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July 12, 2018 / Kendra Allen, Editor

The trouble with millennial homeownership in the region

HOUSING | Student loan debt and the wealth gap is keeping millennials in the Greater Washington region from buying homes. Although the region has programs such as first-time homebuyer’s courses and down payment assistance grants, those with no generational wealth face a tougher road to homeownership. (WTOP, 7/12)

D.C. has seen a population boom in the last 10 years, and the bulk of that growth has come from millennials moving into the area, said Yesim Sayin Taylor, executive director of the D.C. Policy Center.

In D.C.’s tight housing market, she said, that means affluent single and coupled millennials are competing with lower-income families when it comes to homeownership.

WRAG COMMUNITY | Tamara Lucas Copeland, WRAG’s president, has announced that she will retire at the end of 2018. Read her full message here. (Daily, 7/12)

RACIAL EQUITY | Calling into Question: W.K. Kellogg’s Accountability With Grantees (Old Money New System, 7/11)

HEALTH | CVS plans to put containers where people can drop off unused prescription drugs in its stores to address the opioid epidemic. (Baltimore Sun, 7/12)

ARTS & CULTURE | ‘It’s an Uphill Battle’ Say Artists Caught In D.C.’s Development Squeeze (WAMU, 7/12)

ENVIRONMENT | A new bill would make electricity in DC carbon-free and includes other ways to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. (GGWash, 7/11)

IMMIGRATIONSome Immigrant Toddlers Held In The D.C. Region Still Separated, Advocacy Group Says (WAMU, 7/11)

Where you can go see an actual knight fight in the DC region.

– Kendra

July 12, 2018 / WRAG

An announcement from WRAG’s president

By Tamara Lucas Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

I always heard from my friends that I would know when it was time.

They were right.  After a few years of carefully thinking it through, it is time for me to retire.  I have advised the WRAG Board and staff that I plan to retire at the end of the year.

I joined WRAG in September 2006. Twelve years have passed quickly. Over those years, I learned to use my voice and the platform that I had more effectively to elevate issues that were/are important to me and to the region. I am proud of the work we have done, particularly in the areas of housing affordability and racial equity. I am confident that WRAG is positioned to continue to do great work to positively impact the region with a core staff complement and a board that are truly exceptional.

Some have asked if this is the right time for the organization even if it is the right time for me. I believe it is. Next year, WRAG will undertake a process to determine its direction moving forward. That next strategic vision will be announced at the 2019 Annual Meeting. I remember how important it was for me to participate in the 2007 Year of Engagement as we listened to the views of members in developing our strategic plan for 2008-2011. Next year will also be the year in which several organizations come together to host a regional summit on race, racism and the future of Greater Washington. This is not, as some might think, a culminating event, but the launch of the next phase of the work to broaden the region’s commitment to racial equity. I feel that it is critical that WRAG’s next leader be in place for this event and for the strategic planning process.

Now, what will I do? I’m really not sure. I just know that my inner voice says it is time to enter that next phase of my life. Whatever that next perch is – even if it is just sitting by the Bay for a bit – I hope to be a contributor to the greatness of this wonderful city/region that I call home. Thank you for being such an important part of my life’s journey.

Note: The Executive Committee of the WRAG Board will meet soon regarding next steps. Stay tuned.

July 11, 2018 / Kendra Allen, Editor

How the US criminalizes those with mental illness and then attempts to treat them

MENTAL HEALTH | In the US, individuals with mental illness are often incarcerated, which ensures they don’t receive adequate care or the resources they need. In fact, in some cases, they are punished for experiencing distress because prison staff are not trained to care for people. (NPR, 7/10)

Jails and prisons have all kinds of rules and regulations. … Some of them are for security and some of them are just basically for the sake of rules, like where you have to stand when they do the count or where you have to stand to receive your food tray, things like that. And when people can’t follow the rules, either because they don’t understand them or because their paranoia makes them think that following the rules is going to get them hurt, the punishment is solitary confinement, which basically means being shut in a windowless room by yourself 23 hours a day. And it can make people who are sane completely mentally ill, but for somebody with mental illness it’s absolutely devastating. … If you’re paranoid and you’re afraid that your food is being poisoned or that people are out to get you, being locked in this room by yourself really makes it worse.

CSR | Katy Moore, WRAG’s managing director of corporate strategy, and Sean Herpolsheimer, WRAG’s 2018 Summer Fellow, discuss how leading companies are leveraging their data for social good in a new blog. (Daily, 7/11)

VETERANS | This month, Virginia will begin adding “veteran” to the driver’s licenses and identification cards of residents that served in the military. (Prince William Times, 7/10)

YOUTH | A Virginia writer, along with local groups, has started a book drive for the children separated from their families at the border. (DCist, 7/9)

PUBLIC SAFETYChairman Pulls Noise Amplification Bill That Rankled D.C. Musicians (DCist, 7/10)

WORKFORCE | How the gig economy is making it easier for employers to discriminate against care workers with no consequences. (Nation, 7/10)

BUSINESSVirginia climbs, Maryland tumbles on CNBC’s top states for business rankings (WBJ, 7/11)

Make sure to get your free Slurpee at 7 Eleven today!

– Kendra

July 11, 2018 / WRAG

CSR & Big Data: How leading companies are leveraging their data & information for social good

By Katy Moore, WRAG’s Managing Director of Corporate Strategy & Sean Herpolsheimer, WRAG’s 2018 Summer Fellow

Many of today’s societal challenges are incredibly complex, interconnected, and ever-evolving. As those in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) space look to tackle some of these seemingly intractable problems, they are beginning to look beyond traditional efforts such as charitable giving, employee volunteerism, and sustainable practices.

Big problems require big solutions. And, most companies have BIG amounts of data – on customers, vendors, employees, click histories, online purchases, and much more. A few companies are starting to harness this data for social good and expand their tool box for community change.

Stefaan Verhulst, the co-founder and chief research and development officer of NYU’s Governance Laboratory, is one of the country’s leading “data for good” experts. He works with companies, governments, nonprofits and others – often in collaboration with one another – to identify various data assets and develop strategies to leverage those assets for public good.

One example Verhulst offers is NCell, Nepal’s largest telecom company. After the devastating earthquakes in 2015, NCell created a tool to utilize its users’ data to track population displacement and migration, which allowed disaster response teams to target their relief efforts where need was greatest, in real time.

JP Morgan (which has a financial relationship with over 50% of American households) has created an entire research organization dedicated to leveraging its customer data for public good. Fiona Grieg, the director of consumer research at the JP Morgan Chase Institute, describes the firm not just as a bank, but a data and technology firm.

With insight into millions of Americans’ financial information, spending patterns, and buying habits, the JPMC Institute is able to report on a wide variety of trends – some that you wouldn’t anticipate from a financial institution. One example is tracking healthcare spending. From its customers’ financial transactions, the firm’s data analysts are able to see that Americans spend the most on healthcare in the 60 days after they receive their tax refunds. Grieg explains that this is a troubling trend for the US economy. If people are putting off needed medical treatments or foregoing preventative care until they have discretionary income, then healthcare premiums tend to go up as more people rely on emergency services down the line.

One other example Greig shares is the JPMC Institute’s effort to identify food deserts. They do this by analyzing how far people are traveling from their homes to buy fresh groceries. The firm is able to share this information with government officials, developers and community leaders to spur action.

PwC, another firm harnessing data for good, is taking a different approach. Stacey Magdaluyo, a manager at PwC US Responsible Business Leadership, explains how her firm partnered with Opportunity Nation, a coalition of nonprofits across the country focused on economic mobility, to produce the Opportunity Index. This online tool measures 16 opportunity indicators and scores all 50 states, DC, and more than 2,600 counties, thereby giving policymakers, nonprofits, and community leaders a useful tool to identify areas for improvement and gauge progress over time.

One way PwC contributed to the partnership was by assigning their in-house Artificial Intelligence (AI) team to work with Opportunity Nation in a pro bono capacity. The AI team, using their expertise in machine learning and natural language processing, worked in partnership with the research experts at Opportunity Nation to develop a number of new Index tools. One such tool clusters counties that share similar traits and allows them to compare, benchmark, and share best practices with their peers across the country. Another allows counties to gather anecdotal information and gauge community sentiment by tracking what is being discussed in the news media and on community forums in their regions.

In order for more companies to begin leveraging data for social good, Verhulst stressed the importance of having community-minded data stewards inside corporations – a position that does not or vary rarely exists in most companies. He also encouraged corporate philanthropy and community engagement professionals to see data as a potential community asset and to begin to build bridges across departments to explore what’s possible for their companies and communities.

The data age holds extraordinary promise for those of us who are dedicated to community impact and social change. Onward you awesome data nerds! We can’t wait to see what problems you’ll tackle next.

July 10, 2018 / Kendra Allen, Editor

Some DC Councilmembers look to overturn ballot initiative to raise minimum wage for tipped workers

WORKFORCE | Just a few weeks ago, District residents took off work or came in late because they wanted to participate in our most simple, but important civic duty: voting in local elections. In this election, residents overwhelmingly voted to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers. Now DC Councilmembers are looking at overturning the ballot initiative. (WaPo, 7/9)

“It would be deeply undemocratic for council to overturn the will of the people,” said Diana Ramirez, a spokeswoman for One Fair Wage DC. “D.C. voters don’t like it when Republicans in Congress do it, and we trust council will not stoop to that level. In our preelection poll, over 80 percent of D.C. voters said they would be concerned if council overturned their vote. The people are watching. Council must set any sour grapes aside and push ahead.”

The repeal legislation would not be taken up until the fall, after the council returns from its summer recess. It would probably be the first salvo in protracted negotiations between the ballot measure’s supporters and the council.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | In 2016, WRAG, with Enterprise Community Loan Fund, launched the Our Region, Your Investment initiative to bring new capital to the region’s growing housing affordability crisis. Gretchen Greiner-Lott, vice president of WRAG, provides an update on the initiative in this new blog post. (Daily, 7/10)

EDUCATION | After policy tweak, Loudoun’s English Language Learner students granted a little more time to graduate (Loudoun Times, 7/5)

– Tim McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation, discusses how his organization supports the arts and shares Americans for the Arts’ list of reasons why others should too. (American Express, 7/9)

– The District has opened a new museum dedicated to historically Black colleges and universities, the first in the country. (Washington Informer, 7/2)

AGING/LGBTQIA RIGHTSRetirement communities turn their sights on a once-invisible group: LGBT seniors (WaPo, 7/8)

HOMELESSNESS | DC Councilmember Trayon White plans to introduce legislation to stop the demolition of the DC General shelter until all current residents have found new homes. (WaPo, 7/9)

It’s hot and it’s National Pina Colada Day! Go treat your self tonight.

– Kendra

July 10, 2018 / WRAG

Update on Our Region, Your Investment Initiative

By Gretchen Greiner-Lott
Vice President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

WRAG, with Enterprise Community Loan Fund, launched the Our Region, Your Investment initiative in 2016 in an effort to bring new capital to the region’s growing housing affordability crisis. This was a first of its kind targeted initiative for both WRAG and the Loan Fund. Since then, we have accomplished a great deal:

  • Surpassed our fundraising goal – twice!
  • Raised over $12 million in investments
  • Preserved or produced over 650 (and counting) housing units around the region
  • Featured in an in-depth Social Return on Investment report, published in November 2017
  • Invited to participated in the Urban Institute’s impact investing project, resulting in a May 2018 report that included Our Region, Your Investment
  • Helped to bring new investors to the impact investing space and now hosts the WIIN (WRAG’s Impact Investors Network)

Recently, Enterprise Community Loan Fund received an issuer credit rating of AA- from S&P Global Ratings. This now allows them to look into providing a greater array of investment options to a wider range of investors, which could enhance their ability to raise investment capital and increase their impact in financing affordable homes and community facilities. As a result, they are no longer offering their Community Impact Note on which the Our Region, Your Investment initiative was based.

This means that:

  • New sales and renewals of the Note will not take place
  • Interest on existing Notes will continue to accrue and payments of interest will be remitted when due
  • 100% of existing Notes remain fully invested in the community and delivering impact

Although this initiative has ended, WRAG’s dedication to addressing housing affordability in our region remains a priority. We will explore ways to continue bringing new capital to this region’s housing challenge – or any other new roles we can play.

We are excited for what the future holds and look forward to keeping you posted on our next steps.