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October 9, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

District residents call for police reform

At a Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety public oversight hearing, several community members testified before D.C. councilmembers on the need for change in the policies and procedures of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. Much of the hearing centered around the need to address racial disparities that exist in the implementation of the law. (DCist, 10/9)

For years, statistics have revealed a great racial disparity in arrest rates in D.C. In 2011, 91 percent of all drug-related arrests were of black people, despite roughly equal reported usage rates among races. And the statistics don’t stop there. Recent studies conducted by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee further cement a disturbing truth: black communities in D.C. are being disproportionately targeted by the Metropolitan Police Department.

While the city has taken measures to help alleviate these statistics—decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana and, most recently, introducing a pilot program that requires some D.C. cops to wear body cameras—many residents agree that a lot more needs to be done.

– Former president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation, Sterling Speirn, has been named to lead the Stupski Foundation in the spend down of their $260 million endowment. Formerly an operating foundation, Stupski ended operations in late 2012 and will now focus on becoming a grant-making organization that helps to improve the options for poor and minority children and on other issues including “end-of-life” controversies. (SBT,10/7)

Related: Sterling Speirn will also be a speaker at WRAG’s upcoming 2014 Annual Meeting on Thursday, November 20th. To find out more and register for the event, click here.

- On Wednesday, October 15th, the Herb Block Foundation will be honored for their commitment to defending basic freedoms, combating discrimination and improving conditions for vulnerable populations at D.C. Vote’s 2014 Champions of Democracy Gala. You can find out more about the event here.

- As part of their “Unlocking Opportunities” series on the role public schools can play in providing important services to students, the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute discusses how schools can achieve better educational outcomes by first providing help to students in poverty. (DCFPI,10/9)

- In Montgomery County, some school leaders are requesting a two-year delay to the policy that would require high school seniors in Maryland to pass new standardized tests in order to be eligible for graduation. (WaPo, 10/8)

- As Montgomery County schools have recently  placed an emphasis on closing the achievement gap between white and nonwhite students, data shows that the SAT scores of minority students helped to improve scores for the county overall within the class of 2014. (WaPo, 10/7)

- Enrollment Up Again in D.C.’s Traditional and Charter Schools (WAMU, 10/8)

TRANSIT | In a ranking of how many jobs a resident can access by transit during the morning rush of 7 AM to 9 AM among the 46 biggest metros in the U.S., the Washington region came in at number four. (CityLab, 10/8)

POVERTY | Three Reasons You Should Be Concerned About the Racial Wealth Gap (CFED, 10/9)

PHILANTHROPY | The Clinton Global Initiative, which recently announced support for D.C.’s efforts to reduce infant mortality, has had 80 percent of their commitments completed or ongoing in the period between 2005 and 2013. But, here’s why it’s more important to focus on the five percent of commitments that have been unsuccessful in order to gain valuable insight into trends in philanthropy. (Forbes, 9/23)

Make sure you get yours, they just might sell out after this


October 8, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

District home health-care complaints pour in

An FBI investigation into widespread Medicaid fraud in the District led to a number of arrests and the proper redistribution of taxpayer dollars at the beginning of the year, but many patients in need of home care also saw their services greatly reduced as a result of the raid and the city suspending payments to 13 home health-care agencies . Officials disagree on what has caused a decline in services rendered. (WCP, 10/8)

In the more than seven months since the raid, the Legal Counsel has received 43 cases regarding complaints about home health services through Medicaid. In the same time period last year, there were just seven cases. And the pace of complaints doesn’t appear to be slowing down significantly, with seven new ones in the past month and a half.

- How can philanthropy work to address health disparities? Discover the root causes of disparities and fund preventative health(Arabella Advisors, 10/6)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | Mayor Gray Announces District Has Invested $1.3 Billion in Affordable Housing; On Track to Exceed Goal of 10,000 Units (, 10/8)

– New teachers in Prince George’s County will now be a part of a program that will pair them with experienced teachers in order to receive support and peer evaluation. The school system hopes that the program will help to improve teacher retention rates. (WaPo, 10/8)

- A new online college financial aid comparison tool is now available to weigh the net cost of higher education. (InTheCapital, 10/6)

- Changes to DCPS Special Education Services Pass Unanimously (WAMU, 10/8)

– Day laborers, who often wait for hours in the parking lots of hardware stores competing with others for an opportunity to earn wages, can typically feel alone and unprotected by the law when something goes wrong on the job. Some organizations are working to change that, but could the District be doing more to protect these workers? (WaPo, 10/7)

EQUALITY | The Reflective Democracy Campaign has released data on the gender and race of America’s elected officials making a strong case for the need for stronger representation in office. (WhoLeadsUs, 10/8)

DISTRICT | Goodbye Parking Lots, Hello D.C.’s Fastest Growing Neighborhood (NextCity, 10/7)

See you at the farmers’ market!


October 7, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

A decade of increasing costs and decreasing options

The Urban Institute released its latest study on housing in the District revealing some interesting trends about the affordability and stock of options for residents. Accompanying the report are a number of informative, interactive graphs that show how drastic the changes in housing have been over the last decade. (WCP, 10/7 and WaPo, 10/7))

In 2005, 17 percent of all rental units went for under $500 in 2012 dollars, while 14.9 percent charged over $1,500. In 2012, those sub-$500 units made up just 11.3 percent of the total stock, while the $1,500-plus ones were up to 35.9 percent of the total. Monthly rents under $1,000 went from the distinct majority to the distinct minority. This is after adjusting for inflation—it’s the real cost of renting in D.C.


Despite the conventional wisdom that the city has a shortage of larger units as developers cater to young professionals requiring no more than one bedroom, the number of affordable three-bedrooms actually increased across all income levels, as did the number of affordable two-bedrooms for all but the poorest residents.

- Elevation DC has a special report on the history and ongoing evolution of the Congress Heights neighborhood in ward 8. Though slow, development has brought about some very visible change in the area prompting many to wonder what possible gentrification could mean for current residents. David Bowers, vice president and market leader of nonprofit Enterprise Community Partners, offers his thoughts as well. (Elevation DC, 10/7)

- Despite a Crush of Class A Units, Rents Rise in the District (Urban Turf, 10/6)

COMMUNITY | Last week, Mayor Gray accepted the “My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge,” an effort to encourage communities to implement a coherent cradle-to-college and career strategy aimed at improving life outcomes for all young people issued by President Obama. The DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation  has been asked to lead the effort to develop the city’s boys and men of color strategy to support improved outcomes for youth in the District of Columbia. Ed Davies, Executive Director of the Trust said:

“The Trust commends Mayor Gray and the city for answering the call for the President’s challenge. We look forward to continuing to lead the work of engaging the public and private sectors of Washington, DC to create comprehensive strategies that result in successful outcomes for boys and young men of color in the areas outlined in the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force Report that are germane to DC.”

EDUCATION | The “blended learning model” – an approach to education that blends teacher-led instruction with the use of technology – is helping students in the District greatly improve math and reading scores while lowering the rate of suspensions. Currently, eight D.C. Public Schools are using the model. (WAMU, 10/6)

ARTS | Infographic: Nine Effective Practices for Building Audiences for the Arts (NPQ, 10/6)

CSR | The technology sector, with all its innovation and such, has a unique opportunity to contribute to society through corporate social responsibility. Here’s how some in the industry are meeting the challenge. (SSIR, 10/3)

YOUTH | Political strife and violence have led an unprecedented number of Central American youth to the United States and the Washington region, in particular. Many have a hard time truly understanding the gang violence that rages on in the home countries of many of the displaced youth. A former gang member shares his story. (WAMU, 10/6)

WORKFORCE | Washington’s new wealthy: Women and private sector entrepreneurs (WBJ, 10/6)

Anyone up for yet another list of the best and worst states to live? 

- Ciara

October 6, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Giving in America

Post-recession giving in America has undergone a lot of changes over the years. The Chronicle of Philanthropy offers a look at the changing landscape of giving with an interactive map and data from the largest metro areas. (Chronicle, 10/5)

As the recession lifted, poor and middle class Americans dug deeper into their wallets to give to charity, even though they were earning less. At the same time, according to a new Chronicle analysis of tax data, wealthy Americans earned more, but the portion of the income they gave to charity declined.

The Chronicle study found that Americans give, on average, about 3 percent of their income to charity, a figure that has not budged significantly for decades. However, that figure belies big differences in giving patterns between the rich and the poor.

- Opinion: A Better Way to Encourage Charity (NYT, 10/5)

HOMELESSNESS | Over the weekend, more than 60 families were moved from a hotel to the D.C. General Homeless shelter amid a number of concerns over a lapse in communication and coordination ahead of the relocations. (DCist, 10/3)

POVERTY | Opinion: Regular, on-time payments for necessities like cell phone bills, rent and utilities are not often reported to credit bureaus until there is a delinquency or late payment. As such, the “credit invisibles” – those who have no credit standing – are shown to be unreliable in the eyes of lenders.  While their economic behavior flies under the radar for credit rating agencies, businesses and nonprofits are taking a stand to help people gain a financial footing. (NYT, 10/2)

Related: Many strategies help families build resilience and financial independence. Financial literacy, affordable banking and credit, stable housing and home ownership, tax preparation assistance, and benefit selection and utilization are all part of the asset building toolbox. While 2015 Affordable Care Act enrollment and tax season are almost here, there are opportunities all year round to help low-income families create and sustain wealth. Members can join us on Monday, October 20th at 12:30 PM at WRAG as we host a brown bag discussion on asset building and to share your own work and learn what others are doing.

COMMUNITYCapital One has announced their new dFUND, a $500,000 grant program that will invest in innovative programs that help individuals, families and organizations succeed in a digital economy.  The dFUND is a catalyst to propel non-profits working in Capital One markets to further the ideation and development of this change for individuals and organizations in their communities. The application is available here.

– Though it is reported that as many as 10 percent of American children suffer from an impairing mental illness, there aren’t nearly enough school-based mental health services available to students. Some schools have begun offering  a new service, known as tele-mental health, that could greatly improve access to much needed psychiatric services. (CityLab, 10/2)

- The Washington Post shares the stories of women on what it’s like to be a teen mother. (WaPo, 10/3)

 Sometimes you need to just stop and look at the fall foliage.

- Ciara

October 3, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Friday roundup – Sept. 29 – Oct. 3, 2014

We’re trying something new this week on the Daily! On Fridays, instead of your regular summary about what’s going on in the region that day, we’ll bring you a roundup of the biggest happenings this week, along with the things you may have missed. And with that, here’s your Friday weekly roundup:

– Tamara Copeland, WRAG president, was named an honoree for the 11th annual Women Who Mean Business Awards by the Washington Business Journal! Honored individuals will be profiled in the November 14, 2014 edition of the publication. Don’t miss it!

– WRAG’s Lindsay Smith, consultant for the Washington Regional Food Funders, provided an answer to the question: Is October Food Month? (Daily, 10/1) Basically, it is.

– A growing number of education advocates signed on to support recommendations for the next mayor and city council to focus on once they take office. (DCFPI, 10/2)

– WRAG board member, Eric Kessler of Arabella Advisors, shed light on juvenile justice reform and the great need for more funding in this area. (HuffPo, 9/30)

– The city wants to do more about the infant mortality rate, but cuts in federal funding may make that difficult. (WaPo, 9/29)

– The New Communities Initiative (to revitalize public housing in the Barry Farm, Lincoln Heights/Richardson Dwellings, Northwest One, and Park Morton communities) needs at least $200 million to be completed. (DCFPI, 9/30)

– Arts & Humanities Working Group Meeting (WRAG members, and invited nonmember arts funders)
Tuesday, October 7th 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

– CEO Coffee & Conversation on The Meyer Foundation: Looking to The Future (WRAG member CEOs)
featuring Nicky Goren, President at The Meyer Foundation
Friday, October 10th 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

The key to success? It may all depend on the shape of your face.

Enjoy your weekend,


October 2, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Six proposed principles for education in D.C.

D.C. education advocates released a set of principles for the public education system this week, intended to inform the new mayor and city council on ways to improve access to quality neighborhood schools and better charter and public school coordination. A number of groups have signed in support of the principles. (DCFPI & GGW, 10/2)

Some principles touch on areas of broad agreement, such as “Focus resources on students and communities with the greatest need.” Others, however, may encounter opposition from some in the charter school community.

The first principle calls for ensuring that “all families have access to high-quality DCPS schools in their neighborhoods,” arguing that the demand for matter-of-right neighborhood schools became clear during the recent debate over school boundaries.

– As the start of October signals a new fiscal year, D.C. residents who rely on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program have lined up for hours in order to restore utility services in their homes. The program had used up its $15 million budget in June.  (WJLA, 10/1)

Is the City to Blame for Anacostia’s Vacant Properties? (WCP, 10/1)

– Yesterday marked the beginning of the minimum wage increase in Montgomery and Prince George’s County and worker advocates gathered to urge officials to push for even higher wages. (WBJ, 10/2)

The wage gap: A primer (WaPo, 10/2)

– As if sitting in traffic wasn’t bad enough for a person’s heart, according to research from the Journal of the American Heart Association, living next to major roadways puts individuals at a greater risk to develop high blood pressure. (CityLab, 10/1)

- One year after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s health exchange, experts weigh in on how it went. (NPR, 10/1)

CSR | Thanks to Institute for CSR class member, Samatha Yakal-Kremski, for sharing this New York Times article about IBM‘s efforts to transition retirees into rewarding post-career jobs and volunteer opportunities. (NYT, 9/26)

PHILANTHROPY | According to new data from more than 1,000 U.S. grantmakers in a study conducted by the Council on Foundations, around 20 percent of grantmakers pay trustee fees. (Chronicle, 10/1)

Have you seen a giant, six-acre portrait on the National Mall?

- Ciara

October 1, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Rethinking New Communities

A new report commissioned by the city finds that the New Communities Initiative (geared towards revitalizing public housing in the Barry Farm, Lincoln Heights/Richardson Dwellings, Northwest One, and Park Morton communities) is far behind schedule and could benefit from a revamp of project priorities…in addition to $200 million. (DCFPI, 9/30)

The report finds that $200 million in funding – which has not been identified – is needed to complete the New Communities Initiative redevelopment, and this figure does not include infrastructure improvements that will bring the cost even higher. With such a large investment needed, it may be time to take a look at the goal of this project – revitalizing housing for public housing residents – and decide how to best move forward. This could mean continuing with the New Communities plan, but it would also be worth exploring other approaches.

- Meanwhile, a developer has pitched a private project – similar to the goals of the New Communities Initiative – for the Brentwood neighborhood that would be mixed-income housing. (WCP, 10/1)

FOOD | Is it October already? WRAG consultant, Lindsay Smith, talks about why we should get excited for a month chock-full of events and activities to raise awareness about our regional food system and those affected by food insecurity. (Daily, 10/1)

PHILANTHROPY | Eric Kessler, head of Arabella Advisors (and a member of WRAG’s board of directors), takes a look at the importance of grantmaking in juvenile justice reform and how organizations like the Public Welfare Foundation are leading the effort. (HuffPo, 9/30)

– While Montgomery County public schools boast a diverse student body, a new report highlights the need for a more diverse faculty in order to approach the ethnic and racial gaps in the school system. (WaPo, 9/30)

- New Federal Guidelines Aim to Rid Schools of Racial Inequality (NYT, 10/1)

- Chancellor Kaya Henderson addressed the public in her second annual state of D.C. Public Schools speech last night, in which she spoke on recent investments being made to improve school quality for students. (WaPo, 9/30)

- Five public and private schools in the Washington area receive top honor (WaPo, 9/30)

ARTS/YOUTH | D.C. teens in the Critical Exposure program learn how to capture their surroundings through a camera lens, and tackle social justice issues in the process. (Elevation DC, 9/23)

COMMUNITY | Sheila Herring, former Vice President for Policy and Evaluation at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, has joined the Case Foundation as their new Senior Vice President of Social Innovation. (Case Foundation, 9/18)

Forbes has recently released their 400 Richest Americans List, and the Washington region is home to ten of them.

- Ciara

October 1, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Is October Food Month?

By Lindsay Smith
Washington Regional Food Funders

A WRAG colleague told me the other day that it seems like food has been in the news a lot lately. I have to agree. Whether it’s a story on urban agriculture, food enterprises, new approaches to addressing food insecurity – you name it – there’s so much going on in our regional food system.

Get ready for a lot more food news in October from around the Greater Washington region. If ever there was a time to explore the different issues within our local food system, this is the month to do it!

Washington Regional Food Funders urge you to take the first DMV SNAP (food stamp) Challenge coordinated by D.C. Hunger SolutionsMaryland Hunger Solutions, and Virginia Hunger Solutions from October 6-12. The purpose is to raise awareness of the difficult choices that low-income families make to avoid hunger and access nutritious food with limited resources. In this case, the average SNAP benefit level is just $1.55 per meal. For many participating families, stagnant wages, along with housing, healthcare, and other costs make SNAP one of their primary sources of income for supporting their nutritional needs.  The challenge is most effective when followed up by action for stronger supports for low-income families. Also during the DMV SNAP Challenge Week, the Montgomery County Food Security Collaborative takes a fresh look at addressing food insecurity and hunger.

Are you interested in how community organizations, philanthropy, local, state, and federal government can leverage federal resources to increase access to fresh, healthy,locally grown food for low-income communities and others? WRFF welcomes all WRAG members and nonmembers working with U.S. Department of Agriculture programs to join them on Friday, October 17th at 10 AM for Funding Greater Washington’s Food System: Opportunities Available through the 2014 Farm Bill.

Another date to put on your calendar is Saturday, October 25th – Food Day! Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. With thousands of events across the country each year, there are also tons of local events planned on and before October 25th.

As I think about the interesting opportunities to get involved in our local food system this month, I also have to reflect on the year thus far – alright…maybe that’s for another blog post, but a highlight comes from one of WRAG’s Brightest Minds Speakers in 2014, local culinary historian, Michael Twitty. Michael was recently asked by how food can change the world. Congrats to Michael and some of the other national thought leaders in the Greater Washington region for their inclusion in this compilation.

September 30, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Funding cuts threaten new infant mortality initiative

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!

- 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)

– 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)

- 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

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)

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


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