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More Than Affordable Housing: Helping Families Thrive with Good Shepherd Housing

More Than Affordable Housing: Helping Families Thrive with Good Shepherd Housing

More than we realize, many of us likely know a friend or colleague who may struggle with long-term housing instability. Increases in the cost of housing in the DC metropolitan area routinely outpace increases in wages. In Fairfax County, specifically — one of the wealthiest counties in the United States — approximately 18% of households have income levels of $50,000 or less, which is over $20,000 short of the annual income needed to afford the county’s average monthly rent.

For almost 50 years, Good Shepherd Housing (GSH) has been serving the housing needs of Northern Virginia families and individuals. Today, the organization oversees 100+ affordable housing units and, since the start of the pandemic, has distributed over $5 million in rental relief and utility assistance.

The core of their service area is Richmond Highway, where many households spend 50% or more of their monthly income on rent, leaving little money for food, transportation, childcare or healthcare needs. Enormous redevelopment has also been underway, rapidly increasing rents on both newly constructed housing and existing affordable units.

In response, GSH launched The Campaign for Colchester in 2018, its largest capital campaign to date, purchasing 30 units in the Colchester community to ensure that affordable housing units in the neighborhood remain available.

But providing physical access to affordable housing is only one component of their model. Just as there is no such thing as a “typical” homeless person or family, GSH recognizes that affordable housing by itself is not enough. Each individual experiencing homelessness has their own story and set of challenges, which means that what they need to become self-sufficient and stable in their homes is unique.

For example, Heather approached GSH because she was finding it particularly difficult to secure affordable housing that was also wheelchair-accessible for her 11-year-old daughter with disabilities. Though they were approved for a housing choice voucher that allowed them to move into such a home, Heather was not able to cover the security deposit and prorated first month’s rent on her fixed income. GSH offered them $3,000 to cover these moving costs, ensuring they can settle comfortably and safely into their new home.

Heather’s story is just one of more than 500 families and individuals GSH supports every year, 83% of whom are families with children. Including The Campaign for Colchester, they have secured 97 housing units for lower-income families over the last five years, in addition to providing residents with financial literacy and skills training, higher education planning, and other resources through partnerships with neighboring organizations.

“Our vision is to provide the support and resources they need to achieve individual success,” said Chris Reddick, a board member with GSH. “It’s been very successful.”

Still, there is much more than can be done. By one estimate, Northern Virginia needs 66,000 more housing units to address the area’s housing insecurity. Housing prices, too, aren’t staying the same. “The dollars don’t go as far as they used to,” Reddick shared, noting that GSH is trying to maintain their purchasing power.

To cover expenses related to the expansion of their housing inventory, they have a new reach goal to raise a total of $3.5 million by June 30, 2023 — $400,000 above what has already been raised. You can learn more about, and support, their work to reduce homelessness and enable self-sufficiency among working families, senior citizens, and residents with disabilities in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County.

Announcing the 134 Critical Local Nonprofits in the Spur Local 2023-24 Class

Announcing the 134 Critical Local Nonprofits in the Spur Local 2023-24 Class

View this as a PDF.

Spur Local, formerly the Catalogue for Philanthropy, is proud to announce the 134 nonprofits in our 2023 Class, the 21st class of nonprofit partners in our organization’s history and the 1st class since we rebranded as Spur Local! From enriching the arts scene to protecting our local environment to supporting families, these 134 organizations are highly trusted as critical nonprofits in the Greater Washington region.

Every year, Spur Local engages a team of 150+ volunteers who live or work here — at local foundations, peer nonprofits, and more — as part of our rigorous application and selection process that includes a program and financial review, as well as a site visit.

“Recognizing and amplifying the impact of organizations like the ones in our new class is at the very heart of Spur Local,” said Matt Gayer, Executive Director of Spur Local. “These small nonprofits are creating local and hyperlocal change on a community-level. The significance of that for our region, and as a model for other regions, cannot be overstated.”

Over the next four years, the 134 organizations listed below will receive free skill- and network-building resources from Spur Local, in addition to being highlighted on Spur Local’s website, social media, blog, and at events. The 89 print nonprofit partners will also be featured in the annual print and digital Catalog, a Spur Local publication.

Join Us in Supporting Local Nonprofits

  • Congratulate the 2023 Class by sending them an email, giving them a shoutout on social media, or donating!
  • Add your name to our mailing list to receive a complimentary copy of The Catalog when it is released on November 1, 2023.
  • Celebrate our new class and brand at Dacha Navy Yard on July 25.
  • Officially meet the 2023 Class at Community Changemakers, our annual festival of social impact, on November 8.



Performing, Literary & Visual Arts

Atlas Performing Arts Center


Capitol Movement, Inc.

Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture, Inc.

Humanities DC

Studio Acting Conservatory

Synetic Theater

Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art

The Actors’ Center

Thomas Circle Singers

Visionaries of the Creative Arts (VOCA)

Youth & Community Arts

American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras

Art Works Studio School, Inc


Children’s Chorus of Washington

DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative

InterAct Story Theatre

Sitar Arts Center

Words Beats and Life


Mentorship & College Access


College Bound, Inc

Future Link, Inc.

Institute for East African Councils on Higher Education (IEA Councils)

ScholarCHIPS, Inc.

Adult Literacy & Learning

Literacy Council of Frederick County, Inc.

English Empowerment Center (formerly Literacy Council of Northern Virginia)

Youth Education & Enrichment

All Ages Read Together

City Gate

District of Columbia Students Construction Trades Foundation



Higher Achievement

Kid Power, Inc

LearnServe International

Main Street Child Development Center


Read Early And Daily

The Ellington Fund

The Latino Student Fund

Touching Heart

Urban Adventure Squad

Women Empowered To Achieve The impossible (WETATi)

Human Services

Basic Needs, Food & Housing

Arlington Thrive

Breadcoin Foundation Ltd

Dreaming Out Loud, Inc.

Hope and a Home

Hope Multiplied

Housing Options & Planning Enterprises, Inc.

Children, Youth & Families

Fihankra Akoma Ntoaso (FAN)

Heartly House, Inc.

Homeless Children’s Playtime Project

Open Door Sports

Rainbow Families

Second Story

Wanda Alston Foundation

Community & Civic Engagement

Collective Action for Safe Spaces

DC Peace Team

Empower DC

Harriet’s Wildest Dreams

President Lincoln’s Cottage

Progressive Maryland

Serve Your City/Ward 6 Mutual Aid

Voices for a Second Chance

Girls & Women

Community Bridges, Inc.

DC Abortion Fund

Friends of Guest House


Health, Wellness & Senior Services

American Muslim Senior Society

Joseph’s House

NAMI Montgomery County

Recovery Cafe DC

Silver Spring Village, Inc.

Immigrant & Refugee Services

Immigration & Refugee Outreach Center


Legal Services & Justice Programs

Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County, Inc.

DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice

Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop

Piedmont Dispute Resolution Center

Life Skills, Training & Employment


Crossroads Jobs

The Training Source, Inc.

Veterans & Military Families

Dog Tag Bakery Inc.


Environment & Animal Services

Anacostia Watershed Society

Chesapeake Natives

City Wildlife, Inc.

ECO City Farms

Friends of Anacostia Park

Montgomery Countryside Alliance

Rock Creek Conservancy



Performing, Literary & Visual Arts

Creative Cauldron

Encore Stage & Studio

The Dance Institute of Washington, Inc.

Youth & Community Arts

Action Youth Media (formerly Gandhi Youth Media Brigade)

The MusicianShip

Traveling Players Ensemble


Mentorship & College Access

First Generation College Bound

Youth Education & Enrichment

Little Lights Urban Ministries

Reading Partners

Human Services

Basic Needs, Food & Housing


Fellowship Square Foundation

Housing Unlimited Inc.

Kids In Need Distributors Inc

Lorton Community Action Center

Children, Youth & Families

Arlington Pediatric Center

Fairfax Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)

Family & Youth Initiative

Girls on the Run NOVA

Teens Run DC

Tracy’s Kids

Community & Civic Engagement

Compass Pro Bono – Greater Washington

D.C. Policy Center

The DC Center for the LGBT Community (DBA Metro DC Community Center, Inc.)

Volunteer Fairfax

Health, Wellness & Senior Services

Capitol Hill Village

CaringMatters, Inc.

Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington

Smith Center for Healing and the Arts

Stroke Comeback Center

Legal Services & Justice Programs

Court Watch Montgomery, Inc.

Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project

Veterans & Military Families

Hero Dogs, Inc.

Operation Second Chance

Our Military Kids


Environment & Animal Services

City Dogs Rescue

Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy


Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School

AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation

Bright Beginnings, Inc.

Building Bridges Across the River

District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH)

Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC

The Washington School for Girls

The Women’s Center

Driving Greater Civic Engagement – Catalogue for Philanthropy Rebrands as Spur Local

Driving Greater Civic Engagement — Catalogue for Philanthropy Rebrands as Spur Local

Washington, DC — The Catalogue for Philanthropy is thrilled to announce that it is rebranding as Spur Local, beginning a new chapter in the organization’s 20-year history of supporting critical nonprofits that work to strengthen the Greater Washington region.

Since 2003, Spur Local has connected thousands of DC residents with the hundreds of small, community-based nonprofits in their neighborhoods that have limited capacity to share their stories more widely. Through The Catalog, Spur Local’s annual print and digital publication, these nonprofits reach new supporters across the region who want a streamlined, purposeful way to engage.

Beyond raising their visibility, Spur Local has also become the region’s largest capacity builder for small nonprofits, training 20,000+ nonprofit participants since 2020. Spur Local provides resources tailored for small teams and budgets that amplify their strengths, open doorways to additional support, and sustain their long-term work in values-aligned ways.

Spur Local’s new brand reflects the evolution of the organization and its commitment to equity, collaboration, resiliency, empowerment, and community. Over the past two decades, Spur Local has seen grassroots organizations nimbly addressing the needs of local communities by working with them to make a real difference.

“At Spur Local, we look at systemic change as an ecosystem in which everyone plays an important role,” said Matt Gayer, Executive Director of Spur Local. “In our region alone, there are multiple grassroots movements advancing change. Spur Local’s role is to facilitate the critical connections that strengthen this ongoing work and empower all community members to act as the change agents they are.”

“We at Spur Local believe in the power of hyperlocal efforts and are excited to move forward with this passion and advocacy reflected in our new brand.”

About Spur Local

As the Greater Washington region’s only locally-focused guide to giving, Spur Local believes in the power of small nonprofits to spark big change together. Since 2003, Spur Local has raised more than $57 million from 10,000+ supporters for its network of 400+ critical local nonprofits, who are selected every year in a community-driven process led by 170+ local volunteers. Through its capacity building programs, Spur Local has trained 20,000+ nonprofit professionals, strengthening their skills as individuals and their relationships as organizations.

A Theater Like No Other: Accessibility & Community with the Atlas Performing Arts Center

A Theater Like No Other: Accessibility & Community with the Atlas Performing Arts Center

Stepping into the Atlas, the first thing you see is Deco, the welcome desk created by an artist in the Atlas community, Salvatore Pirrone, and named after the art deco architectural style of the building. Since the Atlas Performing Arts Center opened their doors on the H Street corridor 15 years ago, it has been rooted in community and dedicated to inspiring creative joy for all who visit. This sense of belonging and inclusion starts from the welcome desk, which is accessible for people of all ages and abilities and people who use wheelchairs, and expands throughout the building and its programs, from motion-activated doors to select open captioned shows for theater performances.

Photo taken in lobby of the Atlas Performing Arts Center with an accessible welcome desk created by artist Salvator Pirrone, on top of which four Atlas community members are seated, smiling for the camera.

“Atlas has really thought about people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities,” Pirrone shares, “and this desk is no different.” From being part of the annual Intersections Festival to having sculptures commissioned for their building to getting married at Atlas, Pirrone is just one of many community members who have found an artistic home in Atlas. It isn’t just an intentional nurturing of an accessible and inclusive environment that brings people together. It is also Atlas’ deep commitment to fostering a dynamic community energized by our artistic and human diversity.

“This is a wonderful venue for individuals to really bridge the gap between the hearing communities and the deaf communities through artistic culture,” Michelle Banks, Artistic Director of Visionaries of the Creative Arts (VOCA), notes. VOCA — a nonprofit that supports the work of D/deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing BIPOC artists — partners with Atlas to host their productions at this venue, which is located at the hub of the deaf community here in DC. “It has been quite a rewarding experience,” Michelle elaborates. “They wanted to have a long-term relationship with us.” This demonstrates the strength of Atlas’ community-building — in the relationships they continue to cultivate with artists and arts partners.

“The magic of art is that it can create a space for conversation,” Douglas Yeuell, Executive Director of Atlas, states. “Through conversation, we can find understanding. Through understanding, we can find common ground.”

As the only performing arts venue in Northeast DC where community members can attend everything from film screenings and dance performances to music concerts, theater shows, and family-friendly arts programming, the Atlas plays a critical role in the growth of the neighborhood and in our regional creative economy.

“Washington, DC may be a thinking town, but it’s equally a feeling town,” Atlas Board Member Laura Coates observes. “And this is the center.”

Visit the Atlas Performing Arts Center at 1333 H St NE — their events calendar is always filled with exceptional programming and they house a newly opened cafe. You can also learn more about their Atlas Arts Lab, City at Peace youth development program, and other educational activities. Stay updated by following them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or by email, and find out about the many ways you can support their work.

Kids Learn When They Feel Safe: Prioritizing Social Emotional Learning with Peace of Mind

“I’ve never had to talk a 2nd grader down from a panic attack — until this year.”

By Linda Ryden, Founder of Peace of Mind Inc

Photo of two students sitting on the floor of a classroom in lotus pose, meditating

In my twenty years of teaching, I don’t remember ever talking down a 2nd grader from a full-blown panic attack… until I had to do just that earlier this year.

Kids have always had challenges at school and at home, but in this new “post-ish” COVID world, kids are still struggling to adapt and are dealing with things that their adults never had to. At a time when virtually all discussion on education seems to focus on recovering lost learning, I am deeply concerned that we’ve jumped too quickly to focusing on scores when our kids need much more than just academic support.

Consider this: the average 2nd grader is seven years old. That means that almost half of his life, the half that he is most aware of, has been entirely experienced during the pandemic.

For many of us (at least the lucky ones), the pandemic has been an aberration, a blip of a few years in a life that looked very different. But for kids — this is their reality. And it has been hard. Kids missed out on so much and when they came back to school after almost two years of being mostly at home, their bodies were two years older even though, developmentally, many of them were still back in 2020.

During the pandemic, while we teachers were madly trying to master the technology and other challenges to learn to teach virtually, and parents were scrambling to figure out how to work on Zoom alongside their children, kids were having their one-and-only chance to be in 2nd grade — at home on a computer.

Politicians, school leaders, and the media all said that once we got back to school, the most important priority was helping our kids deal with the trauma of what they had been through. There were well-meaning plans for implementing social emotional learning (SEL) programs during the height of the pandemic — and even government funding to support them — but unfortunately, most schools today are back to business as usual.

As test scores came in and it turned out that kids didn’t learn as much during a deadly pandemic — unsurprising considering the fact that many lost family members or knew students who had — the priorities changed. Learning loss suddenly seemed like the biggest problem and schools doubled down on academics. SEL programs are now collecting dust on bookshelves while our kids fall apart under the weight of academic expectations.

If I’ve learned one thing as an educator, it’s that if kids don’t feel safe, they can’t learn. So I have to ask… What are we doing?!

We all know that, before COVID, many of our kids were dealing with trauma. Since COVID, we know that all of our kids are dealing with trauma. COVID has widened the huge opportunity gaps that already existed caused by racism, poverty, and access to technology. During this time when we should be redoubling SEL efforts, many people have begun to weaponize it — lumping SEL in with the erroneous attacks on Critical Race Theory, making it even harder for schools to attempt to address the social and emotional needs of our students. Some parent groups argue that SEL programs are a distraction from the more important focus on academics.

SEL is a foundation for learning, never a distraction from it. In fact, students’ abilities to manage their emotions and regulate their behavior is critical to creating school environments that are conducive to learning. Federal data shows that roughly 1 in 3 school leaders have noticed an uptick in student fights or physical attacks this past school year. What we need is more focus on helping students manage their feelings, not less.

Let me give you an example of what this can look like:

The other day, I was shepherding 150 4th graders back into the school building after recess. There had been a bunch of conflicts during recess and tensions were high. The kids were loud and unruly as we attempted to line them up to fit through a narrow doorway one-by-one. Finally, I stopped everyone and said, “Let’s all take a few deep breaths before we go through the doorway. All of this outside energy just isn’t going to fit inside your classrooms.”

Because all the students at my school have been learning how to do mindfulness meditation since they were in Pre-K, everybody stopped what they were doing and took three deep breaths. They didn’t have to sit down in a lotus position. They just stopped what they were doing for a brief moment and allowed themselves to regulate their emotions and tune into what they were doing and where they were going.

Imagine how long it would have taken their teachers to settle everyone down enough to start the math lesson that was scheduled for three minutes after recess.

Of course, teachers need support as well. Teacher working conditions are student learning conditions, and if our teachers do not have the resources to attend to their own emotional needs, they will not be able to be there for their students.

At Peace of Mind, we have spent 20 years in the classroom creating a mindfulness-based SEL program that works. The students at my school are the proof. Allowing kids time in the school day to attend to their feelings, worries, anger, and other big emotions is crucial. Giving children time in the school day to just be a person, not a number on a math or reading scale, and to be seen as enough just as they are allows them to focus on their work.

In 2018, we founded our nonprofit organization, Peace of Mind Inc, to share these skills with children throughout the DC area and nationwide. Thanks to the Catalogue for Philanthropy’s support in so many ways, we have developed the capacity to reach and support schools serving over 4,000 students — and their teachers — in the DC area this year, and thousands more nationwide. But there is so much more to be done.

My students often say that “Peace Class” is the only place where they can truly be themselves, where they can stop working for a moment. Helping to bring social emotional learning, mindfulness, and conflict resolution into our schools is one of the primary goals of Peace of Mind.

But one thing that the COVID pandemic has taught is that we can’t rely on schools for everything. The need is so great, and schools are still enormously overstretched. With this in mind, we are evolving our Peace of Mind program to go directly to students at home, too. If kids are receiving Peace of Mind at school, our new Direct-to-Kids program will reinforce these lessons. If not, this can be a lifeline to kids who desperately need the skills to manage big emotions, relate to others, solve conflicts peacefully, and stand up for what they believe in.

Every day in my classroom, I see the effects of the pandemic — some kids have lost family members, others have lost their faith that everything will be okay. Some have developed anxiety about their own health or the health of their loved ones. We are living in unprecedented times. But, every day, I also see the impact that well-designed, mindfulness-based SEL lessons can have on our kids. I see the difference between kids when they walk into my classroom and when they walk out 45 minutes later.

We can’t keep putting off dealing with this trauma. Trauma will always find a way out. That’s why we need to bring more SEL in as a necessary part of academics — not a fluffy side project teachers do when they have spare time. Now is the time to fight for these programs. Our children’s futures and well-being depend on it.

Peace of Mind‘s mission is to educate students about mindfulness, brain science, conflict resolution, and social justice to help them develop skills to enhance their own well-being and become peacemakers. Peace of Mind creates, develops, and shares The Peace of Mind program, an innovative and relevant social and emotional learning curriculum that helps students notice and manage challenging emotions, build healthy relationships, solve conflicts peacefully, and stand up for what they believe in. Peace of Mind also provides training and community for educators who deliver the Peace of Mind program to students in elementary and middle schools in the Washington, DC area and beyond.

The author, Linda Ryden, is the creator of the Peace of Mind Program and author of the Peace of the Mind curriculum series, a cutting-edge combination of mindfulness-based social-emotional learning, conflict resolution, and social justice for Early Childhood through Middle School. Linda has served as a full-time Peace Teacher at Lafayette Elementary School, Washington, DC’s largest public elementary school, since 2003 and continues to teach Peace of Mind classes to more than 700 students every week. Linda is also actively engaged in her school’s efforts to sustain an inclusive and equitable school climate.

Linda is the author of six mindfulness-based children’s books, three of which are published by Tilbury House. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine, Washington Parent, Washington Family, Teaching Tolerance, and Edutopia, among others. Linda brings a passion for teaching peace and over 30 years of teaching experience to her work with children and adults. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband Jeremiah Cohen, owner of Bullfrog Bagels, their two children, and their dog Phoebe.

Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs on the Chevy Chase Main Street Corridor

Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs on the Chevy Chase Main Street Corridor

By Anna Claire Walker, Chevy Chase Main Street Manager, District Bridges

Chevy Chase Main Street (CCMS) is one of six DC Main Street grants managed by District Bridges, a DC-based community development nonprofit. District Bridges’ mission is to enrich neighborhood vitality by bridging community engagement and economic development opportunities so individuals, businesses, and organizations can thrive together; a mission that has become even more important since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Designated in 2020, CCMS quickly became a vital resource for small businesses in Chevy Chase DC as they navigated the many challenges of the pandemic, assisting in the application of emergency funds and loans, negotiating leases, and providing resources around mask and vaccine mandates. While small businesses were impacted heavily across the board, a recent survey by the US Chamber of Commerce reveals that women-owned businesses were disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

CCMS includes 18 women-owned businesses, three of which are immigrant-owned businesses, across a variety of industries including retail, health and wellness, professional services, art, music, food and beverage. To commemorate Women’s History Month, let’s get a glimpse into some of the successes and challenges these hardworking entrepreneurs have gone through in operating their businesses along the CCMS corridor.

June B Sweet

June B Sweet is a stationery and gift shop with unique sweets from Brazil, where owner June Drummond was born and raised. CCMS assisted Drummond in one of the most pivotal moments for their businesses. A community member mentioned a grant program called “Great Streets” that they believed June B Sweets may be eligible for. Drummond looked into it, taking advantage of her and her husband’s background as lawyers to navigate the confusing world of grant applications. However, even with their combined expertise, the application process proved to be a challenging undertaking, so she turned to CCMS for help.

“I already had received some successful grants, but nothing up to the standards of the Great Streets program. It was beyond my capacity and ability to keep up with the due diligence, the paperwork, and the preciseness of the documentation. In the middle of COVID, I found the grant process overwhelming, but I got tremendous support from CCMS, and I applied in January 2021.” June B Sweets was awarded the grant and has used it to improve the facade of the store, which has gotten much attention from the community and boosted their revenue.


Photo of Ferrall Dietrich, owner of Core72, a woman with blond hair and glasses smiling at the camera, wearing a patterned scarf and pink top.

Ferrall Dietrich of Core72

Core72 is a retail store inspired by the “West Coast outdoorsy lifestyle” that owner, Ferrall Dietrich, experienced in her summers of traveling across the country with her sons — sleeping in a rooftop tent, visiting and camping through national and state parks.

“When I first opened, I was focused on providing women the technical apparel needed to be active outdoors — hiking pants, compression leggings, down jackets, base layers, etc. This focus has evolved over the years to embrace men’s apparel as well as general lifestyle — not just active but casual and relaxed apparel for everyday. The inspiration for our brand curation remains consistent through and lies with the unique, smaller companies that speak to me — because of their owner’s story, where they are made, their company ethos, and their quality.”

Dietrich became involved with CCMS upon its dedication in 2020 and has played an active role in community events, social media engagement, and has received grant funding from CCMS. “We received an improvement grant for our shop and replaced an aging floor. The store looks much improved and is more in line with our overall aesthetic.”

Core72 is celebrating their 10-year anniversary this March and Dietrich hopes for many anniversaries along the CCMS to come. “We just signed another 5-year lease with an option for five more. I’d love to keep it going for as long as possible — whether under my ownership and management or the next generations.”

Park Story

Photo of Meghan Evans, owner of Park Story, a woman with long brown hair wearing lipstick and dangly earrings, smiling at the camera, in a denim jacket, white top, and black pants.

Meghan Evans of Park Story

Another independent retail store in the community is Park Story, owned by Meghan Evans. What started as a dream of owning her own clothing line eventually became a life and style boutique featuring responsibly made goods by local and independent brands. Evans received CCMS grant funds to purchase computer equipment to support their point of sale system, as well as funds to work with a local woodworker who created custom tables and cabinets to improve the shop layout and function.

Evans didn’t always know she wanted to be the owner of an independent boutique and, when asked what advice she would give her younger self, she answered, “Consider all career options. I decided at a very young age that I wanted to become a lawyer and never considered any alternatives. I don’t regret my law degree or the time I spent practicing, but I do wish I’d explored alternative career options earlier.”

Even with women entrepreneurs on the rise, there is still a disparity between the access to capital between men-owned businesses and women-owned. When interviewed, both Dietrich and Evans noted access to capital as a significant challenge for new brick-and-mortar businesses.

CCMS aims to make that access more equitable through our Small Business Grants, as well as connecting small businesses to programs they may be eligible for due to specific identity markers.

Bert’s Jewelers

One of the oldest women-owned businesses in the neighborhood is Bert’s Jewelers, located in the historic Chevy Chase Arcade. Owned by Katarina Marzullo, the “Bert” in the name originates from her grandmother, Alberta, who started the business in 1968. COVID-19 greatly affected the jewelry store and repair shop, causing it to move from its street-facing location in the Arcade to a smaller storefront further inside the building.

CCMS is currently working with Marzullo to apply for grants such as the Bridge Fund 3.0 to ensure that this historic business can continue its legacy of selling and repairing fine jewelry in the neighborhood.

Wine & Organic

Photo of Eveline Ngassa, owner of Wine & Organic, a woman with short black hair wearing red lipstick and a red blazer, posing for the camera, in a blue striped button-down.

Eveline Ngassa of Wine & Organic

A newer business in the neighborhood is Wine & Organic. Owner Eveline Ngassa, originally from Cameroon and France, immigrated to the United States over 20 years ago. While adjusting to life in the US, she was struggling to find wine that had the taste and quality of the wine she was used to back in France, so she started her own wine shop with imported, organic wine. Her love of high-quality imported products doesn’t stop with wine, though. Over the holidays, she began selling European gift baskets with cheese, chocolate, and pate, all imported from her favorite suppliers from her life in France.

Ngassa has received marketing and event planning help from CCMS to combat the lower foot traffic of her location. Being a part of the Main Street has helped spread the word about the new business and promote their amazing products.

Artsy Beast

Photo of Melina Selimbegovic, owner of Artsy Beast, a woman with brown-blonde hair wearing dangly earrings, smiling at the camera, in a patterned blue floral dress.

Melina Selimbegovic of Artsy Beast

The latest addition to the amazing women-owned businesses along the commercial corridor is Artsy Beast, a boutique art studio that offers classes in ceramics, wheel-pottery, and painting.

“I never pursued art, my life did not allow for such things as following your passion,” says Owner Melina Selimbegovic. “Rather, being a refugee from Bosnia, it was to follow your survival instincts. After working to support myself since age 15, culminating in a successful career in finance, it all suddenly came to an abrupt stop during COVID. It was in this space of not working for a few months and being reminded of how fragile and precious life is that I opened my eyes to new possibilities.

While being on vacation, my husband planted a seed, a thought, to go towards the arts, and this grew. It quickly snowballed from a small teaching idea to an arts studio for our community. I always had it in me, but I have never been more aligned and have never felt more connected to my true self than I am today.”

While there are many challenges that face new business owners, Selimbegovic notes how important a supportive network is when starting out. She found that support in her husband, who encouraged her while on vacation to pursue a new venture in the arts.

“Perhaps the biggest challenge is not having a mentor, a partner, support networks, someone that looks you in the eye and says, You got this!, and stands by you and offers a helping hand to solve a problem of simply lift you up… It would be a gamechanger for many rising women entrepreneurs to have a dedicated and involved mentor to see and guide their business from kitchen table to retail.”

From legacy businesses with over 30 years of experience to brand new startups, women in the Chevy Chase commercial corridor are creative, dedicated, and community-minded. This Women’s History Month, CCMS aims to promote and support the endeavors of all the amazing women entrepreneurs in Chevy Chase DC.

Learn more about the work of Chevy Chase Main Street and District Bridges’ other Main Street programs on their website. You can also support their work by donating, becoming a member, and/or following them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and over email.

Notable Organizations and Businesses Run by Chevy Chase Women

Green Space is Good for All of Us: Planting Trees with EcoAction Arlington

Green Space is Good for All of Us: Planting Trees with EcoAction Arlington

Two photos compared side-by-side with each other. The top photo was taken in 2008 and shows an apartment complex baking in the sun. The bottom photo was taken in 2021 and shows the same apartment complex, now with more shade from two huge trees planted in front of it.

“In the evenings, in the spring and fall and summer, there’s just tons of kids and young families and people playing out there,” DeShay Williams, Board Member at EcoAction Arlington, described the stark difference between the two photos shown above. Thirteen years after seven trees were planted in front of this housing complex, residents have seen a tremendous increase in shade cover. “It’s pretty exciting to see everybody out there just enjoying the space,” DeShay told the Catalogue, pointing out the tree swing they’ve installed. “That’s what motivates me to do this work… We’re trying to impact the quality of people’s lives — not just their physical health, but also their mental (health) — and how they enjoy their homes.”

It is well documented that tree canopy cover and proximity to trees greatly impact our physical and social determinants of health, from maternal mortality rates to feelings of safety and reductions in violent crime. This is why Arlington County launched the Tree Canopy Fund in 2007, partnering with EcoAction Arlington to plant more than 3,500 native trees in the last decade and a half to combat Arlington’s declining tree canopy.

In 2020, EcoAction Arlington partnered with a data science nonprofit to assess the insights they gleaned from managing the Tree Canopy Fund. Findings revealed that there was a common thread for neighborhoods with the lowest percentage of tree cover — communities with more minority residents and higher percentages of poverty. When Arlington County last measured tree canopy percentages in 2016, the average tree canopy percentage was 41%. Jill Barker, the immediate past Board Chair for EcoAction Arlington, points out that the data captured in 2016 do not provide the whole story. “The problem is that some areas have over 70% tree canopy and (other) areas have 25% tree canopy cover, or even less.”

These results reflect a nationwide and historical inequity in green space. An emerging body of research shows a “direct relationship between tree canopy today and discriminatory policies of the past,” such as redlining, with The New York Times reporting that the red lines that were drawn around predominantly Black, as well as Catholic, Jewish, and immigrant neighborhoods — intended to dissuade mortgage, health care, and infrastructure investments — “line up very closely with maps showing a lack of tree canopy today.”

With trees contributing significantly to our efforts to decrease global warning, and with climate change accelerating the number of heat-related deaths, EcoAction Arlington is prioritizing working towards parity in tree cover across the county.

“I hope people will realize that the (urban) heat island effect is real,” Jill emphasized. As part of a study conducted through Marymount University, she helped collect data for a heat island study done throughout Virginia by driving slowly on a predetermined route with a heat detector out the window. The University’s project produced a map that hadn’t existed before, and that the EcoAction Arlington team successfully used to demonstrate evidence of the effect to residents they canvass.

“When you put out the (heat) map next to the tree canopy map, it was astounding that it almost correlated precisely with the low tree canopy areas,” she continued. Because of tree disparities, heat islands can even be 10 degrees hotter than wealthier suburbs with more trees. “Up until now, people had the impression that if we (plant) trees in Fairfax, that’s going to benefit the whole region and that’s the end of the story. But it really isn’t the end of the story.”

Photo of a group of EcoAction Arlington volunteers standing in a line, each holding up a certificate, at their recent volunteer celebration

As part of EcoAction Arlington’s new Tree Canopy Equity Program, their team is targeting ten specific neighborhoods that would benefit most from sustained tree planting efforts, providing free, native trees to increase their tree canopy from current levels of 17-33% to 40%. Thus far, it’s been a deeply collaborative process, with volunteers engaging in door-to-door canvassing, tabling at neighborhood events, and reaching out directly to property owners to spread the word.

“You would think a free tree is easy to give away, but it’s not really,” DeShay shared when we asked about any surprises or challenges they’ve faced over their pilot year. Jill echoed this sentiment, noting that planting a tree can be low on people’s priority lists and that many people fear “expensive maintenance, the responsibility of watering the tree, and (having) the tree falling on their house or car.”

To overcome these barriers, the EcoAction Arlington team not only conducts outreach to increase awareness of their program and its benefits, but also supports residents throughout the entire process. They’ve hosted garden parties where residents can view available trees, get to know their neighbors, and speak with the tree stewards, master gardeners, and landscape architects who help them select the trees for their property. Various volunteers assist residents with applying for a new tree, reviewing and approving their applications to ensure it’s the right tree or shrub in the right place, and then organizing the planting.

Patience, a personal touch, and being community-driven is key to their approach. During their pilot year, for example, an affordable housing partner they worked with decided not to continue with planting 19 trees at the last minute because they were afraid they couldn’t pay for the watering contract. The EcoAction Arlington team applied for a grant from the Forestry Department of Virginia and asked if the funding could cover this watering contract as part of the tree maintenance. They said yes, encouraging the affordable housing partner to move forward.

“The most important thing to remember is that we’re all neighbors together,” DeShay stated. “We all live in Arlington (and) we all look out for each other.” From watering trees together to checking up on each other’s trees, the relationships that neighbors build with each other is critical to strengthening their health and wellbeing, as well as the health of the environment. This is immediately evident in the impact that EcoAction Arlington is making, with 33% of the people who have planted trees with them going on to plant trees on their own. “(We’re) planting the seeds for more trees,” said DeShay.

Photo of a young person standing on the street holding up a green sign that reads: Free trees planted in your yard

Learn more about the Tree Canopy Equity Program and its background on EcoAction Arlington’s website. You can support their work by donating, volunteering, and/or staying updated through email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Placing Community Work in the Center

Placing Community Work in the Center

Lessons from Volunteer Fairfax’s Community Conversation on Transformational Volunteerism

For many of us, our volunteer journeys begin from a highly personal place — maybe a one-time service project opened our eyes to the needs of our community or taking a service trip abroad inspired us to lend our time and skills in more impactful ways. From helping our neighbors to building meaningful relationships, there are multiple benefits to volunteering for both the community and volunteers.

At the same time, existing volunteer opportunities can often also feel like an “in and out” transaction. It is common to treat the act of volunteering as something fun and comfortable, during which volunteers advance their individual experience or interests and feel good about what they’ve done after.

This model is what Breauna Dorelus calls a needs-based program, in which volunteer leaders “recruit volunteers by pulling on their heartstrings and letting them know how much we need them.” By prioritizing volunteers’ feelings, we center volunteers as the hero when we tell our stories about volunteerism. This does a disservice to the communities that work with these volunteers, as well as to the volunteers themselves. How might we instead, as Breauna asks, reshape volunteerism so that we can recognize and honor each of our innate worths?

In Volunteer Fairfax’s recent Community Conversation, More than Just Volunteering: From Transaction to Community Transformation, keynote speaker Breauna Dorelus, Chief Cause Consultant of Connecting the Cause, shared an inspiring perspective on how we can practice more community-centered volunteerism and, in doing so, reimagine new ways of connection and shared care.

Moving towards true transformational change is by no means a linear path, but a good first step is to identify and acknowledge that most of us are currently “swimming in supremacy” when we “put the onus on fixing people instead of addressing systems.” Volunteerism, like any other tool, can be used for white supremacy, pity, othering, and self-interest. When we frame volunteerism as simply coming in to help solve issues, we risk manifesting paternalistic behaviors rooted in white saviorism, which can disempower the very community members we purport to help. It is important to continually recognize that inequitable systems create the issues that then push many of us to act.

“We have to get back to the why,” Breauna says. Why do we volunteer? Why are things happening the way that they are? When we co-dream as true partners with the community and when we center the community as the hero of transformation, we can be most effective in dismantling harmful systems together. “There has to be some boldness involved,” Breauna emphasizes. How might we change the biases, stereotypes, and assumptions that we may have about our communities through volunteering? How might we continue to change and transform in these ways that feel sustainable? How might volunteering give us the tools to be better advocates for the larger cause?

Interested in hearing more? Watch the full recording of this Community Conversation, which features keynote speaker Breauna Dorelus, Chief Cause Consultant of Connecting the Cause, along with a panel discussion including Briana Cleveland, Director of Volunteer Engagement at Martha’s Table, and Cheyenne Shelby-Petersen, Senior Manager of Strategic Relations at Chicago Cares.

Volunteer Fairfax mobilizes people and resources to meet regional community needs. If you want to learn more about and support this work, you can visit Volunteer Fairfax’s website, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and over email, and/or make a donation.

Local Nonprofit Bulletin (01.06.23)

Local Nonprofit Bulletin



Sunday, January 8, 8:00 PM, The Hamilton Live | Best Buddies is hosting a tribute show on Elvis’ birthday with Alex Dellatti, Best Buddies Ambassador and Elvis impersonator

Wednesday, January 11, 10:00 – 11:45 AM, Online | Join Volunteer Fairfax for a keynote presentation and panel discussion on “More than Just Volunteering: From Transaction to Community Transformation”

Friday, January 13, 6:00 PM at Mehari Sequar Gallery | DC Strings Workshop presents Joshua Banbury in concert

Friday, January 13, 7:00 – 10:00 PM, The Little Theatre of Alexandria | Support Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services’ fundraiser while watching Sister Act, a feel-good musical comedy smash based on the hit film

Saturday, January 14, 9:00 – 11:00 AM, Various | Join Potomac Conservancy for a river cleanup for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service in Washington, DC (Theodore Roosevelt Island), Alexandria, VA (Four Mile Run), or Silver Spring, MD (Matthew Henson Trail)

Tuesday, January 17, 7:00 – 8:00 PM, Cleveland Park Library | Learn about an Architectural History of Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park with Camilla Carpenter, the Cleveland Park Historical Society, and District Bridges’ Cleveland Park Main Street

Thursday, January 19, 10:00 – 11:00 AM, Online | CaringMatters’ Panel Discussion on How to Support Grieving People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Thursday, January 19, 5:00 – 6:00 PM, Online | Get involved with Mother’s Outreach Network and the DC Guaranteed Income Coalition at their General Body Meeting, where they will be presenting their Advocacy Toolkit material

Community Resources, Opportunities, & Sharing

Volunteer with Casa Chirilagua this year! Their various opportunities on weekday afternoons and evenings include one-to-one mentoring, Spanish adult literacy tutoring, and volunteering with their Kids Club (elementary school age), Casa to College program, as well as Teen Study Hall (middle and high school focuses). Email Kate Denson for more information.

Enjoy cooking? Share your skills with Rainbow Place Shelter by volunteering to provide food! Visit their website to view the list of food accepted, sign up to volunteer, and/or contact their Volunteer Coordinator with any questions. You can also consider hosting an online fundraiser to help them with operating costs.

If you are a young person in 7th-12th grade who loves to sing, wants to grow as an artist, get paid to perform, and dreams of being on stage or collaborating with other DMV musicians, sign up to audition for The MusicianShip‘s Washington Youth Choir, who will be performing at The 35th Annual Wammie Music Awards on Saturday, April 1!

BIPOC emerging filmmakers who are working on a short film or their first feature that addresses a timely environmental issue are encouraged to apply for the $12,500 DC Environmental Film Festival (DCEFF) Vantage Grant! Applications close on January 20, after which 4-6 filmmakers will be selected to present their project in a live pitch at the 31st Annual DCEFF on March 26. Learn more about the process and how to apply!

The Fund for Investigative Journalism is accepting proposals for grants of up to $10,000 for stories that break new ground and uncover wrongdoing in the public or private sectors. Read their FAQs, RSVP for their webinar on January 13, and apply by January 30.

The Dream Project offers $3,000 scholarships for Virginia students whose immigration status (undocumented, DACA, TPS, or asylum applicant) creates barriers to success in college. Applications close on February 1. View their eligibility criteria and apply now!

Looking to get more comfortable with public speaking this year? Listen to the newly launched “Public Speaking the Actor’s Way” podcast by The Theatre Lab with acting teacher, public speaking coach, and Theatre Lab Director Buzz Mauro!

Generation Hope offers free College Readiness Workshops in English and Spanish for any young parents in the DMV. Parents will have the opportunity to learn about their college access and the transition to college. Both virtual and in-person workshops are available. Use this form to express interest and schedule a workshop!

The Foster & Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center (FAPAC) is looking for experienced CFSA foster parents to mentor newly licensed foster parents in DC. Mentors will receive training, a monthly stipend, and be considered AmeriCorps members. Learn more and apply to become a mentor on their website!

Shifting Power in Philanthropy through Giving Circles

Shifting Power in Philanthropy through Giving Circles

Given the Catalogue for Philanthropy’s longstanding partnerships with various local and regional giving circles in Greater Washington, we are excited to announce that the Next Gen Giving Circle is becoming a Catalogue initiative. Since its founding in 2020 by two local philanthropic professionals, Carlyn Madden and Peter Williamson, the giving circle has raised more than $125,000 for local nonprofits and engaged 100+ local 40s-and-under professionals in philanthropy and their community.

We believe that giving circles can be a highly effective vehicle for shifting power in philanthropy. Curious about what exactly they are and how they work? Read on for a quick primer, and to learn more about what our regional giving circle scene looks like.

What are giving circles?

“Giving circles at the core are people-powered philanthropy,” said Tyeshia Wilson, Director of Engagement at Philanthropy Together. “Giving circles are powerful activation tools to advance equity in philanthropy because in them everyone has power and has the opportunity to use it.”

Put simply, a giving circle is a group of people who pool their time and money, collectively deciding where funds should go. Philanthropy Together estimates that there are more than 2,500 giving circles in the United States, with 150,000 donors having given away $1.29 billion.

This isn’t just a phenomenon in the United States. A research study released in late 2020 found 42,200 giving circle members around the world, excluding the United States, collectively investing $46 million in grants through 426 giving circles. And the collective giving movement is growing.

From the accessibility of joining or starting a giving circle to its collectivist and democratic decision-making approach to its potential for radical grassroots funding and engagement, giving circles are a high-impact model. Because there is no prerequisite to being a philanthropist, as Tyeshia Wilson noted, “there is so much diversity and inclusiveness housed in giving circles which is a counter-narrative to traditional philanthropy.” Additionally, Andrew Gibbs at the Center for Jewish Philanthropy reflected that “the opportunity to be part of an allocation process from start to finish… gives participants a sense of ownership and investment in the community.”

Our experience with giving circles at the Catalogue has demonstrated that they are a positive force for disrupting traditional philanthropy. Not only is anyone and everyone encouraged to learn about nonprofits and contribute in the ways they can, but in adopting a collaborative approach to grantmaking, the “rules” of many institutional grantmakers on which nonprofits rely can also be examined.

According to a 2019 study by the Urban Institute, the vast majority of nonprofits across the country are smaller organizations, with 66.6% operating on budgets of less than $500,000. Yet, as Emily Rasmussen wrote for the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, “the reality is, many of these nonprofits organizations struggle to survive amidst so many others.”

The Catalogue knows this struggle firsthand, both as a small nonprofit ourselves and as a champion for small nonprofits in the Greater Washington region. It can be challenging for small nonprofits to gain visibility and access to funding sources or networks, especially for small nonprofits led by people of color. We have seen how giving circles can quickly and flexibly shift their grantmaking practices to align with trust-based philanthropy, grounded in racial equity and economic justice.

What is trust-based philanthropy?

Trust-based philanthropy is a values-based grantmaking approach that is “rooted in advancing equity, shifting power, and building mutually accountable relationships” between funders and grantees. It has become increasingly clear, as Mary Broach wrote for Blue Avocado, that “both nonprofits and funders can benefit from a more transparent and honest relationship that is focused on addressing the true needs in our communities.” In essence, by recognizing the power dynamic inherent in funder-grantee relationships and committing to mutual accountability when supporting and trusting nonprofits to create change, philanthropy itself can become a much more effective and rewarding vehicle for change.

A collective giving model like that of giving circles is well-positioned to practice the principles of trust-based philanthropy and shift power in the philanthropic space. At Next Gen Giving Circle, for example, members intentionally center and prioritize equity from the application process to reviewer training, with members voting to focus the giving circle’s grant priority on racial equity and economic empowerment.

The grant application is open to nonprofits with budgets less than $1 million, and the giving circle especially encourages smaller and BIPOC-led nonprofits to apply. The application itself is streamlined and bilingual to reduce the amount of paperwork nonprofits need to complete, with an option for nonprofits to submit video instead of written applications. Funding is unrestricted so that nonprofits themselves determine where grant dollars are most needed, and grantee reports are not required.

Many other giving circles, especially our partners in the DMV Collective Giving Circle Network, are similarly committed to continually improving their grantmaking processes while educating local philanthropists. Beyond providing financial support, giving circle members are also encouraged to engage with nonprofits that have historically gone without the same level of networks or support than their more established peers.

Most importantly, giving circles give everyone the agency and platform to connect with the causes and communities they care about. When you become a member of a giving circle, you meet other likeminded people with whom you generate an even bigger impact than you can on your own. That seed of collaboration is what creates change that feels particularly fruitful and rewarding, now and in our future.

How do I get started?

There are many local and regional giving circles you can join today!

  • The Next Gen Giving Circle is currently recruiting members and is open to anyone who wants to increase their support for local community-based nonprofits. Join us today or reach out to Amanda Liaw, Manager of Communications and Marketing at the Catalogue for Philanthropy, to learn more.
  • Many Hands leverages the power of collective giving to support nonprofits serving and empowering Washington, DC area women, children, and families in socioeconomic need. They are now welcoming members for the 2023 grant cycle. Learn more about becoming a member, sustaining member, or young member.
  • Giving Together is a group of like-minded, committed women who pool funds and volunteer time to help low-income women and children in the Washington, DC area. Read their FAQs for more information on what membership looks like and become a member.
  • The Cherry Blossom Giving Circle is a group of volunteers committed to creating positive change in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities of the Washington, DC metro area. They are always seeking new volunteers, members, and donors.
  • Collective 365 is a membership-based group of community conscious individuals who contribute their resources to give a platform for Black and Brown communities; helping them grow into community staples that can have a lasting impact in society. Get involved with their work.
  • Impact100 DC is an all-volunteer women’s philanthropic community dedicated to improving lives in the Greater Washington, DC area by collectively funding transformational grants to local nonprofit organizations. Read their FAQs for information on membership, shared membership, their fellowship program, and more. Become a member before December 31st.
  • Together Women Rise is a home for all who want to build collective power to uplift women and change the world. Learn more about how you can engage with them and get started with one of the chapters in the DC metro area.
  • Awesome Foundation DC is a giving circle collective of DC residents who help fund a wide spectrum of amazing arts, culture, and community experiences. They are part of the Awesome Foundation, an international organization with nearly one hundred chapters around the world. All chapters are entirely volunteer-run and self-funded through trustee donations. Learn more about them and indicate your interest in becoming a trustee.

Find more giving circles through the DMV Collective Giving Circle Network or visit Philanthropy Together and Grapevine’s Giving Circle Directory.