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May 7, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

The closing of Arlington County’s Artisphere signals much more

Despite quality programming and growing support, Arlington County’s arts center, Artisphere, is set to close its doors this summer. The closure is considered a significant blow to the local arts community and the surrounding economy. (WCP, 5/7)

What went wrong? If Artisphere had been judged on the quality of its programming, the enthusiasm of its attending audiences, and its steadily growing numbers, it would be here to stay. But in her closure announcement, [Arlington County Manager Barbara] Donnellan focused on Artisphere’s current and future dependence on taxpayer support. “In the current fiscal environment,” she said, “I cannot advise we continue.” Artisphere had not met the county’s financial or attendance goals, and that came with a consequence: the withdrawal of the funds taxpayers contribute to the venue’s operation. Donnellan did not plead poverty or say that Arlington was unable to fund Artisphere; instead, she emphasized that the venue was “money-losing.”

It’s not uncommon for a public cultural center, if it has become too much a financial burden for the local economy to bear, to be deemed an extraneous service and shut down. Still, Artisphere’s success was not measured by the visual and performing arts programming it has provided but by quantitative outcomes weighed against faulty and unrealistic projections. A publicly funded cultural center tasked with servicing the community should not be evaluated according to its revenue-generating abilities. Arlington County is treating Artisphere like an amusement park or corporate movie theater rather than the only accessible, common space of cultural identity in a large, diverse, resource-rich county.

PHILANTHROPY/RACIAL EQUITY | Racial inequality has been at the forefront of the news recently, presenting an urgent challenge for foundations to help tackle systemic issues. Many philanthropic organizations are taking a broad approach to reach a lasting solution. (Chronicle, 5/7)

COMMUNITY | Whitman-Walker Health, a nonprofit health organization that partners with the Washington AIDS Partnership, will relocate to a new, modern healthcare facility this spring. (WCP, 5/7)

GENDER EQUITY/MARYLAND | According to a new annual report, the number of companies in Maryland with no women in executive positions or on boards increased for the first time in three years. The number of women in leadership positions throughout the state also falls behind the national average. (WaPo, 5/6)

HOMELESSNESS | Meet the outsider who accidentally solved chronic homelessness (WaPo, 5/6)

– In an effort to learn more about the needs of D.C.’s young adult residents, and to prevent the unrest that has recently played out in a number of American cities, Mayor Bowser plans to hold a Youth Engagement Forum. (WaPo, 5/7)

Is Ward 8 “underserved” or undervalued? (CHOTR, 5/6)

AGING | How to build livable communities for older people: report (WaPo, 5/6)

EDUCATION | Opinion: Tuition free or not, are the nation’s community colleges well-equipped enough to be able to provide a viable solution to growing inequality? (WaPo, 5/6)

In the 1980s and 1990s, talking dolls were all the rage. But a century prior, they were just about the creepiest thing you’ve ever heard.

– Ciara

May 6, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

D.C. Council approves expanded summer jobs program

The D.C. Council reluctantly approved Mayor Bowser’s plans to expand the D.C. Summer Youth Employment Program. This comes amid some differing ideas in the Council as to how the program should be shaped (WaPo, 5/5):

The Council approved Bowser’s request to expand the District’s Summer Youth Employment Program. But along the way, the debate exposed deeper fault lines over the program’s effectiveness as well as the larger question of how best to deal with the high levels of poverty and unemployment that affect the predominantly black communities living in the city’s poorest wards.

The jobs program has been among the city’s most popular initiatives among disadvantaged families. After [Mayor] Barry’s death last year, many of the thousands who turned out to remember him credited the program with helping them start their careers.

But for some D.C. politicians, the program has remained a yearly headache, with questions about the management, effectiveness and ever-growing cost.

On Tuesday, Bowser’s plan to expand the program — including offering jobs to residents up to 24 years old, from the current cap of 22 — became a new flash point in a budget battle between Bowser and the Council, including whether the city should increase the sales tax to fund her initiatives.

DC schools may be too quick to expel and suspend students (GGW, 5/5)

– Managing Director at Prince Charitable Trusts, Kristin Pauly, shares why they are thrilled about “getting on the map” and sharing their grants data with colleagues. (Daily, 5/6)

Foundation Source has introduced a new podcast series aimed at providing the philanthropic community with advice and insights from experts and next generation philanthropists in the field. Click here to access the podcasts.

CSR | The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is now accepting nominations for its annual Corporate Citizenship Awards. Last year’s winners include WRAG members PNC and Capital One.  Be sure to get your nomination in by the May 29 deadline!

ECONOMY | What Does ‘Middle Class’ Even Mean? (Atlantic, 5/6)

TRANSIT/MARYLAND | A new report by Transportation for America examines the potential economic benefits of the proposed light rail systems in Maryland – the Purple Line in the suburbs surrounding D.C., and the Red Line in Baltimore. According to the study, though the costs of the projects would be very high, the expenses would be well worth it in the short- and long-term. (WAMU, 5/5)

Here’s a good reason to stay on the phone the next time you think someone is prank calling you.

– Ciara

May 6, 2015 / Rebekah Seder

Why We’re Getting on the Map: Prince Charitable Trusts

More and more funders have signed on to “Get on the Map” by e-reporting their grants data to the Foundation Center. The data will populate WRAG’s Foundation Map, a data mapping and visualization platform that will allow members to explore who is giving to what and where across the Greater Washington region.

The 20th WRAG member to commit to get on the map is Prince Charitable Trusts. Says managing director Kristin Pauly,

“I am thrilled to see WRAG participate in the “Get on the Map!” campaign. I think it will be so useful to have a picture of philanthropic activities in this region. In fact, Prince operates from 3 geographic locations: Washington, DC; Chicago, Illinois; and Newport, Rhode Island. We immediately formatted our grant information from all 3 offices and sent them into the Foundation Center for our respective geographic areas. As a relatively small foundation, we are especially interested in leveraging our funds. Having access to up-to-date information on where colleague funders are giving will help guide investments and possible collaborations and funding alignment. Prince is happy to support this effort and encourages other WRAG members to do so as well.”

Get on the Map is an initiative to improve the quality, timeliness, and availability of grants data for and about funders. WRAG Members: To learn more about the platform and how to contribute your data, watch this recent webinar or sign up for the next webinar on May 14.

May 5, 2015 / Rebekah Seder

Martha’s Table to move east as neighborhood changes

NONPROFITS | In 2016 Martha’s Table will break ground on a new headquarters in Southeast D.C. The organization will continue to provide a few programs at its current 14th Street NW location, in a neighborhood that has changed dramatically since the nonprofit opened, but is moving most of its operations east of the river to be closer to the communities that need their services:

Now few of the families who come to 14th Street to pick up bags of groceries or drop off pre-school students live nearby. They come, often by bus, from neighborhoods where the average rent is far lower than $2,400 a month, which is the price of a one-bedroom at the Bentley, a new building on 14th featuring a private pet grooming salon. There’s still a liquor store nearby, but this one sells $55 bottles of craft rye whiskey.

Washington’s shifting demographics mean that many nonprofits’ clients have been moving to other parts of the city. The inevitable question: Should the charities follow them?

The land for the new building was donated by the Horning Family Fund, which provided $10 million toward construction. (WaPo, 5/5)

HEALTH | A new report from Save the Children finds that babies born in Ward 8 are 10 times more likely to die in infancy than those born in Ward 3.  In a measure of infant mortality worldwide, it ranks Washington, D.C. last among 25 world capitals. (WaPo, 5/4)

VIRGINIA | Is Virginia Putting Too Many People Behind Bars? (WAMU, 5/3)

DISTRICT | 4 ways Bowser wants to connect underserved with innovation economy (WBJ, 5/4)

ARTS | Slimmed down vision for Dupont Underground to open in July (WaPo, 5/1)

EVENT | On May 28th, the England Family Foundation is hosting a donor briefing on the 11th Street Bridge Park. Founding Director Scott Kratz will explain the vision for this new civic space that will connect the Capitol Hill and Anacostia neighborhoods and be designed to support the community’s environmental, physical, cultural and economic health. The briefing will be held at the Anacostia Arts Center from 9:30am – 11:15am followed by a walking tour of the site. Contact Julia Baer-Cooper for details and to RSVP.

Imagine a brand new mode of transit featuring “bold, contemporary styling,” a “polished metal exterior,” and “floors fully carpeted with thick, wool pile in decorator desert sunset colors”!

– Rebekah

May 4, 2015 / Rebekah Seder

New study looks at role of place in determining economic mobility

POVERTY | A new study finds that poor children raised in some cities and regions are far more likely to rise out of poverty as adults than they would be if raised in other places (NY Times, 5/4):

Economists say the study offers perhaps the most detailed portrait yet of upward mobility — and the lack of it. The findings suggest that geography does not merely separate rich from poor but also plays a large role in determining which poor children achieve the so-called American dream.

These places [with higher levels of income mobility] tend to share several traits…They have elementary schools with higher test scores, a higher share of two-parent families, greater levels of involvement in civic and religious groups and more residential integration of affluent, middle-class and poor families.

In the Greater Washington region, children raised in Fairfax and Montgomery counties have more income mobility than those raised in the District or Prince William County. You can manipulate the regional data with this nifty interactive graphic here.

WRAG/WORKFORCE | In her latest column, WRAG’s president Tamara Copeland reflects on why good jobs are an important step to preventing the hopelessness that precipitated events in Baltimore (Daily, 5/4):

If we want to lessen the likelihood of the horrors of Baltimore happening in our neighborhood, I believe that we have to give people hope. For me, hope comes in the form of a job, a job with a future, a job that is secure, a job that pays a fair wage. If you have that job, you can hope to live in a nice house, in a nice neighborhood. You can hope to save enough to give your child the education that you know is needed. You can hope that your children will emulate your work ethic and see the benefits of work. Hope is a powerful motivator and when that hope is more than an emotion, when that hope leads to the reality of purchasing that home, setting up an education savings account and maybe even taking your family on that first-ever vacation, you are no longer a part of the problem. You’re a part of the solution.

– The summer 2015 class of Frank Karel Public Interest Communications Fellows have been announced. This fellowship places first-generation and minority undergraduate students at area nonprofit organizations to expose them to social change communications.

WRAG is pleased to be the fiscal sponsor for this program. Says Tamara Copeland,

“We can fully appreciate the importance of communications when we see the shift in thinking that occurs when we change the terminology we use from “affordable housing” to “housing affordability,” or when images accompanying stories about Baltimore are of people cleaning up the city and not the burned out buildings that remain. The power of phrasing and of pictures should not be minimized when we think of what changes public opinion and leads to social change. So, when WRAG was asked to be the fiscal agent for the Karel Fellows, we were honored to take on this responsibility that directly aligns with our work.”

– In a blog post, Angela Jones Hackley, interim president of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, announces the new EQUALITY Fund (Equitable Alternatives to Incarceration for Teens and Youth), created in partnership with the Kovler Fund, to provide investments in programs focused on addressing tensions in low-income communities, and the disproportionate incarceration of young men and boys of color in the region. (CFNCR, 5/1)

EVENT | The Consumer Health Foundation‘s annual meeting, Building Healthy Communities through Regional Economies, takes place on Monday, June 8. Harvard University’s David R. Williams, an internationally recognized authority on social influences on health, is the keynote speaker. Click here for more information and to register.

EQUITY | Obama to Unveil Nonprofit for Young Minorities After Baltimore Unrest (NY Times, 5/4)

HOUSING | With Prices Tripling, Homeownership Tanks Among Low-Income Washingtonians (CP, 5/1)

I’m not sure I’d be able to communicate with a 12-year-old anymore.

– Rebekah

May 4, 2015 / Rebekah Seder

A job – the right job – may be key to preventing other Baltimores

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

With Friday’s announcement by Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, a feeling that justice will prevail in the Freddie Gray case has begun to emerge. The anger seems to have dissipated as the cries for justice appear to have been heard. Criminal charges against the police officers is an important part of justice for Freddie Gray, as is a fuller examination of the criminal justice system’s relationship to all communities, particularly to African-American communities.

But, this is not the only answer. We must still look at root causes. We must still think what can be done to prevent another exploding powder keg of pent up hostility and hopelessness.

My thoughts go immediately to jobs.

Until last week, when most of us thought of Baltimore, we thought of the Inner Harbor, an area of mega economic development that has led to the revitalization of the city. Just a short walk from this area, one can find the boarded up properties, the proliferation of liquor stores, and the outward signs of hopelessness that form the profile of too many low-income communities, not just in Baltimore, but across America. This is home to many of the young people who were seen on the nightly news rioting and looting following the death of Freddie Gray.

As many in philanthropy and in other sectors think about what they can do, I hope there will be some focus on economic opportunities for these often forgotten or invisible communities.

If we want to lessen the likelihood of the horrors of Baltimore happening in our neighborhood, I believe that we have to give people hope. For me, hope comes in the form of a job, a job with a future, a job that is secure, a job that pays a fair wage. If you have that job, you can hope to live in a nice house, in a nice neighborhood. You can hope to save enough to give your child the education that you know is needed. You can hope that your children will emulate your work ethic and see the benefits of work. Hope is a powerful motivator and when that hope is more than an emotion, when that hope leads to the reality of purchasing that home, setting up an education savings account and maybe even taking your family on that first-ever vacation, you are no longer a part of the problem. You’re a part of the solution.

I am proud that grantmakers in our region have been focused on this kind of preventative work for years. Workforce development conversations and actions are making a difference in our region. An important call has been issued for a regional economic summit to lessen our region’s reliance on the federal government as our primary employer. And funders have successfully launched the first business under the Community Wealth Building Initiative (CWBI). If you haven’t heard about CWBI, it is a funder-led initiative to create jobs anchored to the community that pay a good wage, have a future, are worker-controlled, and provide a tangible benefit to the community.

I know that the Community Wealth Building Initiative isn’t the panacea for preventing another Baltimore. I don’t think there is just one intervention. We have to address our school systems, the affordability of housing, the accessibility of healthy foods and quality health care, and a host of other needs.

For me, I see people who are hopeless and I believe that the right job can give them the hope they need for a better life. For me, having a job, a job with a future, is key to preventing other Baltimores.

To learn more about the Community Wealth Building Initiative, join us for a briefing on Monday, May 18. Click here for more information.

May 1, 2015 / Rebekah Seder

The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region names new president and CEO

The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region has announced that Bruce McNamer is joining the foundation in June as
president and CEO

In a statement, CFNCR board chair Martin Weinstein said,

“Bruce is a dynamic leader who is deeply committed to strengthening our region through innovative, impactful, and effective philanthropy…His knowledge of real market opportunities and commitment to smart, bold innovation make him the ideal person to lead The Community Foundation in its next phase of growth. I know that Bruce will be an extraordinary leader, not only for our Foundation, but for this region’s philanthropic community at-large.”

Upon hearing the announcement, WRAG president Tamara Copeland, said,

“I was excited to hear the announcement of the new CEO of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. With such a rich background and history in both the philanthropic and social profit sectors, I know that he will be a great addition to the local philanthropic community. Congratulations, Bruce. I look forward to personally welcoming you to the WRAG community.”

BALTIMORE/PHILANTHROPY | Recognizing that many here in the Washington region would want to support our neighbor Baltimore, WRAG reached out to the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers to see how we might be helpful. Here’s the message from their CEO, Celeste Amato.

HOUSING | DC’s housing affordability crisis, in 7 charts (GGW, 4/30)

ENVIRONMENT | One of the signs of a healthier Anacostia River is the increase in wildlife living in and around it. (CP, 4/30)

AGING | Senior Villages and other community-based and affordable models for allowing elders to live at home will become increasingly necessary as the population of people over 65 skyrockets in the years ahead. (Atlantic, 5/1)

SOCIAL INNOVATION | Bill to Promote Social-Impact Bonds Has Support in High Places (Chronicle, 4/28)

BUDGET | Mayor Bowser Does a Lot with a Lean Budget But It May Not Work Again Next Year  (DCFPI, 4/30)

“America Online can do all that?”

– Rebekah

April 29, 2015 / Rebekah Seder

Obama administration seeking aid package to stem the tide of undocumented children

IMMIGRATION | The Obama administration is requesting a $1 billion aid package from Congress intended to help stop the flow of undocumented children to the United States, a trend that will continue to impact the Greater Washington region (WAMU, 4/28):

Over the next few months, more than 20,000 Central American youth are expected to be detained while crossing the U.S. border with Mexico. Both the short- and long-term solutions to the exodus will impact the metro D.C. region, which has one of the largest Central American immigrant communities in the country. That Central American community grew by at least 7,000 children last year and this year, and experts estimate that the metro D.C. region will absorb between 2,000 to 4,000 more.

“We spent about $2.3 billion dealing with all the unaccompanied minors coming to our border this year, says Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who has traveled extensively in Central America. “If we spend more money in the region to help them improve their economy and their security situation, and we can dramatically reduce the number of kids who are coming to our country unaccompanied, we can actually save money.”

– Americans for the Arts interviews Gary Rahl of Booz Allen Hamilton about the company’s support for the arts, and specifically how its sponsorship of the DC Environmental Film Festival aligns with Booz Allen’s work in the energy and environment sectors. (ARTSblog, 4/28)

– Drawing on her presentation at last week’s Fundamentals of CSR workshop, longtime CSR professional Emily Rothberg reflects on what it’s really like to work in the corporate social responsibility department. (Emily Rothberg & Company, 4/28)

EDUCATION/EQUITY | A new report from Columbia University finds high rates of segregation by race and income among public preschools across the country, with low-income children more likely to be in lower quality programs. (WaPo, 4/29)

TRANSIT | Another day, another delayed transit project. This time, it’s the Silver Spring Transit Center. (WaPo, 4/28)

ENVIRONMENT | The headline for this is true: you really do use way more water than you realize. (CityLab, 4/28)

WRAG | The Washington AIDS Partnership is looking for its next program associate. Is it you? Check out the position description here.

How well do you know your art history? I got 10 out 16 right, and feel pretty good about that!

– Rebekah

April 28, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Rioting in Baltimore: A Plea for Justice

As media coverage on the riots in Baltimore continues, WRAG president Tamara Copeland asks us to look deeper into the plight of those on the forefront of the unrest:

Yesterday, I watched as angry young men looted and rioted in Baltimore following the funeral of Freddie Gray. I heard news commentators ask what this destruction had to do with Mr. Gray’s death.  I heard commentators question the impact of the rioters’ actions on the investigations that must occur into what the police did or did not do while Mr. Gray was in custody. “Was the rioting a distraction to the real issue?” was the unstated question.

The rioting was the manifestation of what I see as the real issue. It was the release of pent up feelings that relate not just to Freddie Gray, but to Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, and countless others. What may be less recognized is that the rioting relates to years of education in school systems that focus on the easy-to-educate. It relates to years of living in unfit housing because that’s all that the family can afford based on their minimum wage job. It relates to years and generations of being un-employed or under-employed. And, it relates to years of un-recognized and often unacknowledged stress that is born from simply living in a society in which you are routinely marginalized. The resentment and anger build and build.

Freddie Gray’s death ignited so many feelings that these young men had held for years.  Was the rioting the right response?  Of course not, but it may be the only voice they have to call out for help.

– Amid protests and rising tensions in Baltimore, many are trying to make sense of the frustrations that led to the growing violence there. (CityLab, 4/28)

– What does sitting at home, Googling racist things online have to do with mortality rates for African Americans? Apparently, much more than one would imagine. (WaPo, 4/28)

Many single, young mothers find that unstable housing and unreliable childcare leads to a path of homelessness and make the tough decision to drop out of school. In the District, homeless families make up nearly half of the 12,000 homeless individuals in the region. (WaPo, 4/27)

Three-fourths of the members of these homeless families are younger than 25. The problem is particularly acute in the District, which now houses 700 homeless families at the former D.C. General Hospital and motels. Around 40 percent are headed by someone, usually a single mom, younger than 24.


Academics and advocates say homeless adolescent mothers are substantially more at risk of further pregnancies, sexual abuse, mental health issues and dropping out. The trauma they experience during these vulnerable years they carry into adulthood and the homeless family service programs.

INTERNSHIPS | WRAG is looking for a summer intern. If you know of a college or graduate student interested in learning about philanthropy and/or nonprofit development, please help us spread the word!

CSR | Last year, Boeing invested more than $188 million and thousands of volunteer hours to help enhance the lives of people and communities around the world and in our region. Their 2014 Corporate Citizenship Report provides a snapshot of their activities supporting education, the environment, military and veterans, employee volunteerism, and more.

NONPROFITS | Despite signs that the economic climate is in recovery, the demand is still very high for critical services that nonprofit organizations offer. According to the 2015 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey, 76 percent of surveyed organizations reported a rise in demand for their services, while 52 percent reported an inability to meet those demands. (PND, 4/28)

TRANSIT | The opening of the Silver Line to Loudoun has been pushed back (WBJ, 4/27)

Be honest – how many of these hairstyles have you sported over the years?

– Ciara

April 27, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Caring for a growing population of seniors

By the year 2030, about one-in-four U.S. adults will be seniors age 65 or older. As the population ages, the need for quality home-care workers is growing, while their salaries and training requirements are not. (Atlantic, 4/27)

[…] the resources to help seniors stay at home are shrinking. Many seniors are finding that their boomer children are staying in the workforce longer than they did, and are unable to care for them. Demand for direct-care workers is expected to grow 37 percent between 2012 and 2022. Demand for personal care aides alone—the entry-level workers in the field—will grow 49 percent. There are currently 3.5 million direct-care workers in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Seven years from now, there will be 1.3 million more.


On average, home care aides work 34 hours a week, and make an average of $17,000 a year. One in four live in households below the federal poverty line, and one in three doesn’t have health care because their employer doesn’t offer it or because they can’t afford it.Perhaps unsurprisingly, the field has a high rate of turnover—some estimates put it as high as 60 percent.

Of the ten occupations that added the most new jobs in 2012, personal-care aides earned less than all except for fast-food workers, according to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute.

Related: In 2013, WRAG published an edition of What Funders Need to Know about the challenges facing this critical workforce. (Daily, June 2013)

– Ashley Williams, a UMD graduate student who has been working at Capital One since September through WRAG’s Philanthropy Fellows program, reflects on what she has learned during her fellowship about building partnerships between corporate and nonprofit organizations and aligning business strategy and community need. (Daily, 4/27)

WRAG Members: WRAG’s Philanthropy Fellows program is an exclusive partnership with the University of Maryland’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. Through the program, WRAG connects our member organizations with UMD students studying philanthropy and nonprofit leadership at the School of Public Policy. Applications to host a Philanthropy Fellow are due by Friday, May 8. Learn more about the program and how to participate here.

– Last week, WRAG held the first Fundamentals of CSR workshop – a two-day event for individuals wanting to better understand the field of corporate responsibility, corporate philanthropy, and corporate community involvement. Here’s a special thank you to those who helped make the event a big success!

– Income inequality is not just a problem for those in poverty; it’s a growing problem that affects everyone. Economic experts weigh in on some possible ways to begin tackling the widening gap. (The Baltimore Sun, 4/26)

– Forcing Black Men Out of Society (NYT, 4/25)

TRANSIT | Greater Greater Washington has released some new, interactive graphs that show the accessibility of the region’s metro stations to jobs and living spaces. (GGW, 4/24)

IMMIGRATION | Opinion: Think of Undocumented Immigrants as Parents, Not Problems (NYT, 4/27)

Do you communicate through emojis on your smartphone? Find out which ones are being used the most around the world.  

– Ciara


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