News

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.

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Abigail Galván Joins Crimsonbridge as Communications and Program Officer

June 2020

Washington, DC – The Crimsonbridge Foundation welcomes Abigail Galván as its new Communications and Program Officer.  Since its inception, Crimsonbridge has invested in and advocated for the key role that communications plays in amplifying impact and helping advance an organization’s mission. Galván, who most recently served as the Religious Freedom Institute’s Development Director, will lead the foundation’s internal communications, while also working to support the foundation’s innovative communications capacity building programs, which focus on increasing effective and inclusive bilingual and Spanish language communications for nonprofits and schools. She will also work to design and initiate new programming to increase Hispanic community engagement and Spanish language communications with parishes.

In her most recent position at the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI), Galván was critical in helping launch the start-up and establishing the systems and relationships necessary to set it up for long term success. As Development Director she worked closely with RFI’s Communications Director to develop the institute’s tone, messaging, and branding in order to communicate its impact to diverse audiences and stakeholders.

Prior to joining RFI, she helped devise, finance, and launch the Bethlehem Museum for Heritage and Culture as the special program coordinator of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation. Galván has also had the privilege of participating as a region IV delegate in the V Encuentro, a significant ecclesial process by which bishops come together with the Hispanic/Latino community to interpret and to project into the future the Hispanic/Latino identity, presence, needs, and contributions to the Church and to U.S. society as a whole. Since the process, she has been involved with the execution of the strategies and recommendations from the V Encuentro and looks forward to continuing this work in a professional capacity at Crimsonbridge.

“The foundation has been intentional about building a team rich in nonprofit work and leadership experience” says Danielle M. Reyes, executive director of the Crimsonbridge Foundation. “Abigail’s interests and impressive background are remarkably aligned with the foundation’s programs and mission.”

Galván, who resides in Washington, DC, received her bachelor’s degree in International Politics with a concentration in International Law, Norms, and Institutions from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She is also a proud scholar of the Georgetown Scholarship Program, a community partner program of the Crimsonbridge Foundation.


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FADICA-sponsored research identifies keys to Catholic parish vitality

Four key areas studied, eight characteristics identified

Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities June 2020

A COMMUNITY PARTNER PRESS RELEASE:
(Washington, DC) — Catholic parishes that are welcoming and missionary create real vitality in the life of the parish says a major new study titled, “Open Wide the Doors to Christ: A Study of Catholic Social Innovation for Parish Vitality.” The research was commissioned by FADICA, a unique peer network of philanthropists supporting Catholic activities, and conducted by Marti R. Jewell, D.Min. and Mark Mogilka, MSW, MA.

“Parishes with vitality send people out in service to others in the community, letting go of parochial barriers,” Dr. Jewell said.

“Without denying the challenging realities for many parishes, what we also found was hope-filled parishes, whole communities excited about their parish and their future,” said Mr. Mogilka.

“We are pleased to be releasing the findings of this timely study,” said Alexia Kelley, FADICA President & CEO. “Perhaps one outcome from this period of pandemic could be that as parishes begin to re-open, pastors and parish leaders equipped with the study’s findings might find life-giving strategies relevant to their own context,” said Kelley.

FADICA’s member Working Group on Church Vitality focused on how Catholic social innovation might foster vitality in U.S. Catholic parishes.  In 2018, FADICA produced a groundbreaking study titled, Catholic Social Innovation in the Global Refugee Crisis.  This second study on parish vitality further articulates the concept of Catholic social innovation.

FADICA’s working group chose to focus the research on best practices and innovation in four distinct areas: Welcoming, Young Adults, Lay and Religious Women in Leadership, and Hispanic Ministry. The research entailed a review of more than 200 initiatives, websites and books, and more than 65 interviews with pastoral leaders and innovators across the country.  The research team also explored more than 20 different metric tools designed to measure parish vitality.

“We believe there are amazing assets in the diversity of the Catholic community, said Gabriela Smith, President and Founder, Crimsonbridge Foundation, a funder of the study. “By learning from dioceses and parishes experiencing parish vitality in these four areas of focus, we can share and replicate successful practices and communication strategies that support active and inclusive parish communities,” she said.

Based on this in-depth study, the report highlights seven key characteristics which together generate vitality in Catholic parishes, as follows:

  • Innovation. Pastoral leaders engage in a variety of innovative processes to address difficult challenges they face.  Use of digital tools like the parish website and social media are considered important ways to connect with people, especially young adults.
    • Have excellent pastors. These pastors have a desire, qualities and skills to work collaboratively and co-responsibly with staff and parish leaders. 

    “One of the most important findings is that pastors need to be ‘relational’ in every sense of the word,” said Jewell. “They need to be adaptive and open to new ways of doing things and being relational can be a learned skill,” she said.

    • Have leadership teams. The essential contribution of lay leaders – both staff and volunteers, share responsibility for the life of the parish with the pastor. 

    “Pastors realize that they can’t do it all and they need a team,” said Mogilka.  “In parishes with much vitality, we found pastors who are collaborative, servant-pastoral leaders who know how to identify gifts and talents, to affirm those gifts and talents and to empower lay people,” Mogilka said.  

    • Possess a holistic, compelling vision. Pastoral leaders have a vision for parish life that includes engaging in relational ministry, fostering authentic relationships within the parish community.
    • Place priority on Sunday experience.  An importance is placed on gathering for Sunday Mass to hear God’s Word, celebrate and share the Eucharist, and being sent forth in service.
    • Foster spiritual growth and maturity.  A variety of entry points are provided for all people to build their relationship with Jesus that sustains them on their journey.
    • Live the faith in service. Parishes live out the call to form missionaries by enabling parishioners to meet the spiritual and human needs of the marginalized, hungry and homeless; and to care for our communities and creation.
    • Utilize online communications tools. The parish website is the doorway – the first place people “check out” the parish. Good, interactive, and culturally sensitive websites are critical, as well as the proper use of social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

    Researchers Jewell and Mogilka studied the four specific areas of parish life selected by the FADICA working group and drew these conclusions:

    Welcoming Parishes.  Not surprising, parishes with vitality have a welcoming spirit and are intentional about the “process of welcoming,” starting with trained greeters, identifying special opportunities to publicly welcome newcomers, e.g., at weddings, baptisms and funerals, outreach and invitation initiatives found on the parish website and offered via social ministry.

    Young Adults.  Keys to engaging this group of parishioners include really listening to young adults, building relationships and responding to their needs, ensuring that young adults are integrated into the leadership groups at the parish, paying attention to the engaged and married couples and young families, and using social media and personal contact to build relationships.

    Women and Women Religious in Leadership. Parishes with vitality hire lay and women religious at all levels of leadership responsibility, support and affirm their leadership and ensure balanced representation by women and men on councils and committees. The researchers encouraged bishops to deploy Canon 517.2, which allows the appointment of “deacons and others who are not priests” to provide pastoral care of parishes in cases when there is a shortage of priests. The study pointed out that over 3,300 parishes lack a resident priest, but the number of dioceses using this option is declining.

    Hispanic Ministry.  Parish diversity is seen as a grace for parishes with vitality.  Pastoral leaders are sensitive to the variety of cultures present, provide cultural sensitivity training for staff and volunteers, offer bi-lingual liturgies, as well as printed and digital materials, and specific devotions and celebrations for feast days for the entire community.

    “The recommendations of the parish vitality study are practical, relevant, and speak directly to the success that investments in communications capacity building can have towards building thriving, inclusive, and engaged parish communities,” said Danielle M. Reyes, Executive Director, Crimsonbridge Foundation.

    “The pandemic has really caused pastors and parish leaders to stretch themselves and to be open to new ways of doing things,” said Jewell. 

    The study concluded that parishes with vitality are open to listening and designing new and creative ways to respond to the changing culture with enthusiasm, intentional hospitality, and who welcome diversity as a grace.  To read the Executive Summary, click here. To read the full report, click here.

    ###

    Media Contact
    Tom Gallagher
    Religion Media Company
    (203) 561-3585 / tleogallagher@gmail.com

    About FADICA
    Since its establishment in 1976, FADICA (Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities) has become the leading philanthropic peer network which serves as a catalyst for a vital Catholic Church, Catholic ministries, and the common good. The organization promotes the growth and effectiveness of Catholic philanthropy inspired by the joy of the Gospel and the Catholic social tradition.  For more information on FADICA, see www.fadica.org.

    About the Researchers
    Marti R. Jewell, D.Min. Dr. Marti R. Jewell, Associate Professor Emerita, served as an associate professor of pastoral theology in the Neuhoff School of Ministry at the University of Dallas and was named the University’s 2017 “Michael A. Haggar Scholar.” She directed the Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Project, a national research initiative funded by the Lilly Endowment designed to study excellence in parish leadership, and was a diocesan director in the Archdiocese of Louisville. Her books include Navigating Pastoral Transitions: A Parish Leaders’ Guide, The Changing Face of Church, and The Next Generation of Pastoral Leaders. She received the Called and Gifted Award from the Association of Graduate Programs in Ministry for her contributions to the field of lay ecclesial ministry, and the Lumen Gentium award from the Conference for Pastoral Planners and Council Development for her work and research with parishes and pastoral leaders. She continues to write, consult, and teach. Dr. Jewell holds a doctorate from the Catholic University of America.

    Mark Mogilka, MSW, MA Mark Mogilka serves as Senior Consultant for Meitler, a Church planning and management consulting firm located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Prior to his retirement from diocesan ministry in June 2017, Mogilka served for 42 years in diocesan office ministries in three dioceses and served seven different bishops. He has master’s degrees in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin and Religious Studies from the University of Detroit. He has done workshops, consulting and planning projects in over 60 different dioceses in the United States and Canada and continues to serve the Church as a workshop presenter, pastoral researcher and consultant. He co-authored a book entitled “Pastoring Multiple Parishes.” In 2007 he received the Yves Congar Award for “extraordinary service, initiative, creativity and sharing” from the Conference for Pastoral Planning and Council Development. In 2017 he was given the Rev. Louis J Luzbetak Award by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University “for exemplary church research”.

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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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Beth Hess Joins the Crimsonbridge Foundation

March 2019

In March the Crimsonbridge Foundation welcomed Beth Hess as its Grants and Communications Officer. In this role Beth will provide grants management and be responsible for administering grant processes. She will also support the Foundation’s communications including its website, publications, and social media presence.

Beth brings more than a decade of experience in nonprofit communications, program management, and capacity building to her work at the Foundation. Most recently she raised awareness of behavioral health issues and helped to connect Maryland families to needed support as Director of Social Marketing and Outreach at Maryland Coalition of Families. This role included coordination of an annual statewide public awareness campaign on the importance of children’s mental health. Previously, she connected nonprofits throughout Greater Washington to capacity building resources and supports as Director of Communications and Membership at the Center for Nonprofit Advancement.  In this role she used a variety of communications strategies to share best practices around nonprofit management, leadership, and board governance with organizations across the region.

In prior communications and program management roles, Beth has helped to bring hands-on after-school science education to elementary-age children in communities across the country, and supported media relations for a variety of corporate and nonprofit organizations.

“Investing and engaging in strategic communications and innovative grantmaking are essential to Crimsonbridge,” said executive director, Danielle M. Reyes. “We know Beth’s knowledge of the region’s nonprofit sector and wealth of communications experience will be valuable assets for our growing team.”

Beth holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Political Science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In her spare time, Beth is an artist primarily working and teaching using hot glass. She enjoys exploring nature and supporting local crafts people.

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Thinking Creatively/Differently About Grant Agreements

December 2018

Foundations typically use grant agreements to serve as a contract to confirm terms, conditions, required reports, and deadlines. In this Exponent Philanthropy blog post, Crimsonbridge Foundation’s Executive Director, Danielle M. Reyes, shares ideas for how a grant agreement presents a unique opportunity for funders to go beyond the transaction and build an engaged and mutually beneficial relationship with grantees.

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