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August 6, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Immigrant youth in Langley Park juggle education with employment

On the heels of the recent report out of the Urban Institute, “From Cradle to Career: The Multiple Challenges Facing Immigrant Families in Langley Park Promise Neighborhood,” the lead author, Molly Scott is interviewed on some of the key findings and possible solutions to tackle the issue of youth trading in education for work. (NPR, 8/4)

On how to prevent youths in immigrant families from falling behind:

In the policy world we’re talking a lot about whole family approaches. You know, in this case, that’s a very appropriate way to think about this problem — that it’s not just the kid in isolation but, [...] the family, and having sort of resource-sufficiency. Interventions with the parents themselves for education and training as well as figuring out how you help families meet some of those basic needs could be really helpful.

- A program in the District offers homeless children an opportunity to learn photography skills with a celebrity photojournalist. Their pictures will then be used on holiday cards that will be sold to raise funds for a worthy cause (WaPo, 8/5):

VETERANS │The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia awarded a grant of $33,000 to Mental Health Association of Montgomery County’s (MHA) “Serving Together” Program through its Military Families and their Personnel Fund. The grant will support MHA in its initial stage to bring its successful program to the Northern Virginia region, and directly addresses the Community Foundation’s findings in its recent study, Supporting Our Region’s Veterans,” published in June, which identified a need for greater coordination between government and nonprofit providers to better serve military families in the Northern Virginia region. (CFNOVA, 8/5)

HEALTHCARE │ Today, home care workers in D.C. plan to rally in front of city hall to speak out against withheld wages that were cut off after their employers were terminated from the District’s Medicaid program. They will also be protesting against a proposal that would exclude them from the D.C. living wage law. (WBJ, 8/5)

Related: Last year, we published What Funders Need to Know: Quality Care = Quality Jobs, which takes a look at how direct care jobs can be improved in order to better support workers, as well as ensure better care for our rapidly aging population. (Daily, 6/25)

ARTS │ Lumen8Anacostia, the east-of-the-river neighborhood’s three-month arts festival that began in 2012 and sought to position the area as an arts destination, has been put on hiatus due to a lack of resources. (WCP, 8/5)

- A free summer program, developed by Georgetown University students, is geared toward children of a subsidized housing development in the Parkside-Kenilworth neighborhood, and is teaching them how to garden while integrating science and writing lessons in between. (WaPo, 8/5)

- Opinion: In honor of National Farmers Market Week, The New York Times has an op-ed on why they are so essential, and even highlights the D.C. area’s FRESHFARM Markets. (NYT, 8/5)

- These days there’s a mobile app for every little thing, but some developers are focusing their efforts on improving the world on a broader scale. A new app seeks to do something about the billions of dollars in food that is wasted in the U.S. by offering people a chance to purchase excess products from grocers and restaurants at a heavily discounted price before it is tossed out. Currently the app operates in New York City, but may expand to D.C. and other cities very soon. (NPR, 8/6)

CSR Dollars for Doers: Still the Incentive “Nobody Wants?” (RealizedWorth, 8/5)

The process of unlocking one’s phone can be long and tedious. Finally, someone has come up with a solution to save our thumbs.


August 5, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Black workers face significant disparities in the region’s job market

In the region, black residents face significant disparities in the ability to find a job, regardless of education level. Additionally, the wage gap continues to widen (DCFPI, 8/5):

No matter the education level, black residents in the region face far higher unemployment levels than other residents. This is particularly true for black workers without a high school diploma, where one in four black residents are unemployed, compared with fewer than 10 percent of white, non-Hispanic residents. Even black residents with an advanced education face job challenges. The unemployment rate for black residents with a college degree or more is 6 percent, compared with 2 percent for white residents with the same educational attainment.

- Pedestrians Dying at Disproportionate Rates in America’s Poorer Neighborhoods (Governing, 8/2014)

Opinion: In Montgomery County, Council members and school officials recently discussed plans to promote more student diversity in the school district by potentially redrawing school boundaries, citing research that low-income students attending low-poverty schools tend to fare better than low-income students attending high-poverty schools. Another issue, however, has risen out of the discussion as some wonder if it is being implied that students of color can only succeed when placed with more affluent, white students. (MoCo Ed Blog, 8/1)

- Opinion: D.C. charters deserve the same funding as traditional public schools (WaPo, 8/4)

YOUTH │ According to research from Child Trends, economic hardship, followed by having been a witness to or victim of violence, account for the most occurrences of adverse childhood experiences in the District. (Child Trends, 7/2014)

- Andy Carroll of Exponent Philanthropy offers funders five ways to effectively lead in an ever-evolving society. (Exponent Philanthropy, 8/4)

- Foundation-Owned Social Enterprises: A New Way Forward? (SSI Review, 8/4)

HOUSING │ Here’s Where D.C.’s Most and Least Expensive Rents are Found (Curbed, 8/4)

3-D printing is really taking off! Check out these area volunteers who are putting their skills to use for a great cause.


August 4, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Parents and children learn together at D.C. charter school

As research indicates that children in poverty experience lasting negative effects from stress that can hinder their learning, Briya Public Charter School in D.C. enrolls parents in classes along with their children to learn English and parenting skills. (WaPo, 8/3)

Such programs provide support and training for parents to learn English, earn a degree or train for a better-paying job at the same time their children are taking their first steps or learning to read. Advocates hope they can give adults the ability to learn skills that will allow them to seek better jobs, earn more money and be more effective teachers for their children.

- Six reasons not to put too much weight on D.C.’s standardized test results (GGE, 8/4)

PHILANTHROPY Opinion: Although most can agree that investing in nonprofit human capital is essential to the success of the programs organizations offer, it’s surprising how few foundations focus their efforts in this area. According to research from the Talent Philanthropy Project and the Foundation Center, from 1992-2011 the annual average of investments in nonprofit talent by the thousand largest foundations in the U.S. was only 1.24 percent of total grant dollars. So who is investing in nonprofit talent? The Meyer Foundation made the list. (Talent Philanthropy, 7/28)

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
 recently announced $3.3 million dollars in investments over the next three years to organizations committed to addressing factors that contribute to improved birth outcomes and infant mortality rates. Proposals from such organizations are being accepted until September 15th. (CareFirst, 7/31)

- Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (PRS) and CrisisLink in Northern Virginia have joined forces to deliver mental health services on a broader scale, as the number of those suffering from mental illness has risen over the years in the community. The merger comes about after both organizations launched a successful 60-day pilot program to test the collaboration. (WaPo, 8/1)

Related: WRAG members are invited to an upcoming brown bag discussion for funders interested in mental health or substance use disorders hosted by our Health Working Group on Tuesday, August 26th.  The brown bag will be a great opportunity to meet and network with colleagues interested in issues related to behavioral health and to share your own work in this area. We will also ascertain whether there is an interest in developing learning opportunities around specific behavioral health issues or programs at WRAG.

CSR The Coming End of Corporate Charity, and How Companies Should Prepare (Forbes, 7/9) Pretty scary title, right? But some great food for thought. (A big thanks to Abby Goward from Bank of America’s Global Corporate Philanthropy team, and 2014 Institute for CSR participant, for sharing this recent article.)

YOUTH │ Like D.C., Chicago has experienced high and low periods of crime and violence over the last several decades. As the media reports on the issues facing major cities, the message is usually one of despair and pessimism. A fifth grade class from Chicago’s south side came together to write an op-ed about the parts of the city the media typically doesn’t report on. (NPR, 8/2)

And now, 12 secrets for your next visit to Chipotle. You can thank me later!


August 1, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Housing the nation’s homeless begins with veterans

At the National Conference on Ending Homelessness, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke on the critical steps that need to be taken to house the nation’s growing number of displaced families. One initial step, she remarked, is to start with housing the 58,000 homeless veterans in the U.S. (WaPo, 7/31)

The remarks come as many cities across the country, including the District, have struggled with stemming an increase in homelessness  – particularly amongst families. The first lady joined a chorus of advocates and experts who have supported  a model known as “housing first,” which subsidizes apartments for the homeless while providing support services until they can get back on their feet.

- Strengthening Rapid Re-Housing Will Help Homeless Families Succeed (DCFPI, 7/31)

- What does a successful partnership between charter and D.C. Public Schools look like? Look no further than Stanton Elementary in ward 8. (WAMU, 8/1)

- Though racial disparities linger, suspensions at Montgomery County high schools have dropped around 37 percent over the past year. This comes after the schools announced an effort to utilize alternatives to out-of-school suspensions in order to keep youth from falling behind. (WaPo, 7/31)

- For high school graduates from low-income families the excitement of being accepted and going off to college can often turn into distress when overwhelming paperwork and new financial obligations loom ahead. Programs that assist high schoolers with getting into college have found that many students report being enrolled in their first semester, despite never having registered due to challenges they face in the summer. (WaPo, 7/30)

ARTS │ At D.C. Beat Club, jamming out is the name of the game (WaPo, 8/1)

DISTRICT │ A resident of the Carver Langston community writes about the neighborhood she has grown to love, in spite of its history of poverty and violence. She also shares photos of the residents that have helped make it her home. (WaPo, 8/1)

This is how you get Kenny Loggins to perform in your living room.


July 31, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

D.C.’s standardized test rates creep upward after last year’s big gains

Student proficiency rates on D.C.’s annual standardized tests saw small gains in improvement. One year after substantial four-point gains in math and reading, District schools improved by 1.4 percent and less than one percent, respectively. Though improvement is always welcome, the numbers reveal other areas for concern. (WaPo, 7/31)

Citywide, 54 percent of students scored high enough to be considered proficient in math, and just shy of half — 49.9 percent — were considered proficient in reading. The city’s wide achievement gaps did not narrow and in some cases grew: 44 percent of African American students were proficient in reading, for example, compared to 92 percent of white students.

- Opinion: When it comes to low-achieving students, a search for the root causes can often be a never ending blame game. One writer wants the conversation surrounding low-income black parents and student achievement to change in order to honestly address problems. (WaPo, 7/30)

- The D.C. Association of Public Charter Schools is suing the city alleging that the District has not met its obligation to fund charter and traditional schools at equal and uniform levels. Advocates for traditional schools ponder whether charter schools and D.C. Public Schools should have comparable funding to begin with due to their differences. (WaPo, 7/30)

YOUTH │The unaccompanied minor crisis has been at the center of news lately, particularly in the Greater Washington region, where one of the largest concentrations of Central American immigrants in the U.S. resides. Here is a great breakdown of the key issues surrounding the crisis. (WAMU, 7/31)

ARTS │ Circling Back: What became of the plans for Southwest D.C.’s Randall School? (WBJ, 7/31)

PHILANTHROPY │ Grants management software platforms, such as Fluxx, MicroEdge, roundCorner and SmartSimple, have announced that their software will integrate a new data-sharing approach called Simplify, that aims to help funders access information more easily from grantees and streamline the overall grant application process. (PRWeb, 7/30)

REGION │ Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Metro Challenging Background Check Policy (WAMU, 7/30)

Ice cream that absolutely refuses to melt sounds like a warm weather dream, but in reality, it’s not so amusing!


July 30, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

A quick look at D.C.’s economy

The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute has “Four Quick Facts on D.C.’s Economy and Its Impact on Residents,” a brief glimpse at how people are getting by in the city. The key findings showed a number of areas for improvement, particularly with regard to the high cost of living. (DCFPI, 7/29)

Poverty affects one in five DC residents. For a family of three, that means living on less than $19,090 a year. Children under the age of 18 are much more likely to live below the poverty level than adults. And one in four black DC residents and one in five Hispanic DC residents live in poverty compared with under one in 10 white non-Hispanic residents.

– The Hattie M. Strong Foundation has an 86-year history rooted in building close relationships with those they serve. Such a long and successful history doesn’t come without a little revamping along the way, however.  Here, you can read about how they embraced change and learned some key lessons along the way. (NCFP, 7/29)

- A recently retired leader in philanthropy makes some thoughtful reflections about the future of the sector and what needs to happen in order to continue to press forward. (HuffPo, 7/28)

- From foundation president to zen practitioner, Brian Byrnes shares his perspective on philanthropic practices and the flaws that threaten success in this podcast as he makes his transition out of a leadership role in the sector. (Chronicle, 7/30)

- As Montgomery County sees a surge in immigrants from Central America, the school system focuses on how to accommodate the more than 100 unaccompanied minors who have recently been enrolled. (WTOP, 7/30)

DCPS and charters are sparring over joint planning, but the real question is how to preserve neighborhood schools (GGE, 7/ 29)

YOUTH/FOOD │ In places like New York City, Baltimore and Waco, TX, where many children qualify for free or reduced meals during the school year, mobile delivery systems – or food trucks – are being used as part of the summer meals program for a fun and convenient way to bring healthy foods to children. Maybe we’ll see a few in D.C. soon. (WTOP, 7/29)

REGION │ Prince George’s And Fairfax Counties on Shortlist for FBI Headquarters (WAMU, 7/29)

This year, a Georgetown grad may just be the youngest congressional candidate.


July 29, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

New map shows how average weekly wages in the region compare

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently put together an interactive map that shows how average weekly wages in U.S. counties compare to one another. In the region, D.C. came out slightly higher than its neighboring counties, according to the data. Of course, the higher wages also come with a high cost of living. (In The Capital, 7/29)

At $1,598 per week, D.C. appeared on the high end of the national spectrum represented on the map, which is to be expected, considering other areas with high costs of living, such as California’s San Mateo County ($1,983) and Manhattan ($1,956), also show up in deep, dark orange.

D.C. stayed ahead of its neighboring counties, though. Fairfax County ($1,504) and Montgomery County ($1,273), trailed just behind the District, keeping weekly wages up in the four-digit zone before they drop below $1,000 and keep falling to the west.

- Following up on the recent report that examines how the region’s low-income workers are faring titled, Bursting the Bubble: The Challenges of Living and Working in the National Capital Region, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region is holding a briefing for funders. The event will take place on Wednesday, August, 20th at 12 PM and includes a panel of experts. Funders can register for the event and find out more here.

YOUTH │ Maryland continues efforts to recruit foster parents for the influx of unaccompanied minors who have come to the U.S. from Central America. The state website has also posted an appeal to the public asking for other forms of assistance for migrant youth. (WaPo, 7/28)

EQUALITY │ Maryland Senator Ben Cardin speaks out against voting laws in the region that may restrict a number of Americans – particularly African Americans – from being able to vote. (WAMU, 7/ 28)

EDUCATION │ The Montgomery County Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a plan to bring 100,000 devices to students by the 2017-2018 school year. The major technology initiative will include laptops and tablets in an effort to further engage students in an evolving learning environment. (WaPo, 7/25)

TRANSIT │ Reminder: There’s Still Time to Comment on D.C.’s Longterm Transportation Plan (DCist, 7/29)

ART/HOMELESSNESS │ An artist is traveling the country to buy handmade signs from the homeless and turning them into art as part of his “We Are All Homeless” project to bring greater awareness to those who are often overlooked.  You can view some of his art and read more about his travels here. (NPR, 7/27)

POVERTY The middle class is 20 percent poorer than it was in 1984 (WaPo, 7/29)

Who knew?! Not only is today National Chicken Wing Day, but it’s also National Lasagna Day. I hope to celebrate both.



July 28, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Overcrowding in Fairfax County a response to affordable housing shortage

In Fairfax County, many families are staying in overcrowded living situations in order to be able to afford to remain in the area. While county officials search for consensus on an affordable solution, one woman tells her story as her family of three shares a two-bedroom apartment with an unrelated couple. (WaPo, 7/27)

“This is what one must do in order to provide a home for your children,” said [Dionicia] Gomez, whose apartment is part of a bustling complex that overlooks a golf course outside Falls Church. “There are a lot of people in this area living the same way.”


So far this year, county inspectors have investigated 497 complaints of overcrowded housing, with about two-thirds of that number leading to citations, officials said. Last year, 814 homes were cited for overcrowding in places including Falls Church and Annandale. Homeowners complain that the problem is far more widespread than the number of citations would suggest, while housing advocates argue that the citations illustrate an increasing need for more affordable options.

EDUCATION │ When high performing high school students from lower-income areas go off to prestigious colleges in higher-income areas, the experience can prove to be a bit of a culture shock. A valedictorian from D.C.’s Dunbar High School shares his challenges getting through his first year at Georgetown University. (WaPo, 7/27)

- The efforts of smaller foundations and individuals can often fly under the radar when it comes to their impact on causes. In this video, panelists discuss the issue and the growing influence small grantmakers have. (Chronicle, 7/28)

- OpinionSocial Change Requires Foundations to Help Nonprofits Extend Their Digital Reach (Chronicle, 7/25)

HEALTH │ The Red Cross says that D.C. is facing a big drop in numbers of those donating blood, resulting in a heavy shortage in the area. (WTOP, 7/28)

SIBs Social Impact Bonds: Phantom of the Nonprofit Sector (NPQ, 7/25)

Though a firm handshake is considered the professional norm, should we actually be fist bumping instead?


July 25, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Terri Lee Freeman stepping down from the Community Foundation to head National Civil Rights Museum

After 18 years of service, president of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Terri Lee Freeman, is stepping down from her post to head the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. Terri’s tenure lead to immense growth for the foundation. She has a long history of being deeply involved with WRAG, including serving multiple terms on our board of directors. She is the immediate past chair of the board.

Upon hearing of her resignation, WRAG president, Tamara Copeland commented,

While I am saddened by Terri’s decision to leave the Community Foundation, I am grateful for her impact on the Greater Washington region. Through her years at the Community Foundation, and as a member of WRAG’s board, she has exemplified the ideal of philanthropy going “beyond dollars” by using the foundation’s resources, time, and voice to improve the lives of all who live in the region. It has been an honor to work with Terri, a true champion for change, over these years.

– A proposal to bring more affordable housing for low-income and young professional residents of Fairfax County is unlikely to proceed. Though the Planning Commission plans to vote on the proposal next week, it is expected to be tossed out due to a lack of community consensus and opposition from neighborhood groups. (WaPo, 7/24)

The measure was conceived as a way to address homelessness and overcrowded housing in a county where poverty is taking hold even though it is among the wealthiest in the country.

It was eventually expanded as a way for developers to build new studios for young professionals whom the county is eager to attract to its revitalizing neighborhoods, notably Tysons Corner.

- Talk Poverty kicks off its “In Our Backyard” series addressing inequality and poverty with this blog post on the affordable housing crisis in the District. (Talk Poverty, 7/21)

- A new study out of Rice University and Cornell University finds that African Americans are much more likely to go from owning their homes to renting them. The study also suggests that black homeowners are no better off today than they were forty years ago. (City Lab, 7/24)

- Manhattan’s West Side will soon be home to the first “quantified community” – a mixed-use and “fully-instrumented urban neighborhood that will measure and analyze key physical and environmental attributes.” The community is an experiment in urban studies and social sciences that, if successful, could be a template for other urban areas….like D.C. perhaps? (CUSP, 4/14)

Opinion: In light of recent reports on racial disparities in the disciplinary actions against students, one parent writes about her personal struggles to combat hidden prejudice against her sons. (WaPo, 7/24)

- In response to the post above, The Kojo Nnamdi Show recently discussed “Discipline in Preschool,” with an expert panel. You can access the audio or read the transcript here. (WAMU, 7/24)

ARTS │ Last weekend, at the international 2014 Brave New Voices Festival, a D.C. youth slam team came in first place, taking home the world championship. You can hear the poem that won the team a spot in the semi-finals, written by a 2014 Cesar Chavez graduate who is headed to Princeton University in the fall. (WaPo, 7/23)


In light of the Silver Line’s inaugural weekend, take a look at how far the Metro system has come over the past few decades.


July 24, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

Higher rate of Virginia children living in poverty, study shows

Although children in Virginia are faring better in terms of education and health, 15 percent are living in poverty – up from 13 percent in 2005. This comes out of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count report highlighting four areas of life for children. It is believed that the increase in poverty could be a result of the increase in single-parent households in the state. (WAMU, 7/24)

Ted Groves is the Kids Count Director at Voices for Virginia’s Children. He says much of that relates to the increased number of single-parent homes. He says raising a child on one income is difficult.

[...] it’s unlikely that trend will revert back to the two-parent norm soon. So a solution is to find ways to support single parents.


Another contributing factor is the number of people living near poverty. Groves says more Virginians now spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing, which makes it challenging to meet other family needs.

HOUSING │ In light of the recent report from The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the lack of low-income housing, due in part to the needs of the middle-class, is broken down here. (WaPo, 7/24)

- A pilot summer program for D.C. Public School students, “D.C. Meets Washington,” is teaching youth about careers in the city. Students are learning about the possibilities in the fast growing fields of information technology, hospitality and engineering, while meeting with professionals and taking field trips in an effort to get them thinking about career choices before high school. (WaPo, 7/23)

- Also out of the new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, are state-by-state rankings on how students are doing academically. (WaPo, 7/22)

- Fairfax schools to vote on spending millions to turn half-day Mondays into full class days (WaPo, 7/23)

- Opinon: In this blog post featured in The Washington Post, Hollywood writer/producer-turned-English teacher Ellie Herman writes about the strong links between generational poverty and struggling schools, and how the conversation surrounding them must change. (WaPo, 7/24)

– Urban farmers in the Petworth neighborhood’s Twin Oaks Community Garden are opposing plans by the D.C. Department of General Services to pave over a portion of the garden in order to provide parking space for Powell Elementary School. (WAMU, 7/23)

- Opinion: Why is D.C. a Food Co-op Desert? (OPinions, 7/23)

HIV/AIDS Opinion: Recently, officials at the International AIDS Conference reported that ending the epidemic by 2030 is possible. Ralf Jürgens writes on the Open Society Foundations blog about the need for further funding of human rights programs to realistically approach that goal. (Open Society, 7/23)

ARTS │ A Prince George’s County teen was recently awarded a gold medal in a competition for his inspirational artwork depicting his heroes. (WaPo, 7/22)

A photographer is taking “family portraits” to a whole new level by photographing complete strangers in a familiar way. Take a look!



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