March 18, 2014
On Sunday, I attended a real happening – the inaugural Mini Maker Faire in Northern Virginia at both South Lakes High School and Langston Hughes Middle School (because the event was so big). Think of several thousand people at an adult Science Fair and you'd have a pretty good idea of what a Maker Faire is like. I particularly loved the “Blender Bike”

Led by Sari Raskin (Community Foundation staff) and Brian Jacoby, a longtime donor at the Community Foundation and President of Nova Labs, the Faire came together with over 300 volunteers (directing traffic, taking tickets, etc.) and somewhere between 3,000-5,000 attendees! It was an amazing event focused on STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. And this was sponsored by, and the ideas cultivated through, the leadership of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.

Last year, I was one of the founding members of the Community Foundation’s Innovation Fund, established to recognize and promote innovation and to support programs that nurture inventiveness, creativity, and new design across Northern Virginia. This initiative seeks to help inculcate a culture of innovation in our schools and communities and supports those who are nurturing innovation ideas and solutions in our area through grants – last year we made grants totaling $50,000, and we hope to increase that figure this year to $75,000.

The Maker Faire concept evolved in Silicon Valley and now, because of the Foundation's Innovation Fund, has become part of the Northern Virginia DNA. In short, this is a BIG national movement and the Community Foundation's Innovation Fund is squarely in the middle of the action! I feel that the Innovation Fund's sponsorship of the Maker Faire is a great example of how the Community Foundation does more than make grants – it is a change agent, working in partnership with philanthropists, community leaders and nonprofit organizations to make a difference in the region.

We've caught a wave here with the Innovation Fund, and I encourage anyone interested in partnering with the Community Foundation on your philanthropy to support innovation to join us!