effective philanthropy blog
DianaKatz headshot WCGN copyDiana Katz This is an interview with Diana Katz, who recently established the Latino Engagement and Achievement Fund (LEAF) with the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. Diana is also a co-founder of the Giving Circle of HOPE.

Diana, you founded the Giving Circle of HOPE and now LEAF. Can you tell us why you wanted to do this, what giving means to you?

To me, philanthropic giving – like civic participation – means that we have a duty to leave the community better than we found it.  Those of us who feel strongly about this have to lead by example. I feel an obligation to both encourage others to give and to make it easier for them to do so. 

The GCH was born out of this desire to make others see that everyone can give, and that it is more powerful when done in community, strategically and with common purpose.

LEAF was born out of learning, through my current professional experience and from the Aspen Institute’s report, that the Latino immigrant community lags other immigrant communities in civic participation. Applying to LEAF what I learned about collective giving and grant making with the GCH, can make it possible to increase Latino participation in philanthropy and through it, civic engagement. 

Why did you choose to partner with the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia?

When we founded the GCH in 2004, the Community Foundation was very small and local, just like us. Even then, the staff was friendly, it was a good value, they were personally engaged in our venture, and their services were what we needed at the time. As the years have gone by, both the CFNV and the GCH have grown together and the GCH benefitted from being with an organization that is innovative in its thinking, and shares our values and goals for the community.

For LEAF, I wanted to make giving by Latinos part of a mainstream organization. Many Hispanic or Latino foundations are by and for Latinos and Latino causes. I believe that, even as we preserve the valuable parts of our heritage, we should all be part of ONE community, and that includes the philanthropic community. The obvious approach was to go with what I know, respect, and trust, and that is the Community Foundation for Northern VA.

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deb matthewsDeborah G. Matthews This is an interview with Deborah Matthews, a local trust and estate attorney devoted to supporting foster children in our region, who recently established the Our Children Fund with the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. 

What is the Our Children Fund?

This fund is focused on the needs of foster children, which are immediate and present every single day. It will help provide foster care children access to “normalizing” items and experiences and to address their otherwise unmet medical, social, emotional, and educational needs.  These children in the Fairfax County foster system are between the ages of birth and 17 years, and young adults between the ages of 18 and 21, if permanency (return to home, relative placement, or adoption) is not achieved. Some examples of what might be supported include fees for before or afterschool activities, tutors, field trips, camps, elective activities, sports-related fees, and dental and health services. 

Why did you want to establish the Our Children Fund?

As a long time Northern Virginia resident, I have seen first-hand the ongoing immediate needs of children in our foster care system. I served as a foster parent for seven years, and became very aware of the limited resources available for foster children. No general fund such as this existed in Fairfax County. Creating the Our Children Fund in conjunction with the Community Foundation met many of my goals. The Community Foundation was able to help establish it quickly while also providing tremendous back office support so that I could have the joy of donating and helping these children without handling the administrative and tax responsibilities. I also want this fund to provide for foster children in perpetuity, and I know that in partnership with the Community Foundation, the Our Children Fund is assured to continue to provide direct help for foster children in Fairfax County.

Additionally, many foster parents use their own money and resources to help these children with ongoing needs related to everyday school and activities. As any parent can tell you it is not cheap to raise a child. There are continuous needs for school supplies, field trips, health-related costs, etc.  Also, when I was a foster parent there was a year that the small state stipend foster parents receive did not receive the regular annual increase. The General Assembly had overlooked introducing a bill that year providing for the annual increase.  I worked with Virginia Senator Janet Howell who introduced a bill the following year that tied the foster parent stipend to another automatic annual increase, so foster parents would not be overlooked again. 

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NovaParks 3 Did you know that funds at the Community Foundation are not just for individual donors?  Paul Gilbert is the Executive Director of NOVA Parks, a regional nonprofit organization that recently opened two funds to support its work: the NOVA Parks Fund and the Outdoor Kids Fund.  Read our interview with him to see how how we partner with local nonprofit organizations through dedicated funds at the Community Foundation.

Can you tell us about the mission and scope of work of NOVA Parks?

NOVA Parks is the best of Northern Virginia through nature, history, and great family experiences. We are a regional park system that represents three counties and three cities - Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, the City of Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and the City of Fairfax. 

NOVA Parks owns and operates 32 parks with over 12,000 acres of land offering something for everyone.  A NOVA Parks park is a unique natural and historic place that has been preserved and, in many cases, enhanced with recreational facilities such as golf courses, waterparks, campgrounds, trails and access to waterways. Many of our parks offer educational opportunities, such as our 1753 historic home, working farm, nature center, botanical garden and Civil War battlefield. Amidst the region’s rapid and widespread development, we offer scenic overlooks and quiet, green spaces.

Why did NOVA Parks choose to partner with the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia?

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s mission to meet the critical needs of the region aligns perfectly with NOVA Parks’ goal of giving back to the local community and helping youth and their families. Through the Outdoor Kids Fund and the NOVA Parks Fund that have been established, NOVA Parks has been given the opportunity to create and expand programs that engage children in meaningful outdoor experiences and a venue to improve and conserve Northern Virginia’s special natural and historic places and parklands.

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CFNC Kids Working The Child and Family Network Centers received a $10,000 grant from the Community Investment Funds in 2016 to help them provide free, high-quality bilingual preschool education in order to prepare at-risk, low-income 3 to 4 year old children for kindergarten success while improving family stability and health outcomes.  Read below about how this grant impacted lives.

Since 1984, The Child and Family Network Centers’ (CFNC) has worked to provide caring, high-quality, free education and related services to at-risk children and their families in their own neighborhoods in order to prepare them for success in school and life. For over 30 years, CFNC has dramatically changed the trajectory of these children’s lives by providing accredited preschool and the support services their families need to succeed. Among various accolades, CFNC was one of the first programs in the country to receive accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children and we were recognized as a model high-quality, bilingual preschool by President Obama’s “Preschool for All” initiative. CFNC also received the 2015 Nonprofit Leader of the Year award by Leadership Fairfax.

Due to the Community Investment Funds Grant from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia in 2016, CFNC’s free, award-winning preschool program was provided to 148 four-year-old children and their families (approximately 592 individuals based on an average family size of 4) in 9 classrooms at 5 sites in Alexandria’s poorest neighborhoods, including the West End and Arlandria areas.

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Patricia FunegraPatricia Funegra is a member of the Future Fund, the giving circle for young professionals at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, and the Founder and CEO of La Cocina VA, a grant recipient of the Community Investment Funds grant cycle.  We asked her a few questions about her personal philanthropy and commitment to supporting the local community.

What are your philanthropic goals and interests?

For the past three years I have dedicated my life to social entrepreneurship, civic engagement and advocacy through the work that I do as the Founder and CEO of La Cocina VA promoting and supporting workforce development among immigrant communities. It was a natural transition for me to add a philanthropic side to the meaningful contribution of my work and to start offering economic support to help solve and alleviate other issues that also affect our community. I believe that the learning process I have gone through as a social entrepreneur placed me in the intersection where preparation meets opportunity and I was ready to take my contribution for the social well-being of our community to a higher level. 

What does it mean to you to support local critical needs?

I was born and raised in Peru until I decided to move to the United States when I was 38 years old. Coming from a developing country helps me understand with more clarity how it is to live lives where not even the most basic needs are met. I always strive to see a more just and equitable world and I decided to start working towards that goal in our own back yard, Northern Virginia.

Our low-income communities face a wide variety of challenge; lack of access to affordable housing, healthy food, access to education and opportunities among other issues, but I strongly believe that when a community works together combining its resources to provide and facilitate access to those critical needs, our community thrives.

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Army tenmiler2016 Army Ten Miler where EveryMind and Serving Together were Military Community PartnersThe Community Foundation has supported Serving Together, a program of EveryMind, for the past three years with a grant from the Community Investment Funds cycle to bring its program to Northern Virginia veterans and their families.
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As we commemorate Veterans Day, we are reminded of the service and dedication of our military, veterans, and their families and the fact that many need more than a simple “thank you for your service.”

Serving Together, a program of EveryMind, is committed to supporting those who have fought for the freedom we all enjoy. More than ever our veterans and their families need access to information, resources, and support that will help them find their way forward.  is our commitment to those who have served us by providing education, direct service, and coordination of resources for service members, veterans, and their families throughout the region. 

"They [Serving Together] were extremely instrumental in getting us the information and the resources that we needed. Period. They go the extra mile. If there were six stars, we would give them six stars."

This testimonial offered by a family member is a typical example of the type of resource call Serving Together receives from the military and veteran community-veterans seeking answers to their benefits questions, families in need of information about burial benefits, and active military planning for employment post-discharge. Often available quality resources cannot be tapped simply because of a lack of knowledge that they exist. It is because of funding from key partners like the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia this work is possible.


Quote taken from October 2016 Bethesda Magazine article, “Guide to Giving in Montgomery County.”

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SHINE-Focus-CampDanielle Craddock is the founder and director of Girls Inspired & Ready to Lead, Inc. (GIRL), a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to empowering and preparing today's girls for tomorrow through promoting academic achievement, career preparation, leadership development, community service, and a positive self-image.  GIRL received a grant from the Business Women's Giving Circle in 2015 to support its FOCUS STEM camp.

The FOCUS STEM Camp completed its 3rd consecutive year of exposing middle school girls to the exciting world of STEM!  The camp is designed by George Mason University STEM Accelerator Program in partnership with Girls Inspired & Ready to Lead, Inc.  This year’s camp, funded by Batelle, had several highlights, such as the highest enrollment yet with 92 participants and publicity through being featured on WJLA’s Good Morning Washington.  The curriculum for each day of our camp represents a letter in the acronym STEM: Monday (Science), Tuesday (Technology), Wednesday (Engineering), and Thursday (Math).  On Friday, the girls discuss global problem- solving in STEM, interact with a panel of professional women working in STEM, and prepare poster presentations that summarize concepts they learned during the week. Among this year’s memorable moments was our partnership with SHINE for Girls DC.  I met Tara Hally, Regional Director for SHINE for Girls DC, at the Business Women’s Giving Circle (BWGC) Grantee Reception in January 2016, where we both received grants for our programs.  Her program, which teaches math through dance, seemed like it should be a part of the FOCUS STEM Camp, so I invited her to present a workshop on math day.

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DWHGOPR0602The DWH team after a successful dive in the CCMI coral nursery.Jill Hottel serves as Executive Director of Diving With Heroes and as the advisor of the Diving With Heroes Designated Fund at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.

Diving with Heroes, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was founded in June 2014 with the purpose of unlocking the treasures contained in the underwater world and sharing them with those who have fought so valiantly to secure and defend our freedom. The men and women of the U.S. armed forces have dedicated themselves to protecting our freedoms; in return, we want to gift them with the freedom that diving provides. Our aim is to enable our hero divers to participate in dive trips and scuba experiences allowing them to live the diving lifestyle.

Diving with Heroes Designated Fund

When DWH was just getting started, Joe Brickey, one of the founders of Diving with Heroes and also co-founder and Chairman of the Board for Integrity Applications Incorporated, met with Eileen Ellsworth to discuss how the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia could help DWH get off to a great start. Joe set-up the Diving with Heroes Designated Fund as a means of providing early donors to DWH recognition for their charitable contributions while DWH waited to receive its tax-exempt designation from the IRS. The Diving with Heroes Designated Fund continues so that others may contribute as a means of thanking our service members and veterans for their service and sacrifice.

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La-Force 150608ScienceCenter00930 WebTanya La Force is a member of the Business Women's Giving Circle and a recent donor to the Innovation Fund at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.  We asked her a few questions her personal philanthropy and how she strives to make an impact in our region.

What are your philanthropic goals and interests?

I am passionate about developing and supporting the potential in all children so my goals are to help organizations that do this really well.

How has the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia supported your personal philanthropy?

I never thought of my giving as “philanthropy” but recently the Community Foundation hosted an event on venture philanthropy and I’m now thinking more strategically about this.  I appreciate that the Community Foundation can provide advice about vehicles to support long-term goals, as well as provide visibility to vetted organizations that are making a difference in our community.

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Milton HerdMilton Herd recently opened a donor advised fund at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia – The Milton J. and G. Ronald Herd Charitable Fund provides direct grants to nonprofits, schools, and other non-religious affiliated programs to benefit children and youth 12 to 19 years of age living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level in Northern Virginia.

We asked him about why she chose to open a fund with us here at the Community Foundation.

How did you learn about the Community Foundation?

I’ve had a general awareness of the Foundation’s existence for many years, but had no detailed knowledge of it until recently, when I began to pursue setting up an organized charitable fund.

What are your philanthropic goals and interests?

I would like to help young people who have not been as fortunate as I was when I was young. I was given the opportunity, support, and means to become highly educated, and that has made all the difference in my life. Many young people are not as lucky – through no fault of their own - so I’d like to help some of them to further their education.

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