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Thursday, December 20, 2012

A time to give thanks to DC SCORES' supporters

Students with their Century Council bags.
This afternoon, a group of Cresa Washington DC employees stopped by our office.

With a check.

For $9,500.

The check wasn't something we could have imagined six or even four months ago. It resulted from an unexpected contribution to our organization by a group of people dedicated to helping the over 1,450 District youth we serve.

In September, former board member Chris Finley, who works at Cresa, posed the idea of the real estate company hosting a happy hour fundraiser benefiting DC SCORES. Two and a half months later — after securing two main sponsors in addition to dozens of individual donations — the event was held at James Hoban's Irish Restaurant and Bar. And now a month later, we have the check in hand.

Thank you, Chris. Thank you, Cresa.

That's just one example of the hundreds of contributions — big and small; anticipated and unexpected — that have helped us expand our innovative program during 2012 to serve more schools in more communities than ever before, filling a need that still remains throughout the District.

For our full supporters list, please visit the DC SCORES website. But here are a few more examples of how people have contributed to our organization in different ways:

A group of local government entities help maintain the foundation of our funding model and demonstrate their commitment to us not just in dollars. Serve DC, the DC Commission on National and Community Service, routinely visits our office, comes to our game days, and just last week honored our super volunteer Francesco Amorosino with a Mayor's Community Service Award. Under the exciting new leadership of Ed Davies, the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (CYITC), one of our oldest funders, continues to show their belief in our work by funding not only our regular programming but providing a large grant to fund our annual summer camps.

Receiving a $25,000 check from Volkswagen.
We also receive local funding from New Communities Youth Development & Community Wellness and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers — two funders whose missions strongly align with our desire to provide opportunities for those in the city's most under-resourced neighborhoods. The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities continues to annually fund the self-expression aspect of our program — even upping their contribution this year — including as a central sponsor of the Poetry Slam! (along with the Humanities Council of Washington, DC).

This fall, we've written extensively — and rightfully so — about the U.S. Soccer Foundation's Social Innovation Grant that has allowed us to implement the Foundation's Soccer for Success program at 15 new schools. The Foundation has joined a group of  companies committed to our Arts/Athletics/Academics model who show this not just in dollars provided:

Volkswagen Group of America has adopted our flagship school Marie Reed Elementary, funding the program there every year.

The American Beverage Association made a commitment to Wards 7 and 8 east of the Anacostia River, funding our expansion in the last year and a half to schools there and visiting a game day at Garfield Elementary School.

The Century Council not only increased their funding from $30,000 to $40,000 this year, but they are a dependable presence at all our program events, where they hand out their always-popular sunglasses — I have a pair in my car — and other giveaways.

A poetry reading at Starbucks.
Starbucks, a funder since the 1990s, hosts poetry readings for all DC SCORES schools during the fall, giving students the chance to practice their poems in front of an audience — albeit, a much smaller one — prior to the season-culminating Poetry Slam!.

As cliche as it sounds, it's not all about the money for us. Yes, DC SCORES would not be possible without the funding that makes up our $1.4 million annual budget — almost all of which goes directly toward program expenses (think soccer equipment, buses for game days, writing notebooks, coach stipends, event costs, etc.). But more than searching for cash grabs, we look for and appreciate funders who buy into our mission and commit to a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship.

Sometimes, for a variety of reasons (the economy being the glaring one), we lose a long-time funder. That's what happened a few years ago with the Commonweal Foundation. And that's why it was extremely rewarding to regain the Foundation's support, at $25,000, this fall.

We know that these are uncertain times and there are thousands of worthy, deserving organizations and causes out there. That's why we are so thankful to you, all of our funders and supporters, who choose to support DC SCORES.

Thank you, again, and here's to another great year together!

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