In this inaugural edition of the Venable Foundation quarterly newsletter, we're highlighting 2021 grantees from around the country whose work impacts a diverse range of priority areas and communities. The Venable Foundation, funded annually by equity partners, promotes the health and well-being of the communities where the firm's clients and professionals work and live. In 2020, the Foundation granted more than $4 million to 350+ organizations.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the leadership of Miriam's Kitchen realized the organization's work to improve Washington, DC's homeless services would be more critical than ever. While the rest of the world went into lockdown, Miriam's ramped up efforts to keep the community healthy, safe, and informed.
An infusion of $75,000 last year – one of the Foundation’s special Impact Grants – plus an additional $40,000 awarded in May 2021 to address the dire food and homeless service needs during the early days of the pandemic – helped the organization’s efforts.
"As the crisis unfolded, the Venable Foundation's funding became incredibly critical to us," said Miriam's Kitchen president and CEO Scott Schenkelberg. "It allowed us to quickly make adaptations and maintain them for the past 18 months."
When it became clear that providing congregate meals and case management services in the same enclosed space was not safe for guests, staff, or volunteers, that funding enabled Miriam's to swiftly pivot to maintain servicing while mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
The organization rented tents and moved operations to the exterior of the building. It obtained portable restroom trailers, providing access to sanitation facilities when nearby amenities were closed. Despite the many challenges of the last year and a half, Miriam's continued serving over 300 meals a day while connecting more than 100 people with permanent housing.
Schenkelberg said the Foundation's "faith in our organization to accomplish our vision of ending long-term homelessness—and allowing us the flexibility in general operating support—has been absolutely essential to the community we serve."
Profiles of Recent Grantees
Centreville Immigration Forum
Washington, DC and Virginia
Centreville Immigration Forum implements sustainable programs that provide immigrants with the means to improve their lives. Venable Foundation funding has helped CIF organize programs focused on systemic change—for immigrant rights, wage justice, economic justice, and racial equity.
New York City
The Harmony Program provides after-school music education programs in underserved communities across the city, allowing children to realize their full potential and build life skills and community through a shared love of music. During the pandemic Venable Foundation funding allowed the Harmony Program to continue to provide virtual engagement and instruction and a sense of community for students.
The Itineris Foundation empowers adults on the autism spectrum to live meaningful lives, filling a gap in the state support system through a comprehensive program that helps those on the spectrum find meaningful community-based employment opportunities. Funding from the Venable Foundation enabled Itineris to adapt services to continue supporting autistic adults, despite the challenges that arose from COVID-19.
The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people. With funding from the Venable Foundation, The Trevor Project has been rapidly expanding its reach to support more LGBTQ youth in crisis while increasing the diversity of the young people they serve.
Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay
The Vietnamese American Community Center supports the needs of refugee and immigrant communities through educational, cultural, and social services, while promoting economic self-sufficiency. The Venable Foundation supported VACCEB's Mobile Meal Program to serve nutritious, culturally relevant meals to those who lacked access to food.