An “unintended consequence” of healthcare law impacts community health centers

HEALTHCARE | Local community health clinics, like Mary’s Center, are having a hard time competing with MedStar, the for-profit health care provider, as it expands into the the community with new primary care facilities. In the long-term, this could threaten the clinics’ financial stability and ability to continue serving the uninsured. (WaPo, 4/7):

The tension is an unintended consequence of the health-care law, which has set off an intense competition for a growing number of privately insured patients, who tend to be the best-paying customers. Under the law, thousands of people in the Washington area and millions across the country are getting coverage for the first time. That has prompted a variety of health providers to move into neighborhoods that were once the exclusive turf of community health centers, which are designed primarily for low-income patients.

For many consumers, having additional places to get medical care will provide more choice and convenience, health experts say. But community health centers worry that the bigger providers will siphon off the insured, leaving them with more uninsured patients. That, they say, would imperil them financially and hurt the people who have no other place to get care — including illegal immigrants and others who won’t benefit from the health-care law.

FOOD | A couple weeks back, the Washington Regional Convergence Partnership – now the Washington Regional Food Funders – provided testimony in support of more coordination of food policy in the District. Elevation DC reports on the hearing and what a food policy director could do to further work to improve food access in the city. (Elevation, 4/8)

Related: The Washington Regional Food Funders remain interested in advocacy for good food. Today they share this report from the first ever regional gathering of food policy councils and coalitions they hosted last fall and talked about at the hearing.

POVERTY | Silver Spring is characteristic of the growing “suburbanization” of poverty, with a number of nonprofit organizations reporting a big increase in the number of people they serve over the past few years. (WAMU, 4/4)

HOUSING
- What do solar panels have to do with affordable housing? A lot. (Elevation DC, 4/8)

- City Looks to Restart Park Morton Redevelopment (CP, 4/4)

- The Search for Affordable Housing Is Pushing the Middle Class to the Exurbs (Atlantic, 4/8)

Related: This is an issue we looked at last year with an edition of What Funders Need to Know that looked at why philanthropy should focus on supporting housing affordability close to transit.

WORKFORCE | A new report from DC Appleseed says that the District’s job training programs are failing to meet the needs of District residents. The report calls for additional workforce training funding and better coordination among District agencies that work on adult education. (WAMU, 4/4)

EDUCATION
- Obama announces federal grants to help prepare students for careers (WaPo, 4/7)

- D.C. mayoral primary has Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s future up in the air (WaPo, 4/3)

GIVING | Tomorrow, April 9, is Spring2ACTion, Alexandria’s annual day of giving. This year’s goal is to raise $1 million for Alexandria nonprofits. More information here.

TRANSIT | Suuuuuuure. (WBJ, 4/7)


If this isn’t an argument for getting rid of D.C.’s height limit, I don’t know what is.

- Rebekah

Muriel Bowser wins primary election that most people didn’t vote in

DISTRICT | If you’re just waking up, or crawling out from under a rock with no cell service, D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser won the Democratic mayoral primary last night. The Post has some interesting graphics breaking down the results based on race and income that show the city is still starkly divided. Unfortunately (depending on your faith in the democratic process), only a small fraction of the 370,000 eligible voters actually voted. (WaPo, 4/1)

ENVIRONMENT | Residents of Ivy City, a neighborhood in northeast D.C., argue that they have long experienced environmental injustice, as the city uses the area to house buses, causing a disproportionate amount of air pollution (WAMU, 3/28):

A coalition of researchers from the University of Maryland, George Washington, Howard and Trinity universities has studied air quality in this neighborhood, and says the main culprit is something called PM 2.5.

PM 2.5 stands for “particulate matter” smaller than 2.5 micrometers in size, small enough to penetrate the deepest parts of human lungs. PM 2.5 is also the main ingredient of smog, and exhaust from diesel vehicles — trucks and buses — is a major source of the pollutant.

Sacoby Wilson teaches at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health. He says over the years Ivy City has seen more than its fair share of heavy duty traffic and industry.

“They share a disproportionate burden of these facilities right now. They share a disproportionate burden of diesel vehicles right now. So from an environmental justice perspective, you see that this community — many [residents] are low-income, many are people of color — they’re disproportionately burdened by these hazards,” Wilson says.

HEALTHCARE
-
Maryland officials have decided to replace their “troubled” (I’ve noticed this seems to be the media’s adjective of choice) health insurance exchange with Connecticut’s system, which is not troubled. (WaPo, 4/1)

- More than 7 million have enrolled under Affordable Care Act, White House says​ (WaPo, 4/1)

- Virginia Lawmakers Still Stuck On Medicaid Expansion (WAMU, 4/2)

SOCIAL IMPACT BONDS | Last week, WRAG member CEOs convened to learn more about social impact bonds and the potential they offer for moving significant amounts of capital toward hard-to-address issues. Tamara explains the argument for funders getting involved with these new forms of social finance. (Daily, 4/2)

TRANSIT
- The Purple Line will better connect commuters with jobs in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, but local jurisdictions will need to prioritize maintaining the affordability of housing and small businesses close to the transit corridor. (GGW, 4/2)

- Prince George’s County officials have announced their intention to promote transit-oriented development around 5 metro stations in the county. (WaPo, 3/31)

POVERTY | Women’s Wages Are Rising: Why Are So Many Families Getting Poorer? (Atlantic, 4/1)


As with throwing boiling water in the air during a polar vortex, just because reporters repeatedly bang a bottle of wine against the wall to drive Internet traffic to their site doesn’t mean you should try it too.

- Rebekah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

- Rebekah

Family homelessness in D.C. doubles, marking it the biggest increase in the nation

Homelessness in the District has become the hot button campaign topic for the mayoral race. It’s annoying to see it politicized. But it is good that such a critical issue is being brought into the spotlight.

The Post has crunched the numbers to quantify the recent surge in homelessness. Over the last year, family homelessness has increased an incredible 100 percent. An accompanying article looks at Mayor Gray’s policies (WaPo, 2/10):

New York, Los Angeles and many cities in between have struggled with double-digit growth in homelessness in the wake of a deep recession, stagnating wages and escalating housing costs. But no other major U.S. city is on pace this year for its overall numbers of homeless families in emergency shelters to double.

Some applaud Gray’s efforts to streamline a variety of social services for the poor and to prod families from generational poverty toward self-sufficiency. But many of the same people say that he has failed to put together a realistic plan to do so and that the District’s rise in homelessness is the tip of the iceberg of a broader decline in economic security.

Related: On Friday, Gray held an interview with the Post to discuss the spike in homelessness and his policies. (WaPo, 2/10)

PHILANTHROPY
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy has released its annual Philanthropy 50 list, ranking America’s largest donors. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife top the list, and the combined giving of the top 50 donors is $7.7 billion – up 4 percent from last year. (Chronicle, 2/10)

Related
The Chronicle has a lot of articles about this list. One of them focuses on the Zuckerburg’s gift to the Silicon Valley Community foundation, which is headed by WRAG’s 2013 annual meeting keynote speaker, Emmett Carson. (Chronicle, 2/10)

- Also, check out the rationale behind the list. One name obviously missing from the list is Gates. Bill and Melinda Gates did give a lot of money last year – about $181 million – but it went toward paying off a pledge they had made in 2004. (Chronicle, 2/10)

- The New Yorker has a thought-provoking reaction to the Philanthropy 50 list. Their general question is whether large scale giving from the world’s wealthiest works to justify the equity gap. More specifically, does this giving do enough to relieve poverty? (NY, 2/10)

WORKFORCE | As the debate grows about the merits of raising the minimum wage, quite a bit of new research is emerging from places like the Employment Policies Institute. According to the New York Times, that organization is effectively a front for an interest group – and these sorts of fake organizations are influencing policies (NYT, 2/10):

The campaign illustrates how groups — conservative and liberal — are again working in opaque ways to shape hot-button political debates, like the one surrounding minimum wage, through organizations with benign-sounding names that can mask the intentions of their deep-pocketed patrons.

Ugh, soon somebody will discover the fact that my Institute for Galactic Education (IGE) is just a front to get Star Wars education added to the Common Core standards.

TRANSIT
- Metro might finally be able to take over the Silver Line from contractors. Maybe. (WaPo, 2/10) I wonder whether the Silver Line or H St. streetcar will be running first. We should know by 2030.

- And Metro chief Richard Sarles directly responded to some riders’ questions about the system. For example, why do train operators close the doors on passengers trying to enter? Because riders should have gotten out of the way when they heard the chimes, he says. No mention of how that’s fair to deaf people though. (WaPo, 2/10)


I have two hilarious things for you on this tenth day of February. First – and you might have already seen it – the Russian Police Choir singing Daft Punk’s Get Lucky at the Olympics. It’s truly absurd and I half-expected Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd to shuffle in. Watch the whole thing, because it gets better and better.

And here’s a classic example of eating your words on live television. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Why are huge numbers of MoCo students failing math tests?

EDUCATION | In Montgomery County, students are failing math finals at an alarming rate of more than 50 percent. While the reason for this huge problem is obviously the cancellation of Mathnet in 1992, school officials are looking for other factors and have compiled a report that features insights from teachers (WaPo, 2/6):

Asked to cite three causes of exam failure, 27 percent of the teachers who responded said students choose not to put in an adequate amount of preparation; 18 percent said students don’t know how to prepare for a cumulative test; and 11 percent said class grades do not reflect mastery of content, which causes students to overestimate their level of preparation.

I think there are three other key factors to consider: math stinks and nobody uses it in real life.

HOMELESSNESS | At a debate last night, D.C. mayoral candidates took on the city’s massive spike in homelessness. The event featured plenty of “blasting,” “blaming,” and finger shaking, but the Post’s recap doesn’t indicate that the anyone discussed actual solutions. (WaPo, 2/6)

GIVING
- Blackbaud reports that charitable donations grew by nearly 5% in 2013, with more significant increases in online giving. (Chronicle, 2/5)

- Charities should pay attention to the increase in online giving, because another survey finds that most of them aren’t doing a very good job with online fundraising. (Chronicle, 2/5)

TRANSIT
- Public transportation in the United States is seeing a huge increase in off-peak usage. There could be a number of reasons, including shifting habits among Millennials, car-free living, continued economic strain. Whatever the case, transit systems are going to need to respond to the demand. (Atlantic, 2/6)

In our region, you only have to wait 24 minutes between trains during off-peak hours.

- More info on how Metro’s proposed fare hikes will affect disabled riders. (WaPo, 2/6)

EVENT | Next Tuesday, the Washington AIDS Partnership’s AmeriCorps team will be hosting a fundraiser at Nellie’s on U Street. What kind of fundraiser, you ask? Drag Bingo and Beer!

LOCAL | Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, its bobsled time! As the Olympics get underway, it’s the perfect time to remember the story of the Jamaican bobsled team, captured hilariously in Disney’s excellent Cool Runnings. As it turns out, the Mayor of Warrenton, Va., played a big part in that success story. (WTOP, 2/6)


Any Jeopardy! fans out there? Have you been watching Arthur Chu? He’s a current contestant, having won four times, and his strategies are creating a lot of controversy. You can read all about him here.

Rebekah has the Daily tomorrow, but before then, get into the Olympic spirit with John William’s iconic theme! See you on Monday.

District’s homelessness problem is ‘worse than it sounds’

HOMELESSNESS | The Post has a follow up to yesterday’s City Paper article about the roundtable hearing on homelessness in the District. At the hearing, David Berns, director of the D.C. Department of Human Services, said of the current level of homelessness (WaPo, 2/4):

“It sounds bad, and it’s worse than it sounds,” Berns said.

Berns intimated that, without additional funding, he may in the spring need to close shelters for homeless singles that typically stay open all year, and he told city leaders that he wouldn’t want to have to resort to “equally horrid” measures such as no longer paying for hotel rooms. But, he said, the homeless family crisis has quickly become a long-term fiscal crisis.

EDUCATION/COMMUNITY | Donald Graham, former owner of The Washington Post and a trustee of the Philip L. Graham Fund, announced the launch of a new fund called TheDream.Us. The $25 million fund will pay the full college tuition for 1,000 students who came to the United States illegally as children. As Graham explains, his motivations are rooted in a strong sense of social justice and fairness (WaPo, 2/4):

It seemed terribly unfair that literally everyone else in the [high school] class could get access to federal loans and, if low-income, could get Pell grants, and the dreamers couldn’t get a cent.

EVENT | The Consumer Health Foundation has opened registration for their annual meeting, titled Health and Racial Equity in Turbulent Times: Implicit Bias Examined. The event will be held an March 20th and will feature john a. powell (Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society), Carlee Beth Hawkins (Project Implicit), and Brian Smedley (Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies). [More info.]

WORKFORCE/GENDER | As The Atlantic points out, the male/female wage gap tends to be over-exaggerated. But the gap between working mothers and women without children is quite significant. This disparity is chalked up to a perception that working mothers can’t be as productive because they are distracted by their children. So, is that true? (Atlantic, 2/4)

PHILANTHROPY
- Nonprofits and Those Who Fund Them Should Talk Openly About Finances (Chronicle, 1/3)

- Opinion - Impact Investing: It’s Time by Harvard University’s David Wood (IFRI, 1/9)

Related: On Feb. 12, WRAG is co-hosting an event with The Aspen Institute on how impact investing can support affordable housing efforts. [More info.]

- New Website Offers Inside Look at Grant Makers, Including Anonymous Reviews (Chronicle, 2/4)

HEALTH
- In a completely pointless but fun exercise, The Atlantic uses life expectancy in each state to comparable countries. The District is omitted, but Maryland and Virginia are most similar to Brunei. (Atlantic, 2/4) I guess Martin O’Malley and Terry McAuliffe should swap their governor titles for sultan.

- And if we want our country to be more like Cyprus than Syria (easy choice), we better cut back on sugar. A major new study finds that consuming too much sugar  can triple the likelihood of premature death from heart problems. (WTOP, 2/4)

LOCAL | The Smithsonian? The Lincoln Memorial? The National Zoo? Forget ‘em! Well, actually don’t, but do check out the District’s newest awesome attraction, St. Elizabeths ice slide! It’s perhaps the greatest idea that the District has seen in a long time, except for my idea of having a zipline from the Washington Monument to the Capitol. (GGW, 2/4)


It is a true shame to have lost Philip Seymour Hoffman, especially to an avoidable death. He was a rare actor who could take any material, no matter its quality, and elevate an entire movie. Two of my favorite characters were Sandy Lyle from the otherwise mediocre comedy Along Came Polly and CIA agent Gust Avrakotos from Charlie Wilson’s War.

Here are two great clips. Fair warning: The first contains a mildly colorful phrase and the second contains a ton of profanity. Maybe save the latter for home, or even watch the whole movie. His performance is excellent.

- Christian

State of the Union opens the door for increased collaboration

President Obama’s fifth State of the Union address covered many familiar priorities and re-emphasized messages that have been central to his administration. But this year’s address also contained something new. WRAG President Tamara Copeland explains:

I heard something last night in the State of the Union address that I hadn’t heard in President Obama’s previous addresses – a direct reference to philanthropy. In fact, the President mentioned it not once, but twice. He called for “a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high quality pre-K that they need.” Then, a few minutes later, my ears perked up again when he said, “And I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential.”

As President Obama envisions a country in which opportunity flourishes, he sees philanthropy as playing a major role. WRAG is eager to work with foundations and corporations to strengthen their work on the president’s priorities. Let’s get started.

Related
- You can read the full transcript of the address via the Washington Post. (WaPo, 1/29)

- The Post fact-checked the SOTU address and rebuttal. Of note for our community, they pushed back a bit on points about inequality, healthcare, and the workforce. (WaPo, 1/29)

- Check out Vice President Biden’s reaction to…well, who knows, but the reaction is hilarious. I think it’s safe to assume that the veep finally found Waldo hiding in the House gallery.

HOMELESSNESS | D.C. Councilmember and mayoral candidate Tommy Wells held a press conference at a Maryland motel that is being used to shelter some of the District’s homeless population. Wells called out the Gray administration for not having enough capacity in the city. Gray’s camp responded by claiming that the press conference was a stunt.

And I responded by saying that both leaders should have the integrity to actually address the severe problem that is directly and immediately affecting real people. As far as facts go (WaPo, 1/29):

Wells provided figures compiled by the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness, the city contractor that manages homeless family placements, showing 436 families with a combined 849 children staying in hotels Monday. Two of the hotels, he said, are located outside the District.

FOOD | For the first time ever, working-age Americans represent the majority of SNAP recipients. In the past, children and older-adults fit that category. This significant shift is attributed to the bad economy, low wages, and the increasing opportunity gap. (WTOP, 1/29)

Related: Food Stamp Cuts, Cold Weather Put Extra Strain On Food Pantries (NPR, 1/28)

GIVING | And the award for worst charity goes to… (Chronicle, 1/29)

WORKFORCE | Perhaps not surprisingly, “hot dog vendor” does not top the list of fastest-growing jobs this decade. That distinction belongs to a number of positions in the healthcare industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Atlantic, 1/29)

EVENT | Funders and community stakeholders are invited to join The Community Foundation for Prince George’s County for its Connecting Youth to Opportunity tours. The next tour, on February 5th, focuses on early childhood. [More info.]


We can expect some great commercials during the Super Bowl. In the meantime – and I know this will sound weird – check out Delta’s new flight safety video. The theme is the 1980s and it’s hilariously nostalgic. I cheered when Teddy Ruxpin made an appearance, and the cameo at the very end is just amazing.

Imagine deducting $2.15 an hour from the federal minimum wage

In recent months, many of the jurisdictions in our region have made great progress toward increasing the minimum wage. But not all of them (ahem, Northern Virginia). As Brookings points out, the suburbanization of poverty is a key factor in the minimum wage debate. One in four suburban residents has a minimum wage job.

A sure-fire way to address the disparities in minimum wage rates would be to raise the federal standard so that all jurisdictions are lifted. But at this point in history, the federal rate is effectively worse than it was when it was envisioned (Brookings, 1/13):

This is timely, if not overdue, as today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is effectively $2.15 lower than it was in 1964, after adjusting for inflation…

More than that, however, the profile of minimum wage workers has shifted dramatically in the last few decades. Rather than teens working after school or summer jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute, the typical worker likely to be affected by a raise in the minimum wage today is a woman in her 30s working full-time, with a family to support.

Related: Author Barbara Ehrenreich, who wrote a book about trying to live on the minimum wage, reflects on the gender inequality of poverty. (Atlantic, 1/13)

EDUCATION
- Lately, educators have emphasized development around STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) categories as these are the skill areas needed to thrive in our predicted near-future economy. An article in The Atlantic suggests that that the acronym is one letter short, however.

By adding an H, for haberdasher, we can ensure that our society has enough men’s outfitters. But the article doesn’t care about haberdashers. Instead, it wants STEM to add arts to the mix – and the case is a good one. (Atlantic, 1/13) We could finally teach our kids MEATS!

- A new brief from the Education Commission of the States finds that, despite budget woes, states are making big investments in pre-K education. In our region, the numbers are mixed.

The District is recognized as being a leader in pre-K spending, and it has increased its spending 14% since the last school year. Maryland and Virginia, on the other hand, were effectively flat between years. (ECS, 1/13)

COMMUNITY | Opinion: Last week, the Post’s Kathleen Parker wrote a piece about how semantics influence the discourse around inequality. The Hitachi Foundation’s Mark Popovich did not like her article and responded with a his own thoughts. (HuffPo, 1/13)

HOMELESSNESS | As the Silver Tsunami washes over the homeless population, problems associated with age are magnified by “stress and poor living conditions.” (HuffPo, 1/10)

NONPROFITS | In 2010, Congress instituted new reporting requirements for nonprofits. Under the new rules, 550,000 groups have lost their exempt status. But here’s the kicker: 9,000 of those cuts were due to mistakes made by the IRS. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

In a report to Congress last year, the agency noted the mistakes. And since then…well, nothing has changed. (Chronicle, 1/10)

TRANSIT | Hell must have frozen over during the Polar Vortex, because Metro seems to be easing up on major track work this year! (WaPo, 1/13)


You know it’s a slow news day when DC Restaurant Week and the decades-old feud between Mia Farrow and Woody Allen are the top news stories.

Most of you would have never guessed it, but I’m a big movie nerd. So, I watched the Golden Globes last night. I’m not sure why I feel the need to justify that. Anyway, I thought the awards were well-chosen, the hosts were funny, and Jacqueline Bisset’s brain might have been on another planet. The best part of the show, however, was a commercial for the new Muppets movie. It was hilarious in the way that it brilliantly spoofed social media. 

Bad news – the unemployment rate is down

WORKFORCE
– The Department of Labor announced that the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% in December. But hold the epic fist pump. The rate dropped because huge numbers of people simply stopped looking for jobs. As CNN reports, only 62.8% of the adult population is either employed or looking for work – the lowest level since 1978. (CNN, 1/10) And we all know what 1978 was like.

- The Economic Policy Institute crunched the numbers and published some helpful (and cringe-worthy) charts. If the people who dropped out of the workforce actually started looking for work again, the unemployment rate would be a whopping 10.2%. What’s worse is that the majority of the dropouts are between ages 25 and 54, or “prime working age.” (EPI, 1/10)

DEMOCRACY
– Food for thought about American democracy: In general, the people who show up at the polls on voting day aren’t representative of the general population. In particular, “the disadvantaged” are least likely to vote, even though they might have the most to gain (Atlantic, 1/10):

If inequality has grown worse over the last four decades, they ask, why hasn’t political momentum to do something about it kept pace with the scale of the problem? One potential piece of the answer is that the people most impacted by inequality are among the least likely to vote.

- “Taxation without representation” can seem like an abstract concept. But The Atlantic took an unusual approach at the issue by putting a face on it. They profile a homeless man named Malik and look at how the District’s lack of representation is directly affecting him and others like him. (Atlantic, 1/10)

- And, since many of you are being bombarded by them, check out the Post’s analysis of campaign signs for the D.C. mayoral race. (WaPo, 1/10)

We did a class in grad school about campaign signs and their conscious and subconscious effectiveness. This isn’t an endorsement of his campaign, but Jack Evans has the most effective signs by a long shot.

PHILANTHROPY | “Private foundations are victims of misconceptions and stereotyping, even within the philanthropic community.” No, people don’t get nervous when they see a private foundation walking down a dark street at night.

Instead, a Stanford Social Innovation Review article suggests that foundations are frequently judged by the behavior of the big guns – Gates, Rockefeller, and Ford – which is unfair since most foundations are nothing like them. (SSIR, 1/10)

Related: One of the comments in the article above is about how two-thirds of the nation’s foundations have asset bases below $1 million. As we found in our recent giving report, that number is considerably higher here. Less than five percent of our survey respondents reported assets of less than $2.5 million. (Daily, Nov. 2013)

GIVING | Low morale of federal employees is putting a crimp in charitable giving (WaPo, 1/10)

POVERTY | David Bornstein added his voice to the conversation about the War on Poverty, and his opinion is worth reading. While it might seem easy to call the war a failure, he says, the way that the nonprofit sector operates today, compared to fifty years ago, should give us hope. (NYT, 1/8)

EDUCATION | Fairfax schools chief calls for $96 million in budget cuts; proposal increases class sizes (WaPo, 1/10)


This weather is nuts. We went almost literally from zero to sixty this week. And while 64 degrees sounds really great for tomorrow, it’s supposed to pour all day. Perhaps it’s a good day to catch up on potential Oscar nominees? I hear that Her and American Hustle are fantastic (need to see them still), though they have a lot to prove to convince me they are better than 12 Years a Slave.

On a totally different subject, how would you feel about spending the night in a museum? Here are eight were you can do just that – including the National Archives. 

Have a great weekend!   – Christian

Victory, defeat, or somewhere in between for the War on Poverty?

POVERTY | Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of a War on Poverty. Much of the conversation around this significant benchmark is about the success or failure of the “war.” Fifty years in, as our national poverty rate is at fifteen percent, opinions vary. There is plenty of good reading on the subject today.

- Brookings looks at the spread of poverty to the suburbs and asks whether this is an indicator that the war has failed. Here’s a great snippet (Brookings, 1/8):

There are many lessons to be learned from the successes and failures of these place-based policies since the War on Poverty began. Among the clearest is that we can’t rely on 50-year-old architecture to succeed in addressing the broader reach and scale of today’s need, particularly in a resource-constrained environment.

- Pablo Eisenberg’s column takes a more positive view of the war’s impact, and he says that the empowerment of the poor to become leaders has been a critical component to that end. (Chronicle, 1/8)

- The Chronicle takes a look at how nonprofit leaders are using this anniversary as an opportunity to renew Johnson’s charge. (Chronicle, 1/8)

- NPR’s Pam Fessler returns to ground zero – Martin County, Kentucky. That’s the place Johnson used to symbolize the necessity of the War on Poverty. Have things improved there? (NPR, 1/8)

- Interesting question – should the government even be trying to fight poverty in the first place? The vast majority (86%) of Americans think that it should. (Nation, 1/7)

- And finally, here’s a decisive opinion on war.

RACE/CRIME | Do you know how many black males have been arrested by age 23? Half of them. And while that number is shockingly high, Hispanic (44%) and white (38%) males aren’t much farther behind. The Atlantic reports on new numbers published in the journal Crime & Delinquency and they highlight something that should matter to everyone in our community (Atlantic, 1/8):

There is substantial research showing that arrested youth are not only more likely to experience immediate negative consequences such as contact with the justice system, school failure and dropout, and family difficulties but these problems are likely to reverberate long down the life course in terms of additional arrests, job instability, lower wages, longer bouts with unemployment, more relationship troubles, and long-term health problems including premature death.

TRANSIT | Chevy Chase is considering taking legal action to block construction of the Purple Line. I wish he would just focus on making another entry in the Fletch series. Wait, oops, wrong Chevy Chase. (Patch via GGW, 1/8)

HOMELESSNESS
- Here’s an account of a homeless advocate’s efforts to bring people into shelters this week. Despite the frigid temperatures, it isn’t an easy task convincing some people. (WaPo, 1/8)

- As freezing temperatures continue, Mayor Gray has re-purposed some Metrobuses as emergency shelters. (CP, 1/8)

WORKFORCE/EDUCATION | Here’s a transcript from an NPR session on how to link GED tests with workforce development. The featured guest is the president of LaGuardia Community College in New York, which is piloting a new program. (NPR, 1/8) I should stop writing “here’s a….” It’s already pretty obvious that I’m linking to something. Bad writing, Christian!


I’ve been thinking a lot about the use of war as a metaphor to address societal challenges. Our nation’s historical success (at least pre-1960s) with military war makes the metaphor appealing. Within that history lies decisive victory. We knew for sure that we had won World War II, for example. But during the last half century – Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, the broader War on Terror – the shifting nature of warfare and consequent difficulty of identifying clear success has muddied the value of war as a metaphor.

What if we rewrite the narrative? How could we frame the War on Poverty to change our thinking and our tactics? Your thoughts?

Speaking of war, here’s a really cool time lapse that shows every day of WWII.  And a song by a band called War!

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