DC Government agencies graded … Virginia dragging its feet on health care exchange … Maryland communities newly eligible for state grants [News, 7.25.12]

GOVERNMENT | Mayor Gray released the first round of reviews from the Grade DC Initiative, where residents can grade the performance of various city agencies. Most agencies fare in the B-to-C range. In a gift to D.C. stand-up comedians, the worst faring agency is the DMV, with a C-minus. (WaPo, 7/24)

HEALTH | Virginia is dragging its feet in adopting a health care exchange, as required by the recently upheld Affordable Care Act. Failure to do so could cause federal officials to create the exchange for Virginia, meaning state officials would have much less say in how the exchange is structured. (Connection Newspapers, 7/24)

TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT | The State of Maryland has recently designated a cluster of inner-beltway communities along the Blue Line as “Sustainable Communities.” This means they will be eligible for state grant funds to make their communities more walkable, transit-friendly, and environmentally friendly. Designated communities include Capitol Heights, Fairmont Heights and Seat Pleasant. Previous recipients of this designation include Hyattsville and Laurel. (Gazette, 7/24)

ARTS & CULTURE | Fiesta DC, D.C.’s annual Hispanic Heritage Festival, will be held on Pennsylvania Avenue this September. D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham says that the festival has outgrown its original Mount Pleasant location, but he and others are concerned about the impact of pulling the festival out of the historic center of D.C.’s Hispanic community. (WaPo, 7/24)

HOUSING | As we shared yesterday, the Arlington County Board approved moving forward with a street car on Columbia Pike at its meeting on Monday night. At the same time, they approved the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan. ARLnow has an in-depth look at the discussion around adopting the plan, especially how they intend to preserve affordable housing in the area.

HIV/AIDS | Thousands of protesters marched to the White House to call for more resources in the HIV/AIDS fight. 13 people were arrested in front of the White House. (Examiner, 7/24)

Related: “The Normal Heart” raises funds for the Washington AIDS Partnership. (Washington Examiner, 7/24)

Also Related: Jennifer Jue, Program Officer with the Washington AIDS Partnership, shares this cool, interactive look at the AIDS quilt, created by Microsoft Research Connections.

EDUCATION| The Fairfax chapter of the NAACP and an advocacy group called Coalition of The Silence have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County, a science and technology magnet program, claiming that black and Latino students are being shut out of the prestigious high school because of the county school system’s systemic failure to identify gifted minority students starting in early elementary gifted-education programs. Black and Latino students currently comprise 4% of the student body, despite making up  32% of the county’s student population. (WaPo, 7/23)

I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but be a bit unnerved by the extremely sudden and massive melting of Greenland’s ice sheet. When an event is described as a “freak event that surprised scientists,” that’s usually not a good sign. At least we’re having some relatively mild weather here today!

- Robin

Community Foundation’s Terri Lee Freeman: Fight inequity with investments in three areas [News, 5.22.12]

EQUITY | The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region’s president and WRAG’s board chair, Terri Lee Freeman, reflects on a recent report about the region’s increasing income gap and says that tightening government budgets require funders to be especially strategic (CFNCR, 5/22):

As jurisdictions in the District, Maryland and Virginia weigh tight budget proposals and consistently return to human services and housing for cuts, we recognize that it will take both increases in public revenues and increased investments from philanthropy to assure that all residents have access to our region’s prosperity.

While philanthropy alone cannot address income inequality, it can make a difference. We believe economic security can be achieved by investing in three key areas: education, workforce development and the safety net.

HUMAN SERVICES | The publicly-funded Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board provides critical services to thousands of Fairfax County’s vulnerable residents, but its current $8 million deficit is straining its capacity. Local advocates fear that an expected increase in the deficit next year will “jeopardize programs for at-risk children and people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities and substance abuse problems.” (WaPo, 5/22)

IMPACT | The impact of philanthropy is often measured broadly with data, but an obituary in the Post serves as a personal illustration of how it can shape an individual’s life. In a short recollection of Lucille Polk’s 92 years, one of the big highlights is a fellowship that the DCPS educator received from the Meyer Foundation more than a half-century ago to study education in France. (WaPo, 5/22)

PHILANTHROPY | Using Data to Inform Donor Decisions: Reflections from GuideStar President (ASF, 5/22)

- Montgomery County teachers set to get 3.4-percent raise (Examiner, 5/22) “But the raises aren’t sitting well with the County Council, whose members are criticizing the decision to fund retroactive pay.”

- Feds: D.C.’s school grant management a problem (Examiner, 5/21)

CRIME | This is somewhat morbid, but it tells an important story – a website has mapped out every murder that has occurred in the District in the last six years. Not too many west of Rock Creek Park. (DCist, 5/22)

TRANSIT | WAMU surveys our region’s transportation options and finds good things and bad things. (WAMU, 5/22)

HEALTH | Fear not, Marylanders (and everyone who eats chicken from the state)! Arsenic-based chicken feed is about to be banned. (WAMU, 5/22) Yes, chickens are apparently fed the same ingredient that Cary Grant’s crazy movie aunts used to poison people.

Fair warning: the following is kind of gross. But the Atlantic answers a question that I never thought to ask – why aren’t cities littered with dead pigeons? You’ll be surprised (and disgusted) to know that turtles are part of the answer.

And, speaking of flying things, SpaceX successfully launched a private rocket containing more than 1,000 pounds of supplies for the International Space Station. It is set to dock on the 25th. Very cool! Hopefully they will take me with at some point. 

NoVa’s low-income residents hit hardest by recession…District’s mental health services failing youth…Economic Club awards $500k in local grants [News, 5.9.12]

EQUITY | Northern Virginia’s income gap is rapidly increasing, and the recession has hurt low-income residents disproportionately, according to a new report from the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. A few key points from the report:

- NoVa’s top 10 percent makes 8.25 times what the bottom 10 percent does.

- Fairfax County, the second wealthiest in the state, had more people living in poverty in 2010 than anywhere else in Virginia.

- Food assistance demands have more than doubled in NoVa.

Read more in the Post’s coverage of the report. (WaPo, 5/9)

YOUTH | A report from the Children’s Law Center finds that the District is failing to provide essential mental health services to nearly 5,000 of the city’s youth. It is also improperly caring for a significant number of youth that it does serve. (WaPo, 5/9)

A separate report from D.C. Action for Children and the D.C. Behavioral Health Association takes a data-driven look at the city’s mental health service problems and makes recommendations for systemic change. (DCAC, 5/8)

EDUCATION | Three stories, courtesy of The Examiner.

- First, the good news: DCPS is reopening a planetarium at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School that has been used as an intergalactic storage room for more than 20 years. (Examiner, 5/8)

- Second, the bad news: Preschool and special ed teachers, as well as librarians, are among the 333 DCPS employees being “excessed” as a result of shrinking budgets. (Examiner, 5/9)

- Third, the absurd news: Prince George’s County has lost more than $100 million in state education funding in the last six years due to a loophole in Maryland’s tax law. Despite the fact that Maryland’s bickering legislature still hasn’t managed to pass a budget, the tax problem won’t be addressed until at least next year. (Examiner, 5/9)

GIVING | The Economic Club of Washington, D.C., decided on a great way to celebrate its 25th anniversary – by awarding $500,000 in grants to local nonprofits to support education and workforce development for underserved youth. The club is chaired by the Carlyle Group’s David Rubenstein, who said:

Giving back to the greater Washington community has been a core component of the Economic Club’s mission throughout our history. Hundreds of area students have benefited in particular from the Club’s ongoing scholarship and fellowship programs. Our members felt it was important that this tradition of community support be a highlight of our 25th anniversary celebration.

Related: Rubenstein also doubled his personal commitment to the club’s scholarship endowment.

NONPROFITS | Fundraisers’ Pay Didn’t Keep Up With Inflation Last Year (Chronicle, 5/9) “About 43 percent of fundraisers said they had looked for a new job in the past year.”

DATA | Yesterday, WRAG hosted Google’s Cole Nussbaumer to talk to funders and nonprofits about visualizing data for storytelling. Pretty neat stuff. Rebekah shares some highlights here. (WG Daily, 5/9)

REGION | The Greater Washington region hosted nearly 18 million visitors last year – our biggest number in a decade. According to estimates, tourists spent $6 billion in our region last year alone – up 6.2 percent from 2010. (Examiner, 5/9) I wonder if this has anything to do with me spreading the rumor that there is gold in the Anacostia…

I have a ton of music on my iPod, so it is easy for great songs to get lost in the mix. I was quite happy when Waylon Jennings’ Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way popped up via shuffle mode. What a classic.

Also, Ben Affleck has turned out to be a great movie director. Here’s the trailer for his newest movie, Argo – a true-story political thriller about a crazy CIA mission during the Iranian revolution. Looks awesome.

Anthony Williams to lead Federal City Council [News, 4.20.12]

LOCAL | Former D.C. mayor Anthony Williams has been named the new CEO of the Federal City Council. In a statement, Michael Herreld, PNC Bank regional president and trustee of the organization, said, “Not only is he uniquely qualified, but his long track record of accomplishments in the District of Columbia makes him the perfect candidate for the job.” (WaPo, 4/20)

INEQUALITY | On the Washington Area Women’s Foundation blog, Nicky Goren writes about the impact of the gender wage gap on women and their families (WAWF, 4/16):

When you look at the budget of a low-income, single woman with children, one of the first things you’ll notice is that pretty much every dollar is reserved for the most basic necessities. In Washington, DC, half of her income might go toward childcare, another third could be reserved for rent, and the rest will barely cover bills, food, transportation and the needs of her children. When women aren’t paid for the full worth of their work, the effect is often felt by children, extended family, and entire communities… This is especially true for low-income women and their families.

AGING | One thing that has come up numerous times at WRAG’s Working Group on Aging meetings is just how to talk about older adults (or the elderly, or seniors, or elders, or senior citizens…). There’s definitely no consensus. (NY Times, 4/19)

HEALTH | Life Expectancy Varies Widely in the Washington Area (WaPo, 4/19)

EDUCATION | Supervisor Calls For More Transparency in Fairfax Schools (WAMU, 4/20)

FOOD | Good news for those of you who like to eat crabs (gross). (WAMU, 4/20)

PHILANTHROPY | 12 more billionaires sign on to Buffett/Gates pledge (CNN, 4/19)

Being somewhat claustrophobic, I really hope that these houses don’t catch on, even if they are affordable and environmentally friendly.


A virtual high school in Fairfax?…Lumen8Anacostia opens on Saturday…More metro fare hikes coming soon [News, 4.13.12]

EDUCATION | Fairfax County is looking at a proposal to create a virtual high school. (WaPo, 4/13)

ARTS | Lumen8Anacostia, a project funded by ArtPlace featuring 100 artists, pop-up spaces, live music, and performances along the commercial corridor of Anacostia, opens on Saturday. The goal of the three month project is to creatively use empty storefronts to showcase the history and culture of the neighborhood, in order to “bring people here, connect people and to give people a better understanding of what it’s like to live in Anacostia.” (WTOP, 4/13)

REGIONALISM | City Paper‘s Lydia DePillis questions whether a regional economic plan, rather than economic competitiveness among local jurisdictions, makes the most sense for the Greater Washington region. (City Paper, 4/12)

HEALTH | Chapters of the Susan G. Komen Foundation have restarted their grantmaking to Planned Parenthood affiliates throughout the country. (WaPo, 4/12)

TRANSIT | Metro board members approve fare hikes (Examiner, 4/13). The increases will go into effect on July 1. Needless to say, the changes are extremely complicated.

I have been very distracted this morning while trying to write the Daily by Google Art Project, a huge collection of extremely high resolution photos of art from museums around the world. I highly recommend that you don’t click this link if you have work to get done.


How funders shifted grantmaking practices in the recession…Scaling up a successful model for fighting truancy…Low-income residents suffer more chronic pain [News, 3.13.12]

- A new report from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and the TCC Group explores ways that funders have shifted practices over the course of the recession. (GEO, 3/12)

Related: In WRAG’s 2010 giving report, we surveyed local funders about how they were changing grantmaking practices due to the recession. Their responses are on page 4.

- Following WRAG’s Project Streamline workshop last year, we interviewed the Moriah Fund’s Kathy Jagow about how the foundation was streamlining its grantmaking. Project Streamline checked in with Kathy about the foundation’s progress in implementing its new practices. (PS Newsletter, Spring ’12)

GIVING | Last week, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation announced a $1.26 million national program to advance music education for low-income youth. The program includes a grant to support honor students at the District’s Levine School of Music. Read more.

- In the latest installment of its series on the dropout crisis in the District, WAMU looks at a successful program, developed at Johns Hopkins and focused on personal mentoring, that is showing signs of major success at the Browne Educational Campus in Northeast. (WAMU, 3/13)

Related: Earlier installments of the series are collected here.

- Putting aside their competition for “neighborhood bragging rights” over school performance, Montgomery and Fairfax counties are collaborating to find the right candidate to replace Fairfax’s outgoing superintendent, Jack Dale. (WaPo, 3/13) Maybe they’ve been listening to Canned Heat.

HEALTH | According to the Journal of Pain (which is not Mr. T’s diary), data show that residents of low income neighborhoods have a significantly higher rate of chronic pain than those in wealthier neighborhoods. (Atlantic, 3/13)

HIV/AIDS | The War on Drug Users: Are Syringe Exchanges Immoral? (Atlantic, 3/13) “Eight federally-funded research reports have concluded that these programs reduce HIV transmission without increasing the use of illicit drugs.”

EVENT | Updated with time/location: On March 26, Venture Philanthropy Partners, in partnership with the World Bank Group, will host a briefing on the Social Innovation Fund’s youthCONNECT initiative featuring several executive directors of the initiative’s partners, VPP Partner Marc Schindler, and Paul Carttar, director of the Social Innovation Fund. Location: World Bank (1850 I Street, NW – not the main building). Time: 10:30 – 12:30. Open to funders and nonprofits – more details here. Contact VPP’s Michael Everhart to register.

For some reason, I’ve been listening to a lot of Elvis and Tina Turner recently. Here are two awesome songs – Polk Salad Annie by Elvis and I Can’t Believe What You Say by Tina Turner. Enjoy the music, and then go outside and enjoy the weather. 

Youth employment becomes political…Exploring the aging brain…Good and bad budget news in the region [News, 12.6.11]

YOUTH | GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich recently made comments about a lack of work ethic in “really poor children in really poor neighborhoods.” In response, the Washington Post points to the fact that the District’s summer youth employment program drew nearly 50% more applications than available spots. (WaPo, 12/6)

Gingrich responded that his comments were taken out of context and that he is focused on teaching skills to make low-income populations more competitive in the workforce.

Let’s synthesize something positive: There are a lot of low-income teens who want to work, and our leaders should help them learn to be more competitive in the labor pool. Everyone can agree on that.

AGING | It used to be thought that brain cells die as we get older. New research shows that cells in disease-free brains stay alive, though the connections between them break. Here’s a cool graphic that takes a look inside the old noggin and gives advice on slowing aging. (WaPo, 12/6)

- MoCo Scrambles To Pay For Teacher Pensions (WAMU, 12/6)

- Opinion: A local author writes for the Times about Why School Choice Fails (NY Times, 12/5) “There aren’t enough slots in the best neighborhood and charter schools.”

- D.C. education agency’s progress questioned (WaPo, 12/6)

- First, the good news. Maryland agencies are expecting much smaller budget cuts than in the past three years. (Examiner, 12/6)

- But Fairfax County is bracing for a tight budget next year, and a $114 million gap could hurt school funding. (WaPo, 12/6)

TRANSIT | More construction ahead for H Street trolley line (Examiner, 12/6) Jeez! Get this thing running already. The tracks have been teasing us for years.

EQUITY | Income inequality isn’t just a problem in the United States (though we have one of the worst rates). A new report finds that the wage gap is rising in much of the developed world. (WaPo, 12/6)

Feels like a slow news day. Anyway, as we quickly approach 2012, here’s some new information on why the Mayan civilization might have ended. Pretty interesting read about human impact on the environment. 

Halloween violence in the District…MoCo seeks rapid build for rapid transit…Schools request more money for construction [News, 11.1.11]

VIOLENCE | Despite the fact that there were police officers on literally every block in Georgetown last night, there still managed to be a brazen shooting on M Street. There were at least five other shootings in the District, as well as huge street fights, smaller fights, and armed confrontations on the Metro. (HuffPo, 11/1)

This isn’t just sad, it is frankly embarrassing and demands accountability from many places. Halloween is supposed to be an occasion for community building and neighborly fun.

Related: All Hands on Deck police effort gets mixed reviews (WaPo, 11/1)

NONPROFITS | Few Charity Employees Feel Financially Prepared for Retirement, Survey Finds (Chronicle, 11/1)

EDUCATION | Both Fairfax County and Montgomery County are seeking increased funding for school renovations and construction. (Examiner)

TRANSIT | Montgomery County officials are pushing to have a new rapid transit bus system running in three years. But first they need $2.5 billion in funding. (Examiner, 11/1)

FOOD | Eleanor Holmes Norton is participating in a challenge to live off of food stamps. As you might expect, she’s finding it difficult. (City Paper, 11/1)

TAXES | A District man owes $17 million in back taxes to the city. (WaPo, 11/1) How the heck does that happen?!

Pigeons are frequently called “rats of the sky” – which I think is mean, although I don’t think rats are terrible either – so it is easy to assume that the birds’ iridescence is associated with something gross. Oil, trash, grease. But not so! Here’s the scientific reason.

Funders announce one-day online giving push for November [News, 9.15.11]

At a press conference at Martha’s Table yesterday, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region’s Terri Freeman and the United Way of the National Capital Area’s Bill Hanbury announced that November 9th will be Give to the Max Day. The event is being promoted by the entire 8 Neighbors group representing nonprofit, business, philanthropic, and government leaders, and will be a one-day push, supported by online fundraiser Razoo, with a goal of raising $3 million in donations and grants for area nonprofits.

In the Washington Post, Bill Hanbury points out the advantages of an online push (WaPo, 9/16):

More and more consumers, individual donors, are turning to online giving…In some ways, we’ve gotten outmaneuvered by digital applications. This will let us jump over workplace giving.

Terri Freeman says the time is right:

The economic news isn’t getting any better, and the government funding is down… We’re the nation’s capital. We ought to be able to do this in grand style.

And Tamara Copeland notes:

Eighty percent of giving nationally is from individuals…[s]o the foundation community is particularly supportive of this concentrated effort to build a larger base of the support for the local nonprofit sector.

We’ll have more on Monday, including a message from Bill and Terri.

ARTS | In partnership with foundations, corporations, and government agencies, the National Endowment for the Arts has announced a new grants program called ArtPlace, which seeks to promote arts and culture as catalysts for economic growth in 34 cities around the country (New York Times, 9/14).

D.C. is one of the cities, with a grant to the Office of Planning to support Arts and Culture Temporiums in Anacostia, Brookland, Central 14th Street, and Deanwood (ArtPlace, 9/15).

Related: In 2009, Americans for the Arts president and CEO Bob Lynch told funders: To fix the economy, fund the arts (WG Daily, 2/9/09).

REGION | Fairfax chairman candidates debate development, housing, transit (WaPo, 9/15)

Related: A delegation of WRAG members recently met with Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, to introduce her to the collective of funders working in, interested in, and funding in Fairfax County, and to explore opportunities for a richer partnership.

Related: Tamara asks, “Who are we? What are we? What is our name?” (WG Daily, 9/16)

EDUCATION | While SAT scores declined regionally and nationally this year, Montgomery County Hispanic students, who make up 25 percent of the public schools’ student body, actually raised their scores by eight points (Examiner, 9/15).

Related: WRAG members – Don’t miss the chance to meet Dr. Joshua Starr, the new superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, on September 28.

WORKFORCE | Gray plans tax credits to help get D.C. residents hired (TBD, 9/15)

POVERTY | The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute takes a preliminary look at census data on food stamp participation and employment and health insurance levels and suggests that poverty likely increased in the District in 2010 (DCFPI, 9/13). The Census Bureau will release more in-depth state level data next week.

YOUTH | The Post profiles a group of ex-offenders in Ward 7 who are trying to address the problems of youth violence in their neighborhoods by walking through their community and engaging with kids on their way to school (WaPo, 9/16).

– Rebekah


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