When Omar and I created DCSIP six years ago, we were motivated by two purposes:

  1. To help spark opportunities that improve the quality of life for residents living in underserved neighborhoods, and
  2. To break down barriers and provide access to philanthropic resources (specifically funding and pro bono consulting) for change-makers from non-traditional backgrounds.

We recognized then that there were people who had great ideas to improve their community and the ability to implement those ideas, but that those same people faced barriers in getting initial funding and support to make their work possible. We were attempting to practice inclusive innovation and inclusive entrepreneurship before those were buzzwords.

    I’m proud that over the past six years we played a key role in the launch and development of ten innovative community projects and ventures by investing both cash and strategic assistance. For many of these projects and ventures, DCSIP was their first funder – and that funding they received from us wasn’t just transactional, but was transformational in breathing life into their nascent efforts. Today, 80% of these ventures are active and thriving despite operating in challenging circumstances. We want to take this moment to thank you and our recently-departed executive director, Melissa Ehrenreich, for playing a key role in bringing us to this point. Melissa was a great addition to our team and although we are sad to see her go, we are excited for the next chapter in her career.

As we think about the future of DCSIP, we are at an important inflection point for the organization. Two things bring us to this moment. First, in light of our upcoming sixth anniversary this June, our board has begun discussions around creating a new strategic plan for DCSIP – a plan that would build upon our success while letting us dig deeper into the issues and neighborhoods that need our support the most – but one that would also take more time and resources to implement. Second, with the recent departure of our executive director and some of our board members coming to the end of their terms, we are considering how best to fill that leadership opportunity. As we sat in a conference room last month discussing the possibilities for how we could refine and evolve our model and organization, we thought that in order to be true to our values of inclusiveness and responsiveness to the community, we should open the door to your feedback and ideas as we explore what’s next for DCSIP.

    So as we think about this next chapter for DCSIP, we want to hear from you. What ideas do you have for how DCSIP can continue empowering local change-makers while amplifying our impact? Do you know of an organization that we should form a deep partnership or collaboration with to amplify our work? Do you want to step up and commit to being part of our core team of funders and board leadership to help steward DCSIP’s future? Everything’s on the table.

We invite you to engage with us and share your ideas and support by:

    Thank you for being a part of our DCSIP community – we look forward to the conversation.


    Darius Graham