Author: The Weekly WRAG

Keeping up the momentum to #CountDMVin

A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court handed down a decision that effectively blocked the implementation of a proposed citizenship question on the 2020 Census. As census forms went to print, the administration continued its efforts to find a way to include the question, only relenting late last week. While we celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision and monitor the ongoing attempts by the administration to count citizens and noncitizens, we must continue to keep up momentum and energy around the 2020 Census.

Even without the citizenship question, we face challenges to a fair and accurate count. The stakes could not be higher. Many communities – especially those that historically have been hardest to count, such as immigrant and communities of color – may understandably be fearful of responding to the census, particularly given the continued efforts to politicize it. Organizations with deep relationships within these communities have the opportunity to serve as trusted messengers, helping their clients and constituents understand what is at stake in the census and what can be gained by getting counted. The census determines the amount of federal dollars our region receives for critical programs, the number of Congressional seats we have, and how district lines are drawn at all levels of government. Getting counted is the most powerful tool we have to secure our fair share of federal resources and political power.

This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for the region. That’s why we encourage everyone to help #CountDMVin. Here’s how you can get involved:


  • Talk to your grantee partners about how they might be able to engage hard-to-count communities in the 2020 Census and what kind of support they need to do so.
  • Consider investing in the Count DMV In Census Project, a pooled fund at the Greater Washington Community Foundation, to directly support 2020 Census activities.
  • WRAG members: Join the 2020 Census Working Group to get connected with other local funders investing in a complete and accurate census in our region.

Community-based organizations:

  • Consider how you might incorporate education and outreach about the 2020 Census into your work. Talk to your current funders now about what kind of additional support you would need.
  • Check out the national Census Counts Campaign for a wealth of resources related to census outreach, including messaging toolkits.
  • Get connected with your local Complete Count Committees, task forces responsible for developing strategies for local outreach. Find a list of committees in this resource guide.
  • Apply for funding from the Count DMV In Census Project (and act fast: the application deadline is July 29th!)

Local businesses:

  • The private sector depends on accurate census data. Local businesses can help get the word out about the importance of completing the census among their employees and customers. Check out this recent op-ed in the Washington Business Journal from the Northern Virginia Complete Count Committee on how business can engage in the census.


The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers’ 2020 Census Working Group is a collection of funders focused on leveraging the resources of local philanthropy and other stakeholders to ensure an accurate and complete census count in the region, co-chaired by Levina Kim (United Way of the National Capital Area), Ria Pugeda (Consumer Health Foundation), and Terri Wright (Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation). #CountDMVin is a regional communications campaign to raise awareness and spur action to ensure a complete 2020 Census.

Where’s the (Almost) Daily WRAG?

WRAG is excited to introduce our newest team member, Carmen Rodriguez, Director of Communication, Technology, and Administration!

This summer, the Daily will go on “vacation” as WRAG assesses its communications strategy and needs going forward. We will continue to bring you occasional updates using this platform, but we will not produce a regular news roundup. In the meantime, we would love to hear from readers: What have you valued about the Daily WRAG? What would you like to see more of from WRAG? Less of? We welcome your thoughts via this quick survey.

We look forward to sharing with you our new communications strategy later this year!

Journalism Fellows Project: Normalizing Safety and Unity, Not Violence

Last year WRAG launched the Journalism Fellows Project to share our platform with youth of color in this region who are often written about, but are rarely asked their perspectives on the issues facing their communities and families. We asked the youth to write about challenges they are experiencing, and if they have any solutions to offer.

In today’s edition, we hear from Jailen Fuller about the community’s role in stopping violence in Prince George’s County, MD.

Why do people have to worry so much about whether or not someone they love will make it home?

Violence is something that has become so normalized in our communities. Daily, we can see how many lives are taken from this earth as a result of it. From gang to domestic violence, people are being brutally murdered over petty reasons.

So many people experience trauma at a young age because of the violence that they see constantly happening around them. While I have not experienced the same trauma as my peers, it has happened to people that I love. I wish that they did not have to experience these things. Though it is simply a reality for many people.

Just two years ago, I lost my cousin to violence. He was murdered and the person who killed him has not been identified. My cousin was still young and had his whole life ahead of him. He had young kids who now will not be able to grow with their father guiding them through the world. Why to some does another person’s life mean nothing?  Every life is meant to be cherished. Circumstance should not determine one’s worthiness in life. I hope that one day people will not see violence as their only means of living.

This idea that violence is normal should not be passed on to our current growing generation and the generations after us. This will only influence their minds at a young age and the cycle will continue, and our communities will never move forward. Nobody wants to keep seeing another young girl go missing or another young male murdered. As a teenager and especially a young girl, I don’t want to fall victim to this or want to see any of my peers lose their lives either. We should be looking forward to a bright future and having that same idea for the next generation.

Growing up, I was pretty sheltered, meaning that I was not always able to play outside and make friends. Now I can understand why I was not able to do these things. So many girls go missing and are either never found or found dead. I would never want my parents to have to go through that. Imagine how many families have to bury their children every year.

We have not fulfilled our duties as a community. To me, a community does not just mean a bunch of houses in a neighborhood, but a sense of unity. We should be looking out for each other and not looking to cause harm over something stupid. Guns, fighting and other sorts of violence should not be the solution to our problems. Youth should be influenced to infuse good into the world because we are our future. It is up to us to decide what we want our future to be. Instead of violence, why not influence each other to be successful and educated?

About the Author:
Jailen Fuller is a 16-year-old African-American young woman in her junior year at Fairmont Heights High School in Prince George’s County, MD. One day she hopes to use her voice to help those who feel like they do not have one.

Read previous editions of the WRAG Journalism Fellows Project:

Overcoming Violence in My City” by Thomas Kent
Gentrification Anxiety” by Jacqueline Lassey
Coming to a New Home” by Looking Owl
Bringing Community into The Daily WRAG” by Kendra Allen

Journalism Fellows Project: Overcoming Violence in My City

Last year WRAG launched the Journalism Fellows Project to share our platform with youth of color in this region who are often written about, but are rarely asked their perspectives on the issues facing their communities and families. We asked the youth to write about challenges they are experiencing, and if they have any solutions to offer. In today’s edition, we hear from Thomas Kent, 2019 graduate of Richard Wright Public Charter School in DC, about the impact of violence in his neighborhood.

-Kendra Allen, Program Associate, Consumer Health Foundation

In DC, I was taught to keep my mouth shut and my eyes closed so I wouldn’t be exposed to things that were beyond my control. My grandma taught me that. I was 12 years old when I learned why. I was exposed to violence pretty early in life when one of my closest friends was shot and killed. It had a chilling effect on me. It was almost like I had experienced it myself, and felt it should’ve been me. I went through a lot around that time, and at one point, I felt like I lost the ability to feel. I was numb because we were so close.

Today people are dying all over the city, mostly over dumb neighborhood beefs that won’t mean anything some years from now. We lose so many youth in DC to gun violence when they shouldn’t even be in the hands of minors. I can almost count on each hand the number of friends I have lost to this type of violence from situations that could have been resolved by talking it out.

A lot of these young people could have been persuaded to never pick up a gun. Older people from the neighborhood enable them by giving them weapons. If the young people had their parents in their lives, then they most likely wouldn’t have gone to the streets for that type of love. All it would take is a simple “how is your day?” to change a child’s path. There are multiple children that deal with this trauma and are angry because they weren’t loved like other children were. They deal with that anger by fighting the law and hurting other people the same way they were hurt.

It’s not easy being in the middle of it all while trying to continue to involve myself with my community and balance playing sports. I’ll be one of three people in my family to attend college and for me, that is a big deal. My parents always wanted what was best for me. This is why I look up to them, appreciate and love them, and look forward to becoming a parent someday in the future, after college.

The main reason I’m choosing to go to college and to play ball is because I need to get away from DC for my family. My family doesn’t want me to get tied up in the life that some of my peers are in. I owe it to them to get my degree and better myself to come back and make a change, either improving the lives of youth on the streets, or in classrooms. When I say make a change I mean bring positivity back to the community, stop the hate, and help people get jobs to provide for their families.

About the Author:
Thomas Kent is a graduate of Richard Wright PCS and will be attending Frostburg University in the fall as a freshman. He will study graphic design and still occasionally do photography. He is an athlete and will be trying out to become a Frostburg Bobcat.

Previous Articles from the Journalism Fellows Project:
Gentrification Anxiety” by Jacqueline Lassey
Coming to a New Home” by Looking Owl

Funders: Join us to ensure a fair, accurate, and complete Census 2020 in the Greater Washington region

By Levina Kim, United Way of the National Capital Area, Ria Pugeda, Consumer Health Foundation, and Terri Wright, Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation

In Spring 2018, the three of us agreed to join together to co-chair the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers’ then-new Census 2020 Working Group. Our goal was, and continues to be, to convene, educate, and mobilize our fellow funders to leverage our collective resources in support of a fair and accurate Census 2020.

The reasons why Census 2020 is an urgent philanthropic priority have been said before, but bear repeating: the Census is the cornerstone of our democracy. Census data determine where government allocates our tax dollars for new schools, hospitals, roads, sewers, and other critical infrastructure. Census data determine federal resources for maternal and child health, Head Start, supplemental food programs, subsidized housing, and other human services (more than $24 billion to DC, Maryland, and Virginia combined!) Companies use census data when considering where to pursue business opportunities. Census data is also used to determine the number of congressional seats that will prevail for the next 10 years.

Most importantly, a complete and accurate Census 2020 is critical for advancing racial equity in our region. The census count has historically missed disproportionate numbers of people of color, immigrants, young children, low-income, and rural households. It is estimated that more than 55,000 individuals were “undercounted” in this region in 2010. When communities of color are undercounted in the census they are impacted in multiple ways. It could lead to under-representation in government and thus a lack of focus on and investment in their priorities and concerns. Federal funding for social service programs could be drastically reduced. Businesses that are urgently needed – like grocery stores – may fail to open in under-resourced neighborhoods because the data does not reflect the potential for sufficient demand.

The current political environment, a reduction of federal resources for outreach workers (“enumerators” in census-speak), and the sweeping move to an online census have exacerbated the likelihood of our region’s most marginalized communities being grossly under-counted. It is essential for the nonprofit, philanthropic, business, and government sectors to step up and optimize our inherent potential to reach and support communities that are at the most risk of being undercounted in the 2020 Census.

Our call to action: The viability of an equitable future depends on a complete and accurate Census 2020. Philanthropy can and must invest in our nonprofit partners, which have the relationships and connections with different communities, to support the outreach, education, and assistance that under-counted communities – especially communities of color – would need. We call on our philanthropic colleagues to join us in investing directly or with other foundations and donors through a pooled fund housed at the Greater Washington Community Foundation dedicated to Census 2020. We know that through our collective effort we can achieve a complete and accurate count and make a substantial impact on what happens to our region over the next 10 years.

Funders: To learn more about the pooled funding opportunity, please contact Terri Wright, Vice President of Program & Community at the Meyer Foundation, or Ria Pugeda, Senior Program Officer, Consumer Health Foundation.

WRAG members are encouraged to join the Census 2020 Working Group to support a fair and accurate census. The next meeting is June 17. Contact Rebekah Seder to learn more.

Time Flies

By Tamara Lucas Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

At one of our Annual Meetings a few years ago, WRAG gave each attendee a button that read either “Influence,” “Innovate,” or “Inspire.” We felt those words captured our purpose. Our mission is to improve the lives of people who live, work, and play in our region. We can’t do that directly – our job is to promote philanthropy that improves lives – but, indirectly, we can have an impact if we influence, innovate and inspire WRAG members and partners. Looking back after 12 years, I believe that WRAG – the core organization and our membership — has lived up to those terms.

I now sit in an almost empty office. Purging 12 years of files and memorabilia has reminded me of so much:

Eight Neighbors, and other groundbreaking regional partnerships;
• the flash mob at the 2010 Annual Meeting and our ongoing commitment to using the arts to underscore messages;
• the growth of The Daily (and sometimes “Almost Daily”) WRAG into a must-read publication for the local social sector;
• the Thought Leaders series that led to Brightest Minds and the Cafritz Lecture on Philanthropy;
• the ebbs and flows over the years of our various working and affinity groups;
• the planning and launch of the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility;
• the evolution of our work on housing affordability (and its future trajectory); and, of course,
WRAG’s work on race and racism.

I am proud of this work.

WRAG has been fortunate to have a complement of staff throughout the years who were dedicated, creative, smart, and fun. As I leave, WRAG is financially stable. The organization is in the incredibly capable hands of a great staff and board, and a new leader is coming on April 15th.

It is interesting how “retirement” has come to mean so many different things. I don’t know yet what form my retirement will take. I welcome your insights on where you think I might fit. I am committed to working for and with strong organizations within what I still want to call the social profit sector. I know that affordable housing has to mean homes to buy, not just rental opportunities. Child welfare has to find a place at the issue table. And, I fully believe that the fight for racial equity and justice is a relay race with no end in sight. Give me a few months to get my second wind and I will pick up on another leg of that race. I am not certain what my formal platform will be, but I know my work and voice will continue.

I have made so many wonderful friends and connected with amazing colleagues. I hope we will stay in touch. On social media, you can follow my monthly blog at and soon I will launch a new Twitter account @DgtsOfTheDream. You can always reach me at cozybaycottage(at) Maybe you will even find a warm summer day to join me at the cottage or time to take an urban hike through my beautiful city. Wishing all of you the very, very best.

The Countdown to Census 2020 Begins Today

By Rebekah Seder
Senior Program Manager
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Census Day is now one year away – and the time to act is now.

A fair and accurate census is critical to the future of our region. Data from the census are used to allocate political representation at the federal and state levels, and to determine billions in federal funding for a host of essential programs, including Medicaid, SNAP, housing vouchers, Head Start, and much more. (Check out these fact sheets from George Washington University to see just how much funding is at stake in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.) Census data drive decisions that impact our lives in countless ways, from where businesses choose to locate, to where bus routes operate, health clinics open, and housing is built.

Most importantly, a fair and accurate census is about equity. Those most at risk of not being counted are those communities that are already the most marginalized in our region due to a history of structural racism and inequitable policies. People of color, immigrants, young children, and low-income families lose political voice and access to resources – power and money – when they aren’t counted. (Explore this map to see where the hardest-to-count census tracts are in our region.)

All of this is compounded in 2020 as actions at the federal level, including the attempt to add an unnecessary citizenship question to the census form, have created a climate of fear that will suppress census completion among communities that have the most at stake. The shift to an online form will also suppress the count among low-income households and others affected by the digital divide.

What WRAG is doing

Since June 2018, WRAG has convened a 2020 Census Working Group of funders interested in strategically supporting the census count in the region. The group meets regularly to share information and get updates from U.S. Census Bureau officials and their counterparts responsible for census activities at the state level in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Many working group members are developing grantmaking and non-grantmaking strategies to support outreach to hard-to-count communities and to amplify the work of Complete Count Committees – cross-sector groups made up of local government representatives and trusted civic leaders that are activating to get out the count in their respective jurisdictions.

In addition, WRAG, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and 13 foundations and other organizations are co-sponsoring a convening later this spring to mobilize key community stakeholders and elevate effective strategies for ensuring that those communities most likely to be missed by the census are counted.

How to get involved

WRAG Members: Contact Rebekah Seder to join WRAG’s 2020 Census Working Group and get connected with other funders already taking action. Check out the Funders Census Initiative, convened by the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation, for a comprehensive toolkit for philanthropic action and other resources on the census.

Nonprofit partners: Advocacy and direct service organizations can educate, encourage, and enable their constituents to complete the census. Get involved with your local Complete Count Committee to support outreach activities in your community. Talk to your funders about what kinds of support your organization needs to participate in census-related activities.

Progress toward our vision of an equitable region is impossible without a fair and accurate census. We all have a role to play to ensure that everyone in our region is counted. The clock is ticking.

WRAG Announcement: Dr. Madye Henson named President and CEO

Following a highly competitive national search and vetting process, the board of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers is proud to announce the selection of Dr. Madye Henson as President and CEO. She will take the helm on April 15.

Madye steps into this role with over 20 years of cross-sector leadership and a distinguished reputation for building strong relationships. She is known as a visionary and strategic thinker with capacity-building and organizational management skills that have enhanced the teams she’s led within the business, education, and nonprofit sectors. Throughout her career, she has tackled effectively the significant and complex challenges facing the organizations she led with a blend of strategic, operational and cultural expertise admired by staff and stakeholders alike. Modeling leadership resiliency and courage, Madye has engaged in implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and developed lasting partnerships as cornerstones for mission success.

Most recently, Madye served as CEO of Covenant House Greater Washington, the region’s leading comprehensive nonprofit serving young people experiencing homelessness, disconnection, and exploitation. There, she partnered with the board to make important and intentional investments in the physical infrastructure that would help set Covenant House and its young people up for a future of success and initiated and helped lead advocacy efforts that led to the historic legislative change that transferred GEDs into high school diplomas for all DC graduates.

Prior to her role with Covenant House, Madye served as the deputy superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools where she was a leader in the system’s efforts to integrate school with community, and address issues of disproportionality and inequities in schools and learning. Madye also served for three years as President and CEO of HandsOn Greater DC Cares, reestablishing its financial security for the period of her tenure and building its reputation as a star affiliate in the HandsOn network, earning her a position on the national HandsOn board of trustees. Prior to DC Cares, Madye served as Vice President, Community Impact Development with United Way Worldwide, and before moving to the nonprofit arena she held leadership positions in and consulting relationships with several major corporations. Across her career, she has engaged with the philanthropic sector as a board member, grantee, funder, partner, and consultant and brings deep experience and insights into WRAG’s goals to better align philanthropic investments and nonprofit resources in support of positive change for communities in the Greater Washington area.

She earned her doctorate in management and her MBA from Webster University, as well as her Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She is a member of Leadership Greater Washington Class of 2010.

Madye will lead the design and implementation of WRAG’s vision for the future of the organization. We believe she has the expertise and experience needed to build upon WRAG’s current successes, engage new members and grow investment in the region, and advance the organization’s commitment to racial equity in the Greater Washington region.

The board and search committee extend their gratitude to their search firm partner in this process Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group. Please join the board and staff in welcoming Madye to WRAG.

Philanthropy Then and Now: Mid-Career Reflections

By Katy Moore

After 11.5 wonderful years at the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, March 20, 2019 will be my last day. As I reflect on my 16-year career in philanthropy, having worked with more than 1,000 grantmaking organizations at the local, regional, and national levels, I had a few thoughts.

1. Don’t be daunted by the size of the problem.
Imagine having an annual grants budget of $1.5 million – the average giving level of WRAG’s member organizations. With that $1.5M, your board might ask you to, for example, build a stronger community for residents of the Greater Washington region (that’s about $.025 per resident), improve the health of Northern Virginians (that’s about $1.50 per resident), or improve the lives of children in underserved communities in Washington, DC (about $30 per child). Philanthropy is nothing if not ambitious. But, philanthropy’s resources compared to the scale of the problems the sector is trying to tackle can lead to what Grant Oliphant calls a “feeling of desperate impotence.” In these moments, it’s critical that we get out of our offices and into the community to connect with the people whose lives are forever changed by the investments we’re making.

2. Giving away money for a living can go to your head.
Many people who work in philanthropy understand their privileged position and are incredibly humble about how they approach their work. There are, however, a small handful of others who have either never worked in the nonprofit field or, if they have, seem to have forgotten what it was like to fundraise, work in direct service, or be woefully underpaid for working in the community. Philanthropy cannot achieve its goals without the nonprofit sector. We’d do well to treat them as the valued partners that they are. I’m a BIG advocate for term limits for program officers, for philanthropy professionals serving on nonprofit boards and for volunteering to be part of nonprofit pro bono projects. This helps philanthropy practitioners stay grounded in the nonprofit reality.

3. Affordable housing is the ultimate upstream strategy.
No matter what issue area you’re funding – from health to education to economic mobility – affordable housing is a good bet. Kids can’t do well in school if they slept in a car last night. You can’t improve someone’s health if they don’t have a safe place to live and cook healthy meals. It is difficult for families to build wealth without affordable home ownership options – this is especially true for families of color. So, whether you’re funding affordable housing directly or engaging in impact investing, it should be part of your portfolio since housing is at the root of so many social challenges.

4. Racial equity isn’t an issue area. It’s the heart of all issue areas.
We in the social sector really like to examine social problems. We commission research, we read, we call on experts. We do all this so that we can understand complicated, interconnected social challenges and be better positioned to invest in solutions. As philanthropy continues to dissect social ills, racial disparity remains the constant. The color of a person’s skin is still the number one predictor of life outcomes in America. That’s why so many funders are now putting racism on the table and doing their grantmaking with a racial equity lens.

If we, as a sector, are truly dedicated to improving the health, wealth, and vitality of our communities, racial equity must be the lens through which we conduct our work. That includes not only our grantmaking, but also the work we do internally with our institutions. The white culture of philanthropy is omnipresent and undeniable, especially when you consider that 90 percent of foundation leaders are white and approximately 95 percent of the $60 billion awarded each year by US foundations goes to white-led organizations.

It’s time for philanthropy to own and examine its whiteness. White funders must increase their racial literacy, examine their own white privilege and their institutions’ white culture. By doing so, we can unmask the power and privilege that whiteness (and white wealth) have created.

5. The future of philanthropy is here
Over the course of my career, I’ve watched the philanthropic field grow in sophistication and creativity – from the way it makes grants, to the way it invests its endowments, to the way it cultivates future leaders. And, while philanthropy – that most traditional of institutions – hasn’t always been lauded for its entrepreneurial spirit, innovation has always been a part of its culture. Here are just three recent trends I’m excited about:

Impact Investing – Just think what we could accomplish if we mobilized for social good the 95 percent of philanthropic assets that are currently sitting in trust funds and the stock market!

Participatory Grantmaking –Who knows better what a community needs than the community itself? Check out this video to learn more from one funder already putting this strategy into practice.

• Philanthropy’s increasing willingness to invest in advocacy and use its voice as a tool for social change. As one of my favorite authors, Brené Brown, writes, “Leaders who live their values are never silent about hard things.” If you’re being silent about the community challenges you see or the changes you’re trying to make, just know that your silence is sending a message.

Traditional philanthropy was built by money and privilege. Over time, thankfully, the ivory tower has started to crumble. As I reflect on my career and my efforts to break down the intrinsic power dynamics between the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, I’m proud of the strides that the field has made and of the direction we’re headed.

I hope that as I change gears to focus on nonprofit fundraising and capacity building that we can stay in touch! I will be relying on you, my network, to encourage me to remain bold in my efforts to push the social change field to achieve more. I hope that, together, we will continue to be audacious in our efforts to make this region a place where everyone can participate and prosper.

Thank you for 11 wonderful years!

Since 2007, Katy Moore has been a part of the team at the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG), a powerful network of more than 100 of the largest and most respected philanthropic institutions in the Greater Washington, DC region. Starting June 1, she will join The Orr Group, a fundraising consultancy with offices in DC and New York. Stay in touch and follow her work on Twitter and LinkedIn!