Should traditional public schools and charters have to follow the same rules?

– A proposal in DC to force charter schools to make data and information more public has catalyzed the debate about traditional public schools and charters following the same rules. The debate in DC, which has over 100 charter schools and where almost half of the city’s public school students attend them, is focused on how much access the public should have to information about and from charter schools. (WaPo, 2/4)

“They are public schools, and they should be equally public and accountable,” said Scott Goldstein, executive director of EmpowerEd, a teacher advocacy group that is circulating a petition calling on charter schools to be more transparent. “The community wants to engage and be part of the conversation.”

– Mayor Bowser has asked the DC Council to use $54.9 million in funds earmarked for the renovation of the one public ice rink in the city and use it for emergency fixes on 21 schools, and the community is pushing back. (WAMU, 2/1)

RACE | A recent Black History Month panel discussion in Prince George’s County focused on ways African Americans have influenced the country and the world, and delved into a local twist to black cultural rebirth during the Great Migration. (WTOP, 2/2)

HEALTH | In 2015 DC had promising results through an innovative program working to get those who overdosed on opioids into treatment for a two-month period, and then it stopped. (City Paper, 1/31)

– The population growth in DC is slowing down. (WAMU, 1/31)

– The DC Fiscal Policy Institute recommends DC budget considerations focus on affordable homes, strong schools, good roads, and quality jobs, and highlights the budget as a key tool for addressing the racial and economic inequities the city. (DC Fiscal Policy Institute, 1/31)

HOUSING | America’s Housing Affordability Crisis Only Getting Worse (Forbes, 1/31)

NONPROFITS/RACIAL EQUITY | Race to Lead: Women of Color in the Nonprofit Sector, just released by the Building Movement Project, highlights the intersection of barriers facing women of color in nonprofits.

– The Foundation Center and GuideStar have announced they have joined forces, and will now operate as a single new nonprofit organization called Candid.

– “It’s Very Empowering.” Latino Giving Circles Are on the Rise (Inside Philanthropy, 1/31)

Harvard’s top astronomer won’t stop talking about aliens possibly being among us.

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back on Thursday and Friday this week!

– Buffy

Rebranding the region

As part of the Roadmap effort, the 2030 Group has announced the hiring of global brand consultant Interbrand to develop a marketing campaign for the region that is expected to launch in early 2017 with the help of a rebranding working group (WBJ, 5/12):

The marketing campaign is part of a larger effort by the 2030 Group to identify weaknesses in the region’s economy and come up with ways to boost growth in a time of federal austerity. The organization has spearheaded working groups to explore affordable housing and how area colleges and universities can work more closely with the business community. A working group exploring a regional transportation authority has been suspended as Metro embarks on its yearlong effort to fix major problems, [2030 Group’s Bob] Buchanan said, although he still hopes to restart that conversation in the future.

Related: Last year, the 2030 Group’s Bob Buchanan and the Center for Regional Analysis’s Stephen Fuller undertook an extensive research project called, The Roadmap for the Washington Region’s Future Economy, to recommend ways the region can reposition itself to remain competitive in the global economy. WRAG president Tamara Lucas Copeland also shared how philanthropy in the region might respond and collaborate with other sectors to meet challenges facing our communities. (Daily, 1/15)

– In light of the coming dissolution of the DC Trust, WRAG has submitted a letter on behalf of the region’s philanthropic community to D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, calling on the Council to maintain funding for out-of-school and summer programming for D.C.’s  children and youth in the FY17 budget. Funders and advocates for children and youth will be watching closely as the DC Council votes on the proposed budget this month.

– BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) recently named Consumer Health Foundation president and WRAG board member Yanique Redwood as one of 36 leaders in their 2016 BALLE Local Economy Fellowship. In this blog post, she discusses why she looks forward to working with other members of her cohort and continuing along a path toward community transformation. (Be a Localist, 5/12)

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has announced plans to create a $500,000 endowment for its Innovation Fund, following a $250,000 matching grant from an anonymous donor. They’ve also announced the launch of a new online-fundraising platform, Granted. (WBJ, 5/13)

– Prince Charitable Trusts presents a short film in their series about farming and food, titled The Culture of Collards, which recently  premiered at the DC Environmental Film Festival. The film traces the cultural heritage of collard greens from Portugal, to Africa, to the American south during the slave trade, up to their current state as a popular staple in many kitchens today. The 9-minute film features culinary historian Michael Twitty; owner of Three Part Harmony Farm in Northeast D.C. Gail Taylor; and City Blossoms co-founders Rebecca Lemos and Lola Bloom.

Related: In 2014, Michael Twitty kicked off WRAG’s Brightest Minds series with a discussion about building a more inclusive food movement. Check out this post that followed his talk, then take a look at the exciting lineup for WRAG’s Brightest Minds programs for the rest of the year. Brightest Minds programs are open to the public.

– The Ongoing Need for Healthy Food in Corner Stores (City Lab, 5/12)

– As the acknowledgment of the importance of quality pre-k education in a student’s future success picks up steam across the country, some states continue to struggle with making these programs accessible to millions of children. Locally, D.C. made progress by serving more 3- and 4-year-olds than ever during the 2014-2015 school year. (WaPo, 5/12)

– The troubling shortage of Latino and black teachers — and what to do about it (WaPo, 5/15)

Which of the seven deadly sins do some of the most popular social networks represent? Pinterest is spot-on!

– Ciara

A look at income segregation and children

While many education advocates have long argued for breaking up highly segregated neighborhoods in order to create more integrated schools to the benefit of lower-income and minority students, a new study suggests that perhaps the key lies in doing the reverse (WaPo, 5/10):

If we found ways to integrate schools […] that might take some of the exclusivity out of certain neighborhoods. School quality is capitalized into housing prices, making those neighborhoods unaffordable to many families. Imagine, for instance, if all the public schools in the District or the Washington region were integrated and of comparable quality. Families might pay more to live in Northwest to be near Rock Creek Park. But you’d see fewer home-bidding wars there just to access scarce school quality. More to the point, homes families already paid handsomely to buy might lose some of their value.

– Despite figures that show that non-white students comprise the majority of the student body at U.S. public schools since 2014, children of color – particularly boys – are still falling behind their white counterparts. A Harvard University economist shares highlights from a new study on the matter. (NPR, 5/11)

WORKFORCE/ECONOMY | For many high school graduates that have not pursued higher education, economic recovery has come much more slowly than for those who have graduated college. With an estimated 3.2 million disadvantaged youths between 16 and 24 who are not in school and are not working, companies like JPMorgan Chase have made it a priority to offer career-focused education in high schools and community colleges. (NYT, 5/10)

– Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has signed a bill that is expected to provide “the most comprehensive insurance coverage for contraception in the country.” (WaPo, 5/10)

– According to the most recent federal data, the life-expectancy gap among white Americans and African Americans – once seven years – is now at its lowest point in history at 3.4 years. The shrinking gap is reportedly due in part to lower rates of homicide and violence. (NYT, 5/8)

PHILANTHROPY/ENVIRONMENT | Corporate Branding of National Parks: The Disturbing Link between Philanthropy and Privatization (NPQ, 5/11)

Related: Are you familiar with the National Parks found here in the Greater Washington region?

FOOD | A Rallying Cry for Ugly Vegetables (Atlantic, 5/9)

ARTS/DISTRICTA first look inside the Smithsonian’s African American museum: Stunning views, grand scale (WaPo, 5/10)

Oh, moms…you worry too much. Sometimes, it’s funny, though

– Ciara

New report considers the perspectives of black and African American youth in Montgomery County

A new report commissioned by The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region examines the perspectives of black and African American youth in Montgomery County, and offers recommendations for improving their circumstances within the community and school system. The report follows a similar study on Latino youth in the county from last year. (WaPo, 10/22)

The report’s four main recommendations include that the school system work with others to lower dropout rates and close the achievement gap for African American students and that the county create “a coordinated array of services and supports” to reconnect youths to education and the workforce.

Click here to access the full report, Connecting Youth to Opportunity: How Black and African American Youth Perspectives Can Inform a Blueprint for Improving Opportunity in Montgomery County, Maryland.

EDUCATION/VIRGINIA | Virginia’s Divide in School Funding is One of the Nation’s Worst (The Half Sheet, 10/22)

DISTRICT/HOMELESSNESS | For many people, a storage unit is simply a place to drop off items you don’t want to look at for a while. For some others, a storage unit is a place to take refuge from the outside world. In D.C., one such storage facility, where a number of homeless individuals have taken up shelter, is set to be demolished. (WaPo, 10/22)

CSR/ENVIRONMENT | Tim McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation and head faculty member for the Institute for CSR, discusses how his company works to minimize its operational impact on the environment. (American Express, 10/26)

– A recent study looked at the disparities in the usage of online health tools by patients with chronic kidney disease. Those who were black, older, poor, or unmarried were more likely to lack access to e-health interventions that could help improve their conditions. (WAMU, 10/23)

There Were Fewer Black Men in Medical School in 2014 Than in 1978 (WAMU, 10/24)

Have a look at these amazing Halloween costumes made by kids in the region.

– Ciara

How a disadvantaged start contributes to a growing gender gap

Social science researchers have been studying a growing gender gap across the U.S. in which boys (particularly minorities and those in poverty) have been lagging behind their female counterparts in education and in the workforce. Studies have found that young boys react more negatively to circumstances than young girls when they come from disadvantaged homes.  (NYT, 10/22)

New research from social scientists offers one explanation: Boys are more sensitive than girls to disadvantage. Any disadvantage, like growing up in poverty, in a bad neighborhood or without a father, takes more of a toll on boys than on their sisters. That realization could be a starting point for educators, parents and policy makers who are trying to figure out how to help boys – particularly those from black, Latino and immigrant families.

IMMIGRATION/YOUTH | School districts in the region, like Montgomery County, have experienced a recent influx of unaccompanied minors from South America. In Oakland, CA,  a school system once challenged by the number of incoming students has found effective ways to meet students’ needs. (NPR, 10/20)

AGING/HOUSING | When assisted living facilities and nursing homes suddenly close, many seniors are left with few options for affordable, supportive housing. (City Lab, 10/20)

– Closing The Loopholes On A Living Wage In Montgomery County (WAMU, 10/21)

– Many contracted workers at National Airport earn as little as $6.75 per hour and struggle to make ends meet in an expensive region. Workers recently rallied there for better benefits and higher wages. (WaPo, 10/21)

PHILANTHROPY | The Grants Managers Network is looking for your ideas, experiences, successes or research about ways to streamline any and all philanthropic processes to publish in their journal GMNsight. Submit article abstracts now through October 31.

There’s still time to get into some peak fall foliage in the Greater Washington region.

– Ciara

A first-ever count of homeless D.C. youth

In an effort to better serve the city’s full homeless population, the District is conducting its first-ever count of homeless youth. The city currently has a goal of ending youth homelessness by the year 2020. (WAMU, 8/18)

The week-long census kicked off Monday and runs through Aug. 25. Service providers, city agencies and even some businesses are taking part in the count, which city officials say will help bring to light a population that isn’t often included in other homeless counts.


The District already takes part in an annual count of its homeless population. In May, the count revealed that on any given night, over 7,200 residents live on the street or in shelters throughout the city.

– A number of school districts in Maryland expect to see record spikes in public school enrollment this year. Montgomery County, in particular, is preparing for the surge in students (WaPo, 8/18):

In Montgomery, the state’s fastest-growing school system, the total increase in students since 2007 would be more than 18,700 if this year’s projections bear out. Last school year, the county’s enrollment climbed by 2,563 students.

Singe Moms and Welfare Woes: A Higher-Education Dilemma (Atlantic, 8/18)

ECONOMY/HOUSING | The District May Be Heading Towards Record High Residential Construction (District Measured, 8/18)

POVERTY | Stories about the struggles of being poor often go viral or are included in the opinion pages of major news outlets, but very few of them are written by individuals who have actually experienced poverty firsthand. Recently, a famed author took a look at just why these pieces typically come from more affluent writers. (HuffPo, 8/17)

Can you find these lesser-known monuments on a map?

– Ciara

Small improvements for D.C. schools

The first formal assessment of the D.C. public school system since 2007, conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, finds that the schools have improved slightly since falling under mayoral control. Despite some new initiatives, challenges and disparities within the system remain. (WAMU, 6/3)

Though test scores have inched up and enrollment declines have been reversed, a new assessment of the District’s public school system finds that coordination between traditional public schools and public charter schools is lacking, comprehensive data on schools is hard to come by and even harder to compare, and disparities still exist in the quality of options available to students across the city.


“[B]lack and Hispanic students, those with disabilities, those eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, and English-language learners are much more likely to be in the lowest performance categories than other students,” says the report. “Some improvement is evident since 2009, but more than half of these students still score below proficient.”

Additionally, the city’s graduation rate – 59 percent in DCPS and 69 percent in charter schools in 2014 – remains “disturbingly low,” says the report.

– Opinion: Getting D.C.’s summer youth jobs program right (WaPo, 6/2)

The Washington Post takes a look at policies and programs geared specifically toward young men of color, and examines why they remain so important for the future of the economy. (WaPo, 6/3)

– A new study examines the disparities in hours and wages that exist among retail workers of color within the ever-growing industry. Racial bias in the retail sector has led advocates for the Black Lives Matter and Fight for 15 campaigns to come together in support of one another. (Salon, 6/2)

AGING/PHILANTHROPY | Opinion: People are living longer than ever before. With so many baby boomers set to enter retirement age, is there enough being done to add quality to the quantity of years in their lives? One writer thinks philanthropy should ramp up support for an aging population (WSJ, 5/31):

Of 35 grants made by the federal government’s Social Innovation Fund since 2010, only one has directly targeted aging. Philanthropy isn’t doing any better. According to data from the Foundation Center, less than 2% of foundation money – often a powerful lever for social innovation – goes into aging.

GENDER EQUALITY | Same Education, Different Pay (EPI, 6/3)

Have you read any good books lately? Apparently, many of you have! Amazon recently ranked Washington residents as number five on a list of the Most Well-Read Cities.  

– Ciara