News

Increasing the Participation of Women in Elected Office

Guest Post by Jarinete Santos, Political Pipeline Director, She Should Run

In the United States today, we are collectively reckoning with the reality that so many of the norms and systems we relied on in our pre-pandemic status quo – from healthcare, to public safety and law enforcement, to ways of working and schooling and caretaking – are not sustainable, safe, or effective. 

Our current government is no exception. Regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, it is easy to see that, from local office all the way up to the federal level, women are severely underrepresented. While women make up 51% of the population, women as a whole hold only 21% of elected office. Women of color hold only 9% of Congressional seats, 4.5% of state executive offices, and 7.4% of state legislative seats. Why should we be concerned? According to the World Economic Forum, “gender parity has a fundamental bearing on whether or not economies and societies thrive.” And in the era of coronavirus, we also know that not having strong and steady political representation by women can be a matter of life or death.

As the Political Pipeline Director here at She Should Run, I’ve been on the frontlines in response to this crisis of leadership. Americans deserve a representative government that reflects its people, and that requires more women in office. Women have already proven a propensity for political engagement and desire for greater representation. In fact, women vote at higher rates than men and are giving more than ever to campaigns.

Yet, women are still not running for office at the same rate as men. Women represent less than a third of the total candidates on the ballot in 2020. But thanks to the commitment and support of funders like the Crimsonbridge Foundation, who care about seeing more women in elected office, that can change. I’ve seen first-hand how, with the right resources and the right team, women will see possibilities for their political leadership. 

The first weeks of quarantine in early March coincided with the launch of She Should Run’s Winter Virtual Cohort. Funding from the Crimsonbridge Foundation empowered our programs team to create an engaging and supportive environment under difficult circumstances in which a circle of women engaged weekly in virtual educational and mentoring sessions that have helped them build their confidence around identifying a personal path towards a future run for elected office. You can read more from two Virtual Cohort alumni, Jessica Ann and Yelena, on the She Should Run blog.

We also witnessed a remarkable 99% growth rate in the She Should Run Community, 22,000+ women strong, in the first six months after the country went on lockdown. Social movements like critical mass mobilization against police violence have also motivated women to step up and explore their political potential, even as they face intensifying pressures and vulnerabilities. In the words of She Should Run community members:  

I am a nurse and Covid has shown a glaring spotlight on the desperate need for reform of our healthcare system. I don’t know where to begin, but I am ready to take that step. 

Heather

Police brutality in our city needs to stop. Elected officials need to hold officers accountable. Enough is enough. There aren’t enough qualified individuals in office to represent the interests of the people. I want to understand what it would take to get involved and start making a difference in the community. 

Olympia

Programs like She Should Run’s Virtual Cohort and our Community’s educational offerings are powerful and essential antidotes to the explicit and implicit messages that women get every day that they are not qualified or capable of running for office. Our methods for shifting mindsets and motivating women from all experiences, political leanings, income and education levels, and races and ethnicities to run for office have quantifiable impact.  In fact, 100% of Virtual Cohort participants reported feeling very likely or likely to run for office as a result of participating in the program. 

But if we are to support significant representation of women in public office, it will take an entire engaged and resourced ecosystem to build the strong infrastructure and national movement that underpins a robust, diverse leadership pipeline. 

With only 1.6% of all philanthropist resources going towards causes that support women and girls expressly, it can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. But I am heartened by the vast number of people who have already stepped up for our crucial cause. I invite you to join the nearly 4,000 people who have already taken our Role Call quiz, a tool and initiative we launched last year to provide supporters with solutions tailored to their personal strengths on how they can be most effective in combating gender inequality.  Every individual and institution has a role to play in ensuring a healthy democracy, and I’m eager to help you find yours. 

I also invite you to connect with us directly to learn more about what we have planned for post-election programming focused on mobilizing every woman making a difference in her community to consider her political potential. As we say here at She Should Run, “if you care, you’re qualified.” With champions and investors like the Crimsonbridge Foundation in our corner, we can unlock the true power and influence of every woman’s voice, including our own. 


Jarinete Santos is the Political Pipeline Director at She Should Run, where she oversees programs that reach thousands of women to improve their leadership potential and inspire them to run for office. She is passionate about normalizing female leadership for the present and for the rising generation. Before She Should Run, Jarinete led management and facilitation at the Partnership for Public Service for programs targeted at improving the leadership capabilities of the federal workforce, expressly within the IT sector. Jarinete has nearly a decade of rich and varied experience in community engagement, diversity and inclusion training, working on Capitol Hill, and curriculum development as an adjunct instructor in International Relations. Jarinete Santos holds a BS in Political Science from Brigham Young University-Idaho and received her MPA from George Mason University.

read more read less

Online ESOL Instruction Expands Reach of Spanish Catholic Center and Attracts New Students

Guest Post by Spanish Catholic Center

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington (Catholic Charities DC) serves anyone in need, regardless of age, ability, race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs. Their mission is to promote the basic human rights, dignity and empowerment of all people. Guided by this mandate to serve all those who come to them for help, their approach in all of their programming is one of respect and empathy for all of their clients. During their last fiscal year, the agency provided critical social services to more than 192,000 under resourced individuals in Washington DC and the five surrounding Maryland counties.

Catholic Charities DC’s Spanish Catholic Center (SCC) has more than 50 years of experience in supporting the Latino and immigrant communities that call the DC metropolitan area home. SCC has become a critical lifeline for this underserved population by providing high-quality, culturally appropriate social and human services. Within each SCC program, staff work individually with clients to create unique service plans that address their interconnected needs while respecting the client’s right to self-determination. SCC takes a relational, culturally sensitive, and strengths-based approach, working collaboratively and compassionately with clients to identify their personal goals and address their barriers to self-sufficiency. Most SCC staff are bilingual and bicultural, and many are themselves immigrants from the home countries of the people served.

Since 1993, Catholic Charities DC’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program has been one of the leading service providers for limited-English proficient individuals in Montgomery County. Their ESOL courses, normally taught in-person at the SCC’s facility in Gaithersburg, provide educational resources that allow non-native English speakers to learn vital life and work skills. Prior to the COVID-19 health crisis, and with support from the Crimsonbridge Foundation, the SCC ESOL program had launched an innovative hybrid class model for high level ESOL students, with one class per week taught using Google classroom and the remaining instruction taught in-person in the physical classroom. All online work was facilitated and supervised by an instructor, and content was reviewed during the in-person classes.

Due to this successful online/in-class model, SCC was able to quickly and seamlessly transition all of their instruction to an online format at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to ensure the safety of  participants and staff while continuing to provide critical English language instruction to adult learners. Catholic Charities DC’s ESOL program was the first such program in the community to execute online instruction in response to the stay at home orders. Given their leadership in this space, other ESOL providers across the region sought guidance from SCC staff to provide online instruction solutions and strategies. Thus, SCC was able to help other community organizations quickly and efficiently transition their ESOL courses to online platforms.

“Virtual learning has its own learning curve,” said Laura Irwin, Catholic Charities DC’s ESOL Program Supervisor. “From having to learn the platform, to finding a space conducive for learning and teaching, both instructors and learners have had to adapt to this new model.”

As a result, SCC ESOL staff have become a valuable resource to many other organizations challenged with maintaining uninterrupted language instruction during the COVID-19 crisis. Their investment in digital equipment, which was made possible through the support of the Crimsonbridge Foundation, was critical to their transition to online learning. This technology allows them to provide students with comprehensive guided instruction and help other community organizations effectively serve their ESOL learners as well.

“We receive a lot of support from Catholic Charities DC,” one recent ESOL student said. “Of course, we’re supported by our teachers and our classmates, but we also get other assistance. With English classes, we learn a lot and we receive other services too.”

Moving their ESOL program to online-only instruction has also yielded benefits for the program’s sustainability into the future. Traditionally, SCC students have come from the area surrounding the SCC facility in Gaithersburg, where ESOL classes are held. However, given that students are no longer required to travel for in-person class sessions, SCC has been able to expand their footprint outside of this area to the larger Montgomery County community. This has allowed the program to increase the number of students it can accommodate at once. By reaching a greater number of learners, including those who normally would be unable to travel to an in-person class, they have been able to increase the impact of the support received from funders such as the Crimsonbridge Foundation and maintain a larger student base, ensuring the long-term stability of the program. To continue building upon this, the program piloted a virtual instruction language course this summer that it plans to continue even when classes eventually resume in-person instruction.

While most of their ESOL students emigrated from Spanish-speaking nations, others represent countries as diverse as Sudan, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Togo, and the Ivory Coast. Using the comprehensive Step Forward curriculum from the Oxford University Press, students learn the grammar and vocabulary they will regularly use in daily conversations at home and in the workplace. Students practice what they learn through simulated conversations, preparing them for a variety of important real-life situations.

“The greatest success,” Irwin said, “is that with the new learning model, they have learned how to participate in virtual job interviews.”

Catholic Charities DC is extremely grateful for their partnership with the Crimsonbridge Foundation and its support of their ESOL program. As this unprecedented health crisis continues, a sense of hope is essential. And hope and support are exactly what the ESOL students find in their virtual classrooms with Catholic Charities DC.

read more read less

Countdown to our Future: Census 2020

Caitlin Furey Mayo

“The 2020 Census is here, and it is up to us to get counted and ensure that all of us, our families and our communities, are part of American’s narrative for the next decade.” – Stacey Abrams, Founder, Fair Count  

As the 2020 Census approaches its latest deadline of October 15, the Greater Washington region is inching closer to achieving a complete count, thanks to the work of community partners: Ayuda, Identity, Inc., Latin American Youth Center, Liberty’s Promise, and Mary’s Center.  These five organizations were part of the Crimsonbridge Foundation’s Bridges for Census 2020 program, which awarded $60,000 in grants to expand multilingual outreach work in engaging populations that have been historically undercounted in the census.

Developed by program officer, Caitlin Mayo, the Bridges for Census 2020 program is an outgrowth of the foundation’s Bridges and Bridges for Schools communications capacity building programs. Through these programs the Crimsonbridge Foundation has partnered with nonprofits, hospitals, and schools to leverage multilingual communications to connect families with resources that will support their success and full community participation. For Bridges for Census 2020, Mayo sought out nonprofit partners within the Crimsonbridge network who were not only committed to supporting a complete count effort that included the clients, families, and communities they work with every day, but had a history of successful outreach strategies, established relationships, and expertise in working with multilingual immigrant communities.  The work has been ongoing throughout 2019 and 2020. All of the organizations have adapted in response to COVID-19 in order to continue census outreach while keeping their staff and communities safe.  During the 2020 Census, multilingual outreach has proven to be a key strategy to ensure that all people receive the information and resources needed to get counted.  Innovative strategies have included lifting youth voices through educational podcasts, setting up census “pop up tents” in outdoor spaces to provide guidance while complying with social distancing measures, and creating multilingual video tutorials to distribute widely on social media and directly with clients. 

 All over the country, nonprofit organizations have worked tirelessly to get a fair and accurate count, which can only be achieved if the census data includes populations that have been historically undercounted.  Though the Census Bureau uses the term “Hard to Count” to refer to these populations, which include immigrants, people of color, and young children, the reality is that although the census is meant to count every person living in the United States, the systems in place to do so are inadequate, which in the past has left certain populations and communities uncounted.  This is where nonprofits step in to play a crucial role in obtaining a fair and accurate count.  

“We know that the census informs how government, businesses, researchers, and communities make significant decisions, including allocating political representation, opening or closing businesses, providing social services, and allocating funding for schools, healthcare facilities, and basic infrastructure.” said Mayo. “For our region to thrive, we need this information to be accurate and inclusive.”

 The census matters.  It is a source of power in the sense that information gleaned from the census can be used to build a more inclusive and equitable Greater Washington region.  The census will impact our region’s recovery from COVID-19.  During these last two days, get out the message – we all count

To see the response rate in your community, visit the Census 2020 Hard to Count/Response Rate Map!

read more read less

Crimsonbridge Celebrates its 5 Year Anniversary with Executive Director Danielle M. Reyes

Bethesda, MD, October 5, 2020 – Five years ago, Danielle M. Reyes joined the Crimsonbridge Foundation as its founding Executive Director.  In partnership with Gabriela Smith, the Founder and President of the Crimsonbridge Foundation, Danielle has developed the Crimsonbridge Foundation to be an innovative and highly engaged philanthropic platform that is committed to working alongside its community partners to achieve impact.  In addition to designing grantmaking programs that have served more than 150 nonprofit organizations, Catholic schools, and universities throughout the Greater Washington region, Crimsonbridge has grown from one full-time employee to four, guides the investments of Crimsonbridge Group, has established an affiliated LLC, and has increased its grantmaking annually.

Danielle came to the Crimsonbridge Foundation with over 25 years of experience in the education, nonprofit, and philanthropy sectors. Her experience in education includes several years as a public-school teacher, university instructor, afterschool program director, and as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco.  Danielle’s time as an educator working with students from under-resourced and immigrant families motivated her to take on program and leadership roles at education-focused nonprofit organizations. In 2002 she transitioned to working in philanthropy and spent more than a decade at the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, where she developed grantmaking programs and communications strategies. During that time she actively pursued leadership experiences in philanthropy as a Council of Foundations Emerging Philanthropic Leader Fellow, the chair of the Metro DC Chapter of Hispanics in Philanthropy Funders’ Collaborative, and as a board member of the Taproot Foundation and Asian Americans Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy.  She has been an outspoken voice challenging philanthropy to be inclusive, innovative, and intentional – principles that were very aligned with the vision of Gabriela Smith.

“Danielle possesses a unique combination of strengths and talents” said Smith. “She is a dynamic leader, deeply rooted in community, and very entrepreneurial when it comes to developing philanthropic programs and strategies.” The Crimsonbridge Foundation recognizes Danielle M. Reyes for her bold and exceptional leadership, her contributions to philanthropy, and her unwavering commitment to our work in Education, Leadership Development, and Capacity Building.

read more read less

Despite Pandemic, Latino Enrollment in Catholic Schools at an All Time High

40 students receive Crimsonbridge Foundation’s Hispanic Education Imperative Fund support

Bethesda, MD, September 29, 2020 – Through a unique collaboration of education partners called the Hispanic Education Imperative, 40 Hispanic* students will receive partial scholarships for the 2020-21 school year to obtain a quality education at six high schools and one elementary school in the Archdiocese of Washington.  Launched in 2016 by the Crimsonbridge Foundation, the initiative brings the collective strengths of Crimsonbridge, the Archdiocese of Washington Catholic Schools Office, and the Latino Student Fund to expand Hispanic family access to Catholic schools and improve educational outcomes for Latino students.

The Archdiocese of Washington encompasses 91 schools, pre-kindergarten through high school, and serves about 26,000 students. This makes them the largest non-public school system in the Greater Washington region. 

Crimsonbridge Foundation Executive Director Danielle M. Reyes, states, “Many Hispanic families are interested in the academic environment and graduation rates of Catholic Schools, yet there is a significant disparity in their enrollment numbers.”   – In the U.S. approximately 60% of Catholics under the age of eighteen identify as Hispanic, but only 17% of students who attend Catholic schools are Hispanic. “Through this partnership we are closing the gap in this region.”

Indeed, the Catholic Schools Office has seen positive growth since it identified Hispanic enrollment and engagement as a priority for the Archdiocese of Washington five years ago.  With encouragement and support from Bishop Mario Dorsonville, the Foundation’s team partnered with the Catholic Schools Office to develop a variety of complimentary strategies to achieve this goal.  In 2016, Crimsonbridge created and launched the Hispanic Education Imperative, which has invested $1.2 million in innovative linguistic, cultural, and professional development strategies in addition to scholarships.

The Hispanic Education Imperative Fund, a financial component of this comprehensive initiative, provides partial scholarships for new Hispanic students to attend Catholic schools of their choice. It also connects students to another partner, the Latino Student Fund, a regional nonprofit that administers the Fund,  walks with families through the private school application process and offers students robust academic support and college preparation programs.  Since 2016, the Hispanic Education Imperative Fund has awarded more than $550,000 in partial scholarships, which have supported 85 students.

“The Hispanic Education Imperative Fund is one piece of a larger initiative that goes beyond scholarship assistance to increase Hispanic enrollment in Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington,” Crimsonbridge Foundation Program Officer Caitlin Mayo shares. “We are taking a multi-pronged, whole community approach that includes linguistic and cultural capacity building and collaboration with principals, teachers, pastors, families, and students.”

This academic year, Crimsonbridge has awarded $120,000 in partial scholarships through the Hispanic Education Imperative Fund.

*Latino and Hispanic are used interchangeably for the purposes of this article.  


About the Crimsonbridge Foundation: The Crimsonbridge Foundation is an entrepreneurial philanthropic organization that works across sectors to innovate, invest in, and create transformative solutions in education, leadership development, and capacity building to help our nation’s youth, families, and nonprofits succeed.

###

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Abigail Galván at agalvan@crimsonbridge.org or 301-458-6000.

read more read less

Innovative Outreach for the 2020 Census

Caitlin Furey Mayo August 2020

For more than 50 years, Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) has offered multi-cultural, comprehensive, and innovative programs that address youths’ social, academic, and career needs.  As an organization with deep knowledge, established relationships, and expertise working with multi-lingual immigrant communities, LAYC is uniquely positioned to increase participation of typically underrepresented groups in the 2020 Census in the Greater Washington region. 

In early 2019, LAYC crafted a plan for census outreach that would leverage one of their most innovative programs – the Teen Center Media Program.  After researching the impact completing the census would have in their community, DC youth worked in LAYC’s Media Arts Lab to develop bilingual outreach material on census facts and myths and executed an outreach campaign in DC’s Columbia Heights neighborhood.  When the COVID-19 crisis erupted in the spring, community organizations all over the country were forced to adjust their census outreach plans, many of which rely significantly on in-person networking and education.

In mid-March, the media program transitioned to a virtual platform and LAYC staff focused their efforts on the immediate, food, rent, technology, and mental health needs of the community.  Youth in the media program continued to meet virtually after school hours to learn graphic design skills. Many youth completed the work directly through their phones as they did not have computers.

As Lupi Quinteros-Grady, LAYC President & CEO, reflects on the last few months, she says “It is critical that our youth continue to be engaged and exposed to learning. More than ever, we must be intentional about ensuring our youth are connected and engaged so they can have a sense of community, support, belonging, and a safe space to learn and grow with their peers. The Teen Center Media Program has been one of these spaces for our young people.”

Youth designed bi-lingual census flyers to place in grocery bags that are delivered weekly to LAYC families. LAYC staff and youth worked to address the new challenges to completing the 2020 Census and even added podcasts to their digital outreach strategies.  Recorded by LAYC youth, podcast episodes focused on how the census intersects with race and immigration.  In the episodes, youth interviewed each other as well as people in the Columbia Heights neighborhood.  When asked, “Why is the census important to you?,” one youth participant shared her understanding of how the census will impact her community: “The census determines how much funding public facilities such as schools and medical centers in certain areas receive. Schools such as mine need funding to modernize and increase the quantity of materials like laptops and textbooks. Old laptops make it hard to get work done quickly and old textbooks don’t always have up-to-date and accurate information.” The interviews also highlighted the challenges that arise when completing the census, including difficulty navigating questions on race and ethnicity, as well as perceptions of fear and mistrust in the process.  Several youth participants shared that they had encouraged their parents to complete the census online and helped them through that process. 

Amidst novel and challenging circumstances, LAYC Teen Center staff and youth not only creatively kept media arts programming and their sense of community alive, they effectively elevated youth voices in “getting out the count” for the 2020 Census.  With the current self-response rate at just over 60%, we must all do our part between now and September 30th to ensure that every person in the country is counted.    

Listen to LAYC’s 2020 Census podcast episodes here!

read more read less

Latinos’ Degree Completion Has Increased but Acceleration Is Still Needed to Close Equity Gaps

Washington, D.C. –  On August 12, 2020, community partner, Excelencia in Education, released new research and benchmarks to close equity gaps in Latino education attainment and to ensure Latino student success in higher education. Latinos make up nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population. This number is projected to increase in the coming years. If the U.S. is to have a competitive workforce and robust civic body, increasing college completion rates for Latinos is critical.

Danielle M. Reyes, Executive Director of the Crimsonbridge Foundation, shared that Crimsonbridge supported this analysis because it, “provides valuable data and resources, and creates the opportunity for funders, policy makers, and higher education leaders to take action towards increasing and supporting college student success.”

The research analyzed the top Latino enrolling and graduating institutions at the national and state level (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico).  Excelencia has been analyzing and releasing information on Latino college completion rates since 2009. They are excited to break down the data to assess results from two- and four-year institutions separately for the first time this year.

In addition to making the research available for free online, Excelencia will host a webinar on September 2, 2020 to discuss the implications of the research and to share a tactical plan for institutions to close the equity gap in education attainment and reach the goal of Latinos earning 6.2 million degrees by 2030. To register, click here.

Read the full article: Latinos’ Degree Completion Has Increased but Acceleration Is Still Needed to Close Equity Gaps

Read the Latino College Completion US-National Fact Sheet. For the complete findings, click here.

read more read less

How Organizations Can Support College Students in their Return to Campus

Robyn Attebury Ellis August 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended higher education and is posing unique challenges for nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping first-generation college students succeed. Organizations continue to show courage and creativity as they adapt to meet new challenges and provide timely support for the students and families they serve. In June, the College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative partners – the Scheidel Foundation, the Crimsonbridge Foundation,  Capital Partners for Education, College Success Foundation DC, Generation Hope, New Futures, CollegeTracks, and Collegiate Directions – met virtually to brainstorm and share strategies to support college students’ return to campus during the pandemic.  

(more…) read more read less

Crimsonbridge Founder, Gabriela Smith, Recognized in Washington Life’s Philanthropic 50

July 2020

Each year, Washington Life Magazine recognizes the philanthropists and philanthropic foundations that are making an exemplary difference in the Greater Washington region. This year, Crimsonbridge Foundation Founder & President Gabriela Smith, was recognized for her innovative approach to philanthropy through the work of the Crimsonbridge Foundation.

We are happy to share with you the full interview below.

Education, Gabriela Smith believes, is the pathway toward racial and economic justice. Smith created the Crimsonbridge Foundation to focus on education, leadership development, and non-profit capacity building, with a particular lens towards serving the Hispanic community in a tribute to Smith’s own formation and heritage.

“It was thanks to scholarships that I was able to advance my education,” she says. Hispanics are expected to account for 30 percent of the U.S. population by 2060. “These will be our future service providers and career professionals, our future leaders, scientists and inventors, and this is the generation that we need to help educate now,” she added. Smith is proud of the impact she and her team have already demonstrated in the foundation’s short five year history.

An anonymous donor for many years, Smith was a founding investor in Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP), the organization that utilizes a business approach to giving. As she put it in a recent interview, “VPP helped develop best practices for investing in the social sector, and, with this, the importance of outcome measurements and results.” Smith is also a former member of Georgetown University’s board of regents and of the Harvard Kennedy School’s dean’s council, her alma mater.

This interview appears in the July 2020 Edition of Washington Life Magazine.

read more read less