How a Community Funder Is Taking on Hate and Building in Washington, D.C.

 photo:  Rena Schild/shutterstock

photo:  Rena Schild/shutterstock

We recently highlighted a resilience fund in the state of Washington that has been taking an interesting long-term view of equity funding and focusing on equipping nonprofits with the tools they need to navigate a political climate that keeps delivering major shocks. Well, today’s story takes us to the other side of the country, to the city of Washington, D.C., to explore another resilience fund that is quite similar.

The Greater Washington Community Foundation (GWCF) has a relatively new fund called the Resilience Fund. Near the end of last year, the foundation announced $130,000 in new grants from this pot of money.

These new grants are addressing hate and intolerance in the D.C. area and supporting quite a few local grassroots organizations. But something that sets this resilience fund apart from the one in Washington state is that it has a dual focus on local and national organizations. GWCF is looking to national organizations to help people identify fake news and provide anti-bullying and anti-bigotry interventions. However, even the national organizations supported have local connections to D.C., which keeps this effort in sync with the community foundation’s mission.

The Resilience Fund was created in February 2017 with the help of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation. And like the Seattle Foundation’s Resilience Fund, the one at GWCF is made possible with support from a number of private funders and family foundations. On the GWCF Resilience Fund steering committee, you’ll find members of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, Harman Family Foundation, Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, June Linowitz, Elaine Reuben, Rob and Sheri Rosenfeld, and Mauri Ziff and Jeff Hamond.

The most recent grants ranged in size between $10,000 and $50,000 and went to groups like the Anti-Defamation League, News Literacy Project, and IMPACT Silver Spring.

The very first GWCF Resilience Fund grants were awarded this past summer, three grants totaling $110,000. These initial grants focused on the international travel policy changes and deportation policies. Then in the early fall, the fund provided a $25,000 emergency response grant to help DACA recipients in D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia with renewal applications. GWCF is seeking to raise $1 million for the fund by March 2018 to keep the momentum going.

Tonia Wellons, VP of community investment for GWCF, said:

A recent study from the Greater Washington Community Foundation and Urban Institute found that although our region is diverse and generally more accepting of people from different backgrounds, discrimination remains a very real concern for many residents. The Resilience Fund is responding to community needs to ensure our neighborhoods remain resilient, thriving, and more equitable and inclusive places to live despite the implications of policy shifts and “anti-other” sentiments that impact us locally. We invite those who are concerned about what is happening in our communities to stand with us against hate and intolerance by contributing to this Fund today.

Donors who give to the GWCF Community Fund can allocate their gifts to Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, D.C., Northern Virginia, or wherever the need is greatest. They can also designate specific issues they want their fund donations to address, such as women’s health care, LGBTQ rights, racial equity, legal services for immigrants, workforce development, or education. In total, GWCF gives over $70 million annually to respond to critical community needs in the region.

RelatedResilience Funding: A Long-Term Strategy for Responding to Urgent Needs