effective philanthropy blog
BWGC - for webMembers of the Business Women's Giving CircleNancy K. Eberhardt is a founding member of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia's Business Women's Giving Circle.

For two decades I have been frustrated about the pace of growth of young women as leaders in entrepreneurship, business, and the science, technology and math professions here in Northern Virginia. It was 20  years ago that I served on an Advisory Board at George Mason University attempting to accelerate the number of young women graduating with business, math, engineering and science degrees. Many other advocates, with greater commitment and more concentrated efforts, have been at work on this issue for a long time.

And still the trajectory is slow. In a region that should be doing better.

So, when Eileen Ellsworth and Sari Raskin of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia asked to meet and discuss this topic, I was eager to hear their thoughts. They were fresh with ideas to match the mission of the Community Foundation to really move the needle on these opportunities for young girls and women in our community.

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Loudoun Literacy 1The Loudoun Literacy Council is a recipient of two recent grants from the Community Foundation - a 2014 Community Investment Grant in Education as well as a 2014 Loudoun Impact Fund Grant.

Loudoun Literacy Council (LLC) was formed in 1980 to teach English to recently arrived refugees.  Services for adults include small group classes and individual tutoring in the areas of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), basic literacy and GED preparation.  In 1998 our Family Literacy Program was added to serve disadvantaged children and their families.  This program began in collaboration with Loudoun County Head Start to provide literacy support to each child and family enrolled in the program and has since expanded to include the Sweet Dreams program, a weekly volunteer-led reading program for families in two homeless shelters, and Baby Book Bundles which supplies books and literacy tips to low income families with new babies.  LLC believes that literacy remains essential to achieving community-wide aspirations of developing young learners, strengthening families, enabling parents to participate in the education of their children, and ensuring access to opportunities for economic advancement.

Sadly, more than 15% of our nation’s children live in poverty.

On average, these kids have one or two age appropriate books in their homes, yet a full sixty-one percent of the children in low-income families have no books at all.  

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YMCA-LoudounLaura Fears Executive Director YMCA Loudoun County has had a 17 year career span working with Loudoun County children and families. Laura is an enthusiastic advocate for Loudoun families and children and believes every child has a right to receive the support of the community to help ensure future success.  Her program received a $25,000 grant from the Loudoun Impact Fund in 2014.

Laura lives with her husband in Leesburg, Virginia and is the proud Mother of two grown children Mari and Stephen.

We all know a parent’s life is filled with decisions to make on behalf of their children. When you are additionally struggling because of economic circumstances the answers are not always clear and sometimes parents are forced to make impossible choices.

Should I put food on the table, pay the rent or send my child to an after-school program? Where are my priorities? My child going home alone to an empty house or apartment, paying the rent, buying school supplies, clothing etc., etc., all parents want what is best for their child but, sometimes the decision proves difficult.

Life is filled with choices and some of them are bound to be hard, but this is a choice we should not require parents to make, because if they choose they lose and we lose our children! If a person cannot function at work for worrying about their children at home alone, it weakens the very fabric of our community. 

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College PictureBernice Colyandro, previous recipient of the Cameron and Virginia Dye Scholarship from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, has been inspired to give back to her community.  She shared her story with the Foundation.

Bernice Colyandro grew up in Arlington, Virginia and graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) with a bachelor’s degree in Business Information Technology.  While pursuing her degree, she was an active member of the Chi Omega Fraternity and supported its alliance with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  For this alliance, she volunteered her time and raised money through various fund raising events at Virginia Tech. 

Since graduation she has spent the last ten years working in Washington D.C. as a Software Engineer for SRA International, Inc. and currently as a Sr. Systems Engineer for Esri.  Bernice is eternally grateful for receiving the Cameron and Virginia Dye scholarship.  This scholarship enabled her to leave college debt free which gave her freedom and choice while starting out as a young woman in computer engineering.

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VOAVolunteers of America Chesapeake is a faith based non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire self-reliance, dignity, and hope through health and human services. Through our 31 programs we offer a safety net to our veterans, seniors suffering from intellectual disability, the homeless, those seeking affordable housing options, and many more.

Founded in 1896 in Baltimore, MD Volunteers of America Chesapeake was one of the first branches of Volunteers of America – one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive human services organizations. Through a dedicated and committed team of management, staff and volunteers and guided by our Core Values: Caring, Respect, Faith, Quality, and Trust – VOA Chesapeake helps thousands of people each year throughout Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

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Serving TogetherWe’ve all been there—waiting on hold to talk to a ‘customer service representative,’ endlessly navigating Google for answers to questions we haven’t formed yet, and getting frustrated and tired getting the run around when all we want is someone to listen. Like veterans across the country, Northern Virginia veterans deal with these inefficiencies all the time when trying to access healthcare, benefits, or employment services that, frankly, I feel they have earned. 

Oftentimes communities think that all veterans can and do utilize federal healthcare and benefits. In reality, many do not for a variety of reasons.  Since 2011, my team and I have been working to create an improved resource system for military, veterans and their families through a project called Serving Together.  If you’ve read this far, you’re likely thinking, “Great. But what does that really mean?”  It means that we are working with existing programs and organizations in our communities—where we live, work and play—to make sure those who have ever served in the Armed Forces are familiar with and know how to contact local programs.

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GEMS Club 2Thanks to the Innovation Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Virginia and the Moore Family Foundation, Nova Labs partnered recently with the Girls Excelling in Math & Science (GEMS) Club to host a popular hands-on program called “Take Apart Day.”

So…. What’s a Take Apart Day? Nova Lab volunteers collect non-functioning computers, scanners, and copiers to show the girls—and the larger Nova Lab community—what makes it all tick.

Being able to use tools safely is the first step.  It’s key to opening up these devices and learning about their mechanisms and how they work.

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Chris Faessen  beesWolf Trap Foundation is known for presenting amazing performances in one of the most unique performing arts venues in the country, but many are unaware of Wolf Trap’s strong commitment to the environment and sustainability. This summer, Wolf Trap Foundation is doubling down on that passion with the expansion of its beekeeping program led by Chris Faessen, Executive Chef.

Located at the Center for Education, the beekeeping program started three years ago with only a handful of hives as a supplement to Wolf Trap Foundation’s vegetable garden. Today, the program has grown to exciting new levels, with a total of nine strong hives buzzing along thanks in part to a recent grant from the Barkdull Fund for Animal Welfare from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia specifically for the bees. The bees can reach as far as six miles in their never-ending quest for nectar, ensuring the forests of the National Park as well as Meadowlark Botanical Gardens are pollinated. While it may seem like the bees do most of the work while buzzing around the park, Chris and his staff work extremely hard to ensure the bees remain healthy, happy, and disease-free.

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IMCC photo2As the Executive Director of the only dementia specific adult day health and resource center in Northern Virginia, I was thrilled to see the aging report published earlier this year by the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. The Northern Virginia population will have extensive challenges in the future with the number of older individuals projected to grow 76% between 2010 and 2030. The increase of older adults in our area will have a wide spread social and economic impact on our community, an impact we have already started to feel at our center. 

Insight Memory Care Center (IMCC) is celebrating 30 years of care this year, and we continue to face an increased demand for our programs and services. This demand has led us to pursue plans to expand our center in 2015 where we will be tripling our space, so that we are able to serve more in need.  Despite our space limitations, over the past year we have already added two additional support groups, a new early stage program called Reconnections (partnering with local churches to provide space), and educational workshops to provide a more in-depth look at popular topics.

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aging2We bet everyone remembers how exciting it was when we first got our driver’s license!  It is an amazing “rite of passage” and one of the first steps to independence for a teen ager.  But we sure do not want to think about the other end of the lifespan, when perhaps driving is no longer possible due to age related conditions.  The independence that started with our driver’s license in our teen years becomes  jeopardized and for too many older adults, it means an isolated life - stranded at home.

The good news is that there are community organizations that care about this and have created volunteer driver programs to take seniors who do not drive where they want and need to go.

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