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November 21, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

2014 Annual Meeting a big success

Yesterday was WRAG’s 2014 Annual Meeting. It was a great event with memorable art, performances, and speakers. Be sure to check out some of the highlights from the day on our Facebook page. Thank you to all who helped make this year’s event a success!

Additionally, the following Board members were unanimously re-elected to WRAG’s Board of Directors. We are so pleased to have them back!

Re-elected for a second two-year term:
Diana Meyer, Citi Community Development
Mary McClymont, Public Welfare Foundation

Re-elected for a third two-year term:
Anna Bard,  Wells Fargo
Carol Thompson Cole, Venture Philanthropy Partners
K. Lynn Tadlock, Claude Moore Charitable Foundation

COMMUNITY/CSR | Congratulations to PNC and Capital One for taking home big wins at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 2014 Corporate Citizenship Awards last night! (USCCF, 11/21)

IMMIGRATION | On the heels of President Obama’s big speech addressing immigration reform, hundreds of area immigrants gathered outside of the White House to celebrate. (DCist, 11/20 and WAMU, 11/21)

In a 15-minute speech, Obama said undocumented people who have been in the country for more than five years, have children who are citizens or legal residents, and register, pass a criminal background check and pay taxes will be allowed to stay in America at least temporarily.

HEALTH | For a number of Arlington residents the only chance at much needed medical care is through a lottery system. (WaPo, 11/20)

TRANSIT | What does nixing the long planned Arlington streetcar line potentially reveal about class divisions in the county? Some feel it is quite obvious. (WaPo, 11/19)

Lower-income, racially diverse South Arlington has been counting on the Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar projects to deliver a jolt of growth. Residents there hoped the new transit lines would lead developers to rebuild aged apartment buildings and spruce up dreary strip malls.

Instead, the county’s abandonment of the streetcar has instantly created major doubts about the area’s future and made it less competitive.

PHILANTHROPY | How the Other Half Gives: Philanthropy From High Net Worth Individuals (NPQ, 11/18)

ARTS | DCist highlights some of the best galleries and art collections in the District. (DCist, 11/20)

FOOD | Can Whole Foods Change the Way Poor People Eat? (Slate, 11/19)

REGION | The Alexandria Council of Human Services Organizations (ACHSO) is updating its 2008 Alexandria Needs Assessment.  The assessment describes the human services needs and resources in the city’s communities to provide information about issues affecting residents and recommendations for how public and private sector organizations can better address those issues. Anyone who lives and/or works in Alexandria can complete the survey here by December 5th.

Are you leaving the region for Thanksgiving next week? There’s two things to keep in mind: 1). here are the best and worst times to travel, and; 2). you can bring back a pumpkin or sweet potato pie for me…I’m not picky.


November 20, 2014 / Rebekah Seder

Despite major changes, 2013 giving remained strong in the Greater Washington region

2013 was a time of change in this region’s philanthropic community. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ended their philanthropic giving. The Freddie Mac Foundation began winding down its grantmaking in 2013, and disbursed their final grants this year. And looking ahead, two longtime local funders will soon be sunsetting their grantmaking .

But, our outlook is by no means bleak. In the latest edition of Our Region, Our Giving, we dig into data on giving, assets, funding practices, and trends in the sector that we collected from our member foundations and corporate giving programs earlier this year. The data tell a positive story about philanthropy in our region.

Highlights from this year’s report include:

  • Total local giving in 2013 – that is, giving toward nonprofit organizations that primarily serve residents in the Greater Washington region – was $227,878,806. 60% of funders’ local giving increased over 2012.
  • Health and education were the most highly supported issue areas in 2013, totaling $112,265,052 in philanthropic investment.
  • 76% of funders reported providing general operating support, and 48% reported making multi-year grants, reflecting a dedication to flexible, long-term support so that grantees can work as effectively and efficiently as possible.
  • 74% of funders reported some kind of non-cash support to their grantees, proving that funders embrace the notion of going “beyond dollars” to impact our region.
  • Nearly 50% of funders anticipate being involved in some kind of collective impact initiative in the next year.
  • Grantmaking in our region will remain steady in 2015. 21% of funders reported that they plan to increase their giving; 72% plan to continue funding at their current level.

This community is responsive to new thinking about how its giving can best support the needs of our region.  For example, while funders have supported anti-hunger efforts for decades, they continue to do this while also thinking about other ways investing in food can benefit our region. For this reason, this edition features a special look at giving toward food and related issues in our region.

Food is a cross-cutting issue. Promoting access to healthy, nutritious food can impact individuals’ health and educational achievement. Supporting a healthy regional food system can improve the environment and strengthen community development efforts. More and more funders are making these connections. Between 2011 and 2013, giving toward food-related issues grew by 55% for a total of nearly $3.3 million in 2013.

While the funders in our community are incredibly diverse, targeting a variety of issues, employing different grantmaking strategies, and holding a vast range of resources dedicated to philanthropy, they are united in their common mission of improving the region and the lives of those who call it home. We hope this year’s edition of Our Region, Our Giving provides new insights into the priorities and practices of some of the most engaged and committed members of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, and their  impact on our region.

The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) is a network of funders dedicated to promoting increased, effective, and responsible philanthropy in the Greater Washington region.

Inquiries about Our Region, Our Giving may be directed to WRAG’s senior program manager, Rebekah Seder.

Inquiries about food-related funding may be directed to Lindsay Smith, consultant, Washington Regional Food Funders.

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November 19, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Streetcar plans end abruptly in Arlington County

Plans to bring streetcars to Columbia Pike and Crystal City were brought to an immediate halt yesterday in Arlington County, as officials decided not to move forward with the project. The streetcars were part of an effort to bring greater development to the county, however, some opponents saw it as excessive. (WaPo, 11/18)

The streetcars figured prominently in proposals to bring new housing and retail and office space to struggling neighborhoods. They typified the county’s historic embrace of mass transit and its strategic use of transportation projects to trigger development in trendy neighborhoods, including Clarendon and Ballston.

But a vocal contingent of Arlingtonians questioned the promised benefits of the project — whose price tag eventually reached $550 million — and wondered whether it was an example of county-funded excess.

- Transit projects are stuck between people who want to spend less money and people who want to spend more (GGW, 11/19)

- Yesterday, the D.C. Council approved a bill that defines what constitutes as a “private room” for homeless families in shelters. This comes after a judge ruled against the practice of sheltering families in recreation centers last winter. (DCist, 11/18)

- For homeless families, District center searches for options beyond the shelter (WaPo, 11/18)

ARTS | In a push to make the arts more accessible to all people, the Shakespeare Theatre Company has announced the Free Will program where they will give away 1,000 tickets at no cost for each production during the current season. (Washingtonian, 11/18)

ENVIRONMENT | The U.S. Forest Service released a final plan for future oil and gas drilling, including the controversial practice of fracking, that would be restricted to just 16 percent of George Washington National Forest. Many are pleased with the announcement amid fears of pollution in the region’s drinking water and threats to the landscape if widespread drilling had been planned. (WaPo, 11/18)

Related: Last year, Cecily Kihn, Executive Director of the Agua Fund and Megan Gallagher, a trustee of the Hillsdale Fund, co-wrote about the future of fracking in our region, and how funders can help to prepare for it. (Daily, 12/2013)

- Which state are Americans paying the most for their groceries? That would be Virginia, according to a new study. Shoppers in Idaho pay the least. (WJLA, 11/18)

The groceries required to cook and serve a healthy meal runs shoppers an average of $27.48, almost twice the national average of $14.99. Maryland shoppers pay slightly less than the national average for that same bag of groceries, shelling out $14.09. The study did not include the District.

- After several years in the making, a new film, out in theaters on Friday, considers the sustainability of our nation’s food supply from a social standpoint. Food Chains examines the life of America’s farm workers. The filmmakers hope that by sharing the stories they uncovered of troubling labor conditions, low wages, and sometimes even abuse and slavery, Americans will take some simple actions to ensure better conditions for the hands that feed us.

Tomorrow, is the big day! WRAG’s 2014 Annual Meeting will take place at the Hamilton Live, so there will not be a news roundup. We’ll be back on Friday!


November 18, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Community foundations across the country highlighted in new report

The Democracy Collaborative has released a new report called, “A New Anchor Mission for a New Century,” that features 30 community foundations from around the country that are leveraging their role as anchor institutions to increase their impact in their communities. The report highlights WRAG’s and the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region’s role in launching the Community Wealth Building Initiative in our region. (Democracy Collaborative, 11/17)

In 2011, the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers began to explore an emerging enterprise development project, the Metropolitan Washington Community Wealth Building Initiative, and hired The Democracy Collaborative to conduct a feasibility study. After that study was completed, the association appointed The Community Foundation for National Capital Region as the leading funder to oversee implementation of a network of green, employee-owned businesses creating wealth-building jobs in low-income communities and connected to anchor demand, for which it retained CDFI City First Enterprises and business consultancy Next Street. The first business planned is an employee-owned clean water management company, for which New Markets Tax Credits and other funding is currently being sought.

VETERANS | As part of their pro bono program, Deloitte collaborated with the University of Southern California’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families on a piece of research exploring veterans needs. On Thursday, December 4th, Dave Porges, National Director of Corporate Citizenship, will lead a session where you can learn more about the study. RSVP here.

FOOD | The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that 20 percent of what ends up in municipal landfills is food. Many families and organizations are taking on new ways to reduce food waste as their personal responsibility. (NPR, 11/17)

HIV/AIDS | According to a new D.C. Department of Health Report, “D.C. Takes on HIV,” half of adult D.C. residents say that through city prevention campaigns, they’ve learned more about HIV. (WCP, 11/17)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | In their “2014 Home Affordability Study,” personal finance website,, gave out grades to the country’s largest cities based on the ability of middle-income families to afford a median-priced home. The D.C. region was given a “C”. (DCist, 11/17)

ARTS | Art exhibit shows ‘What Hope Looks Like’ (WTOP, 11/18)

EDUCATION | As Chancellor Kaya Henderson prepares the District’s school budget for next year, she declares 2015 “the year of the high school,” after years of focusing on improving outcomes for lower grades. In addition to greater emphasis on high schools, Henderson also announced other areas of focus, including (WaPo, 11/17):

[...] giving more students citywide access to rigorous learning experiences, improving opportunities for young men of color, and increasing the number of schools that offer a longer school day.

Simply put, it’s cold! Throughout the region, however, there are a few ways to help those who may not have a warm place to go. Here are a few suggestions

- Ciara

November 17, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

The Washington AIDS Partnership unveils new website

The Washington AIDS Partnership is proud to announce the launch of its brand new logo and website! The website features a new look and more user-friendly navigation. Come take a look.


According to a recent report, test scores in D.C. have improved for both low-income and more affluent students. Supporters and critics of the city’s education reform have long debated on what drives up the data on scores.(GGW, 11/14)

While DC officials have touted increases in test scores as a sign that education reforms are working, critics have argued that DC’s changing demographics are behind the improvements. They say an influx of more affluent students has driven up the scores while the gap between those students and lower-income minority students has remained as wide as ever.

But a recent independent study concludes that low-income and minority students have improved their scores as well. Controlling for factors like race and income, it concludes that less than 10% of the increase in overall scores is due to DC’s changing demographics.

DISTRICT | In September, it was announced that federal funding for the Healthy Start program, which aims to reduce the infant mortality rate, was going to be cut drastically. Recently, however, Mayor Gray announced the Health Resources and Services Administration’s decision to restore support. (WaPo, 11/13)

- A potential strategy in the race to provide more affordable housing in metropolitan areas? Look no further than aging office buildings. (WaPo, 11/14)

- Blighted Anacostia Building Reopens as Condos (WCP, 11/14)

TRANSIT | From Anacostia to Tysons: Many ride Silver Line long and far to jobs in Virginia (WaPo, 11/16)

PHILANTHROPY | Over the past decade, a number of foundations have invested more than $300 million into organizations geared toward immigrants’ rights and reform, including WRAG member Open Society Foundations. The New York Times has put their work into the spotlight as President Obama prepares to announce some major overhauls. (NYT, 11/14)

Hotel toiletries – do you take them, leave them, or steal them?

- Ciara

November 14, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Introducing the BUILD Health Challenge

Your regular Daily WRAG edition today, as we have lots of great news to share.

HEALTH | This week, the Advisory Board Company, de Beaumont Foundation, Kresge Foundation, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced the launch of the BUILD (Bold, Upstream, Integrated, Local, and Data-Driven) Health Challenge, a collaboration to improve community health and promote health equity across the country. (CBS, 11/12)

The BUILD  Health Challenge is designed to encourage communities to build meaningful partnerships among hospitals and health systems, community-based organizations, their local health department, and other organizations to improve the overall health of local residents.

The Advisory Board Company, the de Beaumont Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are collaboratively issuing a call to action and inviting communities to take part in this nationwide effort. These four partners hope to identify, accelerate, and spotlight best practice models and innovative approaches that reorient the field toward upstream factors that influence health.

COMMUNITY | Mary McClymont, president of the Public Welfare Foundation and WRAG Board Member, received the Justice Through Philanthropy Award on behalf of the Foundation this week by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association. Congratulations! (Public Welfare Foundation, 11/13)

The Foundation was recognized for its special initiative to increase access to civil legal aid for the poor as well as its ongoing efforts to strengthen the ability of low-wage workers to promote policy and systems reform and its work to achieve reforms in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

WRAG | This week, we celebrated WRAG president, Tamara Copeland, for being named one of Washington Business Journal’s 2014 Women Who Mean Business. You can take a look at her interview and read more about the well-deserved honor. WRAG members Capital One, Kaiser Permanente and MedImmune were sponsors of the awards ceremony that took place Thursday evening.

- With the IRS now accepting a more streamlined version of the application for 501(c)(3) status, known as Form 1023-EZ, there are a few things for funders to consider. Exponent Philanthropy has you covered. (Philanthrofiles, 11/12)

- In a study by Foundation Source,  it was found that small and mid-size foundations have recovered steadily since the recession. From 2008 to 2013, assets grew by 48 percent. (Chronicle. 11/14)

FOOD/NONPROFITS | Fare & Square, the first nonprofit grocery store in the United States (NFF, 11/12)

It’s almost Annual Meeting time!

Annual Meeting VIP Reception (WRAG member CEO’s, trustees, and senior staff)
Wednesday, November 19, 2014  5:30 PM to 7:30 PM

2014 Annual Meeting: Setting a Bigger Table (WRAG members)
Thursday, November 20, 2014  9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

If you’re a bad dancer, it’s not your fault! It may actually be a diagnosable condition.

- Ciara

November 13, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Housing and poverty in American cities

The Washington Post explores how housing for the poor is often remodeled into luxury units for a newer, wealthier audience. Though the setting is based in Chicago, the story is not so different from what is happening in a number of metropolitan areas (WaPo, 11/12):

For Chicago, the debate over these buildings captures a larger tension that is simultaneously playing out in parts of Los Angeles and New York and Washington: The new owners and tenants moving in bring higher tax dollars, capital to revive old buildings and momentum to draw even more young professionals. But those benefits have come at a cost. Now Chicago is trying to save what amounts to 6,000 remaining SRO (single room occupancy) units, a small fraction of what once existed in the city as a housing stock of last resort for the poor.

- On Tuesday, November 18th, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, the D.C. Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Partnerships and Grant Services, D.C. Public Schools and the Boys and Men of Color Alliance, will co-host the D.C. Local Action Summit. The city-wide event will thank all of the individuals, public and private organizations and corporations who contributed to the development of the D.C. Boys and Men of Color Success Strategy, and to mark the initiation of the implementation phase of the DC Boys and Men of Color Initiative. Find out more here.

MedImmune and the Corporate Volunteer Council of Montgomery County will host a STEM Volunteering Workshop & Expo on November, 21st from 9:00 AM through 11:30AM where attendees can learn about the resources and reasons for supporting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education through employee volunteering. You can register here.

- How can the District work to address gaps in health and nutrition services for students? The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute has some recommendations. (DCFPI, 11/12)

- D.C. Has Lowest Rate of Uninsured Hispanic Children, Report Says (WAMU, 11/12)

DISTRICT | Opinion: Two longtime residents of Wards 7 and 8 share their thoughts on where incoming Mayor-elect, Muriel Bowser, can begin to unite the neighborhoods east of the river with the rest of the city. (WaPo, 11/7)

NONPROFITS | Link to Nonprofits, an extensive online database that allows individuals in need of assistance and information to connect with qualified service organizations in the region, has launched a new community guide. Visit the site to learn more, or to get your organization included in the listing.

D.C. will soon be home to a chocolate factory! Just in time for the summer.

- Ciara  

November 12, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Fairfax County looks for solutions in supporting unaccompanied minors

- With the greatest number of unaccompanied minors in the region, Fairfax County has called on the federal government for additional funding to support the influx of new students. Prince George’s County and Montgomery County have also become home to a record number of unaccompanied minors. (WAMU, 11/12)

The Office of Refugee Resettlement says Fairfax County has the largest number of unaccompanied minors than any other jurisdiction in the Washington Metropolitan region, although Prince George’s County and Montgomery County aren’t far behind. The spike in student enrollment is putting school leaders in a bind. Springfield School Board member Elizabeth Schultz estimates the students will require at least $17 million worth of services for students who speak English as a second language. And that’s just the starting point.

“To have the federal government place 1,131 students here and provide no additional funds to support it and expect the Fairfax County taxpayers to just pick up the bill, I think, is just egregious,” says Schultz.

Related: Tomorrow, November 13th from 9AM – 11AM at the Meyer Foundation (co-sponsor), WRAG members are invited to join us for a breakfast conversation with WAMU’s Armando Trull, whose recent reports from El Salvador highlighted the violent conditions that have triggered this immigration crisis, and hear from staff of La Clinica, Ayuda, and other service providers about its impact on our region. Find out more here.

HOMELESSNESS | The country will soon have no homeless veterans, so why are there still homeless families? (WaPo, 11/11)

ENVIRONMENT | The latest State of the Nation’s River report from the Potomac Conservancy sites an aging sewer infrastructure, loss of healthy forests, urban sprawl and a particular golf course as current threats to the health of the river. One area the report highlights is Frederick County, where a huge surge in population over the next few decades is expected to have a significant impact on the Potomac. (DCist, 11/11 and WAMU, 11/11)

PHILANTHROPY | Exponent Philanthropy focuses in on three major debates concerning the role of philanthropy today. (Philanthrofiles, 11/7)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING/DISTRICT | Could the development project at North Capitol Street catering to homeless veterans and those who make less than the median income level become the new face of mixed-income housing? (WBJ, 11/11)

EDUCATION |  Opinion: Stop blaming poor parents for their children’s limited vocabulary (WaPo, 11/10)

BWI, Dulles, Reagan…which airport do you prefer?

- Ciara

November 11, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Happy veterans day!

Happy Veterans Day to the brave men and women who have served, or are currently serving, our country. Be sure to take a look at our latest installment of What Funders Need to Know on post-9/11 veterans.

The AARP Foundation writes why housing continues to be an area of vulnerability for many of our veterans in the U.S. (AARP, 11/7)

Housing is an area where veterans often are particularly vulnerable. Approximately 4 million veterans live in unaffordable housing, and it tends to be disabled veterans who are the most burdened by their housing costs. This is a significant problem given that 14 percent of all veterans have a service-related disability. A disability can make it much more difficult to find housing that meets the veteran’s needs, and this type of housing often comes with a substantial price tag. Additionally, many veterans are also at risk of homelessness. Unfortunately, veterans are overrepresented in the homeless population: Veterans represent 9.5 percent of the adult population nationwide, but they constitute 16 percent of homeless adults.

- Youngest veterans struggle most with unemployment, data shows (WaPo, 11/11)

- Yesterday, we ran an op-ed calling for the president to develop a national food policy to align incentives for better health and economic development in our country’s food system. Here’s an example from our own backyard of how a local program is doing just that and informing national food policy. (NPR, 11/10)

- Three new grocery stores have recently popped up in some of the District’s underserved neighborhoods as part of new mixed-use development. (WBJ, 11/7)

- Opinion: Helping children from low-income families succeed in class (WaPo, 10/31) Thank you, Rick Moyers from the Meyer Foundation, for sending this in.

- The Department of Education is urging states to develop plans by next June for how they will ensure that public schools are in compliance with federal law requiring equal access to high-quality teachers. Legislation requires that “poor and minority children are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified or out-of-field teachers.” (NYT, 11/10)

ARTS/HOMELESSNESS | Some homeless and disabled artists in five cities, including D.C., are selling their works through a duo of brokers on a new website. Many of the artists have been able to re-establish themselves and obtain housing from the sale of their works. (Co.Exist, 11/4)

- Open Society Foundations,through a grant of $50 million to the American Civil Liberties Union, are leading criminal justice reform efforts. (Open Society, 11/7)

- A 2009 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Scholar recently had his own foundation profiled in a New York Times article. (JKCF, 11/10)

Here’s what is thought to be the very first photograph of a human being. You may need to squint and tilt your head a bit. 

- Ciara 

November 10, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

D.C. among best cities for veterans

A new rankings report names D.C. as the 14th best city for veterans. The rankings measured 19 factors against 100 of the most populated U.S. cities. (DCist, 11/10)

With D.C. ranking as number 14 of 100, Wallet Hub found that it’s within the top ten of cities for the percent of military skill-related jobs (ninth), rate of job growth for veterans (eighth), “emotional health” (seventh), and the rate of veteran wage growth (first). Where we fall behind is in the veteran unemployment rate (28th) and the number of veteran-owned businesses per veteran population (50th).

Recently, Bethesda ranked high as a top city for veterans transitioning into private-sector or public agency jobs. (WBJ, 10/29)

- In the latest installment of What Funders Need to Know, we explore some of the unique characteristics and circumstances of post-9/11 veterans and why philanthropy should support the nonprofit organizations in our region that are serving them well. (Daily, 11/10)

FOOD | Opinion: A team of writers explore what a national food policy could mean for Americans and public health. (WaPo, 11/7)

- According to a new report, Hispanic public school students in a number of major cities, including D.C., are shown to have made significant progress on federal math tests over the last decade. (WaPo, 11/10)

- Students encouraged to apply to college, while in class (WaPo, 11/9)

REGION | Amid recent and upcoming department head departures, Montgomery County Executive Isaiah Leggett is tasked with hiring three new directors who will oversee environmental protection, housing and community development, and transportation by early next year. The newly hired officials will replace leaders who had been with Leggett since his first term in 2007. (WaPo, 11/9)

PHILANTHROPY | The Foundation Center’s 2014 edition of Key Facts on U.S. Foundations is available with data on the country’s foundation community and the giving priorities of the largest foundations. You can check out the report here.

NONPROFITS | The Center for Nonprofit Advancement, in partnership with The Washington Post, has announced the call for applications for The Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management. Applications will be accepted through Friday, January 9th, 2015. The winning organization will receive a $20,000 grant. Find out more here.

Whether you’re working in the office or enjoying the big concert at the National Mall tomorrow, here’s what you need to know about getting around

- Ciara


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