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January 21, 2015 / Ciara Myers, Editor

The State of the Union and the social sector

In case you missed it, President Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address last night. As usual, the president touched on a number of topics, many of which could offer a template for the work of the social sector, as Nonprofit Quarterly points out (WaPo, 1/20 and NPQ, 1/20):

[…] the president, any president, isn’t the only author of social change in our nation. As shown through the president’s comments on race relations after Ferguson, normalization of diplomatic relations with and ending the embargo against Cuba, and protecting the civil rights of the LGBT population, change comes from the mobilization of the American public in social movements, pressuring the executive and legislative branches to do what is really important for the American public. That’s especially true, more than ever, with a divided Congress whose members are more prone to posture and fight rather than understand and act.

The onus is therefore on the nonprofit sector to pick up on the social movement building that these times – and the president’s SOTU proposals – require and to mobilize their constituencies around the messages of helping working people, raising tax rates on the super wealthy, creating more job opportunities, and making community colleges free. And in addition, as a result of the speech, nonprofits and the communities they represent have a new agenda for creating a narrative on the issues that the SOTU underplayed or missed entirely: dealing directly with poverty, expanding humanitarian aid, and cleaning up election finance. It’s time for a new nonprofit sector State of the Union strategy.

WORKFORCE/REGION | What economists think the D.C.-area work force could look like in five years (WaPo, 1/18)

| No food until you finish your recess? A new study suggests that one way to get students to eat more servings of fruits and vegetables at lunchtime is to have them go to recess first. In fact, students who ate lunch after recess were shown to consume 54 percent more fruits and vegetables than those eating lunch before recess. (NPR, 1/20)

IMPACT INVESTING | The World Economic Forum recently highlighted five high-level tips for family offices seeking to engage in the world of impact investing. (SSIR, 1/19)

–  Could something as simple as a few text messages be a perfect solution to helping low-income students reach college and achieve their goals? Research shows it can certainly help. (NYT, 1/18)

High test scores at many charter schools may actually be “false positives” (GGW, 1/20)

– In an effort to make bikeshare memberships more accessible to low-income riders without a bank account, Arlington is set to begin offering $7 monthly cash membership fees to encourage equity in the use of the program. (GGW, 1/21)

– Metro Weighs Fare Hikes and Service Cuts (WCP, 1/20)

| In yesterday’s lead story, The Washington Post incorrectly described the “ban the box” bill as circulating through the D.C. Council. Many thanks to Ben Murphy at the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region for pointing out that the bill passed last year – and with the support of many CFNCR grantees, including D.C. Employment Justice Center, D.C. Appleseed and DCFPI.

Take a look at how improvisational skills can be a very useful tool in any workplace.

– Ciara

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