Nataniel Pickett Foundation Health Fair at the Southwest Market. Courtesy of the Author 

By Regina Harrison, Board Member, Friends of Southwest DC

For 25 years, Friends of Southwest DC (FOSW) has awarded small grants to support neighborhood nonprofit organizations and residents in Southwest. In 2023, FOSW celebrated a quarter century of grant awards, with a total of $450,000 distributed to over 50 different organizations for projects in Southwest DC. 

The FOSW annual report, just released, describes the myriad ways in which 2023 grants were used to benefit Southwest residents: for school supplies and backpacks, to provide after school mentors, to distribute food, provide health screenings, sponsor college scholarships, repair community gardens, assist seniors, support community events, and more. FOSW awarded 20 grants worth $60,000 during the year.

Scholarships were the single largest recipient of funding. FOSW awarded its second annual Coralie Farlee Scholarship for Graduate Studies, named in honor of the FOSW founder, to SaDeja Keith, who is enrolled in a master’s degree program in education at the University of the District of Columbia. 

“I could be a part of a fantastic group of educators promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers to students in urban communities,” said Keith. FOSW also sponsored four undergraduate scholarships, administered by SWNA.

Education was also the focus of several other grants by Friends of Southwest DC in 2023. Alpha Phi Alpha (Omicron Eta Lambda chapter) created enthusiasm for a return to classes by giving away backpacks filled with back-to-school essentials. The GoodProjects Learning Hub enlisted tutors in reading and math for 75 students in Southwest. Southwest Academy used its grant to provide training to interns on technological learning and practices to address disorder and violence. DC Storm (Students Taught Organization and Respect through Mentoring) traveled with 15 students to visit college campuses around Hampton, Virginia, to expose students to academic settings and encourage them to pursue higher education.

Continuing two long-term programs, FOSW grants provided scholarships for three Southwest students to attend Camp Arena Stage and supported the Jefferson Middle School ensemble at the Arena program “Voices of Now,” which fosters creativity. Another artistic program, the Children’s Chorus of Washington, was given a small grant to support attendance by Southwest students. 

Southwest adults also responded enthusiastically to community-oriented programs funded by FOSW grants. A grant to Waterfront Village enabled classes on “Solo Aging” to assist seniors and help prevent social isolation and loneliness. Serve Your City (Southwest Pod) and Christ United Methodist Church (5000 Food Ministry) provided food and essential supplies for cleaning and personal hygiene to about 1,600 families. Separate grants funded repairs at the SW Community Gardens and the Christ United Methodist Church community garden. 

Several community events also benefited from grants. The Nathaniel Pickett Foundation health fair drew 200 participants at the Southwest market, providing resources to deal with alcoholism, narcotics, gambling, and other issues. The Foundation expressed thanks: “Please take pride in knowing your donation has assisted in taking a firm step further toward a brighter future.” 

In another FOSW-funded event at the market, SW Strong—a SWNA task force—organized numerous non-profit and governmental agencies to discuss climate change, environmental threats, and disaster preparedness. Yet another popular community event was the second annual Mutt Strut. October was a splendid time to walk the dogs of Southwest. Sponsored by the Southwest Community Center, dogs and owners strolled for several miles and then gathered in for a party with contests, prizes, and games. Grants also helped fund two Southwest Days at Lansburg Park.

The joy of the holiday season was augmented by FOSW grants to provide meals and gifts. The James Creek Resident Council sponsored a Winter Wonderland, distributing winter clothing and gift cards. Carron Baptist Church served hot Thanksgiving meals for seniors and the homeless and gifted winter coats. Bread for the Soul handed out gifts to Southwest families, as did the Southwest Comm-Unity Forum, with their Toys for Tots program, marking their 14th year. In a letter to Friends of Southwest DC, members of Carron Baptist Church wrote: “As your name suggests a friend is someone that should be there during your time of need and help you through the most difficult time.” 

Friends of Southwest DC depends entirely on donations from community members to fund its grants; to become a donor or apply for a grant, please visit 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.