As I reflect on our recent announcement of new grant awards, I want to share a colleague’s story.
Imoni Washington, Director of Programs at the DC Bar Foundation, is a DC native. She grew up in a middle-class family with a Foreign Service Officer dad, stationed for many years in West Africa. There she witnessed deep poverty, and vividly remembers visiting slave castles as a child. She later attended a Quaker high school focused on community service and equality, further shaping her vision.
Today, Imoni’s widowed mother still lives in the family’s District home. Imoni is a resident of SE: “Where I live, I see the need every day. There is no escaping it.”
Imoni’s experiences have impacted who she is and how she approaches our work at DCBF – including our grantmaking, informed by local data.
People are often surprised at the District’s statistics. We are a highly educated community with residents from all over the world. But extreme gaps divide the haves and have-nots. A staggering number of residents live in poverty, including nearly 50% of children in Ward 8. Families of color carry the brunt of the disparities. As Imoni sees daily, some wards of our city are so deeply marginalized that equal access to justice is an essential battle cry.
“We have a strong pro bono ethic in DC, yet it’s still not enough to bridge the gap for those who desperately need legal aid. It’s why I have the best job in the world: making a difference at home.”
Like Imoni, I recognize how fortunate DCBF is to fund one-of-a-kind projects, such as the Community Legal Interpreter Bank (which has no equivalent anywhere in the nation). And I value our ability to fund collaborative approaches to providing legal services. Many of our grantees partner with non-legal organizations to help remove barriers to access to justice.
In innovative grantmaking and all we do at the Foundation: Your support makes it possible. Thank you!
Kirra L. Jarratt