ACT-ing for the city

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It has been a year of growth, impact and change for the Alexandria Community Trust (ACT), which begins its third year as the city’s first community foundation.

At its annual meeting last week at the Lyceum, ACT’s Executive Director Jonelle

Stachura Wallmeyer presented the group’s Report to the Community, which she said reflects a year of significant results.  “As we begin our third year, ACT has much to celebrate,” Wallmeyer said. “We are proud to point to ways in which we are delivering tangible results that will bring brighter prospects for our children and families.”

The Trust is a community foundation which serves as a catalyst for increasing charitable investment in Alexandria. The group’s mission is  to raise the level and effectiveness of giving in Alexandria by increasing awareness of the importance of strategic philanthropy and offering  philanthropists a unique, tax-smart ways to realize their charitable goals.

A regional affiliate of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, ACT also provides strategic support for Alexandria nonprofits by connecting donors to effective programs and fostering excellence in nonprofit management through grants and other support.

In 2006, the group’s flexible Community Fund investments in Alexandria grew to $200,000 and its Womens Giving Circle expanded to 300 women who have invested $180,000 to help parents “create healthier and stronger environments for their children.”  Additionally, the group says it now has 19 donor-advised funds and 70 percent of the community grants that these donors make went directly to Alexandria nonprofits this past year an increase of 40 percent since 2005.

“We have identified and literally built new solutions for some of the most pressing challenges facing the city,” Wallmeyer told supporters. “In the past, many of the citys best resources and programs for vulnerable children were fragmented and not well-coordinated. ”  

Last month, ACT opened the doors to the new Center for Alexandrias Children (CAC).  Now the center serves as a “one-stop shop” that provides children and families a comprehensive, integrated approach to preventing and treating child abuse in the community. The community resource offers parenting classes and playgroups as well as coordinate existing services around the citys child abuse treatment and investigation.  ACT was able to make this possible by securing $250,000 in private and public funding and partnering with the city and many nonprofit service providers. 

Wallmeyer said the group has also expanded its efforts to strengthen the city’s local nonprofits, by helping seven Alexandria nonprofits and their boards strengthen their organizations through management consultants and implementation grants. “These investments allow these nonprofits to invest their time and energies to build their organizational capacity and effectiveness so they can be better servants and stewards of our community,” she said.  

ACT has empowered hundreds of Alexandrians to get more involved in their community., she concluded. Several weeks ago, the group launched Give Back Alexandria, an opportunity for the citys next generation of leaders to meet one another and volunteer in ways small and large. 

In the past year, the Womens Giving Circle expanded its membership and created a community service day where their members donated and distributed books for children and food to families in need.  ACTs co-sponsorship of the annual Business Philanthropy Summit engages the business community in social change and effective corporate citizenship. 

“ACT is fulfilling the commitment we made to Alexandria at our launch almost three years ago to be a catalyst for change, a convener of people and ideas, and a collaborator for solutions,” Wallmeyer said. “But there is much more work to be done.”  

Future priorities include helping address emerging issues in the community around mental health, access to services for the city’s residents and mentoring of youth.  “As a community foundation it is our role to be that hub of philanthropy to be ready to respond to emerging needs, facilitate comprehensive solutions to our citys challenges and to sustain our organization so that we continue to fulfill this role,” she added. “This is both our charge and our opportunity as we look down the road over the next year and years to come.” 

She concluded that ACT should be a “sum of all parts” of the city, working toward effective change and impact.  “The more information and ideas that we have around the table, the more effective we can be and the better Alexandria will be,” she concluded.

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