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Via Rebuilding Together DC-Alexandria/Facebook

A local nonprofit dedicated to helping people repair their homes in Alexandria just received a $200,000 sustainability grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation.

Rebuilding Together DC – Alexandria says that the funds will allow it to improve “climate resiliency for marginalized populations by addressing home improvements and energy-efficient retrofits.”

“This $200,000 sustainability grant from Wells Fargo will enable Rebuilding Together to advance housing affordability and racial equity in our underserved communities in Washington DC and Alexandria VA by providing sustainable housing upgrades,” said Katharine Dixon, President & CEO of Rebuilding DC – Alexandria. “We are excited to get started on new programs that directly address energy efficiency in the homes of our neediest clients.”

Last year, Wells Fargo donated $1.45 million to the nonprofit.

“Climate-friendly housing helps the environment and contributes to better community wellbeing, yet far too many households in the D.C. area have the least access to renewable energy,” said Victor Burrola, Vice President of Philanthropy & Community Impact for Washington, D.C. at Wells Fargo. “Through our support of Rebuilding Together, this important climate resiliency initiative aligns with our ongoing efforts to help individuals and families increase energy-efficiency, save money, and reduce their carbon footprint in their homes.”

RTDCA was founded in 1986, and is among the 130+ Rebuilding Together affiliates. The nonprofit has dedicated $8.8 million toward local revitalization efforts to homeowners in need, and more than 30,000 volunteers have donated their time and energy on more than 3,000 projects.

The nonprofit provides year-round repair services, but much of its effort is focused on National Rebuilding Day on April 27.

RTDCA said the funds will be used to create the following:

RTDCA will utilize Wells Fargo’s grant funds to create quality, sustainable home environments and reduce potential negative health impacts. The expanded holistic work will include improved energy-efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions in their income-qualifying clients’ homes. 

Such work may include whole house audits for each family/individual served and a combination of the following climate resiliency retrofits:

  1. Insulated doors/windows
  2. Efficient/electric HVAC/hot water units
  3. Algae-based air filters/purifiers
  4. Ventilation (including fireplaces)
  5. LEDs, light sensors
  6. Energy Star appliances
  7. Sealing/insulation of attics/ducts/holes
  8. Weatherization
  9. Smart/programmable thermostat
  10. Gas stove to electric and/or battery/induction conversion
  11. Low-flow toilet/showerheads
  12. Cellular shades, ceiling fans
  13. Smart power strips
  14. Planting of shade trees, drought resistant plants, indoor plants
  15. Funds will likely also be used for some community revitalization projects such as tree plantings, to increase and improve community health and neighborhood pride.

Via RTDCA/Facebook

(Photo via Runningbrooke/Facebook)

Spring2ACTion, the biggest single-day fundraiser for the city’s nonprofits, is just around the corner, and so is early giving.

After raising a record-setting $2.9 million for 186 local nonprofits from 8,331 donors last year, ACT For Alexandria has, for the second-straight year, set the upcoming fundraising goal at $2.5 million. ACT also wants 10,000 donors for what will be their 14th annual fundraising bonanza.

Spring2ACTion is the main annual fundraiser for most of the participating nonprofits. The top three recipients last year were Move2Learn with $170,400, Casa Chirilagua with $167,994 and Carpenter’s Shelter with $91,938.

Spring2ACTion will run from 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24. Early giving starts next Wednesday, April 10.

Donations can be made on, where donors can search for and donate to their preferred nonprofits.

According to ACT for Alexandria:

All donations are tax deductible and irrevocable. (Donations will not be refunded). Donors will receive a receipt for their gift. The nonprofit will receive contact information for each donor, unless the donor elects to remain anonymous. Leaderboards will add a sense of competition and excitement during the build-up and event day. Additional cash grants will be awarded to the top winners in each leaderboard category for the day:

  • Nonprofits that have the Most Donors – We will award prizes based on operational budget size broken down into three categories — small – $0-$100K, medium – $100K-$500K, and large – $500K+
  • Free Agent Fundraisers that have the Most Donors – these prizes will be awarded to the organization designated by the Free Agent Fundraiser

Via Running Brooke/Facebook

Friends of Guest House just won a $2 million grant (via Instagram)

An Alexandria nonprofit recently announced that it has been awarded a $2 million grant from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving Fund.

The $2 million grant for Friends of Guest House is a lifesaver, executive director Sonja Allen said in a statement. Allen said that the funds won’t solve all of the nonprofit’s challenges, but that it will make a difference in helping women reenter society after incarceration.

“This transformative grant from Mackenzie Scott’s Yield Giving is a testament to the dedication and impact of our organization over the past five decades,” Allen said. “We are deeply grateful for this extraordinary gesture of support that will enable us to strengthen our programs, reach more women in need, and create lasting positive change in our community.”

Friends of Guest House is one of 361 nonprofits that were awarded funds, out of more than 6,300 applicants, after the open call for community led and focused organizations was announced.

“While we are immensely joyful for this generous grant, our work is far from over,” Allen said. “This grant will not solve the problem of the lack of resources and grace available to our women as they reenter our community. But it is a lifesaver. To be blunt, this transformative gift came at the most opportune time to help make our mission more sustainable for the future.”

Scott is the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and recently made national headlines when she announced that she was giving away $640 million from her fortune to nonprofits.

via Instagram

Pysanky for sale at Made in ALX (image courtesy Made in ALX)

Buying a traditional decorated egg, called pysanky, in Alexandria will help support families affected by the war in Ukraine.

Creator collective Made in ALX is collaborating with local management consultant business The Critical Mass and a group of Ukranian-American artists led by Pysanky Steph to sell the decorated eggs and raise funds for Razom for Ukraine, a nonprofit that donates food and other kinds of support to Ukrainian families.

According to a release, the eggs are a sort of Ukrainian Easter egg — an art passed down through generations and made during Lent to be given as gifts.

“Legend says that there is a monster that represents all evil chained to a cliff, and how tight those chains hold it is entirely dependent on how many pysanky are made each year,” the release said. “The more made, the tighter the chains hold evil at bay.”

According to a release:

As the war in Ukraine drags on, the region’s humanitarian crisis continues to grow. More Ukrainian residents are being displaced every day due to the war. This annual fundraiser benefits Razom for Ukraine, a nonprofit organization founded in 2014 and dedicated to building up Ukraine and its people.

This year, Pysanky Steph (Ukrainian-American artist Stephanie Malm Cheeseman) and other local artists will decorate traditional pysanky (decorated eggs) to sell at Made in ALX in Alexandria.

The eggs will be available for purchase at Made in ALX (533 Montgomery Street) starting tomorrow (Feb. 15).

A celebration on Sunday, Feb. 25, from 5-7 p.m. at Made in ALX will also give buyers a chance to meet the artists. A class on teaching pysanky classes is being offered as well, with classes starting on Sunday, Feb. 25.

Alliance for Housing Solutions logo (image via Alliance for Housing Solutions/Facebook)

Two longtime affordable housing advocacy nonprofits have announced that, as of Jan. 1, the groups have officially merged.

The Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance (NVAHA) and the Alliance for Housing Solutions (AHS) announced in a release that they’d be consolidating into one organization.

“The decision to unite is rooted from a shared commitment to better serve the community by leveraging collective knowledge, resources and advocacy strengths,” Jill Norcross, who will near the consolidated group as executive director, said in the release. “This will build on our complementary assets and vision to create a more effective and sustainable affordable housing movement in each jurisdiction throughout Northern Virginia.”

Both groups worked in housing advocacy rather than directly building or managing affordable housing programs.

AHS has worked primarily in Arlington, advocating for the missing middle housing initiative. NVAHA’s website says the group has a wider Northern Virginia focus.

“We collaborate with nonprofit and for-profit organizations, and government agencies engaged in housing and community development in Northern Virginia, across the greater Washington metro area, statewide and at the national-level,” the website said.

A release from the unified organization said one of the goals of the merger is to move toward focusing on regional affordable housing strategies.

A representative of the new organization said a new name is still being deliberated.

Image via Alliance for Housing Solutions/Facebook

Pajamas collected for Friends of Guest House residents (courtesy photo)

Friends of Guest House residents were greeted with the gift of pajamas and cozy socks on Christmas morning. Alexandria realtor Maureen Clyne ended up exceeding her goal of 100 pairs of pajamas and socks by collecting 140 pairs.

“The generosity of the Alexandria community never ceases to amaze me,” said Clyne. “I want to give a special shout out to Margaret Ticer Janowsky of Del Ray Cafe who donated 40 pairs and my colleagues at Coldwell Banker Realty in Old Town who also donated.”

Friends of Guest House serves 60 women every year in its residential program, and has helped more than 4,000 women transition from incarceration since it was founded in 1974.

“What an incredible gift that will impact many, many women and make them not only feel warm, but very welcome,” former Friends of Guest House Executive Director Kari Galloway said.

Friends of Guest House Executive Director Katie Shapiro with pajama donations for residents (courtesy photo)
Flyer by The Little Theatre of Alexandria

The Little Theatre of Alexandria (600 Wolfe Street) is hosting a pair of staged reading events over the next two weeks to commemorate the murder of Matthew Shepard and raise funding for The Matthew Shepard Foundation.

Shepard, a young gay man in Laramie, Wyoming, was beaten, tortured and killed in a hate crime. Shepard’s murder sparked awareness of and advocacy for hate crime legislation, including the launch of the LGBT nonprofit Matthew Shepard Foundation by his parents.

The Little Theatre of Alexandria is producing a reading of The Laramie Project, a play first produced in 2000 to explore and understand what happened to Shepard, including text from real interviews with people connected to the murder.

The readings are scheduled for 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6, and Thursday, Oct. 12.

Tickets are $20 and benefit The Matthew Shepard Foundation.

According to the theatre’s website:

Kaufman and the other company members visited Laramie on six occasions and interviewed residents, members of the police force, and Matthew’s friends, in an attempt to understand what happened, and why. They were also interested in the possibility that theatre, more than any other medium, would allow people to engage with and reflect on the issues brought to public attention by Matthew’s murder, such as homophobia, hatred, intolerance, and fear. The Laramie Project takes those real interviews and weaves them into the story of events surrounding the murder and the months beyond. This staged reading at LTA will be performed exactly 25 years from the date Matthew was attacked and the date he died in the hospital.

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The Eisenhower Rock the Avenue Block Party is on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023 (courtesy image)

(Updated on Sept. 21) This Saturday’s first-ever Eisenhower Rock the Avenue Block Party to promote the Eisenhower Valley has been postponed due to a rainy forecast.

“As of this morning, it is still calling for 100% heavy rain and high wind,” event organizers wrote in an email. “Given these predictions, it would be very hard to hold an event with these miserable conditions.”

Eisenhower Partnership and SaltBox are hosting the inaugural event, which was to include a pop-up Cider Garden hosted by Lost Boy Cider, food and products from businesses on Eisenhower Avenue, as well as kid-friendly activities and live music.

A replacement date has not been announced.


After six years leading Heard, a nonprofit that brings the arts to incarcerated adults, Jane Collins is hanging up her hat.

Collins, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, founded the nonprofit in 2017 by hosting a writing contest between participants of ALIVE!, Friends of Guest House and Together We Bake. Collins has been executive director ever since, growing the nonprofit to teach thousands of Alexandria adults in the Alexandria Detention Center, the Arlington County jail, and in more than a dozen local nonprofits.

“I’m not ‘leaving’ leaving,” Collins told ALXnow. “I am stepping aside, and I know that probably sounds like splitting hairs, but yes, we are looking for a new executive director to take over day-to-day operations.”

Heard pays artists to teach workshops on poetry, visual arts, improvisation, etiquette, public speaking, dance and singing. Last year, the nonprofit gave 229 classes to nearly 2,000 participants, according to their annual report.

“Thank you for being part of my healing,” wrote a female inmate from the Alexandria jail in a testimonial. “Your investment is priceless. Please continue doing what you are [doing,] truly saving lives.”

The nonprofit also offers karaoke every Wednesday night to inmates in the Alexandria jail.

“I go with our professional singing teacher and opera singer, Bharati Soman, and she gives a singing lessons and we sing along to karaoke songs,” Collins said. “Some of those guys can really sing.”

Heard will pay $25,000 to the new executive director, a financial shift for the organization since Collins took in a meager annual salary of $7,500 in 2022.

The organization is funded by the City’s Office of the Arts, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, grants and private contributions. Heard also collected $23,000 in this year’s Spring2ACTion fundraiser, their biggest annual fundraising event.

“I think this job is good for someone who needs a challenge,” Collins said. “I’m thinking of maybe somebody who was a recently retired from a corporate, a nonprofit or a federal leadership position that wants to stay engaged and help but doesn’t necessarily want the 40-to-60 hour week. Or it could be a highly successful maybe parent who took some time out to raise a family, but now the kids are in school and they want to get back into something rewarding.”

Collins will be staying on in a reduced capacity and hopes that the new executive director is organized, personable and has a vision for future growth.

“There’s no reason why communities can’t be adopting this model across the country,” Collins said. “And when I say this model, I mean, using local artists to help support and address whatever the local need happens to be.”

Photos via Heard/Facebook

Volunteers sort food at ALIVE! (Photo via ALIVE!/Facebook)

As the number of Alexandrians needing food assistance keeps rising, Volunteer Alexandria is asking residents to donate toward the first ever city-wide food drive.

Volunteer Alexandria has a goal to collect 30,000 pounds of canned food items by July 28 for ALIVE!‘s food bank.

“Hunger does not take a summer break and we thank everyone for donating cans and for volunteering to support this month-long food drive,” said Volunteer Alexandria Executive Director Marion Brunken. “Our goal is that this initiative becomes an annual event in the summer.”

Donations to local food banks usually dry up in the summer months, said ALIVE! Executive Director Jenn Ayers.

“Right now our service numbers are very high,” Ayers said. “We’re serving nearly 5,000 households per month through all our food programs (distributions, pop-ups, pantries and ALIVE! food hubs). At the peak of the pandemic we served about 6,000 households.  Last year this time we were down to about 3,000 households, so the need for food is still very high.”

Pre-pandemic, ALIVE! served about 400 households per month, Ayers said.

Ayers also said that financial donations are welcome, as last fiscal year the nonprofit spent about $550,000 in $1,000 payments to more than 500 families. Now with funds all used up, she says that the need is growing.

“We think people are really having trouble just making ends meet, what with inflation, the rising cost of living, increased rent, and all of that having an impact on food security,” she said. “We’re also seeing a higher number of people calling for support with rent or trying to prevent eviction, as well as seeking food. So so it’s all compounded together.”

ALIVE! needs:

  • Canned meat and fish
  • Canned vegetables and fruits
  • Canned beans
  • Cooking oil in plastic bottles

There are 16 food donation collection points:

The food drive is sponsored by Ting Internet, Fitness Together, and the Rotary Club of Alexandria.

The next ALIVE! food distributions will be held Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. at William Ramsay Recreation Center (5700 Sanger Avenue), and on Friday from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Old Town Community Church (212 S. Washington Street).

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