– A false DNA test, incompetent lawyers, or an extremely determined prosecutor can wreak havoc on an innocent person’s life. If the person is found innocent after they’ve served a long prison sentence and freed, compensating them for their suffering is the least a city could do. DC, which is one of the most generous in awarding payments to the unjustly imprisoned, is considering capping the amount it gives. (WAMU, 4/28)
“Whenever you think of a cap, it’s arbitrary,” said Attorney General Karl Racine, who proposed the $200,000 cap and says there’s no real way to truly compensate someone for time they have lost in prison. “The balance that we are trying to strike is to have the most generous cap possible to compensate wrongly convicted individuals and also allow the city a measure of fiscal management and control.”
Racine isn’t alone in making this point: In an op-ed published late last year in The Washington Post, Irv Nathan, Racine’s predecessor, made the case that a cap is needed because it would help the city better protect its finances and predict how much someone might be paid for unjust imprisonment.
– The Case for Weed Reparations (Citylab, 4/27)
EDUCATION | A U.S. Department of Education study released yesterday found that student achievement declined after participation in DC’s school voucher program. (WaPo, 4/27)
HOMELESSNESS | Someone nailed a big piece of wood onto a bench in a Mount Pleasant park, causing some to believe it was put there to prevent homeless individuals from sleeping on it. (GGWash, 4/27)
CHARITABLE GIVING | Trump Tax Plan Would Reduce Giving Incentives, Experts Say (Chronicle, 4/26 – Subscription needed)
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT | There will be a nationwide day of action on May 1 to protest the policies of the new administration and the reawakened ideals of its supporters. (Alternet, 4/28) Hill-Snowdon Foundation will be closing its doors in solidarity.
POVERTY | Escaping Poverty Requires Almost 20 Years With Nearly Nothing Going Wrong (Atlantic, 4/27)
Social Sector Job Openings
Director of Programmatic Initiatives | Fight For Children – New!
Major Gift Officer–DC | Urban Teachers – New!
Program Analyst | Clark Charitable Foundation, Inc.
Management Associate | Public Welfare Foundation
Market Coordinator, Community Affairs Mid-Atlantic | Capital One
Director of Community Engagement | Association of American Medical Colleges
Director of Data Services | GuideStar USA, Inc.
Community Affairs Contractor – Engagement, Capital One Cafés | Capital One
Executive Director | International Association for Volunteer Effort
Administrative Associate | Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers
To add an event to WRAG’s community calendar, email Rebekah Seder. Click the image below to access the calendar.
Just relax and enjoy the view.
– Working in the restaurant industry comes with long hours, low wages, little time off and sometimes, a workplace that nurtures an opioid, alcohol or other drug addiction. Workers who have been battling addictions for a long time are attempting to help others who are suffering but don’t know where to go. (WCP, 4/27)
Addiction has been such a persistent problem in the restaurant industry—and for so long—that chefs, bartenders, even owners, are starting to wave their white flags. They are increasingly acknowledging that drug and alcohol abuse is far too ingrained in the culture and is a complex issue whose solution is elusive.
An opioid crisis has made the menu of drugs more lethal than ever before, commanding fresh attention. November 2016 was the deadliest month for drug-related deaths the District has seen in five years. Thirty-two people suffered opioid-related deaths that month, according to the D.C. Office of the Medical Examiner. And the problem has been building—there were 407 opioid-related deaths over the past three years.
– The Metropolitan Washington Council on Governments is hosting the Regional Opioid and Substance Abuse Summit on May 9th for area leaders, healthcare providers, and researchers to discuss how to reduce the problem. Learn more
– Yanique Redwood, president and CEO of Consumer Health Foundation, called on the DC Council to apply a racial equity lens in policymaking in her testimony at the Committee of the Whole’s Budget Oversight Hearing on Tuesday. (CHF Blog, 4/26)
– This small foundation is engaging with its grantees to create long-term change. (NPQ, 4/26)
EDUCATION | Does the No. 1 High School in America Practice Discrimination? (Washingtonian, 4/26)
– The Metropolitan Washington Council on Governments has released a report that recommends a region-wide one-cent-per-dollar sales tax to raise the funds Metro needs to fix its system. (WaPo, 4/26)
– Opinion: City buses shouldn’t be a priority only when wealthier people want them (ThinkProgess, 4/25)
HOUSING | How can DC address its missing middle, which is the lack of affordable housing for its middle class? (UrbanTurf, 4/25)
ENVIRONMENT | D.C. Now Has A Free Composting Program (DCist, 4/26)
Well, we have bought “distressed” jeans….
ARTS & HUMANITIES
– According to the Southern Methodist University’s National Center for Arts Research’s third annual Arts Vibrancy Index, the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV area is the most arts vibrant “large community” among areas with a population of 1 million or more. The Arts Vibrancy Index examines the level of supply, demand, and government support for the arts in each city. (SMU, 4/24)
The DC Metro Division is a thriving hub of arts activity that is home to several of the nation’s arts service organizations including Americans for the Arts, Chorus America, and Dance/USA. Being the nation’s capital, it has an international population and a plethora of organizations that promote cultural and ethnic awareness.
The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) provides grants, professional opportunities, education enrichment,and other programs and services to individuals and organizations in all communities within the District of Columbia. It is joined by the Arlington Commission for the Arts, the Alexandria Commission on the Arts, the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council, and the Arts Council of Fairfax County in granting funds and supporting programs that benefit the arts in the greater DC metropolitan area.
CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP AWARDS | Congratulations to Eileen Ellsworth, president & CEO of Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, for winning the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s NOVAForward Award! The award is presented to an individual for extraordinary efforts to move Northern Virginia forward. (Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, 4/25)
DISTRICT | A federal government shutdown won’t impact D.C. (WaPo, 4/25)
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT | Column: Question: How do we get black men involved in their communities? Answer: They already are. (WaPo, 4/25)
IMMIGRATION | Takoma Park, a sanctuary city, reacts to a judge’s order to block the new administration’s order to withhold federal funding from ‘sanctuary cities.’ (WTOP, 4/25)
HOUSING DISCRMINATION | The National Fair Housing Alliance has released, The Case for Fair Housing, a report on all the housing discrimination complaints filed in the United States in 2016. (Next City, 4/20)
The different masks we wear (#17 is my favorite)…
– There’s a lot of discussion about the affordable housing crisis in our region and beyond, but we often don’t include a conversation about adults with developmental disabilities. A Rockville, MD couple has noticed the shortage of housing for these adults in their community and now they plan to create an affordable housing development with this population in mind. (Bethesda Beat, 4/25)
The vision shared by Jillian and Scott Copeland is to build a 70-apartment community called Main Street where residents can live independently, learn and build friendships. The plan is to devote a quarter of the units to adults with developmental disabilities.
“It’s a new model … where everyone is welcome and everyone is included,” Jillian Copeland of Rockville said.
Copeland and her husband embarked on the development project after identifying a community need. Their 17-year-old son, Nicol, is developmentally disabled, and Copeland said there’s a shortage of housing options for him. This isn’t the first time Copeland has taken initiative; she founded The Diener School in Potomac about 10 years ago to fill an educational gap for students with disabilities and create a place that would meet her son’s needs.
– A new analysis found that the District has the largest increase in Black homeownership rates in the country and Latinx homeownership is not far behind. (DCist, 4/25)
ARTS & HUMANITIES | The National Assessment of Educational Progress, which reports on U.S. student achievement, released its latest report card and found that students’ visual arts and music grades did not see a significant increase from 2008. (WAMU, 4/25)
PHILANTHROPY | According to an Exponent Philanthropy study and a Center for Effective Philanthropy study, many foundations are considering grant-making changes due to the new administration’s policies. (Chronicle, 4/25 – Subscription needed)
HEALTH | Many primary care doctors still struggle with a lack of medical knowledge of how to treat transgender patients. (Atlantic, 4/21)
HUMAN RIGHTS | The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has officially opened a newly dedicated conservation and research center in Bowie, MD where Holocaust evidence is being preserved. (WTOP, 4/24)
The Kennedy Center has announced its new season.
HOMELESSNESS | In an effort to reduce the cost of housing families experiencing homelessness in hotels and motels, which costs the city about $80,000 a night, Mayor Bowser would like to lease apartments instead. The plan, which some are declaring a step in the right direction, will allow families to stay in the apartments for about 120 days. (WaPo, 4/21)
The city is looking for complexes within one to two blocks of Metro rail stations, amid some of the District’s most desirable real estate.
Bowser’s initiative is the latest step in her efforts to address the District’s high rate of family homelessness, an issue at the center of her 2014 mayoral campaign and on which she has spent considerable political capital since taking office, with mixed results. Between 2007 and 2016, the District’s population of homeless families grew by 191 percent.
The mayor has earned praise from homeless advocates for expanding family shelter access year-round. Under the District’s previous policy, families were admitted only on nights cold enough to trigger a hypothermia alert.
RACE | Tamara Lucas Copeland, president of WRAG, discusses perceptions of racial identities while reflecting on her own, and challenges others to confront their unconscious biases. (Daily, 4/24)
AFFORDABLE HOUSING | Housing advocates worry about the accountability of a Housing and Urban Development program that transfers failing public housing units to the private sector. (Citylab, 4/21)
MARYLAND | Growing pains: Election in a small Maryland city exposes racial, class divides (WaPo, 4/22)
ENVIRONMENT | The type and amount of food we eat has an impact on the Earth. (NPR, 4/22)
GENDER EQUITY | Loudoun County’s new Commission on Women and Girls, created to help this population with financial planning, employment, etiquette coaching, social media safety, domestic violence and the STEM field, had its first meeting last week. (Loudoun Times, 4/20)
WORKFORCE | The Maryland Technology Development Corporation is launching a $1 million fund to help technology startups cover the gap between seed funding and venture capital investments. (WBJ, 4/21)
EDUCATION | D.C. charter school for adult students could be shut down (WaPo, 4/22)
A close-up of Nemo and other photos…
By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
When you look at me, what do you see? Given all of the information that you have received over your lifetime, what are your immediate thoughts on who I am, based on how I look?
Racial identity – how you see me and how I see myself – is influenced by so many factors, but one of the most significant influencers is how your family perceives race. And, of course, if your family perceives race at all.
My mother was one-fourth White and three-fourths Native American, a member of the Chickahominy Tribe of Virginia.* I don’t think my mother actually thought of herself as Indian. She thought of herself as Black. During the early years of the 20th century, her family had claimed “colored” when asked their race by the US Census taker. Why? “The colored people were being treated better than American Indians,” according to my full-blooded, American Indian grandmother. Well, in the racial pecking order of this country that was probably true, but in my mother’s world, the “colored” kids didn’t treat her very well.
From the Black community, she learned that light-skinned Black people were perceived as uppity, as thinking themselves better than the browner members of the community. She and her siblings were bullied as kids because of the color of their skin. She promised herself that she would not have children who were light-skinned like her. So, when my father, a chocolate brown-skinned man, entered her life, little did he know that after an assessment of the quality of his character, he got a leg up because of the color of his skin. At a time, when light-skinned Black people received a level of preferential treatment from the White community, my mother made a clear decision that went against that sense of privilege and reinforced her sense of who she was.
Now, as an adult, my sense of race continues to be influenced by my family – now by my children.
My commitment to using my professional platform to promote racial equity was born when Trayvon Martin was killed. My son was roughly his age. AJ could have been Trayvon. Every day, I feel that my son’s life is in jeopardy. He is 23 years old, squarely in that 18-25 year old age range when Black, young men are perceived to be the most dangerous.
My stepdaughter is bi-racial – Black and White, but it is clear that visually many people think she is Latina when they speak to her in Spanish, which she doesn’t speak. Growing up she felt like an outsider. Her three children, who are three-fourths White and one fourth Black, are unlikely to know that feeling, but the outside world will tell them that they are still different. They call me Nana, but I suspect that when I’m out with them, folks think I’m the nanny and not their Nana. At ages 7, 5 and 2, they don’t know that yet, but they will.
My family is an amalgam of peoples. You may not know – truly know – who anyone is racially by the typical visual cues. But, we are all treated a certain way based on who you think we are. That is reality. That is the unconscious bias that shapes how we are treated and how we treat others. The tough job is unlearning all of the associations and prejudices that go through our minds in the blink of an eye. I’m trying, what about you?
*The Chickahominy Tribe has yet to be recognized by the US government primarily because it made a treaty with England, not with the forming US government, but that’s another story about racial bias.