Region Forward Coalition: The Work Begins

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

When the WRAG Board endorsed Region Forward: A Comprehensive Guide for Regional Planning and Measuring Progress in the 21st Century, they knew that the plan was an important breakthrough. Not only did it address our region as a region instead of disparate municipalities, but it also looked at the concept of complete communities with a health lens and an education lens in addition to the more traditional perspectives like transportation, housing, development, etc. Still, questions remained. How would impact be assessed and measured? And what actually constitutes a “complete community” (the term of art used in the report)?

Last Friday, answers started to emerge.

At the first meeting of the Region Forward Coalition, representatives from local, state, and federal governments joined business, nonprofit, and philanthropic leaders to discuss how to effectively approach the plan moving forward. The group will take a three-pronged approach by dividing into teams:

1. Regional Analysis and Performance Baseline Team will define what baseline information must be gathered and will then identify a means of data collection and measurement of progress toward the plan’s goals every 3-4 years.

2. Complete Communities Team will define what constitutes a complete community. Current thinking suggests an anchor employer, schools, affordable housing, health care facilities and civic/cultural facilities.

3. Impact Team will do exactly what its name suggest – analyze the impact of different initiatives towards the goals and objectives in the plan.

All of the details haven’t been worked through yet, or perhaps even fully defined. But it is exciting that this plan doesn’t seem destined to only collect dust on a shelf.

Note: Serving on the Coalition are the following members of the philanthropic community: Terri Lee Freeman (Community Foundation of the National Capital Region); Rosie Allen-Herring (Fannie Mae); Kristin Pauly (Prince Charitable Trusts); Mardell Moffett (The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation); and, Carol Thompson Cole (Venture Philanthropy Partners).