Can the arts transform Anacostia?

As the revitalization of the H Street Corridor proved, the arts can drive major economic improvement. But is H Street’s rebirth replicable? The City Paper looks at the possibility that Anacostia could become the next major arts corridor in the District, though it certainly faces big challenges (CP, 5/24):

That’s part of what’s going on in Anacostia: arts for its own sake…Which might be cause for excitement within the neighborhood, and surely much anxiety. All strata may participate in the arts, but in the lexicon of modern urban life, they often signify—fairly or unfairly—more disruptive changes to come, like skyrocketing rents and amenities more likely to appeal to newcomers than longtime residents.

The paper has four features on this subject, each one worth reading:

- If You Build It, Who Will Come?
Stage of Development
What to Expect at LUMEN8 2013
Anacostia’s Arts Scene Is Growing

EDUCATION
- By a gigundo margin, students in D.C. carry the highest student debt load in the country with an average of $41,230. Maryland comes in second with $26,310. That said, WAMU reports that our region has the highest proportion of graduate degrees in the country, and possibly the galaxy, though the Census doesn’t track that wide. (WAMU, 5/23) The article helps to validate this meme.

- As our  leaders on the Hill prepare to take off an entire week to celebrate Memorial Day, local school jurisdictions are getting ready to face sequestration-related budget cuts. (WAMU, 5/23)

- Chicago is a few hundred miles outside of our usual jurisdiction, but their school system experiences similar challenges to some in our region. To that end, it will be interesting to see what happens after the city executes the largest wave of school closings in the entire country. (Chicagoist, 5/23)

- Though Enrolling More Poor Students, 2-Year Colleges Get Less of Federal Pie (NYT, 5/23)

Related event for WRAG members: Positioning Community Colleges to Effectively Train our Region’s Workers for High-Demand Jobs [More info.]

VETERANS | As our military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq wind down, Rebekah writes about how local funders are preparing for returning veterans. (Daily, 5/23)

PHILANTHROPY
- Tamara and Gretchen have both written about mission-driven investing in the last week, which includes using program-related investments (PRIs) to maximize impact. A new study finds that while PRIs have increased considerably over the past two decades, they were neglected during the recession. Also, funders might not be putting their money where their mouths are, and it’s not because money doesn’t taste good (Chronicle, 5/23):

There’s a disconnect between the amount of discussion about program-related investments in the foundation world and how many are actually made.

- Operating Support Jumped 83% in 2011 (Chronicle, 5/23)

TEEN PREGNANCY | The Atlantic looks at the shifting geography of teen mothers in the United States. (Atlantic, 5/22)

The article notes that D.C. has the top rate among 15-17 year old girls, but be sure to check out our report Beyond Dollars to see how much progress has been made in the city in recent years.

BUDGETS | The DC Fiscal Policy Institute summarized the DC Council’s 2014 budget, which includes housing and children/family funding. (DCFPI, 5/22)

DAILY | In observance of Memorial Day, expected reduced readership, and lingering technology projects that require undivided attention, The Daily WRAG will return next Wednesday, May 29th.


The Cat Empire is an incredibly versatile and talented band from Down Under – easily one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen. I highly recommend checking out their new album Steal The Light on Spotify (and buying the album if you dig it). The whole thing is excellent, but my early favorite track is Wild Animals.

Since we’re going to be gone for a few days, here are TWO bonus items! First, breathtaking photographs from the first successful ascent of Mount Everest 60 years ago. Second, 15 hilarious GIFs of uncoordinated children. Give the animations a few seconds to load. Number 10 gets what he deserves.

Have a great long weekend, folks! – Christian

The nuts and bolts of mission investing

PHILANTHROPY | Last week, Tamara wrote about how the Kellogg Foundation has used mission investing to maximize its impact. Today, Gretchen follows up with a closer look at the mechanics of mission investing – specifically, she writes about MRIs (not that kind) and PRIs. She also explores how the Consumer Health Foundation is using mission investing to improve our region. (Daily, 5/21)

Related:
The Kellogg Foundation and Mission-Driven Investing (Daily, 5/16)

How Philanthropists Can Help Companies Achieve Profit with a Purpose (Arabella, 5/14)

- Leveraging the Power of Foundations-An Analysis of Program-Related Investing (LFSP, 5/21)

OKLAHOMA | Our thoughts go out to Moore, Oklahoma, after yesterday’s monster tornado flattened huge parts of the city. Moore has been hit by similarly-destructive tornadoes three times in the last fifteen years. While the damage from the latest is devastating and the loss of life is significant, there is some relatively good news. Medical examiners have cut their death toll estimate in half, as of this morning. (Atlantic & WTOP, 5/12)

Our colleagues in Baltimore have pulled together a list of ways that you can help the victims. The Tulsa Community Foundation has also set up relief funds. And here are some options for local Oklahoma nonprofits.

Finally, here’s a heartwarming story amid the many sad ones. (Sky, 5/21)

POVERTY | Following up on yesterday’s news about the rise in suburban poverty, The Atlantic looks at some of the implications of suburban versus urban poverty (Atlantic, 5/21):

Poor people who live in high-rise apartments and dense urban blocks have neighbors who can pool childcare, or point each other to social services, or share rides to work. They have access to public transit, because transit follows density, too.

“That isolated poverty is a kind of hopeless poverty,” [Ford Foundation President Luis] Ubiñas said. It is also considerably less visible to the rest of us. “We won’t run into it on the subway or in the park,” he says. “We’ll drive past it on the highway.”

LOCAL | Here’s part two of WAMU’s investigation of local developers and their relationships with elected officials – Million-Dollar Properties, $1 Deals. (WAMU, 5/21)

TRANSIT | If you’ve been wondering how the Silver Spring transit center ended up as a $120 million-plus, useless mess, you’re in luck. The Post looks at the history of the project. (WaPo, 5/12)

JUVENILE JUSTICE | A new report from the National Youth Employment Center reviews the work of the organization’s Postsecondary Success Initiative, which works with disconnected and court-involved youth to help them achieve postsecondary credentials. The initiative is supported in part by the Open Society Foundations. (NYEC, 5/21)

EDUCATION | Process for Charters to Inherit Vacant DCPS Buildings Gets a Wee Bit Easier (CP, 5/21)


Ray Manzarek, a founding member of The Doors, passed away from cancer yesterday. It was a real tragedy that Doors lead singer Jim Morrison wasted his life on drugs, but the band’s impact on modern music was incredibly deep considering its short tenure. Here’s my favorite Doors song, which I think represents some of Manzarek’s best work - Riders on the Storm. It feels especially appropriate for today.

A progress report on philanthropy and big change

A lot can change in a few years. That’s why WRAG is excited to release Beyond Dollars: Philanthropy and BIG Change in the Greater Washington Region. The new release is a 2013 progress report on our earlier publication, Beyond Dollars: Investing in BIG Change from 2009.

The earlier report chronicled and celebrated the unrecognized benefits of philanthropy in our region while also elevating what we saw as the common elements that led to change of great magnitude. Now, almost five years later, we want to check in on this work. Is the change lasting? If so, what factors have been critical? If not, what lessons have been learned?

The impact of philanthropy is especially important to consider in light of potential changes to the charitable deduction. As Beyond Dollars shows, philanthropic investments continue to make an important difference in our region.

HOMELESSNESS | The Senate has approved legislation for an Internet sales tax. It might not make it through the House, but if it does, D.C. Councilmembers Jim Graham and Mary Cheh think that the new revenue could end homelessness. As Aaron Wiener points out, this idealism is rooted in the belief that we could beat homelessness if we just had the money. (CP, 5/7)

If they really believe this, then it’s unsettling that better attempts haven’t been made to secure the necessary funds in the past.

HOUSING | ElevationDC interviews Michael Diamond, director of the Harrison Institute for Housing and Community Development, about affordable housing, gentrification, and policy solutions in our region. (Elevation, 5/7)

WORKFORCE | Over the weekend, New York Times bureau chief Dave Leonhardt wrote about the very high nonemployment rates of 25 to 34 year old Americans and the “grim shift” that has landed our country in a much worse position than most of Europe.

In a follow up, Leonhardt looks at the geography of the problem. Fortunately, our region is one of three spots in the country bucking the trend. (NYT, 5/7) Leonhardt is a great writer – very literary. The opening paragraph of the first article is fantastic.

HEALTH | Slowdown in Health Costs’ Rise May Last as Economy Revives (NYT, 5/6) Well, that’s a confusing headline.


Have you ever wondered what the subjects of abstract paintings might look like if they were real people? Me neither – but I found out the answer anyway. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Internet, somebody updated famous portraits for modern times.

And since there’s so much rain, how about the Belle Stars’ version of Iko Iko from Rain Man? If ever there was a movie that needed a music video…this was definitely not it. Good song though!

Is ‘social housing’ a solution to our affordable housing challenges?

HOUSING | Opinion: Roger Lewis, a professor emeritus from the University of Maryland, revisits some familiar statistics that showcase how un-affordable housing has become for both low- and moderate-income families. He even sketched the cartoon to the right to drive the point home. But he takes the conversation a step further and suggests a possible path forward (WaPo, 5/4):

We should take a cue from Europe, where countries such as Denmark and Austria build “social housing.” Social housing is public housing, but only in the sense that it is government-financed. European social housing is subsidized yet serves middle-class as well as low-income households, thereby avoiding many of the socioeconomic issues associated with America’s public housing.

Using the words “social” and “Europe” in an American policy debate virtually guarantees immediate dismissal. But that fact aside, what do you think of Lewis’ idea?

Related: Last week, WRAG released a new report on housing affordability in the Greater Washington region – What Funders Need to Know: Housing. It details many of the affordability issues that Lewis mentions. (Daily, 4/30)

Related: Earlier in the spring, WRAG heard from former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros about ways that funders can support housing affordability. Check out number eight on his list, which directly relates to Roger Lewis’ idea of “social housing.” (Daily, 3/26)

Related: Housing Crash Fades as Defaults Decline to 2007 Levels (Bloomberg, 5/6) Related: What the heck, how many times can we write “related” in one issue?

Event: Next Saturday, the Communications Action Network (CAN), is sponsoring its Parade of Homes. The event features open houses at 20 affordable housing communities across the region. It’s a great opportunity to see the range of options and quality for local affordable homes. [Learn more.]

HOMELESSNESS | Advocates, City Officials Spar Over Homeless Amendments (CP, 5/3)

AGING | This is a tough but important read – Elderly Couple’s Tale Of Abuse Not So Uncommon (WAMU, 4/4)

GIVING | Opinion: The Hudson Institute’s William Schambra writes about the politics and potential impact of “genuine compassionate conservatism.” (Chronicle, 5/1)

BOOK REVIEW | In today’s Daily, The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s president, Eileen Ellsworth, reviews Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World by Leslie R. Crutchfield, John V. Kania, and Mark R. Kramer. You can read the full review here. Eileen writes that the book is a worthwhile read for all funders (Daily, 5/6):

[Do More Than Give] is a useful and thought provoking work for every kind of donor, in any kind of community. If you are looking for a practical, step by step manual for how to become a more effective donor, this book has a very great deal to offer.

TRANSIT | If you’ve ever ridden the New York subway and accidentally ended up on an express train to the Bronx when you were aiming for Brooklyn, then you probably appreciate the relative simplicity of our Metro system. And if you haven’t had that experience, lucky you, because it’s a time-consuming mistake that makes you feel like a helpless dimbulb.

Our addition of the Silver Line – and it’s graphical rendering on the WMATA system map – is pushing things into confusing territory. (Atlantic, 5/6)


I’ve been trying to find something funny to share with you on this gloomy Monday. There’s a whole website of hilarious – sometimes intentionally and sometimes not – web product reviews. I can’t vouch for the appropriateness of the whole site, but this entry amused me. I guess a ceiling fan is a cheap alternative to these dudes.

And if you aren’t in the mood to laugh, here’s a really beautiful song – Where Our Destination Lies by Ben Gibbard. I don’t think I’ve shared it here before. Apologies if I have, but it’s a great one.

Majority of nonprofits don’t think they can afford to meet demand for services

The 2013 Nonprofit Finance Fund’s survey of more about 6,000 nonprofits finds that the majority of respondents don’t think they have enough money to meet service demands (Chronicle, 3/25):

- For the first time in the survey’s five years, more than half of the charities said they were unable to meet demands for assistance last year, and even more groups expect to struggle to do so this year.

- One in four groups is running so close to the bone it had less than 30 days’ cash in hand.

- Thirty-nine percent of the charities said their financial situation is so challenging they plan to change how they raise and spend money.

Another key finding is that nonprofits are trying to cope with cuts in government funding by turning more to private philanthropy. The Bank of America Charitable Foundation sponsored the survey and it’s president, Kerry Sullivan, says:

Philanthropy and government can’t cover the costs and expenses needed to deliver on the increasing demand…The challenge, and what we’re thinking about, is looking at new ways to drive capital to help nonprofits.

Related: It’s important to consider the size of the nonprofit sector when having discussions about its financial health. According to the Urban Institute, there are about 2.3 million nonprofit organizations operating in the United States.

GIVING | Did you know that Americans who earn in the top 20 percent only give an average of 1.3 percent to charity? And those in the bottom 20 percent give 3.2 percent? The Atlantic asks why that is and uses our region as a case study. The bottom line: “[I]nsulation from people in need may dampen the charitable impulse.” (Atlantic, April 2013 issue)

If that theory is indeed true, then the phrase “ignorance is bliss” seems perfectly appropriate for significant parts of our region.

HOUSING
- Yesterday we wrote about former HUD secretary Henry Cisneros’ observations of housing trends. Today, Rebekah shares Cisneros’ ten recommendations for our region’s funders. (Daily, 3/26)

- Is the Washington, D.C.-area housing market bubbling again? (WaPo, 3/26)

- Washington-area foreclosure rates lower (WTOP, 3/26)

YOUTH | The DC Alliance of Youth Advocates is conducting a survey of currently and formerly disconnected youth. If your organization serves members of this population, they need your help collecting survey responses. [More info.]

EDUCATION | The latest on the Prince George’s schools situation is that legislation has been introduced in the Maryland Senate. The bill does give County Executive Rushern Baker more direct control over the school system, but not nearly at the level he was seeking. It basically splits the responsibilities between Baker and the school board. Baker is hoping that amendments will be added in his favor. (WaPo, 3/26)

As we know from the federal government, split political power is the elixir of successful reform. No wait, I meant poison. Sorry.

ARTS/BUDGETS | The District’s FY2013 budget includes the biggest increase in arts funding of any state in the country. The increase is an excellent 133%. (Elevation DC, 3/26)

CORRECTION | I accidentally called LISC by the wrong name yesterday. Please note that their correct name is the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. I wrote “Collaborative.” Apologies for the mistake.


Breaking a law in Egypt is near the top of my list of things I’d avoid like the Ten Plagues, but that’s not the case for some Russian photographers. They climbed the great pyramids and took some truly spectacular photos of the view. They also made the mistake of taking pictures of their own faces, which seems like a terrible idea.

How many full-time, minimum wage jobs do you need to rent a 2 bedroom apartment?

HOUSING/EQUITY | According to a new study, minimum-wage earners need to hold down three full-time jobs in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment in our region. Here are the jaw-dropping numbers (WAMU, 3/19):

- In the District of Columbia, minimum-wage earners need to work 132 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, in order to afford a Fair Market Rent of $1,412.

- In Maryland, minimum wage-earners need to work 135 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, in order to afford a Fair Market rent of $1,273.

- In Virginia, minimum wage-earners need to work 114 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, in order to afford a Fair Market rent of $1,078.

CHILDREN & YOUTH | Tamara wrote a piece for DC Action for Children’s blog about why having a safe and stable residence is essential to ensuring that a child is “physically and emotionally healthy and primed to succeed in life.” But housing is rarely an issue considered when discussing child advocacy. (DCAFC, 3/15)

EVENT | This Thursday, WRAG kicks off its 2013 Brightest Minds series with former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. His talk with focus on why everyone should care about housing – especially pressing considering today’s headline. [Register here.]

EDUCATION | Prince George’s executive Rushern Baker’s plan to take over the school system received many positive reactions. However, the school board from which he would be taking control has now voiced its opposition. Chairman Verjeana M. Jacobs says (WaPo, 3/19):

“This is similar to the District of Columbia model, and we know how that’s turned out,” Jacobs said, suggesting that the matter be put to a referendum.

I’m not so sure that the effects of the District’s reforms are as clear as Jacobs suggests. Nor is D.C.’s experience necessarily indicative of how power structures would operate in another jurisdiction. Hopefully all parties involved remember that they are elected and paid solely to serve the needs of the county – ensuring the successful education of its children, for example.

GIVING
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy interviewed Rep. David Reichert, who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, about his desire to protect charitable deductions. Arguments on the subject usually get reduced to very brief talking points, but Reichert goes a little deeper on his perspective. (Chronicle, 3/18)

- On the other hand: Senate Democrats Call for Limits on Charitable Deductions (Chronicle, 3/15)

LOCAL | I’m only including this because it’s so strange. The Post writes about a local man who took over a vacant Bethesda mansion and claimed it as his own. He did so because he claims sovereignty as a member of the “Moorish Nation.” Here’s what’s even stranger: this is apparently happening all over the country. Uh… (WaPo, 3/19)

FUN | The postscript is a bit heavy today, so check out Poland’s ideas for getting people to use libraries. So awesome! (Atlantic, 3/19)


Have you been following the Steubenville rape case? It’s hard to avoid, considering it’s a main headline in every media outlet. Local renaissance man Henry Rollins (punk rocker, poet, activist, journalist) has a very thoughtful perspective on the case – what it means at this moment in history, why it’s a complicated issue, who is responsible, and what can be done.

He drops an F-bomb, so fair warning if you’re sensitive to profanity. But his thinking gets to the core of a great many of the problems that we seek to solve in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. It’s worth a read.

Baker seeks more control over – and accountability for – Prince George’s schools

EDUCATION | Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker has announced his intention to take over the county’s school system. Pending the passage of state legislation, the next school superintendent would report directly to Baker while the role of the Board of Education would be minimized (WaPo, 3/17):

County officials said the takeover would allow the government to coordinate resources with the school system, potentially sending more money to the classrooms. “This is about every single child getting the best education possible,” Baker said.

Related: A day after the announcement, reaction from elected officials and county stakeholders was mostly supportive. (WaPo, 3/18)

Related: In July 2011, Baker and former superintendent William Hite spoke with WRAG members about the county’s education priorities. Upon review, two things still stick out.

First, Baker specifically mentioned that he was committed to improving the county’s schools regardless of political risk. That seems to still ring true considering the accountability he is seeking. Second, he mentioned that better schools promote economic growth. He continues to champion that notion in the article above. (Daily, July 2011)

- Raise DC tries to bring coherence to education chaos (GGE, 3/15)

- If you missed it, here’s Rebekah’s recap of a recent briefing on Raise DC. (Daily, 3/7)

LOCAL | Last week, we linked to the Post’s article about our local population growth slowing. Here’s a look at some other trends from Greater Greater Washington, including the fact that inside-the-Beltway growth is still among the nation’s highest. (GGW, 3/18)

DEMOGRAPHICS | Montgomery County has officially passed the one million residents mark! (WTOP, 3/16) About 900,000 of them drive around looking for parking spots in Bethesda on the weekends.

HOMELESSNESS | Plans For Year-Round Homeless Shelter In Arlington Approved (WAMU, 3/17)

PHILANTHROPY | Opinion: Pablo Eisenberg says that philanthropy should increase giving to government watchdog groups. He cites the need to challenge “how Washington works” and offers this sharp opinion (Chronicle, 3/18):

The need for strong watchdogs has become more apparent because of the inept way both President Obama and nonprofit group[s] have responded to America’s most urgent needs.

NONPROFITS | Opinion: Charity Tax Data Are Too Valuable Not to Have in Digital Form (Chronicle, 3/10)

EVENTS
- Tomorrow, the Washington AIDS Partnership and the Institute for Public Health Innovation are hosting an event titled The Opportunities of a New Reality: Health Care Reform, Paradigm Shifts, and the Future of HIV/AIDS Services in the D.C. Region. More info and registration here.

- On Tuesday, April 30th, Georgetown University’s Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership will host a forum called Giving Boldly & Strategically: Why is it important now more than ever?

The forum features WRAG member Nicky Goren (Washington Area Women’s Foundation), former WRAG board members Margaret O’Bryon and George Vradenburg, as well as Trish Vradenburg and the Case Foundation’s Michael Smith. More info here.

DAILY | As promised, The Daily WRAG has reemerged from its maintenance day completely transformed! Hopefully you think it looks more like a beautiful butterfly than an ugly caterpillar – a blue morpho, perhaps? We’re testing out a new email delivery system internally this week that should be much more attractive and functional than the current one. More to come soon.


That’s it. Punxsutawney Phil is on probation until his credibility can be restored. And so are all the weathermen who keep incorrectly labeling storms as “one last taste of winter.”

Well, Mondays usually aren’t too much fun and the weather has us shivering, but I have a temporary fix! Paul Simon’s I Know What I Know. Enjoy!

Special WaPo report on youth…Education news from across the region…Local population boom slowing

CHILDREN/FAMILIES | The Washington Post has a special section today on children and families. Here’s the editorial frame:

About 75 million Americans are under the age of 18, and more than 16 million of these kids live in poverty. Many sit in bright classrooms where they are taught by excellent teachers and go home to parents who shower them with every advantage. But far too many kids are stuck. They are trapped in drab schools of little learning and in troubled neighborhoods filled with jobless adults. These young people — and their difficulty in finding a path to a better future — are a growing national concern.

The full section of articles, opinions, and videos is located here. Highlights include:

- Opinion: Three simple rules poor teens should follow to join the middle class by the Brookings Institution’s Ron Haskins

- Opinion: Give low-income families the support they need to help kids succeed by Jared Bernstein from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

- After 20 years, some want more from Family and Medical Leave Act

- Policymakers, business leaders say preschool can pay big dividends

EDUCATION
- Prince George’s County has narrowed its schools superintendent candidate list to three – current interim superintendent Alvin Crawley, Durham superintendent Eric Becoats, and Chicago schools chief Harrison Peters. The Post profiles all three candidates and says that the stakes are very high (WaPo, 3/14):

The superintendent will step into a struggling system that is working to implement Common Core standards, reform its teacher-evaluation process and improve student achievement.

It is also a pivotal moment for Prince George’s County at large, as parents, elected officials and civic and business leaders have pinned much of the county’s future on the turnaround of its schools.

- Some District parents are concerned that some schools’ budgets will cause cuts to key staff and services while lower-priority positions get new funding. (WaPo, 3/14)

- As Montgomery Council considers budget, questions about “crown jewel” schools (WaPo, 3/14) I don’t think England would be very happy about us trying to pay for our schools with their jewels.

- In Montgomery schools, achievement gap widens in some areas, drawing criticism (WaPo, 3/13)

- Are early education (pre-K) efforts in the District working? (GGE, 3/13)

SEQUESTRATION | Here’s a brief look at some of the proposed tax hikes and service cuts that local jurisdictions are considering to deal with sequestration. George Mason University professor Frank Shafroth says of local officials (WAMU, 3/14):

The last decade, I think they saw everything growing…Now I think they are with Rod Serling in the Twilight Zone.

“It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition…and sequestration…and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.”

DEMOGRAPHICS
- Unfortunately we’re not dealing with imaginations here, and the Post reports that our region’s population growth rate is slowing down after years of “explosive” increases. (WaPo, 3/14)

- D.C. population swells, immigrants flock to suburbs (Examiner, 3/14)

COMMUNITY | Here’s a great look at Capital One’s method of aligning corporate social responsibility goals with its full body of work. (CSRwire, 3/13)

NONPROFITS | C.Fox Communications is accepting applications for its fourth annual inspired thought Award. The it Award is worth up to $20,000 of pro bono public relations services for nonprofit award winners. [More info.]

PHILANTHROPY | Providence has been announced as the winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge for innovation in early childhood education. Read more about it and the five other winners. (Atlantic, 3/14)

DAILY | Tomorrow, Friday the 15th, the Daily WRAG will be offline for maintenance. When it returns, your minds will drift to thoughts of an ugly caterpillar that entered a pupa and emerged a beautiful butterfly.


Happy Pi Day, everyone! Here are some ways you can celebrate. I’ll be eating pie today, 3/14, at 1:59 and 26.54 seconds.

And an early Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here’s my favorite song from the Irish band Flogging Molly – Rebels of the Sacred Heart.

See you Monday!

Student proficiency rates diverge between charter and traditional public schools [News, 3.13.13]

EDUCATION | The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute has a new report that analyzes DC CAS test scores for trends. The key findings include (DCFPI, 3/13):

- The median proficiency level among all publicly funded DC schools fell slightly from 2008 to 2012.

- The typical public charter school showed improvement in proficiency, while the typical DCPS school declined.

- The typical DC schools east of the Anacostia River and in Ward 4 saw proficiency declines.

Related: Median D.C. charter school outperforms median traditional, study finds (WaPo, 3/13)

HOUSING | Yesterday’s recommendations from the District’s Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force have taken some flack for being too vague. Following the release, the D.C. Fair Budget Coalition made its own specific recommendations for the $100 million housing investment. (City Paper, 3/13)

DEMOGRAPHICS | As Montgomery County tries to attract Millennials through development efforts, GGW takes a look at where the county’s young adults currently live. The implications of the identified trends extend across borders (GGW, 3/13):

These maps have implications not just for Montgomery County, but the whole region. They show that the District and Arlington aren’t the only places that can attract Millennials, so long as they can be near neighborhoods near transit, shopping and jobs. While many young families are choosing to live farther out, they’re still seeking a semi-urban experience.

PHILANTHROPY | Andres Spokoiny, CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, drafted his Ten Commandments of Smart Philanthropy. (TJW, 3/12)

HEALTH | Why’d your doctor move offices? It could be Obamacare. (WaPo, 3/13) Or the office might have been haunted. Didn’t think of that, did you, Washington Post? I’ll take my Pulitzer now, please.

DAILY | Apologies to email subscribers who have been getting the Daily at 3:00pm for the last two days. Feedburner is indeed set to deliver at 1:00pm, so it is either confused by daylight savings or it’s in a state of sentient rebellion.

Hopefully it starts behaving, but the good news is that we are currently testing a fancy new delivery system that will completely blow your minds (because it will deliver on time). More on that soon.


I was going to say that hell must have frozen over considering my following recommendation, but then I remembered that Dante’s hell was ice cold at its center anyway. So I’ll say that hell must be lukewarm because I’m going to recommend…a Justin Timberlake song! Yes, I know that he has a ton of fans. I’ve never been one of them.

But the SNL performance of his new track Mirrors was phenomenal. I can’t stop listening. He sounds great and his band absolutely nails the music.

Back to Dante – this interactive site is a really cool way to explore the Divine Comedy. Arrivederci until tomorrow!

Coalition calls for $100 million in investments to reduce D.C. poverty…Life expectancy tied to wealth…Affordable Care Act aiming for the wrong goal? [News, 3.11.13]

BUDGETS | At an event co-sponsored by five D.C. Council members, the D.C. Fair Budget Coalition called for the FY14 budget, due to be released soon, to include $100 million in investments designed to reduce poverty. The coalition’s proposal includes money for affordable housing, homeless shelters, and workforce development. (WaPo, 3/11)

HOUSING | The Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development has five recommendations for how Mayor Gray should spend the $100 million (unrelated to the above) he has promised for affordable housing. (CNHED, 3/8)

Related: Here’s why housing is everyone’s issue. Even yours! And mine! And ours! (Daily, 3/7) But not Henry Fonda’s or Lucille Ball’s, because they aren’t around anymore, unfortunately.

Related: Next week, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros will talk about the importance of housing as part of WRAG’s Brightest Minds series. Register here!

EQUITY | Not surprisingly, researchers have found that life expectancy is tied to economic security. A study of two Florida counties – one affluent and one not – shows that the life expectancy gap between the two is increasing at a rapid pace. Our own region mirrors the study (WaPo, 3/11):

In Montgomery County, life expectancy was 81.4 years for men and 85 years for women in 2009. In Fairfax County, it was slightly lower — 81.3 years for men and 84.1 years for women.

In the District, where 18.7 percent of the population lives in poverty, life expectancy was 72.6 years for men and 79.6 for women in 2009.

YOUTH | Over the weekend, the D.C. Superior Court held mock trials to teach high schoolers from around the region about the court system. (WAMU, 3/11) I wonder if Judge Reinhold was there?

HEALTH | Opinion: According to Dr. Andrew Weil, the Affordable Care Act sought to answer a question – “How can more Americans get access to medical care?” Wrong question, he says, because our health care system is broken as it focuses on treating sickness instead of promoting health. What’s the right question? (CNN, 3/10):

How can we improve medical care so that it’s worth extending it to more people? In other words, how can we create a health care system that helps people become and stay healthy?

This is a really interesting read. Not coincidentally, it’s also a teaser for a CNN documentary that seems like it might be worth watching.

EDUCATION
- School lottery demand shows sharp east-west divide
(GGE, 3/8)

- McDonnell achieves mixed results in trying to reform Virginia’s schools (WaPo, 3/11)


Writing about budgets and such reminds me of the scene in Austin Powers where Dr. Evil tries to hold the world ransom for $100 billion. In 1997, that amount was a tool of absurdist humor. Today, it’s not much more than a drop in the bucket when talking about things like sequestration. How the world has changed. Or not changed, considering the similarly reckless behavior of that chubby goon Kim Jong Un.

On another subject, here’s a really innovative PR tactic that a German company used to drum up awareness of homelessness. Has anything like this been done locally?

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