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

Montgomery County schools working to reduce racial disparities in suspensions

YOUTH
- While the rate of suspensions in Montgomery County schools is declining, African American and Hispanic students are still being suspended at higher rates than their white peers, an issue that officials are trying to address (Gazette, 3/26):

Superintendent Joshua P. Starr said that as the school system addresses the issue of suspensions, it must support students and counter the effects of other institutions.

“It requires perhaps more than just an equity lens,” he said. “In some ways, it actually requires an anti-racist lens.”

Starr said reducing suspensions does not mean excusing behavior; turning away from suspensions might mean more work for school staff.

- To prevent teen pregnancy, provide opportunities for young people (Elevation DC, 3/25)

HEALTH | Data lovers: today is the equivalent of your gift-receiving-holiday of choice – the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released their 2014 County Health Rankings. The rankings provide county level data on a number of public health indicators, as well as data on social and economic determinants of health, like housing, transportation, access to exercise opportunities, and more. (RWJF, 3/26)

You can spend a lot of time looking at the stats on our region. Here’s are some interesting nuggets:

District of Columbia: Only 8% of the population is uninsured, placing the city in the top 90th percentile of jurisdictions nationwide.
Prince George’s County:  57% of workers commute in their car alone for over 30 minutes.
Montgomery County: Ranks first in overall health outcomes in the state of Maryland.
Arlington County: 14% of the population face “severe housing problems.”

COMMUNITY WEALTH BUILDING | The New York Times has a great write up on worker co-ops around the country – such as the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland –  which are widely viewed as an effective business model for ensuring economic equality. (NY Times, 3/25)

Related: This model is currently being examined by the Community Wealth Building Initiative, which is laying the groundwork to launch employee-owned businesses anchored in low-income communities in our region. One of the potential businesses would be focused on green stormwater management, which we recently wrote about. For more information about the initiative, check out these Frequently Asked Questions.

HOUSING/AGING | In an effort to prevent seniors from being priced out of their homes, Mayor Gray signed a bill exempting low- and middle-income residents over the age of 70 from paying property taxes, if they have owned their home for at least 20 years. (DCist, 3/25)

HEALTHCARE
- The Obama administration is extending the deadline to enroll in a health care plan through the federal insurance marketplace for individuals who start the enrollment process before March 31. (WaPo, 3/26)

- Which is good news, since apparently: Most People Don’t Know The Health Insurance Deadline Looms (NPR, 3/26)

FOOD | Montgomery council, advocates push for healthy school foods (Gazette, 3/26)

BUDGET | New Ward 8 hospital will be floated in upcoming Vincent Gray budget proposal (WaPo, 3/24)

EVENT | Funders are invited to a special briefing on Venture Philanthropy Partners‘ Social Innovation Fund youthCONNECT initiative on May 12. More information is available here.


One important set of indicators that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation failed to include in their health rankings: relative preparedness for the zombie apocalypse. Be aware that things do not bode well for our region.

- Rebekah

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

Will a new medical center reduce health disparities in Prince George’s County?

HEALTH/EQUITY | Prince George’s County officials are reaching out to community members to determine how best to position the proposed regional medical center at Largo Town Center in a way that will address the significant health disparities in the county (WaPo, 3/2)

At a community meeting Saturday, residents said they want a medical center that will provide specialty care to people with disabilities, greater access for medical research and will fill the existing gap in health care in the county.

“There are not enough facilities in the county. There are not enough doctors for the general population and even fewer for those with special needs,” said Grace Williams, 56, a Bowie resident with autistic twin daughters. “I have to drive to Baltimore or the District to get the care I need.”

WRAG | This week is Foundations on the Hill, an annual event that brings foundation leaders from across the country to meet with their representatives in Congress to educate them about the critical role that tax incentives play in facilitating philanthropy back home in their districts. Today, Tamara sent an open letter to our region’s elected officials echoing that sentiment. (Daily, 3/4)

HOUSING | Despite the 70,000 person-long (now suspended) waiting list for public housing subsidies, despite the fact that for every 100 extremely low-income households in D.C. there are only 45 affordable rental units available, despite the fact that affordable housing is generally seen to be a crisis issue in this region… we’re actually doing pretty well compared to other metropolitan areas. (CP, 3/3)

MENTAL HEALTH | Advocates say that Virginia’s failure to expand Medicaid is limiting access to mental health services for many residents. (WAMU, 3/3)

EDUCATION
- There are two different exams that states will begin implementing next year to measure students’ progress against the Common Core State Standards. DCPS is committed to one of those exams, but a number of advocates and school officials are urging the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education to switch to the other exam, saying that it will give a more “precise reading” of students’ abilities. (WaPo, 3/2)

- D.C. Sees Another Bump In Public School Enrollment (WAMU, 2/27)

- Prince George’s County is undertaking an effort to recruit male teachers, who currently only make up about 21 percent of the teaching staff for the entire county. The organizers of the effort believe increasing the number of male teachers will help improve student achievement. (WaPo, 3/1)

- Alternative education gets a remake in Montgomery schools (WaPo, 2/26)

POVERTY | President Obama’s proposed FY 2015 budget, released today, includes an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit to increase the benefit to childless workers. (WaPo, 3/3)

NONPROFITS | As the nonprofit sector continues to embrace private sector practices, a few large organizations, such as GuideStar, have started holding “earnings calls,” focused on highlighting the organizations’ impact for donors. (WaPo, 3/2)

DISTRICT | D.C. set to loosen marijuana laws (WaPo, 3/3)

ARTS | The Post profiles the women leaders of 13 high profile cultural organizations in the region. (WaPo, 2/28)


I’ve always felt bad for the unlucky folks whose birthdays fall on February 29. In honor of those who sadly did not get to have a real birthday on Saturday, here is something (sort of) related – the leap second. Unfortunately, there seems to be no immediate explanation for the unusual item sitting in front of the scientist in this video.

- Rebekah

President Obama to announce initiative for young men of color

EQUITY | Today President Obama will officially announce the launch of “My Brother’s Keeper,” the cross-sector initiative he first hinted at in his State of the Union address. The effort will address the societal barriers faced by African American and Hispanic boys and young men. A number of major foundations have collectively pledged $200 million to support the goal of the initiative (WaPo, 2/27):

Those organizations, which include prominent groups like the Ford Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will seek to coordinate their investments to create and bolster programs that keep youths in school and out of the criminal justice system, while improving their access to higher education. The White House said it expects money for those programs to grow “exponentially” as major businesses start to pitch in.

Obama will also sign a presidential memorandum creating a government-wide task force to evaluate the effectiveness of various approaches, so that federal and local governments, community groups and businesses will have best practices to follow in the future.

FOOD 
- The FDA is proposing changes to nutrition labels that would make the relative healthiness of food items more obvious to consumers (WaPo, 2/27):

Among the most prominent changes for consumers may be the updates to serving sizes.

Consumers have long been confused about why a can of sweetened tea contains 2.5 servings, a single muffin is two servings or a serving of breakfast cereal is three-fourths of a cup.

Advocates of this change say that people will no longer have to do a lot of math to understand how many calories they are consuming. Of the 157 food types that are currently covered, the Food and Drug Administration is proposing to change the serving size for 17 percent of them. For instance, the serving size for ice cream, now half a cup, would become one cup.

Unfortunately, no label redesign can make ice cream less delicious.

- City Paper profiles DC Central Kitchen’s Healthy Corners program, which provides fresh fruit and vegetables to 34 corner stores in D.C., mainly in low-income neighborhoods with little access to healthy groceries. (CP, 2/26)

NONPROFITS | The Council on Foundations has released the formal comments they submitted to the IRS regarding the proposed rules for 501(c)(4) organizations. According to the Council, the rules would have a “chilling effect on civic engagement efforts of 501(c)(3)s.” (COF, 2/27)

EDUCATION
- Maryland audit of Prince George’s school system identifies weak financial controls (WaPo, 2/27)

- There’s a test that may give us a clearer picture of student growth, but DCPS is reluctant to consider it (GGE, 2/26)

HEALTHCARE | D.C. Mayor to Address Health Care for Transgender Residents (NBC4, 2/27)

ECONOMY | According to GMU’s Stephen Fuller, if Maryland were to raise the minimum wage, which it is considering, it would end up increasing the cost of living in the state, and ultimately hurt its economy. (WTOP, 2/27)

TRANSIT | Area Leaders Pledge $75 Million For Metro Upgrades, Including Eight-Car Trains (WAMU, 2/27)

LOCAL | A number of local nonprofit organizations are hosting a series of 3 “unforums” with the major candidates for mayor to discuss inequality and its impact on the city. More information is available here.


I’m not usually one for cute kid and/or animal videos, but here’s one that’s worth sharing.

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

- Rebekah

Mayor Gray backs off controversial proposal on homeless families

HOMELESSNESS
- Mayor Gray is backing off his emergency proposal that would allow the city to deny shelter to families if city officials determined the family had another place to stay. The proposal had received pretty serious backlash from homelessness advocates. According to Gray, fewer families requested shelter when the city ran out of motel rooms and began placing them in recreation centers instead. (WaPo, 2/25)

More time is needed, Gray wrote, to study if emergency measures “are needed as urgently as previously believed.”

“We’re pressing the pause button; it’s not a withdrawal,” said mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro. “We have seen a remarkable decline in the number of people showing up – like 90-plus percent decline – which raises some interesting questions.”

The real question is how is the city going to deal with the fact that there are so many people without long-term, stable places to live.

Related: Gray’s proposal was further complicated on Monday when an administrative law judge ruled that the living conditions in rec centers violated a District law intended to protect the privacy of children. (WaPo, 2/24)

Reminder: WRAG members are invited to a brown bag lunch discussion on homelessness in the region on March 11. More information here.

WRAG | In her monthly column, A Voice from Philanthropy, Tamara explains why we’re having Dan Pallotta, our 2009 Annual Meeting speaker, back to speak to CEOs of WRAG’s member organizations. (Daily, 2/26)

EDUCATION
- Next year’s DCPS budget will include $5 million that schools can apply for to support initiatives intended to improve student satisfaction. (WaPo, 2/25) Just imagine how many pizza parties that could buy.

- Winners and losers in D.C. school renovation funding shift (WaPo, 2/25)

HOUSING | The District has submitted its bid to redevelop Barry Farm as part of the New Communities Initiative. The plan calls for 1,879 new, mixed-income units. (WBJ, 2/25)

HEALTH
- They aren’t entirely sure why, but CDC officials say that the obesity rate among children between ages 2 and 5 has dropped 43 percent. (WaPo, 2/25)

Related: On the flip side, obesity rates have remained high among all other age groups, and actually increased among women over 60. (Boston Globe, 2/26)

- The Obama administration is advancing rules that would ban marketing junk food in schools. (WaPo, 2/25)

HEALTHCARE | After firing the company running its beleaguered insurance exchange, Maryland officials are considering their options moving forward, including potentially joining the federal exchange. (WBJ, 2/25)

BUDGETS | Bulova may seek higher Fairfax property tax cap after $3.7 billion budget plan is proposed (WaPo, 2/25)

AGING | George Mason professor champions shoes with GPS tracking for Alzheimer’s patients (WaPo, 2/26)


74,476 reasons you should always get the bigger pizza – and why I should have paid more attention in math class.

- Rebekah

The D.C. Housing Authority needs billions to meet housing demand

HOUSING | Adrianne Todman, the head of the D.C. Housing Authority, cited some staggering figures at a D.C. Council hearing yesterday. According to her, it would take an additional $1.3 billion in DCHA funding to modernize the city’s current public housing supply, and $2.3 billion to build sufficient units to house the 71,000 people on the city’s public housing waiting list (CP, 2/19):

[...] Todman laid much of the blame for her agency’s funding shortfall at the feet of the federal government, which has reduced DCHA funding substantially in recent years. “Unfortunately, our national leaders do not appear to appreciate this form of affordable housing and continue to underfund it,” she said.

HOMELESSNESS | In response to the increase in the number of families in shelters this winter, Mayor Gray is asking the D.C. Council for the power to allow the city to determine whether families have some place else they can stay (WaPo 2/19):

A draft of Gray’s proposal…would fundamentally alter a District law that grants any resident a “right to shelter” on nights when the temperature drops below freezing and the city declares a hypothermia alert.

[...]

Under Gray’s plan, families would be given shelter on a provisional basis, but caseworkers would immediately begin to determine whether they have other housing prospects, including sleeping on the couches or floors of relatives or friends. The city would have to make a decision within 14 days.

Those who have such options would be required to leave city-funded rooms within 24 hours, even if the temperature remains below freezing.

Related: WRAG members are invited to a brown bag discussion on homelessness in the region next month. More information here.

ARTS
- The long-struggling Corcoran Gallery of Art will be taken over by the National Gallery of Art, and the Corcoran College of Art and Design will be taken over by George Washington University, under a plan that was announced yesterday. (WaPo, 2/19)

- The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities is bringing back the 5×5 project, which brings 25 temporary public art installations to locations throughout the city. The announcement comes with a pretty cool promotional video too. (DCist, 2/19)

EDUCATION
- Here’s part 2 of Greater Greater Education‘s look at how the IMPACT teacher evaluation system can be improved in low-income schools. (GGE, 2/19)

- Alexandria rethinking small middle schools (WaPo, 2/20)

INEQUALITY | A new study from the Brookings Institution finds that cities with strong economies tend to have greater levels of economic inequality. (NY Times, 2/20)

Related: Here’s the paper from Brookings. (Brookings, 2/20) It will surprise exactly no one where D.C. ranks on their list of cities with the greatest levels of inequality.

HEALTH | Reason To Smile: Children’s Dental Health Improves In Maryland (WAMU, 2/19)

NONPROFITS | MacArthur Foundation recognizes 3 D.C. area nonprofits as creative, effective institutions (WaPo, 2/20)

TRANSIT | North-South streetcar starts to take shape (GGW, 2/19) Try to suspend your disbelief.


I scored a 76 on this quiz. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself!

- Rebekah

Why the farm bill is at odds with public health

FOOD
- Here’s a good question about our country’s (incredibly complex) agricultural policies (WaPo, 2/19):

Read the farm bill, and a big problem jumps right out at you: Taxpayers heavily subsidize corn and soy, two crops that facilitate the meat and processed food we’re supposed to eat less of, and do almost nothing for the fruits and vegetables we’re supposed to eat more of. If there’s any obligation to spend the public’s money in a way that’s consistent with that same public’s health, shouldn’t it be the other way around?

I would say the answer is “duh.” Of course, given the nature of the farm bill, it’s a bit more complicated.

Related: Last week WRAG consultant Lindsay Smith, who coordinates the Washington Regional Convergence Partnership, provided a run down of what the farm bill means for the Greater Washington region. (Daily, 2/12)

- A new greenhouse will soon be built in Southeast D.C. that will provide fresh produce to Giant stores throughout the region, and create 20 full-time jobs. (DCist, 2/18)

COMMUNITY | The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has announced over $300,000 in new grants to 36 organizations. (CFNOVA, 2/18)

EDUCATION
- A teacher and Greater Greater Education contributor recommends ways DCPS could modify the IMPACT teacher evaluation system, which some say penalizes teachers who work at low-performing schools. (GGE, 2/18)

ARTS | WRAG recently re-launched its Arts & Humanities Working Group. The group represents funders committed to strengthening the local arts and humanities sector. (Daily, 1/19)

MENTAL HEALTH | A report from Virginia officials found that a lack of beds in state mental hospitals is partially caused by patients staying in hospitals long after doctors say they are ready to be discharged. Advocates say this could be addressed by increasing the availability of permanent supportive housing for people with mental illness. (WTOP, 2/19)

HOUSING
- One major health insurance company understands what housing advocates have long been saying about the relationship between health and housing, and is making a $150 million investment in affordable housing. (Marketplace, 2/13)

- According to one measure, you need to earn at least $62,809.63 a year to afford to buy a house in this region. (DCist, 2/18)

- Well, here’s one way we could address the affordable housing shortage. (NPR, 2/17)

HOMELESSNESS | Op-ed: How to help the District’s homeless families (WaPo, 2/14)

REGION
- Maryland’s Gubernatorial Contenders Agree: The Purple Line Must Be Built (WAMU, 2/19)

- Virginia’s New Transportation Chief Has Both Money And Long List Of Projects (WAMU, 2/18)


Are you an artist who hates paying taxes? Consider visiting the nation of Ladonia.

- Rebekah

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)

PHILANTHROPY
- 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)

HEALTH
- 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

44 area theater companies take on the gender gap in theatrical productions

ARTS | Only 27 percent of the plays produced in D.C. this theater season were written by women. To address this disparity, 44 theater companies from around the region have committed to producing a new play by a female playwright in the fall of 2015: (WaPo, 1/24)

The Women’s Voices Theatre Festival, encompassing virtually every large, midsize and fledgling theater company in and around the city, is being billed as a landmark event in the effort to put new plays by female playwrights onstage. Its organizers acknowledge that it won’t permanently rewrite the statistics showing that in this country, about four plays by men get produced professionally for every one by a woman. But the festival does throw down a gauntlet, in the cause of striking a more equitable gender balance — especially given that surveys show that women make up as much as two-thirds of the theatergoing audience across the nation.

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY | In a special piece on the Forbes site, the Advisory Board Company‘s Graham McLaughlin writes about why his company is placing a new emphasis on empathy among their employees:

We want to do this because it will further our mission and our margin. By creating this empathetic workforce…we think we can better understand, at a gut level as well as an intellectual level, the needs of our member hospitals and higher education organizations, as well as those of our communities.

By combining our unique skills and expertise with an empathetic approach to our member and community interactions, we can better anticipate their needs and the needs of those they serve, work with our members as a true partner, and ultimately create transformational, positive change in healthcare, education, and our communities.

HEALTH/WORKFORCE | Check out the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region‘s blog for a video about a new health clinic in Ward 8. The clinic also features a workforce development program, funded by the foundation’s Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative, that trains neighborhood residents for positions at the clinic. (CFNCR, 1/24)

EDUCATION | DC schools chancellor Kaya Henderson has announced the creation of a task force on standardized tests to, in her words, “help put testing in the proper perspective.” (WaPo, 1.24)

HOMELESSNESS | Homeless shelters bogged down as cold snap continues (WTOP, 1/23)

LOCAL | ‘Green’ modifications proposed to D.C. clean-water plan; environmentalists are skeptical (WaPo, 1/24)


This time lapse video of a woman teaching herself how to dance has been around for a while but I missed it until now. It’s awesome.

-Rebekah

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