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September 2, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

A new blueprint for housing homeless families

The Daily will return Tuesday, September 8th. Enjoy your Labor Day weekend.

Yesterday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser released the city’s updated blueprint for housing homeless families. The plan, slated to go before the D.C. Council, includes several major updates to approaches that have been used for years (WaPo, 9/1):

On Tuesday, Bowser (D) announced that the District will accept shelter applications from families any day of the year, not just on freezing nights, as has been the policy for decades. Her staff said it had quietly begun testing the new policy and found a dramatic need: Almost 300 families have been given emergency placements in motel rooms since June.

COMMUNITY | DC Trust has announced a request for proposals for their Community Partnership Mini-Grants Initiative. The initiative is geared toward social profit organizations and individuals serving D.C. residents to address key community priorities in select communities, and supports programming in the areas of violence prevention and mediation, mentoring, youth enrichment, and family supports. Click here to find out more. 


– For years, a number of schools in the District took a no frills approach to curricula in hopes of producing better student outcomes. Now, District high schools are seeing more elective course offerings to boost student satisfaction. (WaPo, 9/1)

–  Why D.C. Wants to Teach Every Kid How to Ride a Bike (City Lab, 9/1)

IMMIGRATION/YOUTH | A new report from the Migration Policy Institute explores the long-lasting academic, psychological, and social hardships children of immigrants often face due to stereotypes and low-expectations at school and from peers. (City Lab, 9/1)

– Some are concerned that Alington isn’t doing enough to bring affordable housing to all parts of the county. (ARLnow, 9/2)

– Greater Greater Washington provides a lesson on just what, exactly, inclusionary zoning is. (GGW, 9/1)

Somewhere in Arlington, a library detective is celebrating a huge victory after 34-years.

– Ciara

September 1, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Philanthropy and its support of black-led social change efforts

Opinion: In this op-ed, Nat Chioke Williams, executive director of the Hill-Snowdon Foundation, discusses the urgent need for philanthropy to ramp up efforts to propel the Black Lives Matter movement and other black-led grassroots efforts like it, and ways foundations like Hill-Snowdon are working to answer the call. (Chronicle, 8/27).

[…] this movement is at risk if it doesn’t get the money it needs to build institutions that can capitalize on this social power. For far too many decades, black-led social-change organizations have received too little in donations to grow into the strong influencers on the American way life that they must be.

WRAG president Tamara Copeland had this to say of Mr. Williams’ op-ed and announcement:

“The Hill-Snowdon Foundation sets an important example for the philanthropic community with this announcement. Supporting black-led social change organizations sends a powerful message that needs to be heard at no time like the present. Leadership matters.”

HEALTH | Opinion: Brian Castrucci, chief program and strategy officer at the de Beaumont Foundation, writes about how real-time data on communities could work to dramatically change the way local health departments tackle neighborhood challenges. (HuffPo, 8/28)

HOMELESSNESS/DISTRICT | The District has been implementing expanded services for homeless individuals through year-round shelter placement in motels (as opposed to the usual practice of motel placement when temperatures fall below freezing) in an effort to better control the stream of homeless families seeking shelter in the winter months. (WaPo, 8/31)

HOUSING/POVERTY | When it comes to housing, terms like ‘affordable housing’ and ‘low-income housing’ are not even close to being synonymous. In a three-part series on housing in D.C., two authors take a look at why semantics are so important when we talk about those in need of secure housing.  (HuffPo, 8/25)

WORKFORCE/IMMIGRATION/VIRGINIA | In Virginia, labor advocates and officials are hoping to crack down on businesses that improperly classify immigrants as independent contract workers in an attempt to cut corners and save money. A growing number of industries in the state are engaging in the unfair practice, making enforcement difficult. (WaPo, 8/30)

– Montgomery County Public Schools are seeing record-high enrollment this year – a trend that began in 2007, and is expected to continue for years to come. Officials are calling for additional funding and higher taxes to meet growing needs. (WTOP, 9/1)

–  Report: Chronic school absenteeism is contributing to academic gaps (WaPo, 8/31)

ARTS | D.C.’s Historic Murals Are Disappearing (WCP, 8/31)

Here’s some little-known philanthropy history for the day.

– Ciara

August 31, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

The many hurdles for domestic violence survivors

For many families experiencing homelessness, the circumstances leading them there can be traced back to domestic violence. In D.C., obstacles, like a lack of affordable housing, make recovery much more difficult. (WCP, 8/28)

The problem is with mid- and long-term shelter: The District’s competitive real estate landscape, as well as its complicated victim compensation programs and antiquated city code, make it difficult to create a consistently reliable network of places to stay after the survivor is out of immediate danger.

– The Washington Post recently asked D.C. business leaders, as well as WRAG president Tamara Copeland, their thoughts on how the region should respond to the effects of sequestration. (WaPo, 8/29)

– Last week, many of us learned that D.C. is the most expensive city to raise a family of four, particularly due to high child care costs. Many of us also wondered why in the world child care is so expensive in the city. WAMU explores the reason. (WAMU, 8/28)

Millennials have transformed Arlington, but will they stay? (WaPo, 8/29)

– Opinion: Natalie Wexler, education blogger/editor of Greater Greater Education and DC Eduphile, and trustee of the Omega Foundation, discusses in the New York Times how the Common Core education standards can tilt the scales in the struggle for skills vs. knowledge in today’s classrooms. (NYT, 8/28)

 Opinion: Former WRAG Board member Patrick Corvington writes about the stunning correlation between asthma and lead poisoning as they relate to school attendance. (HuffPo, 8/27)

Related: In a previous edition of What Funders Need to Know, WRAG discussed the link between safe and healthy housing and education outcomes.

PHILANTHROPY |  The Chronicle of Philanthropy has compiled a number of resources for organizations looking to prepare for the wave of Americans turning 65 years old – about 10,000 people each day. (Chronicle, 8/31)

TRANSIT | Here are three potential scenarios for future expansion plans for Metro’s Silver Line to Dulles Airport. (Loudoun Times-Mirror, 8/28)

JOBS | The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region has two exciting new openings: An Executive Director for the Community Foundation in Montgomery County, and a Grants Associate.

A sociology lecturer-turned-artist is going to beaches and putting all our sandcastles to shame.

– Ciara

August 26, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

It costs over $106,000 for a family of four to get by in D.C.

The Economic Policy Institute has released an updated version of their Family Budget Calculator – a tool that adds up the expenses necessary to secure a modest standard of living in a number of metro areas in the U.S. According to the data, a family of four (two adults, two children) can expect to pay $106,493 annually to live in D.C.; $82, 284 in the surrounding suburbs of Virginia; and $79, 330 in the surrounding suburbs of Maryland. (WCP, 8/26)

The tool accounts for seven types of costs: housing, food, childcare, transportation, healthcare, other necessities, and taxes. D.C. has replaced New York City as the most expensive place to raise a two-child family, EPI finds; annually, such a family can expect to pay $106,493 to live in D.C., and $98,722 in New York.

– DC Fiscal Policy Institute takes a look at the supports they feel will be necessary to strengthen the ability for families to remain afloat in response to the release of the updated Family Budget Calculator. (DCFPI, 8/26)

POVERTY/MARYLANDThe Washington Post explores how, for years, companies have preyed on victims of lead poisoning who have won structured settlement agreements, taking advantage of individuals desperately in need of immediate funds and with minimal experience navigating the legal system. (WaPo, 8/25)

MENTAL HEALTH | Rethinking The Relationship Between Mental Health and Police in Fairfax County (WAMU, 8/25)

PHILANTHROPY/CRIMINAL JUSTICE | The Council on Foundations held a Twitter chat today, exploring the ways in which philanthropy can take a leadership role in reforming the criminal justice system in America. You can follow the conversation by using the hashtag #CJreformChat.

SOCIAL PROFITS | It’s estimated that millennials will  make up half of the U.S. workforce in just 5 years. Social profit organizations, therefore, can’t afford to just say TTYL* to potential young supporters. The Chronicle of Philanthropy has assembled a helpful toolkit for social profits looking to build those relationships now. (Chronicle, 8/26) *I’m sorry.

GENDER EQUITY/REGION | A new ranking names Alexandria, VA and Rockville, MD among the best cities for women to start a business. (WBJ, 8/26)

Feeling a little sleepy this afternoon? Look at cats! Or consider other options. 

– Ciara

August 25, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Limited growth in new housing in the District

Despite D.C.’s most updated Comprehensive Plan from 2006, providing guidelines for future planning and development in the city, much of the new housing that was  called for has been limited only to certain areas (GGW, 8/25):

Over the last decade, DC has built 13% less housing than its Comprehensive Plan calls for. Of the new housing that is going up, most of it is confined to the central city even though the plan recommends only 30% go there. Meanwhile, most parts of the District are building little or no new housing.


Instead of 30% of DC’s housing growth, the “Central Washington” and adjacent “Lower Anacostia Waterfront/Near Southwest” planning districts are seeing the lion’s share of both new housing and new jobs. According to counts provided by economic development officials and local business improvement districts, two-thirds of the building permits issued for new housing in the entire District have been for this central area.

– According to data from the National Association of Realtors, one would need to earn a household income of $86,595 to comfortably afford a median-priced home in the Washington region. (InsideNoVa, 8/24)

EDUCATION | While much attention in the world of education has been placed on things like standards of learning and school choice, many see school attendance as the next issue that deserves time in the spotlight. (WaPo, 8/25)

YOUTH/POVERTY | Map: How student poverty has increased since the Great Recession (WaPo, 8/24)

PHILANTHROPY | The stock market has been doing some strange things lately. Foundation Center president Brad Smith has some sage advice for grantseekers in the midst of volatile market environments. (PhilanTopic, 8/24)

ARTS/HOMELESSNESS | A new video diary-turned-documentary is set to premier this week, chronicling the life of a single homeless mother staying in the D.C. General shelter. (WaPo, 8/24)

An art museum field trip chaperon’s worst nightmare come true.

– Ciara

August 24, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Increasing access to farm-fresh foods

More organizations in the region, like Martha’s Table, are focusing on making farm-fresh foods available to low-income families at farmers markets, increasing access to healthy foods they may not otherwise be able to afford. (WaPo, 8/23)

Because many can’t afford it, healthy food is swapped for cheaper and more fattening foods, said Caron Gremont, the charity’s senior director of healthy eating. It also means, she said, that the families are less likely to shop at farmers markets, learning about new produce or healthy recipe ideas.


The District and neighboring counties have seen a steady increase in farmers markets accepting federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program assistance, according to District data. In 2004, only 23 markets in the District, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties accepted WIC; by 2014 that number had nearly tripled to 60.

COMMUNITY | Congratulations to the Public Welfare Foundation for being recognized with the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies’ Partners Award for their support of pretrial detention reform focused on keeping more people out of jail and decreasing mass incarceration. (PWF, 8/21)

HOMELESSNESS/YOUTH | The Washington Post offers a look at the District’s first-ever count of homeless youth and the difficulties that come along with getting an accurate count. (WaPo, 8/23)

– A recent financial report finds that the great majority of donations go to just a small minority of the District’s 60 public charter schools. (WaPo, 8/22)

Virginia’s Public Schools Need More Money For Teachers, Say Education Advocates (WAMU, 8/21)

– In an effort to bring greater equity to schools across the city, DCPS is launching a new “Cornerstone” initiative this year, where all students will participate in a series of grade- and subject-specific programs to share common learning experiences regardless of where they attend school. (WAMU, 8/24)

HEALTH CARE/RACIAL EQUITY | Can Health Care Be Cured of Racial Bias? (NPR, 8/20)

– The Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County has unveiled a new online portal for residents to submit information and be connected to all available housing assistance. Though the county’s waitlist for Housing Choice Vouchers has been closed for eight years, officials hope the new system will make those in need aware of other services that can help. (Bethesda Magazine, 8/21)

– Housing prices in Arlington County and the District are the highest in the region, with Arlington County’s prices recently pulling further ahead of D.C.’s (WBJ, 8/20)

SOCIAL PROFITS | This fall, United Way of the National Capital Area is offering a series of workshops to assist social profit representatives in the region with community reach and leadership skill building. Click here to learn more information and to register for the learning series.

See if you can identify these countries turned upside down on a map.


August 19, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

A first-ever count of homeless D.C. youth

In an effort to better serve the city’s full homeless population, the District is conducting its first-ever count of homeless youth. The city currently has a goal of ending youth homelessness by the year 2020. (WAMU, 8/18)

The week-long census kicked off Monday and runs through Aug. 25. Service providers, city agencies and even some businesses are taking part in the count, which city officials say will help bring to light a population that isn’t often included in other homeless counts.


The District already takes part in an annual count of its homeless population. In May, the count revealed that on any given night, over 7,200 residents live on the street or in shelters throughout the city.

– A number of school districts in Maryland expect to see record spikes in public school enrollment this year. Montgomery County, in particular, is preparing for the surge in students (WaPo, 8/18):

In Montgomery, the state’s fastest-growing school system, the total increase in students since 2007 would be more than 18,700 if this year’s projections bear out. Last school year, the county’s enrollment climbed by 2,563 students.

Singe Moms and Welfare Woes: A Higher-Education Dilemma (Atlantic, 8/18)

ECONOMY/HOUSING | The District May Be Heading Towards Record High Residential Construction (District Measured, 8/18)

POVERTY | Stories about the struggles of being poor often go viral or are included in the opinion pages of major news outlets, but very few of them are written by individuals who have actually experienced poverty firsthand. Recently, a famed author took a look at just why these pieces typically come from more affluent writers. (HuffPo, 8/17)

Can you find these lesser-known monuments on a map?

– Ciara

August 18, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Despite higher education, a persistent racial and ethnic wealth gap

A new study finds that, despite being known as “the great equalizer” for economic mobility, a college degree rarely protects black and Hispanic graduates from an ever-present wealth gap. (NYT, 8/17)

“The long-term trend is shockingly clear,” said William R. Emmons, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and one of the authors of the report. “White and Asian college grads do much better than their counterparts without college, while college-grad Hispanics and blacks do much worse proportionately.”


There is not a simple answer to explain why a college degree has failed to help safeguard the assets of many minority families. Persistent discrimination and the types of training and jobs minorities get have played a role. Another central factor is the heavy debt many blacks and Hispanics accumulate to achieve middle-class status.

– Prince George’s celebrates better economic numbers, but county still lags (WaPo, 8/17)

– The Chronicle of Philanthropy takes a look at how two major foundations – The Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation – are taking very different new approaches to their grant making. (Chronicle, 8/17)

Exponent Philanthropy explores some of the difficulties funders often encounter when honing in on a giving focus and ways they can work to break through the barriers. (Philanthrofiles, 8/17)

ARTS | Opinion: As the world of American ballet grows more diverse, one writer ponders why the audience for productions continues to be so homogeneous. (WaPo, 8/17)

Check out these insanely tall roller coasters from the comfort of your desk. But, I do highly recommend taking a real ride on the Millennium Force in Sandusky, OH!

– Ciara

August 17, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Mapping 40 years of concentrated poverty

A new series of maps looks at how poverty has increased or declined in census tracts within 10 miles of several major U.S. cities between 1970 and 2010. Many of the maps show the stronghold poverty has had on already poor neighborhoods over the last 40 years. (City Lab, 8/13)

Despite efforts to turn neighborhoods around in cities like Washington, D.C., the authors argue that any good effects of gentrification are actually quite limited when compared to the overall increase in the number of neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. In 1970, there were 5 million people living in more than 1,100 extremely poor neighborhoods across the country. Today, there are 3,100 of these neighborhoods, housing more than 10 million people combined.

– A new report by the Century Foundation examines the ways in which poverty can differ among poor African Americans and poor whites. The stark difference, the study found, is the way poverty is often much more highly concentrated and isolated in poor, majority African American neighborhoods. (WaPo, 8/12)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | Affordable housing can sometimes be a controversial and divisive topic – particularly when it comes to semantics. Greater Greater Washington recently asked their contributors to sound off on some of the issues surrounding terminology. (GGW, 8/13)

HOMELESSNESS | A number of cities have enacted ordinances that prohibit the homeless from sleeping outdoors. The Department of Justice, however, recently filed a statement arguing that such laws are unconstitutional and only criminalize homelessness. (WaPo, 8/13)

ARTS/GENDER EQUALITY | Washington Stages More Plays by Women Than New York And Los Angeles (Washingtonian, 8/14)

JOBS | The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia is hiring a Director of Donor Relations and an Administrative Assistant.

There are a few types of people in this world: those who use haha, hehe, lol, or the classic :) when e-laughing. Which one are you? 

– Ciara

August 13, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

When money is low, poverty and prison can go hand-in-hand

The Daily WRAG will move to a 3 day/week schedule through Labor Day. Enjoy what’s left of summer!

For many Americans, the criminal justice system’s bail structure ensures that a great number of individuals in poverty will remain imprisoned – even when they are innocent – if they cannot access large sums of money to make bail. This dilemma often results in a vicious cycle that can be overwhelmingly difficult to escape. (NYT, 8/13)

The federal government doesn’t track the number of people locked up because they can’t make bail. What we do know is that at any given time, close to 450,000 people are in pretrial detention in the United States — a figure that includes both those denied bail and those unable to pay the bail that has been set. Even that figure fails to capture the churn of local incarceration: In a given year, city and county jails across the country admit between 11 million and 13 million people.


With national attention suddenly focused on the criminal-justice system, bail has been cited as an easy target for reformers. But ensuring that no one is held in jail based on poverty would, in many respects, necessitate a complete reordering of criminal justice. The open secret is that in most jurisdictions, bail is the grease that keeps the gears of the overburdened system turning. Faced with the prospect of going to jail for want of bail, many defendants accept plea deals instead, sometimes at their arraignments.

– Many schools across the country and in D.C. are moving toward a more personalized approach to learning, where students are able to utilize technology to progress at their own pace. As with any experimental method, however, there are some positives and some negatives to this trend. (GGW, 8/12)

– The District will soon be home to a new charter school for adults where students can earn a high school diploma rather than a GED. (WBJ 8/12)

5 Big Ideas That Don’t Work In Education (NPR, 8/13)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | New Guidelines Will Ensure Affordable Housing Programs Better Serve DC’s Homeless and Low-Income Families (DCFPI, 8/13)

PHILANTHROPY | OpinionWhy Every Philanthropist Should Be Active on Twitter (NPQ, 8/13)

ARTS/CULTURE | Opinion: America is home to thousands of interesting museums focused on important aspects of the nation’s culture and history. A former lawyer opens up about why he felt compelled to open the first and only museum that is solely focused on the United States’ history of slavery. (WaPo, 8/13)

SOCIAL PROFITS/WORKFORCE | Audio: How can social profit organizations work to foster greater leadership development. A professor on the topic discusses tips for what to do, and what not to do, to work toward encouraging better leaders. (Chronicle, 8/13)

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