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August 28, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Five-year plan announced for industrial land in ward 5

At a recent press conference, officials announced a five-year blueprint for industrial land in Ward 5 that includes major and minor improvements from planting additional trees to creating more jobs. ( DCist, 8/27)

Some of the solutions are simple, like planting trees and installing a trellis to obscure the view of a trash transfer facility. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, who represents Ward 5, said smells from the trash facility and from other businesses “impacted negatively” on his constituents’ “quality of life.”


The plan calls for the creation of an “industrial advocate” who would provide assistance to “production, distribution and repair” (PDR) businesses that provide entry-level positions with higher wages than retail. More than 500 PDR business operate in Ward 5 at the moment.

– At three Arlington high schools, each ninth grader will receive a MacBook Air laptop computer as part of a goal to provide every student in the school system with a computer by 2017. (WaPo, 8/28)

- With Fairfax County facing rapid growth, the school system has had to find alternative ways to house an increasing number of students – including using a former high-rise office building as a school. (WTOP, 8/28)

- College-Educated Minorities Report Far Fewer Good-Paying Job Opportunities Than Whites (City Lab, 8/28)

- Back in May, the D.C. Public Library system added a social worker in the role of a health and human services coordinator for the first time ever, to work with homeless individuals for which libraries can often serve as a “day shelter.” Although other library systems in cities across the country have introduced ways to engage the homeless, D.C. is only the second U.S. city to bring on a library social worker. (WaPo, 8/27)

- Some key suggestions for what philanthropy can do to end youth homelessness are addressed in a two-part blog series. Part one focuses on investing in community-based services and research, while part two focuses on investing in policy advocacy, youth voice, and public education. (Funders Together, 8/26 & 8/28)

- Number of Homeless Veterans Sleeping on Street Drops Nearly 40 Percent in 4 Years (HuffPo, 8/27)

YOUTH │ A soon-to-be released study from the University of California-Irvine indicates that children of incarcerated parents may experience significant behavioral and health issues, and that having incarcerated parents could be more harmful to their health than divorce or the death of a parent. (USA Today, 8/25)

There will be no Daily WRAG tomorrow ahead of Labor Day Weekend. Here’s something for you to think about during your time away. I certainly will.

- Ciara

August 27, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Prince George’s schools debut new initiatives

Continuing with all of the education news this week, The Washington Post highlights Prince George’s County Schools as they put forth new initiatives and programs ultimately aimed at bringing middle-class families back into the school district. After some major changes in the school system last year, officials are hopeful about turning the district’s reputation around. (WaPo, 8/26)

[Prince George's County schools chief Kevin] Maxwell said the 126,000-student district experienced an increase of 1,400 students last year and is projected to grow by an additional 1,200 this year, which he believes is a positive sign for a district that has seen its enrollment dwindle.

“We were falling for over a decade,” Maxwell said. “It’s a pretty good change.”

- Mayor Gray’s recent announcement of school boundary plans has shifted into somewhat of a chicken or the egg argument, prompting some to ask what should come first – reassigning students to new schools or improving school quality? (GGW, 8/26)

- Generation Later, Poor Are Still Rare at Elite Colleges (NYT, 8/25)

REGION Study may give Maryland the edge in landing FBI headquarters (WBJ, 8/27)

- The National Association for Music Education has announced the new National Core Music Standards, replacing the old standards from 20 years ago. (PRWeb, 8/27)

- In an effort to create an environment more conducive to healing, a number of hospitals are using art to quell anxiety and promote a sense of hope and optimism. Research supports that patients have responded well to the calming effects of art. (WSJ, 8/18)

HEALTH │ According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans report a lower overall well-being compared with their non-LGBT counterparts, with particular attention to their financial and physical well-being. The index revealed a number of disparities in overall well-being, especially for LGBT women. (Gallup, 8/25)

POVERTY A study from the University of Minnesota found evidence suggesting that growing up poor can dampen one’s sense of self control in their life beyond adulthood, increasing their likelihood of making impulsive choices and giving up on challenging tasks. (Quartz, 8/23)

In celebration of their 125th anniversary, the National Zoo is going back in time by bringing back their first-ever exhibit!

- Ciara

August 26, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

D.C. looks to longer hours to boost student scores

After a successful run at eight schools during the 2012-2013 school year, 17 new D.C. public schools have adapted a longer school day. By adding on an additional hour during the day, the 25 schools hope to see higher annual assessment scores like the original eight schools did. (WAMU, 8/26)

The longer days come as D.C. pushes to offer more resources to at-risk students, who continue to trail their peers in math and reading proficiency.

An additional $80 million dollars is going to help up to 35,000 students who are homeless or in foster care, on welfare or food stamps or a year behind their peers in high school. [Chancellor Kaya] Henderson and others say that the infusion — roughly $2,200 per student — will help chip away at the achievement gap.

- The new school year continues to roll out across the region with record high enrollment in some districts, new technology for a number of students, and tons of optimism about the year ahead. (WaPo, 8/25)

- Opinion: What’s one way to fix chronic absenteeism in schools? Provide social services in the schools to students who come from low-income families. (NYT, 8/25)

With Boundary Changes, Some Officials Object to Assigning Students to Lower Performing Schools (WCP, 8/25)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING │ With a large number of public housing units disappearing each year, how can the D.C. region and the rest of the U.S. learn from success stories happening around the world? (Next City, 8/26)

HOMELESSNESS │ Cities like Los Angeles, San Diego and Vancouver have implemented transitional storage programs for homeless individuals to keep their possessions in a secure place. The storage units allow them to carry on with daily activities that could potentially provide them with greater stability with the peace of mind that their belongings won’t be stolen or thrown out by businesses or residents. Could the District adopt a similar program – especially after the failed Evictions with Dignity Act? (City Lab, 8/25)

TRANSIT 7 Charts That Show How Good Mass Transit Can Make a City More Affordable (City Lab, 8/25)

TED Talks are often inspiring, motivational and…long. Here are five great TED Talks under five minutes for those days you simply don’t have much time to get inspired.

- Ciara

August 25, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Plans for set aside seats met with opposition

With 43 percent of all D.C. students currently considered at-risk, the D.C. Public Charter School Board leader, Scott Pearson opposes a plan requiring schools with less than 25 percent at-risk students to give priority in lottery admissions for 25 percent of the seats at their schools. (WAMU, 8/22)

City officials say that the provision — along with requirements for a certain amount of seats for out-of-boundary students at all schools — would ensure that students facing difficult circumstances could attend the city’s best-performing schools. There has been an increased emphasis on the needs of at-risk students; $116 million in additional funding is being directed to at-risk students in the school year beginning next week.


In an interview, [Scott] Pearson said that he could not support the recommendation because it had not been properly considered.

“This recommendation was formulated in the final weeks of an eight-month process, there were no consultations with affected schools or communities and there was no analysis of impact. So it really had nowhere near the level of thoughtfulness and consideration that the other recommendations in the report had,” he said.

- Nearly 1,100 New Central American Students Join D.C. Area Schools (WAMU, 8/25)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING/POVERTY │ According to data from the New York City-based nonprofit, Citizens Budget Commission, the District may actually be considered a relatively affordable city when analyzing both housing and transportation costs for a low-income, three-person household, making it the second most affordable major city behind San Francisco. (WaPo, 8/25)

Of 22 major cities in the United States, the District – which is in the throes  of an affordable housing debate – ranked only behind San Francisco in terms of being most affordable for the prototypical low-income family. On average, a low-income family here spends about 43 percent of their money on rent and transportation costs.

YOUTH │ Defense attorneys in D.C. are advocating for courts to end the practice of shackling juvenile offenders who stand before a judge. Advocates argue that the practice is cruel and sends the wrong message to youth when the end goal is rehabilitation. (WaPo, 8/24)

- The unaccompanied minor crisis has been in the news a lot lately, with steady numbers of children arriving across the border. Here are some short-term and long-term ways in which funders can respond to the growing issue. (Arabella Advisors, 8/22)

- Millennials Transform Charitable Giving Into Philanthropic Action (HuffPo, 8/22)

COMMUNITY │ The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has launched four discretionary grant cycles for the 2014-2015 season with over $400,000 in grants to award – its Community Investment Funds, Future Fund, Business Women’s Giving Circle, and Loudoun Impact Fund grants.  Applications are now being accepted from nonprofits, schools and faith-based organizations serving Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park. Find out more here. (CFNOVA, 8/18)

The National Book Festival is coming soon!

- Ciara

August 22, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

New school boundary plans announced for 2015-2016

Mayor Vincent Gray has authorized a new school boundary plan that will go into effect for the 2015-2016 school year. The scheduled changes will eventually impact thousands of students and aim to further the investment of residents into neighborhood schools. (WaPo, 8/21)

Each D.C. home now will be assigned to one elementary, middle and high school, a departure from the current patchwork system, in which more than a fifth of all public school students have rights to attend multiple schools, a result of school closings and consolidations.

The new map of neighborhood schools reflects a strong public desire for predictability, District officials say. While only about 25 percent of city students now attend their assigned school, earlier proposals to replace neighborhood schools with schools that have regional or citywide lotteries were widely unpopular.

- Here’s a breakdown of how students in the District will be affected by the new school boundary assignment changes at each school level. (WCP, 8/21)

– Many taxi drivers in D.C. will avoid taking passengers into underserved neighborhoods out of fear for safety or an opportunity for more lucrative fares elsewhere, leaving those who live east of the river stranded. Though not exactly a solution, the D.C. Taxicab Commission announced plans to offer courtesy vans next summer that would carry passengers who need to go outside of specified boundaries to a Metro station, a bus stop…or yet another taxi stand. (WAMU, 8/22)

- Southeast D.C. residents take a stand against increased violence (FOX5, 8/21)

POVERTY/HEALTH │ Faced with inconsistent work schedules and low incomes, research shows that those in poverty are more likely to be overweight than their wealthier counterparts. (Atlantic, 8/21)

Compared to adults making $75,000 or more, those making less than $20,000 were 50 percent less likely to exercise, 42 percent less likely to drink a lot of water, and 25 percent less likely to eat less fat and sweets. And adults making between $20,000 and $75,000 were about 50 percent more likely to use over-the-counter diet pills, which aren’t proven to work.

PHILANTHROPY The Role of Grantmakers in Collective Impact (SSIR, 8/21)

Two hundred years ago this week during the War of 1812, the British won the Battle of Bladensburg and went on to burn the White House and the U.S. Capitol. Here’s how the burning of D.C. would have been covered if, you know, anyone had been around back then.

- Ciara

August 21, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

The redevelopment of Congress Heights

– In the Ward 8 neighborhood of Congress Heights, developer WC Smith has dominated the building and preservation of affordable housing. Here’s a look at the history of Congress Height’s changing landscape despite being one of the city’s poorest areas. (WCP, 8/20)

The neighborhood, a sought-after, mixed-race, middle-class community in the 1950s, experienced the same flight to the suburbs that plagued much of the city, but was worse east of the Anacostia River. The result was a predominantly black and poor population and an unsightly streetscape. The only major industry nearby was the St. Elizabeths mental hospital.

“When you used to drive through 20 to 25 years ago, the larger properties were half vacant, all boarded up,” says [Chris] Smith. “That’s because people were leaving wards 7 and 8 for greener pastures.”

- In the wake of the events currently unfolding in Ferguson, MO, former D.C. mayor, Sharon Pratt, reflects on the riots that followed a somewhat similar shooting in Mt. Pleasant in 1991, and how the city got to work recruiting a police force that reflected the demographics of the population. (WAMU, 8/20)

- George Mason University economist, Stephen Fuller, takes a look at how the District’s economy is faring. (WBJ, 8/21)

Opinion: There are a number of approaches to education reform, but is there too much emphasis on impersonal methods? In response to a recent New York Times op-ed, this  article looks at the importance of teacher-student relationships from a D.C. viewpoint. (GGW, 8/21)

- As former DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee announces that she is stepping down as head of nonprofit advocacy group, StudentsFirst, many wonder who the next leader in education reform will be. (GGW, 8/20)

Large and Small Funders Partner to Benefit Community (Exponent Philanthropy, 8/21)

 At the 1964 World’s Fair picture phones, typewrites and underwater hotels = the future

- Ciara

August 20, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Suburban and urban poverty in the region

The Brookings Institution recently released new data and an interactive map that show how poverty has shifted in various metro areas from 2000-2012. During that period, most areas saw a jump in suburban poverty, as well as larger concentrations of poverty in existing high-poverty neighborhoods. The Greater Washington region had some significant shifts that varied greatly across the metro area.  (WCP, 8/20)

In the “primary cities” of the D.C. region—namely D.C., Arlington, and Alexandria—the population in poverty declined by 3.5 percent between 2000 and 2008-2012. Meanwhile, the percentage of poor people living in both census tracts with 20 percent or higher poverty and census tracts with 40 percent or higher poverty declined. In other words, poverty became less prevalent and less concentrated.

Compare that to the rest of the metro area. There, poverty shot up by more than 42 percent. And the percentage of poor people living in tracts with at least 20 percent poverty increased from 4.2 percent to 14 percent. (The share living in tracts with at least 40 percent poverty remained at zero.)

- In this fascinating look at D.C.’s campaign to attract those who are young, educated and willing to spend their healthy salaries, The Washington Post examines the perils of building a city around middle-income families and the forced movement of low-income residents into suburban areas. (WaPo, 8/19)

- Many people move to D.C. (especially from New York), but few people who are born in the District end up staying. In fact, around half of D.C.’s natives moved to Maryland and Virginia in the period from 1900 to 2012. (NYT, 8/19)

- Race-based hate crimes rose in D.C. in 2013 (WTOP, 8/20)

Opinion: Has too much emphasis been put on how much donors give, instead of why donors give? (Philanthropy Daily, 7/17)

- Throwing Cold Water on Ice Bucket Philanthropy (NPQ, 8/19)

WORKFORCE │ If a proposed merger is approved between Pepco and Exelon Corp., officials say the state of Maryland could see as many as 7,100 jobs added. Additionally, the merger could bring about a fund that would assist low-income customers with greater energy efficiency. (WBJ, 8/19)

ART │ Has D.C. been looking a little more aesthetically pleasing during the month of August to you? It could be due to the Art Everywhere US campaign that also includes some public displays of great American art on billboards, buses and bus stops in the Washington region. The campaign aims to promote dialogue around supporting creativity in schools and everyday life. (DCist, 8/19)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING D.C. Home Prices Jump at the Top and Bottom ( WCP, 8/19)

Bao Bao is simply having the best week ever!

- Ciara

August 19, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Housing stock in D.C. leans heavily toward luxury

The rent in D.C. is high – a fact we all know to be true. As developers continue to build expensive new units marketed toward millennials and others with money to spend on fancy apartments in hip neighborhoods, this article examines some of the reasons why it’s so hard to build affordable units in the District. (WaPo, 8/19)

Economic forces in the city make it all too easy to supply housing for high-income urbanites, not the cheap kind that once was plentiful in D.C. What’s more, even the ways in which the city harnesses the taxes from those luxury buildings — by subsidizing developers who build units affordable to low-income people — hasn’t filled the gap.

The dynamic is affecting what the rich and poor pay in rent. The city’s stock of “class A” apartments, which have luxury amenities, expanded from about 8,500 units at the end of 2010 to nearly 14,500 by end of June, an increase of 71 percent, according to Delta Associates. More than 11,000 more are in the pipeline.

DISTRICT │ City officials recently cut the ribbon on the new RISE (an acronym for relate, innovate, stimulate, elevate) Demonstration Center at St. Elizabeths campus. The center will serve as a tech hub where members of the community can take classes in an effort to bolster economic opportunities. (WaPo, 8/13)

ARTS │ From September through December, areas of all eight wards in D.C. will be transformed into public art displays through a project of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities called “5×5.” The temporary exhibits will highlight issues in global policy and urbanization. (Elevation DC, 8/19)

Related: The arts and humanities are an engine for economic growth and community development. They are tools for education and youth development, and they are a vehicle for social justice and advocacy. The evidence of this in our region is everywhere. On Wednesday, September 10th at 9:30 AM, join WRAG to hear from Rachel Goslins, head of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, about why the arts are a tool with the power to transform individual lives, neighborhoods, and communities as part of our Brightest Minds series.

PHILANTHROPY  │ A Philanthropist’s Guide to Working With Government and Local Communities (Bridgespan Group, 8/18)

│ On Friday, October 24th at 9 AM, Progressive Communicators of Washington, D.C. (PCDC) is hosting a free “communications for nonprofits” clinic for organizations serving the local DC/MD/VA communities. PCDC is a volunteer professional development and networking group of communications experts who are committed to progressive causes and organizations.

AGING │ 36% of adults lack retirement savings, including many 65 or older (LA Times, 8/18)

ECONOMY Map: How much $100 is really worth in every state (WaPo, 8/18)

People in D.C. are a lot more honest than they were last year.


August 18, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

The U.S. hunger problem continues to grow

Around one in seven Americans currently rely on local food aid programs, according to the recent study by Feeding America, Hunger in America. As the demographics of those in need of assistance spans across a broad range of categories, National Geographic highlights how Bread for the City in D.C. and other organizations around the country are helping a growing number of Americans put food on the table. (NatGeo, 8/18)

The ranks of the hungry include 12 million children and 7 million seniors, plus millions more among the working poor, military families, the unemployed, and young college graduates. Those in each group said their reliance on food aid stemmed from a daily struggle to put healthy and nutritious food on the table when all that many can afford is processed and cheap junk food that fuels a cycle of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

More Military Families Are Relying on Food Banks and Pantries (WAMU, 8/17)

- July unemployment up in M.D. and V.A., flat in D.C. (WBJ, 8/18)

- The Consumer Health Foundation‘s Dr. Yanique Redwood shares the story of a low-wage restaurant worker and the persistent struggle to maintain one’s health when juggling low-paying jobs to make ends meet. (CHF, 8/15)

- Aside from potential health problems, another big concern for many low-wage workers is the inconsistency in their schedules (and, thusly, pay) from week-to-week. A number of companies now use automated scheduling software that is designed to cut labor costs much to the detriment of employees - especially if you’re a poor, working parent. (Slate, 8/15)

- Now in their late 80s and older, many of the women that helped bring the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” image to life during World War II recently visited D.C. to reflect on their legacy. (WTOP, 8/17)

DISTRICT │In light of the recent events in Ferguson, MO following the death of an unarmed 18-year-old African American male who was shot at least six times by a local police officer, thousands in the District came together to rally in support of the victim, Mike Brown, and reform of racial disparities in the justice system. (DCist, 8/15)

Related: Recent initiatives at a national level have created a high level of energy around improving outcomes for boys and men of color. Earlier this year, a group of WRAG members formed the Boys and Men of Color Alliance to identify ways the local grantmaking community can leverage this national energy here in the Greater Washington region. On Thursday, August 21st at 12 PM WRAG will host a brown bag discussion for members to share updates on their work in this area, and to help determine how the group should move forward.

- In honor of back-to-school time, The Washington Post takes a look at the history of education in D.C. (WaPo, 8/16)

It’ll Cost You $245,340 To Raise a Kid Born In 2013, Says New Report (DCist, 8/18)

- The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region recently rolled out their “Taste of Philanthropy series” with a community dinner conversation featuring Montgomery County youth who reflected on their experiences in the school system. (CFNCR, 8/13)

- As the protests in Ferguson, MO continue, Dr. Gail Christopher of the Kellogg Foundation, offers her thoughts on how the nation can work toward a more equitable society.

- In 2011, 60 percent of the nation’s foundations indicated that they do not accept unsolicited proposals. As a result, navigating the world of foundations as a nonprofit organization can be difficult. Here, are five tips for nonprofits on how to get in the door with an unsolicited proposal. (NPQ, 8/11)

No, it’s not just you. Facebook is being really weird.

- Ciara

August 15, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Virginia schools face changes in accreditation status

In Virginia, around one-third of public schools may not be eligible for full accreditation this fall due to low scores on reading and science in standardized tests. School officials say the results come about as Virginia has greatly increased the standards for performance over the past three years in an effort to prepare students for college and employment. (WaPo, 8/14)

Officials estimate that 600 or more of the state’s approximately 1,800 schools could be “accredited with warning” next month — an exponential increase from five years ago, when 15 Virginia schools had the downgraded status.

HEALTH │ As a physician, what happens when the behavioral health clinics you refer youth patients using Medicaid to keep closing all over D.C.? You open your own – the Congress Heights Life Skills Center. (WBJ, 8/14)

Related: WRAG members are invited to an upcoming brown bag discussion for funders interested in mental health or substance use disorders hosted by our Health Working Group on Tuesday, August 26th at 12 PM.  The brown bag will be a great opportunity to meet and network with colleagues interested in issues related to behavioral health and to share your own work in this area. We will also ascertain whether there is an interest in developing learning opportunities around specific behavioral health issues or programs at WRAG.

McAuliffe announces $2.4 billion projected budget gap in Va.; blames Defense cuts 
(WaPo, 8/15)

- The Washington Area Women’s Foundation offers an in-depth look at the political participation and representation of women in the Washington region (WAWF, 8/14)

- As Bethesda preps for a downtown revamp, a city official discusses ideas for more affordable housing, redeveloped public spaces, and plans to attract millennials on The Kojo Nnamdi Show. Here is the audio and transcript. (WAMU, 8/14)

ARTS │ In an interesting example of using public art to promote economic development, Ballston will launch an exhibit called “Public Displays of Innovation” through 2015. (WCP, 8/14)

PHILANTHROPY │ Though many foundations are accustomed to being independent leaders, a number of them have shown the greater impact that can happen through funder collaboration. The Butler Family Fund and Open Society Foundations are used as examples of what can happen when foundations join forces in this blog post. (Fluxx, 8/11)

HOMELESSNESS │ When we talk about the side effects associated with a lack of sleep, we tend to focus on those of us who have a bed to sleep in and are distracted by technology or thoughts about the next workday. But what about those who are homeless? Sleep deprivation can lead to myriad health issues on top of the stress of being without permanent shelter. (CityLab, 8/14)

WORKFORCE Nearly 40 Years of Unemployment Can Be Summed Up in This 1 Gif (In The Capital, 8/14)

Happy birthday, Capital Beltway! You crazy road, you!

- Ciara



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