effective philanthropy blog
KellyBlanks LRKelly Blanks, Chief Philanthropy OfficerLife's most extraordinary accomplishments are very rarely ever achieved alone, which is why we launched the Door Opener Society at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia last year. This esteemed award honors attorneys, accountants, trust officers, and estate and financial planners who have helped clients achieve their charitable objectives through the Community Foundation. These advisors have helped serve their clients better by working effectively with the Community Foundation to optimize their clients' gifts to our community. They know that the Community Foundation helps with philanthropic planning, adding value to their practice and client relationships. They know working with the Community Foundation is a win-win.

Please help us in congratulating your local peers without whom we couldn't do our work, in particular the newest members of the Door Opener Society - Serena Dupuy, David Mead, Deb Matthews and Joseph Speicher. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for an invitation to the Door Opener Society Celebration on Tuesday, January 29th.

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Cecelia CloverCeclia, a client of Rebuilding Together AFF, with her dog Precious.Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church received a multi-year grant in 2018 from the Health, Mental Health & Aging Fund through the Community Investment Funds grant cycle.  This grant supports programs that iprove the wellness and quality of life of our aging neighbors.  Rebuilding Together AFF shared the following testimonial to show how this grant helped one of their clients, Ceclia.

Cecelia Clover and her dog Precious love her garden level condo in Alexandria, but due to health and mobility issues, climbing the stairs to reach the only bathroom in her home was getting difficult. She was also cut-off from her patio, where she delighted in sitting with Precious, because her wheelchair couldn’t navigate the bumpy path. Volunteers from Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church (Rebuilding Together-AFF) came to her rescue and made Cecelia’s home safe so she could stay there for many more years.

Rebuilding Together-AFF designs health and safety repairs and accessibility modifications to meet each homeowner’s needs.  The solution for Cecelia included: volunteers installing a motorized stairlift, bathtub grab bars, a comfort height toilet, smoke detectors, a fire extinguisher, and a smooth pathway to her patio.  “Rebuilding Together’s staff and volunteers are wonderful. They take the time to listen, they have such great skills, and it’s obvious how much satisfaction they take in helping neighbors in need,” said Ms. Clover. “I feel so much safer using the stairlift,” she continued. “I’m not afraid that I’ll fall on the stairs if I need to go upstairs to use the bathroom.”

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ben 4Ben, a client of The Arc of Northern Virginia, uses TravelMate on his iPad to make sure he’s at the right bus stop, and which bus to board.The Arc of Northern Virignia received a $7,500 grant in 2018 from the Education Fund through the Community Investment Funds grant cycle.  This grant supported the innovative new use of mobile apps that allow people with disabilites to navigate the tasks of everyday life.  The Arc of Northern Virginia shared the following inspirational story to show the impact of this support in our community.

There was a time when conventional wisdom dictated that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) be institutionalized, “for their own good.”  Thankfully we’ve moved beyond that as a society.  Today, we know that people with disabilities are best served and supported in their communities.  We have come to understand that there are many things a person with a disability CAN do, from completing their education and getting a degree to living independently to full and regular employment.  At The Arc of Northern Virginia, it is our goal and our mission to help those with ID/DD live “A Life Like Yours.” 

A unique initiative was launched to help achieve that goal, incorporating the technology platforms made possible by the prolific adaption of mobile devices.  Apps for Independent Living consists of a series of curricula that have been created that allows a person with a disability to navigate the tasks of everyday life.   

Launched in 2014, the first app, TravelMate provides interactive instruction on navigating transit between home and work.  Two years later, EmployMate was added to assist practicing soft skills and act as a “virtual job coach” to help with successful performance of job duties.  The concept is to allow individuals with ID/DD to become more independent, by allowing those who care for them to create the specific content they need based on their own environments, their own experiences, and their own life goals.

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Star Power LR3rd - 5th grade girls at Loch Lomond Elementary School participating in Girls on the Run of NOVAGirls on the Run of Northern Virginia received an $8,500 grant in 2018 from the Child & Youth Develompent Fund through the Community Investment Funds grant cycle.  This fund supports porgrams that help children and youth obtain the education, support, services and opportunities they need to thrive.  The grant helped Girls on the Run NOVA expand into an economically disadvantaged school.  They shared the following inspirational story to show how this grant helped at-risk youth establish healthy habits and raise their self-esteem.

When Lauren Daly came on as a new teacher at Loch Lomond Elementary School she became a part of a special community. At this Prince William County Public School, 84% of students are considered economically disadvantaged, and nearly 67% are English language learners. The school strives to be a place where students know they are cared for and leave as lifelong learners. However, this can be challenging as poverty and disconnection can exacerbate the common stresses that come with growing up. Lauren sought out a program that could increase healthy habits and raise self-esteem to help students succeed. Soon she held the first Girls on the Run practice as Coach Lauren.

Fast forward to the present and the Girls on the Run team at Loch Lomond is about to complete their second season. This team of sixteen 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade girls are becoming stronger, healthier, and more confident as individuals, but also as a team connected to each other and their coaches.

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Brayan 2 LRBrayan, a client of Second StorySecond Story received a $10,000 grant in 2018 from the Poverty Relief Fund through the Community Investment Funds grant cycle.  This grant provided housing and shelter assistance to homeless youth in our region.  Second Story shared the following testimonial to show how this grant helped one of their clients, Brayan.

Brayan had always been fascinated with invention. As a child in Guatemala he would make his own toys with things around his house. When he got older he learned about Nikola Tesla and became intent on creating his own Tesla coil, so he took apart his brother’s computer to come up with the right materials. “I couldn’t get all the materials I needed so I couldn’t do it, but I wanted to — even if I had to destroy the computer,” he laughs. Tinkering with how things work was Brayan’s refuge, but life at home was difficult. He grew used to threats and feeling unsafe, but when he was 16 things got worse. He contacted the police and even got his case to court but nothing happened. “I suffered from depression almost every day,” he remembers. “I didn’t want to do anything but sleep and be at home. I decided to come here.”

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Ken pic 3x5 300 dpiPlease read below a personal message from Ken Hunstman, Community Foundation board member and chair of the Community Investment Funds grant cycle for many years.  With his guidance, we awarded more than $250,000 to 29 nonprofits in 2018 through these grants.

As part of the Community Foundation’s response to its creed of “Growing philanthropy to respond to critical need and seed innovation in the region,” the Community Investment Funds seek to find those organizations in our communities that are addressing critical needs and give them a boost.

The Community Foundation has been making these annual grants for many years now, and has helped numerous organizations start new programs, extend existing programs, reach more people, provide more in-depth services, or help them help others in a myriad of ways.  See the 2018 grantees for example.

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Ross Roberts 1993bStephen S. Roberts and Dr. Sue Goetz Ross, pictured in 1993Stephen Roberts, a donor advisor for the Sue Goetz Ross and Stephen S. Roberts Music Fund, recently made a legacy gift to help launch the Ross-Roberts Fund for the Arts.  We asked him to share some thoughts on how this new fund helps honor his wife's legacy.

Why did you choose to help the Community Foundation establish the Ross-Roberts Fund for the Arts?

I am honored to be able to assist in the launch of the Ross-Roberts Fund for the Arts at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. The arts (in our case singing classical music) brought me and my late wife Dr. Sue Goetz Ross together and then gave us many years of pleasure and enrichment together. The arts are an essential part of the life of any community, bringing it both beauty and identity and giving it its human spirit. Although the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has not until now had a fund specifically dedicated to the arts, it has a track record of effective management of funds in other areas, with access to leading professionals in the region and a staff skilled in fund management. I can therefore think of no better way to support the arts in Northern Virginia over the long term than to help launch a new fund at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia dedicated to the arts.

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Mike Sanderson PhotoMike Sanderson, a client of the Easterseals Veteran Staffing Network ProgramThe Easterseals Veterans Staffing Network received a $10,000 grant in 2018 from the Military Personnel & Their Families Fund through the Community Investment Funds grant cycle. This grant supported programs that coordinate services between the government and nonprofit providers to better serve military personnel and their families in the Northern Virginia region.  Easterseals Veterans Staffing Network shared the following testimonial from Veteran Mike Sanderson to show the impact of this support in their community.

“Two years ago, my life went from bad to worse when I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Since then, I lost my job, and we were in the process of losing our house. I spent six years in the US Marine Corps, and had never faced anything like this. I spent six months looking for employment only to have the door shut in my face every time. During this time I worked with a lot of unscrupulous recruiters and hiring managers who just strung me along. Needless to say, my wife and I were getting to the point of desperation, then I met Angie Gresh, of Easterseals Veteran Staffing Network.

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Kelly Blanks, Chief Philanthropy Officer
Developing a charitable plan that takes into account your client's financial and charitable needs is no small task. As a professional advisor, the opportunity you have to help your clients achieve their philanthropic goals is both a privilege and a challenge. We want to be a resource for you as well as a philanthropic partner for your clients.

If any of your clients are considering year end charitable giving, please keep the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia in mind. We're here for you.

Their tax deductible gift can start a donor advised fund or scholarship fund in their name. 

Or, it could benefit one of these existing Community Investment Funds and help the Community Foundation respond to critical needs in the community:

               The Child and Youth Development / Education Fund
               The Poverty Relief Fund
               The Health, Mental Health and Aging Fund
               The Military Personnel and their Families Fund
               Healthy Kids

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Catherine Schott MurrayCatherine Schott MurrayWe recently sat down with Catherine Schott Murray of Odin, Feldman & Pittleman. Catherine is a Community Foundation Board member, member of the Raise the Region Gala committee, and member of the Business Women's Giving Circle.

What does it mean to you to be involved as a member of the Raise the Region Gala Committee?

Being a member of the Raise the Region Gala Committee allows me to promote a wonderful organization to current friends of the Community Foundation and new friends of the Community Foundation. The Gala is such a great event where the energy in the room is tremendous and contagious. I think everyone walks away feeling invigorated that people care about each other and are willing to support an organization that will grow philanthropy.  

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