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July 20, 2018 / Kendra Allen, Editor

DC is getting Starbucks’ only US store run entirely by staff proficient in sign language

WORKFORCE | Starbucks will open its first US store which will be run in American Sign Language in DC. The store will hire twenty to twenty-five deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing people that are proficient in American Sign Language. (WaPo, 7/19)

The store will open near Gallaudet University, a 150-year-old institution and the world’s only university designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The campus of 1,900 students is located in northeast Washington, a quick walk from blocks of restaurants and bars along the bustling H Street corridor.

The store will feature art and a mug designed by a deaf artist. Deaf employees will wear aprons that show “Starbucks” spelled in sign language. Hearing employees proficient in sign language will wear pins showing they can sign.

HOMELESSNESS‘They say we can’t play’: What life is like for D.C.’s forgotten homeless kids (WaPo, 7/19)

DISTRICT | Congress members who represent Alabama, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina have all recently introduced measures to prevent DC from enacting its own laws. (WaPo, 7/19)

HUMAN RIGHTS | How the Muslim travel ban and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it has impacted the life of one Northern Virginia family. (WAMU, 7/19)

ARTS & HUMANITIESArtwork from inmates at Virginia jails goes on display at Torpedo Factory (WaPo, 7/20)

PUBLIC SAFETY | Advocates and cyclists gathered at the John A. Wilson building yesterday to call for DC to improve safety for pedestrians and those biking in the city. (GGWash, 7/19)

Social Sector Job Openings 

Director, School Partnerships Coach | Flamboyan Foundation –New!
Program Officer | Jane Bancroft Robinson Foundation –New!
Part-Time Program Administrator for the Bernie Scholarship Awards Program | Greater Washington Community Foundation
Membership Development Manager | Exponent Philanthropy
Senior Manager of Policy | United Philanthropy Forum
Evaluation & Impact Manager | DC Bar Foundation
Director of Development and Communications | Madison House Autism Foundation
Fellowship for Special Project | Greater Washington Community Foundation
Development Manager | Young Playwrights’ Theater
Sr. Social Innovation Specialist | Washington Gas
Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations | Wolf Trap Foundation
Foundation Coordinator | The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation
Senior Manger of Policy | United Philanthropy Forum
Grants Associate | Democracy Fund
Contract Grant Writer | Project HEAL
Program Associate| Case Foundation

Hiring? Post your job on WRAG’s job board and get it included in the Daily! Free for members; $60/60 days for non-members. Details here.

Community Calendar

To add an event to WRAG’s community calendar, email Rebekah Seder. Click here to view the community calendar.

Happy National Lollipop Day!

– Kendra

July 19, 2018 / Kendra Allen, Editor

What happens to those with disabilities if we pass a plastic straw ban?

ENVIRONMENT | As the movement to ban plastic straws in order to protect animals and the environment has gained more supporters this year, people living with disabilities who need plastic straws say this ban will cause them harm. (WAMU, 7/11)

There are many alternatives to plastic straws — paper, biodegradable plastics and even reusable straws made from metal or silicone. But paper straws and similar biodegradable options often fall apart too quickly or are easy for people with limited jaw control to bite through. Silicone straws are often not flexible — one of the most important features for people with mobility challenges. Reusable straws need to be washed, which not all people with disabilities can do easily. And metal straws, which conduct heat and cold in addition to being hard and inflexible, can pose a safety risk.

“Disabled people have to find ways to navigate through the world because they know it was not made for us,” says Lei Wiley-Mydske, an autism activist who has autism herself. “If someone says, ‘This does not work for me,’ it’s because they’ve tried everything else.”

NONPROFITS | Sean Herpolsheimer, WRAG’s 2018 Summer Fellow, recaps the second session of WRAG’s Nonprofit Summer Learning Series and shares how nonprofits can enact innovative systems change and what motivates funders to partner with nonprofits. (Daily, 7/19)

Related: Join us for the August 8th session of the Nonprofit Summer Learning Series on philanthropy’s interest in racial equity and what it means for the nonprofit community. Register here!

CHILDREN & YOUTH |Opinion: The ‘War on Poverty’ Isn’t Over, and Kids Are Losing (Citylab, 7/18)

PUBLIC SAFETY | At a recent hearing, residents in the District’s Deanwood neighborhood discuss the police harassment and violence they endure and ask the DC Council for concrete solutions. (WCP, 7/19)

EDUCATION | A Virginia school board has voted to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons. (WaPo, 7/18)

BUSINESS‘Amazon Doesn’t Need The Money’: In The D.C. Region, Resistance Is Growing To Tax Breaks For HQ2 (WAMU, 7/19)

Here’s a very important quiz to take before you get on a plane.

– Kendra

July 19, 2018 / WRAG

Today’s funders are looking to invest in solutions NOT organizations

By Sean Herpolsheimer
WRAG’s 2018 Summer Fellow

As foundations and corporations strive to have greater impact on some of society’s most difficult challenges, their philanthropic strategies have moved along a spectrum from responsive to proactive. No longer is it sufficient for grantmakers to simply support nonprofit organizations doing good work in the community. Strategic funders are now actively scanning the social sector landscape, commissioning research, becoming placed-based and issue-area experts, and building and supporting collaborative, cross-sector solutions. In July, as part of its 2018 Nonprofit Summer Learning Series, WRAG delved into this trend and explored the idea that “today’s funders are looking to invest in solutions NOT organizations.”

Scott Schenkelberg, president and CEO of Miriam’s Kitchen, started the conversation with a presentation on how his organization transformed itself from a small soup kitchen into a robust “ecosystem orchestrator.” Starting with the ambitious goal of ending chronic homelessness in our nation’s capital, Miriam’s Kitchen worked backwards to design an organization best positioned to achieve that goal. Armed with a plan and the belief that “big problems require big bets,” Scott convinced his board to spend half ($1.5M) of its reserve fund over five years to launch a robust advocacy department, hire communications, development, and evaluation staff, commission research, and more. Since implementing these changes in 2014, Miriam’s Kitchen’s budget has grown from $2.2M to over $4.5M, its staff has grown to nearly 50 team members, they now serve as an organizer and backbone for DC’s homeless services and housing organizations, they’ve helped house nearly 2,500 chronically homeless individuals, and have secured more than $100M in housing vouchers for their guests. Pretty impressive results!

Following Miriam’s Kitchen’s inspiring story, Katy Moore of WRAG facilitated a panel discussion with local funders Patricia Mathews, president and CEO of Northern Virginia Health Foundation; Sari Raskin, director of grants and community leadership at Community Foundation for Northern Virginia; and Carol Thompson Cole, president and CEO of Venture Philanthropy Partners.

The panelists shared with us their candid insights into what nonprofits can do to enact innovative systems change, and what motivates them as funders to partner with nonprofits. Here are some of the key take-aways:

  • Identifying Solutions for Upstream Interventions

Today’s funders are looking to invest in solutions, not symptoms. “It’s not enough to keep pulling people out of the river,” said Ms. Mathews. “You have to go upstream to fix the bridge.” The nonprofits who are having the most success, securing the most funding, and creating the most buzz are those looking at upstream interventions, working collaboratively with each other and across sectors, and, in many cases, advocating for systems change. Referencing the story of Miriam’s Kitchen, panelists encouraged nonprofits to start with the goal in mind and orchestrate real solutions to the problem not just the symptoms.

  • Demonstrate Results

Funders are interested in seeing how your organization is producing results. Knowing what measurements are possible and meaningful is an important responsibility of any nonprofit. But not just to satisfy their funding partners. Measuring success is important for all of your stakeholders – individual donors and volunteers, potential partners and collaborators, board and staff members, etc. And, as business writer and strategist, Peter Drucker said, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

  • Authentic Communication

All the panelists  stressed how important it was for nonprofits to have authentic and transparent conversations with their philanthropic partners. Funders have a bird’s-eye view of the community and the nonprofits and other actors working on various issues. When nonprofit leaders transparently share their organization’s goals, challenges, opportunities, and future plans, funders can be financial supporters as well as allies, connectors, capacity builders, problem solvers, and much more.

  • Advocacy and Research

We heard about the power of advocacy from Miriam’s Kitchen. Scott and his team believed that ending chronic homelessness was possible. But there wasn’t enough permanent, supportive, affordable housing to go around. So, they collaborated with others to fix the system. They worked to build momentum for the issue, educated the community and elected officials about the causes and solutions to homelessness, empowered their clients to get involved in advocacy efforts, and worked to influence policies critical in the fight to end homelessness. A major component of Miriam’s Kitchen’s advocacy strategy centered on the research they commissioned about the societal costs of chronic homelessness. In fact, all the speakers and panelists highlighted research as a major component of their community investment strategies. For example, in an effort to identify potential areas for philanthropic investment, the Northern Virginia Health Foundation commissioned the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, to create an interactive map of Northern Virginia that delves into a wide range of social and economic factors that shape residents’ health. Similarly, the Northern Virginia Community Foundation worked with the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis to create The Opportunity Index, an interactive online resource that features several key indicators of our region’s economy, community health, civic life, and educational outcomes. Ms. Raski said, “Overtime, we hope this resource will shine a light on some of the societal factors that affect why some areas in Northern Virginia have more opportunity than others.”

Over the course of WRAG’s Nonprofit Summer Learning Series events, a key theme has proven true: funders genuinely want nonprofits to succeed. Funders can’t achieve their missions without the vital work that nonprofits do every day. Despite the title of this session, funders will always invest in nonprofit organizations, supporting their programs, staff, and operations. But, to have real impact on the issues we all care about, bold visions, upstream strategies, and systems-level change are what is needed to move the needle and make our region a place where opportunity exists for everyone.  How will your organization collaborate with your funders to be bold, make big bets, and advocate for REAL change in our community?

Designed and taught by some of the Greater Washington region’s top philanthropic leaders, WRAG’s Nonprofit Summer Learning Series “pulls the curtain back on philanthropy.”

To ensure maximum participation, all of these events are offered in-person, via-live webinar, and are being recorded for later viewing. To receive the webinar recording, you must be registered for the event. Simply choose “webinar” as your online registration option.

July 18, 2018 / Kendra Allen, Editor

DC Council proposes an amendment to protect undocumented immigrants

IMMIGRATION |DC Councilmembers have proposed an amendment to the city’s extortion statute to make it a crime for landlords and employers to use an undocumented person’s status to force them to work extra hours or to pay more rent. (WaPo, 7/17)

Immigrant rights advocates said the District bill would be a step toward protecting vulnerable populations but might not go far enough. Rob Wohl, a tenant organizer with the Latino Economic Development Center, said slumlords who chronically flout city codes and housing regulations are unlikely to be intimidated by another law on the books.

“It’s good to offer people protection. I think that’s a good thing,” Wohl said. “But I’m concerned that D.C. keeps putting these statutory protections on the books without doing anything to improve the mechanisms that are meant to actually enforce these laws.”

WRAG COMMUNITY | A recent  profile of Eileen Ellsworth, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, shows her journey into the nonprofit world and her passion for social justice. (Profiles in Success, 7/18)

LGBTQIA RIGHTS | Members of Congress have introduced a bill to end the use of the ‘gay or trans panic’ defense which is often used to justify someone’s violent actions against individuals who identify as LGBTQIA. (Metro Weekly, 7/13)

HEALTH | Gwyn Barley, vice president of community partnerships and grants at the Colorado Trust, discusses how her organization is working to achieve health equity. (NCRP, 7/10)

INCOME GAP | A Pew Research Center report exploring income inequality within racial and ethnic groups found that Asian Americans hold the widest income gap between its top and bottom earners. (Next City, 7/16)

YOUTH | A nonprofit recently held a discussion in Virginia on interfaith leadership with American Muslim and Jewish youth and Muslim and Jewish youth from Jerusalem. (Loudoun Times, 7/17)

Enjoy a walk through the woods. 

– Kendra

July 17, 2018 / Kendra Allen, Editor

A newly launched effort to urge Virginia business owners to pay a living wage

WORKFORCE | Two Virginia groups, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy and the Virginia Theological Seminary, have launched an effort to encourage Alexandria businesses to pay their workers a living wage instead of the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. (WaPo, 7/16)

Kim Bobo, the Richmond-based executive director of the interfaith center, said it’s nearly impossible for individuals paid $7.25 per hour, the federal minimum wage that is required in Virginia, to support themselves — much less a family — in the expensive Washington suburbs.

“Over time, we can help raise the floor in Richmond, Alexandria and hopefully other communities across the state,” Bobo said Monday morning at a kickoff event where three organizations in Alexandria — the seminary, yarn retailer Fibre Space and federal contractor Business Management Associates — were certified.

IMMIGRATION‘They are our neighbors’: Activists decry recent ICE arrests in Northwest D.C. (WaPo, 7/16)

– At the end of the month, DC residents receiving SNAP benefits may be unable to access local farmer’s markets due to the only USDA-authorized service with the capability to process mobile SNAP payments ending its service. (WAMU, 7/16)

– Opinion: Expanding SNAP Work Requirements is a Ticket to Poor Health (CivilEats, 7/16)

HOUSING | A new online platform, Imby Community, wants to more easily connect developers to the community their projects will impact. (BisNow, 7/16)

PUBLIC SAFETYResidents Say DC Water Didn’t Communicate Boil-Water Advisory Quickly Or Broadly Enough (DCist, 7/17)

A look at DC’s history of All-Star games.

– Kendra

July 16, 2018 / Kendra Allen, Editor

How Virginia can decrease its high Black maternal mortality rate

– Across the region, Black mothers are facing high maternal mortality rates due to implicit bias, access to care and other factors. The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis has produced a blog exploring how Virginia can continue to support these mothers after Medicaid expansion. (The Half Sheet, 7/2)

Black women more often experience a lower quality of health care compared to their White counterparts. Additionally, the experience of discrimination and the stress associated with it, including while accessing health care, has been shown to lead to poorer health outcomes for mothers and their children during pregnancy.

Medicaid expansion is a massive step forward in improving the lives of nearly 400,000 Virginians, including new mothers. This process can be strengthened by a thoughtful and targeted campaign to enroll and actively provide quality, culturally responsive health care to Black women in Virginia.

– WTOP has published a series of articles documenting the maternal healthcare crisis in DC. (WTOP, 7/13)

CSR | Congratulations to WRAG members Capital One, Citigroup, DeloitteIBM, and Wells Fargo for being named as 2018 Civic 50 Honorees! (Points of Light, 7/16)

HOMELESSNESS | So Others Might Eat has partnered with Terrapin Pharmacy to bring technology-based healthcare services to the District’s homeless population to help those who struggle with taking their medication. (Street Sense Media, 7/13)

PUBLIC SAFETYGun Violence Doesn’t Break For Summer. Neither Do These Student Activists. (WAMU, 7/12)

TRANSIT | Metro workers are considering whether to strike this week after a labor dispute with management. (WaPo, 7/15)

HOUSINGBen Carson says he’s raising rents to put poor Americans to work. But in the District, the majority are either elderly, disabled or already at work. (WaPo, 7/13)

Here’s something to make you smile on this Monday:


credit: BoredPanda

Do you want to be involved? Send us a picture of something that has made you smile and we may include it in the “Daily WRAG’s Monday Smile”!

Email us your content at

– Kendra

July 13, 2018 / Kendra Allen, Editor

DC Council approves bill to end the suspension of licenses due to unpaid tickets

TRANSPORTATION | The DC Council has approved a bill to end the practice of suspending residents’ licenses if they have unpaid tickets. The legislation comes as there has been a nationwide push to get rid of laws that disproportionately punish low-income communities and communities of color. (WaPo, 7/12)

The legislation would re­instate licenses that have been suspended for unpaid tickets or missed hearings. It would also allow offenders to pay off all or part of what they owe through community service.

If the bill becomes law, the District “will be at the forefront of reform,” said Lisa Foster, a retired California judge and co-director of the nonprofit Fines and Fees Justice Center.

ARTS & HUMANITIES | How artists and developers across the country come together to bring murals to communities. (WaPo, 7/12)

PUBLIC SAFETY | After several incidents of Ku Klux Klan recruitment fliers and related materials appearing in parts of Northern Virginia, its leaders call for an update on the terrorist group’s activities in the state. (Loudoun Times, 7/12)

EDUCATIONIn Her First Veto, Bowser Denies Emergency D.C. Council Bill on Public School Graduations (WCP, 7/13)

– The Greater Washington Community Foundation has announced its new framework, Building Thriving Communities. The foundation will focus on disrupting poverty, deepening human connections and centering racial equity. (GWCF, 7/12)

– Philanthropy’s Racism Problem Stems From Too Little Data (Chronicle, 7/12 – Subscription needed)

BUSINESS | Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman, has announced that he will be stepping down from the organization. (WBJ, 7/12)

Social Sector Job Openings 

Part-Time Program Administrator for the Bernie Scholarship Awards Program | Greater Washington Community Foundation –New!
Membership Development Manager | Exponent Philanthropy –New!
Senior Manager of Policy | United Philanthropy Forum –New!
Evaluation & Impact Manager | DC Bar Foundation
Director of Development and Communications | Madison House Autism Foundation
Fellowship for Special Project | Greater Washington Community Foundation
Development Manager | Young Playwrights’ Theater
Sr. Social Innovation Specialist | Washington Gas
Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations | Wolf Trap Foundation
Foundation Coordinator | The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation
Senior Manger of Policy | United Philanthropy Forum
Grants Associate | Democracy Fund
Contract Grant Writer | Project HEAL
Program Associate| Case Foundation
Grants Manager | Public Welfare Foundation

Hiring? Post your job on WRAG’s job board and get it included in the Daily! Free for members; $60/60 days for non-members. Details here.

Community Calendar

To add an event to WRAG’s community calendar, email Rebekah Seder. Click here to view the community calendar.

In case you’re ever in need of any advice, try this first

– Kendra