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A Young Performing Artist’s Dream Comes True

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 3.56.43 PMAt just 16 years-old, Mateo Ferro only dreamed of performing at The Kennedy Center in a Lin-Manuel Miranda Tony Award Winning musical. But, right now, he is rehearsing alongside stars like Vanessa Hudgens and Eden Espinosa for just that dream. Last month Broadwayworld.com and Playbill.com announced that Ferro was cast in the Washington, DC premiere of IN THE HEIGHTS, to run at The Kennedy Center from March 21st to March 25th.

Ferro has been a dedicated performing arts student since he was a student at Rocky Hill Middle School, but it wasn’t until he enrolled in Young Artists of America at Strathmore (YAA), a 2017-2018 Catalogue nonprofit, that his dream of professional performances was realized. Young Artists of America at Strathmore is the region’s premier training organization for collaborative performing artists. It is the only known program in the nation where high school students receive mentorship and individualized instruction from renowned artists while training to perform fully-orchestrated works of music-theatre in state-of-the-art venues. With campuses in Montgomery County, MD and Howard County, MD, students from all over the mid-Atlantic region participate in their Performing Ensembles, while many travel from overseas for their Summer Performing Arts Intensives.Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 3.52.06 PM

Although Ferro only needed to travel from Clarksburg, MD, his experience at last year’s Summer Intensive set this dream in motion. Ferro was cast as the lead, playing Usnavi in YAA’s summer showcase production of IN THE HEIGHTS. His performance, which he perfected during the two-week summer intensive, made a lasting impression on YAA’s Founder and Artistic Director, Rolando Sanz. So much so, that when Sanz was contacted by The Kennedy Center’s Casting Director over the fall of 2017 in search of a young, local performer who could also rap, Sanz thought of Ferro immediately. The Casting Director then invited Ferro to audition for the role of Sonny, and Ferro was subsequently cast.

Read more about Ferro’s story in his own words and watch highlights of his performance here.

Past, Present, and Future: Our Team is Our Greatest Treasure

Like all community-based nonprofits, Art Enables‘ team is our most important asset. We are small but mighty, with just four full-time and one part-time staff members to advance our mission of creating opportunities for artists with disabilities to make, market, and earn income from their original and compelling artwork.

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The process of growing to a staff of five has taken 15 years. In Art Enables first year in 2001, our founder, Joyce Muis-Lowery, accomplished the vast majority of our work with support from a small group of very committed volunteers. Art Enables at that time was focused on its studio arts and exhibitions programs, both very entrepreneurial in nature. Through the studio arts program, our resident artists experiment, develop, and create their artwork in a supported and professional studio environment. Our exhibitions program showcases and promotes our artists through large group, small group, and individual exhibitions both onsite in our galleries and through offsite shows at local, national, and international venues. In addition to fundraising and managing operations, Joyce, with the help of that small group of volunteers, led almost all aspects of our programs in those early days.

In 2002, Art Enables hired its first full-time employee, an Art Director, devoted to overseeing a significant portion of the operations elements of the program. This role was an important first hire because the organization had just moved into a new physical location, our first opportunity to really develop and expand our work. Managing the onsite programs, along with developing a public outlet for our artists’ work, required experience of and savvy with the broader arts community.

As we continued to build upon and improve our programs, we recognized there was still more we could do to engage the general public and to foster our artists’ success as professionals. We piloted our community arts program in 2012, and now we host a variety of workshops, joint art projects, events, and exhibitions as a way for the public to join our artists in the art making (and enjoyment!) process. A mainstay of the community arts program is our 2nd Saturday Workshops, which now regularly host hundreds of DC area residents, supporters, neighbors, families, art lovers, and passers-by at each free event. (We hope to see you at one check out our news and events page for upcoming happenings!)

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As the expansion of our program offerings show, we’ve accomplished a tremendous amount since 2001. Art Enables artists have sold nearly $1 million in artwork since our founding, and have exhibited work in hundreds of exhibitions and shows. We’ve worked hard to find new ways to advance our mission and to enrich the lives and careers of our artists.

Yet there’s still so much more we can and want to do. As we look ahead to our next 15 years, we see incredible opportunity for us to strengthen our creative and vocational assistance to artists in the program, increase their income opportunities, and support them as they build their careers as professional artists. We are also driven to enhance and broaden our profile not only as a gallery and studio, but as an arts venue and community space that fosters artistic expression and collaboration as well. And through all our work, we want to strengthen our voice as a leader on issues that impact the disabilities and arts communities.

With those goals on the horizon, we have our work cut out for us! That’s why as a first step towards success on this next phase of our work, we’re excited to add our first-ever dedicated fundraising professional to our staff.

The role we created, Development and Communications Manager, is the result of much deliberation, conversation, and excitement for our future. Investing in a new staff member is always a big commitment. That said, I see all the ways that investing in development is critical to moving our work and our goals forward. Art Enables is committed to supporting the artists in our studio on their professional journey, and this exciting new position will be key to that effort.

Please help Art Enables find its new Development and Communications Manager. Share this link – Development and Communications Manager or apply yourself!

Developing New Solutions With Food Recovery Network

by Regina Northouse, Executive Director, Food Recovery Network

File_000 (1)Food Recovery Network (FRN) is the largest student movement against food waste and hunger in America. FRN unites and empowers college students to recover surplus food from their campus dining halls and surrounding food businesses and donate that food to hunger-fighting nonprofits who feed those most in need. With 230 university chapters across the country and growing, FRN’s goal is to support higher education in being the first sector where food recovery is the norm and not the exception. Through the power of highly motivated student leaders, FRN has recovered and donated more than 2.1 million pounds of food since 2011.

FRN positively impacts our communities. Our student leaders support over 350 hunger-fighting partners including homeless shelters, food banks and food pantries, providing them with wholesome, nutritious meals to give to their clients.

The U.S. food system is marked by an alarming paradox: nearly 40% of food produced in the US goes to waste, while 48.1 million Americans experience food insecurity each year, one out of seven of whom are children (NRDC 2016; USDA 2015).

Food Recovery Network was formed in 2011 by college students at the University of Maryland who wanted to address these issues of food waste and food insecurity, and their social and environmental impacts. These impacts include wasting 23% of potable water and 18% of valuable cropland, as well as emitting methane into the atmosphere, contributing to the rise of greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change.

What sets FRN apart, is our innovative model which empowers and educates young leaders and breaks down barriers between college campuses by helping students develop new solutions to problems in their communities, to connect with nonprofits in their area and help and build relationships with their neighbors who also happen to be in need. Through our model, our civic-minded student leaders gain confidence in their own abilities to challenge the status quo and fight for what is right.

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Food Recovery Network is a national nonprofit that applies local solutions to specific communities to ensure surplus food gets to those who need it most. I know I speak for my amazing team at FRN headquarters in College Park, Maryland, when I say we are continually inspired by our hard-working student leaders all over the country.

Many of FRN’s students often do more than volunteer with their FRN chapter. Our students pursue other opportunities in the food recovery movement, such as gleaning from local farms, recovering nonperishable food items during the days when students on their college campus move out for the semester, and participate in summer recoveries. The student leaders also volunteer with the nonprofit where they donate their surplus food by tutoring, preparing and serving meals and helping with cleanup initiatives.

We talk to our leaders all the time and there are so many inspiring stories. Actually, when asked about her relationship with her chapter’s partner nonprofit, one student from Michigan said, “Every time I brought food to our partner agency, I would meet one of the residents and they would be so kind and grateful! I loved being a part of this amazing organization and movement! It has made me realize that I want to incorporate more awareness and advocacy in my future career.”

Recently, we were told by an FRN alum that one of her limiting criteria for searching for which grad schools she wanted to apply to was whether that the school had an FRN chapter so she could remain engaged as a graduate student.

At the heart of what drives FRN to pursue the work we do is two things. First, being able to provide a source of nutritious food to those who would otherwise not have access. We’re here to be part of our communities. Second, we want to change behavior to reduce food waste at the source post production. This is one of the highest instances of food waste (versus food wasting on the vine for example). We don’t want to overproduce food in order to donate it, we want to ensure good food isn’t wasted to begin with, and when there happens to be surplus, which, let’s be honest, much of the time there will be, that food should feed our fellow neighbors in need.

In addition to recovering food from their campuses, students have the opportunity to volunteer their time with the hunger-fighting partners and the individuals they serve, highlighted by Lighthouse Outreach Ministries, “Everyone likes to see the college kids ride up! The homeless have families that they are separated from and it makes everyone smile to know they are not invisible.”

FRN is dedicated to continuing our work in the food recovery space and to expand the movement, as we continue to provide support and resources for driven, civic-minded students seeking opportunities to engage with their communities and build their leadership skills. I look forward to collaborating and partnering with individuals and other organizations to move the needle on the issue of food waste and food loss. I hope those reading this post know they can be part of the conversation with us!

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FRN hopes to see our network expand to 350 chapters across the country, and our ability to recover 1 million pounds of perfectly good food year-over-year. We’re working to expand our Food Recovery Verified (FRV) program that recognizes and rewards food businesses of any type that are working to fight waste and feed people through food recovery. FRV serves as a third party that verifies that food businesses are donating surplus food to hunger fighting non-profits. We list those businesses on our website, we have a communications strategy to give voice to those businesses, and each business receives a window sticker to display on their doors or on marketing materials to tell patrons their business does the right thing with their surplus food. To date, FRN has over 90 food businesses that have been verified including Adidas, Zulily, and Twitter Inc.

Success is when each point within our food system has decreased food waste by implementing better practices to avoid overproduction of food–meaning at the farm level, the producer and purchasing level, at the retail level and individual consumer level. I know that as this conversation takes hold in the consciousness of more people, FRN is part of that behavior change.

Success is having the proper logistics in place for when there is surplus food to properly and effectively distribute that food to those who need it most across the country. We also want our student leaders to be part of the full process. Our students are the future entering into literally every sector in our country as business owners, chefs, teachers, engineers, technicians and farmers who all share the FRN experience. That experience has shaped their thinking about their ability to positively impact the lives of their community members, as well as how to reduce food waste. That’s the FRN lens. We want that FRN voice to continue to speak even once our students have graduated from college.

A great day at FRN features our small but mighty team at the national office working to support and expand the national network. That includes connecting with existing chapters on the phone, social media, emails and getting them what they need to go out and recover, or move closer to achieving their newest goals for the semester.

FRN works closely with our hunger-fighting partners collecting vital information, analyzing it, and then passing along new resources to our chapter leaders. At FRN, we’re constantly refining our work–what can we do better, what have we learned from our previous projects, what didn’t we do well, and where did we knock it out of the park?

As we grow, how we scale has to change, and how are we addressing those needs? Hearing the hum of our feedback loop in the office–during our project planning meetings is important, too. Additionally, our staff works with non-university food businesses that recover food to recognize them for their efforts and inspire other businesses to begin recovering through our Food Recovery Verified program.

All of these variations operations take place in our national office, made possible by our dedicated, passionate, and collaborative staff!

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There are plenty of ways to be involved, and we need you to be involved with us!

  • FRN welcomes all interested volunteers, including non-students, to help out with their local chapters!
  • Non-student volunteers are encouraged to reach out to their local chapter leaders, as many chapters seek the help of additional volunteers as drivers or mentors, if not during the actual recoveries as well. A list of chapters by state and their respective chapter leaders, contact information can be accessed here.
  • The national office is always here to make connections, too. FRN national is setting up gleaning dates throughout the fall in and around the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia area. We would love for you to help us recover perfectly good food right at the farm!Contact our national office now to put your name on the list for more information.
  • Help us expand! If you’re alma mater isn’t on the FRN map and you know students who attend and would make a great leader, put them in touch with us! Students can start by filling out our very short application.
  • Support our second annual National Food Recovery Dialogue. This is our annual conference that brings together our student leaders, industry experts, and community members to put into context the bigger picture of our work, and is a space to roll up our sleeves to problem solve on-the-ground problems, share resources, and break bread with one another.
  • Have some fun and start a “Zero Waste Challenge” for FRN. That can mean reducing your waste by eliminating plastic straws from your daily use, or paper napkins like our national board member Jessica did, or it could mean trying to go completely zero waste like our other national board member, Claire did. Anyone can do it, and it’s quite the amazing experience!
  • If you have an expertise that you think can help FRN, please reach out to us. We’re growing and need dedicated support in several areas. Please contact FRN headquarters by emailing info@foodrecoverynetwork.org or phone +1 (240) 615-8813 with any questions, or to be involved.

Metro Shutdown Brings New Riders to Local Roads (and Trails!)

Last week the region watched — and waited — to see how the news of WMATA’s Metro shutdown would affect daily commutes. With more than 700,000 daily riders on metro trains, most riders who were unable to telework were left to take to the roads by bus or by car. But for one local organization, the shutdown was an opportunity to bring attention to another commuting alternative: bicycling!

Following last week’s announcement, Washington Area Bicyclist Association and its supporters sprang into action, encouraging commuters to give biking a try through guided bike pools across the region (#WMATAbikepool), distributing maps and tips on their blog, and meeting riders on local trails.

We caught up with Colin Browne, Communications Coordinator at WABA, to learn how they organized efforts so quickly following the news of the shutdown, and how they plan to carry this momentum forward through 2016 and beyond.

bikeawesomeHow did the concept for #WMATAbikepool start?

Colin: In the WABA office, as soon as we heard about the Metro shutdown, we knew it was going to be a big day for bike commuters, and more specifically, a big day for people to feel good about biking to work. We wanted to harness that enthusiasm before it just curdled into traffic schadenfreude. I put together a quick blog post and some social media posts that I hoped would set a welcoming tone for the conversation (especially on Twitter, which can drift into cynicism very quickly) and encourage folks to reach out to their coworkers and neighbors.

The idea for the #WMATAbikepool hashtag came from a member of our Women & Bicycles Facebook group named Anita Kinney, who used it and suggested that others do the same.

I think the hashtag worked because it was a grassroots idea that WABA was able to amplify. These sorts of campaigns, even when they happen very quickly, feel so much more organic when an organization can say “look at this cool thing that people are doing” rather than “You should use this hashtag.” It really provides an opportunity for people to feel good about the community that they’re a part of, instead of just having a logo and acronym telling them what to do.

Do you have a favorite “rider moment” from the day?

Colin: We set up a table to give away coffee and granola bars on the Met Branch Trail in Eckington. I showed up with my camera, planning to take a few photos of a busy trail and then head back to the office. I ended up staying for three and half hours and only took a dozen pictures because there were so many happy people to talk to. Data from DDOT said that biking on the trail was up 65%, and we gave away three times as much coffee as we normally do at our trailside coffee events.

My favorite rider moment was chatting with a woman who’d stopped for some coffee and was commuting on her bike for the first time. She had ridden twelve miles in from her home in Forest Glen on the Sligo Creek Trail. It was the longest ride she’d ever done, and she was beaming! She said she was already excited for the ride home.

Were there any big takeaways/key lessons that WABA learned on this day?

Colin: The experience really drove home how important it is to be able to not just react, but engage quickly with an opportunity like this. This could easily have been a situation where we pushed out some some generic, one-way content about biking to work and left it at that. Instead we had an authentic community moment that really let people feel how powerful their own energy and enthusiasm is.

What big projects is WABA currently working on?

Colin: We just finished off a yearlong strategic planning process and published a 5 year strategic plan. Out topline goals are to triple the number of people who ride bikes in the region by 2020, and ensuring that, by 2035, every resident in the region (we work in DC, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax County) lives within 1 mile of a protected place to ride a bike.

To find out how you can get involved with WABA, visit waba.org.

Do More 24

There’s still time! Nonprofit organizations across the region are participating in DoMore24 (until midnight tonight!) a day of giving towards community causes. So many of “the best” charities featured in the Catalogue are raising funds today — for soccer uniforms, to publish teen authored books, to provide legal services to homeless individuals and low-income refugees and so much more.

Need some inspiration? Check out our listing of great nonprofits here!

And as a bonus, several of our charities have matching funds to double the impact of your gift today. Take a look at these Catalogue charities, listed by category:

ARTS

ENVIRONMENT & COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT

EDUCATION

HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES

2nd Celebration of Catalogue Reviewers & Charities

On Tuesday, June 17th the Catalogue celebrated our 2014 reviewers and newest class of charities at a reception in the Clarendon Ballroom. With a warm welcome to all from Catalogue Board Treasurer, Tom Raffa — who makes the financial review possible year after year — this event recognized the incredible dedication of our 120+ person review team and welcomed the charities they selected for the upcoming 2014/15 Catalogue, 26 of whom are brand new to the Catalogue network.

In a special presentation, President & Editor Barbara Harman honored several long-standing reviewers who have given over a decade of service to the Catalogue — including Oramenta Newsome (LISC DC), who has participated in all 12 years of the Catalogue’s review since our inception in 2003! Reviewers Bob Wittig (Jovid Foundation), Julia Baer Cooper (Lois & Richard England Family Foundation) and Silvana Straw (Community Foundation for the National Capital Region) were recognized for 11 years of service, and Suzanne Martin (formerly of the Fowler Foundation) received the “above and beyond” award in recognition of the quality & quantity of her thoughtful reviews over the past six years. The Catalogue is made possible by our program and financial reviewers and we were so pleased to have so many join us and meet the Class of 2014/15!

A huge thanks to our host and long time friend Sandra Hoehne at the Clarendon Ballroom, our nonprofit representatives, our reviewers, the Catalogue Board and special friends of the Catalogue from the Meyer Foundation, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, the Cohen Foundation and the Otto Whalley Foundation. Thanks to everyone in attendance for making this our best celebration yet, and stay tuned for updates as our production process leads us to the release of the Catalogue on November 1st!

President Barbara Harman presents awards to Bob Wittig, Silvana Straw, and Julia Baer Cooper for 11 years of Service

 

President Barbara Harman with 12-year reviewer Oramenta Newsome

Reflections from the Road: Holiday Journeys and #GivingTuesday

As we prepare for the holidays – packing suitcases, loading up the car, battling traffic or airport lines – it seems that the process of getting to our destination has become as much a part of holiday tradition as turkey, stuffing and that awkward annual dinner toast from a distant relative.

This inevitable “are we there yet?” mentality stretches beyond just the holiday travel season — it extends to our personal goals, career objectives and other milestones in life. Yet, while we’re on these personal journeys, it’s important that we use this time of year to stop and reflect — here, in this moment — on the things that have brought us to where we are today…and be thankful.

This Tuesday, December 3rd, #GivingTuesday gives us that unique opportunity after both Thanksgiving and the holiday shopping that follows to further reflect on all that we’ve been given, and turn our gratitude into impact.

As an official #GivingTuesday partner, the Catalogue for Philanthropy encourages you to reflect and re-think your approach to holiday shopping: as you shop for loved ones this year during the sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, turn your pennies saved into pennies…given.

With the Catalogue’s #APennySaved campaign, think about using your holiday shopping savings to lift up those in need in our community through your support of our 350+ local, vetted charities (You can learn more about them and give at www.cfp-dc.org/nonprofits). Use the money you save on items purchased this holiday weekend to change your community for good.

This holiday season, travel safely, reflect on the journey, and give thanks by giving back.

 

 

Around Town 10/25-10/31

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With Fall in full swing, our nonprofits are getting busy! See what great events you can head to in the upcoming week. Are you a current Catalogue nonprofit with an event to promote? Make sure to put it in your portal so you can see your event in an upcoming Around Town! Continue reading

Around Town: 10/11-10/17

No matter what type of event you are looking to head to this weekend, the events featured below will all help you make a difference in your community. See what you can do to give back to great nonprofits in your own backyard. Continue reading