District’s homelessness problem is ‘worse than it sounds’

HOMELESSNESS | The Post has a follow up to yesterday’s City Paper article about the roundtable hearing on homelessness in the District. At the hearing, David Berns, director of the D.C. Department of Human Services, said of the current level of homelessness (WaPo, 2/4):

“It sounds bad, and it’s worse than it sounds,” Berns said.

Berns intimated that, without additional funding, he may in the spring need to close shelters for homeless singles that typically stay open all year, and he told city leaders that he wouldn’t want to have to resort to “equally horrid” measures such as no longer paying for hotel rooms. But, he said, the homeless family crisis has quickly become a long-term fiscal crisis.

EDUCATION/COMMUNITY | Donald Graham, former owner of The Washington Post and a trustee of the Philip L. Graham Fund, announced the launch of a new fund called TheDream.Us. The $25 million fund will pay the full college tuition for 1,000 students who came to the United States illegally as children. As Graham explains, his motivations are rooted in a strong sense of social justice and fairness (WaPo, 2/4):

It seemed terribly unfair that literally everyone else in the [high school] class could get access to federal loans and, if low-income, could get Pell grants, and the dreamers couldn’t get a cent.

EVENT | The Consumer Health Foundation has opened registration for their annual meeting, titled Health and Racial Equity in Turbulent Times: Implicit Bias Examined. The event will be held an March 20th and will feature john a. powell (Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society), Carlee Beth Hawkins (Project Implicit), and Brian Smedley (Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies). [More info.]

WORKFORCE/GENDER | As The Atlantic points out, the male/female wage gap tends to be over-exaggerated. But the gap between working mothers and women without children is quite significant. This disparity is chalked up to a perception that working mothers can’t be as productive because they are distracted by their children. So, is that true? (Atlantic, 2/4)

- Nonprofits and Those Who Fund Them Should Talk Openly About Finances (Chronicle, 1/3)

- Opinion - Impact Investing: It’s Time by Harvard University’s David Wood (IFRI, 1/9)

Related: On Feb. 12, WRAG is co-hosting an event with The Aspen Institute on how impact investing can support affordable housing efforts. [More info.]

- New Website Offers Inside Look at Grant Makers, Including Anonymous Reviews (Chronicle, 2/4)

- In a completely pointless but fun exercise, The Atlantic uses life expectancy in each state to comparable countries. The District is omitted, but Maryland and Virginia are most similar to Brunei. (Atlantic, 2/4) I guess Martin O’Malley and Terry McAuliffe should swap their governor titles for sultan.

- And if we want our country to be more like Cyprus than Syria (easy choice), we better cut back on sugar. A major new study finds that consuming too much sugar  can triple the likelihood of premature death from heart problems. (WTOP, 2/4)

LOCAL | The Smithsonian? The Lincoln Memorial? The National Zoo? Forget ‘em! Well, actually don’t, but do check out the District’s newest awesome attraction, St. Elizabeths ice slide! It’s perhaps the greatest idea that the District has seen in a long time, except for my idea of having a zipline from the Washington Monument to the Capitol. (GGW, 2/4)

It is a true shame to have lost Philip Seymour Hoffman, especially to an avoidable death. He was a rare actor who could take any material, no matter its quality, and elevate an entire movie. Two of my favorite characters were Sandy Lyle from the otherwise mediocre comedy Along Came Polly and CIA agent Gust Avrakotos from Charlie Wilson’s War.

Here are two great clips. Fair warning: The first contains a mildly colorful phrase and the second contains a ton of profanity. Maybe save the latter for home, or even watch the whole movie. His performance is excellent.

- Christian

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!

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.

Carmen James Lane to depart the Meyer Foundation

The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation has announced that Carmen James Lane, who serves as a senior program officer and has been with the foundation for 15 years, will join the Greater New Orleans Foundation as vice president for programs in February.

In the announcement, Meyer Foundation president Julie Rogers said:

Carmen has been an anchor of our program staff and the local grantmaking community, and we’re very sorry to be losing her…At the same time, we take pride in her success and are delighted that another community and its youth will benefit from Carmen’s expertise, her passion for helping young people advance, and her nurturing spirit.”

Julie’s remarks are spot on. Carmen has been a integral part of the WRAG community. The former Children, Youth & Families and Public Education working groups accomplished a tremendous amount under her leadership. We’re sad that she’s leaving our community, but the Greater New Orleans Foundation made a wise choice. Congratulations and best of luck, Carmen!

CWBI | What’s kwi-bee? you might be asking yourself. It’s gibberish! But CWBI is the Community Wealth Building Initiative. Last fall, we reported that two projects had been identified to lead the initiative forward. Today, we published an FAQ about the initiative’s history, progress, and next steps. Check it out here. (Daily, 1/15)

ARTS | The National Symphony and the Washington Performing Arts Society are both getting out into the community. Through new programs, the two organizations are finding creative ways to engage  audiences who might not otherwise see classical music performances. Very cool! (WaPo, 1/15)

HEALTH | Does poverty cause obesity? The research is inconclusive, but there’s at least a link between the two (Atlantic, 1/15):

[P]overty might make some people obese, but obesity definitely makes many people poorer, through two broad channels: (a) it reduces take-home pay, particularly for women; and (b) it’s related to health conditions that reduce discretionary income, too.

FOOD | What Really Happens When You Sign Up for Food Stamps (Atlantic, 1/15)

COMMUNITY | The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy is seeking nominations for its Impact Awards!

- More than three-quarters of the nation’s kindergartners are now enrolled in full day programs. (USA, 1/15) More school and no strawberry milk?! I wouldn’t want to be a kindergartner today. The 80s were so much better!

- Congress seems set to increase funding for the Head Start early-education program by a billion dollars. (Chronicle, 1/15)

A million dollars, while certainly enough for me to buy plenty of delicious white pizza from Pines of Rome in Bethesda, isn’t what it used to be. So when are we going to stop saying, “I feel like a million bucks” or that someone has a “million dollar smile”? We could say billion now, but maybe we should just skip to trillion.

Did anyone see the fog last night? I went up to my roof at 2:00am and the visibility wasn’t more than a few hundred yards. Streetlights peaked through and created a beautifully surreal effect.

Also, The Boss dropped a new album this week called High Hopes. The title track is excellent, the rest middle of the road. Anyway, he was on Jimmy Fallon last night to promoted the album, and the two collaborated on a ballad about Chris Christie. It’s a little off color, but it’s also really funny.

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!

Bad news – the unemployment rate is down

– The Department of Labor announced that the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% in December. But hold the epic fist pump. The rate dropped because huge numbers of people simply stopped looking for jobs. As CNN reports, only 62.8% of the adult population is either employed or looking for work – the lowest level since 1978. (CNN, 1/10) And we all know what 1978 was like.

- The Economic Policy Institute crunched the numbers and published some helpful (and cringe-worthy) charts. If the people who dropped out of the workforce actually started looking for work again, the unemployment rate would be a whopping 10.2%. What’s worse is that the majority of the dropouts are between ages 25 and 54, or “prime working age.” (EPI, 1/10)

– Food for thought about American democracy: In general, the people who show up at the polls on voting day aren’t representative of the general population. In particular, “the disadvantaged” are least likely to vote, even though they might have the most to gain (Atlantic, 1/10):

If inequality has grown worse over the last four decades, they ask, why hasn’t political momentum to do something about it kept pace with the scale of the problem? One potential piece of the answer is that the people most impacted by inequality are among the least likely to vote.

- “Taxation without representation” can seem like an abstract concept. But The Atlantic took an unusual approach at the issue by putting a face on it. They profile a homeless man named Malik and look at how the District’s lack of representation is directly affecting him and others like him. (Atlantic, 1/10)

- And, since many of you are being bombarded by them, check out the Post’s analysis of campaign signs for the D.C. mayoral race. (WaPo, 1/10)

We did a class in grad school about campaign signs and their conscious and subconscious effectiveness. This isn’t an endorsement of his campaign, but Jack Evans has the most effective signs by a long shot.

PHILANTHROPY | “Private foundations are victims of misconceptions and stereotyping, even within the philanthropic community.” No, people don’t get nervous when they see a private foundation walking down a dark street at night.

Instead, a Stanford Social Innovation Review article suggests that foundations are frequently judged by the behavior of the big guns – Gates, Rockefeller, and Ford – which is unfair since most foundations are nothing like them. (SSIR, 1/10)

Related: One of the comments in the article above is about how two-thirds of the nation’s foundations have asset bases below $1 million. As we found in our recent giving report, that number is considerably higher here. Less than five percent of our survey respondents reported assets of less than $2.5 million. (Daily, Nov. 2013)

GIVING | Low morale of federal employees is putting a crimp in charitable giving (WaPo, 1/10)

POVERTY | David Bornstein added his voice to the conversation about the War on Poverty, and his opinion is worth reading. While it might seem easy to call the war a failure, he says, the way that the nonprofit sector operates today, compared to fifty years ago, should give us hope. (NYT, 1/8)

EDUCATION | Fairfax schools chief calls for $96 million in budget cuts; proposal increases class sizes (WaPo, 1/10)

This weather is nuts. We went almost literally from zero to sixty this week. And while 64 degrees sounds really great for tomorrow, it’s supposed to pour all day. Perhaps it’s a good day to catch up on potential Oscar nominees? I hear that Her and American Hustle are fantastic (need to see them still), though they have a lot to prove to convince me they are better than 12 Years a Slave.

On a totally different subject, how would you feel about spending the night in a museum? Here are eight were you can do just that – including the National Archives. 

Have a great weekend!   – Christian

Victory, defeat, or somewhere in between for the War on Poverty?

POVERTY | Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of a War on Poverty. Much of the conversation around this significant benchmark is about the success or failure of the “war.” Fifty years in, as our national poverty rate is at fifteen percent, opinions vary. There is plenty of good reading on the subject today.

- Brookings looks at the spread of poverty to the suburbs and asks whether this is an indicator that the war has failed. Here’s a great snippet (Brookings, 1/8):

There are many lessons to be learned from the successes and failures of these place-based policies since the War on Poverty began. Among the clearest is that we can’t rely on 50-year-old architecture to succeed in addressing the broader reach and scale of today’s need, particularly in a resource-constrained environment.

- Pablo Eisenberg’s column takes a more positive view of the war’s impact, and he says that the empowerment of the poor to become leaders has been a critical component to that end. (Chronicle, 1/8)

- The Chronicle takes a look at how nonprofit leaders are using this anniversary as an opportunity to renew Johnson’s charge. (Chronicle, 1/8)

- NPR’s Pam Fessler returns to ground zero – Martin County, Kentucky. That’s the place Johnson used to symbolize the necessity of the War on Poverty. Have things improved there? (NPR, 1/8)

- Interesting question – should the government even be trying to fight poverty in the first place? The vast majority (86%) of Americans think that it should. (Nation, 1/7)

- And finally, here’s a decisive opinion on war.

RACE/CRIME | Do you know how many black males have been arrested by age 23? Half of them. And while that number is shockingly high, Hispanic (44%) and white (38%) males aren’t much farther behind. The Atlantic reports on new numbers published in the journal Crime & Delinquency and they highlight something that should matter to everyone in our community (Atlantic, 1/8):

There is substantial research showing that arrested youth are not only more likely to experience immediate negative consequences such as contact with the justice system, school failure and dropout, and family difficulties but these problems are likely to reverberate long down the life course in terms of additional arrests, job instability, lower wages, longer bouts with unemployment, more relationship troubles, and long-term health problems including premature death.

TRANSIT | Chevy Chase is considering taking legal action to block construction of the Purple Line. I wish he would just focus on making another entry in the Fletch series. Wait, oops, wrong Chevy Chase. (Patch via GGW, 1/8)

- Here’s an account of a homeless advocate’s efforts to bring people into shelters this week. Despite the frigid temperatures, it isn’t an easy task convincing some people. (WaPo, 1/8)

- As freezing temperatures continue, Mayor Gray has re-purposed some Metrobuses as emergency shelters. (CP, 1/8)

WORKFORCE/EDUCATION | Here’s a transcript from an NPR session on how to link GED tests with workforce development. The featured guest is the president of LaGuardia Community College in New York, which is piloting a new program. (NPR, 1/8) I should stop writing “here’s a….” It’s already pretty obvious that I’m linking to something. Bad writing, Christian!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the use of war as a metaphor to address societal challenges. Our nation’s historical success (at least pre-1960s) with military war makes the metaphor appealing. Within that history lies decisive victory. We knew for sure that we had won World War II, for example. But during the last half century – Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, the broader War on Terror – the shifting nature of warfare and consequent difficulty of identifying clear success has muddied the value of war as a metaphor.

What if we rewrite the narrative? How could we frame the War on Poverty to change our thinking and our tactics? Your thoughts?

Speaking of war, here’s a really cool time lapse that shows every day of WWII.  And a song by a band called War!

Guess how many new homes we need in our region.

George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis has released a new report on housing in the region. By 2032, the Greater Washington region is expected to add 857,334 new jobs. Where will the people taking these new jobs live? In tents, if we don’t pick up our construction pace.

City Paper’s Aaron Wiener takes a look at the report and says (CP, 12/19):

[The new jobs will] necessitate creating 548,298 new units of housing in the region, split about evenly between the next 10 years and the following 10 years.

Just how difficult will it be to build that much new housing? Well, let’s compare it to our recent housing construction. Since 1990, D.C. has issued an average of 1,169 housing permits per year. Between now and 2032, that figure will need to increase to 5,262 to meet demand. In other words, our housing construction over the next 20 years will need to be 350 percent greater than it is now.

Housing affordability is a big factor in this conversation. The report notes that more than a quarter of the projected new jobs will pay low wages.

Related: Here’s a report we released earlier this year about where families can currently afford to live in (and far out) of our region, based on income and transportation costs. (Daily, 4/30)

HOUSING | As we plan for meeting these housing challenges, we should probably avoid building tiny apartments. According to a new study, having cramped housing leads to bad psychological outcomes, particularly for low-income children. (Atlantic, 12/20)

Related: Well, we just happen to also have a report on the connection between housing and education outcomes for kids. (Daily, 12/9)

RACE | Last week, WRAG members met with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s vice president for program strategy, Dr. Gail Christopher, and president-elect, La June Montgomery Tabron, to talk about unconscious bias and how it affects philanthropy (Daily, 12/20):

According to Dr. Christopher, who heads the America Healing initiative at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, this starts with an understanding that centuries of racial injustices created inequities that persist today. While the laws that sanctioned segregation are gone, racism continues to exist, often manifesting itself in subtle and often unconscious ways.

Related: WRAG President Tamara Copeland sat down with Dr. Christopher afterwards and asked her to summarize her most important points in two minutes. Check out the video here.

EQUITY | Speaking of unconscious bias, it turns out that Americans are really bad at estimating income inequality – but you’ll be surprised by the truth. (Atlantic, 12/20) Maybe that’s not unconscious bias, but it was an easy transition!

COMMUNITY | The Washington Area Women’s Foundation put together a great year-end look at the policies that most affected women in 2013. At the top of the list? SNAP cuts. Click through to see what else made the list. (WAWF, 12/20)

HEALTHCARE | Obama administration relaxes rules of health-care law four days before deadline (WaPo, 12/20)

EDUCATION | Some colleges in region are hit particularly hard as enrollment falls (WaPo, 12/20)

- This is always an important time of year for fundraising. Early estimates show that year-end giving in 2013 has significantly increased for many charities. (Chronicle, 12/20)

- Holy cow. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has committed $1 billion to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. (Chronicle, 12/20) Ugh, I knew that I should have gone to Harvard and dropped out.

This is the last Daily of 2013! It’s been a fun year, folks. We’ll be back in action on January 2nd. Until then, all of us at WRAG wish you all the happiest of holidays.

But before signing off, I have to share a few things. First, a holiday tune that’s appropriate for our incoming heat wave. Second, a profile of the legendary John Goodman – complete with a picture of snow in his hair! Very seasonal.

And finally, one of the best scenes from The Muppets Christmas Carol! See you all in 2014!

- Christian

D.C. leads the country in school test score gains, but…

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The good news is that it’s Thursday (thus, nearly Friday). The other good news is that D.C. public schools posted the largest test score gains of any urban school district in the country. The bad news is that the scores are still well below average (WAMU, 12/19):

In a statement, Mayor Vincent Gray said the test results show DCPS is on the right track.

“We are very proud of our students and our teachers, and these results are another reason why we need to stay the course and double down on what’s working for our students,” Gray said.

But while D.C. may have had largest gains, the city is still in the back of the pack overall, posting below-average tests scores [compared] to other large cities in the study.

The District also has the largest gap in achievement between white students and black students.

Related: The Atlantic takes a broader look at the country’s schools systems and calls them “a mess.” (WaPo, 12/19)

HOLIDAYS | Have you ever heard the story of Fake Christmas? It all started with a trip to South America when…well, let Tamara tell you about it! Check out her holiday message in today’s Daily. (Daily, 12/19)

HOUSING/HEALTH | The New England Journal of Medicine isn’t a typical Daily source, mostly because we’re not doctors (unless we’re pretending we are so that we win arguments). But the journal features a post today that should be interesting to many of you.

It looks at the connection between housing and healthcare, and a pilot program in New York that is exploring the link between them (NEJM, 12/19):

Among the countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States ranks first in health care spending but 25th in spending on social services. These are not two unrelated statistics: high spending on the former may result from low spending on the latter.

Studies have shown that the costs of supportive housing are largely offset by resultant savings in services used, mostly from reduced use of the health care system. Some studies of high-risk patients have found that savings exceeded the costs of providing housing, thus yielding a net positive return on investment.

LOCAL | Our region is home to six of the ten highest-earning counties in the country. The federal government accounts for much of the wealth, but the Atlantic points out that “comparing counties can be a bit like comparing apples to, well, enormous fruit baskets.”

Related: As our region grows, the government might not be its driving force for much longer. Check out the Post’s article on our new start-up economy. (WaPo, 12/19)

TRANSIT | Metro has unveiled plans for 10 new stations to increase the system’s capacity, including a few in Georgetown. The stations would be built by 2040 (aka 2193 Metro Standard Time), at which point we should already have flying cars, resorts on Mars, and possibly streetcars on H Street. (WaPo, 12/18)

CNN has recently been a mixed bag of misreported news, Huffington Post-esque drama, and occasional bits of excellence. Somewhere in that bag belongs this neat list of 10 big ideas. Each one is interesting, but my favorite would be dividing the United States into only two time zones.

Tomorrow is the last Daily of 2013! See you then.

Patricia Mathews named as new WRAG board chair

We’re excited to announce that Patricia N. Mathews, president & CEO of the Northern Virginia Health Foundation, has been elected as the new board chair of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers. She succeeds Terri Lee Freeman, president of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.

WRAG President Tamara Copeland shares her enthusiasm:

I am delighted with the board’s choice of Pat Mathews as our new chair. Pat has been a leader in the WRAG community for many years, particularly through her involvement with the Health Working Group. This year, she was instrumental in restructuring WRAG’s convening groups in creative and exciting ways for 2014. I look forward to working with Pat over the next two years.

Additionally, the board elected three officers to key positions:

  • Lynn Tadlock, Deputy Executive Director, The Claude Moore Charitable Foundation (Vice Chair)
  • Anna Bard, Community Affairs Manager – MD, D.C. & VA, Wells Fargo Philanthropy Team (Treasurer)
  • Eric Kessler, President, New Venture Fund (Secretary

FOOD | Lindsay Smith, WRAG’s consultant for the Washington Regional Convergence Partnership, wrote a guest post for the Northern Virginia Health Foundation’s blog about building a stronger regional food system. She points out (NVHF, 12/17):

Northern Virginia is one of the most affluent parts of the country, but unfortunately, this fact does not equate to good health or universal access to affordable and nutritious food for all its residents.

CSR | You better watch out. You better not cry (except while watching Forrest Gump). You better not pout, I’m telling you why: The Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility is coming to town!

As we gear up for the Institute’s inaugural class next month – yes, next month is 2014 – we have a special holiday-themed post about what some of the class members are looking forward to next year. (Daily, 12/18)

- Opinion: Controversy alert! Robert Reich, chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote a piece for the Christian Science Monitor that calls out funding of “culture palaces” and elite schools (CSM, 12/16):

I’m all in favor of supporting fancy museums and elite schools, but face it: These aren’t really charities as most people understand the term. They’re often investments in the life-styles the wealthy already enjoy and want their children to have as well. Increasingly, being rich in America means not having to come across anyone who’s not.

That final sentence is absurd and sensational, but what do you folks think about his other points?

- Following yesterday’s announcement that Susan Desmond-Hellmann will be the new head of the Gates Foundation, the Chronicle features a detailed look at her qualifications. (Chronicle, 12/18)

EQUITY | New income and poverty data from the Census Bureau show that the country’s wealth is densely concentrated in the Northeast Corridor. (Atlantic, 12/18)

- Following up on the story above, The Atlantic explores a new service that looks at every American neighborhood and maps out where renters live – categorized by age, income, education, and more. (Atlantic, 12/18)

- Activists push for affordable housing on public land in Arlington (WaPo, 12/18)

- The Montgomery County Council has allocated $650,000 to help homeless individuals find housing. That sounds like a lot, but the funds only cover 15 people. (BCC-Patch, 12/18)

WORKFORCE | The D.C. Council approved a boost to the city’s minimum wage. Now it’s headed to Mayor Gray’s desk. (MSNBC, 12/18)

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, here are 10 great pranks that you can pull on Christmas morning.

And for those who don’t, check out this intriguing trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes!


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