Category: nonprofits

How the Latin American Youth Center is putting racism on the table

By Lori Kaplan
President & CEO
Latin American Youth Center

Editor’s Note: Since WRAG began releasing the Putting Racism on the Table Learning Series videos in spring 2016, we have learned that a number of philanthropic and nonprofit organizations in the region and across the country are using the materials to spark new conversations and inform their own work around racism and racial equity. Today, Lori Kaplan writes about how the Latin American Youth Center has engaged with the Putting Racism on the Table resources.

For some time now, the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) has recognized that we cannot take our diversity for granted and that we have to take a deeper dive on issues related to ending racism and bigotry. We need to bring the difficult conversations into our own space. The 2016 election has ignited this urgency as the national conversation has left our youth and staff feeling angry, frustrated, and scared. The new administration brings to the forefront questions about what life will look like over the next four or more years, for ourselves and our youth and families, our children and the nation as a whole. The LAYC has both the opportunity and the responsibility to be a leader in this work through our action and our voice as we strive for a more just community and country.

The Latin American Youth Center formed our Community Organizing for Racial Equity (CORE) committee of youth and staff after several staff attended an “Undoing Racism” training over a year ago. Today, the committee represents a multi-ethnic, multi-racial team of LAYC staff and youth that host brown bag discussions on anti-racism. Our CORE leaders and team are using WRAG’s Putting Racism on the Table materials during our brown bag lunches to spur conversation and inform our critical thinking as the series’ topics speak to the relevant issues we are exploring.

LAYC’s CORE committee also sponsors social cultural events, our “Social Justice in Social Services” training, and has offered a space to process the traumatic events over the past year. Our CORE committee has decided to keep the LAYC open on inauguration day with a youth-coordinated day of conversation and activity so that youth and families have a safe space to come and process the day’s inaugural events.

WRAG’s thoughtful and very qualified speaker series has added so much value to our conversations. And, the videos, viewing guides, and discussion guides are free for our use, which we appreciate! Like WRAG, we began these conversations prior to the recent presidential campaign and election. These past months and years have raised the stakes well beyond what anyone could have imagined. No longer does racism and bigotry percolate and hide right under the surface. Today it is out front and center. Perhaps this is our moment and perhaps this is the opportunity we have needed. In the following days and years to come, LAYC’s voice must be at the table. LAYC’s activism of the past has been rekindled and ignited as we fight against hatred, racism, and bigotry. If our young people’s voices are not at the table they will continue to be on the menu! We will continue our conversations within the context of uncertainty, with urgency and unending love.

How is your organization putting racism on the table? Has WRAG’s work prompted a new conversation or contributed to your ongoing efforts? Let us know!

An Open Letter to the Greater Washington Region’s Congressional Delegation

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

This week is Philanthropy Week in Washington. On Wednesday and Thursday, foundation leaders from across the country will meet with their members of Congress as part of an annual event called Foundations on the Hill. They will be reminding their representatives of the importance of philanthropy back home in their districts – and educating them about the critical role that the charitable tax deduction and other incentives play in facilitating philanthropy.

Historically, WRAG hasn’t participated in this event, since our proximity to the Hill enables easy contact with members of Congress all year round. Today, I am sending an open letter to the 13 members of the Greater Washington region’s Congressional delegation, reminding them of the important role that philanthropy plays in our region and urging them to continue to enable that role.

It’s time to GIVE TO THE MAX!

Final update 12:00am: In only 24 hours, Give to the Max Day raised $2,028,000 including prizes from nearly 18,000 participants! Well done.

Update 6:15pm: Just a minute ago, we officially hit the 13,000 mark for number of donors! At more than $1.3 million dollars, we’re doing well. There’s plenty of time left though! Have you asked your neighbors to Give to the Max?

Update 3:30pm: We’ve hit the million dollar mark, but we have a ways to go to reach our $3 million goal. Keep spreading the word!

Update 12:00pm: We’re halfway through Give to the Max Day with more than $530,000 from 5,300 donors. That’s fantastic, but let’s pick up the pace!

9:45 am: It’s finally here! We’re almost ten hours into Give to the Max Day – the ten hours where most people were asleep or getting ready for work – and $300,000 has already been donated by more than 2,600 donors. Now that you’ve settled in and had your first cup of coffee, here’s how you can help:

  •  Visit the Give to the Max website and find a nonprofit or cause that you support. Then donate!
  • Send an email to your colleagues and a text message to your friends. Tell them to find a nonprofit or cause that they support and donate!
  • Post about Give to the Max on your Twitter and Facebook pages. Encourage your friends to do the same.
  • This afternoon, when you are thinking about getting that $5.00 gingerbread latte from Starbucks, take that money (and the money from tomorrow’s Starbucks run, too!) and donate it to your favorite cause instead.

Nonprofits: Help us improve the Common Grant Application!

In February, we surveyed the community to gauge whether WRAG’s Common Grant Application (CGA) needed to be updated. We found out that many of the region’s funders accept it and that lots of nonprofits  have completed it at least once. And everyone appreciates the value of having a common application form that can be used for multiple funders.

Since then, we have convened a committee to guide us through the revision process. Thanks to their invaluable advice, insight, and edits we have developed revised versions of the CGA, the Common Letter of Inquiry, and the Common Grant Report. Now we want to open up the process to nonprofit organizations to provide us feedback on the draft forms. Your input will directly affect the end product. This is a two-step process:

1. Review each of the forms:

Common Grant Application
Common Letter of Inquiry
Common Grant Report

2. Take a quick survey to give us your feedback.

The deadline to complete the survey is Friday, November 4.

We very much appreciate your time and feedback in this process. Our goal is to create a strong Common Grant Application that is valuable to both our members and the nonprofits they support. Thank you!

Why I’m excited about the DC Cultural Data Project

By Michael Bigley
Program Officer, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and Chair, WRAG’s Arts and Humanities Working Group

Imagine being able to create funder and annual reports with the click of a mouse.

Imagine accessing data from over 11,500 nonprofits and analyzing trends in the field.

The new DC Cultural Data Project (DC CDP; can do just that and more.

The CDP is a sophisticated online system for collecting and disseminating high-quality data on nonprofit arts and culture organizations. Last week D.C. joined 11 states, including Maryland, as the 12th member of the Cultural Data Project, which is operated by Pew Charitable Trusts. Aimed at creating efficiencies for nonprofits, the CDP uses audited financial statements and statistical information to paint a vivid picture of the arts and culture scene in the District.

Information on cash flow, audience attendance, youth engagement, ticket sales, and more is available to be compared in aggregate with other nonprofits, both locally and nationally. Specifically tailored funder reports can be printed or e-mailed for an instant snapshot on the fiscal health of an organization. Also with this data, researchers and arts advocates now have an unprecedented source of standardized, longitudinal data on the local arts and culture sector.

My excitement with the CDP stems from the greater possibilities that regional nonprofits now have to tell their story. D.C. has a vibrant arts and culture scene that has faced challenges of late given the difficult economy and the decrease in available funding. It is my hope that the data made available to the community will provide compelling arguments for funding the arts sector, demonstrating that the arts intersect with many areas of society and create communities where we want to live.

The DC CDP was ignited by the WRAG’s Arts and Humanities Working Group and is the result of collaboration with public and private funders and advocacy agencies. Participation in the CDP is encouraged, with several trainings currently available and a comprehensive website with online training modules.


CDP staff will be in D.C. hosting orientation sessions on October 17 and 18 at various locations around the city. This is a great opportunity to find out more about the CDP and to learn about the types of data collected. Click here for more information and to register.

New report from 8 Neighbors on the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s giving in the Greater Washington region

Today, the 8 Neighbors group – of which the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) is one member – released a report commissioned to George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis on the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s giving in our area.

Following the two corporations’ placement into federal conservatorship and their consequent reductions in local giving, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: What Does Their Future Mean for the Washington Region’s Nonprofit Community? explores the likelihood that the two will end their philanthropic funding in the next few years. Collectively, they have given more than $100 million to 500 local nonprofits in the last four years alone and their remission as corporate philanthropic giants in the region creates a necessity for new leadership.

In a letter to the community that prefaces the report, the 8 Neighbors say,

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so much more than check book charitable givers. They are shining examples of what it means to be an effective, engaged and valued corporate citizen. We urge other companies to continue the philanthropic model Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac developed. Our neighbors need you in our region. And we need your leadership for our country.

Chuck Bean of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, another member of 8 Neighbors, reaffirms the point to the Washington Post (10/3):

“This would be hard enough in any situation, but in times of the most sweeping economic downturn in generations, it will be tough,” Bean said. “It is going to hurt, and at some point we’re going to need to stop wringing our hands and figure out what we’re going to do. There are some corporations thriving at this time, and this is really their moment to shine.”

WRAG’s president, Tamara Copeland, is optimistic:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have made a huge impact with their funding dollars. Perhaps more importantly though, they have have served as models for engaged corporate philanthropic leadership. Now it is time for additional leaders to step up.

A third of WRAG’s membership consists of corporate funders committed to improving our region, and I’m confident that this community will answer the call.

Read the full report.

8 Neighbors consists of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Leadership Greater Washington, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, United Way of the National Capital Area, and Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers.

Funders announce the launch of the DC Cultural Data Project!

We’re excited to announce that today marks the launch of the DC Cultural Data Project (, an online management tool designed to strengthen the management capacity of the District’s arts and cultural sector. Operated by Pew Charitable Trusts, the CDP collects operational, financial, and programmatic data on the District’s nonprofit arts and cultural sector.

Why collect this kind of data? Arts and cultural nonprofits can use the CDP to generate annual, trend, and comparison reports to increase their management capacity and inform their decision-making. Arts funders, by using these reports as part of their application process, can access data that will help them evaluate their grantmaking strategies and outcomes. Ultimately, the CDP will allow arts advocates to better demonstrate the vital role the sector plays in the economic life of the District.

Michael Bigley, program officer for the arts and humanities at the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and chair of WRAG’s Arts and Humanities Working Group, says:

The Cultural Data Project comes to D.C. at a crucial time for arts and culture nonprofits, when we all need to be telling our story to the community at large. In addition to creating internal efficiencies, the CDP will provide concrete data on the impact of the local scene that hasn’t been available before. That can only help create a deeper case for arts and culture support in this difficult economy.

The Cultural Data Project is available for free to all of D.C.’s arts and culture nonprofits thanks to the leadership of the Arts and Humanities Working Group (AHWG), which reached out to Pew and began fundraising to launch the CDP in the District in 2010. AHWG formed the DC CDP Task Force, consisting of WRAG, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the Meyer Foundation, Prince Charitable Trusts, and the D.C. Commission for the Arts and Humanities. The Launch Advisory Committee, consisting of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, the Cultural Development Corporation, Cultural Tourism D.C., the D.C. Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative, and TheatreWashington, also provided critical support and guidance.

Grantmakers: For more information about the DC CDP and to learn how to get involved, please contact Jenny Snyder, CDP Associate at Pew Charitable Trusts, at

Grantseekers: CDP is hosting free orientation sessions in October. Click here for more information and to register.

Are you (yes, you!) ready to Give to the Max?

Mark your calendars! Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington is November 9th, 2011!

What is Give to the Max Day? It’s a one-day online giving event aimed at getting tens of thousands of people (that means you, your friends, your family, and that annoying office worker who leaves dirty dishes in the sink) to support their favorite nonprofits and causes. The goal? Raising more than $3 million in donations and grants for nonprofits across the Greater Washington region in just 24 hours.

At the press announcement last week, we asked Terri Freeman, president of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and Bill Hanbury, CEO of the United Way of the National Capital Area, to talk about why they’re excited about Give to the Max Day.

Learn more – and spread the word!

Give to the Max: Greater Washington
Rules (and Awards!)
Frequently Asked Questions
For WRAG members: Special webinar on what you can do as grantmakers (Sept. 26)

Hot off the press:

Nonprofits to try to raise millions in one day (Washington Post, 9/16)
Razoo plans fundraising campaign for D.C.-area nonprofits (Washington Business Journal, 9/16)

Give to the Max Day is led by The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the United Way of the National Capital Area, and Razoo, and supported by the 8 Neighbors coalition – The Center for Nonprofit Advancement, The Community Foundation, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Leadership Greater Washington, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Nonprofit Roundtable, United Way, and WRAG.

Funders collaborate to bring Richmond-based budget advocacy group to NoVA

Today, we want to share with you a collaboration between WRAG members designed to take a successful District model and replicate it in Northern Virginia.

With the DC Fiscal Policy Institute’s excellent results advocating on behalf of nonprofits in mind, Rubie Coles from the Moriah Fund and Sarah Oldmixon from the Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative at the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region developed a plan to expand the similarly-focused Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis to Northern Virginia.

The Commonwealth Institute is based in Richmond, but Rubie and Sarah recognized that Northern Virginia has distinct differences from the state as a whole – and needs affecting the Greater Washington Region. In a video interview, they talk about the initiative and their interest in bringing other funders to the table.

The video also features the Commonwealth Institute’s president and CEO, Michael Cassidy, and Reston Interfaith’s Kerrie Wilson, a Nonprofit Roundtable board member, discussing the value proposition of the new endeavor.

Introducing the brand new Philanthropy Fellows program

WRAG is excited to announce the brand new Philanthropy Fellows program, a partnership with the University of Maryland’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. The program is designed to link graduate and undergraduate students with WRAG member organizations. Students will develop practical skills in philanthropy while applying theory and academic experience to support the work of member foundations.

In the video below, Tamara talks with Dr. Bob Grimm, head of the Philanthropy and Nonprofit Management department at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, about the new program and its goals.

Yesterday, the CEOs of WRAG member organizations received an application form for the program. The deadline to apply for a Fellow for the fall semester or 2011-12 academic year is July 15. For more information, contact Katy Moore.