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July 25, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Terri Lee Freeman stepping down from the Community Foundation to head National Civil Rights Museum

COMMUNITY
After 18 years of service, president of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Terri Lee Freeman, is stepping down from her post to head the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. Terri’s tenure lead to immense growth for the foundation. She has a long history of being deeply involved with WRAG, including serving multiple terms on our board of directors. She is the immediate past chair of the board.

Upon hearing of her resignation, WRAG president, Tamara Copeland commented,

While I am saddened by Terri’s decision to leave the Community Foundation, I am grateful for her impact on the Greater Washington region. Through her years at the Community Foundation, and as a member of WRAG’s board, she has exemplified the ideal of philanthropy going “beyond dollars” by using the foundation’s resources, time, and voice to improve the lives of all who live in the region. It has been an honor to work with Terri, a true champion for change, over these years.

HOUSING
- A proposal to bring more affordable housing for low-income and young professional residents of Fairfax County is unlikely to proceed. Though the Planning Commission plans to vote on the proposal next week, it is expected to be tossed out due to a lack of community consensus and opposition from neighborhood groups. (WaPo, 7/24)

The measure was conceived as a way to address homelessness and overcrowded housing in a county where poverty is taking hold even though it is among the wealthiest in the country.

It was eventually expanded as a way for developers to build new studios for young professionals whom the county is eager to attract to its revitalizing neighborhoods, notably Tysons Corner.

- Talk Poverty kicks off its “In Our Backyard” series addressing inequality and poverty with this blog post on the affordable housing crisis in the District. (Talk Poverty, 7/21)

- A new study out of Rice University and Cornell University finds that African Americans are much more likely to go from owning their homes to renting them. The study also suggests that black homeowners are no better off today than they were forty years ago. (City Lab, 7/24)

- Manhattan’s West Side will soon be home to the first “quantified community” – a mixed-use and “fully-instrumented urban neighborhood that will measure and analyze key physical and environmental attributes.” The community is an experiment in urban studies and social sciences that, if successful, could be a template for other urban areas….like D.C. perhaps? (CUSP, 4/14)

EDUCATION
- Opinion: In light of recent reports on racial disparities in the disciplinary actions against students, one parent writes about her personal struggles to combat hidden prejudice against her sons. (WaPo, 7/24)

- In response to the post above, The Kojo Nnamdi Show recently discussed “Discipline in Preschool,” with an expert panel. You can access the audio or read the transcript here. (WAMU, 7/24)

ARTS │ Last weekend, at the international 2014 Brave New Voices Festival, a D.C. youth slam team came in first place, taking home the world championship. You can hear the poem that won the team a spot in the semi-finals, written by a 2014 Cesar Chavez graduate who is headed to Princeton University in the fall. (WaPo, 7/23)


 

In light of the Silver Line’s inaugural weekend, take a look at how far the Metro system has come over the past few decades.

-Ciara  

July 24, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Higher rate of Virginia children living in poverty, study shows

YOUTH
Although children in Virginia are faring better in terms of education and health, 15 percent are living in poverty - up from 13 percent in 2005. This comes out of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count report highlighting four areas of life for children. It is believed that the increase in poverty could be a result of the increase in single-parent households in the state. (WAMU, 7/24)

Ted Groves is the Kids Count Director at Voices for Virginia’s Children. He says much of that relates to the increased number of single-parent homes. He says raising a child on one income is difficult.

[...] it’s unlikely that trend will revert back to the two-parent norm soon. So a solution is to find ways to support single parents.

[...]

Another contributing factor is the number of people living near poverty. Groves says more Virginians now spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing, which makes it challenging to meet other family needs.

HOUSING │ In light of the recent report from The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the lack of low-income housing, due in part to the needs of the middle-class, is broken down here. (WaPo, 7/24)

EDUCATION
- A pilot summer program for D.C. Public School students, “D.C. Meets Washington,” is teaching youth about careers in the city. Students are learning about the possibilities in the fast growing fields of information technology, hospitality and engineering, while meeting with professionals and taking field trips in an effort to get them thinking about career choices before high school. (WaPo, 7/23)

- Also out of the new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, are state-by-state rankings on how students are doing academically. (WaPo, 7/22)

- Fairfax schools to vote on spending millions to turn half-day Mondays into full class days (WaPo, 7/23)

- Opinon: In this blog post featured in The Washington Post, Hollywood writer/producer-turned-English teacher Ellie Herman writes about the strong links between generational poverty and struggling schools, and how the conversation surrounding them must change. (WaPo, 7/24)

FOOD 
- Urban farmers in the Petworth neighborhood’s Twin Oaks Community Garden are opposing plans by the D.C. Department of General Services to pave over a portion of the garden in order to provide parking space for Powell Elementary School. (WAMU, 7/23)

- Opinion: Why is D.C. a Food Co-op Desert? (OPinions, 7/23)

HIV/AIDS Opinion: Recently, officials at the International AIDS Conference reported that ending the epidemic by 2030 is possible. Ralf Jürgens writes on the Open Society Foundations blog about the need for further funding of human rights programs to realistically approach that goal. (Open Society, 7/23)

ARTS │ A Prince George’s County teen was recently awarded a gold medal in a competition for his inspirational artwork depicting his heroes. (WaPo, 7/22)


A photographer is taking “family portraits” to a whole new level by photographing complete strangers in a familiar way. Take a look!

-Ciara

July 23, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Local foster care agencies struggle to manage caseloads as unaccompanied refugee children continue across border

YOUTH
The recent surge of children from Central America into the U.S., particularly in the Greater Washington region, has been a heated topic as of late. Many children cross the border in hopes of being reunited with family, but some have no one to reconnect with once they arrive. In the region, the foster care system is struggling to keep up with the pace. (WAMU, 7/23)

 

As federal, state and local authorities deal with the influx of nearly 60,000 Central American children — and counting — who have crossed the border alone, one legal priority is to reunite the children with relatives in this country while their deportation cases proceed. But what happens to the unaccompanied immigrant children who have no relatives here?

Lutheran Social Services of the Washington region has tripled its caseload of unaccompanied refugee children in the past year. The agency says it gets calls every day from federal authorities seeking foster homes for what could eventually be as many as 3,000 Central American children lost, lonely and with nowhere to go.

 

Report: D.C. youth more likely to attend preschool, have health insurance (WaPo, 7/23)

- In an effort to fight hunger in youth during out-of-school time, Mayor Gray announced that the District’s Free Summer Meals Program will expand to include Saturdays for the second year in a row. Youth up to age 18 will be able to get free meals at libraries and recreation centers across the city. (One City Youth, 7/22)

- The District saw a sudden increase in the number of infant deaths between July 13-22.  D.C.’s rate of infant mortality is already higher than the national average, but officials worry that the most recent surge could be caused by the dangers of babies sleeping in bed with parents instead of in cribs. (WTOP, 7/23)

HOMELESSNESS │ Recently, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development hosted a webinar titled, “Core Principles of Housing First and Rapid Re-Housing,” about the core components of the Housing First approach and the Rapid Re-Housing model to help end homelessness. (USICH, 7/23)

WORKFORCE │ President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act into law, aimed at improving federal training programs to make them more “job-driven.” (White House, 7/23)

TRANSIT │ Thousands of Fairfax County commuters will experience longer and more expensive travel as a result of the Silver Line’s upcoming opening. (WAMU, 7/22)


Murals in D.C. are making a big comeback.

 - Ciara

July 22, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Urban farming continues to grow in the D.C. area

FOOD
The future of urban farming in D.C. looks bright – even with challenges of space and high taxes. Read how some farmers in the area have gotten creative with urban farming models in spite of those obstacles. (Elevation, 7/22)

The urban farming models that have proven the most successful here hinge on growing food for individuals or retail outlets on a contract basis — and not having to pay taxes on the land where the food is grown.

But new models continue to emerge, and city officials seem eager to consider how they might build a healthier ecosystem for locally grown food.

[...]

As some D.C.-based farming hopefuls wait in the wings for better policies or grow food outside the city, others have forged business models around the unique challenges of urban agriculture.

EDUCATION
- In Prince George’s County, hundreds of incoming second graders are participating in a new, free summer school program that teaches math and reading fundamentals. (WaPo, 7/21)

- Tensions over DCPS-charter planning reflect different perspectives (GGE, 7/22)

WORKFORCE
Yesterday, in a move that is expected to affect a great deal of the nation’s workforce, President Barack Obama signed an executive order banning workplace discrimination against LGBT individuals (HuffPo, 7/21):

The executive order has two parts: It makes it illegal to fire or harass employees of federal contractors based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and it explicitly bans discrimination against transgender employees of the federal government. The part targeting federal contractors affects 24,000 companies employing roughly 28 million workers, or about one-fifth of the nation’s workforce.

PHILANTHROPY Opinion: Philanthropy Must Step Up Action to Help Children Crossing the Border (Chronicle, 7/22)

DISTRICT
- Obama on D.C.’s statehood: ‘I’m for it (WaPo, 7/21)

- The Gateway Pavilion, the initial phase in the St. Elizabeths Campus redevelopment, has brought a number of new offerings and new people to the once elusive area in Ward 8. (DCist, 7/21)


What do you do with 19 hours of free time? Visit 86 metro stations….in one day!

-Ciara

July 21, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Youth unemployment remains stagnant among minorities

YOUTH
 An economist at Howard University explains how the youth unemployment crisis is hitting African Americans the hardest. (NPR, 7/21)

Young people are being chased out of the labor market. Though the national unemployment rate has fallen steadily in recent months, youth unemployment remains stubbornly high, and the jobless rate is even higher among young minorities. For young people between the ages of 16 and 24, unemployment is more than twice the national rate, at 14.2 percent. For African-Americans, that rate jumps to 21.4 percent.

-President Barack Obama announced the expansion of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative today.  The program will grow to include greater involvement from school districts, nonprofits and the private sector, and will also seek to tackle the needs of Asian  American and Native American boys. (White House, 7/21)

HOUSING
- Recently in Fairfax City, Lisa Whetzel, the executive director of Our Daily Bread, spoke to the city council on the links between affordable housing and food security, and the great need for both in the city. (Connection, 7/18)

- Could 8-by-40-foot shipping container boxes re-purposed into apartments be an answer to affordable housing? (WaPo, 7/20)

- Cost of Living Is Really All About Housing (City Lab, 7/21)

POVERTY
- Women living in poverty are giving birth to healthier babies, studies show. (WaPo, 7/20)

- Opinion: It is no secret that living in poverty can also lead to poor health, but in some cities doctors who can’t help patients in the office are referring them to lawyers who can help them in the courtroom. (NYT, 7/17)

- This Is Your Stressed-Out Brain on Scarcity (NPR, 7/14)

DISTRICT  │ Old home’s restoration helps to restore pride in Anacostia (WaPo, 7/20)


Read this harrowing account of one journalist’s endless appetizer-eating adventure.

-Ciara

July 18, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

D.C. helps youth combat hunger during summer months

FOOD
For many children in the region the summer months can be a time of uncertainty when it comes to receiving regular, nutritious meals – making summer meal programs all the more vital. With a number of summer feeding sites across the city at churches, libraries, schools and nonprofits, leaders are aiming to do more than just keep bellies full (PBS, 7/16):

As junk food consumption rises, children gain weight three times faster during the summer months, often putting on as many pounds during the three months of summer as they do during the entire school year, research shows. Skipping meals is common too.

“That’s why we see both hunger and obesity spiking at the same time,” said Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center. “Hunger because the kids aren’t getting school meals, obesity because the kids aren’t getting the healthier food that they get from those meals.”

Summer food programs try to temper the weight gain by providing meals filled with fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

- The Arlington Food Assistance Center has seen a 40 percent increase in the number of families and individuals it serves since 2013.  The increase is likely attributed to the November reduction in SNAP benefits and expiration of unemployment benefits. (ARLnow, 6/3)

YOUTH
- Recently The Washington Post shared a story of one D.C. mother’s ordeal to have her children smuggled across the U.S. border from Honduras.(WaPo, 7/17)

Related: As more and more undocumented children are making their way to the border, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees has released a resource guide for funders on how they can respond.

- A summer camp in D.C. is showing young girls how to become rock stars. The program not only teaches them about the District’s rich history in music, but it also teaches the young ladies a thing or two about about breaking down gender barriers. (City Paper, 7/17) This sounds like way more fun than the band camp I went to!

EDUCATION │ D.C. schools hire expert to help improve outcomes for African American boys (WaPo, 7/17)

ARTS
- Mayor Gray has released his new plan to boost the District’s creative economy, “Creative Economy Strategy for the District of Columbia.” The plan outlines three specific areas for growth: make D.C. a national hub for creative start-ups and entrepreneurs, become a magnet for creative corporations, and create a resilient local entrepreneurial arts community. (DMPED, 7/16)

- Brookland’s Monroe Street Market project is looking to attract tenants in a very unique and aesthetically pleasing way – by first moving in talented artists who have opened up their spaces to the wandering eyes of the public. (WaPo, 7/15)

- A coalition is concerned that an artist’s plans to sink a gas station replica in the Anacostia River to bring attention to global climate change will greatly interfere with river restorationon the assumption that the public will misinterpret the artist’s message. (CityLab, 7/17)

HOUSING │ In a soon-to-be redeveloped housing unit on U Street, residents who currently reside in section 8 units are requesting to be separated from the incoming young, market-rate professionals who have different needs. (WBJ, 7/17)

PHILANTHROPY │ Read the Council on Foundation‘s statement with regard to yesterday’s passing of the “America Gives More Act” (H.R. 4719) (COF, 7/17)


How many of these not-quite-as-popular monuments have you seen in D.C.?

-Ciara

July 17, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

The impact of long, expensive commutes on women in the region

WOMEN/TRANSIT
Many women in the area experience a number of transportation burdens, including continually rising costs and a lack of efficiency and safety. The Washington Area Women’s Foundation writes about the vital need for accessible transportation in order for women to achieve economic security. (WAWF, 7/15)

In addition to consuming time, commuting is also expensive in terms of dollars and cents. Transportation costs rose faster than income during the 2000s, increasing the burden these costs placed on already stretched budgets. For the working poor – those earning less than twice the federal poverty measure–these costs consume a larger portion of their earnings. In the Washington metropolitan area the cost-burden of commuting for this population is among the highest in the country, greater than the national median, and working poor households spend nearly three times more than other households, in relative terms. According to national data, transportation is the second largest expense for households: jointly with housing it accounts for more than one-half of all household spending.

HOUSING
- Terri Lee Freeman, president of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, appeared on News Channel 8 to discuss their new “Housing Security in the Washington Region” study. (WJLA, 7/16)

Low-Income Washingtonians Face Severe Housing Cost Burden(City Paper, 7/15) And also in Arlington County and Prince William County and Fairfax County and Prince George’s County…

- Amid reports of negligence and financial mismanagement, Muriel Bowser has requested an open investigation into the decline of Park Southern Towers, one of the District’s largest affordable housing complexes. (WaPo, 7/15)

- Piscataway Hills: The Prince George’s neighborhood that could be no more (WaPo, 7/15)

FOOD
- Through a partnership with D.C. Housing Authority, The D.C. Green Scheme has brought two fresh produce gardens to residents in Wheeler Terrace and Lincoln Heights. Residents have 24-hour access to the garden and are also able to take part in other activities the organization provides. (WJLA, 7/14)

- In Alexandria, a new “farm camp” is teaching children about food origins with hands-on activities and, of course, taste testing. (WaPo, 7/15)

- Even more students will learn about sustainable farming and food sources thanks to a new initiative of the D.C. Healthy Schools Act with funding from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. The Farm Field Trip program will help send 23 D.C. public and charter schools to area farms. (Washington Informer, 7/14)

EDUCATION
- The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has recently awarded a total of $50,000 to seven schools and nonprofit organizations through its Innovation Fund to support innovative approaches to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education across Northern Virginia. (CFNV, 7/16)

- Prince George’s County will open two new high schools next year geared toward immigrant students and students who are learning English. In the county, nearly 30 percent of the students come from other countries. (WaPo, 7/15)

PHILANTHROPY
- A new report from Exponent Philanthropy titled “Outsized Impact 2014″ reveals that, when it comes to staffing at philanthropic organizations, smaller just may mean better. (Exponent Philanthropy, 7/17)


Yesterday marked the 224th anniversary of the Residence Act that basically made D.C….and here are 51 things you can do to commemorate that.

-Ciara 

July 15, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Comprehensive study on housing needs across income levels uncovers critical needs

HOUSING 
Today, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region released a first-of-its-kind report, “Housing Security in the Washington Region,” revealing the critical need for affordable housing across varying income levels in the Greater Washington region.  The landmark study is the first to comprehensively examine housing needs and how housing policies and programs are funded by public and philanthropic sectors in multiple jurisdictions. The study was commissioned with generous support from The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and was researched and prepared by the Urban Institute and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. A companion guide for funders was developed with input from WRAG members Silvana Straw of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Jacqueline Prior of The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Karen FitzGerald of The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, Alison McWilliams of Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation and David Bowers of Enterprise Community Partners. (CFNCR, 7/15)

Stable and affordable housing for people at all income levels is a goal that our region should be able to achieve. Without stable housing, it is difficult for people to obtain economic security, a quality education, good health and employment,” said Terri Lee Freeman, president of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. “We commissioned this study in order to quantify the needs for affordable housing and inform strategic investments by the philanthropic sector, as well as the public and private sectors.We are optimistic that the study can help leaders better address homelessness and housing issues in their communities and direct resources to those most in need. All people in our region deserve the chance to prosper as our region prospers.”

You can access the full report here.

Related: Today, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region will also hold a special briefing on the new study. The event will include two sessions – a public briefing on the study, followed by a private briefing for philanthropic funders and donors only co-sponsored by WRAG. Find out more here.

CSR │ WRAG’s Director of Corporate Strategy, Katy Moore, provides some thoughtful commentary on the Chronicle of Philanthropy‘s recent article on the state of corporate giving. (Daily, 7/15)

COMMUNITY │ Congratulations to Brian Castrucci of the de Beaumont Foundation for being named a 2014 Terrance Keenan Institute for Emerging Leaders in Health Philanthropy fellow. The Terrance Keenan Institute is a program of Grantmakers in Health that was created to nurture the next generation of heath grantmaking leaders and further their professional development.

EDUCATION │ In an effort to keep up with changing demographics and bridge the achievement gap, Montgomery County officials are clashing on proposed boundary changes to prevent further segregation in public schools. (WaPo, 7/14)

BUDGET D.C. Council Overrides Gray’s Budget Veto; Tax Cut Plan Approved (WAMU, 7/14)

TRANSIT │ With so much spotlight lately on cycling as a mode of commuting in the District, City Lab offers a revealing look at where low-income commuters stand in the discussion. (City Lab, 7/15)

DISTRICT │ Just how engaged are D.C.’s residents in civic activities? Take a look at six charts that break down data from a report conducted by the National Conference on Citizenship and Serve DC. (DCist, 7/14)


We may have even more in common with our friends than we think.

-Ciara

July 15, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

A Different Take

By Katy Moore
Director of Corporate Strategy

Yesterday, the Chronicle of Philanthropy released the results of its annual giving survey of the 150 largest companies in the U.S. The article’s title, Corporate Profits Surge but Cash Donations Creep Up Only 3%, paints a negative picture of the generosity of the American corporate sector. However, if you read through the article or glance at the handy infographic (see below), you’ll realize that, in fact, ALL corporate giving numbers climbed from 2012 to 2013. And, the “surging profits” mentioned in the title are a mere 5% while corporate cash donations grew by nearly 3% (totaling $4.6 billion). Further, when both cash and products are counted, corporate giving rose by over 17% (totaling $14.1 billion). Why, then, is the Chronicle bent on painting the corporate world in such a negative light?

While we all acknowledge that cash giving is an important element of corporate social responsibility (nonprofits can’t pay employees or keep the lights on without cash contributions), so too is using all of a company’s resources to support the social profit sector, including donating products (like Walmart giving more than $2 billion in food over the last 5 years to fight hunger) and donating employees’ time and skills through pro bono, volunteerism, and board service (as illustrated by the wildly successful Billion+Change initiative)..

With the field of corporate social responsibility growing and evolving, it is safe to say that the ways that companies support their communities will also continue to evolve. And, so far, what I’m seeing, unlike the Chronicle, is definitely a CSR glass that is more than half full.

 

July 14, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

A further look inside D.C. General

HOMELESSNESS/HOUSING
Problems abound at the D.C. General homeless shelter. Here is a very in-depth look at the multiple issues residents may face on any given day, including assaults,  lack of support and infestations, just to name a few. (WaPo, 7/12)

City officials and homeless advocates say D.C. General has never been properly maintained because most saw it as a Band-Aid for the city’s homelessness problem. The city began using the facility as a temporary shelter on cold nights in 2001, when the family shelter, D.C. Village, became overcrowded.

Fenty closed D.C. Village in 2007 amid complaints that it was infested with mice, roaches and other vermin unsuitable for children. His administration shifted families to D.C. General until a replacement could be found.

But the city never found one. During the winter months, almost 600 children were living in the former hospital.

- Another issue families may face staying at the D.C. General shelter is the lack of programming to offer their children a break from reality. (WaPo, 7/12)

- Families Moved Out of D.C. General, But Advocates Worry About Pace of Progress (WAMU, 7/11)

- Tomorrow, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region invites you to the release of a landmark new study, “Housing Security in the Washington Region.” The event will include two sessions  – a public briefing on the study, followed by a private briefing for funders co-sponsored by WRAG. Find out more here.

- New residential buildings built on former public land may soon be required to include 30 percent affordable units in an effort to expand mixed-income housing in the District. (DCFPI, 7/10)

COMMUNITY │ Yesterday, The Chronicle of Philanthropy released their list of “10 Companies That Gave the Most Cash in 2013.” Kudos to WRAG members Bank of America and Wells Fargo for making an appearance on the list. (Chronicle, 7/13)

WRAG VOICES │ WRAG president, Tamara Copeland, recently wrote an article that was published by the American Society of Association Executives blog.  In the article, that uses the medium of a Twitter post, she reflects on the value of a member association and the impact it can have. You can read the article here.

EDUCATION │ The D.C. Council plans to introduce a bill today that would ban the District’s traditional and charter schools from suspending pre-K students. The proposed bill comes about after it was found that pre-K students in D.C. were suspended 181 times during the 2012-2013 school year. (DCist, 7/14)

REGION/ECONOMY │ Will 2014 be ‘a lost year’ for the greater Washington economy? (WaPo, 7/13)


 The world debates – fresh coffee versus instant coffee. See? I didn’t post anything about Lebron James!

-Ciara

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