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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

September 26, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

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

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

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

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

Report data will be made available this afternoon here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


September 25, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

From the inner city to the inner-ring suburbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Ciara

September 24, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Services for women veterans lag behind

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Ciara


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