News

Message to Our Community Partners – May 2020

Danielle M. Reyes & Gabriela Smith May 2020

Two months ago, we initiated a remote work plan for our team. While adapting personally and professionally to the current climate, the Crimsonbridge team kept grants, programs, and communications work moving forward and we are grateful for their commitment. As we look ahead, Crimsonbridge is prepared to remain a teleworking organization for the foreseeable future, but this has not and will not change our availability, our interest in participating in #community events, or the long-term goals of our grantmaking work in Education, Leadership Development, and Communications Capacity Building.

Crimsonbridge team members have worked closely, even while virtual, with our grantee community partners on promoting Census 2020, identifying new leaders for the Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund, and preparing for the fourth year of the Hispanic Education Imperative Fund. We are committed to moving our shared work forward and programs such as the College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative, Hispanic Education Imperative, Bridges for Schools, Bridges for Census 2020, and Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund remain engaged and focused on supporting the success of students, parents, organizations, and nonprofit leaders. In addition, we have been vocal advocates on program-aligned issues that have received increased attention during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the urgent need for bilingual/Spanish language communications and the need for tools and resources to support the retention and graduation of first generation college students.

Over the past eight weeks, the Foundation has joined philanthropic partners in supporting the development of funds to meet urgent needs in the Greater Washington region, while keeping it’s focus on sustainability for the long term. Recent and ongoing efforts include:

  • Emergency Relief. We contributed early to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund at Greater Washington Community Foundation and are directing requests for emergency funding to this Fund.
  • Flexibility. Our existing policy of flexibility with proposal and final report due dates as urgent needs arise continues as always.
  • Sharing Messages. The Foundation is using its communications capacity and reach to help share your work, needs, and messaging with the hope of increasing visibility and connecting partners to resources. Email your program officer to share content.
  • Added Accessibility. We are here for you. Our team members can always be reached by email and can also be reached by phone or video via Zoom.
  • Staying Connected. Our whole team is on Twitter as is the Foundation at @CrimsonbridgeDC. Please know we value all of your communications and are reviewing our grantee partner information daily, from email to online news to stay informed.
  • Staying Engaged. Our staff continue to participate in community partner activities and are eager to attend online events and even volunteer where possible. Visit our #community page to learn more or reach out to your program officer with an opportunity.

In closing, we want to express our deep gratitude. Over the past two months, we have watched school and nonprofit partners continue to demonstrate a passion for their work, ability to adapt, and commitment to our region’s children, students, families, and communities. We stand with you and we give thanks for all of the teachers, administrators, nonprofit employees, and essential workers in our community who are helping, supporting, and caring for friends and neighbors in need.

Sincerely,

Danielle M. Reyes, Executive Director and Gabriela Smith, Founder & President

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Leadership Profile: Michelle Edwards

June 2019

Can someone with nearly 25 years of experience in education, a doctorate and three years of experience as a nonprofit executive director find something to learn in the Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program at Georgetown University’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership? The answer was a resounding, “Yes,” for Michelle Edwards of Live It Learn It.

“Learning every aspect of nonprofit management was amazing,” said Michelle, a certificate program graduate and executive director of Live It Learn It, a rigorous experiential learning program that turns the region’s parks, museums, and monuments into rich learning experiences and helps local children of color feel like they belong in these spaces.

Michelle became Live It Learn It’s executive director in 2016, taking over from Founder Matthew Wheelock. Enrolling in the certificate program in the summer of 2018, with support from the Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund, gave her a window into the theory behind the hands-on practice she was already getting in nonprofit management. It also gave her more confidence as she translated her leadership skills from nearly 25 years in education, including 10 as a school principal, to the nonprofit realm.

While Michelle was interested in every part of the certificate program’s curriculum, learnings around board development and engagement, and fundraising have been immediately applicable over the past year.

“I really truly understand our roles now and how the board and executive director are the twin engines in this jet,” said Michelle.

Since completing the program, Michelle has guided Live It Learn It to update its board roles and responsibilities and organizational by-laws, and the organization is now ready to bring on new board members. With new clarity around fundraising, Michelle has also built a development team and felt better able to articulate what was expected of them.

The week-long, immersive program also allowed for deep conversations with a diverse mix of leaders working in various kinds of nonprofits. These leaders are now part of a network that Michelle feels proud to contribute to, as well as one she is comfortable reaching out to for support.

In addition to time with her classmates, Michelle appreciated meeting with Crimsonbridge staff during the program and encourages more funders to get to know participants and to support participation by diverse leaders.

“Hear what people are learning. Have lunch with attendees. Continue to build relationships and be sure that diverse voices are in the room. Those we serve need to see us in these leadership roles,” said Michelle.

Learn more about Live It Learn It, Georgetown’s Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program or the Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund.

Connect with Michelle on Twitter.

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