District officials are considering if attendance rule is unfair to students

EDUCATION | After WAMU and NPR reported that many of Ballou High School’s graduating class should not have passed due to truancy, DC officials have launched their own investigation to discover what happened. Now officials are scrutinizing a rule that allows teachers to mark students absent for the whole day if students miss their first class. (WaPo, 12/29)

The 80/20 rule was intended to emphasize the importance of being on campus the entire day, but the school chancellor, teachers and students testified at a recent D.C. Council education hearing that extremely low attendance rates in city schools are misleading — with the rule partly to blame.

Chancellor Antwan Wilson said the policy discourages some chronically tardy students from showing up to school. If students can’t arrive at school by the opening bell, he argued, they may deem it pointless to come at all if they are going to be considered absent for the entire day anyway.

HIV/AIDS | In an op-ed, Channing Wickham, executive director of the Washington AIDS Partnership (an initiative of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers), and Walter Smith, executive director of DC Appleseed, reflect on the progress of DC’s 90/90/90/50 Plan to end HIV and how the city can do more to achieve this goal. (WaPo, 12/22)

CHILDREN/FOSTER CARE | Sherry Lachman, founder and executive director of Foster America, discusses the need for cross-sector partnerships to make supporting children in foster care, whom she calls the youngest victims of the opioid epidemic, a priority in the US. (NYT, 12/28)

Related: A few years ago, Tamara Copeland, WRAG’s president, called for the philanthropic sector to invest more in child welfare to improve the lives of abused children and those in foster care.

PUBLIC SAFETYHomicides were down in the region, but 2017 was marked by sobering teen deaths (WaPo, 12/31)

HOUSING | The DC Department of Housing and Community Development has released proposed regulations for an almost ten-year-old law that allows the city to purchase affordable housing units that are at risk of disappearing. (WCP, 12/28)

WORKFORCE | How this Maryland community bank is helping marijuana dispensaries open and maintain their businesses. (WaPo, 1/2)

ARTS & HUMANITIES | This Saturday, the National Building Museum will be hosting 1968: Shaping the District, a free event that will mark the 50th anniversary of the year and include walking tours, photography exhibits, oral history workshops and more.

HOMELESSNESSEven during one of the year’s coldest weeks, some homeless people are refusing to come inside (WaPo, 12/29)


Can you draw these logos from memory?

– Kendra

A new documentary explores the lives of homeless individuals in the District

ARTS & HUMANITIES/HOMELESSNESS | According to a 2016 survey by the US Conference of Mayors, the District has the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the US. A new documentary will explore the struggles of some of these homeless individuals as they search for housing stability and try to maintain romantic relationships. (WaPo, 1/1)

The documentary is directed by Ariane Mohseni and Lalita Clozel, first-time filmmakers who wanted to tell the stories of men and women finding love while dealing with the challenges of homelessness.

Over the past two and a half years, Mohseni and Clozel [the filmmakers] have followed the lives of their subjects, all of whom are homeless or formerly homeless, chronicling the ebb and flow of their lives. Street Sense, the organization behind the biweekly newspaper about homelessness and poverty in the District, provided initial funding for video equipment and connected the two with people in the homelessness-focused community.

COMMUNITY | We are sad to share the news that Frederick H. Prince IV, Prince Charitable Trusts trustee, passed away during the winter holiday. Read the Trusts’ remembrance of Mr. Prince here.

RACIAL EQUITY | Katy Moore, WRAG’s Managing Director of Corporate Strategy, reflects on how her first experience of painting a black Santa inspired a deeper discussion about race with her friends. (Daily, 1/2)

CHARITABLE GIVING | Charities fear tax bill could turn philanthropy into a pursuit only for the rich (WaPo, 12/23)

HEALTH CARE | In late December, Congress passed a bill that provides funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program until March 2018. (KHN, 12/20)

HIV/AIDS | Activists and other officials react to the administration’s decision to fire the remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. Some believe this will have a deep impact on the effort to eradicate the disease. (WaPo, 12/30)

Channing Wickham, executive director of Washington AIDS Partnership, said this about the decision: “To fire the remaining members of PACHA without having new, qualified appointees lined up is deeply disappointing. We’ve never had more tools available to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but we also need the political will and adequate funding to utilize those tools. This action by the Trump administration calls both into question.”

PUBLIC SAFETYMd. police chief: Community policing is essential to fighting hate crimes (WTOP, 1/2)

FOOD INSECURITY | New research suggests that ‘food swamps’ – areas with a low number of grocery stores and a high number of fast food and other unhealthy food options – are to blame for high obesity rates. (Citylab, 12/28)

WORKFORCE | Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, discusses the importance of unions and how a “right-to-work” law would harm workers. (PND Blog, 12/18)


Happy New Year and welcome back! Have you heard about the twins that were born on New Year’s eve and day?

– Kendra

Supporting foster children that have aged out of the system

YOUTH/ HOUSING | According to a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments report on foster care, almost 250 youth aged out of the system in DC last year. While the region and government are working to provide support beyond stable housing for youth in this position, this District nonprofit is helping young mothers transitioning out of foster care. (WAMU, 8/9)

“Without permanent support, you’re more likely to see adverse outcomes like early parenting, challenges with supportive housing, involvement with the criminal justice system, and mental health issues,” said Surina Amin, child welfare program manager at the Council of Governments.

She noted that foster children are especially at risk in an era when high housing costs have created a “boomerang generation.”

“We’re seeing a prolonged transition into adulthood. We’re seeing more youth coming back and living with their parents, and financially and economically relying on family members,” she said.

PUBLIC SAFETY
– On the anniversary of the deadly Silver Spring, MD apartment fire, survivors are still dealing with the fallout. (WaPo, 8/9)

– D.C. police officer will not face criminal charges in 2016 fatal shooting of unarmed motorcyclist (WaPo, 8/9)

HIV/AIDS | Congress has revamped a federal program that provides housing assistance for people living with HIV. This has left a few states, and the District with less funding. (KHN, 8/7)

Channing Wickam, executive director of Washington AIDS Partnership, said, “Stable and affordable housing is an essential element when it comes to managing HIV. The right approach is sufficient funding for all impacted jurisdictions, not cutting some in favor of others.”

HEALTH | There’s a growing movement to increase access to menstrual products for women, especially those in prison or experiencing homelessness. (Richmond Times, 8/7)

PHILANTHROPY | Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, discusses the importance of boundaries when grant makers partner with businesses. (Chronicle, 8/9 – Subscription needed)

BUSINESSHair Salons Are Still Segregated. This DC Woman Opened a Salon and Beauty Bar to Change That (Washingtonian, 8/9)


This dinosaur species was the largest animal to walk the Earth…

– Kendra

New HIV infections in the District has decreased for the ninth year

HIV/AIDS | According to the District’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and TB Administration’s annual report, the city’s number of newly diagnosed HIV cases has decreased for the ninth year in a row. Although DC still has a very high number of residents living with HIV, the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases have decreased by 73% since 2007. (MetroWeekly, 6/27)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the news, and the release of the annual report, at a press conference at Whitman-Walker Health on Tuesday morning. The announcement coincided with National HIV Testing Day.

“For nine consecutive years, the District has been able to work together with the community to decrease the number of new HIV cases,” Mayor Bowser said. “We know we have more work to do, but this data is good news for our city and our residents. In just one decade, we have made tremendous progress, and today, our residents who are diagnosed with HIV are getting care faster and they are starting — and staying on — treatments that we know are effective.”

HOUSING AFFORDABILITY | WRAG helped to start the Housing Leaders Group of Greater Washington (HLG) to address housing affordability in the Greater Washington region three years ago. Washington Metro Marketplace Manager of Citi Community Development and WRAG Board Member Diana Meyer, who has been a champion of this work, discusses the urgent housing need in the region and how different stakeholders working together will help address the issue. (Daily, 6/28)

RACE | A report from Georgetown University law school’s Center on Poverty and Inequality found that black girls are viewed as ‘less innocent’ than white girls. (WaPo, 6/27)

DEVELOPMENT | Montgomery County policymakers have introduced a bill requiring that developers building on a burial site must establish its exact location and protect it during construction and maintain it afterwards. (WaPo, 6/27)

HEALTH | The District is closer to building the replacement hospital for United Medical Center in southeast. (WBJ, 6/27)

NONPROFITSNonprofits Have a Role to Play in Building Bridges in a Polarized World (Chronicle, 6/27 – Subscription needed)

IDENTITY
– This map shows what counties resemble what the US will look like in the future, and which ones most resembles the ethnic composition of the past. In our region, Prince George’s County will most resemble the US in 2060 and Fauquier County, VA most resembles the US’s 2004 population. (NYT, 6/22)

D.C. Issues Its First Gender-Neutral Drivers License (WAMU, 6/27)


A view of life from April.

– Kendra

HIV prevention drug awareness in DC focuses on black women

HIV/AIDS | Addressing the HIV rate in the District, which is the nation’s highest, has long been a priority for the city. Now the city has partnered with local organizations to raise awareness and increase access to a new prevention drug for the community that are the second-highest demographic at risk for HIV: black women. But with this new awareness, they are still dealing with the barriers related to accessing the drug. (StreetSense, 3/22)

Low-income Black women or those who are homeless face systemic barriers to accessing PrEP when they are HIV-negative. If they are HIV-positive, they face significant stigma surrounding HIV in society and even within the medical community.

Since PrEP requires a prescription and follow-up appointments every three months, people with unstable housing face additional challenges in trying to obtain PrEP. Simply lacking a place to store the medication is a problem.

Dr. Monica Vohra, a primary care physician at Bread for the City, noted that transportation is a large problem for adherence to PrEP by patients experiencing homelessness. “How do you get to your provider to have these follow-up visits that are pretty much required for you to be able to take the medication?” Vohra asked. “PrEP is useful if it’s taken correctly. Its efficacy really reduces if it’s not taken on a consistent basis.”

Related: The Washington AIDS Partnership launched its PrEP for Women Initiative last year to increase knowledge and use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) among women of color in the District. Channing Wickham, executive director of Washington AIDS Partnership said this about the program,”We are proud to be managing one of the largest programs helping women of color.”

NONPROFITS/EVENT | Dr. Donney John, executive director of NOVA Scripts Central, reflects on his experience at WRAG’s Fundamentals of Corporate Social Responsibility: A Two-Day Workshop in 2016 and shares why the workshop was valuable for his work with his clinic. (Daily, 3/23)

Related: Learn how to strengthen relationships with existing corporate funders and attract the attention of future corporate partners at WRAG’s Fundamentals of Corporate Social Responsibility: A Two-Day Workshop. Register here

PHILANTHROPY | This week foundation leaders met with members of Congress during Foundations on the Hill, an annual event sponsored by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, the Alliance for Charitable Reform, and the Council on Foundations. The topics discussed included the Johnson Amendment and recent proposed budget cuts. (Chronicle, 3/22 – Subscription needed)

LGBTQ/AGINGAdvocates fear erasure of LGBTQ seniors from national elder survey (MetroWeekly, 3/20)

REGION | Both Loudoun County and DC saw the most population growth in our region. (WTOP, 3/23)

GENDER EQUITY | Women in the District and Maryland most likely will have equal pay by 2065, but nationally, women of color might have to wait about 200 more years according to new research by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. (Citylab, 3/22)

MENTAL HEALTH | NPR explores how a ‘scarcity mindset‘ can make problems worse and how to deal with it. (WAMU, 3/23)

Related: Last year’s Brightest Minds speaker Eldar Shafir, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, discussed how scarcity impacted individuals living in poverty. Read about the session here.


Would you have guessed the right letter?

– Kendra

Charter school system creates pipeline of talented teachers

EDUCATION | Public charter schools are educating almost half of DC’s students, which creates more competition when hiring teachers. KIPP DC, a charter school system with 16 locations in the city, saw this and decided to create their own pipeline of teachers. The Capital Teaching Residency program allows them to train former students, veterans, and others through classroom work. (WaPo, 3/12)

[KIPP DC Executive Director Susan] Schaeffler and her board wanted to start many more schools. (They have since grown to 16, with more than 450 teachers and 5,800 students.) They could no longer count on finding enough good people in local bars and at recruitment events. So they created the Capital Teaching Residency program, a way to train recruits through classroom work that has become nationally the most promising solution to giving disadvantaged children the most skilled educators possible.

…KIPP residents work for a year as teaching assistants while taking training classes at their schools. KIPP DC trains 80 to 100 residents a year. It has 360 current residents or alumni teaching in the District and expects to have 800 teachers trained by 2020.

HEALTH
– Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, share seven lessons she’s learned about improving health in the U.S. as she prepares to step down this year. (RWJF, 3/9)

– A Virginia library hosts monthly meetings to allow people to discuss death preparations and get resources. (WaPo, 3/12)

HUMAN RIGHTS | Hate Crimes In D.C. Rose By ‘Disturbing’ 62 Percent In 2016 (DCist, 3/10)

POVERTY | This weekend A Wider Circle, a DC non-profit focused on poverty, hosted an immersion event that let attendees experience life in poverty. (WUSA9, 3/12)

HOUSING
– A new study on how Latino and Black youth benefit from living in economically diverse neighborhoods finds that class desegregation may have more power than racial desegregation in improving the lives of these youth. (Citylab, 3/10)

– Opinion: D.C.’s housing standards look great on paper — but horrible in practice (WaPo, 3/10)

HIV/AIDSAn AIDS Museum: The Challenges Are Huge, but the Timing Is Right (NYT, 3/13)

WORKFORCE | Hotels strive to make the housekeeping staff invisible to guests but are they also invisible when management makes decisions that impact them? (Atlantic, 3/9)


In preparation for our impending snowstorm (maybe!), look at our history of March snowstorms.

– Kendra

Transgender students may lose federal protections

TRANSGENDER RIGHTS | For a while, students were legally allowed to use the restrooms and locker rooms of the gender they identified with. Yesterday the new administration announced it would roll back protections for transgender students. While this is alarming for all transgender individuals, it is especially harmful to those experiencing gender dysphoria. For this group, the basic right to express one’s gender is paramount to one’s survival. (WaPo, 2/21)

The Obama administration’s guidance was based on the position that requiring students to use a restroom that clashes with their gender identity is a violation of Title IX, the federal law that bars sex discrimination. Transgender students and their parents cheered Obama’s move to expand the protections, but it drew legal challenges from those who believe it was a federal intrusion into local affairs and a violation of social norms.

The issue of which bathrooms transgender people should be permitted to use has evolved in recent years into a central debate about rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Transgender advocates say that allowing people with gender dysphoria to use their preferred restroom is essential for their health and psychological well-being. Opponents say the accommodations violate student privacy and traditional values.

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
– Rachel Tappis, Director of Community Impact at the Advisory Board Company, reflects on her time in WRAG’s Institute for CSR, and the invaluable knowledge she gained from the program. (Daily, 2/22)

How Can Businesses Build Effective Partnerships with NGOs? (The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 1/25)

Related: This is just one of the many topics we’ll cover in the first session of the 2017 Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility. Class kicks off March 16. Applications are due by February 28. Register here

PHILANTHROPY
– The Johnson Amendment, which prohibits charitable 501(c)(3) organizations from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, may be repealed. The Council on Foundations has determined that private foundations can engage in communications with legislators in support of or in opposition to any repeal or modification of the terms of the Johnson Amendment. Learn more (Council on Foundations, 2/7)

Related: Funders are invited to join us on Monday, March 13th for Foundations and Advocacy: It’s Time to Get in the Ring, a training with Alliance for Justice that will explore how private and public foundations can support grantees’ advocacy efforts and engage in advocacy themselves. Register now

– Crystal Townsend, Healthcare Initiative Foundation president and member of WRAG’s Board of Directors, is featured in this month’s Grantmakers In Health Grantmakers in Focus section. (GIH, 2/17)

HIV/AIDS | The Affordable Care Act allows a significant number of people with HIV to access health coverage. (Huffington Post, 2/15)

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | The District’s Skyland Town Center project just signed a lease with CVS and plans to move forward with development this year. (WBJ, 2/21)

INCOME INEQUALITYThe Only Thing, Historically, That’s Curbed Inequality: Catastrophe (Atlantic, 2/22)


In case you were wondering: The 15 best places to break up in D.C., mapped

– Kendra