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September 30, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Funding cuts threaten new infant mortality initiative

DISTRICT/YOUTH
Even as the city announced a focus on a new five-year initiative to combat the infant mortality rate last week, federal funding for young mothers and infants in D.C. has been cut to the tune of $4 million. City officials are now contemplating ways to prevent a lapse in services following the announcement of budget cuts. (WaPo, 9/29)

Over two decades, the city received tens of millions of dollars in funding through the federal Healthy Start program. But that program recently changed its structure, dispensing with a long-standing preference for previous grantees and instituting a more competitive funding process.

[...]

The city’s infant-mortality rate — that is, the number of live-born children who die before their first birthday — is 7.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. The new initiative, known as “Stronger 2gether — One City 4 Healthier Babies,” aims to drive that rate below 5.0 by 2020. The national average is 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — well above that of many other industrialized nations.

WRAG | Congratulations are in order! WRAG president, Tamara Copeland, has been named as an honoree of Washington Business Journal‘s 2014 Women Who Mean Business award. The prestigious award honors the most influential businesswomen in the region from various industries who are trailblazers in their communities. Look out for the November 14th edition of the publication for a profile on how our president is making her mark!

PHILANTHROPY
- New York Times journalist, Nicholas Kristof, discusses how to be a high-impact donor and the struggle to make people care about causes far-away from home. You can listen to the discussion, or read a transcript. (WAMU, 9/29)

- Starting next week, a free massive online open course will be available through Stanford University called, “Giving 2.0.” The course is for individuals of all income levels to learn how to maximize their giving potential through various channels. Get some background on the philanthropist leading the effort here. (Chronicle, 9/29)

- 5 Factors for Success in Philanthropy’s Work with Cities (NPQ, 9/24)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING
– Though it has become a common buzzword in the world of affordable housing in the last several years, gentrification is nothing new. In the District, residents in an area of Georgetown that was once heavily populated by African Americans found themselves being pushed out of their homes as early as the 1920s. (WAMU, 9/26)

- Those shipping container apartments that are said to be a potential ecological and economical solution to housing are now up in Brookland. See how they turned out.(WaPo, 7/20 & WTOP, 9/29)

EDUCATION
- Seven of the nearly 270 community colleges across the country selected to receive a total of $450 million in job training grants from Vice President Biden are in the Washington Region. (InTheCapital, 9/30)

Takeovers of struggling charter schools offer families stability, and a culture clash (WaPo, 9/29)


Who doesn’t love an infographic? Here’s one about tracking and measuring your organization’s social media efforts.

- Ciara

September 29, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

A different view of socioeconomic segregation in the District

DISTRICT
Typically, when we look at segregation in urban cities, we view it in terms of income, with the rich dwelling in one area of the city and those in poverty dwelling in another. Researchers from the University of Toronto recently looked at 2010 U.S. Census data to develop a series of maps that paint a slightly different view of socioeconomic segregation, in which residents are more divided by the nature of the work they do, rather than by their income. (WaPo, 9/29)

Their analysis separates workers into three classes [...]: the “creative class” of knowledge workers who make up about a third of the U.S. workforce (people in advertising, business, education, the arts, etc.); the “service class,” which makes up the largest and fastest growing sector of the economy (people in retail, food service, clerical jobs); and the “working class,” where blue-collar jobs in industries like manufacturing have been disappearing (this also includes construction and transportation).

[...]

And these maps show that those workers tend to cluster in the same communities. About three-quarters of the region’s “creative class” lives in a census tract where their neighbors are primarily creative-class workers, too. That means your lawyers, doctors, journalists and lobbyists live together in parts of town far from the people who pour their coffee.

This also means that their evolving preferences — to live downtown, or close to the red line, or around Rock Creek Park — shape the city for everyone else.

- Researchers from Bowie State University, George Washington University and the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer recently compiled a list of neighborhoods that saw the greatest rise in residents’ incomes and median property values since 2001. The list included neighborhoods such as Barry Farms, Columbia Heights, Trinidad and Marshall Heights. In Marshall Heights, particularly, the transitions can be seen clearly by longtime residents. (WAMU, 9/26)

POVERTY | As scientists have discovered the true impact that poverty can have on an individual’s critical-thinking, memory and problem-solving skills in recent years, some anti-poverty programs are changing lives for the better with the right approach to the core circumstances that cause poverty. (SSIR, 9/25)

AGING/AFFORDABLE HOUSING | Being a low-income senior in the District is not easy. With limited funds and ridiculously long waiting lists for subsidized housing, many seniors find that they must either dedicate nearly every penny to housing costs, or move elsewhere in order to stay afloat. (WAMU, 9/26)

WORKFORCE
In current federal hiring trends, the percentage of female hires has fallen in recent years as initiatives aimed at hiring veterans have taken a front seat. (WaPo, 9/28)

From 2000 to 2012, the percentage of female hires dropped six percentage points, from 43 percent to 37 percent, according to a Merit Systems Protection Board report.

How Helping Immigrant Workers Learn English Could Transform the U.S. Economy (CityLab, 9/26)

COMMUNITY | The deadline for nonprofits who support entrepreneurship and STEM programs for girls in middle or high school to apply for grants through the Business Women’s Giving Circle at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia is September 30th. Find out more here.


No matter how you commute to work everyday, if you’d like to make the trip a little easier, there’s an app for that!

- Ciara

September 26, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

D.C. attempts to get to the bottom of school dropout crisis

EDUCATION
A report that will be released today from Raise DC – a coalition comprised of public, private, and nonprofit groups convened by Mayor Gray – explores the reasons why many high school students in the District struggle to graduate on time, or at all. A number of school districts across the region have conducted similar analyses in an attempt discover student patterns and intervene early on; however, this is the District’s most comprehensive study on the topic to date. (WaPo, 9/26)

The report looks at the experiences and outcomes for first-time ninth-graders between 2006 and 2009, tracking more than 18,000 students in more than 40 high schools, both traditional and charter, including selective and alternative schools.

The study found that middle school performance played a significant role in whether students were on track to graduate. Some key risk factors in eighth grade predicted poor graduation rates: special education or ESL designation; being overage; low scores on standardized math or reading tests; high number of absences; and course failures.

Report data will be made available this afternoon here.

Related: For more background on the work and goals of Raise DC, take a look at this post from last year. (Daily, 3/2013)

- D.C. residents will pay less to get a GED starting next month (WaPo, 9/26)

A new report from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Women’s Law Center finds that a combination of gender and racial discrimination, unequal distribution of school resources, harsh disciplinary practices, and other factors, have caused African American girls to be more likely than any other racial group of girls to be suspended, expelled or held back. African American girls were also found to be doing worse than the national average for girls on almost every measure of academic achievement revealing the need for increased access and opportunity nationwide. (NPR, 9/25)

CSR
– See what happens when 60 senior associates have the chance to put their leadership and management consulting skills to use in their communities. Through Booz Allen Hamilton’s Leadership Excellence Program, top employees create positive societal change. (USCCF, 9/23)

- Congratulations to IBM for being named a finalists for the US Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Corporate Citizenship Best Corporate Steward Award in the large business category! The award honors companies with overall values, operational practices, and stakeholder strategies that exemplify shared value. The 2014 finalists show the significant, positive impact businesses have around the world.

Related: Both of these companies are represented in the 2014 Institute for CSR class as participants and faculty members. Check out the testimonials from this year’s class and sign up for next year. Classes start in January!

VETERANS/HOMELESSNESS | With around 617 homeless veterans across Virginia on any given night, Governor Terry McAuliffe and mayors from cities across the state announced the start of a 100 Day Challenge designed to foster greater collaboration on strategies to end veteran homelessness. The goal is a step toward the federal goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015. (Virginia.gov, 9/24)

 Related: Last month, WRAG hosted a brown bag discussion on D.C.’s current efforts to house homeless veterans. The discussion featured Ronald McCoy from the D.C. Housing Authority, a member of the Veterans Now coalition, made up of nine local organizations, as well as local and federal government agencies, launched last year with the goal of ending homelessness among veterans by 2015.

REGION | 450,000 voters in Virginia may lack proper I.D. needed to vote (WaPo, 9/25)


 Which food do people in D.C. like to tweet about the most? The answer may surprise you!

-Ciara

September 25, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

From the inner city to the inner-ring suburbs

PHILANTHROPY/EQUALITY
In the wake of the recent high-profile events in Ferguson, MO, a number of underlying issues regarding race and  socio-economics have been brought to light. Though the challenges of the “suburban poor” and discrimination are nothing new, the challenge for philanthropy to fully address persistent problems in the once idealized inner-ring suburbs continues. This commentary offers seven strategies for foundations to help change the “Ferguson’s” in America. (NPQ, 9/24)

In many metropolitan areas nowadays, these inner-ring suburbs are small cities that exhibit many of the same problems as inner city neighborhoods, particularly a sharp increase in poverty and, in recent years, a particularly significant dynamic of home mortgage foreclosures. Once highly sought after “streetcar suburbs” like Chelsea outside of Boston, Cleveland Heights outside of Cleveland, and District Heights and Seat Pleasant outside of Washington, D.C. evince problems of inner city–like socio-economic challenges. In many such troubled inner-ring suburbs, the demographics have become increasingly dominated by persons of color—like the two-thirds black suburb of Ferguson.

HEALTH | As many insurance plans exclude necessary dental care, millions of patients are left to wander the health care system with no relief and little financial assistance, which begs the question – In terms of insurance coverage, why aren’t our teeth treated like the rest of our bodies? (Atlantic, 9/25)

EDUCATION | D.C. asks court to end long-running special education litigation (WaPo, 9/25)

HOUSING | Six years after the demolition of the low-income housing unit, Temple Courts, a mixed-income replacement community has opened as part of the New Communities Initiative Program in D.C. Out of 314 units, 59 are replacement apartments for people who were displaced from Temple Courts, while another 34 are for residents who earn less than 60 percent of area median income. (WCP, 9/24)

ARTS | Artists of Color Stand Up Against Discrimination in the Field (American Theatre, 9/19)

FOOD | More and more schools across the country are offering their students healthy, innovative lunch programs with plates full of fresh foods. Check out how some schools in the U.S. are leading the pack, including in Bethesda and D.C.


If you were a punctuation mark, which one would you be? Take this quiz to find out once and for all.

- Ciara

September 24, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Services for women veterans lag behind

VETERANS
With a surge in the number of women veterans, services geared toward their unique needs have struggled to keep up with demand. A new report by the Disabled American Veterans, a veterans services organization, highlights the ways that men and women may differ during and after terms of service. (WSJ, 9/24)

As of March, women made up about 210,000 of the 1.79 million veterans who have served since 2001, according to the report. About 14% of active-duty service forces today are female, vs. 8% in 1980.

[...]

A third of VA medical centers lack a gynecologist on staff, the report says. About one in five women veterans report having experienced military sexual trauma, including rape, yet 31% of VA clinics lack staff to provide adequate treatment, according to the Institute of Medicine, an independent nonprofit.

Women who have lost limbs face unique challenges, like needing multiple adjustments to prostheses during pregnancy to accommodate changes in weight and balance. Female veterans more often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder than their male counterparts, yet VA facilities “have difficulty providing gender-specific peer support, group therapy, residential rehabilitation,” the report says.

NONPROFITS | The Meyer Foundation, in partnership with Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communications, has released “Stories Worth Telling: A Guide to Strategic and Sustainable Nonprofit Storytelling” – a publication to help small nonprofits navigate the challenges of communicating their narratives. (Meyer Foundation, 9/23)

EDUCATION | New International Academy in D.C. aims to help immigrant students graduate (WaPo, 9/23)

PHILANTHROPY | Exponent Philanthropy and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations share some valuable tips on using evaluation to reshape operations in philanthropy. (Exponent Philanthropy, 9/24)

EQUALITY| Here is an interactive map displaying the counties in the U.S. with the most inequality based on data from the Census Bureau’s recently released American Community Survey. (HuffPo, 9/24)

HIV/AIDS/POVERTY | Two Battles, One War: The Struggle to End HIV/AIDS and Poverty (Talk Poverty, 9/23)

COMMUNITY | On Thursday, October 9th at 4:00 PM, World Bank Group will host an online event titled, “Cities and Citizens: Gamechangers for Inclusive Development,” featuring a panel of leaders on the topic. Find out more here.

REGION | An interesting infographic shows how metropolitan areas in the U.S. compare to their closest equivalent nation. The Washington region and Argentina are pretty close. (Forbes, 9/24)


 Here’s where you can check out Art All Night across D.C.

- Ciara

September 23, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

New legislation could strengthen tenant purchasing law in D.C.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING
– New legislation could prevent a repeat of the recent debacle in which low-income residents of an apartment building in Mount Vernon Triangle were informed they’d need to come up with more than $800,000 per unit in order to maintain their residency. The situation last summer prompted city officials to find ways to address gaps in the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act. (WCP, 9/23)

- Opinion: A proposed bill could work to restore the District’s commitment to affordable and mixed-income housing to the benefit of residents from all income levels, if passed. (GGW, 9/22)

- Plans to create additional affordable housing in Arlington County under the “Public Land for Public Good” initiative have been met with opposition as residents in the area contemplate preserving parkland and the importance of creating a greater balance of affordable housing across the county. (ARLnow, 9/22)

POVERTY/EDUCATION
- Opinion: Completing college is a major accomplishment for any student,typically filled with tales of cramming for exams and eating copious amounts of processed food. But for many students at elite colleges who come from poverty, the struggle to remain in school can take on an entirely different level of difficulty, as socioeconomic backgrounds are often magnified at full view. (NYT, 9/22)

- Record number of public school students nationwide are homeless (WaPo, 9/22)

CSR | What Dogs Can Teach Us About Corporate Social Responsibility (Forbes, 9/22) Spoiler alert: much more than you’d expect.

COMMUNITY | Grants Managers Network has issued a call for papers for their online journal, GMNsight. Their next issue will be published on a rolling basis in November, and is unthemed and open for all issues and ideas related to grantmaking. Please review the call for papers with your colleagues and consider writing something that will help inform and advance grantmaking for the entire field.

DISTRICT | You Need to Make $688,000 Annually to Be a One-Percenter in D.C. (DCist, 9/23)


Not one, but two teachers in the Washington region recently won big on Wheel of Fortune!

- Ciara

September 22, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

More vacant lots could turn into urban farms with D.C. bill

FOOD
In an effort to increase the availability of fresh, healthy food while transforming vacant urban lots into safer places, D.C. is considering a bill known as the “D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act.” Currently, when private land owners (such as nonprofit groups) lease land for commercial use, they can risk losing tax exemptions; however, if the new bill is passed, private land owners would see a 50 percent tax deduction if they lease their land for farming. (WaPo, 9/19)

The bill outlines a plan to connect publicly and privately owned vacant land with urban farming ventures in an effort to provide more sustainable and healthy food options for surrounding communities and to transform unused and sometimes unsafe areas into productive green spaces.

[...]

The bill also encourages the farms to donate to District food banks or shelters by creating a “farm to food donations” tax credit.

Related: Earlier this year, we published What Funders Need to Know: The Food System, providing an overview of the different activities that comprise the food system,  local examples of these activities, and recommendations for ways to invest for multiple, integrated impacts in the region. (Daily, 3/2014)

- New effort to get more students in Maryland eating breakfast (WaPo, 9/19)

EQUALITY | Opinion: Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, President and CEO at Washington Area Women’s Foundation shares her thoughts on the dangers in ignoring the less headline-grabbing discrimination many women still face on a daily basis. (WBJ – subscription required, 9/19)

When discrimination is blatant, it needs to be addressed, corrected and rooted out. But we must all stand guard against discrimination in disguise, the kind that lives in our choice of words, our selection of job candidates and our daily interactions.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING
- In Arlington County, residents are finding housing costs to be too high, with 2 in 5 saying they are likely to move out of the county within the next five years in response to rising rents and stagnant salaries. The findings come from part of a three-year study on affordable housing in Arlington. (WaPo, 9/19)

- Is housing assistance a safety net or a springboard? (MetroTrends, 9/22)

DISTRICT | Today, Mayor Vincent Gray spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting on new efforts in D.C. to decrease rates of infant mortality. The city’s rates are well above the national average. However, officials hope that new initiatives in the District can provide an example to other cities. (DC.gov, 9/22)

PHILANTHROPY | The Rockefeller Brothers Fund has joined the increasingly mainstream movement of divestment in fossil fuel companies, and will increase investment into cleaner alternatives. According to Arabella Advisors – which has consulted with a number of philanthropists and investors to move them toward using resources for social good – a number of groups have pledged to divest assets tied to fossil fuel companies worth more than $50 billion from portfolios, and more than $1 billion for individuals. (NYT, 9/21)

ARTS | The 5 x 5 Project, put on by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, includes a unique piece that speaks to present racial turmoil in America through an iconic gesture from the past. (Forbes, 9/16)


It’s the most wonderful time of year! Tonight, we’ll welcome the autumnal equinox.

- Ciara

September 19, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Maryland and Virginia see rise in unemployment rates

REGION/WORKFORCE
Unemployment rates in Maryland and Virginia rose last month, according to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, while Virginia lost around 1,500 jobs, Maryland gained just 600 in the last month. (WBJ, 9/19)

The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics says Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 5.6 percent in August, from 5.3 percent in July. Last month’s unemployment rate in Virginia matched where it was a year ago.

Maryland’s unemployment rate last month was 6.4 percent, up from 6.1 percent in July, but still below the 6.6 percent unemployment rate in August 2013.

DISTRICT
– The first debate of D.C.’s mayoral race happened last night. You can check out the summary of the night and how candidates fared on issues affecting the District here. (WaPo, 9/18)

- Another bit of D.C. data emerging out of the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey – in 2013 there were 115, 551 people in the city living below the poverty line. (DCist, 9/18)

- Watch the Racial Geography of D.C. Mortgages Change Over Time (WCP, 9/18)

HOUSING/NONPROFITS | The Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development has announced Stephen Glaude as executive director. Glaude is the current Director of Community Affairs for Mayor Vincent Gray, and will succeed Robert Pohlman as executive director effective October 27th, 2014.

COMMUNITY | The Meyer Foundation discusses the power of funding advocacy and the continued success of their grantee, D.C. Appleseed, as the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary. (Meyer Foundation blog, 9/15)

PHILANTHROPY | A Gender Lens for Giving: Women in Philanthropy Urged to Invest More in Women and Girls (Forbes, 9/18)


Look at your desk. Is there a plant on it? No? Well, read this, then get one!

- Ciara

September 18, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Income and poverty levels persist in Washington region since economic recovery

POVERTY
According to 2013 American Community Survey data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income and poverty level in the D.C. area has remained stagnant since the economic recovery. (WCP, 9/18)

[...] the median household income in the D.C. area was $90,149 last year, a small but statistically insignificant decline from the 2010 median of $90,316, adjusted for inflation. Meanwhile, the percentage of residents living in poverty edged up slightly, although again by a statistically insignificant margin, from 8.4 percent to 8.5 percent. And the percentage of residents receiving food stamps, or SNAP benefits, increased from 5.9 percent to 7.9 percent.

- Nationally, for the first time since 2000, the Census Bureau reports that the poverty rate for children declined sharply last year. Additionally, the poverty rate for overall for Americans dropped for the first time last year since 2006. (NYT, 9/16)

- On Thursday, October 9th, D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute will host “Unlocking Opportunities: A Forum on Helping D.C.’s Low Income Students to Succeed. The event will feature a panel of speakers and will focus on services that schools can deliver, beyond classroom instruction, to alleviate the effects of poverty. You can RSVP here.

ARTS | Nonprofit Finance Fund has released its annual “State of the Arts & Culture Sector” nonprofit survey report. The report highlights specific ways nonprofit arts organizations are innovating by engaging new and diverse audiences to improve their fiscal health, and how funders can support their grantees in these efforts.

Related: Supporting local arts organizations’ audience development efforts is on the agenda for the next Arts & Humanities Working Group meeting. More information is available here. The meeting is open to arts funders in the region.

VETERANS/HOMELESSNESS | Homeless Vets: They’re Not Just Single Men Anymore (NPR, 9/16)

SOCIAL CHANGE | Opinion: The New York Times has a thought-provoking post on the importance of having strong, established organizations in place to deal with times of crisis. Thanks to Lori Vacek of the Freddie Mac Foundation, and member of the inaugural class of of the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility, for sending this in. (NYT, 9/15)


This is what your brain is doing while you sleep.

- Ciara

September 17, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Anacostia residents show strong attendance at neighborhood meetings despite doubts about effectiveness

DISTRICT
Meetings, meetings, and more meetings
. Much like other areas in the city, many involved residents of the Anacostia neighborhood have their pick of the litter when it comes to what neighborhood meeting to attend on any given night. But in an area that has been slow to change, some wonder how helpful attending neighborhood meetings really is. (GGW, 9/16)

While the cliche of Washington being a “transient city” holds true in certain sections of town, Anacostia and areas east of the river have a core of activists that have outlasted changes in local leadership.

“The community has had the same issues for decades,” says Angela Copeland, a resident of old Anacostia for more than two decades. “But, we get a fresh crew of bureaucrats every election cycle and start again from scratch. ‘What does Anacostia want/need?’ You can go crazy after a number of years having this same darn conversation.”

- Tonight, former D.C. mayor, Marion Barry, will debut a documentary he produced titled, “Ward 8 – The Past. The Present. The Future,” which puts the spotlight on the city’s poorest area. The event will take place in southeast D.C. at THEARC (Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus). You can register here. (NBC Washington, 9/17)

- We already know that District residents move to the city from all over the country, but where are they going when they leave? According to a recent report, not very far. The highest out-migration from D.C. is into Maryland. (WBJ, 9/16)

HIV | The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will launch a new national HIV awareness campaign at southeast Washington’s United Medical Center today. The campaign, called “HIV Treatment Works,” aims to show people how the disease can be managed. (WTOP, 9/17)

EDUCATION
- After a four-year vacancy with no one in the position, the new D.C. education ombudsman is kicking off the school year fielding a number of complaints from families. Around half of the complaints coming in are from families in wards 7 and 8 regarding concerns about behavioral issues, discipline, special education, and more. (WaPo, 9/16)

- Three in 10 Virginia schools lack full accreditation; students struggle with tests (WaPo. 9/16)

- In a four-part series, WAMU explores issues facing those in poverty and captures their stories. As the series continues, you can check out “Yesterday’s Dropouts,” focusing on the millions who don’t finish high school in the U.S., or “Military Children,” which asks what we can learn from the education of children whose parents serve in the military. (WAMU, 9/16)

NONPROFITS | In this interview, Rick Moyers, vice president for programs and communications at the Meyer Foundation,  speaks on investing in nonprofit leadership. (Social Velocity, 9/2014)


Today is Constitution Day! Celebrate by doing a much better job on this quiz than I did!

- Ciara

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