Some people sit shivering and angry in a dark room and curse the world. Others stuck in the same room will light a match, build a fire and plan a way out in time for dinner.

Tonia Wellons, managing director of Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund, is one of those people who will be home by the time dinner prayer is done. Wellons is founder of the Fund’s Forty Under 40 program. It is a program that recognizes 40 talented professionals in the county each year for their work in and outside their chosen industries. Now in its third year, the group is a network of some 120 active, talented professionals in a database that serves as a county resource pool both individually and collectively. Judging by the standing room only awards night at National Harbor’s Sunset Room, the third annual event suggests that Ms. Wellons is onto something.


“We are a known entity now,” Wellons says of the growth of Forty Under 40 since 2011.  “The first year I was calling people out of the blue with a different idea. We were trying to get people involved in something new. We were trying to get them to return our calls.  We were fortunate that they did.” The vision of the first event brought top county leaders—even County Executive Rushern L. Baker III–out to Busboys and Poets to support the new venture. The success of that night in 2012 proved to be an investment in a new, positive county institution.“Now three years later there are people calling us wanting to be on the program, people want to sponsor us. We are not a household name yet but we’re a well-known initiative. The event and the power of the network exist beyond the night of the event,” Wellons says.

More about the 2014 Forty Under 40 cohorts?



The Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund (PGCSIF) is please to announce the Forty UNDER 40 Prince George’s County 2014 LIST! These extraordinary residents, all under the age of 40, are an incredible representation of the rich talent the County has to offer in the areas of Arts & Humanities, Business, Education, Health & Fitness, Public Service, and Science & Engineering. Our aim is to highlight their contributions and encourage even more civic engagement in Prince George’s County.
The honorees were nominated by individuals and organizations from across the region; and they were vetted and selected by representatives from the PGCSIF Advisory Board, prior Forty UNDER 40 Honorees, and the Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce. This cohort represents the NOW generation for Prince George’s County, as they are leaders in their respective areas of influence right NOW! Over the next several weeks, you will have an opportunity to learn more about our 2014 Honorees and we invite you to publicly celebrate their collective successes on January 29, 2014 during the Annual Awards Ceremony.
Earl Adams, Jr., 37 – Fort Washington, Business
LaKeecia Allen, 34- Upper Marlboro, Public Service
Deriece Pate Bennett, 29- Hyattsville, Public Service
Patrice Cameau, 29- Hyattsville, Arts &Humanities
Harmon ‘Monty’ Cooper, 35- Bowie, Public Service
Tara Eggleston, 35- Lanham, Health & Fitness
Angella Foster, 35- Greenbelt, Arts & Humanities
Kyrus Freeman, 36- Bowie, Business
Courtney Glass, 30- Bowie, Public Service
Charis Goff, 29- Fort Washington, Public Service
Riche Holmes Grant, 36- Mitchellville, Business
Jacqueline Hall, 37- Capital Heights, Education
Jocelyn Harris, 31- Landover Hills, Public Service
Ashleigh Holmes, 24- Forrestville, Arts & Humanities
Robert Howze, 39- Bowie, Education
Dr. Melanie Jackson, 39- Bowie, Health & Fitness
Glennard ‘OJ’ Johnson, 34- Upper Marlboro, Education
Janelle Jordan, 38- Cheverly, Public Service
Evelyn Kelly, 34- Hyattsville, Health & Fitness
Wilfrance Lominy, 36- Lanham, Health & Fitness
D’Angelo Kinard, 35 Upper Marlboro, Health & Fitness
Lauren Kornegay, 25- Oxon Hill, Public Service
William Gary Lash, Sr., 34- Bowie, Science & Engineering
Kirk Mensah, 38- Laurel, Public Service
Nycole Morton, 38- Upper Marlboro, Business
Carlos Perkins, 35- Upper Marlboro, Education
Dr. Rashawn Ray, 33- Bowie, Education
Justin Ross, 37- Hyattsville, Public Service
Telene Shipley, 38- Bowie, Education 
Pamela Simonson, 36- Fort Washington, Arts & Humanities
David Sloan, Jr., 31- Fort Washington, Public Service
Craig Stafford, 25- Laurel, Pubic Service
Larry Stafford, 25- Glenn Dale, Public Service
Chris Styles, 34- Laurel, Arts & Humanities
Jasson Walker, 37- Largo, Business
Tariiq Walton, 39- College Park ,Arts & Humanities
Kimberly Williams, 32- Bowie ,Arts & Humanities
Dr. Leah Williamson, 33- Landover, Science & Engineering
Christine White, 39- Upper Marlboro, Education
Dr. Andreas Woods, 35- Upper Marlboro, Education

Congratulations Forty UNDER 40 Prince George’s 2014 Honorees.  Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday as we salute your success!

I met Brian Rubin on twitter nearly two years ago. He happened upon PGCSIF and reached out to me to learn more about what we were up to. He was based in New Jersey at the time and like me wanted to pursue social entrepreneurship, but with two cute kids and an amazing wife, he had to think twice about making the leap.

Then I met Pickett Harrington who had recently started Joltage Innovation. Pickett is a community leader from the mid-West and had recently relocated to the DMV for his wife’s new job.  A friend of mine somehow saw his resume and sent it to me. After talking a bit with Pickett, I thought, “Wow, he and Brian have a lot in common – I should introduce them”. I made the introduction at a ‘start-up’ meeting that PCGSIF hosted in March of this year.

Several months later, Brian found a job in DC and settled in temporarily with family friends who also lead a church in Hyattsville – Triumphant Church. Brian knew that I was interested in creating a co-working space for social entrepreneurs so that people like ‘us’ would have a place to collaborate, work, and grow. Perrin Rogers, who co-leads Triumphant Church with his father, was also interested in making his ministry more community-oriented. Brian introduced Pickett and I to Perrin.


On the premises of Triumphant Church at 6521 Riggs Road is a restaurant with a commercial kitchen and about 600 square feet of unoccupied space.  The church was no longer using the space and Perrin with Brian’s urging thought “maybe we can use this to pilot a co-working site in partnership with PGCSIF”. And so, for the last couple months we have been meeting and planning and meeting and planning. We have been slowly growing a community of like-minded people who want to affect change, strengthen the local economy, increase civic engagement, and build community cooperatively.

On November 2, 2013 from 1 PM – 3 PM, we will open a modest co-working space in what use to be a church restaurant. In my opinion, there’s no better example of how social innovation works! Reserve here or just drop in.

To learn more about our co-working community, contact us at

Reversing the Outward Commute: Increasing Economic Opportunity

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Prince George’s County has the potential to become an economically vibrant community. While median household incomes are relatively high, over 60% of our residents commute outside of the county for employment. We venture to make a direct correlation between the daily outward commute and increased instances of domestic violence; challenged public schools despite the relatively high median income levels, limited healthy food options, and the low commercial tax base that starves Prince George’s County economically.

Our theory of change is that if we reverse the outward commute, public schools will benefit from increased parental engagement giving them the opportunity to connect with teachers during the day without taking time off of work; families will become healthier because there will be shorter commutes and less time spent eating in the car as parents hurriedly rush from downtown to the aftercare pick-up before rushing home to complete homework and dinner; domestic violence will decrease because people are less stressed; crime will decrease because resident schedules will become less predictable; and the commercial tax base will increase because of the increased density of purchasers and suppliers in the county during prime business hours.

We advocate strongly for reversing the outward commute and support effective policies such as employment and contracting preferences for Prince George’s County residents and businesses; research and technical assistance on the creation of sector cooperatives that directly link to the coming business opportunities in Prince George’s County; and by supporting a more dynamic interplay of culture and economy through start-up initiatives, increased opportunities for artists, relaxed food truck policies, and co-working (to name a few).

You will hear more about our work in this spapgcsif_pgcobannerce over the coming months. In the meantime, check out PGCO-Work! and join our meet-up to learn more about upcoming opportunities.

PGCSIF partners with University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business Students to ‘Change the World’ Social Venture Consulting matches talented undergraduate and graduate students with nonprofit organizations in semester-long, project-based consulting partnerships. The program is designed to help entrepreneurial, high-potential nonprofit organizations to increase their organizational capacity by providing them with direct access to pro-bono business consulting.

PGCSIF has engaged four MBA students to map downstream business and entrepreneurial opportunities that may result from four major economic development projects that are currently underway in Prince George’s County. The projects included in the mapping are MGM Grand, Maryland Department of Housing and Urban Development, The Regional Hospital Center in Largo, and Riverdale Park. The research will highlight the experiences of similar major economic development initiatives in other municipalities along with best-case scenarios or opportunities for adjacent industries. The results of this mapping will be vetted with sector professionals and shared and widely with interested county residents, business owners, and aspiring entrepreneurs.

logoThis work supports PGCSIF’s programmatic emphasis in social entrepreneurship or double-bottom line economic development efforts (focusing on people and profit). To learn more about pro-bono consulting opportunities, visit



On the Horizon

PGCSIF is proud to support an upcoming Maryland Gubernatorial Candidates on Monday, April 28th at 7 PM at the Bowie Center for Performing Arts in partnership with the Prince George’s County Women’s Alliance. Kindly RSVP or join the conversation via twitter using #GUBForum14.  

The Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund (PGCSIF) is pleased to announce the launch of its pilot ‘2 to 6 Initiative’. The ‘2 to 6 Initiative’ seeks to support improved educational outcomes of students in grades K through 6 by creating a more direct qualitative link between public school standards and out-of-school time (2 PM to 6 PM). Through this initiative, PGCSIF expects to empower after school providers by equipping them with teaching tools that reinforce Common Core standards and positive character development. A corollary goal is to create a community of practice amongst after school enrichment providers who are committed to supporting improved student performance and work readiness.


Considering public schools – K through 6 – typically close at 2 PM, providing students with quality after school programs that not only provide essential care but also round out the learning they receive during the regular school day is critical. “Parents depend on after school programs to provide transportation from school to a convenient and safe location, to provide a healthy snack, help with homework, and offer enrichment activities so that they can work and provide for their families”, says Shakir McDonald of the BEE Academy.

The after school infrastructure in Prince George’s County is expansive, but mostly disconnected from public school curricula and outcomes. There are approximately 60,000 children in K through 6 in Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) and an estimated 60% of them participate in organized after school care or enrichment programs almost every day. This dynamic is unique to Prince George’s County because of the daily outward commute of most parents for employment purposes. “Given the need and desire to improve the performance of our students and our schools, the opportunity to strengthen this after school infrastructure and establish a more qualitative link between public school standards and after school programming is a common sense approach to supporting our pursuit of educational excellence”, notes Tonia Wellons – Founder of the Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund.

The pilot ‘2 to 6 Initiative’ initiative is launched in partnership with The BEE Academy in Landover, SHABACH Christian Academy in Landover, Ideal Childcare Center in District Heights, the Cultural Academy for Excellence in Mount Rainier, and Redeem Christian Academy in Temple Hills. The initiative is supported with partial funding from Prince George’s County Government and the World Bank Group Community Connections Fund. The Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce has also been a supportive partner in the effort.

With high hopes on the potential of the pilot initiative, PGCSIF is looking to scale this effort countywide in partnership with after school providers, PGCPS, the private sector, and philanthropy. Learn more about this initiative at



Simply Delightful Soul Food of Suitland (5685 Suitland Rd, Suitland, MD 20746, (301) 735-7467)  is on the road and serving up the masses.  I am so excited that he was successful in the licensing process. Simply Delightful Soul Food has been nominated for Steve Harvey’s Neighborhood Award for best soul food restaurant.  From the looks of the pics, I need to fast a couple of days and then head down there. (Source via PGC Blog Food News)

Read more here


Oct. 16, 2013 - WASHINGTON, D.C. – After serving a 7-month post as Acting Music Director at Washington’s Trinity Episcopal Church, Petersburg native and VSU alumnus Patrick D. McCoy was installed as the church’s Minister of Music in a formal service on Sunday, September 15, 2013.  In the presence of the congregation and a host of family and friends, McCoy also entered into covenant with the members of the Trinity Chancel Choir, who were commissioned for music minstry.


The service was led by The Rev’d Canon John T. W. Harmon, the church’s pastor and rector.  Canon Harmon is formerly the rector of Saint Stephen’s church in Petersburg, relocating to Washington in 2000.

“I used to play occasionally for Father Harmon when he was at Saint Stephen’s, so to now have the opportunity to service in ministry with him in D.C. is indeed an honor.  I am especially grateful to the many members of Unity Baptist Church (where my mom is a faithful member)  who expressed their love financially to this new season of ministry.”  McCoy said.During the service of installation, the various symbols of music ministry were presented by members of the choir.  The organist/choirmaster surplice bestowed upon Patrick by his mother Velma McCoy-Pulley and choir member Sondra Legall, hymnals by Caroline Edwards, The Psalter by Carolyn Bryant, Oxford Book of Anthems by Carver King and Letter of Agreement by Dr. Vincent Adams The culmination of the installation was the presentation of the Conductor’s Baton by Canon Harmon.

Several family friends and special guests were in attendance, including Mrs. Shelia Spikes, Mr. James E. Parrish, Mr. Brian Richardson, Dr. Scott Jackson Dantley, Dr. Michael Fain, Mr. Isaac K. Thweatt, Mr. Terrence Bradford Tarver, Ms. Lolinda K. Mosely, Ms. Dana Kristina-Joi Morgan, Washington Performing Arts Society President Jenny Bilfield with daughter Hallie Friedman, Terri Allen-Executive Director of the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts and members of the Takoma Park Baptist Church music ministry.

Following a six year tenure as Director of Music and Organist at Covenant Presbyterian Church, McCoy moved to Washington, D.C. in 2006, where he recently served as Minister of Music at Takoma Park Baptist Church for six years. Named among the Forty Under 40 for Prince George’s County for his contributions to the arts, he is the performing arts columnist for Washington Life Magazine. He is a newly appointed member of the Shenandoah University Alumni Board of Directors.

(source via the


The Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund (PGCSIF) is pleased to announce the call for nominations for Forty UNDER 40 Prince George’s 2014. Forty UNDER 40 recognizes county residents, under the age of 40, who best exemplify the leadership and talent that exists in Prince George’s County. This is the third year of the prestigious award, which promotes the corollary goal to more actively engage the County’s 21- 39 year old demographic in civic and socially oriented ventures through advisory, board service, and advocacy opportunities. After two successful years of recognizing a total of 80 honorees, nearly 20% have joined non-profit boards and advisory committees throughout the County. Past honorees have also engaged in policy discussions with the Prince George’s County Executive and his leadership team and the leadership at the Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce on issues ranging from public education to economic development and residency preferences for employment and contracting.

Nominations for the 2014 Cohort are accepted through October 31, 2013. To qualify, nominees must reside in Prince George’s County, Maryland and be under 40 years of age (as of December 31, 2013). These individuals will have demonstrated success in Arts and Humanities, Business, Education, Health, Public Service, and Science and Engineering. Nominees must demonstrate achievement, commitment, and persistence in their respective professions and/or community involvement. Award recipients will be announced in late-November and recognized in January. We encourage nominations from individuals and organizations. Self-nominations are also welcomed.



FOOD TRUCKS… Prince George’s County is ripe to benefit from the food truck craze. The local restaurant options leave quite a bit to be desired, the USDA recently designated certain portions of our County as a ‘food desert’, and County residents are looking for a quick fix (we drive out of the County every single day for them). The possibility to integrate food trucks with our expansive and beautiful parks system is gold mine waiting to be discovered. The regulatory environment does not prohibit food trucks on Park and Planning sites – we did the research to prove it! We really want to see this happen – quickly!

RESIDENCY PREFERENCES…. How do you reverse the outward commute, increase daytime spending, and potentially expand the commercial tax base? One consideration is to create residency preferences for employment and business contracting (including contracting with local artists in local venues). Residents want a piece of the pie (refer back to Food Trucks), and they’d like to eat it in Prince George’s County during daytime hours.

What do you say? Tell us below, leave a reply:


The following scenarios reflect reality as faced by many Prince George’s County-based artists and arts service providers, hereafter referred to as the “creative economy”:

Featured in Paris art galleries, a Hyattsville photographer whose images depict the lives of local residents, struggles to secure a point of sale for his work in the new arts district.

A youth theater company, which doubles as an afterschool program for children in Forestville, rehearses in the basement of a church and is forced to relocate or cancel rehearsals to accommodate church events.

Though she has yet to utter a note for audiences at Harmony Hall or the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, a Bowie singer performs regularly for sold-out audiences in South Africa and Japan.


Art is serious business. According to the numbers, Prince George’s County residents prefer the exotic to the native – as if art created within county lines has less significance than artwork created across country borders.

Research by Americans for the Arts reveals the local economic impact of the Arts. In the Greater Washington, DC region, spending by local, non-profit arts organizations and their audiences totaled $1.51 billion during fiscal year 2010 and amounted to $61.1 billion across the United States. Cultural tourists spent more than local residents on admission prices, meals before and after events, lodging, etc.

In 2010 Prince George’s County residents spent almost $13 million outside of the County, at museums, galleries, and education outreach programs. The direct result is that members of our creative economy are professional nomads crossing time zones to find career-sustaining opportunities and ideal working conditions.

The artistic “brain drain” is real, and the Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund wants to find the leak. We seek to augment the economic impact of the arts in the County by connecting local venues and opportunities to local artists with proven skill and an established customer base.

To join the discussion, send contact information (name, e-mail address, social-media handles, websites, etc.) to