ACF convenes a longstanding network of safety net nonprofits who provide direct services to vulnerable Arlington residents and who also receive County funding. The tenets of the group are as follows:
– There is value in the nonprofits speaking from one voice when it comes to County budget and policy or emerging community opportunities and challenges.
– It strengthens our relationships and the safety net itself to spend time together.
– It provides an important platform for striving for equity and addressing structural racism.
– It helps new nonprofit directors immediately tap into a peer network.
– It provides a safe, informal space for nonprofit leaders to discuss individual and shared needs and to dialogue around items of common concern.
In 2016, ACF led the safety net nonprofits through a return on investment report of their collective work in partnership with the County. Arlington’s Safety-Net Nonprofits: Advancing the Common Good describes the social and economic contributions of 14 Arlington “safety-net” nonprofits that provide the most basic necessities for a stable life: housing and shelter; health and mental health services; food; and emergency and employment assistance.
The safety-net nonprofits strive to be accessible and user-friendly to community members in their most vulnerable times. Many individuals — seniors needing a supportive living environment, working parents who have lost a job and have children to feed, uninsured individuals who face a serious health diagnosis — find immediate help from these nonprofits. The high cost of living in Arlington means that many residents are one such setback away from instability, or have already fallen through the cracks.
These nonprofits are witnesses to those who face challenges and are key players in making Arlington a caring community that values and supports all of its residents. A central theme of the report is that Arlington’s safety-net nonprofits are cost effective at providing high-quality affordable services by leveraging donated goods and services and attracting corporate, philanthropic and public funds. In 2015, for example, Arlington Free Clinic provided ongoing medical care to over $1,600 uninsured community members by coordinating the services of 500 volunteers and accessing several million dollars in donated medications.
The report highlights the degree to which the organizations multiply their impact through strategic collaboration with each other and in public-private partnerships with Arlington County. Each organization focuses on what it does best while ensuring that clients access additional services they need from other organizations. For example, Doorways for Women and Children partners with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to help victims of domestic violence find safe housing while working with the victims to build their self-sufficiency and heal from the trauma of abuse.
A social return on investment analysis reveals the value delivered and costs avoided by these nonprofits, and indicates that investments in them are responsible ones. And, they contribute to Arlington’s economy: in FY 2015, these 14 nonprofits generated $58 million in revenues, employed 444 individuals and paid $6.6 million in property taxes.
This report demonstrates that the work of these organizations is critical to the stability of our community. The Foundation values their contributions and is honored to support their efforts through grantmaking and convening.
The full report is available here.
Safety Net Arlington Nonprofits
Arlington Community Foundation
Arlington Food Assistance Center
Arlington Free Clinic
Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing
Bonder & Amanda Johnson CDC
Bridges to Independence
Doorways for Women and Families
Friends of Guest House
Legal Aid Justice Center
Northern VA Family Service
Offender Aid and Restoration
Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic
Shirlington Employment and Education Center
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Arlington
Virginia Hospital Center Pediatric Center