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February 27, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Friday roundup – Feb. 23 through Feb. 27, 2015

A new study from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service – analyzing demographic changes in 66 cities between 1990 and 2012 – shows that city centers continue to become more affluent as inner suburbs continue to see a rise in poverty rates. The shift in demographics has some local school districts contemplating how best to accommodate the growing diversity of their students. (WaPo, 2/26)

In 1990, the poverty rate was highest in the center of the District, and it fell as you traveled farther into the suburbs. In 2012, however, poverty was lower in the city center but spiked in the inner suburbs, four to five miles out, before dropping again in the outer suburbs and exurbs.

That change means that the number of low-income children are rising in traditionally affluent and high-performing school systems. Schools in Montgomery County, which has a reputation as a tony suburb of the nation’s capital, have seen the rate of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals — a rough proxy for poverty — rise from 29 to 35 percent just since 2009. Across the Potomac River in Northern Virginia, the share of students receiving free and reduced-price meals in Fairfax County Public Schools has risen from 19 percent in 2005 to 28 percent this year.

– WRAG president Tamara Copeland told us about the Get on the Map campaign, and why WRAG members should share their data to help strengthen philanthropy in our region. (Daily, 2/23)

– We also learned about some future projections for giving for 2015 and 2016. (Chronicle, 2/24)

– Director of Corporate Strategy, Katy Moore, announced some exciting new offerings from WRAG – a Foundation Finance Affinity Group and the Fundamentals of CSR workshop. (Daily, 2/24 and 2/26)

– We were able to get a revealing look at homelessness in the region through this multi-part series that includes the stories of people looking to make the issue a top priority. (WAMU, 2/20)

– The Urban Land Institute and the Center for Housing Policy at the National Housing Conference released a report titled, “Public Land & Affordable Housing in the Washington, DC Region,” offering best practices and recommendations for meeting the housing needs of lower-income residents. (ULI, 2/2015)

– Rebekah Seder, senior program manager at WRAG, discussed a growing interest for many local arts funders – how to advance diversity and equity in the region’s cultural sector. (Dailly, 2/25)


Northern Virginia LEG: The Art of Successful Site Visits (Foundation donors, trustees, and staff; individual donors; donor advised fund holders; members of giving circles)
Thursday, March 5, 2015  10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Nope…I won’t spend another second thinking about this dress. Here’s something much more productive – a quiz about which foreign language you should learn next. Auf Wiedersehen!

- Ciara 

February 26, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Twenty-five years later, the racial wealth gap persists

A new report from a group of economists provides evidence that the startling racial wealth gap that was apparent 25 years ago has changed very little for historically disadvantaged groups (WSJ, 2/26):

Twenty-five years ago there was a glaring wealth gap in the U.S. between blacks and Hispanics on one hand, and whites on the other. Little has changed, a new report shows.

White families are still more than twice as likely as Hispanic and black families to have wealth—assets minus liabilities—above the median U.S. level, according to a report by economists William Emmons, Bryan Noeth and Ray Boshara at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.


The St. Louis Fed researchers said it’s not differences in age or education levels that explain the racial and ethnic wealth disparities; these persist even if you’re looking at older and better-educated blacks, Hispanics and whites.

–  Women need time off from work but often get it the least (WaPo, 2/25)

– In 2013, WRAG launched the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility in partnership with Johns Hopkins University for professional CSR practitioners. But how can aspiring CSR professionals, business students, fundraising consultants, and nonprofit leaders learn more about the field? Director of corporate strategy, Katy Moore, announces WRAG’s exciting new offering – the Fundamentals of CSR workshop. (Daily, 2/26)

– Tim McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation and lead faculty member for the Institute for CSR, offers his thoughtful advice on breaking into the world of corporate social responsiblity. (American Express, 2/23)

HOMELESSNESS/DISTRICT | Nearly five years after taking over daily operations at the D.C. General homeless shelter, Washington City Paper dives into the current state of operations at the family facility. (WCP, 2/25)

–  In Maryland, advocates, inmates, and officials struggle to find common ground on the differences between what makes a life sentence and a death sentence. (WaPo, 2/25)

–  Opinion: A national cry for criminal justice reform (WaPo, 2/24)

– Victims of sex trafficking often find it difficult to move on with their lives with a criminal conviction on their record. Some states, however, have little-known laws that make having a chance at a new life a possibility. (NPR, 2/24)

DIVERSITY | The National Audubon Society recently underwent a study to identify opportunities to build and maintain a more diverse staff, in order to better engage and serve diverse communities. The five practices identified are relevant to nonprofit organizations across issue areas. (Bridgespan, 2/23) Thanks to Julia Baer-Cooper for passing this one along.

This is what happens when it snows down south. 

- Ciara

February 26, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

WRAG launches new “Fundamentals of CSR” workshop

By Katy Moore
Director of Corporate Strategy
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

In the fall of 2013, WRAG, in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, launched the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility – an exciting new professional development program designed specifically for CSR professionals. Since then, WRAG has received more than 30 requests for information about the Institute from business students, aspiring CSR professionals, fundraising consultants, and nonprofit leaders seeking to better understand CSR for the purposes of, for example, launching a CSR career, identifying and building new corporate relationships, or strengthening existing corporate partnerships.

WRAG heard these requests and is proud to announce the launch of The Fundamentals of CSR: A Two Day Workshop. The inaugural class will be held on April 23-24, 2015 at Pepco Edison Place Gallery and will feature more than 15 speakers and panelists from some of the largest and most respected companies in the Greater Washington region.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn directly from CSR professionals about topics such as the history, key components, and recent trends in CSR; the breadth, depth, and variety of CSR disciplines; how corporate philanthropy and community involvement fit within a company’s overall CSR strategy; what it’s REALLY like to be a CSR professional; understanding a company’s community investment resources; how to think like a corporate funder; and best practices for building strong corporate partnerships.

There will also be a number of interactive sessions where participants engage with each other, stretch their thinking, and apply their learnings, including sessions on “Learning to make the CSR Business Case” and “Designing a Community Investment Strategy.” Each of these sessions is designed to help registrants think like a corporate funder and understand – from the inside out – what motivates CSR professionals and a company’s overall CSR strategy.

We’re proud to offer this new opportunity and would like to thank the members of our curriculum design committee for making this new program a reality:

Naomi Smouha (Capital One)

Pam Holman (Pepco)

Tracye Funn (Washington Gas)

Kelly Waldron (United Way Worldwide)

Lori Vacek (Freddie Mac)

Jeannan Peterson (Bank of America)

To learn more about the workshop or to register please click here. For questions about the program, please contact Katy Moore at

February 25, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Reports differ on the forecast for giving through 2016

A newly released study predicts a nearly 5% increase in giving for 2015 and 2016. The study differs greatly, however, from another report offering a much bleaker outlook. (Chronicle, 2/24)

Gifts from individuals, corporations, estates, and foundations are all expected to increase, according to the Philanthropy Outlook, a set of projections made by researchers at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Marts & Lundy, a philanthropy consulting firm.


The projected growth, which is adjusted for expected inflation, is higher than the 3.1 percent average annual rate of growth in the years since the recession tabulated by “Giving USA” study, which is produced by the Lilly School and the Giving USA Foundation. That annual report uses tax filings and other data to estimate how much Americans gave in previous years.


Another report, by The Atlas of Giving, offers a far different forecast. It expects giving to decline 3.2 percent in 2015, largely because of an expected decline in the stock markets and a possible increase in interest rates.

ARTS/EQUITY | As the country, and our region, changes demographically, there is a need to ensure that everyone has opportunities to experience and participate in the arts, and reap the benefits of that engagement. Advancing diversity and equity in the region’s cultural sector is a topic of growing interest among local arts funders, which WRAG’s Rebekah Seder examines in today’s Daily. (Dailly, 2/25)

– A comprehensive new study and chart take a look at the prevalence of the obesity epidemic in adolescents and adults around the world. Though American youth are less likely to be overweight than they were just a few years ago, they are still much more likely to be overweight compared with children in other countries. (WaPo, 2/24)

– A company with local ties put together sample lunches for school children across the globe for a photo series illuminating how they eat. The images show just how far U.S. school lunches still need to go to provide a balanced, nutritious meal. (Fast Company, 2/23)

- A school-based suicide prevention program called Sources of Strength has many hailing it as one of few programs that have been shown to work as backed by research. The effort is currently in more than 250 schools and community centers in 20 states, including parts of our region. (NPR, 2/25)

– On the 20th anniversary of their high school graduation, a new documentary about 67 public school students from Southeast D.C., promised scholarships for higher education through the I Have a Dream Foundation, chronicles the obstacles and successes they have faced since then. (City Lab, 2/24)

D.C. Defends Plan for School That Would Serve Only Minority Boys (WAMU, 2/24)

– Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett spoke on why he feels the Purple Line should be the top priority for continued economic development in the area. (WBJ, 2/24)

MoCo to WMATA: Don’t raise fares or cut service (WTOP, 2/24)

What does Niagara Falls look like when it’s “frozen?”

- Ciara

February 25, 2015 / Rebekah Seder

Advancing a more equitable arts sector for a better region

By Rebekah Seder
Senior Program Manager
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

A vibrant arts sector helps create a vibrant region. The arts spur economic growth and neighborhood development; improve educational outcomes and promote creative problem-solving skills; they give voice to issues of social justice; and they generally make cities better places to live. The evidence of this is clear in the Greater Washington region, which is increasingly seen as a cultural hub. Just recently, the National Center for Arts Research ranked the Washington area first in a list of the most “vibrant” regions in the country.

For those who support the arts – and those whose mission it is to support underserved communities – ensuring that people in all parts of our region, and from all walks of life, have the opportunity to experience and participate in the arts is important. As our region, along with the rest of the country, undergoes dramatic demographic changes, ensuring that the arts reach everyone is both more urgent and more challenging.

At a recent gathering of WRAG’s Arts & Humanities Working Group, funders considered some of these challenges. The conversation, framed by Clay Lord and Abe Flores from Americans for the Arts (AFTA), prompted more questions than it answered about how to advance diversity and equity in the cultural sector in our region, a place marked by inequities that frequently play out along racial lines.

Demographic shifts have real implications for arts organizations. Data show that “traditional” arts organizations (museums, orchestras, opera, etc ) serve predominantly whiter, older, and more affluent than average audiences – and the composition of their staffs, boards, artists, and donors frequently mirror those trends. Big arts institutions, which often attract significant funding, aren’t always accessible to diverse audiences, while small neighborhood-based organizations that serve local communities sometimes lack the professional capacity to attract major funding. Just as some neighborhoods are “food deserts,” there are parts of our region that could be viewed as “art deserts” too, particularly in terms of the level of philanthropic support flowing to those areas.

These trends easily lead into discussions of big systemic inequities in our society, like the pervasive lack of high quality arts education, especially in low-income schools; funding practices that privilege established organizations with professional staff and experience with institutional funders; and organizational hiring and governance practices that perpetuate exclusivity. These obstacles can seem insurmountable, but arts leaders throughout the country are addressing them in new ways.

Locally, arts organizations and grantmakers have been grappling with this for some time. Currently, local arts agencies in six jurisdictions are taking on small-scale approaches to tackling these issues, through AFTA’s Greater DC Diversity Pilot Initiative.

While public arts agencies have a major role to play in ensuring a thriving, diverse arts ecosystem throughout the region, private philanthropy can support these efforts as well. Arts funders can encourage their grantees to consider ways to reach new audiences, by providing support for leadership development; fundraising, marketing, and community outreach; and capacity building to learn how to become more diverse, implement those plans, and develop metrics for success. Finally, funders can consider and address the ways that their own grantmaking and evaluation practices and priorities might exclude smaller, more diverse organizations from successfully applying for funding.

Click here to learn more about WRAG’s Arts & Humanities Working Group or contact Rebekah Seder.

February 24, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

New website details spending in D.C. schools

D.C. Public Schools has released a new, interactive website with detailed information on how schools spend their money and the demographics of enrolled students. (WaPo, 2/23)

D.C. Public Schools created an interactive Web site where you can see where money goes and compare spending with other schools. The site includes detailed information about demographics of enrolled students, staffing and salary information, and changes year to year.

Officials hope the new data center will be useful for principals, parents, and advocates, and start more and more informed conversations about school spending.

Suspended students lose millions of days of instruction while out of school (WaPo, 2/23)

FINANCE/PROGRAMMING | This year, WRAG will be launching new programming geared toward the needs and professional development of foundation finance staff. To learn more about this exciting endeavor, check out this post from WRAG’s Katy Moore. (Daily, 2/24)

– Scientists studying ocean acidification are finding that ocean water in parts of the world, including some of our not-so-distant shores, is becoming more and more acidic. The change could potentially endanger shellfish over time. (NPR, 2/23)

– The District is ramping up its anti-littering campaign by delivering the message to some of the city’s youngest residents. By teaching school kids not to litter, the city hopes to allocate money that is spent cleaning the streets into other areas. (WAMU, 2/23)

(Sort of) Related: The ocean isn’t the only body of water that needs protection. On Thursday, March 19th at 10:30 AM,  WRAG invites members interested in how philanthropy can meet the challenges and opportunities of a cleaner Anacostia River to a special meeting. To learn more and to register, click here.

HOMELESSNESS/DISTRICT | Does D.C.’s Rapid Re-Housing Program Live Up To Its Promise? (WAMU, 2/20)

HEALTH | Prince George’s County residents in underserved areas will soon have access to necessary care via the “Wellness on Wheels” mobile health clinic. The clinic is a collaboration between the county Department of Public Health and Doctors Community Hospital. (Gazette, 2/24)

POVERTY | Instead of the Income Gap We Should Be Talking About the Wealth Gap (CityLab, 2/19)

Are you a lefty or a righty?

- Ciara

February 24, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Announcing WRAG’s new Foundation Finance Affinity Group

By Katy Moore
Director of Corporate Strategy
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Each year, WRAG offers more than 50 opportunities for members to learn about community issues, from experts, and from each other. These opportunities build community among grantmakers and provide a robust arena for idea exchange, collective problem-solving, and the development of cross-sector solutions.

In 2015, WRAG will launch a new area of programming focused on the specific needs and professional development of foundation finance staff.

“Having a learning community dedicated specifically for foundation finance officers will give us a place to discuss the issues we’re all grappling with and, more importantly, to brainstorm  solutions.”

- Janice Thomas, chief financial officer, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation

The fiduciary oversight requirements for private foundations are different from those of traditional 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Foundation finance officers must not only understand traditional accounting rules, they must also be familiar with required legal and tax filings (such as the 990-PF), have a working knowledge of endowment management (including staying up-to-date with trends such as mission- and program-related investing), and understand the often complicated calculation of the required 5 percent annual payout.

“Having a network of peers to call on when my Board asks ‘how do other foundations handle this’ will be hugely helpful. I also think this group will foster very valuable mentoring relationships between veteran and new foundation finance officers. When I started in my position 10 years ago, I had a solid background in nonprofit finance but having a mentor to help me understand the many nuances and financial rules specific to foundations was essential.”

- Christine Harris, director of finance and administration, Hill-Snowdon Foundation

WRAG, in partnership with a group of our member CFOs (including Janice and Christine), has developed a strong series of programming to kick off our first year of learning, including:

 March 30 – Getting Prepared for Your Annual Financial Audit with guest speakers Tom Raffa and Frank Smith from Raffa, PC

 June 18 – Navigating Private Foundation Excise Tax Rules with guest speaker Andrew Schulz, general counsel for Arabella Advisors

 October 8 – Best Practices for Calculating the 5% Payout with guest speaker Chris Peterman of O’Conner Davies

 If you are a foundation finance staff member who would like to join this new group, please contact Katy Moore at

February 23, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

A new report on public land and affordable housing in the region

The Urban Land Institute has a new report titled, “Public Land & Affordable Housing in the Washington, DC Region,” prepared by the Center for Housing Policy at the National Housing Conference. Including case studies in Maryland, Virginia and D.C., the report offers best practices and recommendations for meeting the housing needs of lower-income residents. (ULI, 2/2015)

Across the country and in the Washington, DC region, local jurisdictions have identified opportunities for using public land for affordable housing and other public goods on many different types of sites, exploring the potential of not just vacant publicly held lots but also under-utilized sites, parcels where existing public facilities are no longer needed, and as part of the development of new public facilities such as community centers, libraries, fire stations, and police stations.

Both communities and developers accrue multiple benefits when they form partnerships to provide affordable and mixed-income housing on public land. Discounted public land provides a valuable subsidy that can enable deeper levels of affordability in higher-cost development areas and in higher-cost building types than otherwise financially feasible. Public land development opportunities can also facilitate the development of affordable housing in transit-accessible, amenity-rich locations. And the joint development of public facilities and housing properties can lead to infrastructure cost savings, better design, and more accessible public services.

WRAG vice president and Affordable Housing Action Team member, Gretchen Greiner-Lott had this to say about the report,

This latest report from ULI, focused on our region, provides solid recommendations for using public land to provide more affordable housing. Our local governments, developers, advocates, and communities should all review this information to better understand how using public land for affordable housing benefits us all – and to better understand the important roles they each play in making public land available for affordable housing.

The “Gentrification Myth” Myth (WCP, 2/20)

– Have you heard about Get on the Map, yet? WRAG president Tamara Copeland shares why WRAG members should share their data to help strengthen philanthropy in our region. (Daily, 2/23)

– The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers has released a new funder brief, “Investing in Justice,” which seeks to increase awareness and understanding of the value of civil legal aid among the members of Maryland’s philanthropic community. (ABAG, 2/2015)

–  Map: Where D.C.’s Homeless Children Go to School (WCP, 2/20)

– As homelessness continues to be a troubling issue in the city, WAMU takes an insightful look at the many faces of the crisis – advocates, officials, and those without a place to call home. (WAMU, 2/20)

– On Thursday, February 26th at 2:00 PM, the Council on Foundations and Mission Investors Exchange will present their first Twitter chat on impact investing addressing questions around getting started, investing in social entrepreneurship, and the debates around pay for success. To add your name to the participant list in advance, you can send a direct message to @missioninvest, or participate next Thursday by using the hashtag #impinv.

– On Wednesday, March 4th at 10:00 AM, The Aspen Forum for Community Solutions will have a discussion with Alan Jenkins, executive director at The Opportunity Agenda, and Jeff Parcher, director of communications at the Center for Community Change, about their research on how the public views poverty and opportunity in America. To register, click here.

COMMUNITY | Raise DC, an education program that sits at The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, has launched a brand new website that will detail Raise DC’s work and impacts in the District with the most up-to-date data, news, and projects related to their work.

ICYMI | Last night’s Oscar ceremony was about much more than just entertainment. Many of the honorees also touched on important issues that made people think, including the gender wage gap, mass incarceration, and suicide among veterans. (WaPo, 2/23, Vox, 2/23, and WaPo, 2/20)

Pretty soon we won’t have to feel quite as bad about eating chocolate bars.

- Ciara

February 23, 2015 / Rebekah Seder

Why I’m asking WRAG members to Get on the Map

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

In the eight years that I have been at WRAG, there has been one resounding refrain from our members: we need to know who is funding what, we need the information to be easily accessible, and we need it to be up-to-date. And, for the last eight years, we’ve told you that we didn’t have the tools to provide that data. Instead, we made phone calls, hosted meetings, sent emails, convened brown bag lunches, and compiled survey results. All valuable methods of connecting you to information, but not the most efficient or comprehensive ways of giving you what you really wanted: data.

Now, we have a real solution: Foundation Maps, an interactive, searchable mapping platform from the Foundation Center that will visualize members’ grantmaking in the Greater Washington region. Participating in this effort by sharing your current grantmaking data is easy and painless (you can learn more about the process here).

WRAG’s most basic function is to connect funders so that they can do their work more efficiently and effectively. WRAG’s new Foundation Map will be fundamental to this mission and will allow us to better serve our members.

More importantly, WRAG’s Foundation Map will help inform your work – as foundation CEOs, CSR professionals, program officers, or grants managers. With a few clicks, you will be able to scan the local philanthropic landscape for detailed information about who else in the WRAG community is funding your grantees or prospective grantees. You will be able to find out who else is funding in a similar issue area or targeting a particular population, and what other nonprofits are working in the same space. You will be able to identify funding gaps, trends, and new opportunities for collaboration or funding alignment. The Foundation Map will serve as the information backbone to this community.

“Data” is a buzzword of the day and many increasingly question, rightly, whether data-driven decision-making leads us to undervalue experience, relationships, and qualitative knowledge. WRAG’s Foundation Map won’t replace the convening, information sharing, or networking aspects of WRAG. But, it will help us take these activities to the next level by collecting the available data and making it easily and quickly accessible to the funding community. It won’t do this, however, without a majority of members taking steps to share data.

This is the tool that we have been waiting for. Now, let’s make it as powerful as it can be. Can we count on you to Get on the Map?

WRAG Members: Click here to learn more about the Foundation Maps platform and how to contribute your data. Questions? Contact Rebekah Seder.

February 20, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Friday roundup – Feb. 16 through Feb. 20, 2015

– Rachel Tappis, the associate director of community impact for The Advisory Board Company, gave us some insight into what she has learned so far as a participant in the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility, and why she can’t wait for the next session. (Daily, 2/19)

- The Washington Business Journal features a profile of each of this year’s Minority Business Leader Awards honorees. Congratulations to Rosie Allen-Herring of United Way of the National Capital Area, Terri Copeland of PNC, and WRAG Board member, Debbi Jarvis of Pepco, on a well-deserved honor! (WBJ, 2/20)

– In her latest post, WRAG president Tamara Copeland shared some great news concerning the Community Wealth Building Initiative (Daily, 2/18)

- High-poverty schools need better teachers, but getting them there won’t be easy (GGW, 2/20)

– A new map was released showing the changes in reading proficiency for third graders in the District from 2007-2014 (WCP, 2/19)

– Upon his departure from Montgomery County Public Schools, former Superintendent Joshua Starr gave his thoughts on his time with the district in this exit interview. (WAMU, 2/15)

Metro failed to notify fire officials that radio alarms weren’t working (WaPo, 2/19)

– A government advisory committee has developed new recommendations for American diets that includes eating less processed and red meats to reduce the negative impact on the environment. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Agriculture Department may use the recommendations to inform the next version of their Dietary Guidelines later in the year. (WaPo, 2/19)

Maryland Environmentalists Want to Get Serious About Rising Sea Levels (WAMU, 2/19)

Brown Bag Discussion: Financial Capability, Financial Literacy, and Economic Asset Building (WRAG members)
Monday, February 23, 2015  12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Funders’ Roundtable of Montgomery County: Investing in Our Neighbors With Special Needs from Cradle to Career (The Funders’ Roundtable is a networking group exclusively for donors, foundations, and companies interested in giving in Montgomery County, MD)
Thursday, February 26, 2015  12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Find out who police in one city have issued a warrant for in connection with the cold weather. 

- Ciara



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