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July 17, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

The impact of long, expensive commutes on women in the region

Many women in the area experience a number of transportation burdens, including continually rising costs and a lack of efficiency and safety. The Washington Area Women’s Foundation writes about the vital need for accessible transportation in order for women to achieve economic security. (WAWF, 7/15)

In addition to consuming time, commuting is also expensive in terms of dollars and cents. Transportation costs rose faster than income during the 2000s, increasing the burden these costs placed on already stretched budgets. For the working poor – those earning less than twice the federal poverty measure–these costs consume a larger portion of their earnings. In the Washington metropolitan area the cost-burden of commuting for this population is among the highest in the country, greater than the national median, and working poor households spend nearly three times more than other households, in relative terms. According to national data, transportation is the second largest expense for households: jointly with housing it accounts for more than one-half of all household spending.

- Terri Lee Freeman, president of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, appeared on News Channel 8 to discuss their new “Housing Security in the Washington Region” study. (WJLA, 7/16)

Low-Income Washingtonians Face Severe Housing Cost Burden(City Paper, 7/15) And also in Arlington County and Prince William County and Fairfax County and Prince George’s County…

- Amid reports of negligence and financial mismanagement, Muriel Bowser has requested an open investigation into the decline of Park Southern Towers, one of the District’s largest affordable housing complexes. (WaPo, 7/15)

- Piscataway Hills: The Prince George’s neighborhood that could be no more (WaPo, 7/15)

- Through a partnership with D.C. Housing Authority, The D.C. Green Scheme has brought two fresh produce gardens to residents in Wheeler Terrace and Lincoln Heights. Residents have 24-hour access to the garden and are also able to take part in other activities the organization provides. (WJLA, 7/14)

- In Alexandria, a new “farm camp” is teaching children about food origins with hands-on activities and, of course, taste testing. (WaPo, 7/15)

- Even more students will learn about sustainable farming and food sources thanks to a new initiative of the D.C. Healthy Schools Act with funding from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. The Farm Field Trip program will help send 23 D.C. public and charter schools to area farms. (Washington Informer, 7/14)

- The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has recently awarded a total of $50,000 to seven schools and nonprofit organizations through its Innovation Fund to support innovative approaches to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education across Northern Virginia. (CFNV, 7/16)

- Prince George’s County will open two new high schools next year geared toward immigrant students and students who are learning English. In the county, nearly 30 percent of the students come from other countries. (WaPo, 7/15)

- A new report from Exponent Philanthropy titled “Outsized Impact 2014″ reveals that, when it comes to staffing at philanthropic organizations, smaller just may mean better. (Exponent Philanthropy, 7/17)

Yesterday marked the 224th anniversary of the Residence Act that basically made D.C….and here are 51 things you can do to commemorate that.


July 15, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Comprehensive study on housing needs across income levels uncovers critical needs

Today, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region released a first-of-its-kind report, “Housing Security in the Washington Region,” revealing the critical need for affordable housing across varying income levels in the Greater Washington region.  The landmark study is the first to comprehensively examine housing needs and how housing policies and programs are funded by public and philanthropic sectors in multiple jurisdictions. The study was commissioned with generous support from The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and was researched and prepared by the Urban Institute and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. A companion guide for funders was developed with input from WRAG members Silvana Straw of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Jacqueline Prior of The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Karen FitzGerald of The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, Alison McWilliams of Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation and David Bowers of Enterprise Community Partners. (CFNCR, 7/15)

Stable and affordable housing for people at all income levels is a goal that our region should be able to achieve. Without stable housing, it is difficult for people to obtain economic security, a quality education, good health and employment,” said Terri Lee Freeman, president of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. “We commissioned this study in order to quantify the needs for affordable housing and inform strategic investments by the philanthropic sector, as well as the public and private sectors.We are optimistic that the study can help leaders better address homelessness and housing issues in their communities and direct resources to those most in need. All people in our region deserve the chance to prosper as our region prospers.”

You can access the full report here.

Related: Today, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region will also hold a special briefing on the new study. The event will include two sessions – a public briefing on the study, followed by a private briefing for philanthropic funders and donors only co-sponsored by WRAG. Find out more here.

CSR │ WRAG’s Director of Corporate Strategy, Katy Moore, provides some thoughtful commentary on the Chronicle of Philanthropy‘s recent article on the state of corporate giving. (Daily, 7/15)

COMMUNITY │ Congratulations to Brian Castrucci of the de Beaumont Foundation for being named a 2014 Terrance Keenan Institute for Emerging Leaders in Health Philanthropy fellow. The Terrance Keenan Institute is a program of Grantmakers in Health that was created to nurture the next generation of heath grantmaking leaders and further their professional development.

EDUCATION │ In an effort to keep up with changing demographics and bridge the achievement gap, Montgomery County officials are clashing on proposed boundary changes to prevent further segregation in public schools. (WaPo, 7/14)

BUDGET D.C. Council Overrides Gray’s Budget Veto; Tax Cut Plan Approved (WAMU, 7/14)

TRANSIT │ With so much spotlight lately on cycling as a mode of commuting in the District, City Lab offers a revealing look at where low-income commuters stand in the discussion. (City Lab, 7/15)

DISTRICT │ Just how engaged are D.C.’s residents in civic activities? Take a look at six charts that break down data from a report conducted by the National Conference on Citizenship and Serve DC. (DCist, 7/14)

We may have even more in common with our friends than we think.


July 15, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

A Different Take

By Katy Moore
Director of Corporate Strategy

Yesterday, the Chronicle of Philanthropy released the results of its annual giving survey of the 150 largest companies in the U.S. The article’s title, Corporate Profits Surge but Cash Donations Creep Up Only 3%, paints a negative picture of the generosity of the American corporate sector. However, if you read through the article or glance at the handy infographic (see below), you’ll realize that, in fact, ALL corporate giving numbers climbed from 2012 to 2013. And, the “surging profits” mentioned in the title are a mere 5% while corporate cash donations grew by nearly 3% (totaling $4.6 billion). Further, when both cash and products are counted, corporate giving rose by over 17% (totaling $14.1 billion). Why, then, is the Chronicle bent on painting the corporate world in such a negative light?

While we all acknowledge that cash giving is an important element of corporate social responsibility (nonprofits can’t pay employees or keep the lights on without cash contributions), so too is using all of a company’s resources to support the social profit sector, including donating products (like Walmart giving more than $2 billion in food over the last 5 years to fight hunger) and donating employees’ time and skills through pro bono, volunteerism, and board service (as illustrated by the wildly successful Billion+Change initiative)..

With the field of corporate social responsibility growing and evolving, it is safe to say that the ways that companies support their communities will also continue to evolve. And, so far, what I’m seeing, unlike the Chronicle, is definitely a CSR glass that is more than half full.


July 14, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

A further look inside D.C. General

Problems abound at the D.C. General homeless shelter. Here is a very in-depth look at the multiple issues residents may face on any given day, including assaults,  lack of support and infestations, just to name a few. (WaPo, 7/12)

City officials and homeless advocates say D.C. General has never been properly maintained because most saw it as a Band-Aid for the city’s homelessness problem. The city began using the facility as a temporary shelter on cold nights in 2001, when the family shelter, D.C. Village, became overcrowded.

Fenty closed D.C. Village in 2007 amid complaints that it was infested with mice, roaches and other vermin unsuitable for children. His administration shifted families to D.C. General until a replacement could be found.

But the city never found one. During the winter months, almost 600 children were living in the former hospital.

- Another issue families may face staying at the D.C. General shelter is the lack of programming to offer their children a break from reality. (WaPo, 7/12)

- Families Moved Out of D.C. General, But Advocates Worry About Pace of Progress (WAMU, 7/11)

- Tomorrow, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region invites you to the release of a landmark new study, “Housing Security in the Washington Region.” The event will include two sessions  – a public briefing on the study, followed by a private briefing for funders co-sponsored by WRAG. Find out more here.

- New residential buildings built on former public land may soon be required to include 30 percent affordable units in an effort to expand mixed-income housing in the District. (DCFPI, 7/10)

COMMUNITY │ Yesterday, The Chronicle of Philanthropy released their list of “10 Companies That Gave the Most Cash in 2013.” Kudos to WRAG members Bank of America and Wells Fargo for making an appearance on the list. (Chronicle, 7/13)

WRAG VOICES │ WRAG president, Tamara Copeland, recently wrote an article that was published by the American Society of Association Executives blog.  In the article, that uses the medium of a Twitter post, she reflects on the value of a member association and the impact it can have. You can read the article here.

EDUCATION │ The D.C. Council plans to introduce a bill today that would ban the District’s traditional and charter schools from suspending pre-K students. The proposed bill comes about after it was found that pre-K students in D.C. were suspended 181 times during the 2012-2013 school year. (DCist, 7/14)

REGION/ECONOMY │ Will 2014 be ‘a lost year’ for the greater Washington economy? (WaPo, 7/13)

 The world debates – fresh coffee versus instant coffee. See? I didn’t post anything about Lebron James!


July 11, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

D.C. aims to ban foam for a healthier Anacostia River

On Monday, the D.C. Council may vote to ban foam food containers, which often end up in the Anacostia River, potentially causing a number of health and environmental concerns. If passed, the legislation would make D.C. the first in the region to adopt such a ban. (GGW, 7/11)

The Anacostia Watershed Society has been tracking material caught in Nash Run, near the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, since 2009. By volume, foam is typically about a quarter of the floatable trash they capture.


Polystyrene foam bans are already in place in more than 100 cities around the country, in response to research on plastic pollution in the oceans and persistent litter in neighborhoods.

- According to a Washington Post analysis, Maryland test scores in reading and math for elementary school students dropped to their lowest in seven years. A shift in academic standards may be the cause. (WaPo, 7/11)

Montgomery County unveils initiative to put 40,000 laptops and tablets in schools (WaPo, 7/10)

- Here is a map showing the DCPS feeder patterns proposed by the advisory committee on student assignment and the quality of schools they correspond to. (GGW, 7/11)

- Unanimous D.C. Council panel advances special education overhaul (WaPo, 7/10)

- A long fledgling school in Alexandria will soon get a new building and principal, but parents wonder if it will be enough to turn things around. (WAMU, 7/11)

PHILANTHROPYOpinion: We know the WRAG community is thoughtfully engaged in addressing inequities in our region, but in this op-ed, the author ponders whether donors across the country are actually widening the wealth gap with the nature of their philanthropy. (Chronicle, 7/10)

CSR “Kaizen” – or “good change” – is just one way leaders in corporate social responsibility are giving back. (Forbes, 7/10)

The oldest known song is 3,400 years old….and you can listen to it, here.


July 10, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

The push to avoid another winter crisis

Last winter’s homeless crisis in D.C.- where there was an extreme shortage in shelter – left many searching for solutions in order to avoid a repeat in the future. According to reports, Mayor Vincent Gray’s plan to house 500 homeless families in subsidized units has fallen short of the goal. The concern may simply be a result of semantics, however, according to officials: (WaPo. 7/9)

As of early this week, 187 families had moved into apartments, and officials said they were confident they would reach the 200 mark by Friday, the end of Gray’s 100-day campaign.


Beatriz “B.B.” Otero, Gray’s deputy mayor for health and human services, said Wednesday that it was the department’s intention all along merely to identify 500 units — not to move all of the families that quickly. By that lower bar, she claimed a grade of “nearly an ‘A’ ” because the city has found 459 available units.

- The AARP Foundation and the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University will host an event, Housing America’s Older Adults: Meeting the Needs of an Aging Population, to coincide with the upcoming release of their new report. The event, on September 2nd, will feature a luncheon keynote from Henry Cisneros, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and a solutions-focused panel discussion with housing policy leaders and innovators. Find out more here.

Related: Henry Cisneros spoke to the WRAG community last year about why everyone – not just traditional housing funders – should care about affordable housing. We covered his talk in the Daily here and here.

- Section 8 recipients of the Museum Square Apartments in Mount Vernon Triangle face a dilemma as the property owner makes them an offer most have no choice but to refuse. (City Paper, 7/9)

- Senate Confirms Julian Castro as Housing Secretary (NPR, 7/9)

Critics of D.C. education policies question test score gains (WaPo, 7/10)

- Researchers from the Center on Reinventing Public Education surveyed 4,000 parents in eight cities, including D.C., to identify ways to make school choice a more streamlined process.(CRPE, 7/2014)

YOUTH  Advocates for child victims of sex trafficking will speak to a committee today regarding the use of comprehensive services as a means to recovery instead of arrests. (DCist, 7/10)

TRANSIT  Ward 8 to Get First Bike Lanes This Summer (WAMU, 7/10)

Is there a D.C. dialect? Absolutely!


July 9, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Determining the fate of the Federal City Shelter

The fate of the Federal City Shelter – a building more than 70-years-old housing five service providers assisting 1,350 homeless individuals – is being examined as the federal requirements that kept it operating in this way will soon expire. Service providers include the Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV), the John L. Young Center for Women, DC Central Kitchen and Unity Health Care. (DCist, 7/8)

To know what should replace the building, [Patty Mullahy] Fugere said there needs to be more data on who currently uses the shelter. She shared the following stat: At CCNV, 50 percent of residents are chronically homeless; 56 percent have a disability or disabilities; the average age is 53; 10 percent have an income; the average stay is 33 months.

The stats were similar for the John L. Young women’s shelter.

– In an effort to generate revenue for their schools, some districts in the area have pondered (and/or shut down) plans to build cell phone towers atop school buildings. (WaPo, 7/7)

- Connecting school spending and student achievement (WaPo, 7/9)

A panel discusses the continued competition among charter schools and traditional public schools amid Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s call for coordination. (WAMU, 7/8)

- Opinion: The ongoing transportation wars raise questions as to whether new bike lanes and a potential new bike escalator reveal further economic and racial disparities in the District. (WaPo, 7/8)

- Opinion: In response to the Op-Ed above that raises questions about bicycling unveiling hidden biases in the District, another columnist calls for empathy in an ever-evolving city. (GGW, 7/9)

YOUTH │ Ward-by-ward, DC Action for Children offers ten facts derived from their snapshots of the well-being of children in the District. (DC Action, 7/9)

Do you think you could name all of the Metro Stations in the area?


July 8, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

One in four PG County students failing to graduate in four years

With one in four students failing to graduate high school within four years, Prince George’s County Schools scramble to find root causes and resolutions to a growing problem. (WaPo, 7/7)

The graduation rate in Prince George’s inched up slightly from 2012 to 2013. But the percentage of students who graduated on time in 2013 — 74.1 percent — was lower than the 76.2 percent rate [in] 2010, leaving the county 10 percentage points behind the Maryland statewide average. In 2012, average U.S. graduation rates rose to 80 percent, a high-water mark. Graduation rates for 2014 are not available.

- Comparing the annual mean wage and industry size of metropolitan areas, NerdWallet has deemed the Washington region to be the third-best place for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) graduates, placing the area ahead of tech-hub San Francisco. (NerdWallet, 7/7)

HEALTHCARE │ The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced $83.4 million in Affordable Care Act funding to support primary care residency programs in 60 Teaching Health Centers across the nation. The funding will help train more than 550 residents during the 2014-2015 academic year, increasing the number of residents trained in the previous academic year by more than 200 and helping to increase access to health care in communities across the country.

AGING/HOUSING │ A property tax exemption that would have helped many long-time senior residents of D.C. stay in their homes, will only be offered as a tax deferment next year due to budget restraints. (WAMU, 7/8)

PHILANTHROPY  Opinion: Obama’s Plan to Aid Black Men and Boys Will be a Boon to Other Groups, Too (Chronicle, 7/5)

Related: In May, WRAG, ABFED.C. Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation convened a listening session for the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative Task Force’s Report to the President concerning issues of boys and young men of color.

GENDER EQUALITY │ The Washington Area Women’s Foundation takes a look at Title IX over forty years since its passing, and how far we must still go to close gender and racial gaps. (WAWF Blog, 7/3)

DISTRICT │ Continued delays in the development of the Department of Homeland Security headquarters at St. Elizabeths have some wondering if the surrounding community could miss what they never had. (City Paper, 7/7)

That addiction to playing Candy Crush on your smartphone may actually be pretty good for you!


July 7, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

The Business of Philanthropy featured on Washington Business Report

In case you missed it, here is a link to the video from the Washington Business Report edition that featured WRAG president Tamara Lucas Copeland, Pat Mathews of the Northern Virginia Health Foundation, and David Bowers of Enterprise Community Partners as they discussed the business of philanthropy. (WJLA, 7/7)

- Enterprise Community Partners wasn’t only featured yesterday morning on the Washington Business Report. It was also honored as part of CASA de Maryland’s Justice Awards Night last week, along with Citi Community Development:

Citi Community Development was awarded for their ground-breaking work addressing the cost barriers to citizenship by establishing a first of its type citizenship small loan program:

Citi shares CASA’s commitment to financial inclusion and economic empowerment,” said Bob Annibale, Global Director of Citi Community Development and Microfinance. “Over the years, we have worked together to develop groundbreaking programs like Citizenship Maryland, which has helped hundreds of low-income legal permanent residents obtain U.S. citizenship and enjoy the full range of opportunities our country offers. The Citizenship Maryland initiative has become a national model, and it is being replicated in cities across the country, including in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Enterprise Community Partners was recognized for its commitment to preserving the Langley Park community as a diverse community where families can thrive:

Enterprise is honored to receive recognition from CASA de Maryland. We look forward to continuing to work together for the benefit of families living along the Purple Line corridor.” said David Bowers Enterprise Vice President and Market Leader.

- On Tuesday, August 12th, Nonprofit Roundtable Montgomery will host, Putting the Challenges of Working and Living in Montgomery County in a Regional Context, the first local conversation with the authors of the recent Bursting the Bubble study. Members of Nonprofit Roundtable Montgomery and stakeholders in Montgomery Moving Forward are invited to join the discussion and explore the data to consider what is being done or planned in the county related to jobs and workforce development in a more regional context. More information can be found here.

Related: The study, Bursting the Bubble: The Challenges of Working and Living in the National Capitol Region, was released in late June and is a joint project of The Commonwealth Institute, The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute and The Maryland Center on Economic Policy, with support from the Moriah Fund and the Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative, an initiative of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.

EDUCATION │ D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson is calling for greater coordination among charter and public schools amid news that a science-themed charter school has plans to open across the street from a similarly-themed public school in the fall. (WaPo, 7/5)

Henderson said that she envisions a process that would allow city and charter board officials to identify which neighborhoods most need new, good schools and which neighborhoods would benefit from specialty programs. The charter board would then use those priorities in determining which new schools should be approved, she said.

GENDER NORMS │ In this guest blog post exclusive for The Daily WRAG, Riki Wilchins, Executive Director of TrueChild, explores the topic of gender norms and young black girls. (Daily, 7/7)

ARTS │ A photography exhibit, shown at the Blind Whino Art House, focused on the families of those incarcerated in the prison system. The subjects of the photos are D.C. residents whose loved ones are serving lengthy sentences – many of which are life sentences. (WaPo, 7/6)

PHILANTHROPY Giving Circles Popular with Minorities and Younger Donors, Says Study (Chronicle, 7/2)

Perhaps you’ve noticed a few more animals around Capitol Hill lately?


July 7, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

On Gender Norms and Young Black Girls

By Riki Wilchins

Riki Wilchins is the Executive Director at TrueChild, an organization that aids donors, policy-makers and practitioners in reconnecting race, class and gender through “gender transformative” approaches challenging rigid gender norms and inequities. Wilchins has authored three books on gender theory and has appeared in a number of anthologies and publications on the subject. Her work has led her to be profiled by The New York Times, and she was once selected as one of Time Magazine’s “100 Civic Innovators for the 21st Century.” Here, Wilchins discusses what we can do to correct the effects of gender norms on young, black girls.

Decades of research has found that challenging harmful gender norms are a key to improving life outcomes for at-risk communities.

For instance, young women who internalize narrow feminine ideals that prioritize motherhood, dependence, vulnerability and appearance have lower life outcomes in reproductive health, education and economic empowerment.

Major international donor agencies like PEPFAR, USAID, UNAIDs, and WHO have all implemented “gender transformative” initiatives that challenge traditional gender norms, and found them effective (an introductory paper is here).

Gender impacts every issue funders address; yet donors and grantees are seldom challenged to do innovative work around gender.

As a senior program officer put it, “My staff and grantees get race and class, but where’s the gender analysis? What I want to know is—what happened to gender?”

Part of the answer to her question may lie in new report on young Black girls we conducted for the Heinz Endowments.

We found that Black adolescent girls and young women face special barriers related to both race and gender which have immense effects on their health, achievement and life outcomes. And this was especially true for low-income Black girls, who also have challenges associated with poverty.

First, Black girls’ unique race and gendered experiences of discrimination result in multiple stresses that – over time – impair their immune systems.

Also, they must navigate social hostilities based on race as well as pressures to conform to traditional feminine ideals and those specific to Black communities.

Moreover, feminine norms in the Black community often prioritize caretaking and self-sacrifice. Black girls may be silently encouraged to focus on others’ health while ignoring signals of pain and illness until their own bodies are in crisis.

The additive impact of these stresses can produce a “weathering effect,” in which Black women’s bodies become physically and biologically vulnerable, resulting in high rates of chronic disorders, reproductive health problems, infant mortality and obesity.

A new exhaustive study by the World Bank of thousands of women and girls of color in dozens of countries found that the main barrier to improving life and health outcomes wasn’t more money or expanded programs – it was challenging cultural gender norms.

As one Bank manager explained, “We’re not doing this because it’s politically correct – we’re data-driven economists – we’re doing it because the data shows it works better.”

That’s just what our study of young Black women and girls found. Isn’t it time US donors started reconnecting race, class and gender in our philanthropy as well?


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