Montgomery County schools working to reduce racial disparities in suspensions

- While the rate of suspensions in Montgomery County schools is declining, African American and Hispanic students are still being suspended at higher rates than their white peers, an issue that officials are trying to address (Gazette, 3/26):

Superintendent Joshua P. Starr said that as the school system addresses the issue of suspensions, it must support students and counter the effects of other institutions.

“It requires perhaps more than just an equity lens,” he said. “In some ways, it actually requires an anti-racist lens.”

Starr said reducing suspensions does not mean excusing behavior; turning away from suspensions might mean more work for school staff.

- To prevent teen pregnancy, provide opportunities for young people (Elevation DC, 3/25)

HEALTH | Data lovers: today is the equivalent of your gift-receiving-holiday of choice – the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released their 2014 County Health Rankings. The rankings provide county level data on a number of public health indicators, as well as data on social and economic determinants of health, like housing, transportation, access to exercise opportunities, and more. (RWJF, 3/26)

You can spend a lot of time looking at the stats on our region. Here’s are some interesting nuggets:

District of Columbia: Only 8% of the population is uninsured, placing the city in the top 90th percentile of jurisdictions nationwide.
Prince George’s County:  57% of workers commute in their car alone for over 30 minutes.
Montgomery County: Ranks first in overall health outcomes in the state of Maryland.
Arlington County: 14% of the population face “severe housing problems.”

COMMUNITY WEALTH BUILDING | The New York Times has a great write up on worker co-ops around the country – such as the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland –  which are widely viewed as an effective business model for ensuring economic equality. (NY Times, 3/25)

Related: This model is currently being examined by the Community Wealth Building Initiative, which is laying the groundwork to launch employee-owned businesses anchored in low-income communities in our region. One of the potential businesses would be focused on green stormwater management, which we recently wrote about. For more information about the initiative, check out these Frequently Asked Questions.

HOUSING/AGING | In an effort to prevent seniors from being priced out of their homes, Mayor Gray signed a bill exempting low- and middle-income residents over the age of 70 from paying property taxes, if they have owned their home for at least 20 years. (DCist, 3/25)

- The Obama administration is extending the deadline to enroll in a health care plan through the federal insurance marketplace for individuals who start the enrollment process before March 31. (WaPo, 3/26)

- Which is good news, since apparently: Most People Don’t Know The Health Insurance Deadline Looms (NPR, 3/26)

FOOD | Montgomery council, advocates push for healthy school foods (Gazette, 3/26)

BUDGET | New Ward 8 hospital will be floated in upcoming Vincent Gray budget proposal (WaPo, 3/24)

EVENT | Funders are invited to a special briefing on Venture Philanthropy Partners‘ Social Innovation Fund youthCONNECT initiative on May 12. More information is available here.

One important set of indicators that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation failed to include in their health rankings: relative preparedness for the zombie apocalypse. Be aware that things do not bode well for our region.

- Rebekah

Addressing a “crisis in caring” for older Americans

AGING | With the onset of the so-called “silver tsunami,” there is a huge need for full-time caregivers for the aging. Families are increasingly stepping into this role, fundamentally altering their lives in order to care for their parents and grandparents. (WaPo, 3/5):

As Americans age, and living well into the 90s or even past 100 is increasingly common, the nation is facing a crisis in caring for the elderly.

It can be particularly hard on the middle class — those not poor enough to qualify for federal benefits for long-term care and not wealthy enough to afford the high cost of assisted-living facilities or in-home helpers. In fact, much of the daily care for aging parents is done by family members — typically a middle-aged daughter who also is juggling a job and raising children.

It’s an issue with wide-ranging implications for society. Today’s edition of the Post has a special section on caregiving, highlighting the often invisible challenges facing those who are providing full-time care for their family members. The report came out of recent events in Seattle and Chicago that examined the issue from a variety of angles.

FOOD | As food becomes an ever-more popular interest among Americans, philanthropy has begun taking a broader interest in the food system. The Washington Regional Convergence Partnership is leading the way on this in our region. The latest edition of What Funders Need to Know captures some of the Partnership’s learnings about how our food is produced, processed, distributed, consumed, and disposed of, who is involved in this process, and where there are opportunities to improve how the entire system works. (Daily, 3/5)

Related: On April 1, WRAG members and the community at large are invited to hear from food writer and culinary historian Michael W. Twitty on the topic of “culinary justice.” Intrigued? You should be. Check out this recent profile of him in Garden & Gun and then register for the event, to be held at Busboys & Poets, here.

INEQUALITY | The DC Fiscal Policy Institute breaks down the gap between the District’s highest and lowest earners and finds that the economic recovery is leaving groups behind – specifically, those without college degrees, low-wage workers, and African American and Hispanic residents. (DCFPI, 3/5)

COMMUNITY | A Wider Circle’s founder Mark Bergel was recently named a 2014 CNN Hero. On the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region‘s blog, he writes about the organization’s work addressing poverty in our region, and the importance of shining a national light on the region’s needs. (CFNCR, 3/4)

Related: You can watch the CNN segment on A Wider Circle here.

TRANSIT | Obama’s budget proposal, released yesterday, includes $100 million in federal funding for the Purple Line, which is well received by advocates for the project. (WaPo, 3/5)

HOMELESSNESS/VETERANS | In Just 100 Days, DC Finds Homes For More Than 200 Homeless Veterans (Think Progress, 2/28) The coalition of agencies leading this push have a goal of housing another 190 homeless vets by March 31.

Related: WRAG members are invited to a funders-only brown bag discussion on homelessness in the region. More information and registration here.

DEMOGRAPHICS | New research from UVA finds that one in nine Virginians is foreign born, and nearly 70 percent of the state’s immigrant population lives in northern Virginia. (WAMU, 3/4)

- Obama’s Budget Would Give D.C. More Autonomy. But Can It Pass? (CP, 3/4)

- Leading Mayoral Candidates Weigh in on Housing and Homelessness (CP, 3/4)

- Where will DC’s next 200,000 residents go? The mayoral candidates weigh in (GGW, 3/4)

Here are two kind of fascinating distractions for your afternoon. First, the voting and lifestyle tendencies predicted by first names, based on voting registration data. Second, a data visualization that shows how the popularity of any given first name spread throughout the country over the last century. Enjoy.

- Rebekah

Mayor Gray backs off controversial proposal on homeless families

- Mayor Gray is backing off his emergency proposal that would allow the city to deny shelter to families if city officials determined the family had another place to stay. The proposal had received pretty serious backlash from homelessness advocates. According to Gray, fewer families requested shelter when the city ran out of motel rooms and began placing them in recreation centers instead. (WaPo, 2/25)

More time is needed, Gray wrote, to study if emergency measures “are needed as urgently as previously believed.”

“We’re pressing the pause button; it’s not a withdrawal,” said mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro. “We have seen a remarkable decline in the number of people showing up – like 90-plus percent decline – which raises some interesting questions.”

The real question is how is the city going to deal with the fact that there are so many people without long-term, stable places to live.

Related: Gray’s proposal was further complicated on Monday when an administrative law judge ruled that the living conditions in rec centers violated a District law intended to protect the privacy of children. (WaPo, 2/24)

Reminder: WRAG members are invited to a brown bag lunch discussion on homelessness in the region on March 11. More information here.

WRAG | In her monthly column, A Voice from Philanthropy, Tamara explains why we’re having Dan Pallotta, our 2009 Annual Meeting speaker, back to speak to CEOs of WRAG’s member organizations. (Daily, 2/26)

- Next year’s DCPS budget will include $5 million that schools can apply for to support initiatives intended to improve student satisfaction. (WaPo, 2/25) Just imagine how many pizza parties that could buy.

- Winners and losers in D.C. school renovation funding shift (WaPo, 2/25)

HOUSING | The District has submitted its bid to redevelop Barry Farm as part of the New Communities Initiative. The plan calls for 1,879 new, mixed-income units. (WBJ, 2/25)

- They aren’t entirely sure why, but CDC officials say that the obesity rate among children between ages 2 and 5 has dropped 43 percent. (WaPo, 2/25)

Related: On the flip side, obesity rates have remained high among all other age groups, and actually increased among women over 60. (Boston Globe, 2/26)

- The Obama administration is advancing rules that would ban marketing junk food in schools. (WaPo, 2/25)

HEALTHCARE | After firing the company running its beleaguered insurance exchange, Maryland officials are considering their options moving forward, including potentially joining the federal exchange. (WBJ, 2/25)

BUDGETS | Bulova may seek higher Fairfax property tax cap after $3.7 billion budget plan is proposed (WaPo, 2/25)

AGING | George Mason professor champions shoes with GPS tracking for Alzheimer’s patients (WaPo, 2/26)

74,476 reasons you should always get the bigger pizza – and why I should have paid more attention in math class.

- Rebekah

Senior villages throughout the region help older adults age in place

- The Greater Washington region is leading the country in the formation of senior villages – neighborhood-based grassroot networks that help older adults live at home by mobilizing volunteers to help with things like shopping, transportation, house repairs, and by connecting them with social and cultural activities. (WaPo, 2/7)

The Washington area may be particularly receptive to villages because it is a more transient place than many metropolitan areas, with close relatives often living far away, said Barbara Sullivan, Mount Vernon at Home’s executive director… But the concept also works particularly well here because the area attracts so many career government and nonprofit workers, said Andy Mollison, vice president of the Washington Area Villages Exchange and founder and former president of Palisades Village in the District.

“Washington has always been a hotbed of volunteer activity,” he said. “People who’ve been running things all their lives, whether it’s PTAs or local food drives.”

- The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia digs into some of the data and findings of their latest report, A Portrait of our Aging Population in Northern Virginia. (CFNoVA, 2/7)

WORKFORCE | On their blog, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation features a great infographic highlighting the significant wage disparity between traditional and nontraditional jobs for women. (WAWF, 2/6)

ARTS | In advance of their 40th anniversary celebration on March 17, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region featured a special blog post from Dana Tai Soon Burgess about how important the foundation and its donors’ support for local arts organizations has been over the years. (CFNCR, 2/6)

HOUSING | Fairfax County officials are looking at ways to assess fees on developers to create affordable housing close to transit stations. (Fairfax Times, 2/5)

HOMELESSNESS | Editorial: D.C. needs a plan to deal with homelessness (WaPo, 2/7)

EDUCATION | A Greater Greater Education contributor looks at how instituting “controlled choice zones” could lead to more socioeconomically diverse schools in D.C. (GGE, 2/5)

Here’s something cool for music and/or data lovers: Google created a fascinating interactive timeline showing the rise and fall of various musical genres, sub-genres, and individual artists since the 1950s.

- Rebekah

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia releases new report on NoVA seniors

AGING | The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has released A Portrait of our Aging Population in Northern Virginia, which looks at the issues impacting people over the age of 65 in northern Virginia. In conjunction with the release of the report, the foundation announced a $10,000 grant to support a transportation program for seniors.

The research found a number of eye-opening statistics about the demographics of the area:

• Between 2010 and 2030, the number of older individuals in Northern Virginia will increase from 192,589 to 429,300. At that time, over 15% of the region’s population will be 65 or older.
• More than 20,000 older Northern Virginians currently live in poverty, and 28% of older households can be considered economically insecure, and an additional 31% are financially vulnerable.
• The rate of older adults without health insurance in Northern Virginia is about three times higher than the national and Virginia rates.

- A new poll finds that most D.C. residents still think the city’s public schools aren’t doing too hot, with 51 percent of people rating schools as “not good” or “poor.” Notably, however, some of the highest ratings came from parents of students in public schools, who, one would suspect, would have good firsthand knowledge. (WaPo, 1/17)

- Obamas praise dozens of new efforts to help needy students get into college (WaPo, 1/17)

WORKFORCE | GMU’s Stephen Fuller, in his annual forecast for the region’s economy, predicts that our economy will continue to grow and add jobs. But, the sectors with the most potential growth are those that are often low-paying, like hospitality. (WaPo, 1/17)

PHILANTHROPY | Charitable Deduction Probably Safe for 2014, Say Experts (Chronicle, 1/16)

ARTS | Fairfax will assume $30 million in debt owed by arts center at the old Lorton prison (WaPo, 1/14)

REGION | With Population Growing, Transportation Planners Say They Need To Keep Up (WAMU, 1/16)

I may be easily impressed, but I think this guy’s video tricks on Vine are kind of awesome.

- Rebekah

More D.C. seniors are aging-in-place

AGING | The District is at the forefront of a national trend away from placing seniors in nursing homes. The D.C. Office on Aging’s Nursing Home Transition Program, which began last year, allows older adults to receive both medical and nonmedical services in their own homes. This is driven by consumer preference, as well as significant cost savings (WaPo, 1/3):

One impetus for change was a 1999 Supreme Court ruling that public entities must provide community-based services to people with disabilities whenever possible.

Another reason for the change in thinking is the high cost of institutional care. As the population of older Americans grows, advocates say, it won’t be economically sustainable to have so many live in nursing homes. The average annual cost per person for nursing home care is about $75,000 nationwide. In the District, it is $110,000. Providing in-home services costs an estimated $30,000 to $60,000 a year, according to the city’s Office on Aging.

Related: As more older adults receive services in their own homes, the direct care workforce is rapidly growing. Last year, WRAG published an edition of What Funders Need to Know about the challenges facing this critical workforce. (WRAG, June 2013)

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY | Prince George’s County officials are crediting a decline in crime rates in some areas to the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative. The program targets county services in six low-income neighborhoods with particularly high crime and foreclosure rates and low levels of educational attainment. (WaPo, 1/3)

Related: Back in September, WRAG co-hosted a summit on Prince George’s County to learn about the changes underway in the county and to begin discussions about how the public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors can work together to continue strengthening the county. (Daily WRAG, 9/26)

- Online Gifts Rose 16% During Holiday Season (Chronicle, 1/2)

- Redefining Philanthropy: How African-Americans Give Back (NPR, 12/30)

MENTAL HEALTH | Virginia governor Bob McDonnell has established a task force to look at ways to improve the state’s mental health system. (WTOP, 1/3)

LEGAL AID | A new report looks at ways to use technology to increase access to legal services for low income people. (WTOP, 1/3)

DISTRICT | While D.C.’s budget autonomy referendum, which passed last April, went into effect on January 1, it could still be found to lack legal standing and be overturned soon. (WAMU, 1/2)

This is what it looks like to “step into the void” above the French Alps. Probably not for the faint of heart.

- Rebekah

What housing discrimination feels like

COMMUNITY | In a post on their Game Changer blog, Consumer Health Foundation president Yanique Redwood discusses the pervasiveness of race-based housing discrimination, and reflects on her own recent experience trying to find a new home and the impact that perceived discrimination had on her (CHF, 9/3):

As my husband was getting off the phone, the owner asked, “What are your names?”

As my husband shared his name and began to share mine, I waved frantically at him mouthing, “Don’t tell him my name!” But, it was too late… I had the sinking feeling that my name with its “q” sound was a dead giveaway of my race. Again, I knew what the Urban Institute study confirmed: minority testers whose race was more easily identifiable – by name, by voice over the phone, or in person – experienced more discrimination than minorities who were more likely to be mistaken as white.

We scheduled an appointment to see the unit… But, the day before the appointment, we got an email stating that the property had been rented. My shoulders slumped, and I let out a long, sad sigh. I was not certain that discrimination was at play, but I was acutely aware of the active levels of stress I had been experiencing around the need to find a place to live—yet anticipating and possibly experiencing difficulty simply because of the color of my skin.

TRANSIT | An environmental impact study concludes that the proposed Purple Line would displace 116 homes and businesses, mostly around Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and Riverdale. (WaPo, 9/6)

HEALTH | The Northern Virginia Health Foundation has published commentary from Sarah Holland, executive director of the Virginia Oral Health Coalition, about the critical need to integrate oral heath into overall health care, and the opportunity that the launch of the state’s health benefit exchange presents to get individuals and families enrolled in dental insurance. (NVHF, 9/5)

AGING/ARTS/HEALTH | Grantmakers in the Arts Grantmakers in Health has released a short report on their work to date on bringing together the fields of arts, aging, and health to promote creative strategies to improve the health of older adults. The report highlights a few promising initiatives and recommendations for grantmakers who want to work at the intersection of these issues. (GIA, GIH, September 2013)

AGING/WORKFORCE | The Atlantic profiles the organization, which connects retired people with paid internships at nonprofits. The organization’s model addresses two issues: older adults who can’t actually afford to retire and are experiencing challenges finding new jobs, and nonprofits with limited staff and financial capacity. (Atlantic, 9/5)

ENVIRONMENT | Yesterday the Kojo Nnamdi Show focused on the Anacostia River and current efforts to re-imagine the river as a D.C. destination. (WAMU, 9/5)

As loath as I am to link to a Buzzfeed list, this one of art installations is actually worth the click.


A slow news day in August edition

HEALTHCARE | The District has reached a settlement with D.C. Chartered Health Plan that will ultimately release the $56.5 million in payments due to local medical providers that serve patients on Medicaid. (WaPo, 8/22)

YOUTH | After the recent spate of murders of young people in Prince George’s County, parents, community leaders, and county officials are trying to figure out how to “impact young people so we don’t lose more lives.” (WaPo, 8/22)

- A Greater Greater Education contributor says DCPS’ test score data don’t necessarily back up the story that school officials are telling. (GGE, 8/21)

- DCPS is seriously slacking on meeting Title IX requirements, leaving girls with few opportunities to participate in sports. (CP, 8/22)

HOUSING | What Should D.C. Learn From Other Cities’ Inclusionary Zoning? (Not Much.) (CP, 8/20)

AGING | John Feather, CEO of Grantmakers In Aging, writes about the importance of investing in seniors for stronger communities. (CoF, 8/21)

NONPROFITS | September Is Boom Time for Donors, Google Says  (Chronicle, 8/21)

LOCAL | Well, if there was ever a day for me to end my boycott of hotdogs covered with chile today would be the day! (WaPo, 8/22)

Holy ****, stay out of the Potomac!


To improve the quality of in-home care for seniors, we need to improve the quality of direct care jobs

AGING | By 2030, there will be over 1.1 million people over the age of 65 living in the Greater Washington region, many of whom will choose to remain in their homes. As health and age-related issues arise, these seniors will likely need the services of direct care workers. But there are some major challenges facing the direct care workforce.

In our latest edition of What Funders Need to Know, we take a look at the state of the local direct care workforce today and the connections between quality jobs and quality care. Then we discuss five ways that funders can get involved. This report is a culmination of information learned through convenings of WRAG’s Working Group on Aging. (Daily, 6/25)

COMMUNITY | Yesterday, Ed Davies, head of the D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, was on News Channel 8′s NewsTalk. He spoke in detail about his vision for the Trust, refocusing on the organization’s mission, and strict new accountability measures. He also talked about his hope for future partnerships with other funders, as well as his personal motivation for agreeing to lead the Trust in a time of turmoil (News8, 6/23):

I’m a native Washingtonian, and I’ve benefited from many of the programs that the Trust has supported over the years….Both of my parents worked for the Parks and Rec department, so after school [time] was always something that was ingrained in me as an important way of developing the skills you needed outside of the classroom.

The interview is also worth watching because host Bruce DePuyt manages to sneak in the word “shenanigans” (with a straight face, I might add) when talking about funding oversight policies.

PHILANTHROPY | In third grade, Carol Thompson Cole, president of Venture Philanthropy Partners and a WRAG board member, received a D for penmanship on her report card. That grade has stuck with her throughout her life, and she reflects on the sting of a bad grade as a motivator for honestly assessing the work of her organization. Specifically, she assigns a grade to VPP’s youthCONNECT program. (VPP, 6/25)

BUDGETS | Yesterday, D.C. Mayor Gray outlined how he would spend the city’s extra money, which could be as much as $600 million over the next five years. (WBJ, 6/25) Curiously, he doesn’t seem to have mentioned funding an elite panda rescue squad.

IRS-GATE | The IRS has implemented a streamlined process for approving nonprofit status. An organization can be approved within two weeks if it agrees not to spend more than 40 percent of its time and money on partisan activities. (Chronicle, 6/25)

HOUSING | Rental prices are beginning to stabilize in the region, thanks to an increase in housing supply. (WaPo, 6/24)

Related: In our region, cutting down on transportation time means that you end up paying a lot more for housing. Check out the statistics in our last What Funders Need to Know about housing and transportation.

ARTS | A new report from the National Endowment for the Arts says that Washington is one of the artsiest cities in the U.S. In fact, we’re pretty darn close to New York in terms of arts employment. (WaPo, 6/25) Of course, comparing ourselves to New York isn’t fair. We have RGIII, so we win any argument about anything with the Big Apple.

TRANSIT | Studies Find Long Commutes Make People More Unhappy (WAMU, 6/25) Unless you get to commute with these guys.

You probably know Richard Dawkins as being an outspoken atheist, courtesy of his background in evolutionary biology. But did you know that he is also the person who coined the term “meme”? In a talk for PR agency Saatchi & Saatchi, he talks about genes and memes. Then he endeavors to demonstrate the viral nature of memes by trying to make your head explode about five minutes in.

To re-orient yourself after that chaos, how about some Wilson Pickett?

What Funders Need to Know: The state of the region’s direct care workforce

By 2030, there will be over 1.1 million people over the age of 65 living in the Greater Washington region.

As older adults are increasingly choosing to age in place, cross-cutting issues are coming to the forefront – the quality of care received by disabled or chronically ill older adults in their own homes, and the quality of the jobs of the caregivers who provide this care.

In-home care is often provided by direct care workers – an over-arching term that captures a number of different occupations, but in general refers to caregivers who provide essential assistance with everyday tasks like bathing, dressing, and eating. Direct care workers play a huge role in maintaining the health and general well-being of their clients. And, due to the oncoming “silver tsunami” of older adults, direct care jobs are some of the fastest growing occupations in the entire economy.

Despite the size of the workforce and the important services that direct care workers provide, the workforce is faced with a number of challenges. These include extremely low pay, irregular hours, inadequate training, and high rates of employee turnover. There is a clear need for better employment practices and policy changes to improve the quality of direct care jobs, by raising pay and benefits, standardizing and increasing employee training, and creating career pathways that lead to higher paying jobs. These efforts, in turn, will help improve the quality of the care that older adults receive.

In our latest edition of What Funders Need to Know, we take a look at the state of the local direct care workforce today and the connections between quality jobs and quality care, and discuss five ways that funders can get involved. This report is a culmination of information learned through convenings of WRAG’s Working Group on Aging.

READ: What Funders Need to Know – Aging (June 2013)

- What Funders Need to Know – Housing
(April 2013)

- What Funders Need to Know – Education (October 2012)


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