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Community Foundation for Northern Virginia partnering with The Democracy Collaborative to launch the Northern Virginia Anchor Collaborative


April 30, 2019

Community Foundation for Northern Virginia partnering with The Democracy Collaborative to launch the Northern Virginia Anchor Collaborative

New initiative will build a more inclusive economy by connecting resources of anchor institutions to community needs

FAIRFAX, VA: Although Northern Virginia enjoys one of the highest incomes in the nation, pockets of deep poverty persist. Overall, 15.9% of the 2.32 million in the region are living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. Creating an economy that works for all Northern Virginia residents, especially the disproportionately Black and Hispanic communities that lack the opportunities to prosper and build wealth whiter ones enjoy, requires aligning all available resources in the region in a coordinated effort.

Catalyzing such an effort is the aim of the new Northern Virginia Anchor Collaborative (NVAC), spearheaded by the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia (CFNOVA). Inspired by the community wealth building framework established by The Democracy Collaborative, the new initiative will use the resources of “anchor institutions” like nonprofit hospitals and universities and local governments to drive the regional economy in the direction of equity and inclusion, beginning with a pilot project in Fairfax County’s Route 1 Corridor.

The roadmap for this collaborative effort to align resources for transformative impact, convening local anchors including Inova Health System, Fairfax County Government, Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College, and The Skillsource Group, was established by a volunteer effort of civic advocates who participated in multiple design teams assessing the potential for community wealth building strategies in Northern Virginia. This process zeroed in on the disparity of wealth near the Route 1 corridor, establishing an initial focus area of “south county”, defined by Fairfax County’s Health and Human Services as Regions 1 & 2 and by political boundaries as Lee, Mason and Mount Vernon districts. Extensive interviews with residents, especially local youth, surfaced unmet needs for community infrastructure and grassroots entrepreneurial opportunity, and the initial work of NVAC will be directed at developing strategies that respond to the needs voiced by these community members.

Ronnie Galvin, Vice President of Engaged Practice at The Democracy Collaborative, underscores the critical role of authentic community engagement in any process aimed at building community wealth: “We need transformative solutions to address the deep and persistent disparities that divide America’s communities—and you can’t develop truly transformative solutions without bringing community voices into the design process from the beginning. We are honored to be working alongside CFNOVA on this important and much needed initiative.”

Highlighting the transformative role that ambitious regional collaboration could play, Karla Bruce, Chief Equity Officer in Fairfax County, relates that “Fairfax County Government is excited to join the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia as a part of the Northern Virginia Anchor Collaborative. As we strive to become One Fairfax, a Fairfax County where all residents have the opportunity to thrive and prosper, it is important that we work together as a community to create opportunities for all residents, even the most vulnerable, to build assets that enable them to support their basic needs, invest in themselves and their families, and contribute to a strong and growing economy.”

CFNOVA’s ability to convene area stakeholders for long-term collaboration will be key to NVAC’s success. For Eileen Ellsworth, CFNOVA President, “The Community Foundation is uniquely positioned to convene stakeholders and catalyze action. CFNOVA’s relationships with business, nonprofit and governmental networks places it in an ideal position to facilitate community wealth building, giving Northern Virginia’s economically disadvantaged residents opportunities to attain financial success and economic stability.”


John Duda, jduda@democracycollaborative, (202) 559-1473 x102

About the Democracy Collaborative

The Democracy Collaborative is a national nonprofit organization that serves as a research and development lab for the democratic economy, developing new ways to build community wealth and stronger, more inclusive local economies, including through transformative partnerships with anchor institutions like universities, local governments and health systems. For more information, visit:

About the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia helps grow local philanthropy to respond to critical need and seed innovation in the region. Comprised of donor advised funds, permanent funds, giving circles, and other charitable endowments, the Community Foundation connects donors to community and promotes a more equitable and inclusive prosperity that marries our economic strength with the full breadth of our diverse community. In 2018 the Community Foundation awarded more than $7.1 million in grants and scholarships and now reports $66 million in managed philanthropic assets. For more information please visit us at


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