decisions online here, and lend support to those fighting for adult literacy programs here.

Your Giving Pledge

This week, Sara Blakely made philanthropy headlines by becoming the first female billionaire to sign the Giving Pledge – a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals to give a majority of their wealth to charity. It seems fitting that the first woman joins this elite group the week before Mother’s Day – a time of year to think about the important women and female role models in our lives. While eight other philanthropists also signed the Pledge this week, Blakely received the most attention – and not just for signing the pledge.

It was only in March of last year that Blakely joined the elite group of global billionaires – as well as an even smaller group of self-made female billionaires. (Only 2% of billionaires across the world who are women, the majority of whom inherited their wealth.) With those odds, it’s an achievement indeed that even one sits among the wealthiest individuals who have joined the Pledge and made a life-long commitment to philanthropy.

In reading Blakely’s pledge letter, I was inspired by the way that she recognized her privilege as a woman born into a country where girls can aspire to any career choice and have the freedom to pursue it. This is not the case in many countries around the world.

I have so much gratitude for being a woman in America. I never lose sight that I was born in the right country, at the right time. And, I never lose sight of the fact that there are millions of women around the world who are not dealt the same deck of cards upon their birth. Simply because of their gender, they are not given the same chance that I had to create my own success and follow my dreams. It it for those women that I make this pledge.

I was also inspired by her dedication to philanthropy since founding Spanx and focuses on the empowerment of women and girls across the globe.

I am committed to the belief that we would all be in a much better place if half the human race (women) were empowered to prosper, invent, be educated, start their own businesses, run for office – essentially be given the chance to soar! I pledge to invest in women because I believe it offers one of the greatest returns on investment. While many of the world’s natural resources are being depleted, one is waiting to be unleashed – women.

You don’t have to be a millionaire or billionaire like Sara Blakely to make a difference in the lives of women and girls – here in DC or around the world. Many of Catalogue’s nonprofits work to empower women – those who have been abused, exploited, ignored, or just not given the chance to thrive:

Women Thrive Worldwide advocates for programs that free women from poverty and violence.

District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH) provides safe housing to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.

FAIR Girls is a girls’ empowerment organization keeping girls safe from exploitation.

The Women’s Collective supports girls, women, families infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Girls on the Run (DC and Montgomery County) teaches girls self-esteem and healthy living through running.

Investing in Ending Homelessness

It’s budget season in DC, and the nonprofit/social sector community has been rallying lately around several different budget priorities for FY2014. We’ve written before about the One City Fund and the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region circulated a petition to fully fund adult literacy programs. Today, another issue caught our eye on the DC Fair Budget Coalition’s blog about tackling homelessness in the District. Many Catalogue nonprofits currently work with individuals and families experiencing homelessness in DC (as well as Maryland and Virginia), and we’ve shared posts before from organizations like Washington Legal Counsel for the Homeless and FACETS. In this article, Danielle Rothman from the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project shares her experience working at DC General and urges the DC City Council to fully fund the Housing First and Local Rent Supplement Programs tenant-based voucher programs in 2014.

A key theme in this piece is the fact that falling on hard times and into homelessness can happen to anyone. The profile of a struggling single mother who kept fighting for herself and her daughter, only to face an onslaught of new challenges, inspires compassion even for those most removed from poverty in the Greater Washington area:

Nicole is a 30-year-old woman with a knock-out smile. She exudes warmth and joy, and when she greets you with one of her signature hugs, you can’t help but feel a little happier. Nicole’s 7-year-old daughter, Taylor, is a bubbly little girl, with a flair for drama and a mischievous sparkle in her eye. If you saw Nicole and Taylor walking down the street, you might notice their close relationship, or maybe the energy they radiate. Perhaps you wouldn’t notice them at all, because they seem so much like any other mother-daughter pair. You would probably never guess that Nicole and Taylor are residents of the DC General Emergency Family Shelter, DC’s largest shelter for homeless families. You would certainly not be able to imagine the countless ordeals that they have been through…

Nicole’s ordeals included drug-addicted and absent parents, sexual assault, raising a daughter alone, and the financial pressures of students loans and family illness, and then her daughter’s own experience with sexual abuse. Each one of those challenges is more than most of us probably experience in a decade. And, Rothman notes, Nicole is not alone:

In my two years of working at DC General with the Playtime project, I have met a college educated mother of two who lost everything when she escaped domestic violence, a family where both parents lost jobs they’d had for years, a father who had to leave his job after his wife left because he could not find evening day care for his two little girls, and even a mother who used to volunteer at a homeless shelter. Much like Nicole, she never thought she would end up living in a shelter herself. These stories are common, and they are powerful reminders that homelessness can happen to anyone. We as a community must pull together to support these families and help them find solid ground again.

The DC City Council has the opportunity to help address the challenges faced by Nicole, and others staying at DC General and homeless shelters around town, by funding the programs mentioned above. However, the responsibility to help and make a difference goes beyond our local government, and lies with each member of the Greater Washington community. Consider getting involved with a Catalogue nonprofit that works with those experiencing hunger or homeless as a donor, volunteer, or advocate – more information online here.

The New Face of Philanthropy

Yesterday, the Meyer Foundation hosted a workshop about a recent report on next generation philanthropists: #NextGenDonors: Respecting Legacy, Revolutionizing Philanthropy. The report, a project of 21/64 and the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, surveyed thousands of high-capacity Millennial and Gen X donors (ages 21-40) in the United States. High level findings from the report show that next gen donors:

1. Conduct due diligence and do research before deciding whom to support.
2. Decide philanthropic goals or ideal solutions first, and then search for potential recipients who fit those
3. Fund efforts that address root causes and attempt systemic solutions
4. Prefer to have information about an organization’s proven effectiveness or measurable impact before deciding whether to support it
5. Often recommend a cause or organization to others

Many of the other trends that emerged from yesterday’s conversation include the importance of technology in engaging and cultivating donors (like the preference for email or online communications over printed mail) and the importance of demonstrating impact and outcomes. However, I find that these are the same trends that are currently discussed in conversations about “today’s donor” and not just the “30 year old, high capacity donor.”

At the Catalogue, we try to look at all emerging trends in philanthropy from the lens of a small nonprofit. One question at the event yesterday hit the nail on the head, in terms of recognizing the impact of a new donor profile for the small nonprofits with restricted resources and capacity – what does this all mean for us? How do we balance our current donor outreach with the type of specific engagement that is suggested for next generation donors…and continue offering the services and programs that our clients need? There are only so many hours in the day and dollars in the budget.

Not many donors are directly asked to reflect on the constraints that small nonprofits face and consider how this might impact their donor outreach. But for donors who admittedly have a preference or inclination towards the start-ups or little guys, perhaps they should be. It’s a tough question to consider for someone who isn’t immersed in the day-to-day operations of a nonprofit with a budget under $2 or $3 million (or even under $500,000). Obviously certain aspects, like a well-structured and aesthetically pleasing website, are must-have’s for today’s tech savvy world, but other types of donor personalization might be out of reach for an organization with a limited development team. This is gap that the Catalogue attempts to fill – addressing the information asymmetry in the philanthropy marketplace by allowing small nonprofits’ best versions to shine and connecting them to donors with whom those stories resonate.

How does your nonprofit attempt to engage millennial or next gen donors? Do you have specific outreach for this demographic? Let us know what you think!

Using Your Influence

Earlier this month, TEDxChange 2013 took place in Seattle, Washington. TED talks and TEDx events have gone viral over the past few years, taking place in cities and communities across the globe. TEDxChange 2013 focused on the theme of “positive disruption” and featured a speaker from our own community here in Greater Washington. Julie Dixon, Deputy Director of the Georgetown Center for Social Impact Communication (CSIC) and a friend of the Catalogue, was one of the six speakers at TEDxChange 2013, talking about social change and the currency of influence.

At Georgetown, Julie considers the intersection of digital media and social good, and presented the idea in her TED talk that social influence is perhaps the most valuable resource that each of us possess today. In the nonprofit and philanthropy sectors, the focus is often on mobilizing money from donors, time and skills from volunteers, but few organizations actively ask for supporters to use their influence on behalf of the common good. Julie posed the audience with a question — do likes on Facebook and retweets on Twitter really matter? — and definitively answered it with a yes. A well-crafted tweet or Facebook comment has the potential to find a kidney donor, raise money for the victim of bullying, or gain attention for local, state, or national legislation.

In Washington, influence is the currency of the day in for-profit and government circles. Isn’t it time that the not-for-profit sectors start using for social benefit as well?

Julie Dixon – Using Your Social Currency to Support Global Causes | TEDxChange: Positive Disruption

DC One City Fund Makes Its Entrance

Yesterday, DC Mayor Vincent Gray held a briefing at the Wilson Building about the One City Fund, a new initiative led by the DC Mayor’s Office, in partnership with many key nonprofit sector actors in the Washington area. The One City Fund is a new nonprofit funding mechanism in the FY2014 budget, and the briefing introduced the fund to the general public and nonprofit community. The current proposal makes available $15 million for nonprofits serving DC residents, through a competitive application process facilitated by the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region. The Fund will stand independent from government funding through other city departments, and aims to eliminate and replace earmarked nonprofit funding. (An important caveat: all information on the Fund is still preliminary, as the DC City Council has yet to approve it.)

Funding priorities for the One City Fund align with key goals of the DC One City Action Plan: growing and diversifying the DC economy; educating and preparing residents for the emerging new economy; improving the quality of life for DC residents; and increasing the city’s sustainability. Aside from these goals, priority funding areas for the Fund will include education, job training, homelessness, health, services for seniors, arts, public safety, and the environment. Obviously, most nonprofits in the District will meet those criteria in the broad sense, so keep this in mind too — Mayor Gray emphasized throughout the briefing that the application and selection process will prioritize innovation and new investments that will eventually become self-sustaining. Each grant cannot exceed $100,000 per year, though some projects may be renewed for up to three years.

What nonprofits need to know: The application requirements are still very preliminary, so expect more details over the summer (assuming that all goes to plan). The main take-away for potential applicants at this point is that the DC Government is looking for new nonprofit partners for government funding, and wants to help spark the innovation that will start to move the needle on key issue areas in the city. One other requirement – all funding must serve DC residents. Nonprofits operating in Maryland and/or Virginia as well as Washington must show through their proposals how any One City Fund monies will exclusively serve DC residents.

A comforting note for the smaller nonprofits in the Catalogue community: many questions were asked pertaining to the unique characteristics of small nonprofits during the briefing. The answers given by Mayor Gray and CFNCR President Terri Lee Freeman indicate that the application process will be flexible enough to accommodate smaller nonprofits (like those in the Catalogue), who do great work, have the potential to innovate, and can make a deep impact on their communities in DC.

For the community at large, the potential benefits of the One City Fund are substantial. The Mayor reiterated that an open, transparent, and competitive grant-making process is a step in the right direction for DC Government, and will allow more nonprofits to be part of that process. While, again, the Fund itself is in the planning stages, both Mayor Gray and Freeman spoke of several potential methods for using the grants to increase community knowledge and awareness of best practices in nonprofit work. This could include presentations by grantees on their work throughout the grant process; other collaboration/networking opportunities for grantees within the priority areas; and evaluations of the fund itself and its progress on moving the needle for areas like unemployment, workforce development, graduation rates, and environmental protection.

Next steps for those interested in One City Fund grants: On Thursday April 18th, the Committee of the Whole will hold a hearing on the One City Fund at the Wilson Building. Members of the nonprofit committee are encouraged to sign up to testify on behalf of the fund. More information will likely be made available by the Mayor’s Office and the Community Foundation after the One City Fund receives the green-light from the City Council – keep an eye on their websites over the summer for details on how and when to apply.