Unpacking the carry-on bag of bias: My reflections on WRAG’s “Responding to Comments that are Implicitly Biased: Guidance for African-Americans” training

By Manon P. Matchett
Community Investment Officer, Strategic Initiatives
The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region

I love curbside check-in at the airport. I welcome the opportunity to hand my luggage to someone else and not worry about it. I gladly tip the Skycap for the freedom to easily clear security and maneuver without the extra weight.

WRAG’s recent training, “Responding to Comments that are Implicitly/Unconsciously Biased: Guidance for African-Americans,” was a curbside check-in experience for me. When traveling into the unknown, it is comforting to travel with people you know and trust. The excitement is engaging with people you do not know.

Before we took off, our co-pilots, Robin Gerald, a consultant with White Men as Full Diversity Partners, and Pollie Massey, CEO of OMS Consulting and Training, provided us with an overview of the flight plan – a reminder of our rich history, significant contributions to building this great nation, and the struggles we continue to overcome. I was prepped for some turbulence but assured that in less than 180 minutes, I would land safely.

I booked a ticket on this flight because the title and narrative arrested a portion of my soul that is hurting. This session unpacked pains that I consciously wear and pains that are wearing me. They are my carry-on bag – sheltering my vulnerabilities and fears. I cope and survive by placing these pains in my own three-ounce containers. I left this session lighter because I can better trust myself to do what is best for me – not the situation or those involved.

When I deplane, I quickly descend to baggage claim to make sure no one walks away with my luggage. I wish it were that easy when discussing race and equity. I always feel like these are bags that never get lost. They belong to me. They have my name on it.

I can accept (even though I do not like) that racial insensitivity is luggage that may never get rerouted to another plane. It is the invisible noose that suffocates my very existence. It is a shadow on wheels that follows me even into the darkness. What I can do is choose not to let it weigh me down. I can choose not to internalize it to the point that it is detrimental to my own well-being. I have been challenged to fly higher with purpose and thoughtful intent.

Kudos to WRAG and other philanthropic entities who are making a conscientious effort to treat the causes and not just the symptoms of racial injustice.

The journey continues…


Responding to Comments that are Implicitly/Unconsciously Biased: Guidance for African-Americans was held as part of Putting Racism on the Table: The Training Series for the local philanthropic community. You can learn more about WRAG’s ongoing work around racism and racial equity at www.puttingracismonthetable.org.

New data show how life expectancy varies across the region

HEALTH/EQUITY | The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center on Society and Health have released a new map showing wide variations in life expectancy for babies born in different areas of the Greater Washington region. The map shows that opportunities to be as healthy as possible vary by neighborhood.

The aim of these maps is to serve as a resource—raising awareness of factors that shape health and spurring discussion and action on a complex web of factors that influence health. In this case, the average life expectancy in the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County is 78 years – 8 years shorter than for babies born in either Arlington or Fairfax Counties.

Related: Next month, Dr. Steven Woolf, head of the Center on Society and Health at VCU, will present as part of WRAG’s 2016 Brightest Minds series. Join us to learn more about the social and economic factors that influence health and contribute to wide disparities in life expectancy across our region. This event is open to the public. Find out more and register here.

COMMUNITY | The University of Maryland has announced a $75 million initiative to support student philanthropy work called the “Do Good Institute”, which will build on the work of formerly named UMD’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership and be run through the public policy school.  The goal of this new effort is to establish the University of Maryland as a global leader in advancing social change, philanthropy and nonprofit leadership. (WaPo, 9/22) UMD’s Do Good Institute is WRAG’s long-time partner on the Philanthropy Fellows program, through which over 50 students have gained experience in philanthropy and learned about the region at over 30 WRAG member organizations.

Related: WRAG is excited to welcome the 2016-2017 Philanthropy Fellows! Six students from the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute are working with five WRAG members this year, on a variety of projects from grants administration and communications, to development and public policy initiatives. (Daily, 9/26)

HOUSING/HOMELESSNESS
– DC has finalized the second annual youth homeless census, a nine-day push to count residents under 25 who don’t have permanent housing. (City Paper, 9/23)

 – D.C. Kicks Off $13 Million Affordable Housing Renovation in Ward 4 (City Paper, 9/23)

EDUCATION | As kindergarten ratchets up academics, parents feel the stress (WaPo, 9/25)

PHILANTHROPYPutting Data About Nonprofits to Work for Good (Chronicle, 9/23)


As we gear up for the first Presidential Debate tonight, it’s worth noting that Americans are quick to ask if candidates are giving enough, but they don’t follow up on how the money is being used – Buffy

 

Introducing the 2016-2017 Philanthropy Fellows

(Top Row: Anisha Boucher, Anne Wagner, Catie Oidtman; Bottom Row: Delisha Thompson, Kevin Donnelly, Nicole Rodriguez)

The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers is excited to welcome the 2016-2017 Philanthropy Fellows! Six students from the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute (formerly known as the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership) are working at five WRAG member organizations this year:

  • Anisha Boucher is supporting communications and development with Amina Anderson at the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.
  • Anne Wagner is  supporting the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region’s Safety Net Initiative and grantmaking programs with Silvana Straw.
  • Catie Oidtman is working on grants administration and the Healthcare Initiative Foundation Scholars program with Crystal Townsend at HIF for a second year.
  • Delisha Thompson is a public policy fellow working with Maggie Osborn at the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.
  • Kevin Donnelly is supporting donor services and grants administration at the Community Foundation in Montgomery County, working with Bridget Hanagan.
  • Nicole Rodriguez is working with Tanya Edelin and the Community Benefit department at Kaiser Permanente.

These students are gaining valuable professional experience in philanthropy, making new connections in the community, and bringing fresh ideas and energy to their host organizations. To learn more about each fellow, click here. Check out our website to learn more about WRAG’s Philanthropy Fellows program.

Shining a light on need in Loudoun County

Editor’s note: WRAG’s staff are heading next week to Indianapolis, to attend the Forum of Regional Association of Grantmakers’ annual conference. The Daily will return on Tuesday, July 26. Stay cool!


COMMUNITY | Next year, the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties will launch a community awareness campaign to raise the profile of poverty in Loudoun and encourage residents to support local nonprofit organizations that serve their neighbors in need. (Loudoun Now, 7/14)

Leading up to the campaign’s launch in March of 2017, nonprofit leaders will hold focus groups to identify how best to let the public know what local charities exist and what services they provide.

America Gives’ most recent report shows that, in 2012, Loudoun County residents donated, on average, 1.98 percent of their discretionary income to charities. That’s well below neighboring jurisdictions.

“This is a chance to change people’s knowledge and behavior toward nonprofits in Loudoun County,” said Caroline Toye, associate director of Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties. “We want to empower residents to be engaged, however they want to, whether through volunteering, serving on a board or donating.”

The campaign grew out of WRAG’s 2015 Loudoun County Philanthropy Conference, and additional funding has been provided by the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Area, and the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.

Related: WRAG’s Katy Moore and Amy Owen, executive director of the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties, take a closer look at poverty in Loudoun County – a place typically portrayed as having great wealth –  and explain the need for this campaign. (Daily, 7/15)

LGBTQ | The Fairfax County School Board is considering regulations to safeguard the rights of transgender students that would ensure access to restrooms that align with their gender identity, and require teachers to use students’ preferred pronouns. (WaPo, 7/15)

HOUSING
– Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett says he is committed to increasing the supply of affordable housing for seniors in the county, a population that is growing rapidly. (Bethesda Beat, 7/13)

Nonprofit seeks to revitalize Anacostia one blighted house at a time (WaPo, 7/7)

RACISM | Scientists are trying many different experiments to try to counteract implicit bias. Most interventions, but not all, haven’t been shown to be very effective. (Atlantic, 7/14)

RFP | EventsDC is accepting grant proposals from nonprofits supporting children through sports, performing arts, or cultural arts in the District of Columbia. More information is available here.

PHILANTHROPY | Opinion: Think Giving to Groups That Support Nonprofits Is a Waste? You’re Wrong. (Chronicle, 7/6)


Jobs

Administrative Assistant | Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
Philanthropic Services Associate | The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region
Grants Manager | The Norman & Ruth Rales Foundation
Senior Communication Consultant | Kaiser Permanente

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


Note to self: When in the woods, always look inside your car before opening the door.

– Rebekah

Some question expansion as summer youth jobs program begins

WORKFORCE/REGION
D.C.’s summer youth jobs program kicks off with 12,000 participants, including those who were made eligible due to the city raising the age limit from 21 to 24 in 2015. Meanwhile, officials grapple over data proving whether or not the age increase has proven to be a financially feasible move. (WaPo, 6/26)

If the program can’t prove that it helps its oldest participants find jobs that last beyond the summer, it stands to lose the millions of dollars needed to maintain the expansion that began last summer.

[…]

Unemployment rates for D.C. residents between age 20 and 24 are almost double the average rate in the city and even higher for young black people. About 1,000 men and women between the ages of 22 and 24 were accepted to the 2016 program, the maximum number allowed.

But the additional funding came with stipulations. The council agreed to permanently expand funding for the new age division only if the program could show that at least 35 percent of the 22-to-24-year-olds had full-time jobs after they completed the six-week program.

– Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld to eliminate 500 jobs (WaPo, 6/27)

HIV/AIDS | An interactive map providing a visualization of new HIV cases across the District has been released along with a new report by AIDSVu. The data used come from the city and the CDC, and show that D.C.’s ward 7 was hit the hardest with new HIV cases. (DCist, 6/23)

Related: Washington AIDS Partnership is at the forefront of efforts to “end HIV” in the city with a new program connecting black heterosexual women (the second-highest group of new HIV infections) to pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, and the soon-to-be released “90/90/90/50 by 2020” plan. (Daily, 6/20)

POVERTY/DISTRICT | WAMU presents a series exploring poverty this week, focusing today on the Greater Washington region and the underlying challenges its many social profit organizations face in aiding the poor. Residents and local leaders chime in on this interview, including president and CEO of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region Bruce McNamer, to discuss obstacles to combating poverty. (WAMU, 6/27)

EDUCATION | The D.C. government recently appealed a May ruling by the federal court that said the city is “providing inadequate services to young children with special needs who have yet to enter the school system.” (WaPo, 6/24)

COMMUNITY/REGION | Not far from the Greater Washington region, nearly 44 of West Virginia’s 55 counties have recently been hit hard by massive flooding. WRAG colleague organization Philanthropy West Virginia shares flood recovery response resources for those wishing to provide assistance.

LGBT | Gay Marriage in the United States, One Year Later (Atlantic, 6/26)

EQUITY | Many organizations and institutions are focusing their efforts around equity, but are they approaching equity…equitably? This blog post explores “meta-equity” and offers some suggestions for getting it right. (NWB, 6/27)


How much do you think it would cost to Uber across the country? This Fairfax filmmaker is about to find out

– Ciara

HUD proposes changes to federal housing vouchers in major markets

HOUSING/EQUITY
The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently shared a proposed new rule that would adjust the maximum value of federal housing vouchers in several markets in order to account for variations in what it costs to live in certain neighborhoods (WaPo, 6/17):

Instead of setting “fair market rent” standards at the metropolitan level, in about 30 major metros including Washington, New York and Chicago, HUD will set them by ZIP code instead. That shift will mean significant change for a program that serves 2.2 million households, more than live in public housing projects.

The policy is designed to enable low-income families to use their housing aid to move to neighborhoods with less poverty, lower crime and better schools — an opportunity that research has shown can boost prospects for poor kids. Until now, the voucher program that was supposed to give families a chance to move out of deeply poor housing projects has largely concentrated them instead in deeply poor neighborhoods. In cities such as the District, a voucher just isn’t worth enough to afford entry into truly “high opportunity” places.

–  A radical idea to compensate black homeowners harmed by racial bias (WaPo, 6/17)

WRAG/WRAG COMMUNITY
– WRAG’s summer intern Hudson Kaplan-Allen reflects on the key takeaways from the first session of WRAG’s 2016 Nonprofit Summer Learning Series, “Dos and Don’ts of Working with Grantmakers,” and the importance of cultivating authentic relationships among funders and grantees. The event featured keynote speaker Rick Moyers of the The Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, and panelists Julia Baer-Cooper, consultant with the England Family Foundation and Prince Charitable Trusts, Ben Murphy of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and Tracye Funn of Washington Gas. (Daily, 6/21)

– Daniel Solomon of the Naomi & Nehemiah Cohen Foundation will be leading DC Vote as the interim executive director. Solomon is a founder and board member of the organization.

EDUCATION/DISTRICT | Neurological research on child brain development following traumatic experiences has inspired some educators to rethink past approaches to zero-tolerance discipline. Schools in the District are investing in better strategies to help students overcome persistent stress. (WaPo, 6/18)

VIRGINIAMeasure to improve police trust, transparency up for vote in Fairfax (WaPo, 6/21)


A glimpse at public libraries across the country.

– Ciara

Authentic relationships are key to fundraising success

by Hudson Kaplan-Allen 
WRAG’s 2016 Summer Intern

How important is it for funders and grantees to have authentic relationships? Very important, according to the “Dos and Don’ts of Working with Grantmakers,” the first session of WRAG’s 2016 Nonprofit Summer Learning Series. Keynote speaker Rick Moyers of the Meyer Foundation, and panelists Julia Baer-Cooper, consultant with the England Family Foundation and Prince Charitable Trusts, Ben Murphy of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and Tracye Funn of Washington Gas shared advice ranging from how to initiate a partnership with a grantmaker to how to craft an effective proposal.

Nonprofits often view funders as if they were an ATM machine, trying to figure out the right pin, Moyers said. It is a game of cracking the code with the hope that the prize will be a blank check. Fifteen years ago, Moyers was an eager nonprofit leader looking to increase support from his biggest funder. Moyers found himself at a reception with the executive director of the foundation. His first instinct was to approach the E.D. and get straight to the point – and that is exactly what he did. Fast forward to the present, Moyers has, on occasion, found himself in his former funder’s shoes. Interactions like these are never authentic. Conversations should not be about a transaction, but about cultivating a common vision for the future. It’s important, too, to be a good listener.

Moyers and others addressed the question that every nonprofit leader has contemplated: what is the most common reason grant requests get turned down? Funn responded that if a funder truly believes in a program, they will find the money or try to connect the applicant with another potential funder. Murphy pointed out that if there is a great project hidden behind a poor proposal, it deserves a chance. Baer-Cooper noted that requests are frequently turned down by small family foundations because they don’t have enough resources to fund everything that comes their way.

Participants asked about strategies and practices for approaching grantmakers. Nonprofits should have an idea of what the foundation is looking for, the panelists said. No one wants to receive a generic cookie-cutter email. It’s frustrating to sit down with someone who hasn’t done his or her homework.

Moyers concluded where he began, with a discussion of authentic relationships between funders and grantees. To Murphy, authenticity is about reaching a point in the relationship where he and his grantees can have honest conversations and work hand-in-hand to effectively address organizational and societal challenges. Baer-Cooper defines authenticity as transparency and honesty. Funn emphasized the importance of being true to your values. “Don’t change who you are, just bring me into your world,” she said. Ultimately, programs that connect authentically are the ones that will succeed.


To learn more about the 2016 Nonprofit Summer Learning Series, please check out our recent announcement in The Daily WRAG. To register for the next two events in the series (July 14 and August 19), please visit WRAG’s online event calendar.