The Community Foundation for Prince George’s County and the entire Community Foundation for the National Capital Region family is very saddened to learn the news of the passing of The Honorable Wayne K. Curry, former County Prince George’s County Executive (1994-2002). Mr. Curry was a former Community Foundation for Prince George’s County Board Member, Friend, Supporter, Donor, and Leader. As the County’s first African American Executive, he transformed Prince George’s to be one of the wealthiest communities nationally, which played a key role in re-positioning the county as an important part of the Washington region’s growth. He successfully negotiated relocation of the Washington Redskins to Prince George’s County and the construction of FedEx Field. Numerous real estate development efforts that he championed helped spur economic development in the county including Bowie Town Center. He served two consecutive terms. He left office in 2002 with a budget surplus of more than $100 million.
In 2011 the Michaels Companies, a global commercial real estate group where Curry was President, received the distinguished Civic Leadership Award given by the Community Foundation for Prince George’s to honor and celebrate companies, individuals, and organizations whose effort help to make Prince George’s County a better place for others. In keeping with his spirit, we celebrate and honor his life, his immeasurable contributions to the County, region and nation. We offer our prayers and condolences to his wife Sheila Curry, and family.
The Community Foundation’s Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative is proud to announce the release of a landmark new report that examines the rising challenges of income inequality through the Greater Washington Region.
Developed by an innovative partnership of local nonprofit advocacy organizations, including Collaborative grantees DC Fiscal Policy Institute and the Commonwealth Institute for Northern Virginia, Bursting the Bubble: The Challenges of Working and Living in the National Capital Region examines the lingering impact of the economic downturn in our region as well as the underlying factors that are contributing to our region’s uneven recovery and widening income inequality.
The Community Foundation focuses its investments in three strategic areas—safety net services, education, and workforce development—all with the goal of supporting individuals to achieve family economic security. This report, funded by the Workforce Collaborative and the Moriah Fund, and co-produced by the Maryland Center on Economic Policy, is the first to take a regional look at how issues ranging from housing affordability, unemployment, and education are collectively pushing more in our region into poverty.
Read more in the report, also featured today in the Washington Post.
Contribute to The Community Foundation’s workforce development efforts through a gift to The Community Foundation’s Fund for Greater Washington.
There are over 25,000 young people across our region who are disconnected from either school or the labor market – and in some cases, both. Today, The Community Foundation and Identity, Inc. issued a study and report entitled Connecting Youth to Opportunity: How Latino Youth Perspectives Can Inform A Blueprint For Improving Opportunity In Montgomery County, Maryland. Latinos and other Hispanics now represent nearly one-fifth of the population of the County. Clearly, this has implications for our schools, as Latinos/Hispanics make up more than one quarter of the total student body enrolled in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). This all-new research study is based on a survey of more than 900 Latino youth in Montgomery County, and identifies an array of key indicators that could serve to inform whether or not students are becoming disengaged in school, have the potential to drop out, or may fail to find a job once they leave school.
By asking young people to tell us in their own words why they’re disconnected – rather than relying solely on the perspectives of the adults involved – we have created a new blueprint for improving opportunities for Latino youth, one that gets to the core of the challenges facing our young people and the solutions we must undertake to address them. To that end, the recommendations outlined in the report rely on committed collaboration across the public and private sectors. We are confident that together, we can move the needle for these young people.
The Connecting Youth to Opportunity Montgomery Fund is dedicated to addressing the challenges and opportunities outlined in this report. Every donation – large or small – helps us connect young people to opportunities. Join us.
Big congrats to Nicole Lynn Lewis, founder of Community Foundation grantee Generation Hope, on being named a 2014 CNN Hero! Every year, CNN chooses a small group of individuals from around the world who are everyday people changing the world in big ways. Click here to watch the video of Nicole’s story, which will be featured on CNN throughout the weekend.
Also named in this year’s lineup of heroes was Mark Bergel, the founder of A Wider Circle, another Community Foundation grantee. Click here to read a guest blog post he wrote for this blog about his experience.
Congrats, Nicole and Mark – we are so very grateful for the good work you do for our community!
Outstanding Montgomery County Teachers Receive the 2014 Shirley J. Lowrie “Thank You for Teaching” Award
by Anna Hargrave, Deputy Director of The Community Foundation in Montgomery County
This spring, The Community Foundation worked in conjunction with the Montgomery County Public School Education Foundation and Independent Education to select two elementary school teachers to receive the 2014 Shirley J. Lowrie “Thank You for Teaching” Award: Maura Backenstoe and Mehdi Elkassem.
Now in its sixth year, this annual award is made possible through the Shirley J. Lowrie Memorial Fund, which Gerald Lowrie and his children, Lynn Longley and Rick Lowrie, established at The Community Foundation to honor their late wife and mother. In addition to recognition, the fund supports a $2,500 monetary gift for each of the winners.
Shirley Lowrie earned her degree in elementary education in 1957 from the University of Memphis. She taught for several years as a teacher and substitute teacher in California and Connecticut before relocating with her family to Potomac. After her teaching career, Mrs. Lowrie remained a strong supporter of the many teachers in her family’s life.
“Shirley was most passionate about supporting teachers, particularly those involved in elementary education. It seemed only natural to honor her memory by recognizing enthusiastic elementary level teachers who go the extra mile to help young children develop a love for learning, particularly reading,” explains Gerald Lowrie.
The annual selection processes for the two awards are facilitated by The Montgomery County Public Schools Educational Foundation, Inc. and Montgomery County Public Schools Office of Human Resources and Development for the public school award and through Independent Education, an association of independent and private schools throughout the greater Washington area. Both convened panels of experienced school officials to identify the candidates who best exemplify all of the award criteria:
- Serves as an elementary school teacher (pre-K through grade 5) who works directly with students in the classroom on a daily basis
- Demonstrates a thorough knowledge of subject matter which is effectively communicated to students
- Shares enthusiasm for learning with his/her students
- Encourages students to set and achieve high goals
- Fosters relationships with colleagues, parents, and community members
- Goes the extra mile to ensure that students receive the support they need to succeed
Maura Backenstoe is a kindergarten teacher at Burning Tree Elementary School in Bethesda, MD. In her nomination, colleagues and parents praised the thoughtful way that Backenstoe engages all of her students. With tremendous energy and passion, Backenstoe finds creative strategies to encourage students to reach their full potential. All of the nominators commended how she serves as an anchor and moral compass for the students, faculty, and the whole Burning Tree community.
The Montgomery County Public Schools Educational Foundation, Inc. presented the award to Ms. Backenstoe on May 19, 2014 at Burning Tree Elementary School.
Mehdi Elkassem is a science teacher at the Washington Episcopal School in Bethesda, MD. In his nomination, colleagues and parents applauded his unique ability to connect with students and to instill them with a life-long love of learning. Colleagues especially praised Elkassem for consistently going above and beyond the call of duty, encouraging students and fellow colleagues to “walk the extra mile, reach for the stars, and discover the joy of learning each and every day.”
Independent Education, Inc. presented the award to Mr. Elkassem on June 2, 2014 at Washington Episcopal School.
The Community Foundation is honored to help the Lowrie family honor Shirley’s memory in perpetuity by recognizing her love of teachers. By recognizing the shining example of two phenomenal teachers, we hope that this award serves will serve as an inspiration to all teachers throughout our community.
Nearly five years after the Great Recession ended, job growth remains sluggish and millions of American workers are still unemployed. Particularly troubling, around 3.5 million Americans have been out of work for six months or more, including an estimated 15,000 workers in DC, 76,000 workers in Maryland, and 84,000 workers in Virginia.
On Friday, May 23rd the Community Foundation accompanied six workers from across metropolitan Washington to the White House for a conversation with Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Jeff Zients, Director of the National Economic Council and President Obama’s Economic Advisor, about the challenges of long-term unemployment. They were joined by additional jobseekers from the McLean Bible Church’s Career Network Ministry and the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation. All of the participants had experienced six months or more of unemployment.
Participating jobseekers were a diverse group, ranging from individuals in their early twenties to late fifties and spanning a variety of backgrounds, including former federal workers, professionals with multiple graduate degrees, several veterans, and an attorney. They highlighted a number of barriers that have thwarted their job searches, including the difficulty of maintaining security clearances during unemployment spells, age discrimination, constantly evolving skill requirements, and the frustrating “black hole” of online job application systems. Administration officials discussed potential policy solutions and committed to share the participants’ stories with the President and other administration officials.
Six of the participating workers were graduates of education and training programs supported by the Community Foundation, including Montgomery College, the University of the District of Columbia Community College, Northern Virginia Family Service’s Training Futures program, and The Training Source, Inc. in Prince George’s County. Since 2007, these partners and others have partnered with the Community Foundation to help over 1,200 Washington-area workers find work.
- Learn more about the challenges of long-term unemployment – Washington Post: Long-term unemployed struggle to find — and keep — jobs
- Planning to hire new employees soon? Read more about Best Practices for Recruiting and Hiring the Long-Term Unemployed and add your organization to the list of businesses committed to inclusive hiring practices
- Contribute to the Community Foundation’s workforce development efforts through a gift to the Community Foundation’s Leadership Fund.
Terri Lee Freeman (President, The Community Foundation) Kris Thompson (Executive Director, Calvary Women’s Services), and Judy Smith (Smith & Co).
On May 14, our President Terri Lee Freeman was honored with the Hope Award from Calvary Women’s Services. Judy Smith of Smith & Co (the real-life inspiration for the hit TV show Scandal) was also honored.
The Hope Awards Dinner supports the work of Calvary Women’s Services and recognizes community members who offer hope and empowerment to women in need. “The Hope Awards Dinner offers us a chance to honor heroes in our community and thank all of Calvary’s friends for their continued support,” said Calvary’s Board President Wasfi Alnabki.
Congratulations, Terri & Judy!
Read more on the evening here.