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July 2, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

The persistent effects of housing discrimination

The Daily WRAG will return to your inbox on Monday. Until then, have a great weekend.

The Urban Institute has released a new interactive map that shows how neighborhoods across the country have been shaped by income inequality between 1990 and 2010. According to data from the Neighborhood Change Database used to develop the map, exclusionary housing practices have largely kept low-income families in disadvantaged neighborhoods that are very difficult to escape. (City Lab, 6/29)

Nationwide, the top 10 percent of income earners live apart from the bottom 10 percent of earners. From 1990 through 2010, the neighborhoods where the wealthiest Americans live have remained relatively fixed. Meanwhile, tracts where the poorest Americans live have shifted and expanded over time—and grown poorer, too.

Exclusionary and discriminatory housing policies are one of the main tools that wealthy Americans have used to maintain wealthy neighborhoods. These bastions of prosperity enable them to consolidate, protect, and pass on their wealth.

LGBT/YOUTH | Children’s National Health Center has opened a new clinic geared toward providing specialized care and services to LGBTQ youth between the ages of 12 to 22. LGBTQ youth programming at the center is also supported by the Washington AIDS Partnership. (DCist, 7/2)

REGION | The Brookings Institution offers a profile of how young adults in the Washington region are faring within the vital areas of education, employment, and income. The analysis uses Census data on young adults between the ages of 18 to 24. (Brookings, 6/30)

PHILANTHROPY | Opinion: Charleston, Health Care, Gay Marriage, and More: Why Advocacy Matters (Chronicle, 7/1)

DISTRICT/EDUCATION | According to a new report for fiscal years 2010 through 2013 by the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor, the city has not sufficiently monitored the School Modernization Financing Act despite its passing in 2006, leading to a number of violations and the improper use of funds. (WaPo, 7/1)

There are many ways to make guacamole, but for a lot of people, this way is a no-no. In fact, it has become a pretty divisive debate.

– Ciara

July 1, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Minimum wage increases take effect in D.C. and Maryland

Starting today in D.C. and Maryland, another round of minimum wage increases take effect. In the District, the minimum wage will see an increase from $9.50 to $10.50. In Maryland, the minimum wage increases a quarter up to $8.25. Advocates for increasing the minimum wage are still hoping for greater change that mirrors that of a growing number of cities in the U.S. (WAMU, 7/1):

“It’s just a start. It’s not nearly where we should be. As you look around the country, you see cities quickly moving from $10.10 an hour being a goal to $15 an hour being a goal,” says [Director of Maryland Working Families, Charly] Carter.

And while such a move would be a tough sell across Maryland, it may come to pass in D.C. by next year. That’s when a group of labor activists hope residents will vote on a measure that would see the minimum wage continue rising to $15 by 2020.

Wages for tipped workers would also rise until they hit $15 by 2025, ending the existing discrepancy between tipped and other workers. Language for the ballot initiative will be considered by the D.C. Board of Elections on Wednesday.

REGION | In an effort to increase private-sector involvement to grow the county’s economy, the Montgomery County Council has voted to privatize the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development, making it a nonprofit corporation. (WaPo, 6/30)

Foundation Heads Call on Peers to Publicize Diversity Data (Chronicle, 6/29)

Opinion: Kevin Jennings, executive director of the Arcus Foundation, looks at the role of philanthropy in helping the LGBT community cross the next hurdles after the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on marriage equality. (Chronicle, 6/26)

– IRS Plans to Begin Releasing Electronic Nonprofit Tax Forms Next Year (Chronicle, 6/30)

PEOPLE | Diana Aviv Leaving Independent Sector for Feeding America (Chronicle, 6/30)

ARTS | In Bethesda, Montgomery County planners contemplate what to do when public art isn’t exactly “public.” (WaPo, 6/30

– Now that Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has given the ok to move forward with a revised plan for the Purple Line’s development, the next phase is to figure out how to fund it. (WAMU, 6/30)

– As confidence in the Metro system wanes and reliance on the system holds steady in our region, Greater Greater Washington explores some of the most pressing issues that need reform to ensure growth in the area and safety for commuters. (GGW, 6/29)

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft will soon get some competition at Nats Park


June 30, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Housing Affordability: It’s About Political Will

by Gretchen Greiner-Lott
Vice President
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

For over two years, I’ve been learning about affordable housing. I now understand some of the financing mechanisms, the developer’s need for bridge loans as they await certain approvals, and the often spoken NIMBY cry in some neighborhoods. But after last week’s HAND conference, I had an “aha” moment. The biggest challenge facing our region’s ability to address the housing crisis is none of these. The biggest challenge is the need for political will. This is not just about the desire and commitment of elected officials to meet this need. Political will is also about the necessary support of those officials by the people who elect them. The people – the constituencies of these elected officials – must understand and appreciate the need for affordable housing across our region. Political will must be deep and pervasive.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said that, currently, the community’s political will is missing around the affordable housing conversation. Mary Hynes, Chair of the Arlington County Board, commented that it is important to build a case for affordable housing and that we have to win over the “heads, hearts, and wallets” of elected officials, as well as voters. They all need to understand that having housing that is affordable to everyone in our region positively affects the viability and sustainability of our region. These sentiments were echoed by Alexandria’s Mayor Bill Euille and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett.

Josh Bernstein of Bernstein Management Corporation agreed that “the whole community needs to embrace this [issue].” But, the broader community doesn’t know the reality of the need. As Hynes suggested, and others underscored, we need a public service campaign on this issue. By educating the business community, as well as the broader community, on the impact of housing affordability on the economic competitiveness and quality of life for our region, we can generate critical movement on this issue.

These comments about the need for political will were made during a panel discussion at last week’s HAND annual meeting plenary session, “Regional Strategies to Increase Affordable Housing Development & Preservation in the Greater Washington Area.” The concept was presented in the companion report, “Call the Question: Will the Greater Washington Region Collaborate and Invest to Solve Its Affordable Housing Shortage?” In it, the author outlines the many available tools for increasing the availability of affordable housing, and observes that “it has been the willingness of multiple sectors to coalesce around the need and mobilize an effective constituency to promote affordable housing” that has actually made a difference in other regions.

HAND’s plenary session was designed and hosted by a number of groups, including WRAG, under the auspices of the Greater Washington Housing Leaders Group – a collection of more than a dozen public and private sector leaders concerned about housing affordability. In the coming months, this group will strategize on how to move forward on some of the ideas and recommendations raised at the plenary session, as well as in the report. I look forward to the challenge of working with this group to build this much needed political will.

June 29, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Study shows housing crunch hits home for many

A new report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University finds that half of all renters across the country are handing over more than 30 percent of their income to cover housing costs, and around 25 percent have rental costs exceeding 50 percent of their monthly income. The study found that even moderate-income renters are struggling to cover housing costs. (Atlantic, 6/29)

It’s not just the poorest city-dwellers who are feeling the rent pressure. As prices rise, even those who make median incomes are finding that their rent eats away at a more significant portion of their pay than it once did for those in the middle class. It’s also not just the Millennial crowd: This problem is also  evident across different age groups, including Gen X and Boomers who never left the rental market, or find themselves back in it after the housing crash.

A big part of the problem is that fewer households are making the transition from renting to owning, which means more competition for limited inventory—driving rental prices up. Renters who would previously be able to qualify for mortgages are either finding that mortgage lenders are still super strict post-recession, or that there simply aren’t many homes in their price range—or both. “In normal times when homeownership was achievable you could get a starter home for between $150,000 to $250,000,” says Andrew Jakabovics, a senior director at Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit that focuses on affordable housing. “That segment of the market is basically dead.”

– Last week, at the 2015 Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND) Annual Meeting, a plenary session was convened by a number of groups, including WRAG, under the auspices of the Greater Washington Housing Leaders Group – a group of nonprofit, public, philanthropic, and business leaders. Check out some of the key messages from the session in this recap.

COMMUNITY/WRAG | WRAG president Tamara Copeland delivers her second quarter report to the community, focusing in on how we’re working to promote effective philanthropy in the region. (Daily, 6/29)

– Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a $5 million donation to Dream.US, a scholarship fund that helps undocumented immigrants go to college, founded  by Donald Graham, a trustee of the Philip L. Graham Fund. (WBJ, 6/26)

Opinion: Pablo Eisenberg reflects on how and whether foundations can end inequality. (Chronicle, 6/25)

Opinion: In the Wall Street Journal, Sean Parker of Napster fame, writes about an emerging brand of philanthropists who steer away from conventional philanthropy and favor radical experiments – the “hacker elite.” (WSJ, 6/26)

LGBT | Funders for LGBTQ Issues celebrates last week’s Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality and estimates that philanthropic support for civil unions and marriage equality has gone beyond $100 million since 1989. (LGBTQ Funders, 6/26)

– A new report by One DC, “Trained to Death” and Still Jobless, presents a case study of a major development in the District that received subsidies based on a commitment to hire D.C. residents, explores the program’s shortcomings, and provides recommendations for reform. (DCFPI, 6/26)

– Although D.C. is often considered one of the best cities for working women, there’s always room for further improvement. (WBJ, 6/26)

AGING | Will Baby Boomers Change the Meaning of Retirement? (Atlantic, 6/28)

Extraordinary art can be sculpted out of most anything – even butter

– Ciara

June 29, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Promoting effective philanthropy for Greater Washington | A second quarter report to the community

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

A few years ago, there was a lot of talk in the social profit sector about moving from good to great. Some in that sector may be surprised to learn that folks in philanthropy have been having a similar conversation. What does it take to ensure effective philanthropy? How can we ensure that funds are being invested in the best way to truly improve the region?

So, for the second quarter of 2015, WRAG took “promoting effective philanthropy” as our focus:

WRAG’s “Fundamentals of CSR” seminar, held in April, aimed to promote effective partnerships between corporate funders and the region’s social profit community. Our belief was that corporate philanthropy’s impact would be strengthened by having community partners who better understood the unique philanthropic perspective of corporations. Over 50 members of the local social profit community participated in this very well-received workshop and told us that their knowledge about CSR improved from an average of 4.8 on a 1-10 scale before the seminar, to 7.9 by the end of the two-day seminar. Great. Now, we have to wait a bit to see if that knowledge gain makes a difference.

In May, Community Wealth Building took front and center as we hosted – along with the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the Consumer Health Foundation, and City First Enterprises – the first community update on this initiative. The standing-room-only audience was eager to learn the status of the first business launched under the community wealth building umbrella, and to consider if they saw a place for themselves in this initiative. Many did! So, after several years of planning, community wealth building is taking off in our region. Great? I sure think so.

Next, affordable housing. We all know the current state of this as a crisis in our region. In May, WRAG and Enterprise Community Partners collaborated to present to the Federal City Council on a new funding pool that we are establishing for developers of affordable housing units. It will provide these developers with access to low interest bridge loans. This is exciting and innovative work for WRAG, and is creating buzz as we move into the impact investing arena. Stay tuned for an announcement next month about how you can be involved in this effort, too. It’s not just for institutional philanthropists. We can all play a role in enabling affordable housing in our region. Definitely a move from good (info gathering) –> to great (taking action and making a difference).

And, last, but definitely not least, what will it take to move the social profit sector in Loudoun County from good to great? More communication across sectors and more targeted and increased philanthropic investments. To get there, WRAG hosted our first philanthropy conference in Loudoun County. Over 100 people attended, including 40 funders, along with representatives of social profit organizations and local government. Now that interest in the county has been kindled, the next step is a meeting this summer to really talk about how to move from interest to action.

There will be no lazy, hazy days of summer at WRAG. Moving from good to great takes time, energy, and focus. We’re glad to play a part with philanthropy in our region. Happy summer everyone!

You can read Tamara’s first quarter report to the community about growing philanthropy in our region here

June 26, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Friday roundup – June 22 through June 26, 2015

– WRAG’s Director of Corporate Strategy, Katy Moore, shared the two surprising things all foundation staff should know when it comes to excise tax rules – the topic of a recent Foundation Finance Affinity Group meeting. (Daily, 6/22)

– We saw two new reports on the urgent need for collaboration to invest in solving the region’s affordable housing crisis: Call the Question: Will the Greater Washington Region Collaborate and Invest to Solve its Affordable Housing Shortage?– sponsored by Enterprise Community Partners, Citi Foundation, and WRAG; and The Greater Washington Region’s Future Housing Needs: 2023 – sponsored by Enterprise Community Partners. Both reports were supported by the Greater Washington Housing Leaders Group (GWHLG), who hosted a plenary session at the 2015 Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND) Annual Meeting this week. GWHLG is comprised of nonprofit, public, philanthropic, and business leaders concerned about the affordable housing in our region, and is convened by WRAG. Check out the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #HANDAM2015.

– Maryland governor Larry Hogan announced plans to move forward on the Purple Line light-rail with a few conditions. (WaPo, 6/25)

– The Montgomery County Council unanimously passed a bill requiring all employers to provide employees with paid sick leave and paid time off. The bill will go into effect late next year(Bethesda Magazine, 6/23)

– The Montgomery County Council also voted to freeze the minimum wage for tipped workers at $4. (WAMU, 6/24)

– The Office of the Chief Financial Officer used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to show that income disparity in the District is bigger than in any state in the country. (WaPo, 6/24)

–  An interactive map displaying the concentration of race within the District’s neighborhoods was released. (DCInno, 6/23)

Pop quiz! Can you identify these cities just by looking at their skylines? 

– Ciara

June 25, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Supreme Court votes to uphold health insurance subsidies

The Supreme Court has voted to uphold nationwide subsidies as part of the Affordable Care Act, protecting health insurance coverage for millions of Americans. The Court had been ruling over a lawsuit against the Act that questioned the legality of nationwide subsidies (WaPo, 6/25):

The court was interpreting a passage in the law that said the tax credits are authorized for those who buy health insurance on marketplaces that are “established by the state.”

“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote.


There are about 10.2 million people who had signed up and paid their premiums as of March, and 6.4 million were receiving subsidies in the 34 states that had not set up their own health insurance marketplaces.

Those consumers stood to lose their subsidies, worth about $1.7 billion a month.

Customers in the 16 states, including Maryland, and the District of Columbia that set up their own insurance exchanges were not at risk.

In Virginia, where subsidies were at risk, Governor Terry McAuliffe and other leaders in the state reacted to the news here. (Richmond Times, 6/25)

– The Kresge Foundation has released a new report, Reconnecting Health and Housing: Philanthropy’s New Opportunity, suggesting that philanthropy rethink approaches to low-income housing to re-establish the link between housing and community health for low-income, urban populations. (Kresge Foundation, 6/18)

EQUITY/DISTRICT | Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer reveals that income disparity in the District is bigger than in any state in the country. (WaPo, 6/24)

HOUSING | How Housing Policy is Failing America’s Poor (City Lab, 6/24)

TRANSPORTATION | Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is expected to announce a decision on the Purple Line light-rail later today.

ENVIRONMENT | By now, we all know how important it is to recycle. So why is it so hard to do it the right way? (City Lab, 6/24)

Here’s a double-dose of adorable for the day.

– Ciara

June 24, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

New report shines light on high rates of student trauma

The Children’s Law Center has released a new report detailing the high rates of trauma that many D.C. students carry with them from home to the classroom. The report also discusses the ways in which the public school system can effectively address the issue and bring about lasting reform. (WaPo, 6/24)

“Education reforms in the District will not fully succeed if schools do not address the trauma that students bring with them to class,” the report said.


Advocates argue that trauma is a pressing issue in the District, where 1 in 4 children live in poverty, with household incomes of less than $24,000 a year. In wards 7 and 8, the poverty rate is close to 50 percent.

Children from poor families are more often exposed to chronic stress and traumatic experiences. Last school year, about 4,000 D.C. public school students were homeless, the report said. At the end of 2014, more than 1,000 D.C. children were growing up in foster care. And with one out of every 50 adults incarcerated, many children have a parent in prison.

According to the report, children can be affected by a single event or by ongoing trauma. It harms executive functioning and their ability to regulate emotions and shapes the way their brains develop. Children who have been traumatized often feel unsafe and can’t concentrate. They may be withdrawn or have a strong emotional reaction to something seemingly harmless.

Click here to access the full report.

Opinion: Is Special Education Racist? (NYT, 6/24)

– Despite the closure of Rosslyn’s Artisphere arts center, the region’s creative community remains optimistic with a little imaginative thinking and support from sources like the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. (Washingtonian, 6/23)  

NoMa Parks Foundation Chooses Second Underpass Design (DCist, 6/23)

– This week, the Montgomery County Council unanimously passed a bill that will require all employers to give employees paid sick leave and paid time off. Though the bill will not go into effect until late next year, here are five things to know about the new law. (Bethesda Magazine, 6/23)

Minimum Wage For Tipped Workers Set At $4 In Montgomery County (WAMU, 6/24)

RACIAL EQUITY/DISTRICT | Digital legislative data company Quorum has released an interactive map displaying the concentration of race within the District’s neighborhoods. (DCInno, 6/23)

REGION | Cities and counties come to grips with the high cost of recycling programs (WaPo, 6/23)

NONPROFITS | RAISE DC announces their Data Spotlight Awards, highlighting the schools and nonprofits that use data in innovative and impactful ways to address challenges youth face from cradle to career.  Organizations can apply here by July 24 to win a $10,000 award for their data endeavors.

PHILANTHROPY | Grantmakers for Effective Organizations presents their newest publication, Learning Together, that examines open learning and evaluation practices among grantees, other funders, community members, government agencies and more, along with some informative case studies. (GEO, 6/17)

Multitasking at its finest…this baseball fan caught a foul ball while feeding his baby.  

– Ciara

June 23, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

New reports on the critical need for affordable housing in the Greater Washington Region

In response to alarming data surrounding housing affordability in the region, the Greater Washington Housing Leaders Group (GWHLG) presents a new report by Nonprofit Quarterly columnist Rick Cohen. The report – supported by Enterprise Community Partners, Citi Foundation, and WRAG – highlights the need for collaboration to invest in solving the region’s affordable housing crisis. Click here to access the full report, Call the Question: Will the Greater Washington Region Collaborate and Invest to Solve its Affordable Housing Shortage? 

Since June 2014, the Greater Washington Housing Leaders Group – a collection of more than a dozen public and private sector leaders concerned about housing affordability – has been meeting to examine: 1) the nature of the affordable housing shortage in the greater Washington area; 2) the relationship of housing affordability to economic growth; and 3) strategies to increase affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households in the region.

In July 2014, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region released new research, Housing Security in the Washington Region, prepared by the Urban Institute and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments based on 2011 data, the most recent available. A key finding of the study concludes that, currently, 250,000 households (including 147,000 renter households) making less than 80 percent of the area median income are paying more than half of their gross income on housing costs.

The full extent of the affordable housing shortage required an analysis of future economic growth and accompanying populations. Research from the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis (CRA) shows that future growth industries for our region will be in the retail, hospitality, healthcare, and construction sectors – jobs which pay lower wages. Thousands of critical jobs in today’s workforce also fall in the lowerto moderate-income range, including teachers, health care professionals, entry level office workers, and local government employees. In 2015, CRA developed affordable housing need projections based on their latest regional economic outlook projections showing a need for the region to provide 149,000 new low-income housing units between 2011 and 2023 to accommodate projected job growth in the region.


– Another newly-released report (mentioned above) by Jeannette Chapman of the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis – commissioned by Enterprise Community Partners, and supported by GWHLG – focuses on regional solutions for Greater Washington’s affordable housing needs by the year 2023. The report titled, The Greater Washington Region’s Future Housing Needs: 2023, can be found here.

– The Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND) has released a public service announcement campaign to raise awareness about the great need for affordable housing using statistics about the average take-home pay for the professionals who are often very important in our daily lives. Have you seen this PSA around yet?

What’s ‘new’ in affordable housing? Not a lot — yet (Elevation DC, 6/19)

EDUCATION/DISTRICT | After a recent independent evaluation on the state of D.C. schools by the National Research Council, education leaders agree that although the system has come a long way, it still needs a lot of work to get to where it needs to be. (WaPo, 6/22)

POVERTY | A quarter of Americans are one emergency away from financial ruin (WaPo, 6/23)

How’s this for a real Metro map? What do you think?

– Ciara


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