Reframing <Washington>

Empowerment Fund 2018 Grantees

Critical Exposure teaches and inspires underserved youth to harness the power of photography and their own voices to become effective advocates for positive changes in their schools and communities. Through in-school programs, youth internship, a fellowship program, and summer programs, Critical Exposure hopes to achieve a world in which historically marginalized youth are empowered as leaders and equipped with the skills to make their schools and the world around them more aware and responsive to their needs.

Diverse City Fund nurtures community leaders and grassroots projects that are acting to transform DC into a more just, vibrant place to live. Through small grants to grassroots social justice projects led by people of color and a community-led grantmaking process, Diverse City Fund works toward a vision for a DC that is as rich in its present diversity as in its history, grounded in respect for the work that has brought so many neighborhood institutions into being, and with a readiness to support a new generation of community leaders.

Empower DC enhances, improves, and promotes the self-advocacy of low and moderate-income DC residents and builds their collective power in order to bring about sustained improvements in quality of life. Through popular education-style trainings, leadership development, community outreach, and member-led campaigns aimed to address pressing social issues impacting the constituency, Empower DC hopes DC becomes a city that invests its resources into uplifting the existing community, rather than enriching developers and displacing low income communities to make way for higher income people.

Identity creates opportunities for Latino youth to believe in themselves and realize their highest potential. Through its Padres Latinos Conectados program, Identity will expand Latino civic engagement through the creation of a formal, culturally and linguistically competent leadership-training program that will include a parent leadership network and opportunities to increase Latino parent involvement in issues that are critical to their children’s academic success. Identity envisions a just and equitable society that nurtures all youth and is enriched by their contributions.

Justice For Muslims combats institutional and structural Islamophobia in the DC metro area. Through holding a Muslim-led space that aims to strengthen, coordinate, and create a central space in the District to tackle structural Islamophobia through a multidisciplinary, intersectional, and cross-movement lens, DC Justice For Muslims Collective seeks to center the leadership of South Asian minority groups in the ongoing redefinition of South Asian identity in the United States.

Many Languages One Voice (MLOV) organizes DC’s immigrant youth and adults to fight for systemic changes that can positively impact their lives, particularly in the areas of education, labor and language access. Through a unique approach to leadership development, MLOV seeks to build the power of DC’s immigrant communities to live with dignity, respect and justice by building a space of power and resilience.

NAKASEC-VA National Korean American Service & Education Consortium – Virginia organizes Korean and Asian Americans to achieve social, economic, and racial justice, project a progressive voice, and promote the full participation of Korean and Asian Americans within the larger society. Through community organizing, public policy advocacy, civic engagement, and youth leadership development, NAKASEC-VA works to build a future in which low- and middle-income, immigrant, people of color, and marginalized communities are working together as makers of lasting change.

ONE DC exercises political strength to create and preserve racial and economic equity in Shaw and the District. Through a shared leadership model involving community members; tenant organizing; popular education; and its Black Workers Center, ONE DC works to transform the nation’s capital into a place where low income, poor, and immigrant communities are organized, educated, and trained to take action to create and preserve social and economic equity and achieve the people’s vision to develop grassroots leadership that will build a movement for positive systematic change.

Progressive Maryland provides statewide leadership and coordination in a range of national, state, and regional campaigns, leading the fight for progressive change in Maryland. Through grassroots organizing, public education, and legislative advocacy, Progressive Maryland is shaping a society and economy that works for all Marylanders, with special emphasis on traditionally marginalized groups–low and moderate-income residents, people of color, women, LGBTQ+, and all oppressed and exploited people.

Young Women’s Project builds the leadership and power of young people so they can transform DC institutions to expand rights and opportunities for DC youth. Through youth educator engagement, civic engagement and capacity-building trainings, and its Youth Vote Campaign, Young Women’s Project invests in those who have been most deeply impacted by decades of racist policies and lack of opportunities, neglected public systems, and poverty to transform lives and institutions to bring about equality and opportunity, health and well-being, and respect for young women and men.


In the fall of 2017, through an open request for proposals and a proposal review process that engaged foundation staff, trustees, and community partners, the foundation identified ten organizations to receive 2018 Empowerment Fund grants.

Though each grantee takes its own unique approach to advancing racial equity, all share the following characteristics:

  • Core commitment to advancing racial equity through all dimensions of their organization – programs, operations, and governance
  • Key roles for and engagement of those closest to the issue(s) the organization seeks to advance
  • Deep knowledge of those key issues and the integral role of advocacy, organizing, and civic engagement in advancing racial equity
  • Success in achieving goals
  • Empowerment of target populations to advance equitable outcomes for themselves and their communities
  • Honest understanding and thoughtful management of their organizational health and capacity
  • Strong orientation and commitment to partnership, collaboration, impact, evaluation, and learning
  • Actively transforming how we build and maximize power, opportunity, and potential in the greater Washington region to advance racial equity and positive, community-driven outcomes for all the region’s residents.