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Expanding our DC Leadership Team

The board of directors of the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington, celebrating its 15th year, is pleased to announce the selection of Bob Wittig as its first executive director. The Catalogue recognizes the region’s best small charities, is a leader in developing their capacity, and has helped raise over $37 million since its inception in 2003.

“This is an important step in ensuring the Catalogue’s longevity,” said board member Lauralyn Lee. “As the Catalogue expands its reach, and adds popular Learning Commons training and development programs, Bob’s 25 years of experience working in philanthropy and with small nonprofits makes him an ideal fit for our work going forward.”

After 15 years of overseeing the exceptional growth of the Catalogue, founder Barbara Harman has decided that it is time to move to the next phase of her presidency. She will focus on the Catalogue’s creative work, on partnership development, external relations, and future initiatives. “During this anniversary, it seems particularly important not just to celebrate the past but also to ensure the Catalogue’s future by strengthening its leadership team. As a founder-led organization that represents and supports nearly 400 community-based charities, we want to be a model for how nonprofits can remain vital and how transitions can be effective and powerful,” Harman said.

Wittig has a long record of leadership and commitment to the nonprofit community in the DC region, including a 14-year history as a reviewer of Catalogue applicants, and a facilitator in its training programs. He has been executive director of the Jovid Foundation in Washington, D.C. since 2002. Prior to that, he served as executive director at Academy of Hope, Development Director at Joseph’s House and Direct Marketing Manager at Special Olympics International, all D.C.-based organizations. In 1992, he was part of the first group of Peace Corps volunteers to serve in Ukraine. Wittig is an author and expert on nonprofit capacity building and board governance.

“I look forward to working collaboratively with Bob to ensure that the Catalogue continues to serve the needs of donors who want to invest in our community and nonprofits whose strength and passion we admire and seek to support,” said Harman.

“I am thrilled to join the Catalogue and its talented team, both to continue and to build upon its impressive achievements,” Wittig stated. “I look forward to working with Barbara, with the Board, and with the donor and nonprofit communities that the Catalogue so successfully brings together.”
The executive search firm LeaderFit worked with the board of directors on this search.

A Compassionate Heart for a New Independent Life

by Elisabeth Rhyne, Board Chair, Just Neighbors

While the national debate about immigration can inflame tempers on both sides, I appreciate the refreshing antidote Just Neighbors offers as an organization that approaches immigration with a compassionate heart.

Just Neighbors doesn’t play politics or raise a strident voice. Instead, it quietly pursues the mission it has supported for over 20 years to provide legal assistance to immigrants in Northern Virginia who can obtain status through the pathways U.S. immigration law offers, especially those who cannot afford legal fees.

Over the years, Just Neighbors has helped over 10,000 people from just about every country in the world to get the visas, work permits, and even citizenship, to become contributing members of their adopted communities.


For example, a husband and wife, both physicians, came as refugees from Iraq. When they contacted Just Neighbors they were overwhelmed with the new country and new language, studying to pass qualifying exams in the U.S., and caring for their toddler. Just Neighbors assisted the family to receive green cards. This family had the ability to thrive, they simply needed help getting on their feet after fleeing their homeland.

Some clients have more complex situations. For example, “Mariela”, from Bolivia, whose status here depended on her U.S. citizen husband, who was abusing her. Using the provisions of the Violence Against Women Act, Just Neighbors helped her obtain a green card and establish an independent new life.

As the Board Chair and not a lawyer, I am far from an expert on immigration law. I’m always learning, and what amazes me, is how complicated our immigration system is. It takes experienced immigration attorneys to sort through the thicket of rules, procedures and possibilities and find the right kind of help for each person.

Sarah and clients wgreencard
Just Neighbors staff attorneys specialize in what, to me, are very arcane matters. Even though they are sacrificing the significantly higher salaries they could earn in a firm, they love their work, and you can see them hugging clients when they bring the good news that a work permit has been approved. They especially love to hear how their clients fare afterwards.

Head attorney, Dominque Poirer was thrilled to get a note from a former client: “You told me to call you when we had big changes in our life. So I wanted to tell you that I got married, I have a new address because I bought a house, and I joined the Navy and am shipping out on Friday.”

The staff attorneys determine how many people Just Neighbors can assist, and that’s why one of our top priorities is to reach the financial standing that would enable us to increase our legal staff from three to four attorneys.

The staff attorneys time is golden for Just Neighbors, because every case must go through their hands. But one of the best things about Just Neighbors is how it uses volunteers to leverage that scarce resource. Volunteer attorneys assist staff attorneys in preparing cases, upping caseloads the organization can handle. In addition, ordinary folks like me can help with client interviews and office administration. The organization seeks to give volunteers a chance to reach out in compassion to others. It believes that when volunteers connect personally with immigrants they see the individuals, and immigration itself, through new eyes. In fact, creating a welcoming community through volunteers is part of the mission. Volunteers save money too: the estimated value of donated time is about 80 percent as large as Just Neighbors total budget.

Right now there is great uncertainty about the future of immigration policy, and that is putting stress on Just Neighbors while making its work more important, and a little different, from the past few years. For example, we don’t yet know whether the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be continued. DACA provides work permits for undocumented young adults who were brought to the U.S. as children, often called “Dreamers”. Just Neighbors has helped nearly 900 DACA applicants since the program began in 2013 and would like to continue to enable these young adults to take their places in society.

In addition, the stepped up enforcement of deportation orders by immigration authorities is creating fear and uncertainty throughout the immigrant community. This leads Just Neighbors into a new role: responding to calls from people seeking answers and advice. Although Just Neighbors cannot assist those who have no legal pathway, it offers advice on how to respond if someone is stopped by the police, how to prepare for children to be cared for if the father or mother is deported, and what a person’s rights are in those circumstances. Just Neighbors is taking on this essential educational role on top of its regular caseload out of caring for the communities it works with, trying to get the word out to as many people in those communities as it can.

One of the great things about Just Neighbors is that a relatively small (and really pretty inexpensive) intervention can make an enormous difference in someone’s life. When a person gets a work permit, escapes an abusive relationship, or rejoins a family, she often feels that her life has just begun. Just Neighbors gives its clients a tangible acknowledgment that they belong in this community and an ability to look at their future with confidence. I love it for that.

If you’d like to find out more about Just Neighbors, see

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:





In the (Snow Day) News…

A few highlights from last week’s news, in case your paper is buried in the snow!


According to a Washington Post article, approximately 6,000 state-funded preschool slots in Virginia were not filled this year beucase localities did not invest the required matching funds to take full advantage of the program. Though data show $23 million earmarked for the Virginia Preschool Initiative went unclaimed, at a cost of $6,000 per student, some 60 districts said they were constrained by lack of resources and space and did not fill their programs. In Northern Virginia, Arlington was the only district to fill 100 percent of funded spots. Some advocates note that the state’s pricetag does not reflect the cost of a high-quality pre-K program, which would run closer to $9,300 per student. This discrepancy leaves communities scrambling to make up the difference. Virginia’s cost per pupil is in keeping with regional spending: $8,000 per student in Maryland and nearly $15,000 per student in the District, which covers all 3- and 4-year olds.

Also in the Post: 100 local school boards in Virginia, including the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, and Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, are challenging a measure that allows for state takeover of struggling local schools. Resolutions filed by these board support a lawsuit currently fighting the General Assembly measure, which affects any school that fails the state’s accreditation or is accredited with a warning for three consecutive years.

Minimum Wage Across the Region

On the heels of D.C.’s minimum wage hike to $11.50 by 2016, Maryland Governor O’Malley has proposed raising the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016, up from $7.25 currently. D.C.’s increase was signed by Mayor Gray last week, and by 2017, the District and Maryland’s Montgomery & PG Counties will all have a minimum wage of $11.50.


The good news is that Maryland’s housing prices are on the rise. Prince George’s County, one of the region’s hardest hit during the foreclosure crisis, saw a 16 percent housing price increase last year – the second highest in the region. The bad news, according to a WAMU article, is that those rising prices are encouraging banks to foreclose more quickly on homeowners who are late on payments, causing a soar in foreclose rates as banks work through a backlog of foreclosures from the recession. PG County received $10 million in a national mortgage settlement, but very little goes to mortgage assistance, helping approximately 200 homeowners. While most struggling homeowners in PG County owe less than $10,000, many lost income in the recession and “even getting current on their mortgage may not make their home affordable.”

Local Giving & Our Region

The 2013 Combined Federal Campaign is over but reports from the Nonprofit Quarterly & the Federal Times indicate a “sharp decline” in this year’s giving. In the National Capital Region, the largest CFC campaign, pledges were approximately $47 million going into the CFC’s last day, down from nearly $62 million last year. The CFC peaked nationally at $283 million in 2009 and raised $258 million last year, but was hampered by government furloughs, the shutdown in October and coincided with a three-year freeze on federal pay scales. Some 2,000 local charities and 2,500 national charities participated in the 2013 CFC.

More than a third of of greater Washington zip codes are “super zips” according to the American Enterprise Institute. WAMU reports that these zips are mostly contiguous and rank in the top 5 percent nationally on scales of average income and number of adults with college degrees. That means households with an average income of $120,000+ and 7 out of 10 adults with a college degree. Check out the Post’s map of our region’s “superzips” here.

Around Town 11/1-11/7

Happy November! Catalogue nonprofits are kicking off the month right with lots of great events all around the area. Let us know if you are heading to one (and you never know, you might even see us there!). Don’t have time to get out to an event? Request a copy of our brand new catalogue (out on November 1st!) and get to know our new class of nonprofits!
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

Around Town: September 27-October 3

Catalogue nonprofits are staying busy! If you are looking for something fun to do with your friends and family this upcoming week, try one of these events put on by some great Catalogue nonprofits!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Beethoven’s Eternal Masterworks

National Philharmonic
Soovin Kim, violin, Piotr Gajewski, conductor – Come hear award-winning violinist Soovin Kim perform one of the most popular works ever written: Beethoven’s only violin concerto, a virtuosic masterpiece both lyrical and serene, radiating surprises and a soaring spirit. When Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 was premiered, the press commented that it “projects its force upon all people of all ages, just like the great natural phenomena, which leave us in awe every time they appear. This symphony alike, will still resound centuries to come, for as long as there will be man and music.” Beethoven Violin Concerto Symphony No. 5
When: Saturday, September 28, 2013 (8:00 PM)
Where: The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852
Fee? yes $28-$84 (Kids Free)
Contact: Deborah Birnbaum, (301) 581-5100
For more information: click here

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Montgomery County Farm Tour (by bike!)

Montgomery Countryside Alliance
MCA is partnering with Potomac Pedalers for the 5th annual MoCo Farm Tour. Bikers can choose from winding farm routes of 17-75 miles through Montgomery County’s Ag Reserve. There is also a picnic for bikers and event volunteers at Kingsbury’s Orchard.
When: Sunday, September 29, 2013 (09:00 AM)
Where: Start: Pooleville Golf Course, 16601 West Willard Rd, Poolesville, MD 20837
Fee? no
Volunteer Info: Help set up the picnic for bikers- shuttle biker’s belongings back to their cars, engage with event attendees about the purpose and importance of the Ag Reserve. Service learning hours are available for MCPS students.
Contact: Kristina Bostick, (301) 602-4013
For more information: click here

Beethoven’s Eternal Masterworks

National Philharmonic
Soovin Kim, violin, Piotr Gajewski, conductor – Come hear award-winning violinist Soovin Kim perform one of the most popular works ever written: Beethoven’s only violin concerto, a virtuosic masterpiece both lyrical and serene, radiating surprises and a soaring spirit. When Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 was premiered, the press commented that it “projects its force upon all people of all ages, just like the great natural phenomena, which leave us in awe every time they appear. This symphony alike, will still resound centuries to come, for as long as there will be man and music.” Beethoven Violin Concerto Symphony No. 5
When: Sunday, September 29, 2013 (3:00 PM)
Where: The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852
Fee? yes $28-$84 (Kids Free)
Contact: Deborah Birnbaum, (301) 581-5100
For more information: click here

Teddy Bear 5K & 1K Fun Walk/Run

Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center
Register now to Join Boston Marathon runners and a local Junior Olympiad recordholder for the Teddy Bear 5K and 1K Walk/Run on the W&OD Trail starting in the heart of Falls Church, VA. All participants will receive T-Shirts and great prizes will be awarded the top three male and female runners in 8 age categories, plus best overall male, female and Stroller-Runner. Bring your Teddy Bear or favorite stuffed friend to be admitted to a tea party after the race. Online Registration thru Sept. 26 at Proceeds benefit the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center, a high-quality early childhood education program serving all children, regardless of their family’s financial resources.
When: Sunday, September 29, 2013 (4:00 PM – 6:00 PM)
Where: W&OD Trail, 400 N. Oak St., Falls Church, Virginia 22043
Fee? yes 5K thru Sept. 26, $30; 1K thru Sept. 26, $15.
Volunteer Info: Volunteers welcome to assist along the trail, giving out water to runners.
Contact: Renee Boyle, (703) 534-4907
For more information: click here

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Volunteer Opportunity at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Children’s National Medical Center

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC
Volunteer Opportunity at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Children’s National Medical Center Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Greater Washington DC needs volunteers to work a weekly 3 hour shift in the Ronald McDonald Family Room located at Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC). Shifts are seven days a week: 9AM to Noon, Noon to 3PM, 3PM to 6PM and 6PM to 9PM. Volunteers will be cross trained by both RMHC and CNMC. A commitment of two shifts a month/60 hours a year is required. Contact: Karen Judson, 202-529-8204/
When: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 (09:00 AM)
Where: Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC), 111 Michigan Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20310
Fee? no
Volunteer Info: Greeting and helping families, coordinate family programming activities and more.
Contact: Karen Judson, (202) 529-8204
For more information: click here

In the News…

Home Care Workers Get Minimum Wage: As Active Aging Week begins, the Department of Labor announced that the over 2 million home care workers in the US will earn minimum wage and overtime benefits starting January 1st, 2015. Home health aides — 90 percent of whom are women and 42 percent of whom are black or Latino –currently earn an average of $9.70 per hour. A Huffington Post article notes that the home health sector is one of the fastest growing occupations in the country, predicted to grow 70 percent from 2010-2020 as Baby Boomers age.

Kids Give! A report by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University and the United Nations Foundation found that 90 percent of kids give to charity, sparking a discussion on how to get youth involved in giving . One of the report’s authors noted that “children whose parents talk to them about giving are 20 percent more likely to give than those whose parents don’t” and encouraged families and charities to find ways to engage kids in the giving and volunteering process. Read the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s article here or check out the study here.

Census Bureau Annual Report Released: The yearly report on poverty and income found that 21.8 percent of American children under the age of 18 lived in poverty in 2012 — and a Washington Post article notes that “the younger they are, the worse off they are.The percentage of children under the age of 5 living in poverty is 25.1 — and almost 1 in 10 live in extreme poverty.” Children of color are affected most with 37.9 percent of black children and 33.8 percent of Hispanic children living in poverty. Additionally, the statistics shows that 9.1 percent of Americans living in poverty are 65+.

The report also found that in today’s dollars, the median American household in 2012 makes less than in 1989. This is in stark contrast to the Forbes Top 400 list of the richest Americans, whose wealth has grown 15 percent since 2012 to a combined total of $2 trillion. Census data shows that households making over $191,000 are earning nearly what they had before the recession, yet the lower 80 percent are, on average, making significantly less than before the downturn, as noted in a NPQ article.

Spotlight: Capital Partners for Education

Today we’re shining a spotlight on Capital Partners for Education to congratulate them on their 2013 award from the Washington Post Charities! Executive Director of CPE, Khari Brown’s involvement working with urban teens through his various coaching experiences led him to pursue a career in expanding educational opportunities for low-income youth. Since joining Capital Partners for Education in 2001, Khari has reshaped the program by vastly expanding the number of students reached and establishing a programmatic framework for CPE to build upon in years to come. Khari received both a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies and a Master’s degree in Education from Tufts University.

1. What motivated you to begin this organization (if you are the founder) or to begin working with it? What need does it fulfill and how are you (and your organization) working towards meeting it?
I began working with Capital Partners for Education (CPE) because it was an organization that could have a direct impact on improving young peoples’ futures by helping them get to and through college.

Earning a college degree has never been more important in today’s economy. Without a college degree, our students will be left behind and destined for a life of poverty. Low-income students face multiple barriers to college completion and we work to help them overcome these obstacles and let their talent shine.

I am motivated by the positive difference we make in our student’s lives. We are changing the trajectory for each student and their family. We get results–99% of our graduates enroll in college and 75% of our graduates complete college on time. 2013 marks the eighth year in a row where 100% of our seniors enrolled in college.

2. What exciting change or innovation is on your mind?
CPE is seeking to triple the number of students we serve over the next three years. This is the first year where we will extend our program from high school through college completion. We are able to do this by integrating a new e-mentoring platform called iMentor. CPE is the first organization in this region to use this technology. Students, mentors and staff are now connected through iMentor’s online portal, making it possible for us to serve students remotely for the very first time.

3. Who inspires you (in the philanthropy world or otherwise)? Do you have a hero?
I come from a family of educators. They and some of my teachers and professors growing up were my early inspiration. There are many great philanthropists I admire. Most are not famous, but they give a big percentage of their wealth and their time to charity and aren’t motivated by recognition.

4. What is the single greatest challenge that your organization faces (besides finances) and how are you dealing with this challenge?
The greatest challenge is to make sure that we are growing in a responsible way. We are motivated to serve more students because the need is great and we have an innovative model that works. We must strive to balance expanding our reach while ensuring that every CPE student gets the individual support they need to reach their goals.

5. What advice do you have for other people in your position?
Don’t be afraid to let your organization evolve.
Empower your team to be part of big decisions and new directions for the organization.

6. What’s next/coming up for you?
This fall we will enroll 30 new students this fall into a new program that begins in the 11th grade and continues through college graduation. By adding a new entry point to our program, we are able to help more motivated, low-income students get on the path towards college. This community-based mentoring program will prepare students for college at monthly workshops focused on college preparation, career readiness and financial literacy. Once students are enrolled in college, we will continue to provide mentoring, career exploration services and financial life skills training through their college graduation.

7. Congratulations on receiving an award from the Washington Post charities! What project is this grant supporting? What does this award mean to you or allow you to do?
The investment from Washington Post Charities is instrumental in fueling our growth as we expand to serve more students. This year, we are increasing our student body by 56% by extending support to our alumni while they are in college and introducing the new program line for 11th grade students.

Guest Post: Reach Incorporated

New Catalogue nonprofit, Reach Incorporated is in the business of developing readers and leaders by training teens to teach. In this guest blog post, Executive Director Mark Hecker discusses their new program, Teens Give Back, and how it not only helped to build on the progress their tutors made throughout the school year, but helped out a few other local nonprofits as well.

Emerging Philanthropists: When Teens Give Back

By Mark Hecker, Executive Director, Reach Incorporated

This summer, Reach Incorporated launched a brand new summer program. This new effort, aimed at building on the progress our tutors make during school year programming, focused on four components, including intensive reading practice, college & career investigations, and .

On July 31st, we gathered for the final exercise in the fourth component of our summer program, Teens Give Back. At the beginning of the summer, we informed our cohort of adolescents from Eastern Senior High School and Perry Street Prep PCS that they would be responsible for giving away $2,500.

For a number of weeks, our teens identified community challenges, learned about organizations addressing those challenges, and generated a list of potential grant recipients. Through ongoing research and serious conversations, our young people selected four finalists: Homeless Children’s Playtime Project (HCPP), DC Central Kitchen, Martha’s Table, and Free Minds Book Club. These decisions were made based a number of factors, including the issue addressed, the size of the organization, and the impact made.

Selecting finalists, however, was just the beginning. Our tutors were split into four teams–one for each finalist organization–and asked to write and produce pitches. These pitches, limited to 90 seconds, sought audience support at the event on July 31st. The audience votes determined the size of the grant received by each of the organizations.

From the beginning, we could tell that our young people were well prepared. The team representing HCPP didn’t even stumble as they educated and engaged the audience. During DC Central Kitchen team’s presentation, Sasha leveraged the story found on the water bottles on each table (DC Central Kitchen had catered the event). The Martha’s Table team focused on size of impact, while the Free Minds team–led by Zorita, who bravely conquered serious stage fright!–took a more personal approach. In the end, those at the event had a tough decision to make!

While the votes were counted, we had the opportunity to publicly recognize Kyare, a rising 11th grade student at Eastern Senior High. Based on his performance both in and after school, Kyare earned a promotion to Junior Staff status–the highest honor given to Reach Incorporated tutors. Kyare is just the second person to ever receive this promotion!

Smiles filled the room as we celebrated Kyare’s accomplishment, but it was time to announce our winners. Without doubt, each group wanted to win, but only one could take home the top prize. First, we announced our honorable mentions–both DC Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table received $250 grants from our kids.

The teens moved to the edge of their seats as we announced that the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project was our runner up. HCPP was thrilled to learn that they would receive a $750 grant from our young people. That left only our winners–Rashaan, Zorita, Za’Metria, and Kyare–who were thrilled to learn that they had earned a $1,250 grant for Free Minds Book Club. Free Minds staff members gathered around to get pictures taken with their adolescent advocates.

As audience members filed out of the room, our teens accepted handshakes from inspired attendees. The teens’ preparation showed in their performance. While any competition leaves some with hurt feelings, our young people were uniformly proud of the work they had done. They had, without question, learned the value of giving back. With the audience’s help, we had given birth to a group of future philanthropists.

The Homeless Children's Playtime Project team doing research

The Homeless Children's Playtime Project team doing research

The Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop team as they pitch the room

The Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop team as they pitch the room

Kyare celebrating his promotion

Kyare celebrating his promotion

If you’re interested in learning more about what happens when you give teens real responsibility for real outcomes, visit us at