Taxes, taxes, taxes

TAXES
- According to a study from the D.C. Office of Revenue Analysis, the tax burden on low-income people is heavier in Virginia than elsewhere in the region. Of course, according to Arlington officials, you get what you pay for (WAMU, 4/15):

Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette says the study did not look at services, noting that low-income residents in Arlington benefit from public schools and affordable housing programs. And Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille says offering services is not cheap.

“Talk to people who live in D.C., and they wish they had better services, you know?” Euille says. “EMS services, for instance, better police response times, more recreation centers. So it’s what you invest in.”

- Looking at data on tax filers reveals how D.C. has changed over the past few years. (WAMU, 4/15)

- Here’s an interesting breakdown of where your federal, state, and local tax dollars go. (Atlantic, 4/15)

ARTS & HUMANITIES
- D.C.’s NoMa BID is seeking proposals from artists and designers to turn the four underpasses in the neighborhood into “art parks.” (DCist, 4/14) As someone who frequently walks under these underpasses, that sounds awesome.

- The Jewish Historical Society of Washington’s historic building will be moved (again) in a few years, and has plans to open a new museum documenting the city’s Jewish heritage. (WAMU, 4/11).

- A mural that depicts the Latino community in Adams Morgan is being restored after being damaged in the 2011 earthquake. (WAMU, 4/15)

EDUCATION
- Two op-ed contributors in the New York Times explain the impact of parental involvement on academic achievement, which is a major component of education reform efforts. The findings of their research are not what you would expect. (NY Times, 4/12)

- Universities and community colleges around the country are changing their approach toward remedial classes, as only a quarter of students who take remedial courses end up graduating with a degree. (WTOP, 4/15)

FOOD | A program at a public housing complex in Ward 7 teaches area residents how to prepare healthy foods that are also “accessible, tasty and affordable.” (Elevation DC, 4/15)

BUDGET | In Conflict Over Budget, Gray Warns Of Dire Legal Consequences (WAMU, 4/11)


Here’s what we missed under all that cloud cover last night. Bummer.

-Rebekah

Closing the academic “excellence gap” in Fairfax

EDUCATION
- Over the past decade, a program called Young Scholars has tried to address the wide disparity in the number of low-income and minority students in gifted and talented programs in Fairfax County schools by identifying promising students at a very young age (WaPo, 4/10):

Experts have put forth a variety of theories to explain why bright students in some groups fail to excel: They may enter kindergarten less ready; lack access to enriching resources or activities; face pressure from peer groups that stigmatize high achievement; or contend with instability at home. A lack of basic skills may mask their potential, and teacher bias may creep in.

As Carol Horn, Fairfax County Public Schools’ K-12 program coordinator, made the rounds at schools with high low-income and minority populations in 2000, she learned that bright students were often perilously behind by third grade, when most decisions about gifted services were made.

“The principals said, ‘You really need to start looking in kindergarten and have something for those students,’ ” Horn says. After a pilot program that included a three-week summer camp, Young Scholars was up and running. Today it has expanded to 82 Fairfax schools, serving 5,266 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, with roughly half coming from low-income families and half identified because they speak English as a second language.

- As DCPS implements the Common Core Standards, teachers say students are learning to read better. (WAMU, 4/14)

- Community college-university pipeline eases higher-ed route (WaPo, 4/10)

- D.C. school proposals trigger debate over future of neighborhood schools (WaPo, 4/12)

- The Post has announced 20 winners of the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award at schools throughout the region. (WaPo, 4/10)

REGION
- The region’s population growth has finally started cooling off. Economists point to federal budget cuts for the slowing growth. D.C. proper, on the other hand, is still attracting swarms of new residents. (WaPo, 4/11)

- Speaking of budget cuts: the national parks in the area, which are huge sources of revenue for jurisdictions across the region, are feeling the pinch as Congress has cut spending on them over the past few years. (WAMU, 4/14)

FOOD | Lindsay Smith, consultant for the Washington Regional Food Funders, reflects on Michael Twitty’s message about why the cultural heritage of food is as important to consider as environmental sustainability and other related issues at the kickoff of WRAG’s Brightest Minds series. (Daily, 4/14)

HOMELESSNESS | Since Mayor Gray launched the 500 Families, 100 Days initiative two weeks ago, 26 families have moved out of the homeless shelter at D.C. General. (DCist, 4/11)

HOUSING | Md. gubernatorial hopeful Brown calls for major increase in affordable housing program (WaPo, 4/14)

WORKFORCE | At Potomac Job Corps Center, working to bridge the skills gap (WaPo, 4/13)

ENVIRONMENT | DC-area transportation is not on track to meet climate change goals (GGW, 4/11)

NONPROFITS | Catching up with Patty Stonesifer (WaPo, 4/13)


Who would have thought that this super famous and super boring Microsoft desktop image would actually be kind of interesting?

- Rebekah

The achievement gap is growing in Montgomery County schools

EDUCATION | A new report finds that the achievement gap is widening in Montgomery County schools, as schools become more divided by race and income (WaPo, 4/9):

The report, which comes amid county discussions about the school district’s $2.3 billion budget request, creates a portrait that is at odds with the popular image of Montgomery as a prosperous suburb of high-performing schools. It points to an economically divided county where the level of high school poverty appears to make an academic difference.

[...]

The share of black and Latino students grew in high-poverty schools, while the share of white and Asian students grew at low-poverty schools during the past three years, according to the report. Performance also diverged.

At high-poverty schools, students were 9 percent less likely to graduate on time and 45 percent less likely to earn at least one passing score on an Advanced Placement exam than their counterparts at wealthier schools. Students at high-poverty schools were 29 percent less likely to complete an Algebra 2 course with a C or better by the 11th grade, and they were 56 percent less likely to score a 1650 or better on the SAT than students at more affluent schools.

VETERANS | The latest installment of the Post‘s excellent multi-part series on veterans looks at the physical and mental consequences of deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, beyond injuries sustained in combat (WaPo, 4/9):

But their ailments nonetheless can be life-altering – chronic pain, fits of anger, sleeplessness, incessant ringing in the ears – and have added to the ongoing cost of the wars. Of those no longer serving in the military, 45 percent have sought compensation for service-related disabilities, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Thirty-seven percent of them have been deemed disabled enough to receive lifelong payments, a figure that could increase as the department works through a mountain of unprocessed claims.

[...]

The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts may have their own unique health legacy. Thousands of troops who walked away from roadside bomb blasts, because of luck or mine-resistant trucks or both, may nonetheless have suffered moderate brain injuries that could cause long-term health consequences.

COMMUNITY | In honor of Equal Pay Day (which technically was yesterday, but I think the sentiment still holds today), Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, interim president of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, wrote about why we can’t afford to wait to close the gender pay gap. (WAWF, 4/8)

DISTRICT
- To address the need for more playgrounds throughout the city, particularly in low-income areas where many children don’t have access to safe places for outdoor activity, the Office of Planning has launched a design competition for “arts-based” play spaces. The competition is funded by a grant from ArtPlace America. (GGW, 4/9)

D.C. Council’s Cheh gains early support for major overhaul of city transportation agencies (WaPo, 4/8)

TRANSIT | Many thanks to the Daily reader who yesterday sent me a link to the, in her words, “most thorough and frequently updated resource” on the progress of the Silver Line.

WRAG | Not to toot our own horn, but we very (very) happily announced the launch of our brand spankin’ new website this morning. Check it out!


Ever heard of Schlieren flow visualization? Despite the name, it’s actually kind of cool.

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back on Friday.

- Rebekah

An “unintended consequence” of healthcare law impacts community health centers

HEALTHCARE | Local community health clinics, like Mary’s Center, are having a hard time competing with MedStar, the for-profit health care provider, as it expands into the the community with new primary care facilities. In the long-term, this could threaten the clinics’ financial stability and ability to continue serving the uninsured. (WaPo, 4/7):

The tension is an unintended consequence of the health-care law, which has set off an intense competition for a growing number of privately insured patients, who tend to be the best-paying customers. Under the law, thousands of people in the Washington area and millions across the country are getting coverage for the first time. That has prompted a variety of health providers to move into neighborhoods that were once the exclusive turf of community health centers, which are designed primarily for low-income patients.

For many consumers, having additional places to get medical care will provide more choice and convenience, health experts say. But community health centers worry that the bigger providers will siphon off the insured, leaving them with more uninsured patients. That, they say, would imperil them financially and hurt the people who have no other place to get care — including illegal immigrants and others who won’t benefit from the health-care law.

FOOD | A couple weeks back, the Washington Regional Convergence Partnership – now the Washington Regional Food Funders – provided testimony in support of more coordination of food policy in the District. Elevation DC reports on the hearing and what a food policy director could do to further work to improve food access in the city. (Elevation, 4/8)

Related: The Washington Regional Food Funders remain interested in advocacy for good food. Today they share this report from the first ever regional gathering of food policy councils and coalitions they hosted last fall and talked about at the hearing.

POVERTY | Silver Spring is characteristic of the growing “suburbanization” of poverty, with a number of nonprofit organizations reporting a big increase in the number of people they serve over the past few years. (WAMU, 4/4)

HOUSING
- What do solar panels have to do with affordable housing? A lot. (Elevation DC, 4/8)

- City Looks to Restart Park Morton Redevelopment (CP, 4/4)

- The Search for Affordable Housing Is Pushing the Middle Class to the Exurbs (Atlantic, 4/8)

Related: This is an issue we looked at last year with an edition of What Funders Need to Know that looked at why philanthropy should focus on supporting housing affordability close to transit.

WORKFORCE | A new report from DC Appleseed says that the District’s job training programs are failing to meet the needs of District residents. The report calls for additional workforce training funding and better coordination among District agencies that work on adult education. (WAMU, 4/4)

EDUCATION
- Obama announces federal grants to help prepare students for careers (WaPo, 4/7)

- D.C. mayoral primary has Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s future up in the air (WaPo, 4/3)

GIVING | Tomorrow, April 9, is Spring2ACTion, Alexandria’s annual day of giving. This year’s goal is to raise $1 million for Alexandria nonprofits. More information here.

TRANSIT | Suuuuuuure. (WBJ, 4/7)


If this isn’t an argument for getting rid of D.C.’s height limit, I don’t know what is.

- Rebekah

There are 5 jobs available for every unemployed veteran

VETERANS | The Post continues its excellent series on veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today with an in-depth look at veteran unemployment. Unemployment among 25-34 year old veterans remains a couple percentage points higher than the general population, despite a remarkable number of major commitments from corporations to hire veterans:

Add up all the pledges, and they total more than 1 million jobs for a population of unemployed post-Sept. 11-era veterans that is estimated most months by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at 210,000.

The math is overwhelming: There are now about five pledged jobs for every unemployed service member who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan.

It also raises some questions:

If there really are more than 1 million jobs out there, why isn’t every Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran employed? Is there a problem with what the companies are doing? Might it have something to do with the veterans themselves?

Related: Veterans often encounter unique challenges when they start their first civilian job. Last year WRAG members interested in more effectively supporting veterans in our region met with an HR expert in military transitions to learn about the issue, and ways philanthropy can promote better hiring and on-boarding policies to ease these transitions. (Daily, Sept. 2013)

BUDGET
- Mayor Gray released his 2015 budget proposal this morning, and there are lots of spending proposals of note, including a cost-of-living bump for TANF recipients, $2 million toward programs focused on helping families avoid homelessness, and another $4.7 million toward homeless veterans. (WaPo, 4/3)

- Gray Excludes Funds For College Scholarship Program From 2015 Budget (WAMU, 4/3)

COMMUNITY | The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has announced a $30 million gift from Boeing that will support educational activities and exhibitions, including a major renovation of its main hall. (DCist, 4/3)

EDUCATION
Loudoun County chooses Eric Williams as new schools superintendent (WaPo, 4/2)

- Maybe paying for good grades is not so bad, says the Post‘s Jay Mathews after the number of students taking AP exams in area schools significantly increased when students and teachers were paid for high scores. (WaPo, 3/30)

WORKFORCE | Md. minimum-wage bill clears key Senate hurdle; implementation would take until 2018 (WaPo, 4/3)


Via Ghosts of DC, here’s a kind of odd promo video for Washington from the 1930s. It’s 6 minutes of back-to-back terrible jokes, but the footage is pretty cool.

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back to being almost daily on Tuesday. 

- Rebekah

 

An effort to reduce pregnancies among Hispanic teens in Montgomery County

YOUTH | While the overall teen pregnancy rate has been declining, there remains a significant disparity between Hispanics and other groups, an issue that one local nonprofit has been working to address in Montgomery County (WaPo, 3/29):

Even as the Latino birthrate has fallen in Montgomery over the past two decades, it remains more than 2.5 times higher than the rate for the county’s black girls in that age group and more than three times the rate for white girls.

[...]

Since 1996, the earliest year in which Montgomery officials have published data, the great disparity between birthrates for Latino and white teenagers has hardly changed. Meanwhile, the gap between black teenagers and Latino teenagers has increased. This has perplexed local officials at a time when teen pregnancy rates in the nation are plummeting and the gaps between all races and ethnic groups continue to shrink.

For advocates, the disparity has come to symbolize the socioeconomic gulf between Latinos, largely a population of new immigrants, and more established populations in one of the country’s most affluent counties.

COMMUNITY | Today the Citi Foundation announced the launch of Pathways to Progress, a three-year, $50 million initiative in 10 cities, including D.C., to provide career training to 100,000 low-income youth. (Citi, 3/31). More information on the initiative is available here.

VETERANS | The Post commissioned a wide-ranging survey of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a must-read for those interested in issues affecting veterans and their families. The quick take-away from the intro: “More than half of the 2.6 million Americans dispatched to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with physical or mental health problems stemming from their service, feel disconnected from civilian life and believe the government is failing to meet the needs of this generation’s veterans.” (WaPo, 3/29)

Related: WRAG members have been convening regularly over the past year to look at ways philanthropy can better support veterans and their families in our region. Last year, they learned about challenges some veterans encounter when transitioning to the civilian workforce, and today (literally, right this minute) they are examining the potential of scaling up a successful program in Montgomery County for the entire region.

HOUSING
- Housing advocates see great potential for affordable housing options in Ward 8, particularly as developers begin to re-hab the area’s “abandominiums” – condos and apartments that have been left empty. (WAMU, 3/28)

- How your housing affects your health (WaPo, 3/26)

EDUCATION/WORKFORCE | In his latest column, Robert McCartney argues that recent changes to the GED exam, put in place to meet higher demands of employers, are making the exam far more difficult to pass during a time when unemployment for those without high school diplomas is so high. (WaPo, 3/29)

REGION | The population of the Greater Washington region continued to grow last year, due primarily to the availability of jobs. (WaPo, 3/28) As Stephen Fuller explains in the article, “very few people flock to D.C. to enjoy the weather.”

HEALTHCARE | Maryland gears up for health exchange redo (WaPo, 3/30)

ARTS/PHILANTHROPY | S&R Foundation provides Washington Ballet with live music, affects city’s music scene (WaPo, 3/28)

CSR | Breaking Down The Benefits Of In-Kind Giving — And The Regulations Around It (Forbes, 3/30)

Related: On Thursday and Friday last week, WRAG and Johns Hopkins University hosted the second session of the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility. Check out the speaker-line up and photos from the session. From the pictures, it looks like a fun and jammed-packed two days. We’ll begin taking applications for the 2015 class early this summer. More information here.


You know how in some circles the first thing people ask you is “what do you do?” That drives me crazy. Here’s a cool video that gives an overview of all of the obnoxious ways people form quick judgments about new acquaintances all over the country.

- Rebekah

Thousands still trying to enroll in health insurance in Maryland

HEALTHCARE | Maryland health centers are thronged with people trying to enroll in health insurance before the March 31 deadline. Many people are being told to come back another day because the locations lack the capacity to meet demand (WaPo, 3/27):

Navigators at the center spend much of their time explaining the complicated basics of health insurance. Although the sign-up deadline is well publicized, there is confusion about nearly everything else. Several of those waiting for help Tuesday and Wednesday said they had no idea what sort of insurance they wanted, for example, or how much it might cost.

“We want them to make a very informed decision,” said [Lesly] Martinez, the program manager. “They’ve never had insurance before, so we have to explain: ‘What is a co-pay? What is a deductible?’ ”

The center sees a high number of immigrants, some of whom speak limited English. Although Maryland had hoped to launch a Spanish-language version of its exchange, that never happened.

WASHINGTON AIDS PARTNERSHIP | Today we’re celebrating Channing Wickham‘s 20th year leading the Washington AIDS Partnership. Twenty years is a major milestone, and a number of partners, supporters, and others who have been involved with the AIDS Partnership over the years shared their thoughts with us about Channing. (Daily, 3/27)

COMMUNITY | This morning WRAG member and partner organization, the Association of Small Foundations, pulled back the curtain on their new name and brand: Exponent Philanthropy. Congratulations!

Related: Foundation Group Expands to Reach More Donors (Chronicle, 3/27)

EDUCATION
- Yesterday DCPS chancellor Kaya Henderson and Donald Graham, trustee of the Philip L. Graham Fund, were on “Andrea Mitchell Reports” to discuss the progress DCPS has made over the last few years. (MSNBC, 3/26)

- The traditional public Alice Deal Middle School, where students have a plethora of extra-curricular activities to choose from, and the charter school DC Prep, which focuses singly on academics, offer two different models for successful middle schools. (WAMU, 3/27)

- Charter school advocates rank Maryland among the worst states in the country in terms of laws favorable for charter schools. (WaPo, 3/23)

HOMELESSNESS | Coucilmembers Urge Gray to Continue Sheltering Homeless Families As Temperatures Rise (CP, 3/26)

LOCAL | Consultants: Columbia Pike streetcar would bring more money, growth than bus transit (WaPo, 3/26)


Ever wondered what it would be like to skydive off of a skyscraper? (Well, I have, at least.)

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back on Monday. Have a great weekend!

- Rebekah

You need to work 137 hours a week on minimum wage to afford rent in D.C.

HOUSING | Another day, another study that shows that housing in the Greater Washington region is really, really (really) not affordable. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition:

Renters in the District of Columbia need to work 137 hours per week at the minimum wage of $8.25 an hour to afford a Fair Market Rent of $1,469.

Renters in Maryland need to work 138 hours per week at a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to afford a Fair Market Rent of $1,297.

Renters in Virginia need to work 115 hours per week at the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to afford a Fair Market Rent of $1,088.

On the bright side, when D.C.’s minimum wage rises to $11.50 an hour, workers will only need to work a leisurely 98 hours a week to pay their rent. (WAMU, 3/24)

HOMELESSNESS
- The Gray administration has been ordered by a D.C. Superior Court judge to immediately stop sheltering homeless families in rec centers on freezing nights. (WaPo, 3/24)

- There are over 4,000 homeless students attending D.C. schools – a number that has increased 60 percent over the last five years. (WAMU, 3/20)

Related: Late last year we published What Funders Need to Know: Educational Outcomes and the Relationship to Housing, which looked at the impact of housing affordability, or lack thereof, on educational achievement.

ARTS | WRAG member Ken Grossinger, chair of the CrossCurrents Foundation, recently penned an article for Grantmakers in the Arts’ Reader on an innovative public art project in Baltimore that used street art to draw attention to negligent landlords and pushed the city to raze dilapidated buildings that were blighting low-income neighborhoods. Today, we’ve re-published the article on the Daily. (Daily, 3/25)

Related for arts funders: The Arts & Humanities Working Group, which aims to increase awareness among philanthropy of our region’s vibrant nonprofit arts sector and how the arts can positively impact other issue areas – including social justice and community development – is meeting on April 24. More information is available here.

COMMUNITY | Get to know Nicky Goren, the next president of the Meyer Foundation. (WBJ, 3/20)

EDUCATION | As the expiration date of D.C.’s No Child Left Behind waiver approaches, the U.S. Department of Education has issued a new report criticizing the Office of the State Superintendent of Education for its lack of progress toward improving the city’s lowest-performing schools (WaPo, 3/24):

[OSSE] has faltered in pressing for improvements in the District’s lowest-performing schools, arguably the most important aim of the original No Child Left Behind law. Those schools were supposed to develop plans for improvement in seven key areas, from leadership and staffing to curriculum, family engagement and school culture. The OSSE promised to monitor those efforts and to report annually on the schools’ progress.

The OSSE has not done that, according to the federal report issued last week that outlined several other problems at the agency, including a failure to direct federal Title I funds to the appropriate schools and to include required data on school report cards.

FOOD | Yesterday, WRAG’s Lindsay Smith, consultant for the Washington Regional Convergence Partnership, testified before the D.C. Council on the need for more coordination of D.C.’s food policy. You can read her testimony here.

Related: Better coordination of food policy is especially important as there are many food-related initiatives happening around the region, as well as a growing number of funders who are investing in the area of food. To help educate local philanthropy on the food system, earlier this month we released What Funders Need to Know: The Food System.

VETERANS | Some Grant Makers Get Savvier About Aid to War Veterans (Chronicle, 3/23)

Related for WRAG members: Funders in our region are identifying ways to better serve veterans and military families locally. WRAG members are invited to join us for a brown bag lunch discussion next Monday on the topic. More information is available here.


Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of one emotionally overwrought Saturday detention, when a brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel, and a recluse talked a lot about their feelings in one of my favorite 80s movies.

- Rebekah

Nicky Goren named next Meyer Foundation president and CEO

Major news for the region’s philanthropic and nonprofit community this morning. The Meyer Foundation announced that Nicky Goren, current president of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, has been appointed Meyer’s next president and CEO, effective July 1.

In a statement, Nicky said:

My time at Washington Area Women’s Foundation has helped me understand the significant challenges facing economically vulnerable families in our region and the organizations and systems that support them,” says Goren. “It has also convinced me of the vital role philanthropy can play in bringing together partners and collaborators across all sectors to create social change. I am honored to have been asked to lead an institution I have long admired, and am committed to maintaining Meyer’s leadership role in the community.

We at WRAG are thrilled by the appointment. Upon hearing the announcement, WRAG’s president Tamara Copeland said:

I was thrilled to learn that Nicky has been named to lead the Meyer Foundation. I have always been impressed by her commitment to the region and by her work on behalf of the economically disadvantaged. I look forward to continuing to work with Nicky as a member of the WRAG community.

Congratulations to Nicky and to the Meyer Foundation!

VETERANS
- Unemployment among veterans has trended higher than the rate among civilians. Among the reasons for this are widely-held stereotypes about post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as the difficulty of translating military duties into marketable civilian skills (Marketplace, 3/20):

Companies love to hang yellow ribbons and run ads about supporting America’s veterans. But veterans say they aren’t always as quick to hire them because civilian managers don’t understand how to evaluate military experience.

“The hardest part for me when I first got out of the military was figuring out what to write on a resume,” says Marine veteran Michael Wersan, who served in Iraq as an infantry assaultman. “Nobody cares that I did 700 patrols in seven months. That doesn’t compute for a civilian.”

Related: Last year, WRAG members met with Emily King, an HR expert who focuses on military transitions. She talked about some of the challenges veterans face at new civilian jobs, and how philanthropy can best support returning veterans. (Daily, Sept. 2013)

- There seems to be a consensus that improving mental health services for veterans should be a major priority in Virginia, but there’s no agreement on how best to do that. (WAMU, 3/20)

- City Paper profiles several veterans attending college in D.C., whose military experiences set them apart from typical college freshmen. (CP, 3/20)

- Related for WRAG members: A group of funders have been meeting regularly at WRAG to look at issues facing veterans and military families in our region. The next meeting is coming up on March 31. More information is available here.

ARTS
- A study commissioned by the Maryland State Arts Council found that arts districts throughout the state drove significant economic benefits to their communities, by creating about 5,100 jobs. (WTOP, 3/20)

- A Fairfax County high school has received a grant from the Grammy Foundation to support a music program for students with emotional disabilities. (WaPo, 3/20)

Related event for funders: The next Arts & Humanities Working Group meeting for arts funders is on April 24.  The meeting will focus on the challenges and opportunities facing local arts nonprofits. More information available here.

PHILANTHROPY | David Rubinstein’s $7.5 million gift to support repairs to the Washington Monument may be part of a trend among major philanthropists to step in when government funding isn’t available. (Marketplace, 3/19)

Related: During last year’s government shutdown, Tamara wrote about why philanthropy cannot replace government. (Daily, Oct. 2013)

EDUCATION
- Review finds serious test-taking violations in four D.C. schools (WaPo, 3/20)

- Parents, students praise D.C. TAG in effort to shore up congressional support (WaPo, 3/20)

- Here are the things that testing data can’t tell you about student achievement. (GGE, 3/19)


How long can you stare at an anomalous motion illusion before you fall out of your chair?

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back on Tuesday, which, rumor has it, could be a snow(y) day. On that note, happy Spring!

-Rebekah

Americans need a “medical cultural revolution”

HEALTH | In the Huffington Post, Brian Castrucci, Chief Program and Strategy Officer of the de Beaumont Foundation, calls for a “medical cultural revolution” to address the high rate of chronic illness among Americans — illnesses that are largely caused by social and environmental conditions, rather than bacteria and viruses (HuffPo, 3/6)

There is no treatment, pill, or vaccine to address the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables to support a healthy diet, limited options for physical activity, exposures to environmental toxins, or the disproportionate distribution of alcohol and tobacco advertising and outlets. These are the community-level drivers of the chronic diseases that plague population health and are responsible for much of the healthcare spending in the US.

Health care reforms, including the Patient Accountability and Affordable Care Act, focus on needed changes to healthcare financing and reimbursement as well as increased access to healthcare. These are worthwhile goals, but they will not lead to the transformation needed in American health. Integrating the efforts of public health and clinical medicine will allow us to make the next vital transformation in healthcare to ensure that we have a system that acts upon the undeniable link between the individual and the community.

Related: The de Beaumont Foundation, together with Duke University and the Centers for Disease Control, recently launched an initiative called the “Practical Playbook,” an online toolkit for those working to integrate public health and primary care. More information from de Beaumont is available here.

Related for WRAG members: At the next Health Working Group meeting, Brian will demonstrate the Playbook and lead a discussion on its potential application in the Greater Washington region. More information is available here.

EDUCATION
- The U.S. Department of Education has placed a hold on a portion of the funds it previously awarded the District as part of the Race to the Top competition, citing concerns with the management of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. OSSE handles the grant funds, which were intended for eight low-performing schools. (WaPo, 3/19)

On Wednesday, federal officials released a progress report showing problems with the District’s effort to improve the eight schools.

According to the report, the District is behind in its obligation to come up with a strategy for those schools — Browne Education Campus, Garfield Elementary School, Johnson Middle School, Kramer Middle School, Anacostia High School, Dunbar High School, Eastern High School and Luke C. Moore High School.

Ann Whalen, who oversees implementation of the $4 billion in Race to the Top grants at the Education Department, said that before OSSE can tap into the federal dollars it won to improve those schools, it will have to submit additional plans and “get our approval so the way they’re spending their money matches the commitment they made.”

- Greater Greater Education looks at the secret behind Thurgood Marshall Academy’s success and whether DCPS can replicate it. (GGE, 3/18)

HOUSING | Following the Post investigation into abusive practices among tax lien investors in the District, legislation will soon be brought before the D.C. Council that would dramatically overhaul the city’s policies and practices regarding the sale of tax liens. The changes would better protect homeowners who fall behind on their property taxes. (WaPo, 3/19)

FOOD | Cheh introduces bill to provide poor D.C. children with meals on snow days (WaPo, 3/18)

TRANSIT | In a shocking turn of events, there is still no start date for the Silver Line. (WAMU, 3/19)

NONPROFITS | The Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington is accepting applications until March 31 for their Future Executive Directors Fellowship program. More information and the application are available here.


Recently some cosmologists made a big discovery that supported a very long-held theory about the big bang (and that’s about as much as I can understand from that article). This is a bit more comprehensible for the layperson: a physicist’s reaction when he found out the work he’d been doing for decades had actually been worth it.

-Rebekah

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