The Guide to Giving

Nearly 60 ways to make a difference in our community




Amanda Smallwood

(page 1 of 6)

What better time than the holidays to give back?

In that spirit, here’s a list of local nonprofits that are working to make Montgomery County a better place—and could use your help.

All of the organizations listed below have been recommended by either The Community Foundation in Montgomery County, which facilitates charitable giving by county residents, families and businesses, or the Arts and Humanities Council for Montgomery County.

General Community

A WIDER CIRCLE (awidercircle.org) turns empty apartments into fully furnished homes, enabling low-income children and adults to take the next steps in their journeys out of poverty. To date, A Wider Circle has furnished the homes of more than 20,000 families in the region and provided life skills and professional development education to local children and adults.

Headquartered: Silver Spring
Serves: Metro region
What a donation buys:

  • $250 provides beds, dressers and other basic items for eight children and adults.
  • $1,000 provides cribs, changing tables and other essential baby items for 30 Well Mother, Well Baby Program participants.
  • $10,000 fuels pickup and drop-off trucks for an entire season.

Volunteer opportunities:

  • One day: Help individuals and families select items, organize showrooms or transfer furniture and home goods from the storage area to the showroom.
  • Weekly: Serve as a job coach, provide résumé-writing support or provide administrative support.
  • Occasional: Go out on the truck, organize showrooms or help families identify additional community support services.
  • Student Service Learning (SSL) hours offered.

AFRICAN IMMIGRANT AND REFUGEE FOUNDATION (www.airfound.org) provides academic support, mentoring, and cultural enrichment for African immigrant youth and their families. It annually serves over 100 kids and families, playing a central role in helping them to effectively integrate into American society.

Headquartered: Washington, D.C., and Silver Spring

Serves: Metro region

What A Donation Buys:

  • $250 pays for some supplies for our new tutoring program starting at the Essex House in Takoma Park.
  • $1,000 supports one student's participation in the in-school mentoring program for a year.
  • $10,000 could fund scholarships for high-performing students.

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • One day: Assist at the Annual Youth Leadership and Education Conference.
  • Weekly/monthly: Volunteer at the Homework and Tutoring Program at Park Montgomery and the Essex House.

ASIAN AMERICAN LEAD (www.aalead.org) provides quality after-school, summer and mentoring programs to low-income and underserved Asian-American youth in prekindergarten through grade 12 living in metropolitan Washington, D.C. The nonprofit serves more than 350 youths annually, including more than 180 middle and high school students.

Headquartered: Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County
Serves: Metro region
What a donation buys:

  • $250 pays for food and supplies for a community service day or other weekend event.
  • $1,000 sponsors one youth to participate in programming for one year.
  • $10,000 sponsors 10 youths to participate in programming for one year.

Volunteer opportunities:

  • One day: Teach a workshop in dance, cooking, writing, art or yoga; or help at a community service event.
  • Weekly/monthly: Volunteer at an after-school program or participate in a one-on-one mentoring relationship with a youth.

ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN LEGAL RESOURCE CENTER (www.apalrc.org/dp/) is a legal services organization serving low-income Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants in the region who have limited English proficiency. Through individual legal representation, community legal education and advocacy, the APALRC ensures that Asian Americans can access the legal system despite language and financial barriers. In 2013, the APALRC handled more than 750 cases covering a broad spectrum of legal issues.

Headquartered: Washington, D.C.

Serves: Metro region

What a donation buys:

  • $250 covers the cost of printing and distributing of 500 informational brochures to crime victims to inform them of their rights.
  • $1,000 covers the cost of two weekly intake sessions to make legal services accessible by Asian immigrants. 
  • $10,000 covers the cost of 40 hours of legal services.

Volunteer opportunities:

  • One day: Volunteer at a community legal education workshop or legal clinic.
  • Weekly: Trained volunteers may provide intake help on the legal help line, disseminate information to crime victims and/or develop outreach materials.

ASPIRE COUNSELING (www.we-aspire.org) provides mental health counseling to children, adolescents, adults and seniors. Aspire has been offering specialty programs for over 25 years via its Positive Aging Project and Collaborative Care: Integrated Behavioral Health program, plus treatment for perinatal depression in its Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies program and support groups for teens with disabilities and their families.

Headquartered: Gaithersburg

Serves: Countywide

What a donation buys:

  • $250 buys therapeutic toys to aid in counseling young children.            
  • $1,000 provides home-based mental health counseling to an uninsured new mother with postpartum depression.
  • $10,000 provides a year of mental health counseling to 40 uninsured children and adults

Volunteer opportunities:

  • One day or weekly: Help with technology, marketing or translation of materials into Spanish.

AYUDA (http://www.ayuda.com/) provides immigrants from around the world with multilingual social services and legal counsel on domestic violence, human trafficking and immigration. Ayuda’s Community Legal Interpreter Bank provides attorneys with trained legal interpreters to ensure that they can communicate effectively with clients. In the past year, Ayuda assisted more than 2,000 individuals representing over 100 countries.

Headquartered: Washington, D.C. , and Falls Church, Va.

Serves: Metro region

What a donation buys:

  • $250 provides clients with five hours of legal interpretation in their native language.
  • $1,000 provides comprehensive legal representation for a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault.
  • $10,000 covers the cost of comprehensive legal, health and social services to take a victim of human trafficking from slavery to self-sufficiency.

Volunteer opportunities:

  • Weekly: Attorneys, counselors, physicians and therapists can donate professional services to treat and/or represent clients. 

CAPITAL AREA ASSET BUILDING CORPORATION (www.caab.org) empowers low- and moderate-income families to take control of their finances, increase their savings and build wealth for a better future. Through Individual Development Accounts, CAAB provides $3 for every $1 each family saves. Once the participant saves up to $1,000, the money can be used toward postsecondary education, starting or enhancing a small business, or providing a down payment on a first home.

Headquartered: Washington, D.C.
Serves: Metro region
What a donation buys:

  • $250 provides class materials for one financial literacy class.
  • $1,000 enables 10 families to take the financial literacy class.
  • $10,000 enables CAAB to provide one year of financial coaching at a community-based organization.

Volunteer opportunities:

  • One day: Help facilitate a financial literacy class.
  • Weekly: Educate residents about the Earned Income Tax Credit and other benefits during tax season.

CAREERCATCHERS (www.careercatchers.org) provides one-on-one career counseling and job-skills training and workshops for about 300 unemployed and underemployed adults in the county annually. Its customized approach helps low-income and limited-English-speaking clients obtain employment that pays a living wage, fosters self-esteem, enhances personal growth and builds social skills leading to self-sufficiency.

Headquartered: Silver Spring

Serves: Countywide

What a donation buys:

  • $250 enables staff to work with a new client to develop a resume and cover letter, plus provide a skills assessment and job search tips.
  • $1,000 covers 12 hours of customized one-on-one counseling.
  • $10,000 pays for continuous intensive support for 10 to 15 clients who need help after their original funding ends.

Volunteer opportunities:

  • One day: Help clients complete online job or training applications, conduct mock interviews or lead a workshop.
  • Weekly: Be an on-the-job or workplace mentor; provide job skills or computer and typing instruction; tutor clients for the GED test or ESOL classes.

CASA DE MARYLAND (casademaryland.org) helps low-income immigrant families become economically self-sufficient by providing employment placement services; job readiness and vocational training; English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) instruction; financial literacy training; naturalization support services; legal, social and health services; and community organizing activities. Last year, CASA served more than 18,000 people through its three welcome centers in Montgomery County.

Headquartered: Langley Park
Serves: Maryland
What a donation buys:

  • $250 supports vocational and job readiness training at CASA’s welcome centers.
  • $1,000 provides six scholarships for low-income, immigrant adults to take 12 weeks of ESOL classes.
  • $10,000 supports stipends for three AmeriCorps members to provide naturalization assistance to aspiring citizens.

Volunteer opportunities:

  • Weekly: Serve as a mentor to those studying for the U.S. citizenship exam.
  • Monthly: Assist youth applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program.

THE CENTER FOR ADOPTION SUPPORT AND EDUCATION (adoptionsupport.org) specializes in addressing the complex issues faced by foster and adopted children and their families. CASE offers a comprehensive range of programs and resources designed to strengthen the well-being of children and teens. Its Live, Learn & Lead Academy program provides a comprehensive suite of wraparound services, including mental health counseling and the development of leadership and life skills, which help young adults aging out of the foster care system to successfully transition to independence.

Headquartered: Burtonsville
Serves: Metro region
What a donation buys:

  • $250 supports the cost of one community-building field trip for 25 participants in the Live, Learn & Lead Academy program.
  • $1,000 provides cost-of-living stipends for two interns who work directly with the youth in the program.
  • $10,000 funds the enrollment of three youths in the program.

Volunteer opportunities:

  • Weekly: Serve as a mentor to a youth participant.
  • Annually: Work with other volunteers to organize gift card and winter coat drives.
  • Student Service Learning (SSL) hours offered.

CENTRONíA (www.centronia.org) is a multicultural learning, community-based organization that works to implement innovative approaches to early childhood education, wraparound family support services and out-of-school programming. Created in 1986, CentroNía now employs more than 260 people who serve more than 2,500 children, youth and families in the District and Maryland. CentroNía’s mission is to educate children and youth, and strengthen families in a bilingual, multicultural community.

Headquartered: Washington, D.C., and Langley Park
Serves: Washington, D.C., and Maryland
What a donation buys:

  • $250 covers provisions for two healthy meals and nutritious snacks for 30 students for one day. 
  • $1,000 covers the cost of one month of full-day summer camp for a child to continue learning beyond the school year.
  • $10,000 provides year-round enrollment for a toddler in the full-day bilingual preschool program. 

Volunteer opportunities:

  • One day: Help out with high-impact daylong activities such as painting, assembling furniture, cataloguing books and library spaces or cleaning.
  • Weekly: Tutor CentroNía’s preschoolers as they transition into elementary school.
  • Internships: Volunteer in an administrative office.
  • Student Service Learning (SSL) hours offered.

CHINESE AMERICAN SENIOR SERVICES ASSOCIATION, INC. (CASSA) (www.cassa-md.org) promotes the well-being of Chinese senior citizens through health and social services, as well as community service activities.  

Headquartered: Rockville

Serves: Countywide

What a donation buys:

  • $250 covers the cost of ESOL class materials for 20 seniors.
  • $1,000 covers the cost of 25 exercise and enrichment classes.
  • $10,000 provides annual health screenings to 200 seniors.

Volunteer opportunities:

  • Weekly: Teach ESOL classes to a group of seniors.

CLANCYWORKS DANCE COMPANY (www.clancyworks.org) provides youth with healthy, fun and creative outlets for self-expression. Dance is used to teach leadership, collaboration skills and cultural awareness and to provide personal enrichment. The nonprofit’s programs reach more than 200 kids annually from schools with limited access to arts education.

Headquartered: Silver Spring
Serves: Metro region
What a donation buys:

  • $250 provides a master class for up to 50 students.
  • $1,000 covers the cost of one student to participate in the 10-week ASPIRE after-school dance program.
  • $10,000 covers the cost of year-round enrollment for a student.

Volunteer opportunities:

  • One day: Volunteer at a special event.
  • Weekly: Provide administrative services.
  • Student Service Learning (SSL) hours offered.

COLLEGETRACKS (www.college tracks.org) works with Montgomery County Public Schools students to navigate the
college application and financial aid process and to enroll, stay in and graduate from college or technical school. The 850 students served annually are often low-income and/or the first in their families to apply to college.

Headquartered: Bethesda
Serves: Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Wheaton high schools
What a donation buys:

  • $250 allows five recent high school graduates to attend College Success Skills Workshops.
  • $1,000 provides one year of college admissions advising for a high school senior.
  • $10,000 provides College Success Coaching for 10 College Scholars.

Volunteer opportunities:

  • Weekly: Become a trained volunteer to help students during lunchtime and after school with all aspects of the admissions and financial aid process. (Must be a college graduate.)

COMMUNITY BRIDGES, INCORPORATED (http://communitybridges-md.org/) empowers girls in elementary, middle and high school from diverse backgrounds to become exceptional students positive leaders and healthy young women. It enables more than 220 girls at seven public schools to discover their unique identities, voice and potential through an integrated holistic program of leadership development, college and career readiness, academic support and enrichment.

Headquartered: Silver Spring

Serves:  Countywide

What a donation buys:

  • $265 enables one girl to participate in programs for a month.
  • $1,597 enables one girl to participate in programs for half a year.
  • $10,000 supports the operation of all three core programs for one week.

Volunteer opportunities:

  • One day: Volunteers are needed for the annual family and communitywide events, including the Fall Open House (September), Fall Friendraiser (November) and end-of-year events (May).
  • Monthly: Become a mentor for the high school girls participating in the program.
  • Student Service Learning (SSL) hours offered.

COMMUNITY MINISTRIES OF ROCKVILLE (http://www.cmrocks.org/) (CMR) provides health and human services to more than 5,000 residents of Rockville and Montgomery County annually. Services include: healthcare for the low-income and uninsured; emergency assistance for families in crisis; housing for the homeless; home-care services for frail, elderly residents; English as a Second Language and literacy classes and a citizenship program for immigrants. CMR also participates in Montgomery County's Holiday Giving Project, providing hundreds of holiday gifts and meals each year. Combined, their programs offer a safety net of services to the county’s most vulnerable residents.

Headquartered: Rockville

Serves: Montgomery County

What a donation buys:

  • $250 pays for two health-care appointments for patients who are low-income and uninsured
  • $1,000 pays a furnace-cleaning program for low-income frail elderly residents
  • $10,000 pays for five English teachers for two semesters.

Volunteer opportunities:

  • One day: Serve as an intake coordinator for emergency assistance or an interpreter for clinic patients, or help with front desk administrative duties.
  • Weekly: Tutor children of language outreach program whose parents are taking classes; make weekly calls to frail, elderly residents living alone.

COURT APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATES PROGRAM OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY (http://www.casamontgomery.org/) supports abused or neglected children by providing them with trained advocates who ensure their best interests are represented in the legal and social service system. Through CASA’s recruitment and training, advocates work with more than 300 children annually.

Headquartered: Rockville

Serves: Countywide   

What a donation buys:

  • $250 covers the cost of recruiting and training four new child-advocate volunteers.
  • $1,000 provides ongoing support and supervision for volunteers to serve three children for one year.
  • $10,000 covers the full cost of matching seven children with a trained volunteer for one year.

Volunteer opportunities:

  • One day: Donate new or gently used toys or books to help children in this process.
  • Weekly: To become an advocate, you must go through extensive screening and training (must be 21 or older).

CRITTENTON SERVICES OF GREATER WASHINGTON (www.crittentonservices.org) helps teen girls make positive choices and believe in their ability to succeed—even in the face of significant challenges. Its school-based programs work with 400 middle and high school girls, teaching them about healthy relationships, reproductive health, college and careers and equipping them with the life skills they need to succeed.

Headquartered: Silver Spring
Serves: Metro region
What a donation buys:

  • $250 will cover the costs of a college tour for a first-generation student.
  • $1,000 will pay for 10 girls to attend a career fair.
  • $10,000 will enable Crittenton to serve 10 to 15 pregnant and parenting teens.

Volunteer opportunities:

  • One day: Volunteer at Crittenton’s upcoming 126th Anniversary Celebration
  • Student Service Learning (SSL) hours offered.

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