State economies could benefit by Congress lifting a federal ban on student aid for inmates

– States could save hundreds of millions of dollars in correctional costs and boost employment rates if Congress ends a decades-old ban on providing financial aid to prison inmates. According to a just-released study by the Vera Institute of Justice and the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, the authors estimate that Maryland could save $7.6 million a year in prison expenditures, while Virginia could lower corrections spending by $3.6 million. (WaPo, 1/16)

“Restoring access to postsecondary education in prison offers substantial benefits to individuals who are incarcerated, to states, to employers and to communities by reducing crime, raising employment prospects and creating wealth in communities,” said Nick Turner, president of the Vera Institute of Justice.

– Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Arlington County, and Falls Church Public Schools are among those inviting federal employees to apply for work, offering to fast-track their applications. (WAMU, 1/14)

SHUTDOWN RESPONSE | As the partial federal shutdown drags on, and furloughed federal employees missed paychecks on Friday, local food banks and other nonprofits are feeling the strain. Funders in our region are taking action to respond. Last week, the United Way of the National Capital Area made available $50,000 through its Emergency Assistance Fund, with a match from Pepco, which is also working with affected customers to waive late fees. Bank of America also granted $10,000 to UWNCA’s Emergency Assistance Fund (click here for more information about the fund). Washington Gas is offering flexible bill payment arrangements to affected customers. And, as we reported on Tuesday, the Resilience Fund, housed at the Greater Washington Community Foundation, is allocating $50,000 to help meet emergency needs of those affected by the shutdown. We know that many others in the WRAG community are convening and considering how they can be supportive during this time.

Enterprise Community Partners and Kaiser Permanente have partnered on two new funds that bridge health and housing by elevating affordable, sustainable homes as essential to health and well-being.

– Feds to Audit Opioid Spending: D.C. has reportedly not properly spent funds dedicated to combating opioid abuse (WaPo, 1/16)

– The just-released de Beaumont Foundation’s 2017 Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS) shows a rising level of turnover among state and local governmental public health agencies, which could pose a threat to community health and safety.

 The story behind Whitman-Walker’s restructuring — and what’s next for the health nonprofit (WBJ, 1/16 – subscription)

RACIAL EQUITY | Policies that concentrate wealth among the richest households have exacerbated historic racial wealth disparities in the United States according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies. (PND, 1/15)

GUN VIOLENCE | As Homicides Continue to Rise in D.C., Parents of Gun Violence Victims Reflect on Their Open Wounds (CP, 1/17)

PHILANTHROPY | Several experts and thought leaders from the Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University have examined changes in the field and identified 11 trends in philanthropy they expect to see impacting the sector in 2019.

There are many negatives to the government shutdown – and having visited Joshua Tree National Park last year, this is one in particular that I can’t stop thinking about.