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

Success of school reform in the District is a mixed bag

- As always, the state of the District’s schools are front and center in the mayoral campaign. An overview of the Gray administration’s school reform efforts shows that progress has been decidedly mixed (WaPo, 3/14):

Enrollment is growing, test scores are improving and — six years after Gray authored a bill expanding access to early childhood education — the city leads the nation in the proportion of preschoolers in public pre-kindergarten.

But the city’s long-struggling schools are still below par by many measures, leaving room for criticism on multiple fronts: the state of middle schools and special-education services, inequities in the funding of charter and traditional schools, and the enormous — and in some cases growing — gaps in academic achievement between needy and well-to-do children.

Related: One more piece of Gray’s education record: OSSE (WaPo, 3/14)

- D.C. Council member David Catania has introduced three bills that would improve special education. (WAMU, 3/18)

- A Greater Greater Education contributor explains why improving the socioeconomic diversity of D.C.’s middle schools should be front and center in education reform proposals. (GGE, 3/14)

- A report on issues facing the Prince George’s County school system recommends that officials increase their focus on Latino students, re-brand the school system to improve its image, and reduce duplication in the central office. (WaPo, 3/13)

COMMUNITY | On the Association of Small Foundation‘s blog, Mary McClymont, president of the Public Welfare Foundation (and a member of WRAG’s board) explains why civil legal aid is a strong ally for philanthropy (ASF, 3/13):

For funders, civil legal aid can serve as a significant tool in their toolbox, similar to community organizing, advocacy, or research. It adds value to their grantmaking programs, such as affordable housing, access to health care, education reform, economic development, income security, domestic violence, or children and families.

For funders concerned about creating broader impact or ensuring that policies are implemented and sustained, legal aid lawyers are likewise terrific partners. These lawyers see the problems low-income people face every day, and they use that knowledge to build broader advocacy strategies in a variety of social policy areas in which funders are engaged.

YOUTH | The New York Times‘ “Room for Debate” series takes on some of the assumptions that underlay the Obama administration’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative. (NY Times, 3/12)

Related: WRAG members are invited to a funder-only discussion on new strategies to support boys and young men of color. More information here.

WORKFORCE | D.C., Maryland and Virginia shed jobs in January as their unemployment rates fall (WaPo, 3/17). According to Stephen Fuller, you can blame the weather for this phenomenon.

- Education, public safety dominate Leggett’s proposed 2015 Montgomery budget (WaPo, 3/17)

- Prince George’s executive proposes $3.41 billion spending plan for fiscal 2015 (WaPo, 3/13)

DEMOCRACY | WAMU has a great voter guide (supported by the Bernstein Family Foundation) for the various races underway in D.C.

FOOD | Advice For Eating Well On A Tight Budget, From A Mom Who’s Been There (NPR, 3/13)

RFP | UMD’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership’s TERPhilanthropy Fund is seeking proposals from programs that work with the childhood cancer community. More information is available here.

If you’re as sick of the snow as I am, you might appreciate this – urban jungle (Google) street view.

- 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

Family homelessness in D.C. doubles, marking it the biggest increase in the nation

Homelessness in the District has become the hot button campaign topic for the mayoral race. It’s annoying to see it politicized. But it is good that such a critical issue is being brought into the spotlight.

The Post has crunched the numbers to quantify the recent surge in homelessness. Over the last year, family homelessness has increased an incredible 100 percent. An accompanying article looks at Mayor Gray’s policies (WaPo, 2/10):

New York, Los Angeles and many cities in between have struggled with double-digit growth in homelessness in the wake of a deep recession, stagnating wages and escalating housing costs. But no other major U.S. city is on pace this year for its overall numbers of homeless families in emergency shelters to double.

Some applaud Gray’s efforts to streamline a variety of social services for the poor and to prod families from generational poverty toward self-sufficiency. But many of the same people say that he has failed to put together a realistic plan to do so and that the District’s rise in homelessness is the tip of the iceberg of a broader decline in economic security.

Related: On Friday, Gray held an interview with the Post to discuss the spike in homelessness and his policies. (WaPo, 2/10)

- The Chronicle of Philanthropy has released its annual Philanthropy 50 list, ranking America’s largest donors. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife top the list, and the combined giving of the top 50 donors is $7.7 billion – up 4 percent from last year. (Chronicle, 2/10)

The Chronicle has a lot of articles about this list. One of them focuses on the Zuckerburg’s gift to the Silicon Valley Community foundation, which is headed by WRAG’s 2013 annual meeting keynote speaker, Emmett Carson. (Chronicle, 2/10)

- Also, check out the rationale behind the list. One name obviously missing from the list is Gates. Bill and Melinda Gates did give a lot of money last year – about $181 million – but it went toward paying off a pledge they had made in 2004. (Chronicle, 2/10)

- The New Yorker has a thought-provoking reaction to the Philanthropy 50 list. Their general question is whether large scale giving from the world’s wealthiest works to justify the equity gap. More specifically, does this giving do enough to relieve poverty? (NY, 2/10)

WORKFORCE | As the debate grows about the merits of raising the minimum wage, quite a bit of new research is emerging from places like the Employment Policies Institute. According to the New York Times, that organization is effectively a front for an interest group – and these sorts of fake organizations are influencing policies (NYT, 2/10):

The campaign illustrates how groups — conservative and liberal — are again working in opaque ways to shape hot-button political debates, like the one surrounding minimum wage, through organizations with benign-sounding names that can mask the intentions of their deep-pocketed patrons.

Ugh, soon somebody will discover the fact that my Institute for Galactic Education (IGE) is just a front to get Star Wars education added to the Common Core standards.

- Metro might finally be able to take over the Silver Line from contractors. Maybe. (WaPo, 2/10) I wonder whether the Silver Line or H St. streetcar will be running first. We should know by 2030.

- And Metro chief Richard Sarles directly responded to some riders’ questions about the system. For example, why do train operators close the doors on passengers trying to enter? Because riders should have gotten out of the way when they heard the chimes, he says. No mention of how that’s fair to deaf people though. (WaPo, 2/10)

I have two hilarious things for you on this tenth day of February. First – and you might have already seen it – the Russian Police Choir singing Daft Punk’s Get Lucky at the Olympics. It’s truly absurd and I half-expected Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd to shuffle in. Watch the whole thing, because it gets better and better.

And here’s a classic example of eating your words on live television. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Farm bill sent to Obama with cuts to SNAP included

After clearing the House last week, the farm bill easily passed through the Senate yesterday and is now in the hands of President Obama. The president is expected to sign the bill, which includes $8.6 billion in food stamp cuts over the next decade. That’s a lot, but it will only affect about 4 percent of current recipients.

The cuts are related to a connection between food stamp eligibility and utility assistance (WaPo, 2/5):

Food-stamp eligibility is based on a household’s disposable income. If it’s low enough, you qualify. But to calculate disposable income, the state takes your total income and subtracts some allowable deductions for essentials. Since things like rent and utilities are considered household necessities, they’re subtracted.

Here’s the problem the farm bill seeks to fix: recently, some states began providing nominal amounts of LIHEAP assistance — as little as $1 a year — meaning some households got credit “for utility costs they don’t actually pay,” according to CBPP President Robert Greenstein. As a result, they got more SNAP benefits than they would have otherwise.

- 5 things the farm bill will mean for you (CNN, 2/5)

- Neil Young, a major farm advocate, has a catchy song called Homegrown. I might have actually put it in the Daily before, but it’s still a good song!

HEALTHCARE/WORKFORCE | The Affordable Care Act can’t catch a break. A new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that the law will have a significant, negative effect on the nation’s labor force (WaPo, 2/5):

More than 2 million Americans who would otherwise rely on a job for health insurance will quit working, reduce their hours or stop looking for employment because of new health benefits available under the Affordable Care Act, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday.

HOMELESSNESS | At Deal Middle School in D.C., face to face with homelessness (WaPo, 2/5)

EDUCATION | DCPS is creating a ‘Parent Cabinet,’ where children can store their mothers and fathers when they aren’t needed. Actually, the cabinet will be an advisory group to help DCPS understand parents’ perspectives. (WAMU, 2/5)

LOCAL | Harriet Tregoning of the District’s Office of Planning has been a good partner of the philanthropic community for many years. (Proof!) At the end of the month, she’ll begin working for the Obama administration with a position at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The District’s loss is the nation’s gain! (WBJ, 2/5)

WEATHER | I’m a climate change denier. As a snow lover, I refuse to believe the “scientific evidence” that we’re less and less likely to get snow every year. The numbers must be wrong. Science schmience! (WaPo, 2/5)

Are you ready for the Olympics? Russia isn’t. The media have arrived in Sochi and they are documenting their experiences. At the moment, things seem to be a bit like a nightmarish Terry Gilliam movie. When the water is literally dangerous to touch – not just ingest – you know things are in bad shape.

On the home front, here’s a really funny parody of the excessive and meaningless patriotism frequently found in car commercials.

Using educational technologies to reshape workforce development

WORKFORCE | Workforce development was one of the big themes in the State of the Union address. President Obama tasked Vice President Biden with reforming training programs to fit the needs of the current American workforce.

Sarah Oldmixon, director of workforce initiatives, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, reflects on this priority and says that educational technologies are essential tools for the task (1776, 1/30):

Educational technologies have been powerful engines of creative disruption in the K-12 and higher-education arenas, but their influence on the field of workforce development has been less pronounced—particularly among those programs that target lower-income, lower-skilled workers. To successfully meet the needs of the long-term unemployed and address America’s income inequality challenges, adult education and training programs must also innovate.

Related: As Unemployment Rate Falls In Ward 8, A Call For More Job Training (DCist, 1/30)

COMMUNITY/ENVIRONMENT | Last fall the Summit Fund of Washington supported the Federal City Council in developing a new project to address critical restoration needs, including remediation of the toxic sediments, in the Anacostia River.

The resulting, recently-launched initiative, United for a Healthy Anacostia River, brings together advocacy groups, community stakeholders, businesses, and concerned citizens to help raise awareness around the many issues facing the Anacostia. You can learn more about United for a Healthy Anacostia, and find out how to get involved, on their website.

PHILANTHROPY | 17 Foundations Join Forces to Divest Fossil-Fuel Stocks (Chronicle, 1/30)

- Robert McCartney’s latest column in the Post focuses on teen pregnancy, a problem that still has a “stubbornly high” rate in the District’s lower-income wards. (WaPo, 1/30)

- A new report finds that kids who are obese at age five are four times as likely to be obese a decade later than their healthy weight peers. (Time, 1/30)

- A bill in Virginia’s General Assembly would allow teachers to encourage “differences of opinion about scientific controversies in science classes.” As one education advocate points out, the terms “science” and “opinion” don’t gel very well. (WaPo, 1/30) The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan might have had something to say here.

- As the District’s Petworth neighborhood rapidly gentrifies, can its troubled Roosevelt High School recover at the same time? (CP, 1/30)

HOUSING | How to Tell If We’re Really Entering Another Housing Bubble (Atlantic, 1/30)

TRANSIT | As Metro considers more fare hikes, opponents charge that the new plan would be unfair to the region’s low-income and disabled residents. (WTOP, 1/30)

Also, the hikes are unfair to everyone else since they help pay for silly mistakes like this one. (WaPo, 1/30)

When New Englanders call us snow wimps (and we call Southerners the same), they might have a point – even though their sports teams stink. Here’s a map that shows how much snow it takes to close schools across the country.

Via the same awesome website (io9), here’s a fascinating look at 10 failed uptopian cities in the real world that ended up influencing science fiction. Neat stuff.

Rebekah has the Daily tomorrow and Monday, and I’ll see you on Tuesday!

State of the Union opens the door for increased collaboration

President Obama’s fifth State of the Union address covered many familiar priorities and re-emphasized messages that have been central to his administration. But this year’s address also contained something new. WRAG President Tamara Copeland explains:

I heard something last night in the State of the Union address that I hadn’t heard in President Obama’s previous addresses – a direct reference to philanthropy. In fact, the President mentioned it not once, but twice. He called for “a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high quality pre-K that they need.” Then, a few minutes later, my ears perked up again when he said, “And I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential.”

As President Obama envisions a country in which opportunity flourishes, he sees philanthropy as playing a major role. WRAG is eager to work with foundations and corporations to strengthen their work on the president’s priorities. Let’s get started.

- You can read the full transcript of the address via the Washington Post. (WaPo, 1/29)

- The Post fact-checked the SOTU address and rebuttal. Of note for our community, they pushed back a bit on points about inequality, healthcare, and the workforce. (WaPo, 1/29)

- Check out Vice President Biden’s reaction to…well, who knows, but the reaction is hilarious. I think it’s safe to assume that the veep finally found Waldo hiding in the House gallery.

HOMELESSNESS | D.C. Councilmember and mayoral candidate Tommy Wells held a press conference at a Maryland motel that is being used to shelter some of the District’s homeless population. Wells called out the Gray administration for not having enough capacity in the city. Gray’s camp responded by claiming that the press conference was a stunt.

And I responded by saying that both leaders should have the integrity to actually address the severe problem that is directly and immediately affecting real people. As far as facts go (WaPo, 1/29):

Wells provided figures compiled by the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness, the city contractor that manages homeless family placements, showing 436 families with a combined 849 children staying in hotels Monday. Two of the hotels, he said, are located outside the District.

FOOD | For the first time ever, working-age Americans represent the majority of SNAP recipients. In the past, children and older-adults fit that category. This significant shift is attributed to the bad economy, low wages, and the increasing opportunity gap. (WTOP, 1/29)

Related: Food Stamp Cuts, Cold Weather Put Extra Strain On Food Pantries (NPR, 1/28)

GIVING | And the award for worst charity goes to… (Chronicle, 1/29)

WORKFORCE | Perhaps not surprisingly, “hot dog vendor” does not top the list of fastest-growing jobs this decade. That distinction belongs to a number of positions in the healthcare industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Atlantic, 1/29)

EVENT | Funders and community stakeholders are invited to join The Community Foundation for Prince George’s County for its Connecting Youth to Opportunity tours. The next tour, on February 5th, focuses on early childhood. [More info.]

We can expect some great commercials during the Super Bowl. In the meantime – and I know this will sound weird – check out Delta’s new flight safety video. The theme is the 1980s and it’s hilariously nostalgic. I cheered when Teddy Ruxpin made an appearance, and the cameo at the very end is just amazing.

A peek into The Institute for Corporate Responsibility

Late last week, WRAG welcomed the first class of the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility. CSR leaders from our region and far beyond gathered for the first two-day session of the year-long program – and we’re excited to say that things couldn’t have gone better.

In today’s Daily, The Advisory Board Company’s Graham McLaughlin reflects on the first session and how he already feels better equipped as a CSR practitioner (Daily, 1/28):

Rarely do we as CSR leaders get to engage in nuanced, thoughtful discussions on how to build a vision and execution strategy that will yield the greatest social and business impact. Due to lead faculty member Tim McClimon’s brilliant facilitation, high quality speakers who were told to be provocative in order to push our thinking in different areas, and the expertise of fellow participants, we were able to have these types of discussions from basically 9-5 each day, leading me to have some immediate ideas for improving our “Community Impact” program as well as ways I need to alter my thinking to position us to drive greater impact in the medium-long term as well.

Related: Coinciding with the Institute’s kickoff, the Washington Business Journal interviewed WRAG’s Katy Moore about the history and vision for the project. It’s behind a paywall, but worth a read if you have access. (WBJ, 1/24)

Photos: Check out WRAG’s Facebook album of the Institute’s first session.

EDUCATION | The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released a new Kids Count snapshot, and the data is discouraging – particularly for our region. The report looks at reading proficiency by income level and finds that D.C., Maryland, and Virginia have some of the largest gaps in the entire nation between income levels (WaPo, 1/28):

In Virginia, only 21 percent of fourth graders from low-income families were considered proficient in reading, compared to 56 percent of fourth graders from higher-income families. And in Maryland, 24 percent of fourth graders from low-income families were proficient, compared to 58 percent from higher income families.

The District, an entirely urban jurisdiction, had the nation’s largest gap with only a 13 percent proficiency rate for children from low-income families compared to 61 percent for those from wealthier families.

Related: Read the Casey Foundation’s full briefing here. (AECF, 1/28)

COMMUNITY | Cartoonist Herbert Block, the namesake and founder of The Herb Block Foundation, is the subject of a new documentary airing on HBO. Time reviews the documentary and discusses Block’s life and influence on American politics. (Time, 1/27)

HOMELESSNESS | The Urban Institute is drawing attention to an especially unfortunate trend in homelessness. As organizations like Urban try to collect data on the homeless population, homeless LGBTQ youth are frequently missed in counts because they actively try to avoid detection. (Atlantic, 1/28)

WORKFORCE | The Workers Who Will Benefit from Raising DC’s Minimum Wage (DCFPI, 1/27)

TRANSIT | When Mayor Gray said that the H Street streetcars would start public operation “in January, not later than early February,” he forgot to mention a year. Smart man, because the opening date is still a ways off. (WJLA, 1/28)

It would be hard to overstate the impact that Pete Seeger had on both American music and the culture of democratic participation. It’s sad to lose him, but he lived a long and full life. Here’s a track he recorded two years ago, at the ripe young age of 92, for an Amnesty International benefit album – a cover of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young.

Are educators giving the wrong message about college to low-income students?

It’s common knowledge that more education leads to more opportunity in life. As such, college access is a key priority for philanthropy and the government. Just today, President Obama announced a summit on college completion rates. But what if, in trying to convince low-income students of the importance of higher education, we’re discussing it wrong?

In The Atlantic, a teacher reflects on the perspectives of low- and higher-income students about school. The differences are stark, and the less privileged students focus on college as an economic ladder. That’s a significant problem, according to the teacher (Atlantic, 1/16):

When administrators, counselors, and teachers repeat again and again that a college degree will alleviate economic hardship, they don’t mean to suggest that there is no other point to higher education. Yet by focusing on this one potential benefit, educators risk distracting them from the others, emphasizing the value of the fruits of their academic labor and skipping past the importance of the labor itself. The message is that intellectual curiosity plays second fiddle to financial security.

FOOD | WRAG’s Washington Regional Convergence Partnership released a new report today on food hubs. The report, which grew out of last fall’s Food Hubs 101 event, features key facts and figures about local food hubs, recounts highlights from the event, and explores presentations from the event’s guests and panels. Check it out here. (Daily, 1/16)

- Potentially game-changing news: a professor at USC has developed a 3D printer that can build an entire house in just 24 hours. It sounds too good to be true, but the concept video is quite convincing. (NDTV, 1/13)

The applications of 3D printing are increasing at an incredible (and sometime scary) rate. It’s hard not to get excited about the possibilities, like printing an Aston Martin Vanquish so that I can finally be just like James Bond.

- McDuffie Bill Would Dedicate Surplus Funds to Affordable Housing (CP, 1/15)

CWBI | Yesterday, we posted an FAQ about the Community Wealth Building Initiative. One of the initial business lines identified for the project is local green stormwater management.

Good news on that front. Today we learned that, the EPA, State of Maryland, and Prince George’s County announced a $100 million investment in community-based stormwater management. This sort of investment suggests that there is a strong foundation being laid that the CWBI might be able to build on.

PHILANTHROPY | In the choppy wake of the recession, many charities are having to rethink anti-poverty efforts. This article is behind a paywall, but here’s a snippet if you don’t subscribe (Chronicle, 1/16):

The slow recovery from [the economic] crisis, which peaked in 2007 and 2008, coincided with a political climate that has made it difficult to win increased social spending—both in Washington, where a deficit-cutting Congress faces intense pressure from Republicans for steep budget cuts, and in many state capitals, where the tough economy has taken a toll on state coffers.

Some advocates have had to give up on deadlines that once seemed realistic.

LOCAL | If you’re walking down the street and you smell something funny, don’t jump to conclusions! Sure, it might have been the person walking in front of you, but it’s more likely the result of the thousands – yes, thousands – of leaks in the District’s natural gas pipe system. Some of the leaks are at literally explosive levels. (WaPo, 1/16)

Related: The Post mapped out the leaks. It looks like we’ll be safe if we just hang out on the Mall, at Hains Point, or in Rock Creek Park. (WaPo, 1/16)

WORKFORCE | Yesterday, D.C. Mayor Vince Gray signed a minimum wage hike into law. Here’s what it will mean for the city’s residents. (CP, 1/15)

Leaving the comforts of home is the worst part of most mornings. And that’s true not just for people, but for animals, too. See this husky’s refusal to go to the kennel for proof. And check out the hilarious gallery of canine photobombers below the video.

New research demonstrates how poverty makes people sick

This won’t come as a surprise to most of you, but a new research paper finds that poverty has severe ramifications for health. With unreasonably tight budgets, low-income individuals are forced to compromise on things like healthy eating. Or eating anything at all. This sets off a chain reaction that can end in the hospital, or worse.

What’s especially interesting about this research is that it proves a link between money and health while also debunking an unfortunate misconception that low-income individuals are broadly unhealthy (Atlantic, 1/14):

[I]sn’t it possible that poorer people just tend to be less healthy in general? Sure. That’s why the researchers also looked at when people go the hospital for appendicitis, which doesn’t depend on diet. So there shouldn’t be any end-of-the-month increase for low-income people if tight budgets are the problem. There wasn’t. As you can see above, appendicitis cases were flat across the month for both high (blue) and low (purple) income people.

In other words, poorer people don’t need more care at the end of the month for every kind of condition. Just the ones that get worse when you don’t have enough to eat.

- If you haven’t seen it, check out the documentary series Unnatural Causes. It digs deep into the connection between health and wealth, covering everything from food to geography.

- And, poverty isn’t just about money, according to a new book from economist Tim Harford. It’s also about how individuals perceive themselves, and how they are perceived by others. Harford talked with NPR about his research. (NPR, 1/14)

HOUSING | It’s been about six years since the housing crisis began, but its effects are still getting worse in Maryland. Foreclosures there have skyrocketed, increasing more than 250 percent and landing the state at the number three spot on the list of highest foreclosure rates in the nation. (WAMU, 1/10)

- In order for the Affordable Care Act to be economically viable – and ultimately successful – young adults need to represent a significant portion of health exchange consumers. At this point, the numbers are significantly lower than projected. (WaPo, 1/14)

- Opinion: Maryland’s health exchange has had one of the worst launches in the nation. The Post’s Petula Dvorak calls it “a scandal of incompetence” and goes so far as to use the hilarious phrase “epic bungling.” (WaPo, 1/14)

WORKFORCE | Elevation DC writes about the HOPE Project, which helps bring District residents out of poverty by training them for information technology jobs. (EDC, 1/14)

- A former interim D.C. state superintendent for education (IDCSSFE) has been named to a new DCPS post where she will oversee a plan to improve traditional middle and high schools. (WaPo, 1/14)

- With More Choices And New Lottery, D.C. Parents Become School Shoppers (WAMU, 1/13)

LOCAL | Fate of Virginia’s Contested Bi-County Parkway Now Lies With McAuliffe (WAMU, 1/14)

TRANSIT | As the H Street streetcar line gets ready to roll, Aaron Wiener points out that traffic will be a long-term problem for efficiency. Since there’s no dedicated lane, the streetcars are subject to traffic jams and double-parked cars. (CP, 1/14)

To this, I say prepare for ramming speed!

BREAKING NEWS | Edward Snowden promised that more secrets would be coming, and one of Iran’s news agencies has dropped a bom…well, let’s avoid that phrase. They’ve revealed a huge secret. Are you sitting? It turns out that the United States is secretly run by Nazi aliens! (WaPo, 1/13)

So, either Iran’s news agency has a fiction department or Snowden managed to sneak the script of John Carpenter’s They Live into his data dump.

The only thing worse than alien Nazis are Illinois Nazis. I hate Illinois Nazis. On the other hand, it’s important to remember that everybody needs somebody to love!

Also, here’s a gif that was posted with the title “Life.” Very clever. And bleak!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers