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September 5, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Visualizing the links between poverty and low test scores

– Here are three maps that illustrate the correlation between poverty and low standardized test scores for students in reading and math. The maps confirm the strong need for education equality across the city.(GGW, 9/4)

Taken together, the maps show that on average, the higher the child poverty rate in a neighborhood, the lower the percentage of students who are proficient in math and reading. Notably, the median poverty rate was 52% for the 10 neighborhoods with the lowest percentage of students who are proficient in reading.

- Suspensions and expulsions down in D.C. charter schools (WaPo, 9/4)

HOMELESSNESS Opinion: In the wake of the disappearance of 8-year-old D.C. youth, Relisha Rudd – and the city’s follow-up report on having done all that was possible with regard to the case – a writer points out that maybe the focus should be put on how Rudd lived before her disappearance, as opposed to her disappearance itself. Especially when a number of homeless youth in the city face similar challenges and circumstances as Rudd. (WaPo, 9/4)

What happened to Relisha Rudd is, ultimately, a story about homelessness. And it’s a story about how checking boxes, writing reports and cross-checking documents does not create a community that cares.

– A temporary public art project, called 5×5, produced by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities will open a new site called “Nonument Park“- a park with temporary sculptures devoted to ordinary people that will bring awareness to the common struggles of every day humanity. (OPinions, 9/4)

- How to See Every 5×5 Art Project in a Single Ward-Hopping Day (WCP, 9/4)

– A new study concludes that there is a growing food inequality gap in which the nation’s wealthier people are eating better, and those who are poorest are eating worse. The study examined the quality of adult participants’ diets from 1999 – 2010. (WaPo, 9/2)

- Lower income consumers are more likely to buy junk food on sale rather than healthy food on sale; however, during a 65-week study it was found that junk food is on sale overwhelmingly more often than fresh produce. (WSJ, 9/5)

- Food-Stamp Use Starting to Fall (WSJ, 9/1)

In case you were looking for some truly amazing photos of animals today, here they are.

- Ciara

September 4, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

D.C. ranks No. 1 on list for working women

WORKFORCE │ Another report has been released on the best areas in the country for working women. The District tops the list at No. 1, with Maryland at No. 5, and Virginia at No. 11, according to the report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Though encouraging, women in D.C. still make less than their male counterparts. (WBJ, 9/3)

The annual report says the median annual full-time pay for women in the District is $60,000, 92.3 percent of the median pay for men. D.C. also ranks No. 1 for the percent of women in the labor force, at 66.9 percent, and No. 1 for the number of women in management.

- The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute has updates on the D.C. Promise Neighborhood Initiative in the Kenilworth-Parkside community, and what is up next for the program with support from funders like the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the Consumer Health Foundation, the Lois and Richard England Family Foundation, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation,  and more. (DCFPI, 9/4)

- In the District during the 2011-12 school year, an alarming number of gunfire incidents occurred in close proximity to schools. During this time, of the 175 traditional public and public charter schools in D.C., 116 of them were close enough for gunfire to be heard inside during school hours. (WCP, 9/3)

Five lessons one woman’s story teaches us about poverty and education in D.C. (GGW, 9/3)

HOMELESSNESSHuman Services Chief: City Can Avoid Homelessness, But Only With Persistent Effort (WCP, 9/3)

POVERTY │ Opinion: Efforts to combat poverty are often roadblocked by competing views on what the root causes of poverty are. An author shares his views on how a “rough ideological consensus” regarding the causes of poverty and inequality from policy makers and the like, is a crucial first step in moving forward with initiatives that could make a big difference. (NYT, 9/2)

PHILANTHROPY │ A new online tool that measures the value of social projects is now available. The Social Impact Calculator, made possible by the Low Impact Investment Fund, estimates the monetary value of projects based on recent social science research. (Chronicle, 9/4)

COMMUNITY │ The Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs is seeking volunteers to review new funding proposals for The FY’15 Latino Community Development Grant and Latino Community Health Grant Competition. Reviewers must commit to one reviewer training session and evaluate three to five proposals. Trainings are conducted online via webinars. Grant reviews are also conducted online via their grants management system. To become a grant reviewer, please submit your resume to by Monday, September 8, 2014. OLA will contact qualified applicants within five days of submission.

Perhaps you can buy happiness, after all!

- Ciara

September 3, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Preparing for the future of the nation’s older adults

The AARP Foundation and the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies released their new report, “Housing America’s Older Adults: Meeting the Needs of an Aging Population,” at a release event held yesterday. The event featured a panel and speakers including Vivian Vasallo, Vice President of the AARP Foundation, and The Honorable Henry Cisneros, Executive Chairman at CityView and former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The report focuses on the sobering fact that, by 2030, the population of Americans age 50 or older will swell to 132 million, and as such a number of housing needs and supports will need to be in place with them in mind. (JCHS, 9/2)

There is still time for the nation to prepare for the evolving needs of older adults by expanding the supply of housing that is affordable, safe, and accessible; providing opportunities for older adults to connect socially yet live independently; and integrating housing and long-term care services to support those aging in private homes. These changes will improve not only quality of life for older adults, but also the livability of communities for people of all ages.

The full report can be found here. Also, be sure to check out this great infographic accompanying the report.

- Where Are All the Baby Boomers Going to Live? (City Lab, 9/2)

HOMELESSNESS  │ With the upcoming winter predicted to be a harsh one, officials in the District are bracing the city for the estimated 16 percent increase in homeless families that will need to be sheltered. Currently, it is projected that every family shelter in the city will be at capacity by December. (WaPo, 9/2)

CSR │ Lori Vacek, Foundation Manager at the Freddie Mac Foundation (and a participant in the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility), offers her take on why the Institute has been a breath of fresh air for those engaged in making a difference through their work. (Daily, 9/3)

PHILANTHROPY │ Opinion: Could you be a foundation leader living in a bubble of “positive illusions,” in which constructive criticism from those in need of the assets you oversee may be held back from you because, well…you’re a foundation leader? Perhaps an important, yet overlooked factor in successfully bringing about change is in gaining honest, open feedback from grantees. (Chronicle, 9/2)

WORKFORCE │ Study Finds Arlington ‘All About the Jobs’ for Young People (ARLnow, 9/2)

POVERTY │ A longitudinal study of 790 first-graders in the Baltimore public school system from middle-class and poverty-stricken areas, conducted by sociologists from Johns Hopkins University, produced some fascinating results concerning generational poverty and race. The study began in 1982 and followed the students over the following 25 years. (WaPo, 8/29)

Before they turned 18, 40 percent of the black girls from low-income homes had given birth to their own babies. At the time of the final interviews, when the children were now adults of 28, more than 10 percent of the black men in the study were incarcerated. Twenty-six of the children, among those they could find at last count, were no longer living.

A mere 4 percent of the first-graders [...] classified as the “urban disadvantaged” had by the end of the study completed the college degree that’s become more valuable than ever in the modern economy. A related reality: Just 33 of 314 had left the low-income socioeconomic status of their parents for the middle class by age 28.

NONPROFITS │ Fair Chance, an organization that supports nonprofits through a core partnership program, network services and executive transition management, is currently recruiting promising youth-serving nonprofits to receive up to 500 hours of free capacity building support valued at $50,000. Eligible nonprofits can apply to join their 2014-15 partner cohort and receive a year of free, customized organizational consulting services designed to increase their impact and sustainability. Nonprofits should click here to check for eligibility and apply. Applications are due by Friday, September 12, at 6 PM.

Have you taken your 20-minute walk today?

- Ciara

September 3, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

A Fresh Take

By Lori Vacek
Foundation Manager
Freddie Mac Foundation

When I first heard about the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), I was not sure about registering. Like many of us, I’ve attended numerous conferences, most of which have been interesting and provided a chance to network, but I was looking for something different – something fresh, inspiring, and substantive.

I found that in the Institute for CSR, and here’s why:

  • Throughout the year, we have been challenged to develop our own creativity. Dinah Dittman from Kaiser Permanente shared this TED talk and described how she strives to incorporate a sense of creativity into her work. This line of thinking was a nice complement to the more typical strategic perspective discussed at corporate conferences.
  •  From Jon Spector of The Conference Board, we heard that it is not always possible to “prove” the value of CSR with data (which can be compelling), but that it is our responsibility to make the business case for this work. For instance, offering meaningful employee volunteer opportunities supports retention and recruitment goals.
  • James Abruzzo from the Center for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers asked us to consider why a corporation would produce a product for which there was no viable market. A case study describing Merck’s handling of the decision to manufacture and give away a vaccine for river blindness in Africa “for as long as is necessary” was inspiring, and offered a strategic analysis of the decision making process from a senior management perspective.
  • Dane Smith from FSG and Sonal Shal from the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown discussed new frameworks and tools for achieving both business and social goals, including shared value and social impact bonds.
  • Lead faculty member, Tim McClimmon, of the American Express Foundation encouraged us to assume a greater CSR leadership role by, for example, authoring new case studies and creating new resources to strengthen the field.
  • And, most recently we were inspired by Mike Harreld, the head of PNC Bank in the Washington metropolitan region, who spoke clearly about how community involvement is “just what you do,” and described PNC’s role in both early childhood education and sustainability practices.

I’m only able to mention some of the many substantive speakers and discussions the Institute for CSR has offered, but,  overall, it’s provided a chance to step back, reflect, connect with peers (each session is like a day-long round table discussion!), dig deeper into current trends, learn about new resources, and to think anew about long-standing challenges.  I’d recommend it for all CSR practitioners interested in strengthening their programs and striving to “make a difference” for the stakeholders we serve.

September 2, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Life after Rapid Rehousing a challenge for some District residents

The District’s Rapid Rehousing Program was established in response to the city’s homelessness crisis, but has not been without its challenges. For many residents on the program, the peace of mind that the temporary assistance brings can be fleeting when they have no permanent employment in place. Nkechi Feaster, a former recipient of Rapid Rehousing services, shares her experiences since her subsidy ended. (WaPo, 8/30)

In a city that’s increasingly unaffordable, District leaders have doubled down on the program. Next year’s budget devotes $20 million to rapid rehousing, twice as much as this year, to support as many as 1,100 families.


Meanwhile, the budget for homeless family services is being cut by about $6 million. And new entries to the Rapid Rehousing Program face even more pressure than [Nkechi] Feaster did: All subsidies now end after a year.

ARTS/CSR │ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Booz Allen Hamilton, Dr. Ralph W. Shrader, was recently interviewed about the company’s unwavering support for the arts – particularly in the Washington region – and how they have successfully woven the arts into the company’s culture. (ARTSblog, 8/28)

WORKFORCE An analysis by the National Skills Coalition has shown that there is a larger number of middle-skill jobs in the District than there are people to fill them. The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region‘s director of Workforce Initiatives, Sarah Oldmixon, comments on the city’s current efforts to propel workers into these jobs and the need for more to be done (DCist, 8/29):

“There’s some programs that are really strong,” she said, adding that they successfully address personal and skill barriers. But other programs “may do really well for a small number of people, but aren’t robust enough to meet the needs of a larger population.”

VETERANS │ A nonprofit in D.C. is assisting veterans with disabilities by training them on how to run a small business. The fellowship program teaches them lessons about entrepreneurship through running their own bakery and handling the various aspects of the business for a period of six months so they will have the tools to launch their own businesses. (WAMU, 8/29)

PHILANTHROPY │ A new report from the D5 Coalition takes a look at nine foundations of varying size and structure to offer strong tips for how foundations can work with nonprofits to increase diversity, equity and inclusion. (D5 Coalition, 9/2)

YOUTH │ Opinion: In Virginia, there are a number of small, in-home childcare businesses that are too often unregulated, putting children in danger. A recent investigation shows that at least 43 children have died  in these settings since 2004 due to overcrowding or a lack of childcare experience by workers. Petula Dvorak considers how, for many parents, there are limited options when it comes to where to send their children, raising questions about what the state should do to further intervene. (WaPo, 9/2)

EDUCATION │ Northern Virginia schools open year with changes ahead (WaPo, 9/1)

The summer is not over just yet! Here are a few things you can do in the area before the autumnal equinox comes around.

- Ciara

August 28, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Five-year plan announced for industrial land in ward 5

At a recent press conference, officials announced a five-year blueprint for industrial land in Ward 5 that includes major and minor improvements from planting additional trees to creating more jobs. ( DCist, 8/27)

Some of the solutions are simple, like planting trees and installing a trellis to obscure the view of a trash transfer facility. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, who represents Ward 5, said smells from the trash facility and from other businesses “impacted negatively” on his constituents’ “quality of life.”


The plan calls for the creation of an “industrial advocate” who would provide assistance to “production, distribution and repair” (PDR) businesses that provide entry-level positions with higher wages than retail. More than 500 PDR business operate in Ward 5 at the moment.

– At three Arlington high schools, each ninth grader will receive a MacBook Air laptop computer as part of a goal to provide every student in the school system with a computer by 2017. (WaPo, 8/28)

- With Fairfax County facing rapid growth, the school system has had to find alternative ways to house an increasing number of students – including using a former high-rise office building as a school. (WTOP, 8/28)

- College-Educated Minorities Report Far Fewer Good-Paying Job Opportunities Than Whites (City Lab, 8/28)

- Back in May, the D.C. Public Library system added a social worker in the role of a health and human services coordinator for the first time ever, to work with homeless individuals for which libraries can often serve as a “day shelter.” Although other library systems in cities across the country have introduced ways to engage the homeless, D.C. is only the second U.S. city to bring on a library social worker. (WaPo, 8/27)

- Some key suggestions for what philanthropy can do to end youth homelessness are addressed in a two-part blog series. Part one focuses on investing in community-based services and research, while part two focuses on investing in policy advocacy, youth voice, and public education. (Funders Together, 8/26 & 8/28)

- Number of Homeless Veterans Sleeping on Street Drops Nearly 40 Percent in 4 Years (HuffPo, 8/27)

YOUTH │ A soon-to-be released study from the University of California-Irvine indicates that children of incarcerated parents may experience significant behavioral and health issues, and that having incarcerated parents could be more harmful to their health than divorce or the death of a parent. (USA Today, 8/25)

There will be no Daily WRAG tomorrow ahead of Labor Day Weekend. Here’s something for you to think about during your time away. I certainly will.

- Ciara

August 27, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Prince George’s schools debut new initiatives

Continuing with all of the education news this week, The Washington Post highlights Prince George’s County Schools as they put forth new initiatives and programs ultimately aimed at bringing middle-class families back into the school district. After some major changes in the school system last year, officials are hopeful about turning the district’s reputation around. (WaPo, 8/26)

[Prince George's County schools chief Kevin] Maxwell said the 126,000-student district experienced an increase of 1,400 students last year and is projected to grow by an additional 1,200 this year, which he believes is a positive sign for a district that has seen its enrollment dwindle.

“We were falling for over a decade,” Maxwell said. “It’s a pretty good change.”

- Mayor Gray’s recent announcement of school boundary plans has shifted into somewhat of a chicken or the egg argument, prompting some to ask what should come first – reassigning students to new schools or improving school quality? (GGW, 8/26)

- Generation Later, Poor Are Still Rare at Elite Colleges (NYT, 8/25)

REGION Study may give Maryland the edge in landing FBI headquarters (WBJ, 8/27)

- The National Association for Music Education has announced the new National Core Music Standards, replacing the old standards from 20 years ago. (PRWeb, 8/27)

- In an effort to create an environment more conducive to healing, a number of hospitals are using art to quell anxiety and promote a sense of hope and optimism. Research supports that patients have responded well to the calming effects of art. (WSJ, 8/18)

HEALTH │ According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans report a lower overall well-being compared with their non-LGBT counterparts, with particular attention to their financial and physical well-being. The index revealed a number of disparities in overall well-being, especially for LGBT women. (Gallup, 8/25)

POVERTY A study from the University of Minnesota found evidence suggesting that growing up poor can dampen one’s sense of self control in their life beyond adulthood, increasing their likelihood of making impulsive choices and giving up on challenging tasks. (Quartz, 8/23)

In celebration of their 125th anniversary, the National Zoo is going back in time by bringing back their first-ever exhibit!

- Ciara

August 26, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

D.C. looks to longer hours to boost student scores

After a successful run at eight schools during the 2012-2013 school year, 17 new D.C. public schools have adapted a longer school day. By adding on an additional hour during the day, the 25 schools hope to see higher annual assessment scores like the original eight schools did. (WAMU, 8/26)

The longer days come as D.C. pushes to offer more resources to at-risk students, who continue to trail their peers in math and reading proficiency.

An additional $80 million dollars is going to help up to 35,000 students who are homeless or in foster care, on welfare or food stamps or a year behind their peers in high school. [Chancellor Kaya] Henderson and others say that the infusion — roughly $2,200 per student — will help chip away at the achievement gap.

- The new school year continues to roll out across the region with record high enrollment in some districts, new technology for a number of students, and tons of optimism about the year ahead. (WaPo, 8/25)

- Opinion: What’s one way to fix chronic absenteeism in schools? Provide social services in the schools to students who come from low-income families. (NYT, 8/25)

With Boundary Changes, Some Officials Object to Assigning Students to Lower Performing Schools (WCP, 8/25)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING │ With a large number of public housing units disappearing each year, how can the D.C. region and the rest of the U.S. learn from success stories happening around the world? (Next City, 8/26)

HOMELESSNESS │ Cities like Los Angeles, San Diego and Vancouver have implemented transitional storage programs for homeless individuals to keep their possessions in a secure place. The storage units allow them to carry on with daily activities that could potentially provide them with greater stability with the peace of mind that their belongings won’t be stolen or thrown out by businesses or residents. Could the District adopt a similar program – especially after the failed Evictions with Dignity Act? (City Lab, 8/25)

TRANSIT 7 Charts That Show How Good Mass Transit Can Make a City More Affordable (City Lab, 8/25)

TED Talks are often inspiring, motivational and…long. Here are five great TED Talks under five minutes for those days you simply don’t have much time to get inspired.

- Ciara

August 25, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Plans for set aside seats met with opposition

With 43 percent of all D.C. students currently considered at-risk, the D.C. Public Charter School Board leader, Scott Pearson opposes a plan requiring schools with less than 25 percent at-risk students to give priority in lottery admissions for 25 percent of the seats at their schools. (WAMU, 8/22)

City officials say that the provision — along with requirements for a certain amount of seats for out-of-boundary students at all schools — would ensure that students facing difficult circumstances could attend the city’s best-performing schools. There has been an increased emphasis on the needs of at-risk students; $116 million in additional funding is being directed to at-risk students in the school year beginning next week.


In an interview, [Scott] Pearson said that he could not support the recommendation because it had not been properly considered.

“This recommendation was formulated in the final weeks of an eight-month process, there were no consultations with affected schools or communities and there was no analysis of impact. So it really had nowhere near the level of thoughtfulness and consideration that the other recommendations in the report had,” he said.

- Nearly 1,100 New Central American Students Join D.C. Area Schools (WAMU, 8/25)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING/POVERTY │ According to data from the New York City-based nonprofit, Citizens Budget Commission, the District may actually be considered a relatively affordable city when analyzing both housing and transportation costs for a low-income, three-person household, making it the second most affordable major city behind San Francisco. (WaPo, 8/25)

Of 22 major cities in the United States, the District – which is in the throes  of an affordable housing debate – ranked only behind San Francisco in terms of being most affordable for the prototypical low-income family. On average, a low-income family here spends about 43 percent of their money on rent and transportation costs.

YOUTH │ Defense attorneys in D.C. are advocating for courts to end the practice of shackling juvenile offenders who stand before a judge. Advocates argue that the practice is cruel and sends the wrong message to youth when the end goal is rehabilitation. (WaPo, 8/24)

- The unaccompanied minor crisis has been in the news a lot lately, with steady numbers of children arriving across the border. Here are some short-term and long-term ways in which funders can respond to the growing issue. (Arabella Advisors, 8/22)

- Millennials Transform Charitable Giving Into Philanthropic Action (HuffPo, 8/22)

COMMUNITY │ The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has launched four discretionary grant cycles for the 2014-2015 season with over $400,000 in grants to award – its Community Investment Funds, Future Fund, Business Women’s Giving Circle, and Loudoun Impact Fund grants.  Applications are now being accepted from nonprofits, schools and faith-based organizations serving Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park. Find out more here. (CFNOVA, 8/18)

The National Book Festival is coming soon!

- Ciara

August 22, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

New school boundary plans announced for 2015-2016

Mayor Vincent Gray has authorized a new school boundary plan that will go into effect for the 2015-2016 school year. The scheduled changes will eventually impact thousands of students and aim to further the investment of residents into neighborhood schools. (WaPo, 8/21)

Each D.C. home now will be assigned to one elementary, middle and high school, a departure from the current patchwork system, in which more than a fifth of all public school students have rights to attend multiple schools, a result of school closings and consolidations.

The new map of neighborhood schools reflects a strong public desire for predictability, District officials say. While only about 25 percent of city students now attend their assigned school, earlier proposals to replace neighborhood schools with schools that have regional or citywide lotteries were widely unpopular.

- Here’s a breakdown of how students in the District will be affected by the new school boundary assignment changes at each school level. (WCP, 8/21)

– Many taxi drivers in D.C. will avoid taking passengers into underserved neighborhoods out of fear for safety or an opportunity for more lucrative fares elsewhere, leaving those who live east of the river stranded. Though not exactly a solution, the D.C. Taxicab Commission announced plans to offer courtesy vans next summer that would carry passengers who need to go outside of specified boundaries to a Metro station, a bus stop…or yet another taxi stand. (WAMU, 8/22)

- Southeast D.C. residents take a stand against increased violence (FOX5, 8/21)

POVERTY/HEALTH │ Faced with inconsistent work schedules and low incomes, research shows that those in poverty are more likely to be overweight than their wealthier counterparts. (Atlantic, 8/21)

Compared to adults making $75,000 or more, those making less than $20,000 were 50 percent less likely to exercise, 42 percent less likely to drink a lot of water, and 25 percent less likely to eat less fat and sweets. And adults making between $20,000 and $75,000 were about 50 percent more likely to use over-the-counter diet pills, which aren’t proven to work.

PHILANTHROPY The Role of Grantmakers in Collective Impact (SSIR, 8/21)

Two hundred years ago this week during the War of 1812, the British won the Battle of Bladensburg and went on to burn the White House and the U.S. Capitol. Here’s how the burning of D.C. would have been covered if, you know, anyone had been around back then.

- Ciara


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