effective philanthropy blog

Bradley FreyBradley Frey Brad Frey is the donor advisor for the J. Watkins Fund for Arts and Education. We recently asked him to share some thoughts on how this fund helps honor his husband’s legacy.

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

I first learned about the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia from a dear friend who previously worked with the organization. She adored my husband J., and when I was looking for a timely way to create a legacy for him, she thought of Community Foundation and we set up a meeting with Megan Niewold. When Megan told me about the Community Foundation’s mission and vision, I felt it aligned seamlessly with the more beautiful and inclusive world that J. had worked to create every day of his life.

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KellyBlanks LR
Friends of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia,

It has been a privilege and honor to serve you and our region as the Chief Philanthropy Officer of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. You - our donors, volunteers, nonprofit leaders, business leaders, and community leaders have continually inspired me and convinced me that I have held one of the best jobs in the world. Where else can you work collaboratively across all sectors with the same goal of building a community that works for everyone? Where else can you see, benefit from, and feel that impact at home?

I recently shared with the Community Foundation staff and board that I have decided to resign to be close to my home and family in beautiful Western Loudoun County. Before I officially depart on June 21st, I'd love to take a moment to reflect on some of the amazing things I've been most proud of that we made happen together:
  • Innovation Fund Endowment -Finds investment opportunities in Northern Virginia that help diversify the local economy, level the playing field for disadvantaged youth, and promote grass roots innovation.
  • Opportunity Index - Serves as a data resource for community knowledge and strategic philanthropic giving, to help grow philanthropy for our most economically disadvantaged populations. 
  • Count the Region - The importance of the 2020 Census can not be overstated. For every Virginian who is not counted, the state/region loses $2,000 per year for 10 years, or $20,000 total, in federal assistance program allocations. 
  • Permanent Fund - An important endowment to shape our region's future that provides an opportunity to create a lasting legacy of giving to transform lives and strengthen Northern Virginia.
  • Our Values - This past year our staff and Board of Directors clarified our values and have intentionally put these at the center of everything we do. If my heart were on my sleeve over the past four years, these words in our values statement are what it would have read.

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EnviornmentFund2019In 2017, The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia (CFNOVA) launched our Environment Fund, with a mission “to protect, restore and improve the natural environment of Northern Virginia, thereby enhancing the health and quality of life of its citizens and the economy of the region.” The fund’s goals include supporting collaboration, public awareness, and public engagement to improve and protect the natural environment.

We were therefore extremely pleased to award a grant to the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG) to support their long-standing collaborative work in Northern Virginia. The Environment Fund grant matches a seed grant from the Prince Charitable Trusts and includes funding from a second anonymous donor and friend of CFNOVA.

The combined grants will enable CSG to hire a Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager, who will have a primary focus in Fairfax but will be available to assist community advocates in adjoining jurisdictions. Illustrative of the collaborative approach which attracted us to CSG, the launch event included CSG partners from the conservation, sustainable transportation, affordable housing, and social services sectors. Following the award event and discussions, CSG’s Executive Director, Stewart Schwartz, led a walking tour of the Beacon Hill area of Richmond Highway illustrating the interconnection of land use, transportation, and housing with environmental sustainability and social equity.

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Joel BrownJoel BrownJoel Brown, is a donor advisor for the XMS Fund, which supports youth, education, health and community improvement. We asked him to share some thoughts on how this fund helps the Northern Virginia region. 

Why did you partner with the Community Foundation on your philanthropy? 

Merrill Lynch recommended the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia to me almost 20 years ago. They spoke very highly of the work the Foundation did for the community and some of the great organizations they helped support. I learned very quickly that there are a lot of very good causes that need support and Community Foundation is very helpful at researching and recommending where donations are needed.

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Rod Harrell high res 003Rod HarrellRod Harrell, is a donor advisor for the Rachel Harrell Memorial Fund. We asked him to share some thoughts on how this fund helps honor his wife's legacy.

Why did you choose to help the Community Foundation establish the Rachel Harrell Memorial Fund?

When my wife passed away in 2013, I felt a compulsion to do something to help others in a way that would honor her. We (Rachel's mother and I) looked at several options, including starting a foundation. It became apparent quickly that this was not realistic. With a requirement to have a board of directors and a long process to become recognized as a 501(c)(3), I became discouraged. Then, through a local attorney, I heard about the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. Giving up some autonomy to gain the substantial benefits of partnering with the Foundation through a donor-advised fund seemed like a perfect compromise. Thus, the Rachel Harrell Memorial Fund was born.

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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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