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June 10, 2015 / Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Cleaning (and greening) D.C.-area rivers

D.C. Water plans to utilize green infrastructure – surfaces that will reduce combined sewer overflow to the Potomac River and Rock Creek – in areas around Columbia Heights, Takoma, Petworth, and surrounding neighborhoods. The project will bring with it a number of additional benefits, but critics wonder if the plans continue a history of neglect of the  Anacostia River and its surrounding neighborhoods. (City Lab, 6/9)

Green infrastructure’s ability to absorb water where it falls has been proven to be effective, and to have a number of “co-benefits.” After all, a lot of what we’re talking about are trees, plants, and soil. Installing green infrastructure in strategic spots creates additional green space for the neighborhoods. That also means a reduced heat-island effect, improved air quality and health outcomes, more wildlife habitats, job creation, and increased property values. It’s exciting news for the District, which will join New York City, Philadelphia, and a handful of other U.S. cities embarking on major green infrastructure projects.


But longtime residents of [the] Anacostia area won’t get quite the same added benefits of green development as in Takoma and Georgetown, where income levels are historically much higher. [CEO and General Manager of D.C. Water, George] Hawkins says he hopes that the city will focus more greening efforts in the Anacostia area, to make up for what D.C. Water won’t be doing there. Yes, years from now, the river will be clean, an amazing and long unimaginable future. But as the co-benefits of green infrastructure go to show, a clean river is just the beginning of truly expansive environmental justice.

To stop sewage from overflowing in the Anacostia, Nannie is digging in (GGW, 6/10)

EVENTS/HOMELESSNESS | On Tuesday, June 30 at 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region will hold a forum on youth homelessness in the region. For more details and to register, click here.

PHILANTHROPY | The Foundation Center has released a new paper by Emmett Carson, CEO and president of Silicon Valley Community Foundation (and keynote speaker at WRAG’s 2013 annual meeting), in which he examines the role of U.S. community foundations and their continued impact in their communities. (GrantCraft, 6/8)

– In a national survey of educators, teachers cited student poverty as the biggest barrier to learning. Respondents to the survey shared that as much as 20 percent of their time is spent helping students with nonacademic problems. The number of public school children who live in poverty continues to rise nationwide. (WaPo, 6/9)

How Poverty Alters the Young Brain (City Lab, 6/9)

– For those in poverty, the money-based bail system imposed by most jurisdictions can often mean spending months behind bars for nonviolent offenses before ever getting a day in court. (NYT, 6/10)

Though money bail is firmly entrenched in the vast majority of jurisdictions, the practice is coming under new scrutiny in the face of recent research that questions its effectiveness, rising concerns about racial and income disparities in local courts, and a bipartisan effort to reduce the reliance on incarceration nationwide.

– When it comes to unequal access to wealth creation and social mobility, for some, we must first determine if the real problem lies in inequality or opportunity. (Atlantic, 6/5)

ARTS/IMMIGRATION | Coming This Fall: A Film on D.C.’s Undocumented Immigrant Youth (WCP, 6/10)

Check out these photos of what might be D.C.’s largest public art project. 

– Ciara

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