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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?

July 3, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Six potential solutions for affordable housing

A study released by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, along with the Hogan Lovells law firm, combines research from current initiatives, interviews with housing experts and information from legal cases to offer six potential solutions to the affordable housing crisis facing our region. The research team seeks to tackle an important civil rights priority. (WaPo, 7/2)

[...] half of renters in the District face “severe housing burdens,” defined by the federal government as spending more than a third of income on housing. In Alexandria, the number of affordable units diminished to 6,416 in 2011, compared with 18,128 in 2000. Arlington has seen a 47 percent jump in rent prices. Prince George’s has opted not to pursue much more affordable housing in a county in which poverty rates are rising. And planning estimates suggest Montgomery will need more at least 33,000 units by 2022 for families making less than six figures.

- With so much discussion lately over “pop-ups” many are beginning to question if the debate is really about creating more housing, or maintaining aesthetically pleasing neighborhoods. (City Lab, 7/2)

HEALTHCARE │ This map provides a glimpse at how health insurance sign-up rates varied from county to county in the region. (WaPo, 7/3)

WORKFORCE │ The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region offers a look at some of the major gains their Workforce Development Collaborative has recently made on workforce policy in the area. (CFNCR, 7/2)

HOMELESSNESS │ The D.C. General homeless shelter will get a playground after being met with several delays and roadblocks. (DCist, 7/2)

COMMUNITY │ Don’t forget to set your DVR on Sunday to catch WRAG’s Tamara Copeland, Pat Mathews of the Northern Virginia Health Foundation, and David Bowers of Enterprise Community Partners as they sit down with Washington Business Report, a weekly show on ABC 7/WJLA to discuss the business of philanthropy. The show airs Sunday, July 6th at 9:00 AM!

Love fireworks, but hate crowds? Hate fireworks, but love crowds? Take this quiz to find out which local Fourth of July event is right for you. Enjoy your holiday!


July 2, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

D.C. sees decline in new HIV cases, though epidemic continues

According to data released  in the “Annual Epidemiology & Surveillance Report” compiled by the D.C. Department of Health, there were fewer new HIV cases in 2012. With signs of progress, the data still point to levels at epidemic rates. (WaPo, 7/2)

[...] 680 new HIV cases were reported [in 2012] , down from 722 new cases in 2011 and 1,180 in 2008. And 221 HIV-positive city residents died in 2012, down from 345 in 2008 and 229 in 2011.

More than 16,000 city residents lived with HIV in 2012, a steady rise that city officials attribute to better treatment and survival rates.

- In an effort to ramp up support and increase enrollment, D.C. Public School principals have taken to the streets going door-to-door in the community.  They are doing so with the help of political campaign experts who worked with Barack Obama during his campaign. (WaPo, 7/1)

- In light of the recent news that D.C. schools are still out of compliance for special education criteria, the city looks for ways to remedy the problem. (WaPo, 7/1)

- Opinion: Prince George’s schools, UMBC are helping black students succeed (WaPo, 7/1)

- More evidence that the D.C. area job market is looking stagnant (WaPo, 7/1)

- Youth unemployment is a lingering problem in the Washington region. In this articleNPR offers a glimpse at what is also happening across the country. (NPR, 7/2)

COMMUNITY │ On Monday, WRAG president Tamara Copeland, Pat Mathews of the Northern Virginia Health Foundation, and David Bowers of Enterprise Community Partners sat down with Washington Business Report, a weekly show on ABC 7/WJLA to discuss the business of philanthropy.  The show will air Sunday, July 6th at 9:00 AM. Be sure to tune in!

HOUSING │ With fewer people embarking on first-time home ownership, Virginia has established a new program to help make the dream a reality. (WaPo, 7/1)

Take a look at this Ted Talk that explores where good ideas come from.


July 1, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Putting an end to veteran homelessness in D.C.

With the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimating that around 58,849 U.S. veterans are homeless on any given night, with 589 of them in D.C., a number of community organizations are pondering how to stop the cycle with a long-term solution once and for all. (WTOP, 7/1)

In August, 2013, Veterans NOW, a group of nine community organizations and local and federal partners, launched incremental campaigns to get veterans off the streets and into supportive housing. The group estimates that 1,625 veterans need housing assistance to end veteran homelessness in D.C. by 2015.


Fixing chronic veteran homelessness is not as simple as removing veterans from the streets and placing them in homes. Veterans NOW assesses each person’s needs and decides whether rapid, short-term housing is best, or permanent housing with support from a case manager is needed.

FOOD │ Last week, Kaiser Permanente and Elevation DC hosted a panel discussion about the impact of food on communities – particularly D.C.’s food system.  You can read a write up on the discussion here. (Elevation DC, 7/1)

Related: Prior to the panel discussion, Washington Regional Food Funders (WRFF) hosted a networking reception for public and private funders. WRFF briefly shared their strategic plan and activities for 2014. They also took a tour last week of two urban agriculture projects: City Blossoms’ Marion Street Intergenerational Garden and Bread for the City’s rooftop garden.

HEALTHCARE │ Despite hiccups with the online health insurance marketplace, 72,207 people were able to buy insurance through the Maryland health exchange(WBJ, 7/1)

WORKFORCE │ Today, the minimum wage jumps from $8.25 to $9.50 in D.C.’s first phase of wage increases. (WAMU, 7/1)

DISTRICT │ The much-buzzed-about construction at St. Elizabeths campus may not begin for another year, though the city is still optimistic redevelopment will boost the surrounding economy. (WBJ, 6/30)

Here are 18 of the best places in the area to watch fireworks this weekend.


June 30, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Possible school day extension in D.C. met with resistance

Despite signs of success in an experiment with eight schools, the D.C. Teacher’s Union is resistant to adjust to longer school days for the 2014-15 academic year. D.C. Chancellor, Kaya Henderson, has argued that adding just one extra hour of instruction could significantly impact student success. (WaPo, 6/29)

Eight D.C. traditional schools have experimented with longer days, and most have seen gains on standardized math and reading tests. Henderson set aside $5.1 million to add an hour of instruction at 42 more schools for the 2014-15 school year, but at almost all of those schools, teachers either voted against adopting the longer day or union members prevented the issue from coming up for a vote.

Only two schools — Amidon-Bowen Elementary in Southwest and Whittier Education Campus in Brightwood — voted to implement the longer day schoolwide in the fall.

- OpinionD.C.’s special education students deserve quality instruction (WaPo, 6/27)

- Longtime Loudon superintendent reflects on public education as he retires (WaPo, 6/29)

- Under a new proposal from the D.C. Office of Planning, the popular practice of converting row houses into 3- and 4- unit condos in neighborhoods like Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights would no longer be permitted. (GGW, 6/30)

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 on Tuesday, July 15th – a public briefing on the study, followed by a private briefing for funders co-sponsored by WRAG. Find out more here.

HEALTHCARE │ An informal group of foundations that fund in Montgomery County have come together to support the transformation of the health care safety-net in the county. This collaborative funding approach is expected to amplify the impact of foundation resources. Funders include the Healthcare Initiative Foundation, The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, CareFirst BlueCross Blueshield, the Consumer Health Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, the Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation Montgomery County Department of Health & Human Services and The Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County.

YOUTH │ One D.C. parent has created a program to teach youth practical life skills while honoring the idea of cultural rituals with a program called “Project I Am Thirteen.” (WaPo, 6/29)

PHILANTHROPY │ In case you missed The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s live stream of a panel discussing The Outlook for American Giving in 2014, here is the video. (Chronicle, 6/24)

TRANSITRiders Balk as Metro Fares Increase 3 Percent on Average (WAMU, 6/29)

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