For five years, Washington City Paper has partnered with the Catalogue of Philanthropy for one simple reason—we want to help you find local options for your charitable dollars. What follows in this guide are locally focused charities with smaller budgets (less than $3 million per year) that are attempting to meet a wide range of our city’s needs: from cultural to educational to environmental and more.

The Catalogue puts each one through a rigorous process to make sure your dollars will make a difference. Barbara Harman, the organization’s president and editor, explains the questions she and a team of 100-plus local philanthropic experts use in their vetting.

“What need is a nonprofit meeting? Is it doing so with excellence? Are its finances sound?” Harman says. “What impact, tangible or intangible, is it having on the community it serves? This step-by-step review process (program, financial, site visit) is how we determine which nonprofits are truly among ‘the best,’ helping donors feel confident that their giving makes an impact.”

And that’s important. The Catalogue is an independent actor that does not take fees from charities to be featured in their publication, which is distributed to thousands of households across the region.

“In this region, there is no shortage of charities doing amazing work,” Harman says. “Many charities have large budgets that allow them to promote themselves and their work. Our job is to shine a light on those with fewer resources and connect them with donors who share their passion.”

We’re happy to support their work and highlight some specific needs of groups within these pages. If you want to donate to any of these charities, each has a profile page at, including more detailed organization and financial data. You can also donate directly from each organization’s page and 100 percent of that money goes to the charity. The Catalogue of Philanthropy receives no part of the donation.

Give it up, D.C. It’s a good thing to do. —Steve Cavendish


A once-abandoned movie theater complex on the H Street corridor reopened in 2006 as the Atlas Performing Arts Center: a community-based venue where artists and audiences would connect through dance, theater, music, and more. Atlas now brings 80 diverse, thought-provoking, and affordable performances to its four stages each year. That’s in addition to the 125 collaborative shows, workshops, and classes that take place at its annual INTERSECTIONS Festival. Additionally, “arts partners” (nonprofit performing groups) utilize Atlas throughout the year, receiving discounted or free performance and rehearsal space, office space, and event promotion—allowing them to reduce expenses and channel more resources toward programming.

1333 H St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002,

Through Children’s Chorus of Washington, kids from first grade through high school can experience a world-class music education, regardless of their background, economic status, or prior experience. More than 160 students from public and private schools sing in five audition-based ensembles, which perform in dozens of concerts and events each year, including as guest artists in performances with leading adult choruses and orchestras. In response to the tremendous need for choral programs in under-resourced D.C. schools, CCW launched SING D.C.! in 2012 to offer vocal training at no cost to students or schools—breaking down economic barriers and empowering young singers right in their own neighborhoods.

4626 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite 100, Washington, D.C. 20016,

Every year, CityDance delivers free, professional dance performances to thousands of children from low-income families, as well as low-cost, publicly accessible performances to audiences of all ages. Its flagship DREAM program offers high-quality dance education to 120 elementary students who live at or below the poverty line. This year, CityDance is poised to launch the DREAM Alumni Program, combining dance education with academic programming and family support services, to ensure each child’s success. This comprehensive program will support hundreds of underserved youth from elementary through high school, helping them overcome challenges, prepare for college, and transition into a healthy adulthood.

1111 16th St. NW, Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20036,

This premiere contemporary dance group—founded by a Korean-American who grew up in a Latino community in New Mexico—uses dance to create bridges of understanding between different cultures. Its repertory draws on historical events and personal stories, exploring shared human experiences. One performance at the National Gallery had the largest turnout of any public program in the history of the museum. The company’s youth development program for underserved Asian-American high school students—the only one of its kind in the District—provides free weekly activities by or about Asian Americans and focused on performing, visual, and culinary arts, helping the students to explore their cultural identity and improve their self-esteem. The Washington Post calls the company “not only a Washington prize, but a national treasure.” Let’s make sure this treasure endures for years to come.

2745 Arizona Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20016,

Reaching more than 350 young people each year, Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop uses books and creative writing to empower incarcerated youth to transform their lives. Teens attend twice-weekly book club sessions (most report that they have never before read an entire book), and if they move on to federal prison at age 18—mostly far from home—Free Minds sends cards, newsletters, books, and feedback on their poetry. The re-entry program offers apprenticeships, GED prep, and job skills training to support young men and help them stay on track. The recidivism rate for members is only 24 percent—one third the national rate for juveniles sentenced as adults.

2201 P St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20037,

At Life Pieces to Masterpieces, “apprentices” use paint, canvas, storytelling, and poetry to discover the beauty—and potential—in their lives. LPTM annually serves 165 African-American males (ages three to 25), combining arts instruction with human development programming to help meet their needs for love, security, and self-expression. After school, young apprentices engage in exploratory art projects, character-building activities, and one-on-one tutoring to improve math and reading skills. The Saturday Academy helps high school-aged students prepare for college and careers (100 percent of 2014 graduates are now enrolled in higher education). This year, the first class of Education Architects—former apprentices and other men of color trained in LPTM’s holistic curriculum—will serve as teaching aids in D.C. schools, using art to transform young lives.

5600 Eads St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20019,

Sitar Arts Center opened in the basement of an apartment building with a simple idea: create a safe, nurturing, after-school environment in the Adams Morgan neighborhood (where 80 percent of students come from low-income households) and let the arts flourish. In just over a decade, Sitar has evolved into a multidisciplinary arts organization that reaches 850 students annually from every ward in the District. A 15-week semester of classes at its (now state-of-the-art) center costs only $15 to $55, though no student is turned away for inability to pay. Options include music, dance, theater, creative writing, and visual and digital arts education for ages six to 18. Early Childhood Arts combines play, movement, and storytelling with parent education; Camp Sitar is an intensive summer arts program for 160 campers, culminating in a full musical production.

1700 Kalorama Road NW, Suite 101, Washington, D.C. 20009,

When Fabian Barnes retired from the Dance Theatre of Harlem he possessed two important things: a small pension and the desire to give back to others what dance had given to him. Barnes’ dream was to offer year-round, high-quality, pre-professional training to D.C.’s children and teens—regardless of their ability to pay. Today, DIW has its own facility in Columbia Heights, and its Youth Ensemble and Professional Company perform regularly on the region’s finest stages, including the Lansburgh, the Howard, and Wolf Trap, among others. Many graduates move on to excellent university programs (Harvard and Temple among them) while others perform professionally at Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey II, and elsewhere. Personal and artistic growth are equally important, and DIW’s Positive Directions Through Dance (winner of the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award) provides at-risk youth with classes, life skills workshops (from literacy to nutrition), and performance opportunities—all at no cost.

3400 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20010,

Winner of numerous Helen Hayes Awards, the Guild presents plays that others overlook: neglected classics, lesser-known works by famous playwrights, unfamiliar foreign plays, and new works of merit. Drawing from such notables as Oscar Wilde, T. S. Eliot, and George Bernard Shaw, the Guild takes a fresh look at works that the Washington Post calls “the sort of literate, witty, cynical plays that nobody else bothers with.” Casting is color-blind, gender-blind, and indifferent to physical disability or appearance. Ticket prices are among the least expensive in town, encouraging the broadest spectrum of patrons. Complimentary tickets are available to student theatergoers, and previews are “pay what you can.” An ongoing series of performances at the National Portrait Gallery is free to the public, and an educational outreach program brings free theater to area schools.

4018 Argyle Terrace NW, Washington, D.C. 20011,

At its award-winning, 265-seat venue in the heart of bustling Penn Quarter, Woolly is the epicenter of challenging new theater, with world premieres making up nearly half of its productions. Works from some of the most original and exciting American playwrights make for a stunning lineup: MacArthur Fellow and Pulitzer Prize-finalist Sarah Ruhl (The Clean House and Dead Man’s Cell Phone), Bruce Norris (Clybourne Park, 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama) and, more recently, Aaron Posner (Stupid Fucking Bird, 2013 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play), Robert O’Hara (Bootycandy, Zombie: The American), and Anne Washburn (Mr. Burns). With more than 200 Helen Hayes nominations—and 35 wins—under its belt, Woolly has developed a national reputation as the most innovative theater in America for its work in developing, producing, and promoting challenging and provocative new plays.

641 D St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20004,


BEST Kids offers foster children something they desperately need: consistent encouragement and guidance from a caring adult. BEST Kids provides long-term, one-on-one mentoring and monthly peer group activities to more than 100 children and youth (ages six to 21) in D.C.’s child welfare system. Reliability is crucial, so mentors undergo extensive training; they also receive support from a team of experts in psychiatry, education, legal advocacy, and behavior management. The average mentoring relationship lasts more than 16 months—nearly double the national average. And in 2014, 90 percent of surveyed youth were making positive progress on at least three defined goals. BEST Kids helps these kids get better grades, avoid violent behavior, stay away from drugs, and gain self-esteem.

515 M St. SE, Suite 215, Washington, D.C. 20003,

Brainy Camps Association is a consortium of medically-managed camps, support groups, and programs for families and children with different chronic health conditions, including Down syndrome, Type 1 diabetes, neurofibromatosis, cerebral palsy, and congenital heart disease. Each year, 400 kids attend one of ten residential camps (four to seven days in length) designed for their particular condition, enjoying a classic summer experience in a safe environment where respect is the norm. Participants test their limits, gain independence, and, most importantly, build powerful friendships among peers with the same condition. Group activities challenge campers to work together and overcome obstacles—but the kids also hike, play games, and sing around the campfire. Meanwhile, parents get a much-needed respite, while a team of professionals—from physicians to nutritionists to social workers—ensures each child’s safety and care.

111 Michigan Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20010,

Until recently, few organizations targeted young people who were experiencing abuse in their first relationships. Break the Cycle opened its doors with the goal of preventing violence among youth ages 12 to 24—and empowering teens to diagnose, escape, and prevent unhealthy relationships. Staff attorneys provide free legal services to youth who experience dating violence; they also train local professionals—police officers, nurses, university officials—to support and protect young survivors. Meanwhile, an innovative online and school-based curriculum (in partnership with the National Domestic Violence Hotline) helps young people strengthen their prevention skills and educate their communities. Break the Cycle has helped 36,000 youth diagnose and escape abusive relationships, and achieve safety and justice.

PO Box 66165, Washington, D.C. 20035,

The District of Columbia has one of the highest rates of breast cancer mortality in the country, and Ward 8 has the highest incidence of the disease. Until recently, however, there was no facility here offering the 3-D screening technology known to be the most accurate method of detection. In response to this disparity, Breast Care for Washington opened its doors in 2014. Conveniently located within a comprehensive healthcare facility in Ward 8, BCW is the first breast cancer screening facility east of the Anacostia River with state-of-the-art technology and services, including 3-D mammography, diagnostics, ultrasound, and minimally invasive biopsies. In its brief history, BCW has already screened 800 women: 90 percent are from the surrounding neighborhoods, most receive Medicaid, and 15 percent are uninsured. In cases of abnormal findings, BCW provides full continuity of care, helping each patient navigate the system from diagnosis to surgical consultation and, when necessary, treatment.

4 Atlantic St. SW, Washington, D.C. 20032,

Growing up on the move, homeless children often begin school with developmental disadvantages that create life-long learning problems. Bright Beginnings aims to give them a more secure, positive start. For 25 years, it has offered a rigorous pre-kindergarten curriculum (including counseling, speech therapy, and pre-literacy learning) designed for those born into chaotic environments. Serving about 170 children each day, the Early Head Start and Head Start programs establish a solid foundation for reading and writing, and ensure early intervention for learning disabilities and health problems. Free therapeutic services and dental, vision, and hearing screenings are all available on site. A strong family services program sees that parents develop the skills to monitor their children’s development, meet their basic needs, and tap resources to find employment and a stable home.

128 M St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001,

Capitol Hill Village is a network of neighbors helping neighbors—volunteers unite to support older adults and help them age safely and comfortably in their own homes and in their neighborhood. So what happens when one of CHV’s 404 “villagers” is in need? Some 300 volunteers are ready to provide a ride to the doctor or grocery store, help with housekeeping or meal preparation, offer gardening advice or sidewalk shoveling. And when it comes to major repairs, home care assistance, or medical support, CHV staff efficiently link members with community-vetted vendors and partners. For low-income neighbors, discounted membership dues provide what all members receive, plus financial assistance with essential home repairs. Just as important are opportunities to learn and socialize: financial counseling, informative lectures on healthcare and housing, theater outings, exercise classes, and group dinners keep everyone connected.

725 8th St. SE, Unit 4, Washington, D.C. 20003,

For the past 25 years, Cornerstone has worked to purchase, renovate, and improve housing, turning it from an impossibility to a reality. Created as a “gap funder,” it provides low-interest loans and recoverable grants to property owners who dedicate housing to individuals with serious mental illnesses. Funds for pre-development and construction are typically hardest to attain through traditional banks, so when the final product will benefit those most in need, Cornerstone will step in to make up the difference. Cornerstone also helps low-income residents handle the unexpected: repairing homes damaged during brutal winter storms or providing a record number of air conditioners when the temperature really heats up.

1400 20th St. NW, Suite G3, Washington, D.C. 20036,

Through research, policy development, and advocacy, The D.C. Alliance of Youth Advocates addresses system-level failures in areas like education, housing instability, and youth unemployment. Its 130 member organizations share cutting-edge research on what is working in the youth development sector and what is not. DCAYA combines this information with its own research and data collection. The next step? Using the evidence to raise awareness, craft policy, increase public funding for youth causes, and influence key decision-makers—a high-level strategy that affects thousands of children’s lives. DCAYA also provides networking opportunities for members to share challenges and best practices, uniting our city’s leaders and strengthening their programs.

1220 L St. NW, Suite 605, Washington, D.C. 20005,

D.C. has the most lawyers per capita in the U.S., yet 90 percent of domestic violence victims seeking legal protection do not have a lawyer. The D.C. Volunteer Lawyers Project addresses this profound disparity, linking low-income, at-risk clients with skilled volunteer lawyers. To expand the pool of qualified attorneys, DCVLP recruits those not affiliated with law firms (government attorneys, recent graduates, lawyers taking a break from their career, for example) and gives them training, supervision, and support to provide free, high-quality legal representation to people in crisis. The group primarily serves clients seeking civil protection orders (nearly 300 in 2014, with a 90-percent success rate), as well as staffs a walk-in clinic where domestic violence survivors can access legal services, housing, and counseling in a single place. DCVLP also represents children in high-risk custody cases where parental mental illness, substance abuse, incarceration, or child abuse has created tragic circumstances.

5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite 440, Washington, D.C. 20015,

The District Alliance for Safe Housing was founded in 2006 to provide low-barrier, safe housing complemented by voluntary support services, working to ensure that no woman has to choose between living with abuse and living on the streets. Its doors are open to all, including those suffering from mental illness, addiction, or a disability, or those whose family situations might render them ineligible for housing elsewhere (having more than four children or being the caretakers of adult relatives). In addition to emergency and transitional housing, DASH runs a transitional-to-permanent housing program where families receive subsidized housing and two years of intensive support as they work toward self-sufficiency. A new “resilience fund” covers urgent needs that might threaten a family’s permanent housing, and a resource center provides self-advocacy tools, training, and resources to over 1,000 survivors.

PO Box 91730, Washington, D.C. 20090,

In domestic violence trials, an alarming number of women who have survived abuse lose custody of their children or are forced to share custody with an abusive parent. The Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project helps overturn unjust trial outcomes, assisting survivors in custody battles, civil protection order cases, and cases in which domestic violence has affected their housing, employment, and more. Its flagship program, D.C. LEAP, provides consultations to D.C.-area victims and attorneys, strategizing with them about the potential for appeal, conducting legal research, and preparing a strong record for trial. Then, if needed, DV LEAP finds pro bono co-counsel, helps to represent the victim, and presents its recommendations to the court. Meanwhile, DV LEAP provides training for D.C. judges, lawyers, and advocates to strengthen response to domestic abuse.

650 20th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20052,

Family and Youth Initiative, working annually with 25 to 30 foster youth ages 12 to 21, makes sure they don’t have to face the world alone. Groups of young people and adult volunteers come together in comfortable environments: over shared meals, in bowling alleys, at softball games. Over time, with FYI’s support, teens with traumatic pasts learn to trust again; adults see their preconceptions about foster youth melt away. A variety of relationships naturally develop: one-on-one mentorships, “host families” who welcome youth for regular weekend visits, and official adoptions. This program is, quite frankly, life-changing. Since 2010, no participant has left foster care without a loving adult in his or her life, and 22 youth have found adoptive families. What does family mean to these kids? Asked on the day of his adoption, one participant responded, “Everything.”

515 M St. SE, Suite 217, Washington, D.C. 20003,

For the D.C. foster youth in its care, Fihankra Akoma Ntoaso (“safe places, linked hearts” in the West African language of Akan) is often the most consistent home they have known. After school and for six weeks during the summer, FAN provides a safe place where 30 foster kids ages nine to 18 engage in mentoring, academic, and enrichment activities, and volunteer opportunities—but most importantly, experience consistent care from loving adults. For high school students, professional internships and workshops in career and leadership development lay a foundation for the future. And once they graduate (as 80 percent of participants do, compared with 42 percent of foster youth citywide), alumni ages 18 to 24 stay connected through social gatherings and ongoing support, including targeted case management to promote success in work, college, and life.

3301 Wheeler Road SE, Lower Level, Washington, D.C. 20032,

Free the Slaves’ approach is at once local and global. It partners with local organizations in six countries where slavery—sex trafficking, forced labor, domestic servitude—is widespread and deeply engrained. This grassroots approach addresses root problems and empowers those most affected by slavery. With support and guidance from FTS, they confront slaveholders, raise awareness, and challenge their communities to end harmful practices. They also assist in the rescue and rehabilitation of slaves—helping former slaves to heal from trauma, understand their rights, and regain their lives. At the same time, FTS advocates for government reform, both abroad and here in the United States (as many international supply chains are rooted in exploitative labor). The result: Nearly 10,000 slaves have been freed, and dozens of communities are prepared to protect future generations.

1320 19th St. NW, Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20036,

At five emergency shelters and transitional housing programs, the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project nurtures healthy child development and reduces the effects of trauma by creating playrooms where kids can be kids—jump into games, explore math and reading, engage in art and imaginative play, and eat healthy snacks. Kids get one-on-one attention and the company of their peers, while parents have time to rest, run errands, and take classes, assured that their children are safe. Monthly field trips introduce children to places like the National Zoo, Smithsonian museums, and the White House, and seasonal parties give families opportunities to relax and celebrate together. Activity Packs—backpacks filled with games, books, and toys—keep children engaged when they are away.

1525 Newton St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20010,

From streets, shelters, prisons, and hospitals, each year Joseph’s House welcomes approximately 35 men and women, all of whom have AIDS or terminal cancer, to its eight-bed house in Adams Morgan. There, they find a compassionate community that provides specialized and end-of-life care. Serving the homeless and those with unstable housing, Joseph’s House offers each resident physical, emotional, and spiritual nourishment, 24-hour nursing care, medical case management, and addiction recovery support, as well as home-cooked meals and communal activities. Most residents are hospice patients who receive constant support and love; staff and volunteers hold vigil for the dying, remaining fully present to them in their final hours. Others regain their health and, when they do, Joseph’s House helps them return to independence while continuing to offer support —managing medications and providing transportation and basic necessities, including food, clothing, and shoes.

1730 Lanier Place NW, Washington, D.C. 20009,

At first glance, L’Arche is simply a housing program for people with intellectual disabilities. But spend a day at one of its four homes (two in Adams Morgan and two in Arlington), and you will find much more: a loving community where people with and without disabilities live together as a family. Live-in assistants provide daily support to 16 adult “core people” (persons with disabilities) who require assistance with the activities of daily living: bathing, dressing, medication management, grocery shopping, and transportation to social activities, work, and medical appointments. Meanwhile, core people also contribute in significant ways, leading household meetings, planning meals, and orienting new residents, in addition to working on personal goals. Quite simply, L’Arche provides “homes for life” for its core people, and profoundly affects the hearts and minds of those who work with them every day..

PO Box 21471, Washington, D.C. 20009,

In the Potomac Gardens and Hopkins public housing complexes of Southeast D.C., families of four live in what can only be described as deep poverty: Annual income rarely exceeds $9,000. Ninety percent of children live in one-parent households, and a number have incarcerated parents. It isn’t surprising, then, that most children are at least one or two grade levels behind in reading and math, at a time (ages five to 13 years) when intervention is key. Little Lights intervenes: Through one-on-one mentoring, tutoring, and enrichment programs, caring adults work with children to build a strong academic foundation. And they’re in it for the long haul, helping children gain leadership skills, avoid teen pregnancy and incarceration, graduate from high school, and move on to college or trade school. A host of family services ensures that parents, too, are supported: At the Family Center they receive job readiness training, computer access, parenting support (including free diapers), and more.

760 7th St. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003,

More than 300 years: That’s the total amount of time that, collectively, 19 men spent in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. But thanks to the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, their freedom was finally secured. Focusing on the D.C. region, MAIP rigorously screens and investigates innocence claims from prisoners and their families. For the most compelling cases it offers pro-bono litigation, representing the prisoner in court or filing a clemency petition. This organization achieves one of the highest success rates of any innocence organization in the country: nine victories in the last two years alone. And the work is crucial, not only because securing justice for those wrongly imprisoned is the right thing to do, but because protecting the public from perpetrators still at large is also critical. Overturning convictions is, however, profoundly difficult, so MAIP also leads a policy reform effort, which has led to improved legislation that can prevent wrongful convictions before they happen.

GWU Law School, 2000 H St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20052,

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington’s two houses (in D.C. and Virginia) serve families of critically ill children in treatment at area hospitals, providing a home away from home where families can eat meals together, do laundry, play, and get a respite from hospital life. While a small daily donation is welcome, no family is turned away for inability to pay. In addition, RMHC D.C. runs the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Children’s National Medical Center, where parents can get a cup of coffee, reheat a meal, check email, or simply relax. Most importantly, these programs allow caregivers to stay close to children during treatment—a practice known to improve the healing process. Finally, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile brings free healthcare to the District’s under- and uninsured children, including primary medical care, immunizations, dental and eye exams, and mental health services.

3727 14th St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20017,

What’s special about Southeast Ministry is that it understands its clients well enough to know that they don’t just need a job—they need to believe that they can succeed. That is a tall order in Wards 7 and 8, communities with high rates of poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy, and low levels of education. But Southeast Ministry approaches these problems in a unique way, combining practical classes for men and women (like its job readiness program) with coursework that also explores self-development, family strengthening, and life skills. GED programs prepare students to take the official test, offering classes, small study groups, and private tutorials in math, science, social studies, and writing skills. Support for some of the little things (transportation to class, opening checking and savings accounts, acquiring a uniform or tools for a new job) can make all the difference, removing barriers that could otherwise block the path to success.

3111 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE, Washington, D.C. 20032,

The D.C. Center for the LGBT Community welcomes anyone and everyone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender in the D.C. metro area, and works to meet their varied needs. Its 14 programs fall under four categories: Health and Wellness, Arts and Culture, Social and Support Services, and Advocacy and Community Building. Each addresses specific challenges, identified either by research or by the community’s request for support. Whether it’s distributing HIV-prevention kits, launching the city’s only LGBTQ Violence Response Hotline, offering Spanish-language career development services, or directing LGBTQ asylum seekers to legal services, the Center provides direct programs and serves as a clearinghouse for other resources. This flexible, comprehensive approach is made possible through collaborations with other organizations, many of which use the Center’s office as a welcoming place for forums and meetings.

2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105, Washington, D.C. 20009,

Serving court-involved girls and those at risk of involvement, Young Ladies of Tomorrow focuses not only on changing delinquent behavior, but on healing from trauma and preparing for success. Through one-on-one and group mentoring, girls develop positive relationships with caring adults and build connections with their peers, while also learning to develop coping skills, make good decisions, and improve academically. A six-week workforce development program helps girls prepare for jobs and careers, and includes daily workshops, community service days, and mini-internships. A summer retreat empowers participants to process their pasts, while fun group activities—from etiquette workshops to mother-daughter teas—build community and an invaluable sense of self-worth. As a result, arrests drop and hopes rise.

78 U St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001,


AppleTree Institute is dedicated to closing the achievement gap for D.C.’s most vulnerable children—before they enter kindergarten. Its instructional model, Every Child Ready, includes a fully developed curriculum, comprehensive training and professional development for teachers, and data-driven tools to monitor each child’s progress and tailor instruction to meet their needs. AppleTree helps teachers, principals, and instructional coaches understand what to teach, how to teach, and how to tell if it’s working (and make improvements when it’s not). Nascent learning difficulties are addressed early, greatly reducing the need for special education placement and helping at-risk children excel alongside their more advantaged peers. Some 1,450 District three- and four-year-olds (at AppleTree’s own schools and at partner schools using its model) are getting a great beginning this year.

415 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20017,

Free and open to all D.C. residents, Bridges Public Charter School serves children with and without disabilities, from preschool through third grade (with plans to expand through fifth grade by 2017). Staff work closely with each student to develop his or her cognitive, linguistic, physical, and social-emotional skills. The right learning environment is key: small classes, differentiated instruction, and projects-based learning encourage exploration, critical thinking, and play, and allow students to learn at their own pace. A host of experts on site—occupational and speech therapists, a social worker, and a special education coordinator, among others—ensure that each child receives tailored support. Studies show that high-quality inclusive education meets educational needs while benefiting all children, regardless of ability level—nurturing tolerance, compassion, and friendship.

1250 Taylor St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20011,

Public charter schools—which serve nearly half of all public school students in D.C—are led by independent, volunteer boards of directors. These boards are ultimately responsible for students’ success but, until recently, no support system existed to ensure their effectiveness. So Charter Board Partners stepped in to fill the gap. It recruits talented professionals from the corporate, nonprofit, and education sectors, and matches them with school boards in need of their expertise. All partner boards receive targeted coaching, tools, and resources on everything from learning about the local education reform landscape, to creating academic “data dashboards,” to evaluating human resources and setting strategic goals. The result? In 2014, hundreds of D.C.-area professionals contributed their time and talent to 25 public charter schools, benefitting 12,000 mostly low-income students.

1638 R St. NW, Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20009,

A young person without a high school diploma earns lower wages and is more likely to be unemployed than a high school graduate; they are eight times as likely to be incarcerated. City Year Washington, D.C. recognizes the warning signs (poor attendance, disruptive behavior, failure in math or English) and intervenes early to get at-risk kids on the right track. Roughly 150 professionally trained young adults (called “corps members”) work as mentors in 13 D.C. schools, annually reaching 5,600 kids in kindergarten through ninth grade. In 2014, 95 percent of kindergarteners through fifth graders showed improved literacy scores, and 95 percent of teachers agreed that the program increased attendance.

1875 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 1130, Washington, D.C. 20009,

D.C. Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative works collectively with its 90 cultural partners to have a real impact on the lives of D.C. students by helping their schools gain access to our vibrant arts world. Offering arts and humanities education workshops for teachers, teaching artists, principals, and others, the Collaborative also makes registration, tickets, and transportation easy. Last year, 120 schools registered for the Arts for Every Student program, which reached 26,000 students through free in-school performances and workshops and field trips to cultural attractions like the Kennedy Center, Washington Ballet, and Shakespeare Theatre. Since its founding in 1998, nearly half a million children have benefitted from the Collaborative’s programs, and demand continues to grow.

1825 K St. NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20006,

In 2005, the D.C. Students Construction Trades Foundation launched the Academy for Construction and Design and rejuvenated in D.C. what was once a staple in high schools nationwide: career and technical education. The Academy offers a hands-on curriculum that builds skills (math, carpentry, mechanical drawing, blueprint reading); encourages academic success (94 percent of seniors graduate); and prepares students for college and careers (with seminars on topics like interviewing, writing college essays, and career networking). Each year, students test their knowledge at real building sites in the city; partnerships with local construction firms offer internships, mentoring, and job placement opportunities. The Foundation also provides adults with fully-certified apprenticeship training, offering evening classes to help balance career-enhancing coursework with home life and employment.

5151 Wisconsin Ave., Suite 307, Washington, D.C. 20016,

Higher Achievement is a rigorous, year-round academic intervention program for middle school students. Committed to closing the opportunity gap during pivotal middle school years, Higher Achievement serves 570 youngsters who are academically motivated but economically disadvantaged. Three days a week during the school year, the Afterschool Academy offers homework help and small-group academic instruction through dedicated volunteer mentors, paired with an arts or recreation elective and a healthy supper. A six-week Summer Academy includes core academic classes as well as field trips and college visits, ensuring that children stay engaged in learning during the summer months. Finally, high school placement services help scholars advance to college-preparatory schools (86 percent in 2014 went to top-choice schools like Banneker, Gonzaga, and Sidwell). Ninety-five percent of Higher Achievement scholars graduate from high school on time (compared with 64 percent citywide).

317 8th St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002,

Kid Power’s after-school and summer programs provide 425 underserved D.C. youth with tools and opportunities to defy academic and food hardship problems—and to build a stronger city for everyone. During Academic Power Hour, homework assistance and small-group instruction help students meet Common Core standards. The VeggieTime project builds skills (from science to nutrition to entrepreneurship) as kids cultivate school gardens, take cooking classes, and sell produce at local markets (with profits going to community improvement projects). In the Citizenship Program, mentors teach the building blocks of democracy, then help students choose a “Kid Power cause” to enact real change in their neighborhoods and schools. Finally, a six-week summer academy combines advanced academics with career exploration and electives in public speaking, financial literacy, and technology.

755 8th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001,

LearnServe empowers D.C.-area students to become a new generation of leaders, equipped with the 21st-century skills and the motivation they need to transform their communities. The Fellows Program teaches participating high school students the fundamentals of business planning and entrepreneurship, then guides them as they create and launch their own “social ventures.” One student founded a scholarship program for children of incarcerated parents; another mobilized teams of peers to teach a hands-on science curriculum at local elementary schools; and another launched a high school financial literacy program. LearnServe also offers summer service-learning trips to Paraguay, Zambia, and Jamaica, where students support ongoing development efforts in poverty, HIV/AIDS, education, and the environment (70 percent receive financial aid). Since 2004, LearnServe has engaged 800 students at nearly 50 D.C.-area schools, inspiring kids first to change their communities—and then the world.

PO Box 6203, Washington, D.C. 20015,

This unique partnership between a nonprofit organization (MCIP) and a school (Columbia Heights Educational Campus, home to Lincoln Multicultural Middle and Bell Multicultural High schools) enhances academics with year-round support programs. Many of the schools’ 1,350 students need the support: The vast majority come from low-income households, 80 percent are a “language minority,” and 75 percent of high school students work to support themselves or their families. MCIP steps in with an array of services for teen pregnancy and gang prevention; support programs for teen parents and their children; and tutoring in reading, math, and science. Through the Early College program, students simultaneously enroll at Bell and at the University of the District of Columbia free, and graduate with a diploma and an associate’s degree in hand.

3101 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20010,

Reach for College! was founded in 2005 by two urban educators who saw how to help disadvantaged students overcome the obstacles to higher education. Every day, as part of their academic schedule, 1,000 students in more than 20 classes in D.C. use RFC’s curriculum to boost their skills in college-level reading, writing, and time management. Classes in SAT prep, college selection, and financial aid help them navigate the application maze. Personalized attention makes all the difference: RFC-trained teachers encourage the less confident students, cajole the procrastinators, and celebrate with all the students when the acceptance letters roll in. And they do: 100 percent of RFC students receive college acceptances and 80 percent enroll in college right after graduation. It costs RFC $280 to get a student into college.

700 12th St. NW, Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20005,

The Ellington Fund ensures a dynamic arts and academic experience for students at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, which welcomes students with artistic passion regardless of socioeconomic background or prior experience. Now in its 41st year, the school annually educates over 520 aspiring artists from all wards of the city. Students take the stage for theater, music, dance, and spoken word; display their paintings, sculptures, and photography at exhibitions; and share their writing through publications, plays, and readings. The Fund provides critical support for this work—and for initiatives that keep kids in school and prepare them for post-secondary education and careers. Ellington’s Shepherding Program offers counseling, tutoring, and college guidance to all Ellington students, but especially to those with challenges­—whether financial, academic, or personal—that could disrupt their education. This school sets high expectations for its dual academic/arts curriculum, and with help from the Fund, students rise to meet them: 93 percent graduate on time and 96 percent achieve college acceptance. An investment here nurtures young talents and minds alike.

2001 10th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001,

The Washington School for Girls’ approach to helping the Anacostia community is holistic and personal. Class sizes are small and encourage interaction between students and teachers. After-school tutoring and clubs with partners like Washington Ballet, Levine Music, and ArtReach provide enrichment opportunities not otherwise available. A summer camp prevents learning loss and keeps girls safe and engaged. Counseling services help those in need, and families are an integral part of the picture. The Graduate Support Program mentors students as they transition to high school, college, and beyond. The only tuition-free, independent, private Catholic school for elementary and middle school girls in D.C., WSG’s students have a 98-percent graduation rate and an 80-percent post-secondary and college enrollment rate.

1901 Mississippi Ave. SE, Washington, D.C. 20020,

Turning the Page recruits “hard to reach” parents from historically underserved schools and helps them become active and effective participants in their children’s education. Community Nights bring everyone together for parent workshops, student mentoring, dinner, book giveaways, and special visits from popular authors who make reading come alive. Discussions cover everything from parental involvement at school to academic standards; from understanding how children learn to tips for learning at home; and from preparing for high school to planning for college. TTP also provides opportunities for families to learn outside the classroom, especially during the summer months when parents find it difficult to identify productive activities for their children. TTP has sponsored trips to dozens of museums and landmarks, distributed more than 100,000 books, and hosted more than 800 Community Nights.

1625 K St. NW, Suite 102, Washington, D.C. 20006,


Freelance journalists are in a tight spot: Subject to financial pressure, intimidation, and even threats, they lack the protections offered by major media outlets. Yet they remain dedicated to investigation, balance, and “the story”—and the Fund for Investigative Journalism backs them up. By covering the reporting costs that freelancers often cannot afford, it advances crucial investigative projects in the U.S. and around the globe. The four dozen grants awarded annually cover camera and recording equipment rentals, the cost of ordering public records, and travel expenses for meeting sources (nearly half of the grantees take their investigations abroad). Over the years, FIJ-sponsored writers have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Magazine Awards, and the MacArthur “genius” award. But the real beneficiaries are readers and citizens: Reporters have exposed toxic agricultural products sold in Kenya, companies that sold overpriced (and unaffordable) seed to impoverished farmers overseas, and destitute conditions abroad that led to human trafficking in the U.S.

529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20045,


Atlas Service Corps, a network of 130 host organizations and more than 300 nonprofit leaders from 70 countries, recruits talented international nonprofit leaders to serve in U.S. organizations and help solve 21st-century problems. It provides the financial and visa structure and determines fellowship finalists (only two percent of applicants are selected); U.S. “host organizations” then choose from the impressive pool. During six- to 18-month placements at organizations in D.C. and beyond (Miriam’s Kitchen, Latin American Youth Center, CARE), fellows offer their unique perspectives and expertise. Meanwhile, training in nonprofit management engages them in discussions about best practices, and teaches them how to build organizational capacity—skills they will also use to strengthen their home communities.

641 S St. NW, Suite 201, Washington, D.C. 20001,


Working closely with high-kill shelters in rural communities with few resources, City Dogs finds at-risk adoptable dogs and saves their lives. Once a dog is identified, a vast network of Facebook supporters (more than 30,000) raises funds for transportation to D.C. and for top-quality medical care, vaccinations, and spay/neutering procedures. The dog has the companionship of a trained foster care provider until a permanent home is found—usually thanks to social media campaigns, dynamic adoption events, or the popular volunteer dog-walking program (for which dogs wear stylish “adopt me!” vests). The demand for rescue services is huge—and so are the rewards. Your support saves a dog’s life and brings unconditional love into a home.

2121 Decatur Place NW, Suite 3, Washington, D.C. 20008,

On the edge of Georgetown lies a 27-acre oasis of woodlands, meadows, and waterfalls designed in 1921 by renowned landscape architect Beatrix Farrand. But this historic park, though beautiful, is in environmental crisis. So, armed with a vast volunteer network and a National Park Service partnership, Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy is restoring its ecological health, as well as its original structures and design. DOPC removes invasive plants, mitigates urban stormwater, plants native species, combats erosion, and, perhaps most importantly, builds appreciation for our natural resources. Twice a week after school, the Leave No Child Inside program brings children from low-income areas to the park, where they not only experience nature but learn to protect it. Through a partnership with the Montgomery County Conservation Corps, 90 out-of-school youth study for the GED while implementing restoration projects and gaining valuable skills in conservation.

PO Box 32080, Washington, D.C. 20007,

What your money can buy

$10 donation

Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company

A discounted entrance to a live dance performance for a high school student

Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop

Buys one poetry book for an incarcerated teenager

Sitar Arts Center

Art supplies

Charter Board Partners

Supports one recruiting meeting with a potential volunteer school board member

D.C. Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative

Free tickets for two students to a transformative arts and humanities experience

The Ellington Fund

Book of Italian arias for a vocal music student


Provides a meal for one mentoring pair at a peer group event

Brainy Camps Association

One camp T-shirt, one water bottle, one pill box, one flashlight, one bottle of sunscreen, a pair of water goggles, and a pack of AA/AAA batteries

Bright Beginnings

Provides books for one classroom

Capitol Hill Village

One hour of connecting a senior to legal, financial, and social services

D.C. Alliance of Youth Advocates

Supports two students directly advocating to the D.C. Council or mayor

District Alliance for Safe Housing

Provide school supplies for one school-age child

Family and Youth Initiative

Birthday cards for four teens in foster care who would otherwise get none

Homeless Children’s Playtime Project

Arts and craft supplies to provide activities that encourage learning through play

Little Lights Urban Ministries

Provides two one-to-one tutoring sessions in math

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, D.C.

Helps purchase holiday wrapping paper for families

Southeast Ministry

Provides much-needed transit help for low-income individuals attending literacy and GED preparation classes or rides to work

Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy

Buys one invasive plant management tool to be made available for volunteers of all ages engaging in the ongoing restoration activities in the Park

$25 donation

Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company

Dance clothes for one high school student

Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop

Buys two books for a young adult in federal prison

Sitar Arts Center

Dance shoes and clothing

Charter Board Partners

Supports participation for one volunteer school board member at a network building event

D.C. Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative

Free tickets and transportation for two students to a transformative arts and humanities experience

The Ellington Fund

Museum admission for two students during class field trip to New York City


Provides one mentoring outing or activity for a child

Brainy Camps Association

A one-way bus ride to or from camp, a basketball, a soccer ball, or one fishing pole

Bright Beginnings

Provides an emergency gift card (medicine, diapers, formula, groceries) for one family

Capitol Hill Village

One month of educational programs and lunch for a senior

D.C. Alliance of Youth Advocates

Sponsors one Community Breakfast

District Alliance for Safe Housing

Provides a child living at DASH a winter coat

Family and Youth Initiative

Photo album of prior year photos for two teens (children in care rarely have photos of themselves)

Homeless Children’s Playtime Project

Healthy snack for 30 children and youth including fruits and vegetables in one of Playtime’s 18 weekly sessions in five family shelter sites

Little Lights Urban Ministries

Provides a Christmas gift for a child living in public housing

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, D.C.

Puts gas in the hospital van over the holidays

Southeast Ministry

Equips Southeast Ministry clients with an ID card, textbook, uniform, work boots, or tools for their jobs

Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy

Buys art supplies for one child to engage in the Leave No Child Inside program Landscape by Design: Exploring the Art of Landscape Architecture

$50 donation

Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company

A master class for 12 youth to engage with a professional dance artist

Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop

Buys books for one book club session at the D.C. Jail

Sitar Arts Center

Music supplies

Charter Board Partners

Supports one volunteer school board member’s participation in a governance training

D.C. Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative

Provides a teacher with a professional development opportunity to learn how to integrate the arts and humanities into their classroom

The Ellington Fund

Lighting gels for student theatrical production


Provides supplies for Peer Group activities

Brainy Camps Association

One walkie-talkie, a round-trip bus ride to camp, one night of snacks for entire camp, or one bike helmet

Homeless Children’s Playtime Project

Sponsor round-trip transportation for a field trip to get ten youth out of D.C. General and into the community to connect with new experiences

Little Lights Urban Ministries

Provides three days of homework help, dinners, and after-school enrichment for a student

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, D.C.

Feed a family over the holidays

Southeast Ministry

Helps Southeast Ministry purchase equipment and maintain the technological infrastructure to help learners succeed

Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy

Native grass seed stock for meadows restoration

Volunteer Opportunities

D.C. Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative

Are you a creative wordsmith who loves to help people share their stories? We are looking for a volunteer writer to help with the D.C. Collaborative Story Bank. Help us interview and document the stories of how our members and educators bring transformative arts and humanities experiences to D.C. students.


We have an annual family winter celebration event in January for our youth and their families, where volunteer chefs from Sodexo work with the children to prepare a fabulous meal for everyone in attendance. After we feast, we give out donated gift bags to the youth in our program and their siblings. Leading up to this event in early January, we would greatly appreciate having volunteers to help with wrapping gifts.

Bright Beginnings

Volunteer groups can stop by our center to participate in arts and crafts activities, read winter stories, and play games in the classrooms.

Capitol Hill Village

Provide holiday meals to a senior

Shovel a senior’s walkway and sidewalk

Bring your creative ideas to develop social/educational programs for seniors including tech training, CPR, and wellness classes

Collect oral histories and stories.

District Alliance for Safe Housing

During the holidays, DASH hosts our holiday drive for our residents where we set up a “shop” for residents to be able to shop for holiday gifts. Volunteers assist us with this by hosting toy drives in communities or offices.

Family and Youth Initiative

Buy a gift for a teen for our holiday party on Dec. 19

Join us for our January event to meet D.C.FYI teens

Homeless Children’s Playtime Project

Host a holiday party for children in a shelter

Clean and organize one of our playrooms as a group volunteer experience

Little Lights Urban Ministries

Volunteer by helping students with homework at our Homework Club

Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy

Come enjoy the brisk air in Dumbarton Oaks Park. We will be removing English ivy and other invasive plants. Stewardship activities for all ages! Volunteer days:

Saturday, Dec. 5, 9 a.m.–1 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 12, 9 a.m.–1 p.m.

Where: Meet at the top of Lovers’ Lane, approximately 3060 R St. NW

What: Join us on these days as we continue to repair the park. Come learn how to identify plants and learn what we need to do to save and maintain Dumbarton Oaks Park.

Cancellation Policy: Snow and ice will cause the cancellation of a workday. Cancellation notices will be emailed and posted to our website,, and Facebook page by 7 a.m. on the day of the event.

Bring: Yourself and friends; snacks and water will be provided.

Wear: Please dress for the weather and wear layers, including long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, socks, and closed-toe shoes.

We will supply gloves, tools, water, snacks, and training.

RSVP: Please email to register for either of these events.