Few transit options for the region’s lower-income riders

TRANSIT
With a year’s worth of maintenance slated to take place throughout the Metrorail system, the impact is expected to be felt by most in the region. Those earning less than $30,000 annually, however, may be hit the hardest with fewer options for teleworking or affordable commutes to work. (City Lab, 5/19)

Among the 11 percent of Metrorail customers who earn less than $30,000 per year, many work low-wage, hourly shifts that don’t offer the option to telework. These riders can’t necessarily afford the convenience of a cab, an Uber, or even a smartphone to hail one. These riders still need to be able to get to their jobs, and for 29 hours in March, it was a lot harder for some.

EDUCATION
– Natalie Wexler – education blogger/editor of Greater Greater Education and DC Eduphile, and trustee of the Omega Foundation  discusses the challenges in achieving reading success for low-income students. On June 2, Dr. Willingham, psychology professor at the University of Virginia, will dive further into the role of background knowledge in reading comprehension and the persistent achievement gap among affluent and low-income students. (Daily, 5/23)

– Does Mindfulness Actually Work in Schools? (Atlantic, 5/20)

COMMUNITY
 The Citi Foundation announced the 40 social profit organizations selected as inaugural recipients of their Community Progress Makers Fund – a $20 million grant initiative supporting community organizations leading urban transformation efforts that create economic opportunities for low-income households and communities. D.C. is one of six U.S. cities with organizations that were selected, such as: Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing; Capital Area Asset Builders; Enterprise Community Partners Mid-Atlantic; Latino Economic Development Center; and LIFT

– The Center for Nonprofit Advancement has announced Higher Achievement as the winner of their 2016 AIM (Advancement in Management) Award, along with A-SPAN and National Children’s Alliance receiving honorable mentions. Pepco, Capital One Bank, and the Rotary Club of Washington, DC were sponsors of the award. Award recipients will also host an informative best practices session on May 24 at 10:00 am.

IMMIGRATION/POVERTY | Many of the young, recent Central American immigrants to the Washington region find that post-traumatic stress and poverty, along with attending high school, can result in a difficult cycle. (WAMU, 5/19)

HEALTH/CHILDREN
– With a growing number of students showing signs of mental health problems at school, educators are struggling to meet their needs. WAMU and nprED have presented a series on the challenges and possible solutions to approaching mental health issues in children. (WAMU, 5/23)

Due to a several challenges, the federal Summer Food Service Program – aimed at providing meals to children from low-income families during school break – only ends up reaching around 15 percent of those eligible. In places like Silver Spring, MD, for example, some children may have a hard time qualifying for such benefits when low-income housing is often in close proximity to affluent neighborhoods. (City Lab, 5/20)

–  Should Pediatricians Ask Parents If They’re Poor? (NPR, 5/18)

DISTRICT | The Washington Post explores the surge in homicides in D.C.’s ward 7. (WaPo, 5/21)


We all need to get adequate sleep, and trees are (possibly) no different.

– Ciara

Childcare costs are high. Wages for childcare workers are not.

CHILDCARE/WORKFORCE
There have been a number of studies on just how expensive childcare is for families in the District compared with the rest of the country. While many low-income and middle-class families struggle to afford to keep their children enrolled in care, most of those providing childcare services cannot afford it themselves. (Atlantic, 11/5)

On average, these women (it’s almost entirely women) are paid significantly less than the average American worker and are twice as likely to live in poverty, a new study released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found. The median hourly wage for childcare workers in the U.S. is $10.39, nearly 40 percent below the median hourly wage of workers in other occupations. Even when accounting for the demographic makeup of the childcare industry—workers are more likely to be minorities, much more likely to be women, and less likely to have a bachelor’s or advanced degree—their earnings were still 23 percent lower than in other occupations. Childcare workers also had less access to benefits, such as health insurance and retirement funds, than people employed in other fields.

ECONOMY/REGION | Five reasons to be concerned about Washington’s economy (WaPo, 11/9)

HOUSING/HOMELESSNESS | A new housing development in Southeast D.C. aims to be a model in sustainability and a refuge for low-income and homeless families in need of permanent housing. (WaPo, 11/6)

YOUTH/EDUCATION
– Following data from a 2012 study showing that American teens score low on financial literacy, districts in Northern Virginia strive to keep students ahead of the curve with new requirements for economics and personal-finance courses for high schoolers. (WaPo, 11/1)

– A recent study on child development finds that children develop a sense of self esteem earlier than previously thought – even before they have begun to attend school. (WaPo, 11/6)

FOOD/POVERTY | For years, researchers have linked the inability for many low-income individuals to maintain healthy nutritional habits to food deserts, but recent studies say poor eating habits have less to do with proximity and more to do with income. (Atlantic, 11/9)

ARTS & HUMANITIES
– The Nonprofit Finance Fund has released two reports – one for grantmakers and another for arts organizations – summarizing lessons learned about capitalization in the arts sector. (NFF, 10/2015)

Nonprofit theaters are attracting more donors, but audiences keep shrinking, report says (LA Times, 11/5)


French artists from 100 years ago, we have failed you.

– Ciara

Wage inequality in U.S. metros

The Daily WRAG will return on Tuesday, October 13. 

ECONOMY/REGION
While wage inequality is nothing new, the problem has become a staple of many major cities across the country. In some U.S. metros with high wage inequality – like the metropolitan Washington region – there are a number of implications for those who do not earn high salaries. (City Lab, 10/7)

[…] wage inequality appears to be bound up with higher housing costs, being closely correlated with the share of income devoted to housing […]. The higher wage earners in knowledge-based metros essentially bid up the cost of housing. And while knowledge workers and the creative class make enough to cope with the increased costs, as my own research has shown, this hits extremely hard at workers in lower paid service and blue-collar jobs who increasingly cannot afford to live in these places.

WRAG COMMUNITY/PHILANTHROPY
– Congratulations to WRAG members Rosie Allen-Herring, president and CEO of United Way of the National Capital Area, and Nicky Goren, president and CEO of the Meyer Foundation, for being featured in The Washington Business Journal’s Power 100 list in the category of Heavy Hitters, defined as “[…] those executives who lead the most powerful organizations in town, be it for their size, their reputations or the sheer dollars they generate.” (WBJ, 10/5)

– Congratulations are also in order for WRAG members IBM and Citi Foundation for taking home awards in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Awards in the areas of Best Corporate Steward – Large Business, and Best Community Improvement Program.

HOUSING | Enterprise takes a look at housing affordability for the millennial workforce on the heels of some newly released research on the topic. (Enterprise, 10/6)

TRANSPORTATION/DISTRICT | Bikeshare services are a convenience enjoyed by many in D.C. who seek alternative ways to get around, but they are often only available in more affluent parts of the city and to those with credit cards. In an effort to better reach minority and low-income residents, the District has unveiled potential plans to expand bikeshare stations across D.C. and eliminate barriers to payment to use the services. (WaPo, 10/6)

ENVIRONMENT/PUBLIC HEALTH | MoCo becomes first major locality to ban cosmetic pesticides from lawns (WaPo, 10/6)


Are you a native to the region? Here’s some nostalgia for you in the form of local TV ads.

– Ciara

Retail sector employment rises, wages do not follow

WORKFORCE
The retail sector in D.C. has seen significant employment and sales growth over the last few years, but wages have remained stagnant. The D.C. Office of Revenue Analysis takes a look at the numbers and explores the reasons behind the slow growth that affects a number of workers in the District. (District, Measured, 9/30)

Despite the growth in the retail sector sales and employment, total payroll at retail establishments remained stagnant and earnings per employee, after adjusting for inflation, do not appear to have increased. In 1997, a retail worker in the District took home what would have been the equivalent of $25,642 today. In 2012, earnings were up by only about $1,000 compared to 1998, but down from earnings from 2007, which stood at $28,913.

Opinion: An instructor and restaurant server shares why she thinks people should stop applying labels like “low-skilled” when referring to task-oriented workers, and explains how perceptions can work to keep some people in poverty. (NYT, 10/1)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | In their continuing Matters@Hand thought-leadership series sponsored by Enterprise Community Partners, HAND explores innovative affordable housing policies from around the country. (Helping Hands Blog, 6/1)

EDUCATION
– DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson launched an initiative to expand AP classes in high schools across the city and increase course offerings available to low-income and minority students, but the failure rate has grown rapidly for students trying to pass the college-level courses. (GGW, 9/29)

– High schools across D.C. and Virginia saw rising graduation rates in 2015, consistent with nationwide trends. (WaPo, 9/29)

The Data Are Damning: How Race Influences School Funding (Atlantic, 9/30)

ARTS | If you’ve seen some pretty inspiring garbage trucks making their way through the District lately, thank the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities  in partnership with the Department of Public Works for hosting a competition featuring the original designs of local artists. (WaPo, 9/30)

IMMIGRATION | For Immigrants, the ‘Melting Pot’ Is a Mixed Bag (City Lab, 9/30)


Hopefully, you never find yourself in an emergency situation where you need to call the police. But in the event that you do, please make sure it is not for this reason

– Ciara