by Gretchen Greiner-Lott
Vice President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
Earlier this month, Tamara wrote a piece called Using WRAG’s Voice on Issues That Matter. It described how WRAG is “uniquely positioned to influence public discourse, public policy and to alert public officials to policy alternatives.” Tamara’s blog emphasized that, moving forward, we will “use our platform to speak out on many more issues that matter.”
In that spirit, I attended Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) last week to observe how our regional association colleagues from across the country are working with their representatives in both the House and the Senate on a variety of philanthropy-related issues.
One of the key issues was the Johnson Amendment. Passed in 1954, this ammendment prohibits nonprofit organizations from engaging in partisan campaign activities. In brief, it keeps nonprofits above the “political fray” while continuing to serve as the trusted nonpartisan community problem solvers they are. Without this “firewall,” there is great concern that the charitable sector will become politicized and that many charitable contributions will be directed toward political campaigns rather than community issues.
During FOTH, I learned that most congressional staffers did not know about the Johnson Amendment generally nor did they know that there are several bills in the works to repeal it. After receiving information from FOTH delegations, these staffers understood it as important and said it was not at risk. While not immediately at risk, it was noted that the Amendment could be used as a bargaining chip during tax reform efforts that are expected this year.
Because of all this uncertainty, foundations and nonprofits around the country have signed-on to a Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship, an initiative of 10 national nonprofit and philanthropy serving organizations. The current plan is to send this community letter to Congressional Members next week so there is a push to get folks to sign now. WRAG has signed. We hope you will consider adding your voice to this growing choir in support of the charitable sector.
WRAG will keep you informed as developments on this measure occur.
EDUCATION | Mayor Bowser has announced a new school program to create support groups for the District’s young women of color. The program, called Reign: Empowering Young Women as Leaders, will include a citywide conference in June and workshops during next school year. (WaPo, 3/27)
DCPS officials said they held listening sessions with more than 100 girls of color and did not hear that girls wanted their own school.
Instead, they said, girls want a space, such as an after-school club, to talk about their days and their feelings and to learn about one another. Girls want to learn how to build their confidence, the school system said in a news release.
…Educators will receive training on gender and racial equality, and “innovation grants” will be awarded to help schools focus on the academic, social and emotional needs of girls.
– DC Fiscal Policy Institute‘s Claire Zippel explains how the administration’s proposed budget will impact affordable housing in the District. (DCFPI, 3/24)
– DC advocates want the city to spend more on affordable housing, our homeless population and Metro. (WAMU, 3/27)
VETERANS | Programs that treat veterans through the arts could save the National Endowment for the Arts from it’s proposed elimination. (NYT, 3/28)
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT | The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has launched the Latino Engagement and Achievement Fund, which is dedicated to the promotion of and the investment in the civic engagement, education, economic success, and advocacy of the Latino community in the DC region. (CFNV, 3/27)
PUBLIC SAFETY | Trainings Advance Nationally to Stem Police Violence Against People with Disabilities (NPQ, 3/24)
ENVIRONMENT | Maryland Senate gives final approval to fracking ban (WaPo, 3/28)
A new exhibition of St. Elizabeths hospital at the National Building Museum.
POVERTY | The administration’s budget proposal calls for the elimination of the Community Development Block Grant program, which provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. The loss of this program would hurt many low-income communities in our region. (WAMU, 3/24)
…Arlington uses part of its $1.1 million in CDBG funds for grants to 35 non-profits that offer everything from job training to energy efficiency education and upgrades. A large chunk of the money is used to help finance affordable housing projects.
In other parts of the region, the money is used to help people buy their first home. In D.C., part of the city’s $13.7 million CDBG allotment helps fund the Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP), which offers up to $80,000 in no-interest loans to low- and moderate-income first-time home-buyers. The City of Gaithersburg, which has been taking in CDBG funds directly from HUD since 2003, uses a large part of its $353,000 allotment for much the same purpose.
– Howard University Hospital opened in 1862, in part, to treat the District’s freed slaves. Recently, the hospital has been experiencing a severe crisis due to fiscal woes, mismanagement, lawsuits and the loss of many long time doctors. (WaPo, 3/25)
– A program that connects Prince George’s County residents to nurses at a local hospital has drastically reduced calls to 911. (NBC4, 3/24)
– How Fear of Deportation Puts Stress on Families (Atlantic, 3/22)
EDUCATION | Howard University students will study computer science at Google’s headquarters in California this summer. (WAMU, 3/25)
HOUSING | Why Montgomery County will continue to turn its aging office buildings into residences. (The Third Place, 3/21)
PHILANTHROPY | 5 Ways Foundations Can Get Results in a Time of Upheaval (Chronicle, 3/7 – Subscription needed)
FOOD | These DC students created a global cook book of recipes. (NPR, 3/25)
Who knew you could create art using a chainsaw?
CHILDREN & YOUTH
– The number of missing Black and Latinx children in the District has recently gained national news and social media coverage. This week, the police department and mayor denied that there was an increase in the number of missing young people, but this left some dissatisfied. Now Congress members want the Justice Department to investigate. (NBC4, 3/23)
The letter, dated Tuesday and obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, was sent by Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond, D-La., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District in Congress. They called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to “devote the resources necessary to determine whether these developments are an anomaly or whether they are indicative of an underlying trend that must be addressed.”
An email sent to the Justice Department seeking comment was not immediately answered Thursday. Richmond said he hopes to meet with Sessions and bring up the issue.
– Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has launched the Our Children Fund, which is devoted to supporting children in the Fairfax County foster care system. (CFNV, 3/20)
WRAG COMMUNITY | Congratulations again to WRAG’s president Tamara Copeland and Kelly Brinkley, chief operating officer of United Way of the National Capital Area for winning Washington Business Journal‘s Minority Business Leader award! (WBJ, 3/23)
ARTS & HUMANITIES
– This is how the possible shutdown of the National Endowment for the Arts will impact the region’s theaters. (DC Theater Scene, 3/23)
– Although women lead 48% of art museums, a gender gap still persists in the leadership of large art museums. (NYT, 3/22)
HOUSING | The Coalition for Smarter Growth has released a new report recommending that DC apply a permanent affordability requirement to receive funding for affordable housing developments. (CSG, 3/20)
HEALTH | Is Economic Despair What’s Killing Middle-Aged White Americans? (Atlantic, 3/23)
Social Sector Job Openings
Community Affairs Contractor – Engagement, Capital One Cafés | Capital One – NEW!
Executive Director | International Association for Volunteer Effort
Executive Director | Catalogue for Philanthropy
Part-time Accountant | Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
Donor Services Associate, District of Columbia | The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region
Associate Director, Policy & Communications | Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers
Administrative Associate | Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers
Manager, Operations & Programming | Walker’s Legacy Foundation
Senior Associate, Engagement – Mid-Atlantic and Retail and Direct Bank markets | Capital One
Executive Director | Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia
Mean Girls is now a musical.
Dr. Donney John
NOVA Scripts Central
Why did you choose to participate in the workshop?
At the time of the workshop in 2015, I was still a relatively new executive director and I wanted to learn about new funding strategies. I knew that we needed to diversify our funding streams and that we could not rely solely on grants from foundations to sustain us. I chose to participate in the workshop because I wanted to learn how to engage businesses more effectively.
What was your favorite part of the workshop?
I enjoyed the breakout sessions, especially “Learning to make the CSR business case”. I particularly enjoyed this because I was able to learn how to develop a CSR engagement strategy that I could use at my organization. I listened to the pros and cons of approaches that where highlighted by the folks in the breakout session and took those ideas and learnings back to my organization.
How have you used the knowledge and/or the connections you gained at the workshop to improve your work?
After the workshop, we worked to develop a strategy for evaluating which corporate partners we should approach. We did a better job of researching potential corporate partners to make sure that there was mission-alignment before we approached or engaged with them. Prior to the workshop, we did not always identify the strategic partnership potential with corporations, focusing instead only on the financial benefit they could provide to our organization. Now the first thing we look for is strategic partnership opportunities.
What would you tell prospective participants about the workshop?
The workshop gives you great insight on how to engage with corporations and other potential partners. The information is applicable to every aspect of running a nonprofit successfully.
Do you have any tips for 2017 registrants on how to get the most out of their participation?
This workshop is very beneficial for executive directors, directors of operations and development coordinators. Do your homework regarding which companies will be present so you can have some background information about them before attending.
About Fundamentals of CSR
Join the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers for this informative, two-day workshop designed and taught by more than 20 corporate philanthropy and community involvement professionals from some of the region’s largest and most respected companies.
This workshop is designed specifically for individuals who want to better understand the field of corporate responsibility, corporate philanthropy, corporate volunteerism, and corporate community involvement for the purposes of developing new and deeper corporate relationships and more effective corporate fundraising strategies.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | The area around New York Avenue has a tumultuous history in the District. Its recent history tells what happens when economic development leads to gentrification and what happens when some residents are left out. (Medium, 3/9)
NoMa BID was formed in 2007 and wasted little time ushering in development and breaking ground on new projects every few months. In the last nine years, NoMa BID helped attract notable tenants to the neighborhood, such as NPR, Google, and the Department of Homeland Security. Since the Metro station opened, the amount of office and retail space has doubled within NoMa BID’s borders. In addition to the 3,836 existing apartments, about 1,000 units — many of them luxury dwellings — are nearing completion.
Today, development continues at a fast clip, with gleaming high-rises towering over construction sites where eager developers scramble to break ground. But along certain borders of the BID, the development and economic activity abruptly halts — most notably along its North Capitol Street border with Truxton Circle.
– Polly Donaldson, director of DC’s Department of Housing and Community Development, discusses the state of affordable housing in the District. (Curbed, 3/21)
– Airbnbs’ rental practices could be driving up rent in DC (GGW, 3/21)
RACIAL EQUITY | Why Black Families Struggle to Build Wealth (Atlantic, 3/20)
IMMIGRATION | More Than 60 D.C. Area Congregations Launch Network to Protect Immigrants (WCP, 3/22)
– The DC Council has proposed a bill that would require employers who provide their employees with free or subsidized parking to give them an option of receiving the money instead. (WaPo, 3/17)
– Opinion: Employee-owned Businesses Can Boost Local Economies (NPQ, 3/21)
ECONOMY | Virginia Economic Department Partnership CEO shares his priorities for the state and how Loudoun County can help. (LoudounNow, 3/20)
The Funk Parade is almost here!