Alexandria, VA

ACT for Alexandria’s ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund has now raised more than $1 million, and $910,000 has been given in grant funding to other city nonprofits.

ACT for Alexandria Executive Director Heather Peeler says that even though COVID-19 numbers are going down, the community needs are still great. The nonprofit has paused its grant request process for the month of June while it maps out its fundraising strategy for the rest of the year.

“The needs of community members are still substantial,” Peeler said. “All of our community partners are getting calls from constituents who need assistance. The health and economic impacts of the pandemic are still with us, even though I think everybody’s really geared up to get back to work. There are still many community members who are disproportionately affected and we need to continue to support them as they navigate this crisis.”

Peeler and her staff of four employees and two interns also organized and managed the Spring2ACTion fundraiser on April 15, which broke the city’s one-day giving record by raising $2.45 million for Alexandria nonprofits.

Now ACT for Alexandria is crafting a racial equity statement to guide its future priorities, and Peeler and her staff are organizing racial equity workshops. Peeler said that there is currently a waiting list of 100 people who want to attend in June and July.

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Morning Notes

ACT for Alexandria Calls COVID-19 a Racial Issue, Sends $900K to Nonprofits — “To work towards a community where all Alexandrians have an equal chance of living prosperous, fulfilling lives, we must work together to address systemic racism. That is a tall order. But together we can make a difference. Your support of the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund is an important step. That support allows our community to better respond to the needs of our neighbors facing overwhelming challenges.” [ACT for Alexandria]

Beyer Finds Fault in Indicted Fairfax County Police Officer — “This officer’s actions were unjustified, and he failed his oath to protect and serve. Body-worn camera footage clearly shows he escalated the situation with unnecessary violence against an unarmed black man.” [Twitter]

Police Disproportionately Use Force Against Black Alexandrians — ” Force is used against black males more than any other group, according to numbers compiled by the police department and acquired through a public-records request… In the most recent report, which covers 2019, 54 percent of the instances of use of force was against African Americans. That’s significantly higher than the black population in Alexandria, which is 23 percent.” [Gazette]

Alexandria Black History Museum Executive Director Makes Statement on George Floyd’s Death — “All keepers of African American heritage pledge to forever say George Floyd’s name, preserve the history he represents, and educate the public about the millions of brilliant minds lost to hate in America.” [Zebra]

Alfred Street Baptist Church Pastor Marchin in D.C. on Sunday with NAACP — “We want to personally invite ALL believers to join Pastor Wesley and the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Collaboration with the NAACP for a Prayer Walk for Peace and Justice on this Sunday, June 14 starting at 6am ET. We’re gathering at the NAAMHC and walking to the newly named Black Lives Plaza, NW in Washington, DC. Visit our website to register.” [Facebook]

Joe Theismann’s Restaurant Reopens — “The restaurant will be open for take-out and delivery via online ordering at Theismanns.com, delivery via select third-party apps, and walk-in patio dining. The restaurant will debut an adjusted menu for lunch and dinner, and will be open Sunday through Thursday from 12 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 12 – 10 p.m.” [Theismann’s]

Hundreds Sign Petition to Rename T.C. Williams High School After Petey Jones — “Additionally, we believe the name should be changed to honor one of the men who participated in giving the school that reputation, and who worked as a longtime employee at T.C. Williams High School.  Petey Jones died in 2019 of prostate cancer.  We believe that T.C. Williams should be renamed after him.  Please sign this petition if you agree.” [Change.org]

New Job: Assistant Magazine Editor — ” Content creation and coordination for national trade association magazine, including reporting, writing, editing and contributing to monthly print edition (circulation 40,000) and weekly digital newsletters.”[Facebook]

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After receiving two recent donations totaling $150,000, ACT for Alexandria is nearing $1 million for its ACT Now COVID-19 response fund, and the organization will be taking a break from giving grants to nonprofits to plan for the summer.

“We’re working with the city and our nonprofit partners to think through what the next phase of recovery is going to look like,” ACT for Alexandria President and CEO Heather Peeler told ALXnow. “We’ll be pausing grant making for a couple of weeks. While we talk through and get a better sense for how the needs of our community are evolving.”

Last week, Act for Alexandria was notified that it won two unsolicited grants, one for $50,000 from the Myer Foundation and another $150,000 grant from the Frank and Betty Wright Foundation.

Peeler set a personal goal of raising $1 million for the fund by the end of the summer, and the recent grants have put the total raised at more than $985,000. As of mid-May, the fund has awarded $686,860 in grants to Alexandria nonprofits, including ALIVE!, Together We Bake and Neighborhood Health.

ACT for Alexandria will pause the grants from May 26 until mid-June.

Last month, the organization also raised a record $2.45 million for 156 nonprofits during the Spring2ACTion event, and the platform remains open to donate to local organizations.

“Our strategy is to constantly share the work that the nonprofits are doing in our community,” Peeler said. “By showing that all the donations are making a real difference in people’s lives, that’s the best strategy for engaging donors and helping them see how they can continue to make a difference.”

Photo via Alive!/Facebook

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The ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund has raised more than $777,000 from 780 donors, and has given away $619,000 to 67 nonprofits in and around Alexandria.

“There is nothing like the power of collective action, when we all take a small step that can add up to something really big,”ACT for Alexandria Executive Director Heather Peeler told ALXnow.

Peeler and her staff of four employees and two interns have been busy in recent weeks. In addition to the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund, they also organized and managed the Spring2ACTion fundraiser on April 15, which broke the city’s one-day giving record by raising $2.45 million for Alexandria nonprofits.

“We have an incredible team. Everybody is really focused on doing what we can to support the community,” she said.

The city donated $200,000 to the fund, Amazon donated $200,ooo and $76,000 was raised by Spring2ACTion.

The fund awards $10,000 grants, and nonprofits can apply for more than one grant. Some organizations have received as many as three separate ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund grants.

“We intentionally wanted to make the grant process flexible, because needs are evolving in the community,” Peeler said. “But we didn’t want to award out all the money all at once. That’s why we set the $10,000 limit, but organizations can ask every week, essentially, for more funding.”

Peeler has set a personal goal of raising $1 million by the end of the summer.

“We are asking community members to continue to keep the fund in mind as they think about ways to support Alexandria at this time,” she said.

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ALIVE! will conduct another food distribution to more than 1,000 families this Saturday, and the nonprofit needs face mask donations for volunteers.

“We received a donation from Yates Dry Cleaning,” ALIVE! Executive Director Jennifer Ayers told ALXnow. “We need more. We tried to order some recently and they’re hard to get. Right now we’re still waiting on them.”

ALIVE! has given away a record 110,000 pounds of food since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Alexandria. In fact, the nonprofit is breaking all sorts of records. On April 15, ALIVE! received the top number of donations —  $145,611 from 491 donors — in the annual Spring2ACTion fundraiser. The funds will be used for programming purposes, Ayers said.

“That was amazing,” Ayers said. “Our original goal was 60,000, based on what we raised last year.”

Home deliveries have also increased substantially, as ALIVE! is now delivering food every day to 500 individuals stuck at home, as opposed to an average of about 200 families before the crisis.

ALIVE! is utilizing a warehouse space provided by the city to receive all of the food from suppliers, and the pandemic has caused a few disruptions in deliveries. Inside the warehouse, no more than 10 volunteers at a time receive the food and package it, while being six feet away from each other.

“Home deliveries for today was 500, and that’s almost 600 pounds of food for just one day,” said Ann Patterson, ALIVE’s food program director. “I have enough food to do another 1,000 families this Saturday, but then we’ve got to figure out how to manage on a week-to-week and on a day-to-day type kind of basis, and you have to manage it that way because the supply chain has been disrupted.”

This Saturday’s food distribution will be held at the Leonard “Chick” Armstrong Recreation Center (23 W. Reed Ave.) and John Adams Elementary School (5651 Rayburn Avenue) from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Those receiving food are encouraged to drive to the sites and to stay in their cars. Pedestrians are asked to observe social distancing and to stay six feet away from volunteers or others.

Photo via Alive!/Facebook

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Morning Notes

ACPS Adjusts Hours for Grab & Go Meals — Beginning on Monday, April 20, meals will be available 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Cora Kelly School, Francis C. Hammond Middle School, Jefferson Houston School, T.C. Williams High School and William Ramsay Elementary School. [Twitter]

Scholarship Fund of Alexandria Nearing $50K Goal — “Thanks to the generosity of the Alexandria community, the Scholarship Fund awards approximately $1 million in scholarships to T.C. Williams graduates each year. Most of our scholarships range from $12,000 to $20,000 over four years and can often mean the difference between a student being able to afford college, or simply staying home. Thank YOU for Giving.” [Scholarship Fund]

NOVA Providing Free Online Summer School — “Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is using institutional dollars from the Federal stimulus to launch a new summer schedule of tuition-free online classes for approximately 70,000 qualified Northern Virginia high school students. This is an opportunity for rising seniors through graduating seniors to JumpStart their summers and earn college credit by attending up to two online courses that will run from June 1 to July 15.”  [NOVA]

State Budget Cuts Impact Alexandria — “Funding for the Freedom House Museum, early childhood education and much more in Alexandria are likely to be “unalloted” from the Virginia state budget due to the economic contraction caused by coronavirus concerns.” [Alexandria Living]

Sen. Warner Speaking at 11 a.m. DemBiz Webinar — “Senator Warner will discuss COVID-19, its economic impact on Northern Virginia, the Trump Administration’s response and more.” [Facebook]

Beyer says Trump Using Pandemic As Cover for Air Pollution — “It’s hard to imagine a more disgraceful abuse of the EPA’s mission than increasing the amount of toxic chemicals at this of all times, but the disgusting truth is that Trump is using this pandemic as cover to allow more air pollution from power plants, something his administration has long wanted to do. Once again they have chosen to make our air less clean at the apex of a disease that attacks our ability to breathe in order to benefit polluters. It’s a truly outrageous abuse of public trust.” [beyer.house.gov]

Senior Residents Enjoy Rock Concert — at a Distance — ” The concert took place near the facility’s Knoll Garden, and nearly 80 residents tuned in via their balconies, open windows and the facility’s in-house news channel.” [Alexandria Living] 

AEDP Hosting 3 p.m. CARES Act Meeting for Small Businesses — “Event Alert! #AlexandriaVA businesses: THIS MONDAY, together w the @alexvasbdc, we are hosting a virtual meeting w/speaker from the DC @SBAgov office to cover #CARESAct info. Meant to be mainly for #ALX biz Q&A, please register at: bit.ly/2zbtp5J.” [Twitter]

ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund Benefit Concert on Saturday — “Cantor Jason Kaufman, Beth El Hebrew Congregation, will be presenting ‘Songs for Alexandria,’ a benefit for concert for the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund, a joint partnership between Alexandria’s Community Foundation/ACT and the City of Alexandria… The City of Alexandria will match donations, up to $100,000, to support the needs of nonprofit organizations experiencing an increase in demand for services as they support Alexandrian’s affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.” [Facebook]

Alexandria-Based International Nonprofit Needs Administrative Assistant — “This organization is actively hiring for this position. it will begin in a remote capacity due to COVID-19 and will transition into daily reporting to the office… The role requires a high level of initiative, problem solving, confidentiality, and personal judgement to handle both written and verbal communications with all level of staff and vendors.” [Indeed]

King Street – Old Town Metro Station’s Southern Entrance Closing for Construction — “On Tues. Apr. 21, the King St. Metro south entrance will close for 2 months, weather permitting, for infrastructure improvements. Ped access btwn buses/Diagonal Rd. & the 2 remaining entrances will be maintained via a temporary path.” [Twitter]

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ACT for Alexandria raised $2.45 million for more than 150 local nonprofits during its 10th annual fundraiser — breaking the record for the most funds raised in a single day.

In total, 8,453 donors raised $2,455,401 for 156 nonprofits in Alexandria during the Spring2ACTion event on Wednesday.

“I feel tremendous gratitude,” ACT President and CEO Heather Peeler told ALXnow. “When Alexandria’s nonprofit needed our community, people really stepped up.”

The top three recipients were ALIVE!, which raised $145,611 from 491 donors, followed by RunningBrooke with $115,250 and 163 donors, and Casa Chirilagua with $101,609 and 365 donors.

The original plan was to hold the fundraiser on April 29, but it was moved to April 15 due to an increased need brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All of these organizations are operating under a tremendous amount of stress and strain,” Peeler said. “And yet they created the marketing plans and the outreach plans to communicate with and reach new donors throughout the day.”

Spring2ACTion, which is hosted by the foundation ACT for Alexandria, has raised more than $10 million for local nonprofits since its founding 10 years ago. All donations are tax deductible and irrevocable.

Spring2ACTion Top 10:

  1. ALIVE! raised $145,611 from 491 donors
  2. RunningBrooke raised $115,250 from 163 donors
  3. Casa Chirilagua raised $101,609 from 365 donors
  4. Friends of Guest House raised $77,178 from 159 donors
  5. Inova Alexandria Hospital raised $64,560 from 78 donors
  6. Metropolitan School of the Arts raised $62,636 from 102 donors
  7. Carpenter’s Shelter raised $57,747 from 256 donors
  8. Together We Bake raised $56,918 from 204 donors
  9. King Street Cats raised $50,540 from 524 donors
  10. Urban Alliance raised $47,692 from 494 donors

We at ALIVE! always knew we lived in a wonderful, caring community. The kind of City where we look after each other,…

Posted by ALIVE on Thursday, April 16, 2020

Wow! Thanks to many of you we raised $101,759 today! Not only that but en route to raising that money you helped us meet…

Posted by Casa Chirilagua on Wednesday, April 15, 2020

YOU DID IT!!! $2.4M raised for 156 nonprofits. More than 8,400 donors! Thank you Alexandria for coming together to support our community when we needed you the most!

Posted by Spring2ACTion on Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Image courtesy ACT for Alexandria

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The Spring2ACTion fundraiser for the city’s nonprofits is off to a strong start, with more than $500,000 raised from early giving, according to ACT for Alexandria CEO Heather Peeler.

“This year we are asking every donor as part of the checkout process to make an additional gift to the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund,” Peeler said. “So far, that has raised more than $15,000.”

The 24-hour online giving event starts today, April 15, and is the largest single-day fundraiser in the region. Early giving started on April 3, and this year’s goal is to attract 10,000 donors.

The annual fundraiser, which was moved to April 15 from April 29 due to the coronavirus pandemic, has raised upward of $10 million from 65,000 donors for more than 160 local nonprofits since it began in 2011. Last year, a record $2.1 million was raised. The fundraiser usually features in-person events, while this year all activities are online.

We are excited and grateful to see how your many examples of compassion, generosity and thoughtful donations have helped…

Posted by ACT for Alexandria on Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Prizes will be awarded to the nonprofits that receive the most donations.

Together We Bake, the local nonprofit dedicated to providing comprehensive workforce training and personal development for women in need, had to suspend its spring program due to COVID-19. It is currently asking the community for $55,000, and has received a $10,000 matching gift from the Mason Hirst Foundation.

“Spring2ACTion has begun and we need your help now more than ever,” Together We Bake sent in an email. “We are hearing from many graduates who need help paying for rent and food for their families as the result of layoffs. While we have always had a small amount of funding set aside to help a few graduates facing emergencies each year, we want to be able to help any and all of our alumnae who need assistance and have nowhere else to turn.”

Last year, Running Brooke took home the top prize of the most donations for the second year in a row, with $125,827. The Metropolitan School of the Arts came in second place with $68,825 and King Street Cats raised $62,086. The Alexandria Soccer Association had the most donors, with 750 individual donations, and raised $50,828.

The “Friends of Rocky Versace” is also looking for more than $18,000 to reimburse the city for needed repairs for its memorial outside the Mount Vernon Recreation Center.

Other participating nonprofits also include MetroStage, The Alexandria Seaport Foundation, ALIVE!, and Local Motion Project.

Courtesy image

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Here are a few things to pay attention to this week in Alexandria:

Alexandria City Manager Mark Jinks will formally unveil his $753.3 million fiscal year 2021 operating budget in a virtual meeting on Tuesday, which is 5.8% lower than the $800 million operating budget he proposed before the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget will close an anticipated $92 million shortfall, and includes a hiring freeze, a drastic reduction in capital projects, and reverses a decision to increase taxes by 2 cents.

Additionally, Council is scheduled to approve another allocation of $220,000 funds to ALIVE! and $100,000 from snow removal contingency funds the ACT Now COVID-19 response fund.

Last month, the city donated $100,000 to the ACT Now fund, and the allocation of $20,000 to ALIVE! to buy bulk food equivalent to 17,000 meals.

Additionally, Mayor Justin Wilson is scheduled to conduct an hour-long virtual town hall meeting at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

Spring break ends today, and starting this week food distribution will resume for Alexandria City Public Schools. Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr., will resume his daily 3 p.m. online briefings on Tuesday.

Wednesday is Spring2ACTion, which is the largest annual fundraiser in Alexandria. The 24-hour online giving event for local nonprofits has raised upward of $10 million from 65,000 donors for more than 160 local nonprofits since it began in 2011. Last year ACT for Alexandria raised a record $2.1 million, and this year’s goal is to attract 10,000 donors.

In the meantime, the city is warning against COVID-19-related scams.

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The ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund has raised more than $530,000 from 587 donors, and has given away $525,000 to dozens of nonprofits in Alexandria.

As of this week, more than $525,000 in grants was awarded to nearly 60 nonprofits in the city, with most of the funds going toward emergency food, supplies and financial assistance in the city.

The city donated $100,000 at the onset of the outbreak of COVID-19, and Amazon donated $200,ooo toward the effort.

ACT for Alexandria is currently pausing the grant process to replenish the fund, and the next deadline for requests is April 21. The organization is now asking for community support in the upcoming Spring2ACTion online fundraiser on April 15.

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ALIVE! gave out 30,716 pounds of food to more than 1,000 Alexandria households on Saturday, and now its shelves are nearly empty.

The 50-year-old nonprofit’s next distribution of food will not be until the end of May, although ALIVE! will continue providing food to local pantries between now and then, said Executive Director Jennifer Ayers.

“People can continue to rely on ALIVE! to supply local pantries and community nonprofits,” Ayers told ALXnow. “We are working on increasing inventory and we have seen our referrals for home delivery triple since the shelter in place, and requests for financial support are rising.”

Food pantries around the city are still open, and Ayers encouraged residents to visit Hunger Free Alexandria to see the locations of food distribution points. Ayers is encouraging those who want to help to donate to the organization through the Spring2ACTion online fundraiser on April 15.

So far, ALIVE! has received $20,000 from the city to buy 17,000 meals worth of bulk food. The city also found storage space for the nonprofit to house all of the food. There were other notable donations in recent days, including $1,000 in gift cards from Elizabeth’s Counter.

Last Saturday, families received four bags of food at the drive-thru distributions at John Adams Elementary School and Cora Kelly School.

“A huge thank you to everyone in the community,” Ayers said. “This is truly a community effort.”

Ayers gave a shout-out to the following organizations and volunteers for their support:

  • Alexandria Transportation and Environmental Services
  • The Alexandria Police Department
  • The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office
  • The Department of Parks and Recreation
  • Volunteer Alexandria
  • Caring Transitions
  • The Salvation Army
  • Your Dog’s Best Friend
  • Affordable Signs
  • Minuteman Press of Alexandria
  • Del Ray Farmer’s Market
  • Elizabeth’s Counter
  • Old Blue BBQ
  • Lancaster Food LLC
  • Fresh Produce Association
  • Great Harvest Bakery
  • Jen Walker Team
  • Pat Miller
  • Alexandria City Public Schools
  • The Alexandria Department of Community and Health Services

Photo via Alive!/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Alfred Street Baptist Church Virtual Worship Service Gets 19K Views –“Thank you for this amazing word today!! God Bless!” [Facebook]

Hospital Nurses Play Games With COVID-19 Patients — “Inova Nurses are helping our patients any way they can during these challenging times, from medical attention to a friendly game of tic tac toe. #InovaHeroes” [Facebook]

Early Giving Begins For Spring2ACTion Fundraiser — “Because of the current crisis, organizations have had to cancel fundraising events and programs that generate revenue. Classrooms and theaters are dark, and programs are cancelled in adherence of social distancing guidelines. Many nonprofits are depleting their reserves to purchase emergency food and supplies for their constituents.” [Spring2ACTion]

Sales of Titan Senior Magnets and Yard Signs Going to Relief Fund — “Don’t have a senior but want to show your support? Buy a community sign! All proceeds will support the PTSA’s new initiative [the] Titans Care COVID Relief Fund!” [tcwallnightgradparty.com]

ALIVE! Thanks Community For Food Giveaway Support — “Huge THANK YOU to Old Blue BBQ for purchasing and donating 500 pounds of potatoes for this weekend’s Truck-to-Trunk food distribution! They came to help pack 4000 grocery bags, but when they realized there wouldn’t be enough produce, left and came back with fresh produce for Alexandria’s neediest.”[Facebook]

Alexandria Symphony Reschedules Performance — Due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, the Alexandria Symphony has rescheduled its “Brandenburgs and Brew” concert to Friday, June 12, 2020. [alexsym.org]

Sales From Alexandria Restaurant Partners T-Shirts Going to Staff — “T-shirt sales end on Monday, April 6, so be sure to purchase yours today!” [Facebook]

Atlantis Pizzeria and Family Restaurant is Open For Carryout — “Jimmy and Bill are brothers who opened Atlantis 38 years ago. They have built up a loyal customer base that continues to support them during this difficult time. They remain open each day because they never want to disappoint their customers. They could use all the help they can get right now. Open for carry out only. Order a pizza and come pick it up. It’s easy. Plenty of room to keep your distance and they are keeping it clean as a whistle. Hope to see you soon!” [Facebook]

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