By Rebekah Seder, Program Manager
Prince George’s County: For many, the name used to evoke grim images of poverty and crime. But, over the past few years, the county’s image has changed dramatically. Last week, funders, nonprofits, businesses, and county officials came together for a special State of Prince George’s County summit to review the progress that has been made, particularly around two important initiatives that are making a big difference in the county – the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative (TNI) and the Partnership for Prince George’s County (PPGC) – and to begin discussions about how the public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors can work together to continue strengthening the county.
TNI is a two-year-old government effort to radically transform six specific areas of the county that have significant needs. Government agencies are working together to target resources to improve the quality of life in these neighborhoods by strengthening schools, increasing public safety, ensuring access to quality healthcare, and promoting the local economy. The idea is that lifting up the neighborhoods that are most in need of improvement – and that, thanks to their transit-accessible locations close to D.C., hold the most potential for becoming desirable places to live and work –will boost the entire county’s economy and improve its reputation.
While the county is committing considerable resources to TNI neighborhoods, naturally there are things that government is not well positioned to do. This is where support from the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors is needed. Fortunately, the nonprofit community in Prince George’s County has been strengthened over the past five years, thanks in large part to the capacity building investments of the Partnership for Prince George’s County.
PPGC, which grew out of a series of community conversations that WRAG convened, launched in 2008 as a funding collaborative that strengthens and advocates for nonprofit organizations serving county residents. The partnership raises nonprofit capacity through technical assistance, grants, and leadership development, particularly in areas of the county where there is significant need for services.
According to Desiree Griffin-Moore, director of the Community Foundation for Prince George’s County, which houses PPGC, philanthropy can – and must – do much more than simply write checks to organizations working in the county. In order to help build Prince George’s County into a more vibrant and equitable community, funders need to roll up their proverbial sleeves and get involved.
While the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative is a promising approach toward improving some of the most struggling areas of the county, and the Partnership for Prince George’s County is helping the county’s nonprofits better position themselves to serve county residents, these two efforts can’t simply run parallel.
For the county to fully achieve the collective goals of creating strong public schools, improved public safety, full access to quality health care, and a thriving economy, all sectors must work together and align resources. Prince George’s County has come a long way – and with continued cross-sector engagement in efforts like TNI and PPGC, the future looks bright.
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