effective philanthropy blog
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.

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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CAFBHunger affects 12% of the population living in the Washington metro area, and the Capital Area Food Bank is taking it off the map by connecting schools, businesses, partner non-profits and other stakeholders. A real community response is the key, and the CAFB’s Family Market at Manassas Park High School, where we offer fruits, vegetables, and groceries free of charge to parents of students at the school, is a great example of a community working together to solve hunger. 

When we approached the school district last year about a family market in Manassas Park, Dr. Bruce McDade, Superintendent of Manassas Park Schools, was quick to understand the need for an infusion of nutritious food into his school community. He has since been instrumental in encouraging City Council members, School Board office staff, and the Community Center to be part of the monthly Market.  Volunteering together, these supporters receive the food from the CAFB’s truck, and get the Family Market set up and ready to go. This school year’s market is providing an average of 10,000 pounds of food each month to 300 families.

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michellMichell Merhige, in honor of whom Marcy Mager established her scholarship.Marcy Mager is a donor advisor at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.  The Michell Merhige Scholarship Fund provides an award of up to $1,500 to a graduating senior attending a Fairfax County public school and honors the memory of her daughter - a young woman who overcame great obstacles in her life and went on to graduate from college, establish a successful career and give back to her community in numerous ways.

We asked her about why she chose to open a fund with us here at the Community Foundation.

How did you find out about the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia?

I was interested in establishing a scholarship to honor my daughter and read about the Fairfax County Public School services to support homeless students including scholarships to help them in college. The head of that department put me in touch with Louise Foreman, who had established such a scholarship in her son William's memory.  Louise sent me to Eileen and she helped put the whole project in motion. 

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NeedsIn an effort to build stronger relationships with our community based nonprofits, we have launched First Tuesdays - an open, co-learning opportunity for Community Foundation staff to meet with local nonprofit leaders and discuss the issues and challenges they face.  

These meetings are designed to build relationships, share information, brainstorm ideas, and discover new approaches or new ways of tackling community issues in a neutral, relaxed setting.

We held our first meeting on Tuesday, January 5th, and met with two nonprofit organizations.  It just so happened that their arenas overlapped in their support of animal welfare.

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