effective philanthropy blog
Eileen Ellsworth, Community Foundation President and CEO, published this Blog for the Council on Foundations (CoF) and it was shared on the CoF web site on November 9, 2017. Eileen has been the President and CEO of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia since 2005.

Eileen EllsworthEileen EllsworthSince 1978, the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has facilitated philanthropic efforts to respond to critical needs in our region. In more recent years, however— especially since the launch of our Innovation Fund in 2012—the Community Foundation has also worked to seed new, innovative approaches to community economic development.

Philanthropy has a growing role to play there, especially for the “hard-to-employ” segment of the workforce. Grants from the Innovation Fund have helped launch and promote the first ever cybersecurity courses in local public middle and high schools; the first coding-immersive elementary schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia; grass roots invention; and local entrepreneurship. In other words, grants from the Innovation Fund have helped build a future workforce that will contribute to the growing vibrancy of our local economy.

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Cyndi Shanahan Headshot FINALCyndi ShanahanThis is an interview with Cyndi Shanahan, Governance Chair for the Giving Circle of HOPE.

The Giving Circle of HOPE (GCH), a component fund of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, is an all-volunteer giving circle that awards project and capacity building grants to local nonprofit organizations with budgets under $2 million. The GCH consolidates donations and awards grants to improve the lives of low-income, disadvantaged and under-served people and families in Northern Virginia. The GCH grant process includes a written application. Each year, the GCH funds a variety of well-vetted local organizations whose programs encourage job creation, help build strong families, and assist community members in need.

When and where is the 2017 Big Give event being held?

The 2017 Big Give will be held on Thursday, November 9 from 6:30 - 9 pm at Refraction on 11911 Freedom Dr, 8th Floor, Reston, Virginia 20190. 

What is the Big Give event?

The Big Give is our year-end celebration and introduces the community to the power of collective giving.  It was inaugurated in 2016 in order to celebrate a milestone in the organization’s history and due to its success as an educational and engaging evening, it is now an annual event.  This year the Big Give will feature keynote speaker Catherine Read who is a strategist, activist, and advocate for DC-area nonprofits.

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IMG 4648 1This interview is with Deborah Krat, Community Foundation Gala volunteer.

Do you work full time or are you a student?

I am an Education Manager for the Society for Technical Communication.

How did you find out about the Gala volunteer opportunity?

Through Volunteer Fairfax, Volunteers for Change program.

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ChapelsJohn and Virginia Chapel This is an interview with John and Virginia Chapel with the Chapel Family Foundation Fund at the Community Foundation. This fund provides direct grants to nonprofits and other programs benefiting child and youth development, poverty relief, health and aging, military personnel and their families, and community improvement. The Chapels are the 2017 Raise the Region Gala Challenge Sponsor, and are long-time supporters of the Gala.

Why do you support the Community Foundation, what does it mean to you?

We believe that supporting our causes through the Community Foundation is a good way add value to our giving because the Community Foundation uses our funds’ earnings to support its many charitable endeavors.

Can you tell us about your philanthropy through your fund here?

To date our funding has been primarily focused on Jinnie’s alma mater, The Pennsylvania State University, and John’s college, Drexel University. Our philanthropy has been provided through  programs that aid deserving students who have been trying to support themselves but have come up a little short. Both of us had to  work part time while we were in school and we understand that a little financial support can provide a big boost to a struggling student. We have also contributed some funds directly to the Community Foundation’s fund.

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This blog is courtesy of Beth Offenbacker, an active community volunteer with area nonprofits. You can reach Beth at bethoffenbacker@gmail.com.

A growing number of community organizations, nonprofits, and foundations are bringing younger generations into established giving programs. YouthGiving.org estimates today there are nearly 600 programs in the United States and more than 250 programs in other nations that teach young people how to give.

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Bob Lazaro PhotoRobert W. Lazaro This is an interview with Robert W. Lazaro, Jr., Executive Director of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, recently sat down with us to discuss his involvement with The Community Foundation. Robert recently worked with us to establish the NoVA Natives Plant Fund. 

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

The Community Foundation does great work in the Northern Virginia community, as such, it was a natural for us to work with an organization that has a great reputation and does outstanding work.

How does your fund at the Community Foundation benefit your organization?

The Northern Virginia Regional Commission undertakes work that has an impact across multiple jurisdictions in an increasingly diverse community of 2.4 million residents. By having a relationship with a well known, well-respected organization like CFNV it lets interested donors know their generosity will be used for the purpose given.

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This blog is courtesy of Whitney Richardson, Director of Agency Communications at the Northern Virginia Family Service in Oakton.

National nonprofit organizations have the capacity and brand recognition to reach a broad range of donors across the country. These organizations are critical to the national conversation about issues such as immigration, hunger and economic independence for families in need.

Also critical to supporting these issues and the people impacted by them are local organizations, right here on the ground in Northern Virginia, doing work in your community every day. These organizations will be impacted by funding cuts at the federal, state and local level, and we could lose critical services right here at home. If you feel compelled to address these and other issues, consider the following:

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The mission of Liberty's Promise is to support young immigrants in need while encouraging them to be active and conscientious American citizens. This blog, written by Robert M. Ponichtera, Executive Director and Founder of Liberty's Promise, highlights their mission and the grants they have received from the Community Foundation.

Bob PonchiteraRobert PonichteraSince 2005, Liberty's Promise has conducted after-school programs of civic engagement and summer professional internship programs for low-income, immigrant adolescents (ages 15-21) across Northern Virginia. Over the past 12 years, we've helped more than 1,000 youth learn about their communities and American civic life.

Liberty's Promise supports young immigrants in need while encouraging them to be active and conscientious American citizens. Our programs aim to make the immigrant experience an affirmative one for young newcomers while instilling in them a sense of pride and support for American ideals of democracy and freedom. By doing so, we seek to reaffirm our fundamental egalitarian and democratic traditions for future generations.

In other words, we help young people feel at home where they live. Once they do, we've found that they become actively involved in their communities, stay in school, and go on to some form of higher education. More than 99 percent of our participants have graduated high school and 67 percent are enrolled in college. Both of these figures far exceed the national average high school graduation rate of 74 percent and college enrollment rate of 51 percent for low-income, minority students (according to research from Johns Hopkins University and Pew Research). Among our youth are graduates of the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, Duke, George Mason, Marymount, and the University of Virginia, just to name a few.

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This is an interview with Sharlean Grinups, Health and Physical Education Department Chair and Wellness Liaison at Westfield High School. Westfield High School has applied for and received a Healthy Kids grant from the Community Foundation every year for the past three years.

shoesThe Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has been providing Healthy Kids Grants for 6 years.  In collaboration with the J.O.Y. Charitable Fund, a donor advised fund with the Community Foundation, grants are made each year to individual public schools in Northern Virginia that implement a program or strategy to encourage better nutrition or more activity among their student body during the school year.

Examples of school based initiatives the grants could help support include, but are not limited to:
  • Starting an after school activity club that promotes physical fitness.
  • Starting a walking club for students and teachers.
  • Creating and planting a vegetable garden on school grounds.
  • Developing a school health advisory council comprised of students, parents, teachers, administrators, other school staff and community representatives.
  • Developing and sharing calorie counts and nutritional information for all school breakfasts and lunches so students can make healthy choices.

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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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