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)

- 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

Montgomery County schools working to reduce racial disparities in suspensions

- 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)

- 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

Promoting STEM to minority students in Montgomery County

- In an op-ed, two Montgomery County-based business leaders explain why, in a region that has become a hub for STEM companies, it is critical to boost interest in science, technology, engineering, and math among the county’s rapidly growing population of minority youth (WaPo, 1/6):

Unfortunately, the scientific and technology potential for [minority] students is being left largely untapped. Only 11 percent of Maryland’s African American eighth graders and 18 percent of Hispanic eighth graders are deemed proficient in science, according to the National Assessment for Educational Progress.

This must change — for the benefit of these students and, more broadly, for the future of science and technology companies within the region. We need a minority-based youth movement to push Montgomery County and our region forward in STEM education. Our collective challenge is to attract more students to STEM-related subjects through engaging, accessible and innovative platforms that appeal to the youth on their terms. Doing so fosters goodwill with our students, benefits our communities and advances the critical products and technologies that can make a meaningful difference to the health and welfare of the broader population.

- Improving middle schools will be a priority for schools chancellor Kaya Henderson in 2014-15, but first DCPS will seek community input on how best to do so. (WaPo, 1/6)

YOUTH | Students are pushing for officials at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria to implement a restorative justice program in response to the disproportionately high rates of suspensions among African American and Latino students. (WaPo, 1/5)

CSR | The American Express Foundation’s Tim McClimon explains five trends to watch in the field of corporate social responsibility in 2014. (CSR Now, 1/6)

Related: Tim McClimon is the lead faculty member for the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility, which kicks off January 23. There are still a few seats remaining. CSR professionals: click here to find out more about this new professional development offering from WRAG and Johns Hopkins University.

ECONOMY | Local leaders offer the Post their predictions for the D.C. region’s economy in 2014. The overall gist, per the Greater Washington Board of Trade’s Jim Dinegar: “It won’t be good, but it will be better.” (WaPo, 1/5)

WORKFORCE | Maryland legislators are seeking to raise the state’s minimum wage this year, which would impact 466,000 workers. (WAMU, 1/6)

POVERTY | 50 Years Later, War on Poverty Is a Mixed Bag (NY Times, 1/4)

HIV/AIDS | A Resisted Pill to Prevent H.I.V. (NY Times, 12/30)

This guy’s Facebook friendship with an Applebee’s franchise is pretty hilarious.

Christian will be back writing the Daily tomorrow. In the meantime, stay warm out there!

- Rebekah

The dangers of “patchwork” wage increases

The minimum wage has been a major topic of local conversation recently. The District and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are poised to increase their minimum wages considerably. At the same time, efforts in Congress to increase the federal minimum wage above a puny $7.25 an hour have been unsuccessful.

The Post takes a look at efforts to increase the minimum wage, both locally and nationally, and identifies a potentially significant problem – especially for a region like ours with so many jurisdictions (WaPo, 11/28):

The efforts, while supported by many unions, threaten to create a patchwork of wage rates that could mean workers in some areas will be entitled to vastly less than those working similar jobs nearby. The campaigns reach from coast to coast.

- Editorial: The Post’s editorial board goes into more detail about what the “patchwork” of wages could mean locally. (WaPo, 11/28)

- What’s the relationship between satisfaction and wealth? The results of a new study might surprise you. And possibly make you laugh uncontrollably in disagreement. (Atlantic, 11/27)

COMMUNITY | The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has announced its 2013 Citizens Awards, which recognize “some of the most accomplished social and community initiatives within the business community.” We’re excited that three WRAG members received awards!

- The Citi Foundation was recognized with both the Best Economic Empowerment Program Award and the Best Partnership Award.

- IBM received the Best Disaster Response and Community Resilience Program Award.

- Hilton Worldwide earned the Best Environmental Stewardship Program Award

CHARITY | I’m sure we all consider ourselves well informed about the work of nonprofits, but the Post’s Vanessa Small has some helpful tips at the ground level – seven ways not to give to charity. (WaPo, 12/2)

HOUSING | After its previous leader was placed on administrative leave earlier in November, the D.C. Housing Finance Agency has named Maria Day-Marshall as its new head. (CP, 11/27)

HUNGER | With food stamp allocations having been cut, local food pantries are (not surprisingly) seeing an increased demand. (WaPo, 11/27)

TRANSIT | Metro has announced its desire to raise fares by 3 percent next year. Last month, the system’s train service caused so many problems for riders that its CEO, Richard Sarles, publicly apologized to riders. (WaPo, 11/2)

POLITICS | Considering how influential Northern Virginia has been in recent elections, this article might be of some interest. The Atlantic’s Richard Florida writes about how the suburbs are the new swing states. (Atlantic, 11/29)

Hope you all enjoyed Thanksgiving! I can’t believe it’s already December. I couldn’t find anything particularly amusing to put here today, but here’s something interesting and controversial – Amazon’s proposed drone delivery system. It seems like an April Fool’s joke, but apparently it isn’t one. What do you think? Good idea? Bad idea? Impossible idea? Secret ploy by the NSA?

Billionaire believes education reform can be America’s next moonshot

EDUCATION/PHILANTHROPY | Forbes has released its second annual issue focused on philanthropy. There are a bunch of good articles about domestic and international giving, but the most interesting one (methinks) is about billionaire hedge fund manager and Robin Hood Foundation head Paul Tudor Jones’ goal to fix the American education system (Forbes, 11/18):

“The U.S. is in the bottom quartile for developed countries in terms of educational outcomes for kids. What’s going on with low-income kids and education is about the highest expression of racism that we’ve ever probably experienced as a country, with the possible exception of slavery. For whatever reason, we are desensitized to it now.”

Jones likens this to John F. Kennedy’s call to land a man on the moon. “Common Core [a set of national educational standards] was our Sputnik moment, when we found out that our kids aren’t measuring up to kids in other developed countries,” he says. “We are losing the space race. This time the space is between our kids’ ears.” Jones says his goal is to get the U.S. educational system in the top quartile of developed countries in the next ten years. Twenty years from now he wants the U.S. at number one.

Related opinion: Silly Season at the US Department of Education by Patricia McGuire (HuffPo, 11/17)

POVERTY/HOUSING | According to the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute’s Ed Lazere, the District’s poverty rate is actually worse than anyone realized. The reason? High housing costs (DCFPI, 11/18):

An alternate poverty measure developed by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 22,000 more DC residents live in poverty than the number officially considered poor. Some 141,000 residents—23 percent of the District’s population — were poor between 2010 and 2012, under the “supplemental poverty measure,” while 119,000 were poor under the standard poverty measure.

The difference is most likely due to the District’s high housing costs and its effect on the ability of residents to meet their basic needs. Of the 12 states with higher poverty rates under the supplemental measure, most have high costs of living, including New York and California.

Related: Tax plan may help pay for Arlington housing (WaPo, 11/18)

WORKFORCE | Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are part of a regional collaboration to raise the minimum wage. Bill Turque reports that the Maryland jurisdictions are at a crossroads, “with uncertainties that could complicate” wage hikes. (WaPo, 11/18)

FOOD | A new report from Pew finds that most Americans believe that obesity is a serious public health issue, but they have mixed opinions on what role the government should play in regulating what we eat. Building on this, Pew looks at the demographics of obesity – particularly around income. (Pew, 11/15)

- With demand quickly rising at food pantries, Capital Area Food Bank is focusing on healthy food as a key component of its services. (WaPo, 11/16)

- Opinion: New York Times commentator Joseph Stiglitz says, “American food policy has long been rife with head-scratching illogic.” (NYT, 11/18) You could play Mad Libs with the word “food” and it would probably still be true!

HEALTHCARE | D.C. insurance commissioner fired a day after questioning Obamacare fix (WaPo, 11/18)

DISTRICT | The Home Rule Act, which was passed 40 years ago, took a significant amount of control away from Congress and gave it to the District’s mayor and legislature. WAMU looks back at the law and how it has affected the city since. (WAMU, 11/15)

- Is there a connection between the District’s height restrictions and Northern Virginia’s shifting political composition? (New Republic, 11/14)

- Are hipsters driving out the District’s aging residents from their long-time neighborhoods? (WaPo, 11/17)

Find out next week. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel! Sorry, I feel obligated to do that whenever I write two questions in a row. I also don’t have any answers to the questions beyond what’s in the articles. Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah Batman!

Speaking of Batman, I’m sure you all have heard what the good people of San Francisco did for a 5 year-old cancer patient. In case you haven’t, it’s a heartwarming story that might actually make you tear up at your desk.

Apologies for not running a Friday edition of the Daily. We’re in crunch mode gearing up for our annual meeting this Thursday! To make up for it, here are TWO bonus items. First, a series of beautiful, surreal photographs of an abandoned desert house filled with sand (but not fog).

Second, as NASA gets ready to launch a new Mars mission today, check out this video showing what the Red Planet might have looked like before it was red.

The relationship between student progress and happiness

What’s the relationship between happiness and student performance? National polling firm Gallup was hired by Montgomery County Public Schools to survey students and staff about their levels of hope and engagement. The polls are part of MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr’s effort to demonstrate that student progress should be measured by more than just test scores.

Greater Greater Education’s Dan Reed explores the survey results to see if measuring a connection between happiness and student progress is useful (GGE, 7/23):

So are students at the county’s highest-ranked schools outperforming their counterparts elsewhere because they’re happier at school? Not really. If you look at this year’s surveys for the county’s 26 high schools, the correlation between student happiness and academic performance looks pretty weak.

- It’s summertime, so how about something fun near the top of the news roundup? Katy found this amusing video about students calling out celebrities’ bad grammar.

YOUTH | Teens find solace and skills through summer job programs (Elevation, 7/23)

PHILANTHROPY | This year’s Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ Learning Conference took on an uncomfortable topic that funders (and all human beings) are eager to gloss over: failure. Kathleen Enright, GEO’s president and CEO, recaps some important highlights (HuffPo, 7/23):

Clearly failure is a universal experience. Yet…how a person responds to failure says much more about him or her than the failure itself. Many of us get stuck at step one: recognizing that something could have gone better. Suzanne Walsh, a GEO board member and senior program officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, dubs these “lessons listed” rather than “lessons learned.”

Side note: I’m often embarrassed to link to the Huffington Post. They do a truly remarkable job of mixing intelligent content with putrid tabloid garbage. Case in point: the leading “most popular” story today (about Subway) is barely newsworthy, but it most certainly does not deserve a graphic image to promote it on the right side of every page.

NONPROFITS | The Money Value of Time: Increasing the Lifeblood of Nonprofit Organizations (GEO, 7/22)

HEALTH | Health-care law is tied to new caps on work hours for part-timers (WaPo, 7/23)

LOCAL | After a half-decade delay, a major redevelopment project is about to finally get underway in Anacostia. (GGW, 7/22) Knock on wood.

TRANSIT | In Concretegate’s latest development, WMATA is claiming that Montgomery County’s repairs of the Silver Spring transit center are insufficient. As such, Metro is saying that it won’t be held responsible for future maintenance. (Gazette, 7/23) If this thing ever opens, I’m staying away.

I woke up this morning with a song inexplicably stuck in my head. It’s the meeting of two cultural legends, Kermit the Frog and Mr. Jimmy Buffett, for a really catchy tune: Caribbean Amphibian. A frog in a coconut tree!

Also, as exciting (?) as the news about the royal baby is, I think the media have run their course with the story. WTOP’s astute headline highlights the fact that today is the first day of parenthood for Kate and William. Excellent point! And CNN has the front page news that the royals will be leaving the hospital soon. Phew! I was getting worried that they were going to live there forever.  

Take a look at how local poverty has changed since 1980

The Urban Institute’s MetroTrends just launched an interactive map that visualizes poverty rates throughout the country over the last three decades. We’re neither demographers nor cartographers, but these observations about the Greater Washington region are easily evidenced in the maps. Between 1980 and now:

- Black poverty has decreased and dispersed. It was heavily concentrated on the eastern half of the District in 1980, especially toward the eastern center of the city. Now it has moved north and east in the region.

- The Hispanic poverty rate has increased significantly overall, with heavier concentrations in Montgomery County and parts of Northern Virginia.

- The white poverty rate, which was formerly concentrated in the western part of the District, looks thinner in the city and denser in Prince George’s County.

Check out the MetroTrends site for a more detailed look at our region and the rest of the country.

- Greater Greater Education interviewed Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr (this is a long sentence already and its mostly titles so far) about demographic changes in the county. As GGE reported, the county’s changing population is leading to segregation in schools. To this point, Starr says (GGE, 7/2):

I could come up with ways of mixing and matching kids from different backgrounds and different races and different stripes in schools…but unless you actually change what teachers do with kids every day, you’re not going to get a different result.

- GGE also recaps a four-part series in Education Week about DCPS and the Common Core standards. (GGE, 7/1)

WORKFORCE | The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region has been working hard to convince the D.C. Council of the importance of supporting adult literacy. Their work has paid off. This week, the council approved a $1 million increase to adult literacy funding. (CFNCR, 7/2)

TRANSIT | Perhaps you’ve noticed the streetcar tracks and stations on H Street? I like to sit at the stations and count the ghost streetcars that go by. So when will the real cars actually be on the tracks? Maybe by the end of the year. There’s a 2 in 3 chance, according to DDOT. But hey, if they miss the deadline, at least they covered their bases with these ridiculous odds! (WAMU, 7/2)

LOCAL | Here’s what would happen if the FBI leaves the District. (CP, 7/2) No word on what this means for Agents Mulder and Scully.

- A “severely underserved community” has one doctor for every 3,500 residents. An area of Prince George’s County has only one for every 7,000. (WaPo, 7/2)

- In an article titled All for One and One for All, the Stanford Social Innovation Review looks at five ways that data and technology are going to change healthcare. (SSIR, 6/28)

There couldn’t be a better opportunity to link to the 90s power ballad All for Love featuring Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, and Sting. It’s from Disney’s Three Musketeers soundtrack. Way. Too. Epic.

This is kind of cool: six “radical” projects that would have completely changed New York’s landscape. The airport would be pretty neat.

And here’s a little trivia. A man who was convicted of conspiring to kill Albert Einstein was sentenced to…a six dollar fine. And a bonus supplement – Einstein developed the Special Theory of Relativity based on a dream he had.

Here’s a problem: cities weren’t designed for seniors.

AGING/CITIES | Fun fact: city planners have traditionally timed crosswalks based on people walking four feet per second. As you can imagine, older people don’t move quite that fast – and that’s a big problem as the Silver Tsunami is rolling in and seniors are staying in cities. The problem is bigger than just crosswalks though (Atlantic, 6/11):

Crosswalks are only one piece of a deep-rooted problem composed of many subtle environmental details most of us never even notice: Is there a park bench to catch your breath? How about a curb cut for your walker? The pace of city living feels entirely different when you need an extra beat to read a road sign, or when you don’t have a license to drive at all.

The picture above is from the intersection of 15th and Massachusetts NW. It might be hard to see, but the walk and stop signs are concurrently lit. Should we cross? Should we wait? Total chaos for people of all ages! Some people were sprinting and others were frozen stiff. I crossed like this.

YOUTH | U.S. News has released new rankings of the 50 healthiest counties for kids, based on factors including poverty, death from injuries, teen births, and more. Montgomery County ranks 9th, Howard ranks 26th, and Fairfax ranks 28th. That’s a pretty solid regional representation considering that there are more than 3,000 countries in the nation. (USNews, 6/11)

Related: Mapping the Well-Being of Children in the District of Columbia (School of Data, 6/11)

- One of Chancellor Henderson’s current reform tools is “reconstitution” which is not, as you’re probably assuming, knocking down a spectacular Lego kingdom and rebuilding it piece by piece. It is similar though – DCPS can require all of an under-performing school’s staffers to reapply for their jobs, which gives the administrators a chance to weed out bad teachers. (WaPo, 6/11)

- Greater Greater Education is taking a detailed look at each one of Council member David Catania’s seven proposals for education reform. Part one is about school funding and autonomy. (GGE, 6/11)

COMMUNITY | Last week, we shared the sad news that former Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation head Anne Allen had passed away. Her funeral arrangements have been made. A service will be held at Our Lady of Victory Church on MacArthur Boulevard on June 19th. Full details can be found here.

HOUSING | Our region’s housing market just hit a record high. The median price is almost a whopping half-million dollars. (UrbanTurf, 6/11)

GIVING | 42% of Its Donor-Advised Fund Gifts Are Unrestricted, Fidelity Says (Chronicle, 6/10)

LOCAL | If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like when a politician takes a bribe, your dreams have come true! The Post has pictures of disgraced former Council member Michael Brown grinning as he accepts a coffee mug (!) full of cash. (WaPo, 6/11)

It was always a fun trivia fact to know that Dr. Seuss’ real name was Theodor Geisel. I did not know, however, that his middle name was actually Seuss! What’s more, I never would have guessed his method for curing writer’s block.

Also, here’s one possible solution to helping seniors keep up with the pace of city life.

Gearing up for Do More 24

We’re gearing up for Do More 24 this Thursday! Are you ready? Help us spread the word by telling your colleagues, friends, and total strangers. The event is spearheaded by the United Way of the National Capital Area and as its head Bill Hanbury told Tamara, this event is about the philanthropist in each of us.

Today, the Washington Post’s Capital Business looks at how important this event is for our region’s nonprofits. (WaPo, 6/3)

We’ll have more about Do More 24 over the course of this week. In the meantime, you can start scouting out which charities to support. You can check out the Washington AIDS Partnership’s page while you’re looking around!

COMMUNITY | We’re sad to share the news that Anne Allen, former executive director of the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and one of WRAG’s early champions, has passed away at 88. [Read more here.]

GROWTH | In suburban Maryland, efforts to decrease sprawl while increasing density – or “smart growth” – have been incentivized rather than mandated by law. A new study finds that the incentives aren’t working well enough. (Atlantic, 6/3)

EDUCATION | Prince George’s County’s new school reform laws are now in place, which means that County Executive Rushern Baker is officially tasked with finding a new superintendent. As he searches, current interim superintendent Alvin Crawley has delayed his resignation until a permanent replacement is found. (WaPo, 6/2)

Related: Rushern Baker Appoints New Chairman For Prince George’s Board Of Education (WAMU, 6/2)

- Can “restart” turn around low-performing charter schools? (GGW, 6/3) Perhaps more importantly, can “restart” turn around our country’s low-performing education system?

YOUTH | Prince George’s has doubled the size of its summer youth jobs program. (Examiner, 6/3)

NONPROFITS | As the IRS scandal continues to pick up steam, the Chronicle of Philanthropy is running a series of articles about how to improve the agency. In part one today, they look at clarifying rules on political involvement. (Chronicle, 6/3)

Remember when the media used to affix the word “gate” to every political scandal, no matter how trivial? How in the world has this particular controversy escaped that trend?

Well, this week is off to an ominous start. The skies seem quite uncertain…and I got briefly trapped in the elevator today. “You have to push the button, you moron,” is probably what you’re thinking. I’ll have you know that the power actually went out completely! No lights. Eerie silence (except for me shrieking like Homer Simpson). And I was riding alone. Fortunately the elevator eventually rose to my floor very slowly and still in the dark.

In other news, Elon Musk is a pretty cool dude and I wish that his brilliant ideas could be financially and politically realized.

The geography of gun violence

CRIME | The map above shows the geography of guns seizures in our region. While gun seizures and violent crime have declined over the last decade, they are still a huge problem. Like many other challenges facing our region, there is an easily identifiable geographic trend. (WaPo, 5/29)

HOUSING/AGING | At an event hosted by The Atlantic on increasing demand for housing, services and health care in American cities, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros delivered a concise and effective point: “Demographics is destiny.” Along with other panelists, Cisneros discussed how we must quickly respond to shifting demographics, particularly in light of the Silver Tsunami. Panel highlights included a number of areas for concern (MetroTrends, 5/23):

- Urban Institute models project that between 2010 and 2030 there will be a 70 percent increase in senior homeowners and a 100 percent increase in senior renters.

- As many seniors choose to “age in place” by staying in their homes and communities, their cities and neighborhoods may not be equipped to provide the transportation, services, and health care they increasingly demand.

- Affordable housing is limited, but retirees on fixed incomes and millennials facing an unprecedented wealth gap will increasingly demand affordable housing in walkable urban areas.


- At WRAG’s Brightest Minds event earlier this year, Cisneros similarly spoke of aligning housing with geographic and demographic concerns. He also gave funders ten ways to support housing affordability. (Daily, March 2013)

- WRAG also recently produced an installment of our What Funders Need to Know series on local affordable housing. (Daily, 4/30)

- And, the Examiner reports on new data that show our region as having the strongest housing market in the whole land (or country, if you prefer). (Examiner, 5/29)

- Last week, the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation announced more than $2.8 million in grants in four areas: education, healthy communities, economic security, and a strong nonprofit sector. The foundation’s 76 grants will reach more than 100,000 low-income residents in the Greater Washington region. Visit the foundation’s website for the full grants list.

- The DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation has received an additional $1.5 millions from the Mayor’s Office to support summer youth programs. With the extra funding, the Trust has added 32 additional summer programs, which you can read about here.

- A week from today is Do More 24, a full day of online giving sponsored by the United Way of the National Capital Area that improves on last year’s highly successful Give to the Max Day. Tamara recently spoke with Bill Hanbury, head of the region’s United Way and a member of WRAG’s Board, about the event and why he’s very excited for it. Check out the video! For more information about Do More 24 – and how you can get involved either as a donor or a nonprofit – visit the event’s website.

- If you’ve ever wanted to ask Warren Buffett about how to get rich…well, then you have something in common with a lot of people. However, if you’re interested in getting philanthropic advice from the man, you’re in luck! Buffett and his sister Doris are planning to offer advice on giving as part of an online course. (Chronicle, 5/29)

- The Post has a breakdown of final exam scores in Montgomery County. While we recently linked to an article about bad math scores in the news roundup, the trend also extends across other subject areas like English and biology. (WaPo, 5/26)

- A new voice for D.C. parents in shaping schools policy? The answer is “yes,” according to the article, and his name is Matthew Frumin. (WaPo, 5/29)

LOCAL | You have got to be kidding me. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, apparently there are snakes falling out of trees in Adams Morgan – and officials say that it’s no big deal! (POP via GGW, 5/29) Why did it have to be snakes?

Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21, but our region plays by its own rules! Like the flip of a switch after Memorial Day, we’re in for a bit of a heat wave this week. Avoid standing under trees as snakes might fall on you, and avoid water sources because snakehead fish might crawl out and bite you. Basically, hide inside.

While you’re hiding, maybe you’ll enjoy this water-related wedding video! An entire bridal party falls into a lake, probably with many damaged cell phones and wallets. Don’t feel bad about laughing though. Everyone will remember the wedding for the rest of their lives.


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