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November 10, 2014 / Rebekah Seder

What Funders Need to Know: Veterans

An estimated 2.5 million people have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. The Greater Washington region alone is home to approximately 310,000 veterans of these wars. These numbers are driving a growing interest among philanthropy in supporting veterans and military families.

All veterans should be treated with respect and gratitude. But when it comes to the types of services they need, it’s not “one size fits all.” Post-9/11 veterans are in many ways different from veterans of prior wars. They are older and more likely to have families. Many have experienced multiple deployments.

The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, as well as national organizations serving veterans, have identified eight core challenges facing post-9/11 veterans, including employment, obtaining benefits, and reintegration into communities.

Between the complex array of government programs, the many nonprofits organizations that have been created to serve post-9/11 veterans, and a lack of understanding of the needs on the part of civilians, it is hard to know if veterans are getting what they need. This edition of What Funders Need to Know explores some of the unique characteristics and circumstances of post-9/11 veterans and why philanthropy should support the nonprofit organizations that are serving them well.

Check out the full publication here.

November 7, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Friday roundup – Nov. 3 through Nov. 7, 2014

The District has housed one-third of the homeless veterans in the city, putting D.C. closer to the goal of housing all homeless veterans by the end of 2015. Officials plan to break ground on more housing units next week. (DCist, 11/6)

The Veterans NOW initiative — a collaboration between service providers, community leaders, and government agencies, both local and federal — officially launched in February of this year, with approximately 531 veterans placed in permanent housing between August 2013 and August 2014. (More recent numbers were not immediately available.)

That is roughly one third of the estimated 1,625 homeless veterans (500 chronically, 1,125 non-chronically) that needed housing as of August 2013. That’s more than one placement per day. The 2014 point-in-time count put the number of homeless veterans in D.C. at 408.

In other news related to homelessness this week, as the colder months fall upon us, D.C. officials continue to look for temporary housing solutions for the estimated 840 families seeking shelter this winter. (DCist, 10/31) The Gray administration is also currently seeking out motels to be used as emergency shelters. (WaPo, 11/6)

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has awarded a total of $50,000 to five nonprofit organizations through its Loudoun Impact Fund, with grants from $4,000 to $25,000 each, to support programs serving children and youth through age 18 in Loudoun.  This is the second grant cycle of the Loudoun Impact Fund, dedicated to supporting organizations in Loudoun County, and brings the Fund’s total grants to date to $100,000.

Arlington joined jurisdictions in the region like Alexandria, D.C. and Montgomery County in banning questions about criminal convictions on county applications for jobs unrelated to public safety. (WaPo, 11/3)

Arlington County Schools and Falls Church City Schools made a list of the 100 Best School Districts in America. (WJLA, 11/6)

The inaugural class of the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility celebrated graduation by giving us a glimpse into their exciting year. (Daily, 11/3)

Healthy Communities Working Group: November Meeting (WRAG members)
Monday, November 10, 2014  12:00 PM to 2:00 PM

Children Fleeing Violence in Central America: How Will Our Region Respond (WRAG members and invited guests)
Thursday, November 13, 2014  9:00 AM to 11:00 AM

It may be okay to wait until the last minute to buy gifts online this holiday season. The U.S. Postal Service will ship on Sundays.

- Ciara

November 6, 2014 / Rebekah Seder

D.C. preparing for many more homeless families this winter

HOMELESSNESS | D.C. officials are preparing for another big spike in homeless families this winter by seeking out additional motel rooms to use as temporary housing (WaPo, 11/6):

Pressure has been mounting from advocates for the city to come up with an effective plan for the cold months, when city law requires officials to provide shelter for the homeless when temperatures dip below freezing. At least 840 families are expected to seek shelter this winter, 16 percent more than last year’s unprecedented number.
The biggest critics of the administration’s treatment of the homeless found its latest efforts encouraging.

“It’s a signal that the city is doing better planning about how to handle all these homeless families,” said Kate Coventry, a policy analyst for the Fiscal Policy Institute.

Even so, Coventry called the plan “a short-term solution.”

“I hope the new mayor makes the redevelopment of housing for homeless families a top priority,” she said.

- Prince George’s County’s new teacher evaluation system ranked 86.7 percent of teachers “effective,” while 6.4 percent were rated “ineffective,” and 6.8 percent were “highly effective.” Only one other county using the evaluation system had a higher number of ineffective teachers. (Gazette, 11/6)

- North Arlington School Boundaries Could Change Again (WTOP, 11/6)

Lots of follow-up coverage of Tuesday’s election results:

- What Does Larry Hogan’s Election Mean For The Purple Line? (WAMU, 11/6)

- On his way to a slim victory in a changing Va., Warner may have wooed wrong voters (WaPo, 11/6)

- What’s Next for Legal Pot?(CP, 11/5)

- Republican’s Senate Wins Boost Prospects of Tax Changes for Nonprofits (Chronicle, 11/5)

FOOD/WORKFORCE | A new report from Restaurant Opportunities Centers United finds that workers of color in the restaurant industry are twice as likely to live in poverty than white workers, and far less likely to attain work in higher paying jobs at fine-dining restaurants. (CityLab, 11/5) This is an especially troubling statistic in our region, where the restaurant scene is booming.

- In an op-ed, Americans for the Arts’ Robert Lynch gives the run down of the evidence that demonstrates why arts education is critical for long-term professional success. (HuffPo, 10/26)

- Arts organizations are hiring pros to tell their stories (WaPo, 10/31)

It’s been over a hundred years, and people still don’t know how to behave at the movies.


November 5, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Post-Election Day edition

DISTRICT | Election Day 2014 is behind us and the numbers are in. You can get detailed breakdowns of area election results here and here.

The D.C. Council saw some big changes, as three new members were elected with a fourth coming on through a special election next year, after the victory of mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser. The new members will replace 41 years of lawmaking experience combined. (WaPo, 11/5)

The new members could give a distinctly progressive tilt to a council that within months will be faced with hashing out a $300 million soccer stadium deal, tackling a housing affordability crunch and passing a $6 billion city budget. [Charles] Allen, [Brianne] Nadeau and [Elissa] Silverman campaigned on good-government platforms, positioning themselves as change agents in the John A. Wilson Building.

COMMUNITY/CSR | Congrats to WRAG members Wells Fargo, ExxonMobil, and Bank of America for being named in a list of the 10 Companies Donating the Most Through Corporate Giving. (Causecast, 10/6)

FOOD | Research from the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences found that there are extreme differences in the dietary habits of babies from varying socioeconomic classes. The study found that babies from poor and less-educated households tend to eat high fat, high sugar diets while babies from rich, well-educated households usually consume foods that closely followed infant feeding guidelines. (WaPo, 11/4)

- Setting up spend-down foundations, aka “giving while living,” is growing in popularity in the philanthropic community. The New York Times takes a look at how the Atlantic Philanthropies plans to spend down $1 billion, making their final grant in 2016. (NYT, 10/31)

- As a number of large and small victories have been won in the fight for LGBTQ equality, donors contemplate how the movement and its priorities will shift in the near future without losing momentum. (Chronicle, 11/3)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | The Next Housing Crisis May Be Sooner Than You Think (CityLab, 11/4)

REGION | Prince George’s County will soon roll out a new advertising campaign in an effort to increase investment and lift public opinion of the area. Prepare to “Experience. Expand. Explore.” (WaPo, 11/4)

What will Google think of next?

- Ciara

November 4, 2014 / Rebekah Seder

Election Day edition

PSA | In case you are returning from a very extended vacation, today is Election Day! Here are tools to find your polling place in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia. Polls close at 7pm in Virginia, and 8pm in D.C. and Maryland.

NONPROFITS | The Chronicle of Philanthropy highlights how many nonprofit organizations are using the art of storytelling to more effectively engage supporters, raise awareness for their causes, and make the case for support. The article highlights the Meyer Foundation‘s recent report with Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication, “Stories Worth Telling: a Guide to Strategic and Sustainable Nonprofit Storytelling.” (Chronicle, 11/3 – subscribers only)

Related: Earlier this year, Meyer’s Rick Moyers wrote for the Daily about why the foundation is focusing on improving their grantees’ storytelling skills. (Daily, 4/22)

WORKFORCE | Arlington has joined other jurisdictions around the region, including Alexandria, D.C., and Montgomery County, in banning questions about criminal convictions on applications for county jobs (WaPo, 11/3):

The decision, which does not require County Board approval, is intended to help ex-offenders seeking jobs, said Marcy Foster, the county’s human resources director. Finding employment after serving a sentence is considered a key to avoiding recidivism.

“We thought it was the right thing to do, the fair thing to do,” she said.

EDUCATION | D.C. schools chancellor Kaya Henderson has released the plan to implement revised school boundaries and other school policy changes – a plan that could end up being paused or modified by the next mayoral administration. (WaPo, 11/3)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | City Says Controversial Anacostia Development May Move Forward (CP, 11/3)

BUDGETS | Metro: Stagnant rail revenue next year means local governments will have to pay more (WaPo, 11/3)

ARTS | Silver Spring arts center-library deal remains on hold (Gazette, 11/3)

Here’s what to do if a bear wanders into your backyard. Hey, you never know when this could come in handy!

- Rebekah

November 3, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Congratulations to the inaugural class of the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility!

Congratulations to the inaugural class of the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility! Take a walk with us down memory lane as we highlight some of the best moments from the past year.

As hypothermia season begins tomorrow in the District amid an estimated 16 percent rise in homeless families in need of shelter, city officials try to decide on a plan to identify overflow beds. (DCist, 10/31)

In the plan, 213 overflow beds for men and 53 for women are listed as “to be determined,” while there are just 409 units at D.C. General (many already occupied) and no money in the budget for hotel rooms. There are fewer units at the family shelter this winter because of a ruling that states families must be placed in private rooms, while Mayor Gray’s administration insisted funding not be provided for hotel rooms.

A Council roundtable on the plan held Wednesday was recessed as city officials said they were not able to share details about procuring additional beds as the process was ongoing.

HEALTH/YOUTH | With as many as 5,000 D.C. children not receiving much needed mental health services, the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute offers recommendations for how schools can further address the mental health challenges of students, particularly those from low-income areas who often face a great deal of stress and trauma. (DCFPI, 11/3)

Related: On Thursday, December 11th at 12 PM, WRAG members interested in mental health or substance use disorders are invited to a special brown bag lunch discussion hosted by our Healthy Communities Working Group. The brown bag will be a great opportunity to network with colleagues interested in issues related to behavioral health and to share your own work in this area. You can register here. A location will be announced at a later date.

- As many as 400 students may be barred from attending school in Prince George’s County this week, after being out of compliance with school policies requiring vaccinations. (WaPo, 11/2)

EDUCATION | For D.C. Schools, Race and Class Still Define the System (WAMU, 10/31)

AGING | Though America’s population is living longer, many are living with debilitating conditions or injuries that increase the likelihood of  a fall that can prove to be fatal. Care facilities are challenged with providing safety for residents while helping them maintain a sense of independence. (NYT,11/2)

FOOD | App Helps Low Income Moms Stay Connected to Nutrition (NextCity, 10/30)

PHILANTHROPY | What are the issues that weigh most heavily on the minds of America’s wealthy individuals? PNC‘s Wealth and Values Survey found what at least two-thirds of the 476 millionaire survey-takers are concerned at least a little about income inequality. (WBJ, 10/31)

Nearly half (49 percent) said they favor raising the minimum wage, while just 44 percent support raising taxes on high-income earners such as themselves. Far more of the wealthy are interested in supporting charities that focus on poverty and hunger (69 percent), or providing educational opportunities to children of low-income families (64 percent).

You’re a nonprofit right on the verge of unveiling your latest and greatest viral marketing campaign when suddenly, everyone starts pouring ice buckets on their heads in the name of raising money for ALS research. What do you do? See how other social media campaigns have fared and the creative ways organizations are trying to raise awareness around issues

- Ciara 

October 31, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Friday roundup – Oct. 27 through Oct. 31, 2014

Healthcare Alliance programs designed to help low-income immigrants in D.C. gain access to services often have rigid eligibility procedures that can keep people from utilizing the program. The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute sheds light on some of the barriers to getting healthcare for immigrant residents, and offers suggestions for how to improve access to the program. (DCFPI, 10/30)

The District adopted a stringent requirement in 2011 that all Alliance participants recertify their eligibility every six months through an in-person interview at a service center. Since then, enrollment has dropped sharply, and new data from the Department of Health Care Finance suggest that the six-month interview requirement created a barrier to getting services.

This is not surprising. Workers with limited access to child care and full-time work find it difficult to complete the frequent interview requirement. Beyond that, many families are forced to make multiple trips because of a lack of language assistance, long lines, and delays in staff processing information.

The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region has announced $2.3 million in grants to 28 D.C.-based nonprofit organizations on behalf of the City Fund.  Awardee organizations will receive grants for up to $100,000 to strengthen their organizational capacity with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of District residents. Awards are one-time capacity building grants that can be implemented over a three-year period. Find out more here.

We are proud to administer the City Fund and help provide resources to these important organizations that are working to improve the lives of DC residents,” said Angela Jones Hackley, Interim President of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. “Helping these organizations build capacity and grow stronger allows them to more effectively serve the community. There is a great need in this city and the City Fund is helping to fill it.

Staff from WRAG member organizations were also in the spotlight this week! Silvana Staw, Senior Program Officer at the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region revealed a hidden passion of hers in The Washington Post - spoken word poetry! (WaPo, 10/29) Brian Castrucci, Chief Program and Strategy Officer at the de Beaumont Foundation provided insight into the often overburdened public health system that tends to be overshadowed by fears over epidemics. (HuffPo, 10/27)

The D.C. Council passed a bill this week that will require future development projects on city-owned land to make 30 percent of all units affordable housing if they are located close to transit systems, and 20 percent if they are not. Housing advocates wonder if the new measure will create additional affordable housing in the city, and where it will be. (WCP, 10/28) Outside of the District a community of mixed-income housing and market-rate townhomes is planned for the former site of the troubled low-income housing complex, Glenarden Apartments, in Landover, Maryland. (WaPo, 10/28)

Focus was placed on the “disconnected youth” of D.C., whose economic hardships can often go overlooked, despite the urgent need to keep them engaged in society. (WaPo, 10/27)

If you plan to give out candy this Halloween, don’t overlook the importance of giving out the right stuff. Here’s a guide to making sure your house doesn’t get egged this weekend!

- Ciara


October 30, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

District income inequality level higher than at least 66 countries

According to new data released by the District’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer, the city’s level of income inequality is higher than that of at least 66 countries. Although the measures used to calculate the data (the Gini coefficient, for the more math-literate among us) are somewhat controversial as they compare a large city with U.S. states and whole nations, there is still enough data to support D.C. as having inequality levels that are much too high. (WaPo, 10/29)

[...] there is evidence that the District’s performance is notable among global cities. A 2008 United Nations report concluded that major American cities “such as Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington D.C., Miami, and New York, have the highest levels of inequality in the country, similar to those of Abidjan, Nairobi, Buenos Aires, and Santiago.” A Gini of 60 or more puts D.C. above the average seen in selected cities of Latin America and the Caribbean (0.55), Africa (0.54) and Asia (0.4) in the past decade — though well below the 70-plus Gini figures seen in some South African cities.

World Bank research also found that D.C. income inequality levels were higher than 66 countries who reported data.

- With  Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits steadily shrinking, and currently set to end on September 30th, 2015 for more than 6,000 D.C. families, many are stuck waiting for officials to come up with a plan for real welfare reform that will meet a number of urgent needs. (WaPo, 10/29)

Unbanked households decline slightly in Greater Washington (WBJ, 10/29)

COMMUNITY | Congratulations to Kaiser Permanente for being recognized as a leader in LGBT health care equality. (Kaiser, 10/20)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | On Tuesday, the D.C. Council passed a bill requiring future development deals on city-owned land to include a minimum affordable housing requirement, in which 30 percent of all housing units in development projects will have to be affordable for the long-term if the site is near reliable transit, and 20 percent if the site is elsewhere in the city. The bill, considered an important step toward increased affordable housing in the city, closely matches 2012 policy recommendations by the Coalition for Smarter Growth. (WCP, 10/28)

- According to a report from insurance company USAA, Bethesda is among the top ten best places for mid-career veterans to find employment. The report also found that 53 percent of veterans entering the civilian workforce described the transition as “difficult.” (WBJ, 10/29)

- The Washington, D.C. Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has produced a series of seven oral stories highlighting the rich history of District neighborhoods and the residents who inhabit them. (LISC, 10/2)

Welcome to basketball season. I’m almost positive I won’t see you at a game!

- Ciara

October 29, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Reshaping greater Landover

The former site of the low-income housing complex, Glenarden Apartments, will soon become a community for mixed-income housing and market-value townhomes. Officials hope the new project will usher in additional development and retail in the greater Landover area that has been plagued by drugs and violence over the years. (WaPo, 10/28)

In spring 2011, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ended its Section 8 contract with the property’s owner.


Two developers are bidding for the project and are expected to file their proposals in December, officials said. The county is slated to select a developer in February. Construction could begin in early 2016.

Federal and county rules require the new development to have at least 100 units for low-and moderate-income seniors; 140 apartments for other low- to moderate-income residents; and 65 townhouses that will be sold to low- and moderate-income residents.

- Opinion: Is “urban renewal” just a nice way of saying “urban removal?” In the Barry Farm neighborhood of ward 8, many residents think so. (WaPo, 10/28)

- D.C. Council passes weakened affordable housing law; tempers flare before election (WaPo, 10/28)

A recent national survey has ranked D.C. second in the country (and first in the Northeast) in providing quality afterschool programs. Congratulations to the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (the Trust), the largest funder for afterschool programs in the District, who will be celebrating their 15th anniversary this week! You can find the full rankings here.

I was delighted to learn of this national recognition, confirming that the District of Columbia is providing a valuable service to many families,” said Mayor [Vincent C.] Gray. “I want to thank the Trust and its Executive Director Ed Davies for being a good partner in our efforts to help children to continue learning after the school bells ring for the day.

- Four Ways to Help Kids Live in Better Neighborhoods – Without Congressional Action (Talk Poverty, 10/28)

- Check out how IBM has found a unique way to join in the fight against Ebola. (Yahoo, 10/27)

- The Environmental Grantmakers Association will hold an agency meeting on Friday, October 31st  at 8:30 AM in D.C., as part of Exponent Philanthropy’s 2014 National Conference. The meeting seeks to engage funders in an exchange of ideas about pressing environmental issues with key policy makers, and strategize on ways to better connect on shared missions. Find out more here.

SOCIAL IMPACT BONDS | ‘Social Impact Bonds’ Tap Private Money for Public Health (Pew Charitable Trust, 10/29)

There’s still time to hold a kitten today.

- Ciara

October 28, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Disconnected youth in the U.S.

Despite a slow, but persistent economic recovery in America, one demographic does not seem to be seeing an increase in opportunities – young people between the ages of 16-24 who are neither enrolled in school nor presently employed, often referred to as “disconnected youth.” (WaPo, 10/27)

Some economists have suggested young Americans have been victims of larger labor trends. As employment in middle-skill jobs has declined, young Americans are facing greater competition for jobs from less-skilled adults who were laid off from their previous jobs.

Research has also linked disconnected youth to poverty and crime. A 2012 analysis of the group for the White House Council for Community Solutions attributes 63 [percent] of youth crime to disconnected youth and cost taxpayers -in the most conservative estimates – nearly $14,000 a month, per young person.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | Records show, the D.C. government has not collected on a number of delinquent loans once intended to bolster the affordable housing in the city. The delinquent loans, for millions of dollars, have been on city books throughout multiple mayoral administrations and have continued to accumulate. (WaPo, 10/25)

- Brian Castrucci, Chief Program and Strategy Officer at the de Beaumont Foundation, looks beyond recent Ebola outbreak scares to share what he is really afraid of – the lack of minimum national standards for state and local health departments, which often results in a strained public healthcare workforce. (HuffPo, 10/27)

- With Obamacare, More Millenials Are Going to the Doctor, Sort of (NPR, 10/28)

PHILANTHROPY | Donors Care More About How Money Is Spent Than Results, Study Says (Chronicle, 10/28)

You’re not dressing up as a witch again this year, are you? Here are some more of America’s most popular Halloween costumes from the last five years.

- Ciara


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