It’s always important to remember those less fortunate, and to find ways to give back and lift up your community in need. But in light of the ongoing hardships caused by the pandemic both in D.C. and nationally, never has there been a more crucial time to donate your time, money or resources to help others. We’ve put together a list of 28 nonprofits in the D.C. area that need your aid this holiday season, and in the future.
The American Civil Liberties Union has been a cornerstone in the fight to defend individual freedoms since the turn of the 20th century. Today, much of their work is focused on promoting equality for people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, prisoners, immigrants and people with disabilities. Donate and become involved at the local level at www.acludc.org.
Ayuda works to help low-income immigrants in the DMV by providing legal, social and language services. Their advocacy aims to bring justice to those who have been overlooked by the legal system and change their lives for the better. Donate or find volunteer opportunities at www.ayuda.com.
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the National Capital Area aims to develop confidence and provide the opportunity for successful futures for at-risk children in the area. Volunteers, or “Bigs,” mentor children between 7 and 18 years of age and provide meaningful and lasting relationships. This work requires volunteers and funds to keep it alive. Find more information at www.bbbsnca.org.
Black Swan Academy
The Black Swan Academy in D.C. provides a safe space for minority youth to learn advocacy skills and enhance their voices. The academy aims to develop a more youth-led agenda in policymaking so that minority youth are better included. Learn more at www.blackswanacademy.org.
Carpenter’s Shelter provides the means for independence for homeless people in the District through shelter, education and advocacy services. Community case managers stay in contact with those who have left the shelter, ensuring they remain in permanent housing. Provide an end to chronic homelessness by donating at www.carpentersshelter.org.
CASA DC supports at-risk youth in the foster care and juvenile justice system in the DMV. The nonprofit advocates for the youth they work with in order to provide a greater opportunity to thrive. Foster children paired with CASA volunteers spend less time in foster care and are less likely to be homeless. Donate or learn about volunteer opportunities at www.casadc.org.
Casa Ruby is the only LGBTQ-focused bilingual and multicultural organization in the D.C. metro area that provides social services and programs to transgender, genderqueer and gender-nonconforming people. Casa Ruby aims to create a world where those vulnerable groups can pursue their dreams without fear of harassment, discrimination or violence due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Learn more at www.casaruby.org.
Catalogue for Philanthropy
The Catalogue for Philanthropy is the Washington region’s only locally focused guide to giving and volunteering opportunities. Through the Catalogue, smaller charities and nonprofits gain greater visibility and therefore can grow more donations. The Catalogue for Philanthropy does not charge for applications or to be featured but raises funds separately to continue their work. Learn more at www.cfp-dc.org.
City Blossoms takes unused or underutilized land and creates urban gardens for city youth, with a particular focus on low-income communities. The organization has provided programming and/or trainings for over 100 projects throughout D.C. and the nation within neighborhoods where youth may not have easy access to green space. The access to green space is a basic right all children should have for a safe space to play in and learn about the environment. Donate at www.cityblossoms.org.
Community Forklift is a unique organization that provides low-cost building materials, appliances and furniture to low-income individuals and families by collecting unwanted and salvaged building materials throughout the D.C. metro area. This organization is committed to reducing waste, promoting reuse, providing affordable materials and creating green jobs through their efforts. Help Community Forklift by donating money or materials at www.communityforklift.org.
Community of Hope
Community of Hope aims to end family homelessness and improve health, making D.C. more equitable by advocating for systemic change to address racial inequalities in society. Learn more about Community of Hope at www.communityofhopedc.org.
D.C. Hunger Solutions
D.C. Hunger Solutions, an initiative of the Food Research & Action Center, works to create a hunger-free community in the District. By educating the public on the reality of hunger in the community and what solutions are available, DC Hunger Solutions aims to improve the health, economic security and well-being of low-income D.C. residents. Support their efforts by visiting www.dchunger.org.
HER Resiliency Center
HER supports young women in D.C. and Baltimore experiencing substance abuse, homelessness and survival sex through an individualized approach. All women who work with HER are shown compassion and respect, and are treated as peers rather than victims. HER helps young women become self-sufficient by providing job coaching and education opportunities, and teaching life skills. Support HER by donating at www.herresiliencycenter.org.
Humane Society of the United States
The Humane Society of the United States works to end all forms of animal cruelty. The D.C.-based nonprofit’s efforts cover, but are not limited to: ending the puppy mill industry, strengthening cruelty laws and eliminating large-scale animal abuses, reducing the suffering of animals raised for meat, eggs and dairy, and fighting to ban trophy hunting. Help the Humane Society end animal cruelty by donating at www.humanesociety.org.
The Human Trafficking Legal Center
The Human Trafficking Legal Center provides closure to trafficking survivors. Survivors are connected with skilled pro bono legal representation to hold traffickers accountable for their crimes through civil and criminal litigation. The D.C.-based center also collects data on trafficking and the failings of the justice system in trafficking cases to drive structural reform. Support their work at www.htlegalcenter.org.
Jubilee Jobs is one of D.C.’s largest and longest-serving job preparation and placement programs. Unemployment is discouraging and isolating, but by providing a supportive community, educational and training opportunities, and employment options, Jubilee Jobs gives jobless Washingtonians hope.
Learn more at www.jubileejobs.org.
La Cocina VA
La Cocina uplifts low-income individuals in the Washington region through the power of food. By providing access to job training, culinary certification and job placement services, La Cocina offers a path to success. The program also provides sustainable food assistance by donating meals cooked by students in the training program to low-income families and individuals in the area. Support their work by donating at www.lacocinava.org.
Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project
The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project works to prevent and amend the conviction of innocent people in the DMV. The organization has helped pass 17 laws that aim to prevent future wrongful convictions, and provides free services to prisoners who cannot afford, or are no longer entitled to, an attorney. Help their cause by donating at www.exonerate.org.
Miriam’s Kitchen aims to end chronic homelessness – a substantial goal to aspire to. The organization connects with the chronically homeless by providing high-quality nutritious meals, and then connecting them with nurses, social workers, psychiatrists and lawyers onsite. Miriam’s Kitchen also advocates for the D.C. government to make investments in housing programs most likely to end homelessness, encouraging policymakers not just to respond to homelessness – but to end it. Learn how you can help by visiting www.miriamskitchen.org.
The MusicianShip promotes the power of music to change the lives of at-risk individuals. The organization facilitates music lessons, experiences and opportunities such as the Washington Youth Choir, serving Washingtonians from 5 years old through the age of 24. Consider supporting their efforts by visiting www.themusicianship.org.
My Sister’s Place
My Sister’s Place aims to end domestic violence in D.C. by providing the city’s first hotline and first domestic violence shelter. Victims of domestic violence receive care from the emergency shelter and are provided transitional-to-permanent housing. Case managers and residential counselors provide comprehensive services, which empower survivors to recover and thrive in addition to providing training, case consultation and advocacy in the community to prevent future violence. Keep your community safe by donating to My Sister’s Place at www.mysistersplacedc.org.
The National Geographic Society
The National Geographic Society in D.C. has supported critical research, exploration and education programs around the globe since the late 19th century. In light of Covid-19, the foundation has doubled their efforts to improve remote learning and assist teachers by creating the Remote Learning Emergency Fund, which will distribute monetary support to individual educators as they continue to teach in-person, remote or in hybrid learning environments during the pandemic. Support National Geographic’s efforts by donating at www.nationalgeographic.org.
National Parks Conservation Association
The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), headquartered in the District, ensures that our national parks are protected and enhanced for future generations to enjoy. The NPCA employs program and policy experts, staff lobbyists, community organizers, and communications specialists to influence policymakers to save our parks, and to keep people informed about what is happening in the parks. Learn more by visiting www.npca.org.
D.C.-based PEN/Faulkner Foundation inspires the community through their celebration of literature and connecting readers and writers. The organization provides education programming for young people that allows them to express themselves through literature by setting up conversations with professional writers, hosting writing workshops and donating books. Learn more by visiting www.penfaulkner.org.
PFLAG is a national organization that provides support, education and advocacy for the LGBTQ community. There are local chapters spread throughout the U.S., including in the District, that work together to create a world where all people of any orientation are respected, valued and affirmed. PFLAG works toward this goal by providing peer support, educating people on the issues, and advocating for more inclusive policies and laws. Support their work by donating at www.pflag.org.
Shout Mouse Press
Shout Mouse Press is a nonprofit writing and publishing program dedicated to amplifying minority voices through writing workshops that can lead to eventual publication. Authors from marginalized backgrounds are able to tell their own stories and act as leaders and agents of change in their communities. The program has produced 40 books by over 320 authors from marginalized communities in D.C. and Haiti, whether they are incarcerated, immigrants, low income or minorities. Help their cause by visiting www.shoutmousepress.org.
Street Sense Media
Street Sense Media produces multiple forms of media to provide economic opportunity to Washingtonians experiencing homelessness. Street Sense empowers homeless people by elevating their voices, as well as providing employment through their newspaper vendor program and case managers to help them find permanent housing. Learn more about their services at www.streetsensemedia.org.
United Way works to tackle issues like poverty and poor health by providing education, healthcare and economic opportunities to underserved Washingtonians. Serving 11 regions in the D.C. metro area, United Way brings hope to those in disadvantaged situations. Support their work by visiting www.unitedwaynca.org.
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