Category: [working group] sustainable communities

What can SCWG do for you?

Funders – if you could pick the topic for the next meeting of WG’s Sustainable Communities Working Group (SCWG), what would it be?

SCWG is getting ready to map out its learning agenda for the next twelve months, and we need your help deciding what issues would be most interesting, informative, and helpful to you. Please take three minutes to check off (or add your own) interest areas by CLICKING HERE.

We would appreciate your responses by August 14th. Thanks!

The poisoned waters of the Chesapeake Bay

badnewsfrogs“frogs with six legs…male amphibians with ovaries…mutations likely caused by exposure to ‘endocrine disruptors’…”  Not good news for the 2 million who rely on the Washington Aqueduct for their drinking water.

On Tuesday, April 21st, 9 to 11 pm ET, PBS FRONTLINE will broadcast “Poisoned Waters,” an investigation and report card on the Puget Sound and the Chesapeake Bay. More than three decades after the Clean Water Act, both are in bad shape, mainly because of pollution stemming from agriculture. Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation: “There is no question that the condition of the Chesapeake Bay is like the canary in the coal mine… an indicator of what we are now learning to expect in any body of water nationwide, and across the planet.”

Funding for the program was provided by WG members The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, The Prince Charitable Trusts, and others.


Hedrick Smith, the producer, will discuss the program just before it airs, from 6pm to 8pm, at GWU. Admission is free. He’ll be in the Elliot School of Business Building directly inside the E Street entrance.

Green schools produce healthy, high-achieving kids

by Christian Clansky, Washington Grantmakers

The Earth Day Network (EDN) has a vision: turn all of America’s schools green within one generation. The group’s motives might surprise you though.

Yes, green schools are better for the environment. They typically use a third less energy and a third less water than regular school facilities, and they reduce greenhouse gas emissions and smog-producing nitrogen oxides. But it turns out that green schools are also directly linked with improved student achievement and health.

Last week, EDN told the Sustainable Communities Working Group that students in these schools post higher test scores and are generally more involved. Their self confidence and self esteem are markedly elevated. Teacher and student retention is increased. Students with diabetes, asthma, or respiratory problems experience improved heath. Green schools even cause a lower incidence of tooth decay!


After hearing about the wide range of (decidedly unexpected) benefits that green schools offer (click here to learn more), WG members heard from District Department of Environment director George Hawkins about current school greening efforts. Miguel Brito, the head of St. Philip’s Academy in Newark, NJ, shared his experiences turning his school green, and discussed innovative options that others might emulate.

SCWG next meets in November to learn more about messaging campaigns related to the Anacostia River, and the Anacostia Trash Initiative.

The latest from WG’s Sustainable Communities Working Group

by Mardell Moffett (Cafritz Foundation), Chair

Here are a few major items to report as we move into the summer months:

  • After 3 years, Karen FitzGerald is stepping down as chair of the Sustainable Communities Working Group. Under her leadership, SCWG has enjoyed numerous successes, including fostering the development of the Washington Regional Equity Network; and planning, developing, and launching the Partnership for Prince George’s County. Without her bold advocacy at the Meyer Foundation – which included securing $150,000 for its development – the Partnership would not have enjoyed as successful a launch as it had in January. On behalf of Washington Grantmakers, I thank Karen for her dedication, leadership, and hard work.
  • Plans are being finalized to launch an office greening competition in September. “Grantmakers Go Green” will challenge all WG members to undertake various environmentally-conscious efforts around the office and measure their outcomes. A planning committee has been hard at work for the past several months mapping out the expectations and details of the competition. Our overarching goal is to educate and motivate WG members around green practices so that they, in turn, can spread their knowledge and habits to their grantees. Details of the competition will be announced soon, and we are very excited about it. Please let us know if you are interested in joining in on the planning!
  • On June 16, SCWG, Prince Charitable Trusts, and the Cafritz Foundation hosted a briefing about GreenSPACE – a new state-of-the-art resource center for green building in the metropolitan area. The District’s Green Building Act has sweeping implications for funders and grantees, and both Maryland and Virginia are working towards similar legislation. GreenSPACE will serve as a valuable point of coordination for funders, nonprofits, business leaders, and government officials. We will keep the Working Group informed as the project progresses.
  • Finally, we will be bringing the Working Group back together for a Summer Quarterly meeting on July 10th, from 10:00am-noon. At the meeting, we will update each other on activities. You can register here.

We look forward to seeing you soon. If you have any questions about the Working Group, please contact Carolynn Mambu at


Mardell Moffett
Chair, Sustainable Communities Working Group

Missed the 101? You can still get involved!

  • AIDS Partnership
  • Arts & Humanities
  • Children, Youth, & Families
  • Community Development
  • Health
  • Public Education
  • Sustainable Communities 
  • It was great seeing so many of you at “Washington Grantmakers 101: Understanding Working Groups & Funding Collaboratives.” If you missed it, you missed a great conversation about how participating in those groups has enhanced the impact of WG members’ work, provided them with knowledge, and increased their skills. To get involved or to learn more about any of the groups, contact Carolynn Mambu at

    New CEOs 
    New CEOs at WG member organizations

    Afterwards we held a reception to welcome some of the network’s newest leaders (pictured above, l to r): Phyllis Caldwell, president of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation; Karen Green, executive director of the Healthcare Initiative Foundation; Patricia Mathews, executive director of the Northern Virginia Health Foundation; and Lyn Hainge, executive director of the Campbell Hoffman Foundation.


    Washington Grantmakers Celebrates the Launch of the Partnership for Prince George’s County

    by Christian Clansky, Program Associate

    l-r, Kim Rhim, Executive Director – The Training Source, Inc.; Tamara Lucas Copeland, President – Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers; Councilman David Harrington, Chair, Prince George’s County Council; Artis Hampshire Cowan, Board President – Prince George’s Community Foundation; Desiree Griffin Moore, Executive Director, Prince George’s Community Foundation

    [Jan. 30, 2008] Fifty-one degrees and sunny—but Prince George’s County is experiencing a major snowball effect. That’s because in a building where 40 people gathered a little more than a year ago to discuss strengthening the county’s nonprofit sector, more than 100 gathered today to help Washington Grantmakers and the Prince George’s Community Foundation launch the Partnership for Prince George’s County.

    Members of the philanthropic, nonprofit, government, and religious communities came together in Landover, Md., to celebrate the County’s first true alliance among these sectors. Desiree Griffin Moore, the Partnership’s executive director, set the tone for the event by announcing that attendees must introduce themselves to three strangers. A few minutes later, she struggled to quiet the crowd as she presented the speakers.

    County Council Chair David Harrington, whose advocacy and financial support has been instrumental in bringing the county government to the table, addressed the room first with a warm smile and congratulations for reaching this monumental moment. “This Partnership is about three things,” he continued. “Empowerment. Collaboration. And, Community.” He expressed his optimism for the Partnership’s ability to elicit substantial change in the County, and he firmly pledged his continued support and participation.

    Harrington was followed by Artis Hampshire Cowan of the Prince George’s Community Foundation, Kim Rhim of The Training Source, and Washington Grantmakers President Tamara Copeland, all of whom offered their unique perspectives on the importance and potential of the Partnership.

    It later became clear that the group had extended Desiree’s charge to network well beyond three people. Long after the formal program had ended, the room remained full – and loud – confirming what has been evident all along: there is a great amount of work to be done, but there is an even greater will to do it. And the snowball keeps rolling…

    For more about the events leading to the Partnership’s launch, see The Power of Collaboration – Dec. 2007

    Scenes from the launch event:




    D.C. Region Funders Announce $300,000 Funding Pool and Networking Opportunities for Prince George’s County Nonprofits

    News release – PPGC LaunchPPGC [.pdf]

    LANDOVER, MD – Washington Grantmakers and the Prince George’s Community Foundation announce the public launch of the “Partnership for Prince George’s County” – the county’s first true alliance of funders, nonprofits, government and religious organizations. The launch event will take place on Jan. 30, 2008, at 8:30 a.m. at the Tree Tops Atrium, 8181 Professional Place, Landover, Maryland.

    Speakers will include: David Harrington, County Council Chair; Tamara Lucas Copeland, President – Washington Grantmakers; Artis Hampshire Cowan, Board President – Prince George’s Community Foundation; Desiree Griffin Moore, Executive Director – Prince George’s Community Foundation; and, E. Kim Rhim, Executive Director – The Training Source, Inc.

    Continue reading “D.C. Region Funders Announce $300,000 Funding Pool and Networking Opportunities for Prince George’s County Nonprofits”

    “The Power of Collaboration” – Nov/Dec 2007

    Washington Grantmakers and the Prince George’s Community Foundation put out the call: Who wants to maximize the effectiveness of philanthropy in Prince George’s County, Maryland? Five standing-room-only sessions. Funders, nonprofits, government leaders, community activists. Together at last, they spoke about opportunities and lessons learned. Unrealized potential. They agreed that something had to change.


    Launching in early 2008, The Partnership for Prince George’s County will connect the people who live, work, learn, and play in Prince George’s County to each other and to the region. The network will build strategic alliances among County stakeholders, and the region’s grantmakers will pool their funds to strengthen the County’s nonprofit community.

    Read: Partnering for Progress: Building a “Different Kind of Collaborative” in Prince George’s County

    Green Building Act (Time to act!)

    Recognizing the need to act and being prepared to do so are two different things. When the District passed landmark environmental legislation around building codes and standards, it quickly was apparent that housing developers, school facility managers, job-training organizations, the construction industry, and government agencies were not ready to act.

    Last week, the Sustainable Communities Working Group met with District directors Linda Argo (Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs), George Hawkins (Department of the Environment), and Harriet Tregoning (Office of Planning) to learn about the implications of the Green Building Act of 2006. As the key government agencies responsible for implementation, the three shared information about how the new legislation affects their departments, and, more importantly, the legislation’s ripple affects.

    Harriet Tregoning (Office of Planning),
    Linda Argo (Department of Consumer and
    Regulatory Affairs), and Carolynn Mambu
    (Washington Grantmakers)



    Tregoning pointed out that all buildings that make up the redevelopment of the Anacostia waterfront will be green. The D.C. public schools system, which is about to embark on a major facilities renovation and modernization project, will be green. The job training industry will go green to satisfy a shortage of qualified design and construction candidates with the skills and know-how to build green.

    But the directors agreed that there is a big gap between what the legislation mandates and what the city is equipped to do. The department heads identified a number of areas around which funders could make an impact, including a one-stop shop for green resources, green collar workforce development and education, research of best practices, public education around the legislation, and developing of benchmark indicators to measure progress.

    As a next step, a small group of funders agreed to flesh out some recommendations for how funders can work together and with the city to address some of these issues. The plan will be discussed at the next Working Group quarterly meeting Dec. 11. Argo, Hawkins, and Tregoning all expressed appreciation and enthusiasm for continued collaboration with Washington Grantmakers.