Putting Race on the Table: The Community Foundation explores race and neighborhood revitalization on H Street

By Rebekah Seder, Program Coordinator

Earlier this month, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region launched its Putting Race on the Table Community Tours series by examining the issues of race and neighborhood revitalization as they are playing out on the H Street NE corridor in the District. H Street, once called the “Georgetown for African Americans” and later neglected after the 1968 riots devastated many of the neighborhood businesses, has become a nightlife hot spot with restaurants and bars that attract people from all over the city. This influx has created a dynamic between residents and newcomers that is receiving much attention lately, as long-time residents experience the impact of major changes in their neighborhood.

Tour attendees, among them several local funders, spoke with H Street residents about the impact of rising property taxes, visited Mason’s Barbershop, a decades-old family business, and heard from Jane Lang and Sam Sweet, respectively the founder and executive director of the Atlas Performing Arts Center. While the challenges resulting from the changing character of H Street were a major focus of the day, the group also saw the positive impact that these changes have had.

Although some small businesses have disappeared due to the disruption caused by the streetscape and streetcar projects, others, such as Mason’s, have continued to thrive with a more diverse clientele. Jane Lang, who refurbished the long-abandoned Atlas Theater into a state-of-the-art performing arts center, made community engagement an integral part of re-opening the theater. Thanks to these efforts, Atlas has become the hub of H Street development, allowing people from all over the city, as well as neighborhood residents, to enjoy and benefit from the arts.

In a panel discussion, Derrick Woody, formerly of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, and Anwar Saleem, head of the nonprofit H Street Main Street, talked about the great potential for H Street to once again become the vital and inclusive residential and business district that it once was, particularly with the opening of the streetcar from Union Station to Minnesota Avenue in 2013.

Critical to the success of inclusive development, however, is ensuring that housing remains affordable through strong inclusionary zoning practices and progressive tax policies, and that government, local businesses, and nonprofits partner to create equitable opportunities for all by helping the corridor attract diverse new businesses – beyond restaurants and bars – that serve and employ neighborhood residents, old and new.

Related: Jane Lang and the impact of the Atlas Performing Arts Center on the revitalization of H Street were profiled in WRAG’s 2009 publication Beyond Dollars.

CFNCR’s Putting Race on the Table Community Tours series continues next month with a look at race and community wellness in the Port Towns Communities of Prince George’s County. More information here.

Beyond Dollars: *Transforming* Philanthropy [VIDEO w/ explosions]

Coming soon to a theater near you…

For examples of “Beyond Dollars for BIG Change” philanthropy–grantmakers using Timing & Momentum; Partnerships; Leverage; and a Strong Voice to achieve lasting change–see Beyond Dollars: Investing in BIG Change.

With a growing number of videos under our belt, it’s high time to announce our own channel. If you’re a regular YouTube viewer or would like to be one, please subscribe! (Click the yellow “subscribe” button.)

Case Foundation and White House host public-private strategy session

Today the Case Foundation is partnering with the White House for a day-long strategy session: “Promoting Innovation: Prizes, Challenges and Open Grantmaking” (WaPo, 4/30). It’s about competitive crowd-sourcing in the pursuit of innovation.

You can tune in and watch—they’re streaming the session on their “Case Soup” hub.

We heard about the event because we are among the Case Foundation’s 328,557 (and counting) Twitter followers.

“We want to expand this discussion to as many people as possible,” explained Case VP of Social Innovation Michael Smith in a blog post earlier this week.

You never have to guess what the Case Foundation is doing, or why they’re doing it. Just this morning, CEO Jean Case posted her thoughts on today’s event in the context of the foundation’s ongoing effort to “engage citizens in public sector efforts.”

The Case Foundation is not a particularly large foundation in terms of assets. But they’re serious about making new connections, building strong partnerships, communicating their work, and engaging the public.

Grantmakers that take a Beyond Dollars approach don’t need a big endowment to make a big impact.

Funders go “Beyond Dollars” to defeat poverty

Two ways that funders can help achieve BIG change are by building true partnerships and being a strong voice. Yesterday, DC Appleseed’s Walter Smith spoke about the role of several Washington Grantmakers members in forming the Defeat Poverty DC coalition:

About a year ago, people like Rubie Coles, Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, Margaret O’Bryon, and Sarah Oldmixon, from some of the key foundations in town, said it was time to bring people together from the various communities in this city–the nonprofit community, the business community, the faith community, and the District government–to bring visibility to this issue, to raise it up in the coming campaign…”
[ - "Launch of Defeat Poverty DC"]

Beyond Dollars grantmaking (.pdf) in action!

One team, one gameplan–Region Forward: Greater Washington 2050

Tamara Lucas Copeland, President, Washington

Last month, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments released for comment Region Forward: Greater Washington 2050: COG’s Vision for the National Capital Region in the Twenty-First Century. The report lists goals for the region in nine critical areas: land use, transportation, environment, climate and energy, economic, housing, health and human services, education, and public safety.

My question to our members is: can you embrace this vision?

Several years ago many of us might have applauded COG CEO Dave Robertson for his leadership and returned to our offices to advance our own similar projects. In fact, just last year WG’s Board of Directors voted to move forward on a “regional indicators” project to inform members of the region’s needs and align goals. (Sound familiar?)

But the silver lining of the recession is that we’re all working and thinking differently. Over the past 18 months, COG has enlisted representatives from philanthropic*, nonprofit, and business communities to craft this document. Is it perfect? Nothing is. Does it present a vision for our region, clear goals, and a framework for channeling our resources collaboratively toward a shared vision? Yes, it does.

Washington Grantmakers applauds COG’s leadership, and we have committed to help make this vision a shared vision for our region. We recently finished collecting your input on the draft report and submitted these comments on behalf of local philanthropy (.pdf).


* WG Board members Terri Freeman (Community Foundation) and George Vradenburg (Vradenburg Foundation), and WG member Kristin Pauly (Prince Charitable Trusts) served on the group that developed the document.

Dec. 10 event: “Worry Free Advocacy: Understanding the Rules for Nonprofits”

Voice is one of the elements of Beyond Dollars–>Big Change funding. Encourage your grantees learn how to use the power of their voice, legally. Convened by Nonprofit NoVA and sponsored by United Way of the National Capital Area:

DEC 10: WORRY FREE ADVOCACY: Understanding the Rules for Nonprofits
breakfast provided
Location: The Campagna Center
418 S. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314

Register Online
Learn the lobbying and advocacy rules for your organization. Find out how your organization can advocate for your programs, constituents and the nonprofit sector as a whole.

Beyond dollars for *BIG* change

By Tamara Lucas Copeland, President, Washington Grantmakers

Today’s a big day for Washington Grantmakers. As our members gather at the National Housing Center for our annual meeting, we’re also releasing 1) new survey results, which show the effect of the recession on grantmaker assets and 2) a new report, which reveals how grantmakers can continue to effect “Big Change.”

Beyond Dollars: Investing in Big Change: How Washington Area Grantmakers Are Creating Lasting Impact, presents a series of recent case studies of Washington area “Big Change” grantmaking – initiatives that have, among other things, helped produce a drastic reduction in the local teen pregnancy rate, and helped access millions of dollars of previously untapped funding to feed the area’s hungry. The report is here.

The recession is spurring grantmakers to attack problems by going “beyond dollars.” That means putting all their assets to work, not just their money, but their ability to build partnerships, to be a strong voice for change, to leverage key resources, and to capitalize on timing and momentum. With today’s release of Beyond Dollars, we encourage grantmakers to capitalize on these strengths to fulfill philanthropy’s role as “society’s passing gear.”

“Grantmaking in 2009 & 2010,” based on a recent survey of Washington Grantmakers members, offers insights into how the recession has affected area grantmakers – in a word, harshly. But it also demonstrates that grantmakers are figuring out ways to do more with less. Next year, with grantmaking budgets shrinking still further, creativity in going beyond dollars will continue to be critical. The analysis of the survey results is here.

Taken together, the survey and the report point to a transformed grantmaking environment in the years to come, one that continues to address pressing short-term needs, but that also channels resources toward long-term solutions.

Finally—and this is a key point—this approach isn’t just a strategy for getting through the recession. Good philanthropy always maximizes the impact of investments by wisely marshalling the full scope of assets, monetary and otherwise.

We’re going Beyond Dollars in 2010. Stay tuned.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers