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

DCPS principals to get merit raises…The Women’s Foundation on the importance of community colleges…Census data show demographic changes in the region [News, 9.28.12]

- Thanks to a new $62 million grant from the Department of Education, high performing DCPS principals will be eligible for raises. Principals at the 40 lowest performing schools will be eligible for the biggest raises. (WaPo, 9/27)

- Prince George’s schools make steady progress but continue to face challenges (WaPo, 9/28) Toward the end of the article is this startling nugget: nationally, “only 43 percent of students who took the SAT are considered ready for college.”

- On the Washington Area Women’s Foundation blog, Mariah Craven writes about the need for investment in community colleges, which, as a lower-cost alternative to traditional four year colleges, enable many women to get a postsecondary education and improve their job prospects.

DEMOGRAPHICS | A new census report shows that the number of people identifying as multiracial in Virginia and Maryland increased at almost twice the rate of the rest of the country over the last decade. (Examiner, 9/28)

HEALTH | Grantmakers in Health has released an issue brief on the benefits and challenges of integrating oral health and primary care. (GIH, September 2012)

DISTRICT | D.C. agency fails elderly and disabled adults in need, inspector general says (WaPo, 9/28)

BUDGETS | Greater Greater Washington looks at the potential impact of sequestration on the region’s transit system. (GGW, 9/27)

IMPACT | Public Allies’ CEO Paul Schmitz reflects on the challenges facing collective impact efforts. (Huffington Post, 9/27)

Related: Paul Schmitz is the keynote speaker at our Annual Meeting this year, and registration is open. Don’t miss it!

Remember Babe? He’s real!


Demographic shifts in D.C….Rx for fresh fruits and veggies…Tougher math standards for VA students… Register for info sessions on the new Common Grant Application! [News, 5.18.12]

- New (though not surprising) census data released yesterday show that blacks are no longer the majority of the population of D.C. The shift has been driven by the white population, which makes the District unique among other cities that have experienced population growth over the last decade. (Examiner, 5/18)

Editorial: America’s changing demographics (WaPo, 5/18) “America’s complexion is changing, literally. It will be up to politicians to manage that evolution without social upheaval and to ensure that younger Americans, even if they don’t resemble their elders, get the same opportunities.”

Related: We linked to it yesterday as well, but for anyone who missed him, Dr. Jim Johnson’s recent presentation to WRAG and the nonprofit community is a must read. (WG Daily, 3/21)

- Here’s a look at Mobile Market, a farmers market on wheels that sells at or below market-priced produce to under-served neighborhoods. (WTOP, 5/17)

- A new program in D.C. will allow doctors to write prescriptions for fresh produce, which can be redeemed at local farmers markets. The prescriptions will be written for 35 families who are at risk of obesity. (WAMU, 5/17)

- Va. students prepare to take tougher math standards exam (WaPo, 5/17) The article’s descriptions of the new kinds of questions make me very glad to not be a high school student in Virginia.

- A third of freshmen at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, one of the most highly ranked magnet schools in the country, have been recommended for remedial training in math and science. (Examiner, 5/18)

EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT | On May 29, WRAG is launching revised versions of the Common Grant Application (CGA), Common Letter of Inquiry (LOI), and Common Grant Report. The Foundation Center is hosting informational sessions on June 11 and June 20 for nonprofit organizations to learn more about the changes to the forms. Registration is now open on the Foundation Center website.

The forms are available to preview:

CGA | Common LOI | Common Grant Report
Funders who will accept the CGA

For incoming Thomas Jefferson High School students, here’s what you need to know about science, boiled down to 63 seconds.

- Rebekah

Council passes major education reforms in the District…Capital Bikeshare works to help the homeless…Continuing the conversation about Trayvon Martin [News, 3.21.12]

EDUCATION | The D.C. Council has passed major education reforms with its Raising Expectations for Education Outcomes Act of 2012. Bill Turque summarizes the legislation, which includes (WaPo, 3/21):

  • An early warning system to track the progress of students in grades 4-9
  • Financial incentives for highly effective teachers
  • A call for Mayor Gray to establish a requirement that students take the SAT or ACT tests
  • The establishment of five community schools

HOMELESSNESS/TRANSIT | I’ve expressed my love of the region’s Capital Bikeshare program many times before, but let me do so again. The service has partnered with a local nonprofit to provide discounted Bikeshare memberships for homeless individuals who attend fitness and job training sessions. What a great and creative idea. (City Paper, 3/21)

SOCIAL JUSTICE | Tamara’s post on Trayvon Martin in yesterday’s Daily has been generating some great conversation. We’d love to hear your opinions – you can join the discussion here.

DEMOGRAPHICS | Rebekah recaps important points made by Dr. Jim Johnson on our region’s shifting demographics at last weeks’ Brightest Minds event. (WG Daily, 3/21)

Related: One of Johnson’s key focuses is the “browning” of America, which takes into consideration major increases in immigration and interracial relationships. On this subject, WAMU has an interesting article about the Trayvon Martin case that explores how George Zimmerman’s Hispanic heritage shifts conversations of race beyond the black/white dichotomy. (WAMU, 3/20)

ENVIRONMENT | Report: DC Water Rigged EPA Lead Testing (WAMU, 3/20) I’ve been drinking lead-infused District tap water for 28 years. I just see it as a cheap way to turn my body into a self-contained nuclear fallout shelter.

LOCAL | Greater Greater Washington looks at a map of the District from 1877 and finds lots of uniquely named neighborhoods, including Hell’s Bottom (which is suspiciously north of Foggy Bottom), Cowtown, and the notorious Murder Bay near the White House. (GGW, 3/21)

Here’s a cool story with some local flavor. President Obama recently visited Prince George’s Community College. After his speech, a deaf attendee signed “I am proud of you” to the President. Obama signed back, “Thank you.” It’s a neat, unscripted moment.

Make sure you take advantage of the beautiful weather and later sunset to see some cherry blossoms this week. They only turn 100 once!

“Disruptive Demographics” and the Greater Washington region

By Rebekah Seder, Program Manager

As reports from the 2010 census began rolling in last year, it became clear that the Greater Washington region – along with the rest of the country – is experiencing tremendous demographic change. At the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers’ Brightest Minds event last week, Dr. Jim Johnson, professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, spoke to funders and nonprofits about the implications of these changes for our region.

He began by noting a number of trends that are impacting our region, including:

  • The “browning of America” as the fertility rate of non-Hispanic white women declines below replacement levels, and foreign immigration, as well as interracial marriage, increases;
  • The “silver tsunami” – the rapid aging of the population as Baby Boomers turn 65, begin phasing out of the workforce, and become eligible for government entitlement programs; and
  • The rise of women in the workforce, as the median wage for men has declined, male college completion rate has plateaued, and male participation in the workforce has decreased, particularly since the beginning of the recession.

These changes pose challenges that the social sector, as well as the for-profit and government sectors, must position themselves to meet. For instance:

  • Demographic shifts hold the potential to further entrench the racial achievement gap in schools in areas where there is a racial generation gap. This can create patterns where school-aged people are largely minorities and older people, who do not have children in school, are largely white, and may feel less of a commitment to financially support the public school system.
  • Likewise, disparities between males and females in educational attainment have increased, while long-term unemployment has disproportionately affected all people with college degrees; and
  • Professional occupations are increasingly in competition with global companies that have access to cheaper workers, putting a strain on many sectors of the workforce

However, with these changes come many opportunities that must be leveraged to ensure the sustainability of the region:

  • Because of the rapid aging of the population, elder care is the biggest growth area of the economy;
  • Businesses and nonprofits must engage in strategic succession planning to prevent a loss of knowledge and talent as a large segment of the workforce retires; and
  • K-12 education must be re-invented in order to foster entrepreneurialism to enable the next generation of workers to compete with their international counterparts.

To ensure that the Greater Washington region capitalizes on the opportunities offered by these changes, Dr. Johnson underscored the need to rebrand the region as a sustainable place to live and do business by embracing immigration, focusing on improving educational outcomes, and recognizing the business development and job creation potential of the elder care economy. Most importantly, the region must achieve this sustainability by emphasizing social justice and equity to ensure that every individual, regardless of their demographic background, has equal access to resources and opportunities to succeed in our changing society.

Dr. Johnson’s presentation is available here.

This was the first program in Brightest Minds, a special colloquium series in honor of WRAG’s 20th anniversary. Registration is now open for the rest of the series. More information at


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