How the region is addressing its affordable housing needs

– According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, DC, Maryland and Virginia would need to add 350,000 housing units to meet its affordable-housing needs. The Greater Washington region is taking steps to address this issue, including funding more government programs and growing partnerships between the private and nonprofit sector. (WAMU, 10/24)

Some say there are other solutions that could nibble away at the problem, like updating zoning to accommodate denser, taller development in neighborhoods dominated by single-family homes. Dense construction is more cost-effective, and it could help satisfy demand, thereby lowering housing prices. But densification is no easy fix: It tends to set off local resistance — often called NIMBYism — among residents who fear increased traffic, noise or changes to neighborhood “character.”

Other solutions could come from the private sector. Many for-profit entities have already embraced affordable housing. Mega-developer JBG Smith, alongside the Federal City Council, recently launched the Washington Housing Initiative, with a goal to support construction of “workforce housing,” or homes priced for local families earning between $70,000 and $117,200.

– Tenants, landlords and advocates push back against three recent bills meant to address the process of evictions in DC. (Street Sense Media, 10/18)

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT | Prince George’s approves public finance system for local candidates (WaPo, 10/24)

TRANSPORTATION | The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is considering expanding parking fees at Metro stations. (WAMU, 10/23)

ENVIRONMENT | Prince William County is building a solar farm, which will be the largest one in the region. (Prince William Times, 10/23)

DISABILITY | The US’s first signing Starbucks opened on H Street this weekend. Check out the space here. (DCist, 10/23)

CHILDREN AND YOUTHThe Towns Where Trick-or-Treaters May Run Afoul of the Law (Citylab, 10/24)

Have you been watching Gaithersburg resident and Blair High School graduate Erik Agard compete on Jeopardy this week?

– Kendra

When will philanthropy focus on child welfare?

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers 

Soon WRAG will release our annual giving report, Our Region, Our Giving.* When you see the data, you will note that giving in education tops the lists of areas in which the local philanthropic community invested in 2017. No surprise there. Health and education have jockeyed back and forth for the top two categories for many years. This year 80% of the respondents reported giving in the area of “children, youth and families.”

When WRAG members describe their “children, youth and families” giving, we typically hear about summer and out-of-school time programs, mentoring, youth employment, efforts to develop youth into contributing members of our community – that kind of work. For me, there is always a significant area of need missing: child welfare.

Between college and grad school, I worked for the Richmond Department of Welfare, first determining eligibility for food stamps (a story for another time, perhaps) and then as a foster care caseworker. At the time, the Department only required a college degree. Mine was in sociology, but it could just as well have been in math or in geology. I had no training in interpersonal relations, child development, familial patterns, or anything that would truly prepare me to serve the 30 children on my caseload, their biological parents, and their foster parents. I was also not much older than these kids, being barely out of my teen years myself. So, no academic education, no professional training, and no real life experiences, but I was expected to provide quality care, to determine when reunification was appropriate (how would I know?), and to ensure that the foster home environment was meeting these children’s needs.

Today, the qualifications for social workers and caseworkers in child welfare are far more rigorous, calling for knowledge of principles and practices of social work, basic knowledge of child welfare, knowledge of related psychiatric and psychological practices, and an array of skill sets that would suggest a much-heightened ability to meet the needs of the children. That is good. But even with these skills, we are still seeing outcomes that I find disturbing. According to multiple sources, both academic and government, there are currently close to 450,000 children in foster care in the U.S. The number has increased every year since 2012, some say due to the opioid epidemic.

There is good news for some kids in foster care. They return to their biological families after their situations have stabilized, or they are adopted. But for those who age out of foster care (at 18 or 21, depending on the state), the outcomes aren’t as positive. According to the Chapin Hall Center on Children at the University of Chicago, within one year of aging out of foster care, 24 percent are homeless and 50 percent are in prison within two years. An ABC News story from a few years ago noted that 25 percent of the then-imprisoned population had been in foster care. And, think about it, when was the last time that you heard the term “foster care,” read an article about it, or had it brought up in a professional setting?

Children in foster care are essentially invisible to many in the philanthropic world. There are, of course, exceptions, but largely philanthropy does not focus on meeting the needs of these young people, nor do they investigate the systems that serve them, or focus on their outcomes once they leave the system. At the most important stages of their development, for these children who have experienced some type of trauma, we are blind to them and their needs. Our eyes only open once they become homeless, unemployed, or are in prison.

A few years ago, WRAG started talking about a topic that was invisible to many – race and equity. Child welfare is another such topic, invisible, but fully undergirded by the systemic realities of race and racism. Fifty-six percent of children in foster care in the US are either children of color or children whose race or ethnicity is unknown. That basic statistic only opens the door. What are the cultural or systemic issues that have led to their entrance into the system or led to the conditions encountered  by their families? Who decides what circumstances lead to foster care? Who decides how adoption is promoted and who is allowed to adopt what children? Like every system and structure in our country, race is a factor. Child welfare is just another one of those systems. Who will elevate that conversation?

The Giving Report will be available on November 6th at WRAG’s Annual Meeting.

What happens to those with disabilities if we pass a plastic straw ban?

ENVIRONMENT | As the movement to ban plastic straws in order to protect animals and the environment has gained more supporters this year, people living with disabilities who need plastic straws say this ban will cause them harm. (WAMU, 7/11)

There are many alternatives to plastic straws — paper, biodegradable plastics and even reusable straws made from metal or silicone. But paper straws and similar biodegradable options often fall apart too quickly or are easy for people with limited jaw control to bite through. Silicone straws are often not flexible — one of the most important features for people with mobility challenges. Reusable straws need to be washed, which not all people with disabilities can do easily. And metal straws, which conduct heat and cold in addition to being hard and inflexible, can pose a safety risk.

“Disabled people have to find ways to navigate through the world because they know it was not made for us,” says Lei Wiley-Mydske, an autism activist who has autism herself. “If someone says, ‘This does not work for me,’ it’s because they’ve tried everything else.”

NONPROFITS | Sean Herpolsheimer, WRAG’s 2018 Summer Fellow, recaps the second session of WRAG’s Nonprofit Summer Learning Series and shares how nonprofits can enact innovative systems change and what motivates funders to partner with nonprofits. (Daily, 7/19)

Related: Join us for the August 8th session of the Nonprofit Summer Learning Series on philanthropy’s interest in racial equity and what it means for the nonprofit community. Register here!

CHILDREN & YOUTH |Opinion: The ‘War on Poverty’ Isn’t Over, and Kids Are Losing (Citylab, 7/18)

PUBLIC SAFETY | At a recent hearing, residents in the District’s Deanwood neighborhood discuss the police harassment and violence they endure and ask the DC Council for concrete solutions. (WCP, 7/19)

EDUCATION | A Virginia school board has voted to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons. (WaPo, 7/18)

BUSINESS‘Amazon Doesn’t Need The Money’: In The D.C. Region, Resistance Is Growing To Tax Breaks For HQ2 (WAMU, 7/19)

Here’s a very important quiz to take before you get on a plane.

– Kendra

Ending homelessness in Arlington County began with a “Housing First” approach

HOMELESSNESS | Almost ten years ago, Arlington County, VA launched its “Housing First” initiative, which is a strategy to end homelessness by prioritizing finding permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness before helping them with any other issues they may have. The county has been able to greatly reduce its homeless population but now officials are considering next steps. (Arlington Magazine, 10/30)

The face of homelessness in Arlington isn’t necessarily the panhandler on the corner. It could be the woman making your sandwich at the deli, or the parents cheering their kid in the high school gym.

In a county of luxury high-rises, million-dollar homes and stratospheric average incomes, some people are left out of the jet stream of success. Often it is because of mental illness, immigration troubles or domestic abuse. Other times it stems from sudden job loss, mounting medical bills, alcohol or drug addiction, or the aftershocks of childhoods that started with homelessness and came full circle.

Big Gains In Latino Health Coverage Poised To Slip During Chaotic Enrollment Season (Kaiser Health News, 10/30)

– The administration’s commission on the opioid crisis has released its final recommendations to combat the epidemic. (NYT, 11/1)

ENVIRONMENT | The District’s tree population is distributed unevenly across the city, but some organizations are working to change this. (WAMU, 11/1)

CHILDREN & YOUTH | The Urban Institute has released its annual Kids’ Share report analyzing how much the federal government spends on children. (Urban Institute, 10/31)

ECONOMY | Will the US be able to recover from the next recession? (Citylab, 10/31)

Social Sector Job Openings 

Program Manager | Washington Area Women’s Foundation – New!
Assistant Director of Digital Marketing & Communications | The Children’s Inn at NIH – New!
Program Director, Washington, DC Community | Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation – New!
Program Director, Virginia Community | Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation – New!
Senior Director, Strategy and Racial Equity | Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation – New!
Vice President, Program and Community | Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation – New!
Communications Coordinator | Calvary Women’s Services
Controller | Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation
Program Director | Grantmakers In Health
Sr. Manager, Corporate Relations | Exelon
Program Coordinator | Exponent Philanthropy
Content Manager | Exponent Philanthropy
Communications Manager | United Philanthropy Forum

Hiring? Post your job on WRAG’s job board and get it included in the Daily! Free for members; $60/60 days for non-members. Details here.

Community Calendar

To add an event to WRAG’s community calendar, email Rebekah Seder. Click the image below to access the calendar.

The Daily will be back on Monday!

Here’s a kaleidoscope on your computer screen. 

– Kendra

How the Thriving Germantown initiative is supporting a low-income community in Montgomery County

MARYLAND/POVERTY | Many of the students at Daly Elementary School in Germantown, Maryland are from low-income families of color. The school staff strives to meet the students needs outside of education but often aren’t able. After learning of the community, Crystal Townsend, WRAG board member and president of the Healthcare Initiative Foundation, stepped in with help from other organizations to offer additional resources through the Thriving Germantown initiative. (Bethesda Magazine, 10/24)

“There isn’t an anchor nonprofit in Germantown, and there isn’t a municipality, but here we have the fastest-growing population and poverty rate in the county,” said HIF president Crystal Carr Townsend, who has spent much of her career overseeing social service programs. “How do you make headway on this? How do you catch this tide before Daly becomes a 90-percent FARMS school?”

With support from several funders, Family Service Inc. operates the Thriving Germantown Community HUB, designed to help Germantown families connect to health care, early child care, food assistance, workforce development, ESOL classes and more. The focal point is Daly: Each school year, families with a child in pre-Kindergarten or kindergarten will be eligible to enroll in the program, and by the end of the pilot the entire Daly community will have the option to participate, says Townsend.

IMMIGRATIONWill Central Americans, Haitians ‘Protected’ by U.S. Be Sent Home? (NBC News, 10/23)

– A new urban farm in the District’s ward 7 community will grow food and teach residents interested in selling their own food how to start their own businesses. (NextCity, 10/24)

– Four prominent chefs discuss the challenges they face as queer women in the food industry. (CivilEats, 10/24)

CHILDREN & YOUTH | The DC Policy Center has released a new report, Needs Assessment of Out-of-School Time Programs in the District of Columbia, that explores how the District’s out-of-school time programs are meeting the needs of youth across the city. (DC Policy Center, 10/24)

HEALTH CAREHotly Contested Proposal On Prescription Drug Prices Could End Up Before D.C. Voters (WAMU, 11/24)

This graphic artist is telling the lesser known stories of the District through comic form.

– Kendra

What will happen to the District’s Chinatown residents?

GENTRIFICATION | In 2013, a filmmaker documented the plight of Chinese senior citizens living in an apartment building in DC’s rapidly changing Chinatown. Four years later, the small population of Chinese residents left are in danger of losing their homes. (GGWash, 6/19)

A lot of senior citizens in Chinatown live in apartment buildings called the Wah Luck House and Museum Square. Most of the seniors are on fixed incomes, use Section 8 vouchers, and most have a limited ability to speak, read, and write English. Also, none has any intention of leaving, even as the owners of their buildings threaten to demolish their homes and replace them with luxury condos and commercial development. Residents are often unaware of things like neighborhood meetings, and language barriers prevent many from participating.

HOUSING AFFORDABILITYOur Region, Your Investment, a joint initiative between WRAG and Enterprise Community Loan Fund that has raised nearly $12 million in impact investments to date, has financed its fifth affordable housing deal, which will preserve the affordability of 202 homes in Wards 7 and 8 in the District.

Gretchen Greiner-Lott, WRAG’s vice president says, “WRAG is very excited about the success and impact that Our Region, Your Investment is having on housing affordability in our region. Check out this update and read about the five projects that have been supported by investments made thus far.”

RACIAL EQUITY | Did you miss our event, Reimagining Racial Equity through Participatory Grantmaking? Philip Walsh, executive director of Maine Initiatives, a public, community-based foundation focused on progressive causes, joined us to discuss their radically participatory process to connect community to grantmaking and why they believe bringing non-traditional voices to the table is critical to the success of racial justice work. Watch it here.

PHILANTHROPY | A new report finds that high net-worth donors of color are engaged in philanthropy, but aren’t visible as members of organized donor networks. (Silicon Valley Community Foundation, 6/11)

LGBTQCollecting LGBT Census Data Is ‘Essential’ To Federal Agency, Document Shows (NPR, 6/20)

LITERACY | An Anacostia radio station is trying to bring a bookstore east of the river, where there are none. (DCist, 6/19)

CHILDREN & YOUTH | This nonprofit is providing packs of personal items to children and youth in the Greater Washington area who are either entering or leaving foster care. (WBJ, 6/19)

EDUCATION | Teachers at the District’s Cesar Chavez Prep Middle School have voted to unionize. (WAMU, 6/16)

In case you were wondering how Spider-Man or Wonder Woman would look if they were created with balloons

– Kendra

Ending segregation in the District’s schools could begin with pre-K

– The District of Columbia’s school system has remained stubbornly segregated for decades, with Blacks, Latinx and Whites largely attending schools with peers of their own race. With the city’s recent boom of children, administrators wonder if pre-K students can help turn the tide. (WaPo, 6/2)

Washington has one of the nation’s highest-quality preschool programs, experts say. It’s also one of the most segregated. In the 2013-14 school year, 86 percent of the city’s black pre-K students attended what experts call “racially isolated” schools where fewer than 10 percent of students are white.

Already, gentrification is bringing signs of change: White 3- and 4-year-olds represent 15 percent of pre-K students in D.C. in the current school year, up from 11 percent in 2013-14. The black and Hispanic shares dropped slightly over the same period.

– Washington area school systems are increasingly embracing multilingual learning. (WaPo, 6/5)

SOCIAL PROFITS | Tamara Copeland, WRAG’s president, ponders the lack of sabbaticals in the social profit sector and discusses the benefits of taking an extended break. Tamara will take her own sabbatical this summer. (Daily, 6/5)

ENVIRONMENTFoundations and Donors Vow to Step Up on Climate Change as U.S. Steps Back (Chronicle, 6/2 – Subscription needed)

– Maryland citizens advocate for Medicaid as Congress decides how to rework the program. (Baltimore Sun, 6/3)

– La Clínica del Pueblo Opens First LGBTQ Health Center Focused on Latinx In Maryland (WCP, 6/2)

CHILDREN/YOUTH | Teen sex trafficking is a major issue in Northern Virginia. These individuals are trying to help victims. (WTOP, 6/4)

DC’s Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has a park dedicated to her.

– Kendra