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Catalogue Blog

Expanding our DC Leadership Team

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The board of directors of the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington, celebrating its 15th year, is pleased to announce the selection of Bob Wittig as its first executive director. The Catalogue recognizes the region’s best small charities, is a leader in developing their capacity, and has helped raise over $37 million since its inception in 2003.

“This is an important step in ensuring the Catalogue’s longevity,” said board member Lauralyn Lee. “As the Catalogue expands its reach, and adds popular Learning Commons training and development programs, Bob’s 25 years of experience working in philanthropy and with small nonprofits makes him an ideal fit for our work going forward.”

After 15 years of overseeing the exceptional growth of the Catalogue, founder Barbara Harman has decided that it is time to move to the next phase of her presidency. She will focus on the Catalogue’s creative work, on partnership development, external relations, and future initiatives. “During this anniversary, it seems particularly important not just to celebrate the past but also to ensure the Catalogue’s future by strengthening its leadership team. As a founder-led organization that represents and supports nearly 400 community-based charities, we want to be a model for how nonprofits can remain vital and how transitions can be effective and powerful,” Harman said.

Wittig has a long record of leadership and commitment to the nonprofit community in the DC region, including a 14-year history as a reviewer of Catalogue applicants, and a facilitator in its training programs. He has been executive director of the Jovid Foundation in Washington, D.C. since 2002. Prior to that, he served as executive director at Academy of Hope, Development Director at Joseph’s House and Direct Marketing Manager at Special Olympics International, all D.C.-based organizations. In 1992, he was part of the first group of Peace Corps volunteers to serve in Ukraine. Wittig is an author and expert on nonprofit capacity building and board governance.

“I look forward to working collaboratively with Bob to ensure that the Catalogue continues to serve the needs of donors who want to invest in our community and nonprofits whose strength and passion we admire and seek to support,” said Harman.

“I am thrilled to join the Catalogue and its talented team, both to continue and to build upon its impressive achievements,” Wittig stated. “I look forward to working with Barbara, with the Board, and with the donor and nonprofit communities that the Catalogue so successfully brings together.”
The executive search firm LeaderFit worked with the board of directors on this search.

A Safe, Nurturing Place for Girls

The Washington School for Girls – By Kelley Lockard

Kelley Lockard and WSG Students (Class of 2016)

Before 1997, there were few quality educational options or services for girls in Southeast DC. And there was no place where a girl on the verge of womanhood could find mentorship or learn in a safe environment that values her as an individual. That is why the Washington School for Girls (WSG) was founded: to provide a safe, nurturing place for girls to not only learn and grow, but to thrive.

Of course, a lot has changed since the school was founded 20 years ago. More people have started to take an interest in Southeast neighborhoods. There are more resources, more options for education. The community itself is changing. However, through all of these changes there continues to be a strong need for a school that works for and with the community. That’s why WSG is so important, and why our students succeed: we educate the whole child.

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We pride ourselves on providing a holistic model of education, one that accepts not just students, but also families. A student’s experiences at home are just as important as her experience in the classroom. We work with parents to engage them in the educational process and help them access the resources they need to support their daughters as learners.

As an administrator and former teacher, I feel I am most attuned to a student’s needs when I have developed a close relationship with her family. I know that if I can build a long-term, reciprocal relationship with a family then I can truly help a child reach her full potential. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing a girl come into her own after entering the school with nearly every aspect of her life in disarray. That kind of transformation does not happen overnight, and it’s impossible without the support of the family.

WSG 2016-131

Luckily for me, I’ve witnessed that transformation innumerable times in my years at WSG. It’s what motivates me to do the work that I do. My desk is full of photos of the young women I have helped to transform, and every day I am fortified by their smiles and the knowledge of their achievement. I look at them and know that they will make a positive difference in their communities.

WSG was built on the beliefs and values of extraordinary, courageous women. As we enter Women’s History Month and approach the 20th Anniversary of the school this spring, I am increasingly reflecting on that fact. In the classroom, our students are learning about women who have changed the course of history, but they are also learning leadership skills, whether it’s helping their teachers hand out assignments, leading an after-school club, or mentoring younger students.

I recognize the ability to lead and the determination to do so in many of our students. It is something I have worked hard to incorporate into the curriculum at WSG because I believe that leadership builds confidence and allows students to become more actively engaged in the classroom. Seeing the lightbulb come on over a student’s head is the best feeling the world, and it only happens when that student knows she is capable of more.

My hope for the future is that our students take the lessons they learn at WSG, both in and out of the classroom, to heart. There are many challenges ahead for our country and the world, especially in terms of equality and justice. The most daunting task in my job as an administrator is to ensure that our students are prepared to face those challenges, to navigate a world that does not always value them. I know that they will not be able to do it alone, but I hope that we can give them the knowledge, skills, and courage to overcome adversity.

Posted on my door is a daily affirmation known as the Serenity Prayer. It’s a very popular prayer and my mother’s favorite prayer, but I never appreciated it until I became a teacher. I look at it every day, sometimes several times (depending on the day), because it reminds me to be myself and accept the things I cannot change. Superwoman is not at all a part of my name, but I find strength in accepting that fact and courage to try anyway. If my students walk away from WSG accepting of who they are and still ready to change the world, then I know I will have succeeded.

When Women Have a Chance in Tech

By Elizabeth Lindsey, Executive Director of Byte Back

women in techWomen make up only 25 percent of the computing workforce in the United States. For women of color, this drops drastically, with just 3 percent of the workforce made up of African American women and 1 percent Latina women.

March is Women’s History Month: a time to celebrate progress, recognize deficits, and act for equality. Now is the perfect time to give a woman her start in tech.

In Byte Back’s 20 years, our demographics have never reflected the outside tech world. That’s kind of the point. In 2016, 417 women, or 61 percent of Byte Back’s student body, found empowering tech skills for free at Byte Back.

Byte Back offers a pathway of practical tech training and career services for DC-area residents, leading to professional careers and economic opportunity.
When women are offered the chance to learn and use technology the same as men, women access vital life opportunities, including high-paying jobs, healthcare, sexual and gender violence services, family care, and more.

Underserved, marginalized women who have never thought a career in tech was possible find it at Byte Back:

  • Betty faced years of unemployment and age discrimination. When she got computer training and earned a Microsoft specialist certification, she found a high-paying administrative job at the District of Columbia Superior Courts.
  • Jewel was a teen mother, surviving on government assistance and a job at a supermarket. She earned a certification and found her path as a tech administrator.
  • Lark struggled as a single teen mother and a runaway youth, and felt lost in her career and in life. She found direction and a career thanks to the education and care she received at Byte Back.
  • Olivia had unsteady jobs as a security guard and hairdresser and was homeless, sleeping in her car. Since she earned her CompTIA A+ certification, she has not only found a job but a stable career that allows her to have her own apartment and not just survive but thrive.
  • Lashaun, a current A+ student, works all night and shows up to her class in the morning. She is on her way to becoming certified and landing a job that doesn’t require night shifts.
  • Fatoumata was a recent immigrant from Senegal and a new mother. She got computer training and a certification to start her career and now confidently supports her son as a single mother.

Society told these women a career in tech wasn’t an option. But once they entered Byte Back’s doors, they found confidence and people who believed in their success.
These amazing women are not only changing the face of tech or changing statistics, they are part of a bigger change that’s needed. With technology, women can connect to the world and build connections to employers, friends, and family. With technology, women can move into jobs to support their families – tech jobs, white collar jobs, medical jobs. With technology, women can help their families teach their children, communicate with teachers, open up a world of knowledge.

Aleta computer 2 cropIt doesn’t have to be expensive, or complicated. So much can be solved by teaching women how to use technology. With a small investment in women’s lives, we can have a huge impact on social change.

Today, we urge you to find a way to support women, whether it’s as a mentor, a volunteer, or a supporter of a community organization. Byte Back is opening opportunities for women to cross the digital divide and to advance in IT careers. Groups like Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and Lesbians Who Tech are making sure that women are not alone in tech online and in real life.
If we all work together, we can make sure women have the power to use technology to change lives. Please help us continue to bridge digital gaps and gender gaps in tech – email me today at elindsey@byteback.org to become a mentor or hire a Byte Back graduate.
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Byte Back improves economic opportunity by providing computer training and career preparation to underserved Washington, DC metro area residents.
Through free computer and advanced IT certification classes, Byte Back helps graduates gain invaluable skills, experience higher rates of self-confidence, and launch successful new careers. Byte Back’s programs have provided a pathway to technology skill development and fulfilling living-wage careers for thousands of individuals who have struggled with underemployment, unemployment, and poverty.

 

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer”

Shannon Babe-Thomas, Executive Director of Community Bridges

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” — Harriet Tubman.
IMG_8108Community Bridges empowers young women from diverse backgrounds to become exceptional students, positive leaders and healthy young women. For 19 years,Community Bridges(CB) has provided an integrated, holistic program for girls from elementary through high school.

“CB has helped me become a better leader, by learning to speak up for myself on things I know aren’t right. I also know that as a woman I have a lot of power to make a difference.”

CB Girls provides daily, weekend, after-school and out-of-school programming in nine elementary, middle and high schools in Montgomery County, Maryland. CB uses a “feeder model” approach to ensure that culturally responsive services and opportunities are available for 250 girls through every critical transition they experience as adolescents growing up in poverty.

There are 38 adult mentors that work with older girls to expand their horizons and provide alternative role models. CB’s College and Career Planning Program had 100% of seniors graduate and enroll in institutions of higher education in 2014 and 2015.

“[CB's]constant support has inspired me to complete college and to make change in the world.”

Community Bridges’ second annual Career and Innovation Summit for Girls: “Building a Sustainable World” is Saturday, March 11th. Girls grades 6-12 will have the opportunity to meet with career experts and explore diverse career options through a variety of panels, interactive workshops, and participation in a group competition. For more information or to volunteer with Community Bridges contact:(301)585-7155 or email inform@communitybridges-md.org.

Being in Community Bridges has influenced me in a lot of ways. For one, being more confident in myself, learning how to express myself, never giving up on anything, and also having the knowledge that women can have the capacity just like everyone else to be someone in life with just a little push.”

At Community Bridges we celebrate the women who believe in our mission and help us build bonds that connect our girls to their families, schools and communities. We celebrate the amazing staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly for the empowerment of girls in our community. We celebrate every Community Bridges mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and cousin who understood that a Community Bridges girl does not succeed by virtue of after school programming alone, but by the love and support of the family. Last, we celebrate all the CB girls, past, present, and future, without whom Community Bridges would not be possible — Thank you!

Walk into the world a new woman with OMID Foundation

Girl Sitting from ...When

OMID took me in during the hardest times of my life. The loving care that I received alongside the skills I learned made me want to give something back after finishing the program, when I was ready to walk into the world a new woman.

OMID mends the pieces of broken lives by restoring and empowering marginalized young women in Iran.

Empowering Young Women in Need

OMID Foundation helps disadvantaged young women, who have been discarded and undervalued by society, to transform their lives and work toward a better future for themselves and other women in Iran.

Since 2004 we have worked with women between the ages of 15 and 25 who are survivors of abuse, trauma, neglect and persecution. Our aim is to support and provide tools to these vulnerable young women in their journey toward self-empowerment social, economic and emotional.

This is one of those organizations where the support you give really has an impact on changing lives.

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Caring for the Whole Person

The complex mental and emotional strains on the women in our care can only be addressed by looking at all of their needs.

So to start, we create a warm, secure and nonjudgmental environment in which they begin often for the first time in their lives to feel valued, have their lives affirmed, and be treated with respect, kindness and dignity.

OMID believed in me and became my family. I felt safe for the first time in my life. People who grow up in the safety of a caring family cannot understand that safety is a privilege. Everything is possible now.

OMID Classroom scene

Our holistic program offers:

  • psychological and personal development through trauma-informed workshops and interventions
  • social and recreational activities to facilitate social integration and readjustment
  • structured education and vocational training

Through this integrated approach, we help the women find resilience, self-efficacy and a sense of future. Employing the best teachers and social workers, our three-year program opens up a full range of life options for these young women, encouraging independent thinking and a view of the world from different perspectives.

All interventions are gender sensitive, rights-based and family- and community-centered, a crucial framework for helping them heal from and process their traumatic experiences, while equipping them with skills for a successful future.

Empowerment workshops foster their understanding of the role of individual and human rights, the law and gender identity in society, while the education program strengthens their computer, language and critical-thinking skills. Over 200 young women at any one time take part in these programs.

At the end of three years, the women choose whether to continue their education at the university level or to pursue one of the vocational training options offered at OMID. Those who complete their vocational training are placed in well-paying jobs or start their own businesses under OMID’s guidance.

In addition to furthering their studies or training, some graduates help deepen OMID’s impact to include marginalized young women not currently under our care. Trained as peer educators, these leaders ably run our extensive outreach program and deliver our message of self-empowerment to the wider community.

 

Goosebumps with Girls on the Run – DC

by Kristen Komlosy – Executive Director, Girls on the Run DC

Moten Elem Team pic Fall 2016 5K

When a volunteer coach shares with us, “Girls on the Run allows me to provide a positive space in the school community to help girls to learn and love physical activity and themselves” I get goosebumps and blink twice about how grateful I am to work for an incredible organization.

We have 1,600 amazing volunteers (per year) and that inspires me!

Everyday, I wake up in awe of how many people want to give back to our girls across all eight wards of DC! They are the lifeline of the organization. They have a real passion to empower young girls to become confident women, and our whole team is very grateful for them.

We’re looking forward to continuing the expansion of our circles in the DC community! We have a goal to serve 22,000 girls by 2020 so they all know their limitless potential. On June 4th, we will move our end of season 5K to a more visible venue for our community at Freedom Plaza (14th St and Pennsylvania Ave NW). We want the DC community to join us as we run for our girls – running or walking through the heart of the city. Everyone can support the future of Girl Power by running alongside girls from every corner of DC.

10 years ago we started by serving 13 girls in one school and today we are serving over 2,000 girls a year. 13,000 amazing, strong, and brave young girls have completed this life-changing program. We have watched girls complete the program from every corner of Washington, DC. We have seen thousands of girls cross the 5K finish line, a finish line that does not discriminate by skin color, background, or religion. Girls on the Run brings people together from all walks of life, and that in and of itself is a powerful lesson.

Washington, DC is well known as a center of political power and influence. But this context masks a troubling reality: DC’s children and youth face disproportionately high rates of at-risk conditions, with child poverty, childhood obesity and teen pregnancy that are at or near the highest in the nation. Body image issues among girls escalates quickly in elementary school and by middle school, 70 percent of girls are dissatisfied with two or more parts of their body, and body satisfaction hits rock bottom between the ages of 12 and 15.

We know that girls who have a strong sense of self-worth, confidence and personal agency and who have been exposed to consistent, positive messages about the benefits of avoiding risky behaviors are shown to make better decisions throughout adolescence than their peers who lack these attributes.

Girls on the Run can make a big difference in a girl’s life. It is a place where pivotal “aha” moments of change can happen. We are ensuring that the next generation of girls in DC will know their limitless potential. Families, relationships, communities, governments all will be strengthened by the confident women that these girls will grow up to become!

To Volunteer or learn more about Girls on the Run DC contact: (202) 607-2288 or email INFO@GOTRDC.ORG

Around Town 2/24 – 3/3

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Silence is Violence

Young Playwrights’ Theater
This multidisciplinary performance will use young people’s writing to address issues including immigration, Islamophobia and xenophobia. By highlighting the words of young people through performances by professional artists and connecting with members of the greater DC community, Young Playwrights’ Theater will actively advance its vision of creating social justice in Washington, DC.

When:Mon Feb 27 2017 (7:00 PM – 9:00 PM)
Where:Anacostia Playhouse, 2020 Shannon Place SE, Washington, DC 20020
Volunteer Info:Volunteers will serve as ushers at the event, including setting up for the pre-show reception, helping audience members find their seats and cleaning up after the performance.
Contact:Silence is Violence, (202) 387-9173
For more information:click here

 

Making a Difference with CASA of Prince George’s County

We make a real difference in the lives of foster children
male volunteer and teen

Every month is mentoring month at Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)/Prince George’s County, a nonprofit in its 16th year that recruits, trains and supervises CASAs for foster children.

CASAs are volunteers sworn-in by a judge to investigate a foster child’s needs and challenges – from academics to emotional well-being – and then report back their findings and recommendations.

Besides being an advocate, a CASA is a mentor. They are there to talk to the youth about whatever they want to discuss, take them on field trips – such as to a ballgame or an amusement park – and explain to them the importance of becoming a responsible adult.

Studies show that a foster child with a CASA is far more likely to thrive.
kid and adult living roomConsider this: More than half of foster children nationwide drop out of high school, increasing the chances that they will slip into poverty, homelessness and possibly even jail.

Yet upwards of 70 percent of foster children who have been assigned to one of our CASAs graduate, increasing the chances that they will enjoy a full and productive life.

We are proud to say that we make a real difference. We would like to do even more. Our goal is to have one CASA with each foster child. We now have only about 150 volunteers in a county with more than 400 foster children.

Help us celebrate National Mentoring Month by helping us help more foster kids.

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Please keep in mind that these boys and girls are at risk at no fault of their own. They simply were born to parents who, for whatever reason, were unable to care for them. Help us help them!

For more information, please contact CASA/Prince George’s County at 301-209-0491 or email kbundy@pgcasa.org.

Around Town 1/14-1/21

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Volunteer Day with Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy

Become a friend of Dumbarton Oaks Park! The Park is a community gem with national significance. It needs and deserves our help. Volunteers are working regularly in the park to implement stormwater remediation projects, remove invasive vegetation and replace with native plants that restore and maintainthis great landscape. With your help, all of your partnership, we will bring it back to ecological health and beauty to be shared widely.

When: Mon Jan 16 2017 (09:00 AM – 01:00 PM)
Where: Dumbarton Oaks Park, 3060 R St NW, Washington, DC 20007
Volunteer Info: Volunteers are working regularly in the park to implement stormwater remediation projects, remove invasive vegetation and replace with native plants that restore and maintain this great landscape.
Contact: Amanda Shull, (703) 798-2888
For more information:click here

Thursday, January 19, 2017

ORHF Fifth Year Anniversary Awards Ceremony with Operation Renewed Hope Foundation

Help us celebrate five years of working to end Veteran homelessness at our award ceremony at the beautiful Belle Haven Country Club!

When: Thu Jan 19 2017 (6:00 PM – 9:00 PM)
Where: Belle Haven Country Club, 6023 Fort Hunt Rd, Alexandria, VA 22307
Volunteer Info: We need volunteers for check in and to sell “bricks” and “apartments”
Contact: Oona Schmid, (703) 967-0924

January is National Mentoring Month.

Consider giving back by mentoring a young person in our area. Look through our list of vetted charities to find the charity that means the most to you and start a relationship today.

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National Adoption Awareness Month with CASA DC

Blog Photo 2 (1)CASA for Children of DC promotes court appointed volunteer advocacy so that every abused and neglected child in the DC foster care system can be safe, establish permanence and have the opportunity to thrive.

CASA for Children of DC is excited to celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month this November and shine the spotlight on adoption in our community and family. National Adoption Day is the Saturday before Thanksgiving and was created as an occasion for courts to finalize adoptions of children in foster care, joining them with their forever families in time for the holidays. Whatever your family’s background, National Adoption Day is a great time to celebrate adoption at home, engage with your the community, and lift up the adoptive, foster, or birth parents in your lives.

The goals of National Adoption Day are:

  • To finalize adoptions from foster care across the country
  • To celebrate and honor families who adopt
  • To increase awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting for safe, permanent, and loving homes
  • To grow the alliance among local adoption agencies, courts and advocacy organizations

Celebrating our 15th anniversary next year, CASA for Children of DC has played a crucial role in supporting and advocating for over 1,000 children in foster care, with many of them being adopted into loving families each year. CASA Advocates ensure that the child’s placement is right, visiting the family and watching interactions with the child, and then making an informed recommendation to the judge. Advocates get to know their child and serve as the designated advocate in the courtroom.

A foster child spends an average of 4 years in foster care. That’s 4 years too long to wait for a permanent family and the love and affection every child needs. Children in foster care may be moved from family to family many times over during their time in the foster system. This instability can be traumatic and have lasting effects on youth.

Over half the foster children in the D.C. foster care system do not have a CASA volunteer to guide them through what is often a difficult season of life. We want every child who needs a CASA volunteer to have one. You have the opportunity to make a difference by becoming a CASA volunteer or by supporting the CASA for Children of D.C. program. With your help, we can work together to help D.C.’s foster youth find permanent, loving homes.

To learn more visit http://www.casadc.org