A Holistic Approach to Community Impact in Washington, D.C.
December 14, 2022 | By Meredith Flanagan and Caitlin Parker
Our Gensler DC Community Impact group focuses its time and resources to improve health and education outcomes in Wards 7 and 8, which are historically disinvested communities east of the Anacostia River. In recent years, we have developed a key partnership with Kelly Miller Middle School (KMMS), a Title 1 school in Ward 7 serving students grades six through eight, to provide holistic support to the students and their families.
In 2018, Dreaming Out Loud opened the two-acre Kelly Miller Farm and Food Hub on the school’s campus to serve as a source of fresh food for the community and help achieve their vision of a healthy, equitable food system throughout the District. Thanks to a mutual connection, Gensler DC had the opportunity to connect with the staff at the farm and began volunteering in earnest in summer 2020, helping them produce sustainably grown vegetables, fruit, and herbs for farm share and wholesale markets.
When students and teachers returned to campus in the fall, our office found new ways to address the lack of healthy food available in the surrounding community. Gensler DC partnered with Monumental Markets to launch a program called Feed The DMV. With a focus on local children facing food insecurity, this initiative donates food that would have been sold in our cafe market when our employees work from home. The two organizations collaborated to curate a donation list of healthy snacks that are delivered to the school once per month for teachers and students.
As the farm partnership and work with Monumental Markets solidified our relationship with Kelly Miller Middle School, we collaborated with the school to identify additional needs that we could help fulfill. During Gensler’s Global Give Back Month in June, we sourced and filled over 30 new backpacks with supplies that students will need for the upcoming school year. This December, Gensler DC is celebrating our second holiday season by donating and wrapping gifts to help students and their families. This year, Gensler’s Washington, D.C. office has donated close to $10,000 in food, school supplies, and holiday gifts.
As one of 11 “Connected Schools” in Washington, D.C., Kelly Miller Middle School partners with companies like Gensler and community-based organizations like Dreaming Out Loud and Monumental Market to become resource hubs that meet the needs of students and their families both in and out of the classroom. We are grateful that we can continue to support the students and families at Kelly Miller Middle School and their surrounding communities, which are a vibrant part of the city we love.