Dear Friends, Family & Colleagues:

The Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund (PGCSIF) has a vision for vibrant community and a good quality of life for all Prince George’s County residents. Our mission is to:

1. Build social capital
2. Invest in new ways of solving old challenges
3. Advocate for increased opportunity in Prince George’s County.

Through our civic engagement and advocacy efforts and with your help, we commit to ensuring that Prince George’s County is a place where residents LIVE, WORK, EAT, CONVENE, CONNECT, ENGAGE and PLAY.

#GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. A day when charities, families, businesses and communities around the world come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. In the same way that Black Friday opens the shopping season, GivingTuesday opens the giving season, uniting charities, companies and individuals in the spirit of giving.

We invite you to learn more about the PGCSIF at, and to make a tax deductible contribution by clicking here and choosing PGC Social Innovation Fund.

Beyond your fiscal gift, we ask that you share this message with your wider network of friends and colleagues.


The PGCSIF Advisory Board

Mark Lawrence, Chairman

Tonia R. Wellons, Founder & Managing Director


"The Forty Under 40 Prince George's County 2015 List has been released! Check it out here!

The Prince George's County Social Innovation Fund (PGCSIF) is please to announce the Forty UNDER 40 Prince George's County 2015 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 2015 Honorees and we invite you to publicly celebrate their collective successes on January 28, 2015 during the Annual Awards Ceremony.

John Anderson III 27 | Public Service, Glenn Dale
Saran T. Baker 39 | Public Service, District Heights
Erica Shauntelle Bannerman 39 | Science & Engineering, Cheverly
Lavinia Baxter 36 | Public Service, Temple Hills
Christian Benjamin 32 | Public Service, Riverdale
Wala Blegay 30 | Public Service, Largo
Natasha Brown 33 | Business, Bowie
Antwan Burks 34 | Science & Engineering, Upper Marlboro
Reuben A. Burrows 30 | Education, Upper Marlboro
Dr. Rashida Cohen 38 | Health & Fitness, Greenbelt
Brittney Drakeford 27 | Public Service, Cottage City
Chidinma Dureke 25 | Arts & Humanities Riverdale
Mahasin El-Amin X | Public Service, Clinton
Brittany Gay 27 | Science & Engineering, Mitchellville
Eunique Gibson 31 | Arts & Humanities, Largo
Treda Grayson 37 | Science & Engineering, Bowie
Dr. Rodney Harrell 36 | Public Service, Largo
Jaunese L. Harris 37 | Science & Engineering, Fort Washington
Candace B. Hollingsworth 33 | Public Service, Hyattsville
Taylor Johnson 23 | Arts & Humanities, Riverdale
Rushane M. Jones 36 | Business, Bowie
Kira Calm Lewis 38 | Public Service, Springdale
Dr. Leelannee Malin 37 | Business, Fort Washington
Teisha Marie McKie 33 | Arts & Humanities, Fort Washington
Shakisha A. O'Connor 29 | Public Service Lanham
Shalita O'Neale 32 | Business Largo
Dr. Robert Patterson 32 | Education Landover
Jay Perry 33 | Business Brandywine
Shameeka Price 37 | Public Service Bowie
Holli Rice 35 | Business District Heights
Latisha Roberson 33 | Business Bowie
Maurice Simpson 25 | Public Service Landover
Melanie Terry 38 | Business Upper Marlboro
Blair Todd 36 | Education Upper Marlboro
Councilwoman Karen Toles 37 | Public Service Upper Marlboro
Rae Wallace 27 | Health & Fitness Hyattsville
Ellis Watson 34 | Public Service Bowie
Shauntia D. White 29 | Education Hyattsville
Kita Williams 39 | Arts & Humanities Landover
Rahsheim Wright 36 | Public Service Suitland

Launching Forty UNDER 40 Prince George’s 2015

It’s hard to believe that we are already preparing for Forty UNDER 40 Prince George’s 2015…but we are! We have knack for finding the best and brightest in Prince George’s County and expect that this year will be no different. Send us your top nominees for this award which recognizes outstanding County residents, under the age of 40, who demonstrate exceptional commitment to their professions, community, and causes. Submit your nominations by November 3rd in order to be considered for the 2015 cohort (Cohort 4). The nomination form is here.


Featured 40: Honorees keep making things happen!

The Battle of Bladensburg

On August 24, 2014, the 200th Anniversary of the March on Washington by British forces was celebrated. You may have heard some of this on the local news or in the newspapers, but behind the scenes were two of our Forty Under 40 honorees – Aaron Marcavitch (Cohort 1) and Scott Peterson (Cohort 2). Aaron, along with the Battle of Bladensburg Task Force, was responsible for bringing together a program that would support 8000 plus visitors to Bladensburg including food trucks, re-enactors, fireworks, programs, activities, and more. He managed the budget and the day-to-day operations leading up to the event, juggled meetings, and pulled together a wide group of people to ensure the program came off without a hitch. In an office of two, he worked hard to create partnerships around the County! Scott Peterson, the County Executive’s spokesperson, supported the program in a variety of ways – including working directly with a wide range of media outlets to ensure the program was noticed and connected to the region. He worked tirelessly behind the scenes connecting media to the Task Force and worked to make a live coverage by CSPAN possible. These two Forty Under 40 honorees worked to connect visitors to a vision of the county as a prime cultural tourism location on par with other places in the region.

Congrats Aaron and Scott!

Forty UNDER 40 Honorees are making moves — from winning political office (Erek Barron, Nicole Williams, and Angela Angel to name a few…) to hosting major initiatives such as Taste Prince George’s and Wind down Thursday’s at The BLVD. This crew is pretty busy and we want to highlight their important work and accomplishments more regularly. We are starting today! 

Check out Charis Goff’s take on #Ferguson and then find your Zen with Dana Smith — the Yoga Diva — as you flip through the highlights from her new book — Yes! Yoga has Curves. 

fergusonprevent_caro_article-small_45676 Charis Goff (2014 Honoree) speaks on #Ferguson 

If you’ve taken even a passing glance at the news in recent weeks, you’ve seen images reminiscent of a war zone. Tanks rolling down suburban streets; guns pointed at protestors by authorities in flak jackets. These weren’t stories from Afghanistan or Palestine. They were the live accounts of what has happened in Ferguson, MO following the death of Michael Brown at the hands of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

Viewing these images encourages any number of emotions: sadness, anger, helplessness. Were you inspired to action? The people of Ferguson were. Communities around the country were also. We saw pockets of people gather together to organize protests, marches, strategy meetings, and boycotts – all to call for justice for Michael Brown and all those whose stories of violence and death at the hands of law enforcement are becoming far too frequent. Another response emerged as well: online. Social media continues to house rallying cries. No doubt, “hashtag activism” appears here to stay. What’s the next move? Where will we take this?One thing that many of the above actions have in common is initiation by young people, mostly 40 and under. From grassroots organizing to outreach from national groups, response has been swift in calls for justice for Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, and now Michael Brown. What will we do to move forward from these tragedies? What now?

Dana Smith (2012 Honoree) launches new book:
 Yes! YOGA has CurvesYoga is a transformational art designed to bring our mind, body and spirit back into balance. It helps us to appreciate who we are and love the skin that we are in. This book has been a dream of author Dana Smith aka “The Yoga Diva” for many years and thanks to friend and photographer Wanakhavi Wakhisi her dream has become reality.Her practice began when she was in her final trimester of pregnancy and was key in helping her adjust to new motherhood and everyday stresses of life. She learned how to work with her curves and has been teaching to yogis of all body types for over 10 years.

In popular media only one type of yoga body is highlighted and there is little representation for fuller bodied women. Because of this, many women don’t think they have the “yoga body” and hesitate exploring yoga, even though it has countless benefits.

This book serves as a testament that yoga is for EVERYbody and that no one physical size is better suited for practice. It will celebrate beautiful goddesses of all curvy shapes and sizes and finally allow the beauty of our curves to be recognized in this blessed art called yoga.

The true essence of yoga is what you do from your heart, not what you do with your body.

Learn more about the project by clicking here
Order the book by following this link

The Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund recently celebrated its three-year anniversary and we are excited! What started as a simple idea to engage younger residents and pilot new initiatives has nicely blossomed into an collaboration of cross-generational stakeholders interested innovative solutions to a broad range of local challenges. Our partnerships with EnVision Prince George’s, The Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce, The Community Foundation for Prince George’s County, Park and Planning, Associated Black Charities and County Government have yielded the launch of several pilot initiatives – Forty UNDER 40, the 2 to 6 Initiative, and PGCO-Work; lots of important lessons learned from our successes and failures; and an ability to offer a credible and representative voice based on our learning, stakeholders, and experience. It’s been a great run and the realization that community development is a marathon rather than a sprint has been an early lesson!

To celebrate our three-year anniversary, we would like to share our newly approved Strategic Plan which further solidified our technical focus in three core areas: Civic Engagement; Education; and Economic Opportunity.  As per the findings from the planning process, we are best positioned to serve the County through advocacy, action-based research, and by offering intellectual ‘think tank-like’ analysis, programming, and technical advisory on issues and opportunities for Prince George’s County, particularly those impacting the 21 – 45 year old demographic.

Please have a look at our Strategic Plan… we’re making moves!

plan_header copy

Speaking of ‘making moves’, our strategic plan calls for increasing our governance and staff capacity in order to deliver on our exciting agenda. Getting the right people on the bus to join our amazing team is an important next step for our growth and trajectory.  As such, we are currently recruiting Advisory Board Members and a part-time Program Manager in order to increase our delivery capacity. So — have a look at our re-energized Strategy and let us know if you’re interested in joining our efforts.

Leave your comments here, send an email to, or share your interest in the Advisory Board or the Program Manager opportunity.



Getting the right people on the bus to join our amazing team is an important next step for our growth and trajectory.  As such, we are currently recruiting Advisory Board Members and a part-time Program Manager in order to increase our delivery capacity. So — have a look at our re-energized Strategy and let us know if you’re interested in joining our efforts.

To view details for Advisory Board Position – click here


To view details for Program Manager – click here

“Make the rules, win the game.” – Wayne Curry

On behalf of the Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund, we offer sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Wayne K. Curry and to the residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland.  Mr. Curry’s life and legacy in leadership is an inspiration to us all and especially to young Prince George’s County residents.

IMG_3234As County Executive, he gained the reputation of ‘trailblazer’; and to many up and coming professionals the title was mentor, coach, and friend. During a private ‘fireside chat’ last fall, Mr. Curry shared his story — completely unfiltered — with members of the Forty UNDER 40 Honorees with hopes of encouraging a new crop of leaders to commit to Prince George’s County and “to continue to pursue the impossible”.  We will always remember his favorite Frederick Douglas quote from that evening,  “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has, it never will.”

His passing is a reminder to us all that with our limited time on this earth, we have to make it count!

With sincere condolences,

The Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund (PGCSIF)


On Monday, April 28th PGCSIF provided the live social media engagement for the Prince George’s County Women’s Alliance’s Gubernatorial Debate @ the Bowie Performing Arts Center. We captured each candidates pitch and responses to questions and garnered over 300 impressions via twitter. Here is the recap from #Gubforum14

Gateway Arts District: Believing on Beauty Built on Love (courtesy of Art Lives here)

On May 3rd singer, songwriter, performer, and educator Tamara Wellons will fill the Gateway Arts District with her “hypnotic blend of soul, jazz and soulful house varieties” with six hours of continuous half hour performances throughout local beauty, health care and barber shops. This pop-up performance series, Beauty Built on Love, is meant to spread the concepts of “embracing love, celebrating each other, and being confident in who you are” and includes a give-away card that allows customers to download Wellons most recent album.

Learn more about this exciting project and the Gateway Arts District here

nTuitive nGen would like to thank those that participated in the GSA Schedules Workshop. The event was definitely a success and the PGCo-Workspace was perfect for our business owners. There were several businesses represented industries included Business Consulting, IT, Non-Profit, and Financial Services. 

We had a chance to get into the details of the GSA Schedules program and there were several companies able to network for potential teaming partnerships in the future. Best of all, companies received answers to their pressing unique questions for future government pursuits. To check out future events log onto

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.  

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?