Montgomery County study reveals disparities in spending at minority, female, and disabled-owned firms

A new study on Montgomery County’s purchasing practices reveals great disparities on spending on goods and services at minority, female, and disabled-owned firms. The study also found that many minority and female-led firms in the county find business practices there to be exclusionary and informal, to their detriment. (WaPo, 9/9)

The study, conducted for Montgomery by the public policy consulting firm Griffin & Strong, found that between 2007 and 2012 the county spent $368 million on minority and women-owned firms–representing 14 percent of total spending during that period. Payments to disabled-owned companies totaled $11.5 million or 0.45 percent of county spending.


“There remains a significant disparity between the utilization and availability of MFDs (minority, female and disabled-owned firms) in Montgomery County,” Griffin & Strong said.The disparities are “statistically significant enough to suggest the possible presence of discrimination.”

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | An independent review of the District’s New Communities Initiative program designed almost ten years ago to keep residents in four low-income areas (Park Morton public housing in Park View, Temple Courts north of Union Station, Lincoln Heights in Deanwood and Barry Farm in Anacostia) from being displaced in the event of neighborhood revitalization, has shown that the initiative is under-funded and strategies to implement the plan have been ‘overly optimisitc.’ (WaPo, 9/9)

Nine years later, all four neighborhood plans have fallen off track. Building restrictions hindered the reconstruction of Temple Courts, and the city struggled to find major developers who could invest near Lincoln Heights. There was not enough public land to redevelop Park Morton, and in February the city let the current developer go.

Out of 1,500 affordable units that have been promised through New Communities, the city has constructed 490.

ARTS | Local funders are invited to an informational meeting presented by Sustain Arts, a national effort in data transparency and arts and cultural sustainability. Led by the Hauser Institute for Civil Society at Harvard, in collaboration with the Foundation Center and Fractured Atlas, Sustain Arts encourages data-driven decision making for arts and cultural stakeholders through an online platform visualizing regional audience participation, programming, and funding trends. The program is already in development in regions around the country. The meeting will be hosted at The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation on September 29, 10:30am – 12:00pm. To register or learn more, please contact Michael Bigley at the Cafritz Foundation. The meeting is for funders only.

FOOD | The Arcadia Mobile Market is bringing fresh, local produce to areas classified as food deserts with two food trucks servicing 18 neighborhoods in the Washington region. (WTOP, 9/9)

Related: It is because of these food deserts that the Washington Regional Food Funders made identifying communities where there are not enough outlets of healthy, affordable, nutritious food and opportunities for action and investment, a priority.

PHILANTHROPY Opinion: Vikki Spruill, President and CEO of the Council on Foundations, writes about the importance of making the passing of the America Gives More Act a top priority. (Chronicle, 8/29)

NONPROFITS | The summer was a busy season for WRAG and our members. Check out some highlights from the last few months, and get excited with us for what the fall has in store!

Tired of all the hoopla surrounding the release of the latest iPhone? Here you go.

– Ciara