effective philanthropy blog
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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Renee Boyle is Development Director for the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center, a recipient of a 2016 Community Investment Fund Grant from the Community Foundation.

Call to mind the iconic scene from the classic movie The Miracle Worker in which Anne Sullivan teaches the blind-deaf child Helen Keller that liquid flowing from a pump has a name. “W-a-t-e-r,” Sullivan spells into Helen’s hand.

Until that triumphant “ah-ha” moment, young Helen had been unable to connect in a meaningful way with the world outside herself.

Although each child with developmental delays has a unique set of challenges, children today are similarly disconnected socially from peers, emotionally from parents, and intellectually from even the best learning environment, until their needs can be identified and addressed with appropriate therapy.

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MW BWGCBWGC members Faith Boettger, Lauri Isbrandtsen, and Jennifer Siciliano, joined Dr. Carole Inge, Co-Chair of Million Women Mentors Virginia, at the International Women's Day and Million Women Mentors Initiative Launch Event in Richmond, Virginia where Governor Terry McAuliffe presented a proclamation supporting girls and women in STEM.   

Million Women Mentors is an initiative whose mission is to support girls and women in STEM by providing one million STEM mentors.  Governor McAuliffe proudly serves as the Honorary Chair for MWM-VA, alongside MWM-VA Co-Chairs Dr. Carole Inge, founder of the International Association for STEM Leaders and Business Women's Giving Circle Member, and Jennifer Bisceglie, CEO of Interos. Virginia has pledged their support for MWM and set a goal for 10,000 mentors.

It is exciting to see our state provide such strong support for this initiative.  The event included a panel of state and business leaders stressing the importance of critical thinking, and promoting women and STEM in areas such as innovation, education, cyber security, and entrepreneurship.​

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