Friday roundup – January 19 through 22, 2016

THIS WEEK IN PHILANTHROPY
In an op-ed in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Tamara Lucas Copeland challenged the notion of a postracial America and explained why WRAG is working to foster a better understanding among funders about the dynamics of racism. (Chronicle, 1/21)

– The Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy partnered to release the Disaster Philanthropy Playbook, a comprehensive resource to help philanthropy respond to future disasters.

THIS WEEK IN EDUCATION
– Maryland saw a record high of close to 880,000 students this school year – a 5,000 student increase from the previous school year. Most of the surge in student enrollment was in Montgomery, Howard, Baltimore, Prince George’s, and Anne Arundel counties. (WaPo, 1/ 20)

 Recommendations to close or consolidate several schools in Prince George’s County have brought members of the community together to oppose the possible changes. (WaPo, 1/17)

THIS WEEK IN THE WRAG COMMUNITY
Do you want to celebrate the fact that you are already a part of the “IN” crowd and encourage others, too? You’re already a change agent in the region, right? Now let’s celebrate that. In keeping with the theme of WRAG’s 2015 Annual Meeting, “Philanthropy All In,” where we shared the ways we sought to INfluence, INnovate, and INspire in 2015, we’d like to see how you plan to carry on that theme in the new year and beyond. Take a selfie, group photo, or get creative showing off the buttons we gave out at the annual meeting. Be sure to share where you wore it and how others reacted. Tweet us @WRAGtweets and use the hashtag #theINcrowd to join us in celebrating each other’s work! Check out how WRAG’s staff is already getting IN on the action:

Don’t have a button, but want to get INvolved? Ask for one the next time you see a member of WRAG’s staff at a meeting or event!


 

WRAG’S COMMUNITY CALENDAR
Click the image below to access WRAG’S Community Calendar. To have your event included, please send basic information including event title, date/time, location, a brief description of the event, and a link for further details to: myers@washingtongrantmakers.org.


Calendar won’t display? Click here.


Bei Bei recently made his first public appearance. See how much you know about pandas in honor of the occasion.

– Ciara

There is no post racial America. Does philanthropy know?

PHILANTHROPY
As we celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this week, it’s easy to think of the country as a dramatically different place than it was in the 1960s. In an op-ed in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Tamara Lucas Copeland challenges the notion of a postracial America and explains why WRAG is working to foster a better understanding among funders about the dynamics of racism. (Chronicle, 1/21)

[P]hilanthropy’s commitment to aiding the poor continues today, through efforts to improve access to quality education, health care, and housing. Many donors and foundations consider work on such programs vital to attacking the root causes of inequity in America. They believe that if we keep focusing on financing ideas we know work, soon we will reduce the problems for both blacks and whites and eliminate all disparities.

But a growing number of grant makers in Washington have decided it’s important to challenge this notion, to recognize that the distinct, negative treatment of a group of people based solely on race is a major contributor to poverty and inequality in America. We believe that racism is rarely acknowledged or discussed by members of the public or within philanthropy. And we believe that until that silence ends, our region, and our country, won’t be able to take the steps needed to end racial inequities.

To learn more about Putting Racism on the Table, WRAG’s learning series for philanthropic CEOs and trustees, click here.

– The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)  is taking nominations for foundations for their 2016 NCRP Impact Awards. You can nominate up to 10 foundations that demonstrate exemplary grantmaking, leadership in funding social change strategies, and commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity.

HEALTH/FOOD | Grantmakers in Health shares policy options and recommendations that recently came out of a meeting of experts, funders, and health practitioners on the ways to support healthier eating policies – particularly around sugar-sweetened beverages that are disproportionately consumed by low-income individuals and ethnic minorities. (GIH, 1/19)

EDUCATION | According to new data, Maryland saw a record high of close to 880,000 students this school year – a 5,000 student increase from the previous school year. Most of the surge has taken place in Montgomery, Howard, Baltimore, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties. (WaPo, 1/ 20)

ARTS | With government-commissioned street art being a relatively new thing in the District, Washingtonian offers a glimpse at five D.C. street artists whose work has popped up throughout the area. (Washingtonian, 1/19) Some readers might recognize the work of Kelly Towles, the artist who created the centerpieces for WRAG’s 2011 annual meeting.

TRANSIT/INEQUALITY | Yet More Evidence That Bike-Share Isn’t Reaching the Poor (City Lab, 1/19)


Have you experienced a void in your life ever since the popular television series ‘Friends’ went off the air? Someone developed a computer program that can write new episodes…for better or for worse.

– Ciara

Business and Philanthropy: A partnership whose time has come

by Tamara Copeland
President
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Last week, Bob Buchanan, principal of Buchanan Partners, a real estate development company, and president of the 2030 Group, an association of business leaders focused on regional issues and solutions, came to speak to WRAG member CEOs as part of our CEO Coffee and Conversation series. He was invited after he and Dr. Stephen Fuller (of the Center for Regional Analysis, George Mason University) called for a regional economic summit.  They suggested that, because the backbone of our region’s economy has been the federal government and that given the changes in our region’s relationship to this hometown employer, we must create a new regional economic reality.  They also underscored the fact that this isn’t a situation to be addressed solely by the District of Columbia or Fairfax, VA, or any other jurisdiction in our region, but a regional problem that should be examined as a whole and addressed by regional leaders using a broad lens and a long-range view.

I invited Bob to speak because, surprisingly, they hadn’t viewed philanthropy as one of the sectors to call to the planning table until I reached out. When asked why philanthropy wasn’t included, Bob responded, “business leaders go to those who can move the needle.”

What a wake up call!  Clearly, philanthropy wasn’t viewed as a change agent.

For years, I have thought that philanthropy doesn’t do enough to highlight the role that it plays in social change. That’s why we produced Beyond Dollars in 2009, featured Philanthropy Factoids in the Daily WRAG throughout 2011, and updated Beyond Dollars with a progress report in 2013. We wanted to showcase all that philanthropy does to improve people’s lives.  Unfortunately, that message hasn’t reached the business community, and part of that responsibility lies with us.  When I look back over the speakers that WRAG has presented over the last decade, I can’t find one business leader who isn’t also a philanthropist.  Until the conversation with Bob Buchanan, WRAG had not invited a business leader to present his or her ideas to philanthropy. We had not explored with business shared views and values toward possible shared action. In retrospect, wow.

So, WRAG is working to change that.  Bob Buchanan underscored the altruistic role that funders can play. He noted that when he speaks up for a particular need, he is often lumped in the category of “greedy developer” just trying to make his project work. Often, yes, he is trying to make a project happen, but it is a project that can improve the lives of many who live in a specific community.  His business identity often obscures the fact that he wants to turn a profit and improve the community.  He challenged the funding community to:

  • Consider how they are perceived as only helping the “un-” and “under-” members of the community. He acknowledged that funders are trying to improve the lives of all who live in a community and that when the “un”served or “under”served are helped, all community members are helped. He feels that the business community doesn’t see the role of philanthropy as helping everybody;
  • Look at how they might support start-up businesses that can improve the viability of communities just as they support start up/innovative, new social profit organizations; and
  • Make financial investments with their assets, not just grants.

He believes that elected officials charged with serving their discrete constituencies and limited by a relatively brief time in office can’t be the sole partners of business, particularly in pursuit of a new regional economic dynamic. He wants philanthropy to play a role.  Now we must determine what that role should be.

MCPS Superintendent to step down

EDUCATION
Montgomery County Public Schools will soon have a new leader as the current superintendent, Joshua P. Starr, will step down as head of Maryland’s largest school system next month (WaPo, 2/3):

Starr’s tenure also included the revelation that a majority of 30,000 high school students in the high-performing district failed their final exams in key math courses in 2013, a problem that has stymied school officials. The district also has been criticized for its handling of allegations of sexual abuses at county schools. Starr also drew public concern after he shelved a popular proposal to change high school bell times, leading the school board to ask him to come up with low-cost options.

[..]

Starr’s departure leaves the well-regarded school system without a leader at a time of surging enrollment, budget strain and changing academic standards. It also leaves many parents and advocates asking: If Starr was not the answer, what is the system looking for?

– Researchers from Duke University found that access to high-quality early childhood education programs can significantly reduce the number of students who need special education programs by the third grade, which can translate into significant special education savings for the U.S. Typically, special education programs cost around double that of regular classroom education. (WaPo, 2/3)

– Closing Education Gap Will Lift Economy, a Study Finds (NYT, 2/2)

– Capital One, in partnership with the Center for NYC Affairs, has produced a FAFSA resource guide, intended to provide in-depth, tactical support to low-income students and the adults who help them in managing through the most common hurdles to the FAFSA. The resource guide can be accessed here.

FOOD | Are you a D.C. resident? Ready to roll up your sleeves and improve food security in the city? Applications are being accepted for the District’s first Food Policy Council and the city is seeking diverse representation to make it work. There’s been a flurry of legislation in D.C. in recent years on issues like improving healthy food options for the District’s youngest residents, urban agriculture, and more. A good summary can be accessed here.

Related: For more background on what’s happening in our regional food system, check out Washington Regional Food Funders’ recently released policy brief.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | As part of their 12-part thought leadership series sponsored by Enterprise Community Partners and authored by Dr. Lisa Sturtevant from the National Housing Conference, HAND offers their second installment of Matters@HAND – this time focusing on new housing construction in the region, and the direction it should go in 2015. (Helping Hands Blog, 2/2)

YOUTH/POVERTYOpinion: In response to the national debate regarding “free-range parenting,” Judith Sandalow of The Children’s Law Center offers her thoughts on how we view child neglect and how we can prevent children and families from getting to that point. She argues that the answer may lie in putting more support in place for the struggling families who are most likely to be swept up into the child welfare system by investing in programs such as Head Start, affordable housing, quality day care and more. (WaPo, 1/30)

MARYLAND | Maryland has established its first Latino legislative caucus made up of officials from Anne Arundel, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties who will advocate for issues affecting one of the state’s fastest growing populations. (WaPo, 2/2)

CSR | The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce is now accepting applications for their 2015 Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Awards. The awards honor individuals, businesses and non-profits for above-and-beyond business leadership, employee engagement, and corporate social responsibility. To find out more and to apply, click here.

NONPROFITS
– Nonprofit Finance Fund is conducting its seventh annual nationwide survey examining the current state of the nonprofit sector. The anonymous nonprofit survey gathers data on challenges and emerging trends in the nonprofit sector. The survey will close on Wednesday, February 18.

– Nonprofits and Government Agencies React to Obama’s Proposed Budget (Chronicle, 2/2)


Maryland’s state flag isn’t just a symbol…it’s also a fashion statement!

– Ciara