The Community Foundation recently launched Voices of the Community: DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia (VoicesDMV). The primary goal of VoicesDMV is to provide a snapshot of people in this region and their experiences with the community and each other. Our aim is to look beyond the demographics (age, race, ethnic background education, and income); and seek to more assertively understand citizen sentiment, connectivity, belonging, barriers, and well-being. Our greatest hope is that this snapshot of citizen sentiment might serve as a catalyst for greater citizen engagement; strategic policy interventions and decision-making; and more informed community investments from government, business, and philanthropy.

VoicesDMV will launch a community-wide survey in June to hear from residents in the region. The survey will include residents from the District, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Northern Virginia. In parallel to the survey, we will conduct a minimum of six focus groups that include our immigrant neighbors, members of the LGBTQ community, disconnected youth, and ‘middle class’ residents to hear from those who are less frequently heard. An additional four community-wide engagement meetings will be held across the region in June and July. More information about the Community Conversations are forthcoming.

The initiative, including the survey, focus groups and community conversations, will explore themes like civic engagement, community attachment, economic mobility, the role of government, inclusion and discrimination, and well-being.  At the end of this process, we anticipate having a rich data-set that can inform community action; influence the discourse for public agenda-setting and around the coming local elections; and spur increased giving and philanthropy based on residents’ priorities. The Community Foundation, specifically, will use this information to inform our investment agenda which includes grant-making and our civic leadership efforts. We will share it with other community organizations, funders, business, government, and the broader network of people who are looking to make a positive difference in our community. Similar initiatives in other communities around the country have usefully presented a data-focused picture of quality of life, a roadmap to drive community impact initiatives, and ultimately, a collective vision for the future.

VoicesDMV 2017 will provide baseline information for the region, against which progress can be assessed biennially.  A public release and presentation of our findings is scheduled for December 2017.  This effort is conducted in partnership with the Urban Institute and a range of community partners.  

For more information regarding the Community Foundation’s initiative, please contact Tonia Wellons, Vice President for Community Investment at twellons@cfncr.org. You can also sign up to get email updates and the final results at VoicesDMV@CFNCR.ORG.