Beltway of Giving
Advocacy months exist for hundreds of causes -- from yoga to bicycling to ovarian cancer. These months create a time when the world can come together to foster awareness about each cause and utilize those treasured Twitter hashtags that public relations professionals like to dream up. March is home to Arts Education Month and National Nutrition Month, and the Georgetowner is highlighting two D.C.-based organizations working to increase arts access in the city and end childhood hunger.
In an acclaimed food-centric city with the likes of Jose Andres, Michel Richard and Kyle Baley, Washingtonian’s have access to some of the most noted restaurants in the United States. Yet on a daily basis one in ten households across the U.S. are food-insecure, accounting for more than 16 million children. Within the District, that number escalates with nearly one in four kids at risk of hunger. D.C.-based non-profit, Share Our Strength, has worked to provide long-term food solutions for families and children across the U.S. for nearly 30 years. To date, the organization has raised more than $350 million in funds which have trickled into the organization through signature events – from the Great American Bake Sale and Taste of the Nation, both taking place this April.
Debbie Shore, co-founder of Share Our Strength, sat down with the Georgetowner to chat about the upcoming Taste of the Nation festivities and talk about philanthropy. One might be surprised, but Shore doesn’t fancy herself a philanthropist but more like a "connector" in the Gladwellian sense of the word. She maintains joining influentials to your cause entices others to rally and builds brand awareness. The community of chefs within the District are united, and she credits stand-out chefs like R.J. Cooper of Rogue 24, Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve and Jeff Tunks of Passion Food Hospitality as a few of the chefs with the passion to end childhood hunger. So far, more than 700 chefs nationwide have joined Share Our Strength in its efforts.
"Our core belief holds true: chefs care about feeding people," Shore said. "However, we are not going to end childhood hunger alone. We need the community support, private sector investments, government and boots on the ground." Uniting a community is exactly the approach the D.C. Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative has taken for nearly 13 years. As an arts advocacy organization with a budget of less than one million dollars per year, each dollar counts and partnerships are crucial to providing free arts experiences for the District's public school students. This April, the collaborative will host its 2nd Annual Arts Benefit to garner much needed funds for programs and bus transportation. While part of Share Our Strength’s strategy is recruiting chefs, the D.C. Collaborative has recruited nearly 80 arts-related performance venues, including the internationally recognized Kennedy Center and Shakespeare Theatre to its roster.
“More and more influential voices and performance venues are calling on arts education to take center stage in school improvement efforts within the city,” said Louise Kennelly, executive director of the D.C. Collaborative. “While our budget is small, we serve more than 30,000 DC public school students and teachers. We’ve learned to pool our resources with our member institutions who sell us tickets at a reduced rate and often waive ticket prices to ensure public school students from D.C. are able to come through the door and see a performance”.
Both organizations – one with a multi-million dollar budget and nationally recognized events and another with a fraction of the funds and fundraising dollars generated through small events – have managed to unite communities in an effort to serve children and promote their causes.
Interested in joining in and learning more about which cause you can support in the coming months? Visit www.Fundraisers.com/causes to learn more.
If you have a notable charity or event that you believe should be featured in the Beltway of Giving, we want to hear from you: DCthisweek@gmail.com.
Jade Floyd is a managing associate at a D.C.-based international public relations firm and has served on the board of directors for the D.C. Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative for nearly five years. She is a frequent volunteer and host of fundraising events across the District, supporting arts, animal welfare and education programs.
Giving Radar: Upcoming Awareness Months You Can Support
March National Kidney Month National Nutrition Month Arts Education Month
April National Autism Awareness Month Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month National Child Abuse Prevention Month
May Skin Cancer Awareness Month National Stroke Awareness Month Arthritis Awareness Month