By Mozella Perry Ademiluyi, Montgomery County Advisory Board Member
- Why are a growing number of students in Montgomery County and the Metropolitan area falling into the “disconnected youth” category?
- Why do our youth feel disrespected? And, what does it look like to feel valued?
And, so began the first in a series of “Taste of Philanthropy” community dinner conversations. The dinner was attended by three Latino youth representing their peers and a diverse community of people who cared enough to really hear what the young people had to say about their world. They shared what it looks like and what it feels like to be a young person navigating the Montgomery County school system and how they were saved from falling through the cracks. In essence, they told us what worked, what didn’t and what is needed from their own points of view.
Taste of Philanthropy represents a different kind of invitation. We didn’t spend time introducing ‘who’ was in the room. Instead, we questioned, we listened … and the real experts, our ‘affected’ youth answered.
They reported that young people who are defined as being ‘disconnected’ are concerned and worried by many things: their families’ finances, lack of direction, immigration status, no affordable daycare, teachers who have no expectations of them and no one who seems to care enough. A clear illustration that behind every statistic there are youth with real stories and a desire for a better life.
Who points the way – how does the community respond?
The Community Foundation and Identity issued a study in June 2014 entitled Connecting Youth to Opportunity: How Latino Youth Perspectives can Inform a Blueprint for Improving Opportunity In Montgomery County, Maryland. The report’s findings provide detailed insights into the lives of a thousand Latino youth living in Montgomery County. It demonstrates the encouraging belief that there is no point of no return in which a youth is completely lost and that one person can actually make a difference in the trajectory of a youth’s life that may have veered off course. While the report focuses on Latino youth, we believe the findings raise similar issues for youth of all ethnicities.
Our community cares. However, many don’t know what to do about the negative issues impacting the well-being of thousands upon thousands of youth in our area.
Perhaps we can focus instead on the difference we can make –use our higher sense of purpose to inspire our youth to explore new possibilities, imagine change and recreate their stories. And, we can support the efforts of change makers like The Community Foundation.
Below are some highlights of what the panel of youth shared about their experiences and how the community can take action to address these issues:
- They think a forum with principals and school staff to share their experiences and struggles without fear of judgment is needed.
- Create an advocacy group in your local school district and host such a forum.
- They believe that not all youth are suited for college and want alternatives that are achievable and goals they can feel good about.
- Support programs that offer career pathways for all children.
- They believe more one-on-one mentorships and coaching will help them feel cared for and give them the push they need. Such relationships changed their lives and they believe students who are willing to change or can be encouraged to change will benefit from that kind of support too.
- Become a mentor.
What do you believe? Some of us can help with awareness and advocacy, some can be an authentic voice raising the call to action, still others can help push the needle forward so that proactive policy leads to action that leads to real change. Ultimately, each one can endeavor to reach one.
If you believe ‘the answers are in the detail’ then you’ve come to the right place.
There is no question in my mind that we are capable of teaching our youth how to make better choices and how to create a different, more empowering reality for their lives.
In June 1996, Terri Lee Freeman joined The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region as President (then known as Foundation for the National Capital Region). After 18 years of service to our region, Terri is resigning that post.
Throughout her tenure, Terri has spearheaded dramatic growth for the Foundation. In 2000, we had just over 200 component funds totaling $94 million. Today, we have 786 component funds totaling $328 million. At our recent 40th anniversary celebration, Terri told the crowd: “When I came to The Community Foundation in 1996, we were giving out roughly $10 million a year in grants. In 2013, we distributed $10 million in December alone! This, in a nutshell, describes our history – GROWTH: growth in assets; growth in grants; growth in impact.”
“Growth in impact” has been a cornerstone of Terri’s leadership. During her tenure, The Community Foundation has moved from simply making grants to moving an agenda – one where equity, access, and opportunity are available to all residents of the metropolitan Washington region: helping lead the formation of Raise DC and serving as the backbone organization for its collective impact education work; working with local corporations to support workforce development efforts in the District of Columbia; forming the Greater Washington Workforce Collaborative, which has made grants totaling $1.9 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the region; and most recently, releasing “Housing Security in the Washington Region,” a first-of-its-kind study on affordable housing.
Terri’s leadership and collaborative style have helped our community through difficult times. After September 11, 2001, she moved quickly to establish the Survivors’ Fund to benefit those affected by the attack at the Pentagon. And again, in 2005, the Katrina Open Arms Fund was established to support New Orleans natives relocating to this region. In 2008, when the economy was turned upside down, Terri urged the Board to redirect funding to establish the Neighbors In Need Fund to provide emergency funding to safety net organizations throughout the region. What began as a $250,000 investment made grants totaling nearly $5 million over a two-year period to organizations that provided emergency support to residents across our region.
“I’d like to think that I have worked to improve the quality of life for the region’s citizens in the best of times – like new funding for nonprofit organizations through the City Fund – and the worst of times – like the Navy Yard shootings. It’s been my hope that my work has contributed to the development of a far more caring and sophisticated philanthropic community, as well as helped make this community one that readily meets the needs of its residents,” said Terri. “But what I will miss the most are the incredible people I’ve worked with at the staff, Board, and community levels.”
Terri leaves the Community Foundation to pursue her passion for civil rights and social justice as the President of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.
“It is an understatement to say that we will miss Terri. Her contributions to this Foundation and this community have been many and have made our region a better place to live. I have no doubt that her commitment to social justice will find a perfect home at the National Civil Rights Museum. As Terri begins this next phase of her career, The Community Foundation will continue to grow, thrive, and be the community’s go-to partner in philanthropy,” said Board chairman Martin Weinstein. “We will be establishing a search committee over the next several weeks. In the meantime, we are happy to have Angela Jones Hackley serve as our interim President.”
Terri will be with The Community Foundation until mid to late September.
- The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region
Building Futures students, Site Coordinator & Instructors by S Casaro Dietert – Verona (center)
The Community Foundation recently completed a three-year partnership with the Community Services Agency of the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO and Jobs for the Future. Made possible by a US Department of Labor Green Jobs Innovation Fund grant, the partnership yielded $875,000 in support for the Community Service Agency’s Building Futures job training program. Building Futures works to connect low-income Washington-area workers to education and training that will help them launch careers in the construction trades. Graduates leave the program armed with a collection of industry certifications including LEED 101, giving them a competitive edge in the jobs market.
Community Services Agency Executive Director Kathleen McKirchy notes, “Being part of this grant has been a tremendous experience for the staff and clients of the CSA Building Futures program. Our clients have gained new confidence, skills, certifications and jobs, and many have turned their lives around with family-sustaining careers and newfound economic independence as a result of the training funded with this grant. Our staff has benefited tremendously from the peer learning opportunities and sharing of best practices with our counterparts in other states under this grant, and our program and operations have improved as a result. We are grateful to the US Department of Labor for funding this initiative, to Jobs for the Future for its national leadership and management of the grants, and to the Community Foundation, National Capital Region for providing oversight, support and lots of technical assistance during the life of this grant!”
To date, 165 workers participated in training with 161 graduating—a 97.5% success rate that speaks to the success of the program’s intensive case management and other supportive services. Further, 120 of these graduates have been placed into employment—a 75% placement rate—ranking Building Futures as one of the most successful programs across all of the Green Jobs Innovation Fund’s sites nationally. Additionally, more than 50 of these placements have been into registered apprenticeships that track workers into high-wage journeyman positions in the construction trades.
Part of the secret to Community Services Agency’s success has been its development of strong relationships with local employers. Recently, CSA partnered with the Center for Energy Workforce Development and Northern Virginia Community College to train a women-only cohort of workers for careers at local utilities. CSA worked with clients like Verona, who successfully completed the program, and is pursuing a job at Washington Gas, one of CSA’s utility employer partners alongside PEPCO, NPL, and Utiliquest.
“I got great insights into the companies, what they do, what they can do for me, and what I can do for them,” Verona stated. “I’m looking to land a line locator or construction helper position- I need full-time stable employment and working for one of the utilities would really be great for me.” Verona is currently progressing through a 6-month period of blue-collar work that will ultimately qualify her for a full-time position at Washington Gas alongside two other Building Futures participants who have already been hired.
While this grant has now come to a close, Building Futures successfully won several new grants, including funding through the recently awarded City Fund, CityCenterDC Opportunity Grants, and state funding in Maryland through the Maryland EARN program. We’d like to thank the Community Services Agency for its dedication to Washington-area workers over the term of this grant, and to congratulate them on the excellent outcomes they’ve achieved for local jobseekers and construction employers.
- Learn more about the District’s commitment to green construction- US Green Building Council — D.C. Adopts Innovative New Green Construction Code
- Contribute to the Community Foundation’s workforce development efforts through a gift to the Community Foundation’s Leadership Fund.
“Stable and affordable housing for people at all income levels is a goal that our region should be able to achieve. Without stable housing, it is difficult for people to obtain economic security, a quality education, good health and employment,” said Terri Lee Freeman, president of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. “We commissioned this study in order to quantify the needs for affordable housing and inform strategic investments by the philanthropic sector, as well as the public and private sectors. We are optimistic that the study can help leaders better address homelessness and housing issues in their communities and direct resources to those most in need. All people in our region deserve the chance to prosper as our region prospers.”
The Community Foundation For The National Capital Region Invites You To Join Us For The Release Of A Landmark New Study, Housing Security In The Washington Region.
The Community Foundation, with generous support from The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, commissioned a study of housing needs and affordability in the Washington Region. The study, prepared by the Urban Institute and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, examines the entire continuum of housing, from the emergency shelter system to affordable homeownership opportunities; and provides a regional perspective on a challenge that crosses jurisdictional borders.
The event will include two sessions – a public briefing on the study, followed by a private briefing for funders, co-sponsored by The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Session 1: Public Briefing on the study (open to the public)
1:00 – 3:00pm
An overview of the key findings and discussion
Session 2: Private briefing for Funders (open to private philanthropic funders and donors only)
3:15 – 5:00pm
Presentation and discussion of a companion guide to the study for funders, intended to inform the philanthropic sector’s efforts to address homelessness and increase housing security in the region
True Reformer Building, Lankford Auditorium
1200 U Street NW | Washington, DC 20009
To the disdain of many in the Washington region, the beginning of summer brings high temperatures and oppressive humidity, but local workforce development advocates are collectively breathing a sigh of relief as summer also brings an end to the high stress of budget season.
Now that Maryland, Virginia, and the District have concluded their budget wrangling for the year, workforce advocates are celebrating some high-profile wins. Grantees of the Community Foundation’s Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative have been working hard to shine light on critical issues by providing testimony at hearings and advocating for new or improved policies that will positively impact local workers. Here’s a roundup of some of the biggest workforce policy news:
The District of Columbia
- An attempt to divert $1.6 million in funding dedicated to training adult workers was scuttled and the funding secured.
- $175,000 was allocated to the Workforce investment Council to support a new taskforce dedicated to ensuring that District workers have the basic skills they need to succeed at work and an additional $340,000 was allocated to provide expanded services to adult learners with learning disabilities.
- $822,000 was allocated to the Office of the State Superintendent for Education to establish a drop-in resource center for youth trying to re-connect to school or work.
Community Foundation grantee Job Opportunities Task Force led and supported efforts in Maryland, including:
- Last year, Maryland passed landmark legislation to create a new grant opportunity—Maryland EARN, funding projects that train workers for careers in high-demand industries. This budget cycle, advocates successfully fended off a $3.6 mil reduction for EARN, working with state agencies and the House of Representatives to avoid all cuts and maintain level funding of $4.5 million for the program.
- A collaboration of local business, nonprofit, and government agencies, including Job Opportunities Task Force, successfully advocated for a major expansion of job readiness training available to Prince George’s County Youth. More than 2000 youth will have access to expanded services offered through Prince George’s Community College and Prince George’s County Public Schools.
Community Foundation grantee the Commonwealth Institute for Northern Virginia has led and supported efforts across Virginia during a difficult budget and legislative season, including:
- Strengthening Virginia’s Earned Income Credit (EIC):The first bill signed by Governor Terry McAuliffe extended enhancements to the state’s EIC until 2017, helping 114,000 Virginians keep more of their earnings. These enhancements include increasing the income levels at which married couples are eligible for the credit and adding a new tier of benefits for families with 3 or more children (previously the credit topped off at 2 children).
- Passing Work-Sharing Legislation: After three years of advocacy, bipartisan legislation was passed to implement a work-sharing program in Virginia. This program allows eligible businesses to reduce the hours of their employees instead of resorting to layoffs during an economic downturn. Affected employees are then able to draw partial unemployment benefits to help offset the wage losses from their reduced hours. Work-sharing allows business to keep their skilled workers and helps workers stay employed.
- Funding to Expand Career Pathways: Workforce development advocates successfully worked with officials from the administration to include $1 million of new funding for regional sector strategies and career pathways programs in the Governor’s budget proposal. While this funding was ultimately eliminated by the General Assembly during budget negotiations, advocates are hopeful that the Governor’s support could yield additional opportunities in the future.
- Contribute to the Community Foundation’s workforce development efforts through a gift to the Community Foundation’s Leadership Fund.