ACT for Alexandria

Understanding the Space Around Us

We have made it to the halfway point of our strategic planning process! Since our June 16 community workshop, we have forged forward, continuing to learn from Alexandria by listening to Alexandrians. Our workshop results highlighted common concerns such as affordable housing, collaboration, and inclusion. We have continued to analyze Alexandria from both a broad and a narrow perspective. We have looked nationally to comparable-sized foundations and spoken to their leaders while also honing in on Alexandria’s changing demographics and existing nonprofit environment.

While this may not come as a surprise to many of you, Alexandria is changing. Housing costs are rising with a shift toward more rental-occupied housing. Although educational attainment is high overall, it is lower among African-American and Hispanic populations. The city’s population is shifting, both in make-up and geography. Our Hispanic population has grown approximately 39% in the last 13 years. In the same time period, Alexandria’s neighborhoods have become less diverse, with increasing diversity in the West end and decreasing diversity in Arlandria and Old Town. As we move forward, we strive to remain mindful of the ramifications for such changes within our community.

From June 6 to July 6, ACT interviewed 11 Alexandria nonprofit leaders whose organizations each addressed a community need such as homelessness, animal welfare, culture and immigration, to name a few. Our goal in interviewing nonprofit leaders was to understand ACT’s place in relation to local nonprofits. The participating nonprofit organizations ranged in receipt size from $178,055 to $11.5 million. We asked each leader similar, open-ended questions that addressed 3 primary areas: a vision for Alexandria, a vision for their organization, and possibilities for ACT. Our results were consistent with our workshop outcomes. The primary areas of concern were: affordable housing, collaboration and inclusion.

In keeping with our workshop outcomes, we conducted two Alexandria Times polls in July. We found that Alexandrians want to improve education (42%) and affordable housing (29%). Alexandrians also responded that nonprofits should focus on specific, measurable goals (43%).

As we move into the second half of our strategic planning process, we continue to explore new ways to engage with the Alexandria community in the hopes of understanding the space we work within and where ACT’s place is within Alexandria. For questions about the nonprofit interviews or to learn more about ACT’s strategic planning process, please contact Heather Peeler at



-By Hannah Lee