The Carl & Roberta 
Deutsch Foundation


Cohort 8 - Already Halfway There!

Posted by HALO Award on August 1, 2019 at 4:40 PM

It’s hard to believe that Cohort 8 is already halfway through their HALO Award program year! Last week the cohort of seven Los Angeles-based nonprofit organizations met for their second of four Peer Learning Sessions. At these Sessions key volunteer program and organization staff address specific volunteer program challenges and opportunities, participate in facilitated discussion led by Blue Garnet, and develop a volunteer management plan.

During the Session, Debbie Unruh, Executive Director of Elizabeth House and member of Cohort 7, returned to the HALO Award family to share about Elizabeth House’s HALO experience – both during their program year and now almost a year out. Debbie explained how the impact of the award transcends beyond the year-long, intensive support from Blue Garnet and the Foundation. In fact, Debbie and her staff often refer to the binder which contains the notes, worksheets, and activities from their own Peer Learning Sessions; she humorously referred it as her “Volunteer Management Bible.” Debbie’s alumni perspective provided the Cohort with meaningful context and the opportunity to learn from another organization’s hindsight.

Debbie Unruh, Elizabeth House

Cohort 7

As Cohort 8 continues to develop their volunteer management plans, several organizations explained a shift in the way they view volunteers since meeting at the first Peer Learning Session. These organizations are challenging what historically has been more of a transactional approach to volunteer management and are now identifying ways to consider and utilize volunteers as an extension of their own staff. Though each organization recruits and utilizes volunteers differently, all seven organizations agree that volunteers are vital members of their teams and central to achieving their organizational goals. Cohort 8 left Peer Learning Session 2 feeling “motivated,” “challenged,” and “ready” to continue developing their plans.

The purpose of the HALO Award is to strengthen and sustain nonprofit organizations through the support of volunteer program - it is always exciting to see the Cohort develop strategic volunteer managements plans that not only enhance strategies, but also directly reflect the values of the organizations and thus deepen impact.

Thank you to the 2019 HALO Award Applicants!

Posted by HALO Award on July 18, 2019 at 2:45 PM

Last week The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation received a total of 47 HALO Award applications, of which 23 are new applicants and 24 are returning applicants, all hoping for support to strengthen their current volunteer programs in order to build their organizational capacity.

Thank you to this year’s applicants!

Here's a snapshot of the 47 organizations. Please note that applicants were asked to select all that applied; responses represent duplication in numbers.

The 2019 winners will be chosen by a Selection Committee comprised of local nonprofit and foundation leaders. Stay tuned for an announcement this Fall!

Celebrating the Hearts of Volunteers

Posted by HALO Award on February 21, 2019 at 4:50 PM

On Valentine’s Day, The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation celebrated the 2018 HALO Award winners with a luncheon at the beautiful Marion Davies Guest House in Santa Monica. It was a perfect day to honor the love, dedication and hearts of the volunteer awardees, while also welcoming 7 new organizations to the HALO Award family including: A Place Called Home, EnCorps, Inc., Food on Foot, Learning Rights Law Center, Los Angeles United Methodist Urban Foundation, Operation Jump Start and People Organized For Westside Renewal.

2018 Volunteer Awardees

The Foundation was honored to have Nike Irvin as the event’s keynote speaker. Nike is a 22-year veteran of nonprofit leadership who served as Vice President of Programs at the California Community Foundation and President of The Riordan Foundation and currently sits in the several nonprofit boards, including Southern California Grantmakers. Joined by her mother, Nike lifted volunteerism by sharing her personal journey of service, filled with anecdotes about love, commitment to family and community, and finding purpose.

Keynote Speaker: Nike Irvin, Founder of ZWN, Inc.

Other Luncheon guests included the 2018 Selection Committee, Mayor Garcetti’s Office of Volunteer Engagement, the Blue Garnet capacity building team, and HALO Award alumni, Gabe Middleton and Carmen McDonald, who later served on an alumni panel during the afternoon Orientation for the new cohort.

2018 Selection Committee

From left: Patrick Conyers, Executive Director of Pasadena Education Foundation & 2017 HALO Award Winner; Gabe Middleton, CEO of human-I-T & 2016 HALO Award Winner; Chris Henrikson, Board Member of Street Poets; Kara Soldati, President & CEO of United Friends of the Children; Carrie Harlow, Program Officer at The Ahmanson Foundation; Kristina Deutsch, Trustee at The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation

Not pictured: Dorothy Fleischer, Program Director at the W.M. Keck Foundation

Orientation Alumni Panel

From left: Gabe Middleton, CEO of human-I-T & 2016 HALO Award Winner; Carmen McDonald, Director of Legal Services at Los Angeles Center for Law & Justice & 2017 HALO Award Winner


Despite the heavy rains outside, warmth and love permeated the room for what is always a favorite day of the year for the Foundation. We can’t wait to get started with Cohort 8!

Cohort 7's Final Peer Learning Session

Posted by HALO Award on January 31, 2019 at 3:30 PM

On January 23rd the 2017 HALO Award winners met for the last time as Cohort 7 at The California Wellness Foundation in Downtown Los Angeles. The final Peer Learning Session is always a bittersweet day as organizations reflect on key learnings and areas of growth, while also preparing for continuing the momentum of their work post-HALO.

During the program year Elizabeth House, Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice, Pasadena Educational Foundation, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, and WriteGirl have strengthened their volunteer programs through the creation and development of a volunteer management plan. For some, this plan has included onboarding a full-time volunteer coordinator, implementing a new database system, and/or formalizing volunteer training manuals.

In the afternoon, the group was joined by HALO Award alumni Jessica Ellis, Director at Centinela Youth Services (Cohort 6), Mary Henriques, Development Director at Valley Family Center (Cohort 5), and Wende Nichols-Julien, Chief Executive Officer at CASA of Los Angeles (Cohort 4). The three program alums shared their experiences navigating the work post-HALO, highlighting both the challenges and successes. Current program participants were able to ask specific questions on topics such as volunteer recruitment.

All six organizations put in tremendous amounts of work throughout their program year; The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation is excited to hear about their continued efforts and success! 

Welcoming Back a Familiar Face at Peer Learning Session 3

Posted by HALO Award on November 30, 2018 at 6:15 PM

Earlier this month Cohort 7 met for their third Peer Learning Session at The California Wellness Foundation in Downtown Los Angeles. Since the group is well into the development of their volunteer management plans, Blue Garnet led a focused discussion on “risk management” as it relates to implementing their plans.

Within their own organizations and cross-organizationally, participants worked through identifying potential implementation “risks” or challenges and formulated proactive solutions to address those issues, should they arise. This discussion framework allowed organizations to analyze their plans in another creative and strategic way.

During lunch, The Foundation was pleased to welcome back Gabe Middleton, CEO of human-I-T and member of Cohort 6. Gabe discussed human-I-T’s utilization of corporate volunteers and some best practices for corporate volunteer recruitment and communication.

This winter, human-I-T will welcome their first round of AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers, which they were awarded as a direct result of an AmeriCorps VISTA workshop at a Peer Learning Session during their program year.

It is always exciting to bring back program alumni to build connections with current awardees and to share experiences post-HALO. In January, Cohort 7 will meet for their final Peer Learning Session and become program alumni themselves!

Volunteer Spotlight Series: Elizabeth House

Posted by HALO Award on September 20, 2018 at 1:30 PM

Kate Rhymer, Volunteer Awardee (left) & Debbie Unruh, Executive Director (right)

Please give a brief explanation of what you do at Elizabeth House?

Before the onboard of Elizabeth House’s new Volunteer Coordinator, my work with the organization focused on individually interviewing people who are interested in volunteering with Elizabeth House and giving them a tour of our house and program. I then connect them based on what our current needs are, how they’d like to be involved, and what specific skills they might have to share with us.

When and why did you first get involved with Elizabeth House?

I’ve been involved at Elizabeth House in some capacity since around 2008. I jumped in because I was touched by the mission of providing shelter and family-focused support to pregnant homeless women and their children. I served on the board for six years, while also being a mentor and Volunteer Coordinator. My personality as a “connector” seemed like the perfect fit to be able to link volunteers and their desire to make a difference in our program. Plus – my children were grown and I love babies!

What motivates you to stay involved at Elizabeth House?

I continue to be involved because Elizabeth House is a family – to the women who live there as residents, and to volunteers and staff as well. At Elizabeth House I have the opportunity to spend time with our residents and talk with them about their struggles and successes, watch their babies grow, and give them encouragement. I’ve also developed close friendships with our staff over the years. It such a welcoming and warm environment.

What is your favorite memory of volunteering with Elizabeth House?

The most meaningful experience I have had at Elizabeth House was in my capacity as a mentor. I was working with a young woman who had no family in the Los Angeles area, and I was privileged to be in the delivery room when we welcomed her baby girl into the world! It was such an amazing experience, and I’ve continued to walk alongside her as her daughter has grown. It’s quite humbling, because I’m sure I’ve learned more from her than she’s learned from me!

What has surprised you most about working with Elizabeth House? What do you wish other people knew about Elizabeth House?

Elizabeth House was founded in 1994, and I’m always amazed to think that for 24 years we’ve been empowering women to get back on their feet. In fact, some of the babies born at Elizabeth House have now graduated from college!! I’d also like people to know about our alumni services program which offers the women additional support once they leave the house and gives them the tools they need to continue to take their next step forward in life.

Elizabeth House is so much more than just a shelter program and a roof over someone’s head. It’s a place where our residents face the difficult journey away from abuse and neglect as they move towards wholeness and stability. It’s a place where volunteers can feel connected as they do their part to further our mission – whether by holding babies, driving a new mom to a doctor’s appointment, sorting donations, teaching a class. In Elizabeth House I’ve found a place where I can be a part of something much bigger than myself, and my life has been transformed by serving there.

For more information on volunteering with Elizabeth House, please visit

Cohort 7 Meets Again!

Posted by HALO Award on September 1, 2018 at 12:45 AM

Last week, Cohort 7 came together for their second Peer Learning Session at The California Endowment’s Center for Healthy Communities. This session focused on refining volunteer management plans and participating in Spotlight Cases from Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) and Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Both organizations presented a “spotlight” on a specific issue or challenge in their volunteer programs and then received feedback and suggestions from their peers to address the issues. Throughout the program year, all six organizations have this cross-organizational, peer-to-peer learning opportunity.

In the afternoon, two guests shared capacity building opportunities supporting volunteer programs. Danette Martin, Program Officer at the Corporation for National & Community Service, detailed the Corporation’s AmeriCorps VISTA Program, a national service program that supports efforts to alleviate poverty by engaging individuals, 18 years and older, in a year of full-time service with a sponsoring organization. She discussed the upcoming application process and highlighted the potential impact of mobilizing AmeriCorps volunteers to support organizational capacity and growth. This was Danette’s second time presenting to HALO Award winners – last year her presentation and support helped two organizations from Cohort 6, human-I-T and Stars (formerly Lake Avenue Community Foundation), receive VISTA volunteers for this upcoming cycle.

Ilir Lita, Program Manager for Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, shared the newly launched platform and mobile app, VolunteerLA, Mayor Garcetti's effort to civically engage residents in the City of Los Angeles and across the region through volunteerism. The VolunteerLA web platform is a centralized clearinghouse for service opportunities. While this platform is still in its early implementation stages, it is a promising tool for volunteer-seeking organizations and volunteers alike.

For more information about AmeriCorps VISTA or VolunteerLA, please visit our Resources page.

2018 HALO Award Applicant Snapshot

Posted by HALO Award on August 2, 2018 at 5:50 PM

The 2018 HALO Award RFP was released on June 7th, eligible to nonprofits in and serving Los Angeles County. On July 12th, The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation received a total of 40 applications, of which 21 are new applicants and 19 are returning applicants, all hoping for support to build and/or strengthen their current volunteer programs.

Thank you to all the organizations who applied for and those who forwarded it across their networks!

Want to see how the 2018 stacked up? Here's a snapshot:

*Applicants were asked to select all that applied; responses represent duplication in numbers.

Stay tuned for the announcement of the 2018 HALO Award winners in November! 

First Ever HALO Award Alumni Convening

Posted by HALO Award on July 13, 2018 at 4:10 PM

The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation hosted the first cross cohort gathering of all HALO Award recipients at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on April 19th. The HALO Award Alumni Convening brought National Volunteer Week to a close with a memorable day focused on building connections with past and current HALO Award recipients, celebrating the successes of HALO Awardees and their volunteer programs, and providing new opportunities for capacity building support.

Andy Goodman, Director of The Goodman Center, led participants through a half-day workshop on communication through storytelling. In his featured workshop, “Change the Story, Change the World,” Andy illustrated why storytelling remains the single most powerful communication tool and offered specific ways for organizations to use stories to advance their missions.

In addition to this workshop, participants were guided through networking and “share and learn” exercises to encourage the sharing of ideas, strategies, and best practices in volunteer management. It was a full and exciting day to exchange ideas, celebrate National Volunteer Week, and reconnect.

The HALO Award family is now made up of 44 organizations from 7 cohorts and the Foundation looks forward to welcoming Cohort 8 in the fall. The 2018 application cycle came to a close yesterday - thank you to all of the 2018 applicants!

Volunteer Spotlight Series: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Posted by HALO Award on July 2, 2018 at 5:10 PM

Cindy Walkenbach, Volunteer Awardee, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Please give a brief explanation of what you do at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.

I’m President of the two hundred-member RSABG Volunteer Organization and a member of the Garden’s Board of Overseers. My regular volunteer assignment is as a Nature Interpreter (docent) leading tours for elementary students and adults and supporting a wide variety of community and educational events.

When and why did you first get involved with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?

I began volunteering on a limited basis in 2009 and became a regular volunteer in 2011 upon completion of the required Garden training. I love nature and being outdoors and always knew that once I retired, I’d want to volunteer here.

What motivates you to stay involved at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?

I thoroughly enjoy the interaction of introducing children and adults to the native plants and animals that are part of our California heritage. I also appreciate the camaraderie of the wonderful people who volunteer and work at the Garden: well-educated, committed, passionate folks who love the natural world and strive daily to preserve it.

What is your favorite memory of volunteering with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?

Several years ago I lead a tour of second graders from a local Title I school, and it was apparent that most children had not been in a natural setting like the Garden provides. I remember one little girl in particular whose excitement was palpable. At the end of the tour when asked what she had learned, she threw up her arms with great enthusiasm and exclaimed, “I just LOVE NATURE!” I think of her each time I lead a tour.

What has surprised you most about working with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden? What do you wish other people knew about Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?

The diversity of the Garden’s activities is amazing, but prior to volunteering, I simply knew it as a lovely, peaceful place to walk. What it really is, however, is a fabulous 86-acre outdoor “museum” devoted to preserving California’s native plants which represent 25% of all U.S. flora. It houses the botany graduate program for Claremont Graduate University and is a major plant research center with an extensive library. Its conservation and restoration programs operate a seed bank, cultivate native plants for areas devastated by natural disasters, and it houses the tenth largest herbarium in the U.S. with over 1.2 million species. In recent years, it has developed a retail nursery of native plants and has become a lovely venue for weddings and special events.

What would you tell someone who is interested in volunteering with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?

The opportunities here are countless and appeal to many interests. One can cashier in the gift shop, pull weeds and tend plants, quietly catalogue in the research library, or create lovely bouquets for events as a member of the Native Design team. One can use skills acquired over years of working or try totally new things to do. Volunteers can commit to regular assignments like becoming docents or simply help out occasionally for events and projects. What is truly special are the friendships formed among volunteers and with very appreciative Garden leaders and staffers whose gratitude for the volunteers is demonstrated often. A sense of “team” pervades the organization and the common thread that links us all is our collective commitment to protect, preserve, and educate our community about California’s amazing native flora.

For more information about volunteering with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, please visit