Seeks Community Input and Support to Benefit Northern Virginia Region

Innovation WebWe have been presented with a rare opportunity.  An anonymous donor has challenged the Northern Virginia community with a $250,000 matching gift to endow the Innovation Fund, a source of venture philanthropy at the Community Foundation that invests in inventiveness, creativity and new design.

At the Community Foundation’s Chairman’s Breakfast this morning at Tegna Headquarters, the Community Foundation announced a 30-day public campaign to raise $30,000 and to collect “wishes” on how the Innovation Fund can make grants to support the region.  We have already secured $131,000 towards this match.  Please visit for more information.

The Innovation Fund launched in 2013.  It uses a “Venture Philanthropy” model of grant making in which donors to the Innovation Fund, in partnership with Community Foundation board and staff, find investment opportunities in Northern Virginia that help diversify the local economy, level the playing field for disadvantaged youth, and promote grass roots innovation.

Grants from the Innovation Fund are truly “venture” in nature, supporting nascent programs that, but for Innovation Fund support, may not have launched.  The model takes a long-term view of investing in community and solving local problems, strategically partnering with local nonprofits and schools to launch promising, innovative programs and initiatives that have the potential to transform our region.

To date, the Innovation Fund has helped launch the Mason Innovation Lab at George Mason University; launch the very first cyber security course of study in Prince William County Public Schools and expand the Cyber Patriot program in Fairfax County Public Schools into their middle schools; and launch the very first Mini Maker Faire at South Lakes High School in Reston that was attended by more than 3,000 visitors in 2014, 2015 and 2016. 

“The Innovation Fund Endowment will be one of the most important permanent funds this generation builds,” said Eileen Ellsworth, President of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.  “It will be the source of venture philanthropy for our community that has the flexibility to both respond to need and also to seed innovative solutions to the complex social issues of our day.”