Judge orders D.C. to relocate homeless families

HOMELESSNESS | A judge ordered D.C. officials to move families out of recreation centers and into private rooms, arguing that the experience of staying at the rec centers with little to no privacy was potentially traumatizing for children (WaPo, 3/7)

A class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 50 families placed in the two makeshift shelters since late January said children, parents and sometimes grandparents had been unable to shower for days and got only cots in big, noisy rooms, illuminated all night. Flimsy partitions exposed unrelated families to one another.

“The court finds that they, particularly the children, incur increased risk of communicable disease, are denied adequate privacy and physical security, are likely to experience emotional trauma and stress, hence are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a restraining order,” [Judge Robert S.] Tignor wrote.

Reminder for WRAG members: Tomorrow we’re hosting a brown bag discussion at noon for WRAG members on homelessness in the region. It’s not too late to register.

EDUCATION 
- The Peterson Family Foundation has pledged $1 million to Teach for America to expand their program in Prince George’s County public schools. As the article notes, this announcement follows a pledge from Venture Philanthropy Partners to invest up to $1.95 million in a program that works with young people in the county at risk of dropping out of high school. (WaPo, 3/10)

- New superintendent outlines plans for Alexandria schools (WaPo, 3/7)

NONPROFITS | Between 2001 and 2011, the nonprofit sector grew much faster than the business sector, according to data from the Urban Institute. (NY Times, 3/8)

Why have nonprofits multiplied faster than for-profit businesses? One reason is that as the population ages, greater demand for health care services drives growth in hospitals and health care organizations, many of which are nonprofits. Another factor is that charities focused on the needs of poorer Americans have experienced higher demand after the Great Recession. In addition, family foundations have grown in popularity, providing a convenient repository for untaxed wealth that often remains under the control of the donor.

WRAG | Last week Michael Smith, director of the Social Innovation Fund, met with CEOs of WRAG member organizations to update them on the Fund. Here’s a re-cap from Tamara. (Daily, 3/10)

FOOD
– D.C. leads the country in the number of students receiving free breakfast at school. (WaPo, 3/6)

- The recently passed farm bill increased support for organic farmers, fruit and vegetable growers, and programs to support the growth of organic farming, reflecting the growing interest in healthy eating and farm-to-table initiatives across the country. (NY Times, 3/8)

Related: These topics are of growing interest among local philanthropy as well. Last week WRAG released What Funders Need to Know: The Food System to share funders’ learnings about our region’s food system and ways to improve it.

MENTAL HEALTH | Mental-health advocates fear fundamental problems in Virginia have been left to fester (WaPo, 3/9)

HIV/AIDS | Women focus of Virginia AIDs campaign (WTOP, 3/10)

DISTRICT
- Jeffrey Thompson, alleged ‘shadow campaign’ funder, is charged in federal court (WaPo, 3/10)

- D.C. is one of only a handful of major cities that still have partisan, winner-take-all primaries. The result is that the mayoral election could be determined by a very small number of residents. (AP, 3/9)


In honor of International Women’s Day, which was Saturday, here’s a lovely portrait series of mothers and daughters from all over the world.

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

- Rebekah

DC charter board develops new standards for alternative schools

EDUCATION
- The D.C. Public Charter Schools Board has adopted a new policy to help the board evaluate the performance of alternative schools, or those that primarily serve students at high risk of academic failure (WaPo, 2/24)

Evaluating such schools has bedeviled charter school authorities across the country because of the tension between acknowledging the difficulty in serving students with such profound challenges and making excuses for schools’ poor performance.

“You have to have a way to distinguish between schools that are doing a good job and turning kids’ lives around and those that are just collecting public monies,” said Nelson Smith, a charter expert who headed a national working group tasked with studying how alternative charter schools can and should be judged.

- A previously unreleased audit of D.C.’s Tuition Assistance Grant program, which helps D.C. students pay for college tuition at schools outside the District, suggests that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education can’t account for millions in spending. (WaPo, 2/23)

- As High Schoolers Wait For College Notices, D.C. Fights To Get Students To Apply (WAMU, 2/24)

HOUSING | WRAG and the Aspen Institute recently co-hosted an event focused on impact investing and affordable housing. The national housing experts on the panel offered a number of good lessons learned for foundations considering entering the impact investing space. (Daily, 2/24)

Related: A video of this event can be viewed here.

HOMELESSNESS | Over in the other Washington, a group is taking an interesting approach toward ending chronic homelessness – building a community of tiny houses. (NY Times, 1/19)

VETERANS | Report: Military efforts to prevent mental illness ineffective (USA Today, 2/20)

YOUTH | After Fairfax County student deaths, a renewed focus on mental health (WaPo, 2/24)

AGING | To help meet the goal of making the District an “age-friendly” city by 2017, D.C. is conducting an in-depth survey of practically every block of the city to determine what issues need to be addressed to meet this goal. (DCist, 2/21)

HEALTHCARE | Maryland has achieved its health insurance enrollment goal, thanks to a research error (WaPo, 2/24)

TRANSIT | More delays for the Silver Line. (WTOP, 2/21)

COMMUNITY
- The D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation is conducting a survey of the city’s youth workers to learn more about their training and professional support needs. More information and the survey are available here.

- The Community Foundation for Prince George’s County is hosting two tours to local high schools to examine successful practices to prepare students to be college and career ready. More information is available here.


It’s been over a week and it still feels like the entire internet is obsessed with House of Cards. The blog Ghosts of DC looks at the history of some of the places included in the opening segment – like this liquor store on North Capitol Street.

- Rebekah

More D.C. seniors are aging-in-place

AGING | The District is at the forefront of a national trend away from placing seniors in nursing homes. The D.C. Office on Aging’s Nursing Home Transition Program, which began last year, allows older adults to receive both medical and nonmedical services in their own homes. This is driven by consumer preference, as well as significant cost savings (WaPo, 1/3):

One impetus for change was a 1999 Supreme Court ruling that public entities must provide community-based services to people with disabilities whenever possible.

Another reason for the change in thinking is the high cost of institutional care. As the population of older Americans grows, advocates say, it won’t be economically sustainable to have so many live in nursing homes. The average annual cost per person for nursing home care is about $75,000 nationwide. In the District, it is $110,000. Providing in-home services costs an estimated $30,000 to $60,000 a year, according to the city’s Office on Aging.

Related: As more older adults receive services in their own homes, the direct care workforce is rapidly growing. Last year, WRAG published an edition of What Funders Need to Know about the challenges facing this critical workforce. (WRAG, June 2013)

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY | Prince George’s County officials are crediting a decline in crime rates in some areas to the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative. The program targets county services in six low-income neighborhoods with particularly high crime and foreclosure rates and low levels of educational attainment. (WaPo, 1/3)

Related: Back in September, WRAG co-hosted a summit on Prince George’s County to learn about the changes underway in the county and to begin discussions about how the public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors can work together to continue strengthening the county. (Daily WRAG, 9/26)

GIVING
- Online Gifts Rose 16% During Holiday Season (Chronicle, 1/2)

- Redefining Philanthropy: How African-Americans Give Back (NPR, 12/30)

MENTAL HEALTH | Virginia governor Bob McDonnell has established a task force to look at ways to improve the state’s mental health system. (WTOP, 1/3)

LEGAL AID | A new report looks at ways to use technology to increase access to legal services for low income people. (WTOP, 1/3)

DISTRICT | While D.C.’s budget autonomy referendum, which passed last April, went into effect on January 1, it could still be found to lack legal standing and be overturned soon. (WAMU, 1/2)


This is what it looks like to “step into the void” above the French Alps. Probably not for the faint of heart.

- Rebekah

Impact investing gaining popularity in the region…Parents say DCPS is forcing special needs students into unprepared schools…William Hite to exit in late September [News, 7.16.12]

PHILANTHROPY | Today’s Capital Business looks at the philanthropic concept of impact investing – investments that serve a social good and generate revenue in return – and how the trend is impacting our region (pun intended).

The Calvert Foundation was an early pioneer of impact investing. President Lisa Hall reflects on the initial reactions to the idea of the foundation looking for returns:

In the early days of Calvert Foundation, we used to get criticized [that we’re] cherry-picking the best deals. My response to that is, ‘Yea, that’s the point. We’re investing in deals that are going to raise money.’

The Nonprofit Roundtable’s Chuck Bean says that impact investing is reshaping the idea of a one-way transaction between funders and nonprofits:

I would say the entire nonprofit community is moving beyond a frame of charity…When nonprofits talk to their funders, they need to make the case for investment not just because it pulls on the heartstrings, but because there’s a social return on investment.

Related: Funders – WRAG is partnering with Arabella Advisors for a session in impact investing on our region. Learn more and RSVP here.

MENTAL HEALTH | Due to inadequate capacities within the school system, DCPS sends a huge portion of its special needs students to private schools that can better serve them. Mayor Gray has sought to curb this trend by improving services within the system and has issued a target of halving the number of students in private schools by 2014. Some parents are claiming that DCPS is forcing their kids into public schools that still can’t handle them just to meet the goal. (Examiner, 7/16)

EDUCATION | Prince George’s County Schools Superintendent William Hite will leave his job on Sept. 30th - more than a month after the new year begins. (WTOP, 7/16)

HIV/AIDS | Virginia’s health department says that it will eliminate a backlog of low-income residents waiting for HIV medication. Residents on the waiting list are expected to be fully enrolled by Sept. 30th. (WTOP, 7/16)

TRANSIT | On two separate occasions this weekend, Metro’s entire train system shut down for up to 30 minutes and left passengers stuck in trains due to a software glitch. The cause of the glitch? Metro has no clue. (WaPo, 7/16) Beyond being terrible service to paying customers, that simply doesn’t seem safe.

POLITICS | Here’s the latest from Shadow Campaigngate. Defying calls for his resignation, Mayor Gray sat down for an interview with Channel 8 where he blasted councilmembers for criticizing him. He said that Catania is a secret Republican, Bowser wants to be mayor, and Cheh – well, he’s just upset that she doesn’t have his back.

When asked whether he should have paid more attention to what was going on during the campaign – i.e. who was working for him, where his money was coming from, whether or not some of his advisers were untrustworthy criminals – he responded that he was too busy being council chairman. (WaPo, 7/13) So, where does the buck stop then?

On the flip side, GGW’s David Alpert penned an op-ed for the Post that points out the positive things the Gray administration has done for the District so far. (WaPo, 7/15)


The Huffington Post sure has a strange range of content. I thought this post was amusing though – politicians who look like Disney characters. I wonder how Rep. Grace Napolitano feels about being likened to The Little Mermaid’s villain, Ursula? Poor, unfortunate soul!

New survey from PNC finds that millionaires agree with Buffett on increased charity, higher taxes [News, 1.18.11]

PHILANTHROPY/EQUITY | Warren Buffett sparked a big conversation recently when he wrote an editorial saying that America’s wealthiest citizens should pay higher taxes. PNC Wealth Management released a survey today that measures the feelings of millionaires on the subject – and 71% agree with Buffett.

The survey also asks about respondents’ opinions on philanthropy (WaPo, 1/18):

Almost 70 percent said they plan to increase charitable giving or give the same amount, and about 22 percent have cut back or plan to donate less. About 27 percent of respondents, who were surveyed in September and October, said they gave more than $25,000 to charity in 2010, up from 9 percent who reported donations of that size three years ago.

WORKFORCE | The first part of a new WAMU investigative series finds that the District’s job training program has a history of “double-billing, poor oversight, and allegations of fraud” that the city’s Director of the Department of Employment Services, Lisa Mallory, is working hard to fix. (WAMU, 1/18)

NONPROFITS | You need a subscription to read this full article, but its headline says enough: Overwhelming majority of nonprofit employees wish to escape their current jobs. (Chronicle, 1/15 – subscription)

EDUCATION
- Leggett plans cut in school construction funding (Examiner, 1/18) “[M]odernizations have been very expensive — making it challenging to meet other critical schools capital needs,” Leggett says.

- O’Malley Wants Maryland’s Counties To Help With Teacher Pensions (WAMU, 1/18)

HEALTH
- Mental health groups fear Md. will slash funding  (WTOP, 1/18)

- Charities Ask Supreme Court to Uphold Health-Care Law (Chronicle, 1/18) and D.C. Joins Brief Supporting Healthcare Reform (DCist, 1/18)

LIBERTIES | You might have noticed that a huge number of websites (more than 7000) have gone dark today to protest the two Internet-related bills sitting in the House and the Senate. I highly encourage you to read more about the potential consequences of these bills and voice your concerns if you are so compelled. And here’s information about how the bills would affect nonprofits. (HuffPo, 1/19)

This sort of legislation is unprecedented in the history of the Internet in our country and, if passed, would prevent me from finding and sharing content like this with you.


Unrelated to the heart of its content – which is very troubling – the article above about budget cuts for mental health programs starts with the phrase, “It’s budget-slashing time.” I can’t but think that it sounds like a great one-liner for an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

- Christian

Making virtual lemonade tomorrow…Virginia hits the polls…Mark Bolgiano named VP and CIO at Council on Foundations [News, 11.8.11]

The final countdown! Give to the Max Day starts at midnight tonight. Who can participate? Literally everyone! It’s the perfect opportunity to get your friends to support your favorite nonprofit.

As we get ready, Tamara has a sweet metaphor for Give to the Max Day – “Virtual Lemonade!” Read her post on the Region Forward blog:

The continuing instability of the markets looks like a yo-yo – up and down, up and down. Tightening budgets are leading to significant reductions in government funding. And the expected wind-down of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae’s local giving is reshaping the corporate grantmaking landscape in our region.

With all those economic “lemons,” now comes a creative effort to make virtual lemonade in metropolitan Washington.

- Related editorial: Local nonprofits hope to benefit from one-day, online-only fundraiser (WaPo, 11/8)

VOTE | Virginians – don’t forget to make a quick trip to the polls today to vote for your state senators, state delegates, county supervisors, and school boards. Look up your voting location and ballots here.

COMMUNITY | The Council on Foundations has named Mark Bolgiano as its new vice president and CIO. Read more about Mark.

EDUCATION
- New data show that more than forty percent of the District’s public school population is enrolled in charter schools. (WaPo, 11/8)

- Prince George’s schools are looking at a $43 million budget gap next year due to drops in enrollment and tax revenue. (Examiner, 11/8)

YOUTH/MENTAL HEALTH | Safety nets for mentally ill children are full of holes (WaPo, 11/8) “We have all kinds of safety nets in place to ensure that children are able to get vaccinations, annual doctor visits and cold medicine. Yet mental health, in most cases, is an afterthought.”

TRANSIT | Metro will start single-tracking on huge chunks of the Red Line during regular weekday evenings. (Examiner, 11/8) So basically, don’t rely on the Red Line on weekdays or the weekend.

COMMUNITY EVENTS
- National Capital Philanthropy Day 2011 is one week from today. The event celebrates the philanthropic leadership of nonprofits, individuals, businesses, and funders. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the event, and to celebrate they’ve created a video that features former awardees – including The Meyer Foundation’s Julie Rogers! More information here on registration.


So the White House has gone on record saying that it has no evidence that extraterrestrials exist. But as we all know from Independence Day, the president isn’t told about such things. Case in point, Area 51 was kept a secret from the movie’s president!

Just joking around. 

Washingtonian recognizes WRAG members in list of powerful women…Survey: Ten percent of D.C. 8th graders attempt suicide…District short on doctors [News, 9.28.11]

COMMUNITY | In its October issue, the Washingtonian features its annual list of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the region. We’re excited to see some of our members recognized for their leadership. Congratulations Rose Ann, Carol, Terri, Nicky, Julie, and Vicki! From the print edition:

Rose Ann Cleveland, executive director, Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and chair, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers. Cafritz keeps many local arts and humanities groups alive.

Carol Thompson Cole, president and CEO, Venture Philanthropy Partners. Her community and government experience and her interpersonal skills make Cole the ideal go-between for the hard-charging entrepreneurial funders of VPP and the nonprofits that receive VPP investment funds.

Terri Lee Freeman, president of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, inspires local philanthropists to put their money where the needs are. [Terri is also the vice-chair of the WRAG board.]

Nicky Goren, president of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, is a catalyst for increasing local philanthropy by and for local women.

Julie Rogers, president of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, does more than give away money – she has taught grantsmanship and fostered collaboration among local nonprofit leaders as a way of helping their organizations survive.

Victoria P. Sant, president of the board of trustees of the National Gallery of Art, is a major philanthropic force in the area, involved in Vital Voices, the Community Foundation, and the Summit Foundation.

MENTAL HEALTH | This is completely unacceptable. A CDC survey of 1,186 District middle-schoolers finds that ten percent of eighth-grade students said they had attempted suicide in the past year. The same survey also found 30 percent claiming to have had sexual intercourse and 15 percent of sixth through eighth graders saying they belong to a gang (Examiner, 9/28).

“Children are the canaries in the coal mine, and middle schoolers are often the canaries for children’s issues — it’s a very vulnerable time,” said Judith Sandalow, executive director of the Children’s Law Center, which represents at-risk children. “A third of all students in the District live in poverty, so the number of those children who have witnessed violence in their homes or communities or schools is extremely high, and as a community, we don’t offer significant assistance.”

WRAG’s Health Working Group and Children, Youth, and Families Working Group have both identified mental health as priorities (CYF’s next meeting is about school-aged mental health), but this conversation needs to expand well beyond philanthropy or school advocates immediately.

YOUTH | New D.C. center to serve disabled youths, vets (WaPo, 9/28) The National Youth Transitions Center will be “a one-stop shop with a variety of services aimed at people with disabilities and injured veterans, ages 14 to 26.”

EDUCATION | Here’s a debate among leaders in education, including Geoffrey Canada (who spoke at WRAG’s annual meeting in 2007) about whether the school day should be longer. (NYTimes, 9/26) I emphatically say, maybe!

AGING | Quick Action Saves Food Programs For Low-Income DC Seniors (Poverty and Polcy, 9/27)

HEALTH
- D.C. has fewer than 3,000 active doctors, report says (WaPo, 9/28)

- Health Insurance Costs Rising Sharply This Year, Study Shows (NYTimes, 9/28)

FACTOID | We’re halfway through the week, so let’s celebrate with a Philanthropy Factoid! Today’s looks at how the intersection of marketing and pop culture can break down barriers. (WG Daily, 9/28)

RIP | The wonderfully talented Jessy Dixon, who worked with Paul Simon to make gospel music popular, passed away at 73 this week. (WaPo, 9/28) Here’s a video of Dixon performing Simon’s Gone at Last at the Warner Theatre a few years ago (honestly one of the best concerts I’ve seen).


Does anyone know if the sun still exists? I think we need to laugh a little today, so here’s something great – bad lip reading of famous people. Here’s one of Rick Perry, which I think you’ll enjoy regardless of political inclination. It’s the concept rather than character that is funny, though Perry’s southern drawl does add some depth to the humor. Ice cream.

Baker distinguishes himself from predecessor, improves county’s relationship with funders…Lots of appointments and promotions…Redefining ‘affordable housing’ [News, 9.22.11]

PRINCE GEORGE’S | The Post’s Robert McCartney says that the result of yesterday’s primary election for the Prince George’s County Council demonstrates that “reform-minded” executive Rushern Baker’s “political organization, which aided Davis’s campaign, continues to get stronger.” One particular area of strength is Baker’s relationship with funders:

Amina Anderson, senior program officer at the Community Foundation for Prince George’s County, said philanthropic leaders have been impressed that the Baker administration has consulted with them and streamlined procedures for obtaining grants.

“He and members of his staff really spent a lot of time listening to folks in the county in the nonprofit sector about what their concerns were, what their needs were, how the county should be responding,” she said. The new grant process “is modeled on some of the best practices” in the field, she said.

NONPROFITS | The Meyer Foundation’s Rick Moyers has a new post up at his Against the Grain blog- Five Ways Foundations Can Strengthen Nonprofit Boards (Chronicle, 9/22)

HOUSING | New Study Redefines Affordable Housing (WAMU, 9/22) A D.C. Office of Planning study that says mortgage companies should look at more than just payments, insurance, and taxes.

EDUCATION
- Education finance commission finally forming (WaPo, 9/22)

-Obama prepares to revamp ‘No Child Left Behind’ (WaPo, 9/22)

COMMUNITY | Lots of announcements from the WRAG community:

- Big news from the Consumer Health Foundation (WRAG’s neighbors down the hall). After more than 12 years, Julie Farkas will be leaving the foundation. Fun fact – she was the first program office hired by the foundation! Rachel Wick has been promoted from program officer to Director of Policy, Planning and Special Projects. Nivo Razafindratsitohaina has been promoted to Executive Assistant to Margaret O’Bryon. And, Ria Pugeda, formerly of the Public Welfare Foundation, has joined CHF as a program officer. Congratulations to all, and we’ll miss you Julie!

- The Washington Area Women’s Foundation has named four new members to its board of directors, including Julie Rogers, president and CEO of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation. The other new members are Audrey Bracey Deegan, managing director of OMG Center for Collaborative Learning; Alex Orfinger, publisher of the Washington Business Journal, and Sonal Shah, former director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.

- Crystal Townsend is the new president of the Healthcare Initiative Foundation. Welcome to the WRAG community, Crystal!

VOLUNTEERING | New data shows that states in which there is a high rate of volunteerism and civic participation have had better joblessness rates during the economic downturn. (Chronicle, 9/22) But the study doesn’t seem to point out why this is the case. Curiouser and curiouser.

MENTAL HEALTH | Mental health study tries Capital Bikeshare as therapy (WaPo, 9/22) Not to sound like a broken record, but Capital Bikeshare is awesome.

REGION | Business Week ranks Arlington and D.C. as two of the best cities in the country. (WaPo, 9/22)

METRO | This isn’t news, but I snapped this picture at a farecard machine at Capitol South last night. I’m glad they tried to clarify things with a marker.


Is there anyone funnier than Steve Martin? Eddie Murphy has been announced as the host of  the next Oscars, so Martin – who has hosted the ceremony before – wrote Murphy a letter. It starts off, “I heard you’re hosting this year’s Oscars. First of all, CONGRATS. Even though you didn’t ask for my advice and specifically said, ‘please, no advice,’ here are a few tips!” It only gets better.

Hope you all enjoy the last weekend of September (how did that happen?) – Rebekah has the Daily covered tomorrow.

- Christian

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