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Why I Give: Interview with CityCenterDC

October 23, 2013

“Why I Give” features voices from our community of givers about the importance of philanthropy in our lives and in our communities

The Community Foundation is pleased to partner with CityCenterDC in a new philanthropic effort that will further the development team’s vision for a vibrant urban center and help to ensure that local residents benefit from CityCenterDC’s emerging economic opportunities. CityCenterDC Opportunity Grants will provide one-time, one-year grants of $15,000-$50,000 to organizations providing work readiness services, English as a Second Language instruction, Adult basic education/literacy instruction, and/or short-term job training programs to District residents residing within the boundaries of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 2C, 2F, 5E, and 6E. Up to a total of $200,000 will be awarded. The grant cycle is currently closed and grants will be announced in early 2014.

1) What is CityCenterDC?

Setting a new standard for urban development in both Washington DC and the nation, CityCenterDC is a unique, pedestrian-friendly, 10-acre mixed-use development, located in the heart of downtown Washington on a 4.5-block parcel bounded by New York Avenue, 9th, H and 11th Streets.  The site is sponsored by Hines and the TFI US Real Estate and will be a vibrant blend of residences, offices, shopping, restaurants, hotel and active parks upon completion, with more than 270,000 square feet of retail space, 520,000 square feet of office space, 458 rental apartment units, 216 condominium units, a 370-room luxury hotel, a public park, a central plaza and pedestrian-oriented streets and alleyways.

2) Tell us a little about the neighborhood and its residents.

Downtown DC is undergoing an incredible transformation into one of the most exciting and desirable neighborhoods in the entire city. Since the late 1990s, approximately $11 billion has been invested in more than 150 real estate projects and almost 60,000 people now live in this ethnically diverse neighborhood, up from 38,000 in 2000. CityCenterDC will become the unequivocal centerpiece of Downtown and we’re excited to be a part of it.

Based on 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, the Census tracts immediately surrounding CityCenterDC are home to approximately 40,000 residents, including 30,000+ working-age adults. A significant number of these residents could benefit from additional education and training to boost their earnings: more than 10,000 working-age adults in these communities have no post-secondary credential, 2,000+ residents report that they speak English less than “very well,” and approximately 2,000 working-age adults in this area are unemployed.

CityCenterDC has also been committed to contributing to the economic vitality and livability of Washington, D.C. Throughout the development process, CityCenterDC has implemented a Community Involvement Plan in order to communicate design and construction progress, contracting/employment opportunities and project services and amenities.

3) Why are you interested in investing in workforce development for local residents?

As a part of its community outreach efforts, CityCenterDC helped to organize and support a Residential Advisory Committee that consists of representatives of stakeholder groups from neighboring communities.  Since the group began to meet 5 – 6 years ago, there has been a consensus among committee participants that workforce development represents one of the highest priorities.

Also, through the life of the project, CityCenterDC consistently has recognized the need to assist District residents to qualify for employment opportunities, and hopes that this initiative will enable community-based organizations already active in this area to further assist their constituents. The Residential Advisory Committee and CityCenterDC agreed to concentrate grant awards to organizations providing workforce development support services.

4) Why do you think it’s important for business to partner with local nonprofits?

It is the Residential Advisory Committee and CityCenterDC’s hope that local nonprofits will possess a keen understanding of the specific workforce development needs of residents in the target neighborhoods and will utilize the CityCenterDC grant dollars to supplement other funds already available and targeted to address these needs.

5) What motivated you to partner with the Community Foundation to carry out your charitable giving?

The Community Foundation is well-known for its leadership on local workforce development issues, having successfully managed more than $4.5 million in workforce grants that have helped  over 800 workers find jobs and more than 700 individuals earn a post-secondary credential over  the past five years.

The Residential Advisory Committee and CityCenterDC believe that the Community Foundation is well-qualified to organize and manage this program.  We came to this conclusion based upon referrals, conversations with Community Foundation management and a review of funds currently under management.  The Community Foundation has listened to our objectives and tailored a program to meet our goals.

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