Tag: Americans for the Arts

Even a small amount of savings can make a difference for families

A new Urban Institute report explores the relationship between the economic health of cities and the financial health of its residents. While it’s no surprise that having wealthier families leads to wealthier cities, the study looks at how families experiencing hardships with even a small amount of savings can avoid spiraling into instability and creating greater costs for municipalities. (City Lab, 4/26):

Hardship outcomes matter to cities. Eviction is a leading cause of homelessness, especially for families with children. Eviction also leads some families to seek out substandard living conditions. Residential instability limits opportunities for children and youths. Missed utility payments, another form of hardship, is a cost for municipalities. So are public benefits.


Financial insecurity is a problem for families that can take the form of food insecurity, poor health outcomes, and homelessness. The Urban Institute’s research shows that a family’s financial insecurity is also a city’s problem. When families without savings suffer income disruptions (which are common), they may turn to public benefits. Or they may turn to more expensive forms of support. Or they may suffer. All of these outcomes at the family level detract from a city’s overall financial health.

– Ahead of WRAG’s upcoming Brightest Minds event featuring author and Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University Eldar Shafir on May 18WRAG’s Philanthropy Fellow Hannah Davis explains the notion of the “scarcity trap,” and why having too little is a big deal. (Daily, 4/26)

– Opinion: Natalie Wexler, education blogger/editor of Greater Greater Education and DC Eduphile, and trustee of the Omega Foundation, explores why it’s so important for decision makers to stop viewing reading as the “broccoli” that low-income students must eat before getting to the “dessert”- art, history, music and more. (DC Eduphile, 4/18)

– The Growing College-Degree Wealth Gap (Atlantic, 4/25)

–  Heroin epidemic worsens in Virginia (WTOP, 4/25)

– Suicide rates are on the rise for every age group under 75, with girls between the ages of 10 and 14 experiencing the highest percent increase. Economic stagnation, drug use, lack of health coverage, and even earlier puberty ages are counted as possible reasons for depression that leads to more suicides. (WAMU, 4/21)

– Do Local Governments Have a Role to Play in Mental Health? (City Lab, 4/19)

– Americans for the Arts delivers their sixth and final publication of the National Arts Index, an annual report on the health and vitality of arts and culture in the U.S.

– With a number of recent transitions in the District’s dance scene, here’s a look at what’s on the horizon in the near future. (Dance Magazine, 4/15)

AudioIs Jazz Sustainable In Washington, D.C.? (WAMU, 4/21)

Have you read any of these remarkable book titles?

– Ciara

A six-month update on Helping Families Home

Earlier this year, 25 organizations (including eight grantees of the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation) gathered to release Helping Families Home: A Roadmap for the District – a community plan outlining their recommendations on what D.C. should immediately do to get to a high-quality homeless services system. Now, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute has a six-month update on the District’s progress, including a full report and report card summary. (DCFPI, 12/9)

There has been progress in some important areas: a new homelessness prevention program is set to be launched this winter, there are new investments in affordable housing for families, and the District is securing additional shelter capacity for this winter. The District has released a plan for a new system of smaller shelters to replace the DC General Family Shelter, but it is not clear if this plan will yield enough shelter capacity to meet the need.

Yet there has been a tremendous lack of progress in several key areas. Many of the problems with DC’s Rapid Re-housing program – the main tool for getting families out of shelter – have not been addressed. Little progress has been made to meet the unique needs of youth-headed households, which make up nearly half of all families seeking shelter. The DC General Family Shelter has received only some of the improved case management and services it needs. Also, the District is planning to fill the gap in the homeless services budget by using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding, and it is not clear whether this will lead to cuts in other vital programs. Finally, DC has made little progress towards the goal of providing access to shelter year-round.

– A plan by a developer to put a luxury hotel, condos, and retail in Mount Vernon Triangle, along with an affordable housing component in Anacostia, has left many residents east-of-the-river underwhelmed. In an area with an abundance of low-income housing, residents question why the location of the projects cannot be reversed. (WCP, 12/10)

– A new report from the Washington DC Economic Partnership – with support from Capital One Bank, Pepco, and Washington Gas  says that District developers will add 12,000 new residential units in next three years. (DCist, 12/9)

ARTS | On their blog, Americans for the Arts considers how starting the conversation about diversity in the arts isn’t always easy, but it must be done. This is part of a series of updates on their ongoing Greater DC Diversity Pilot Initiative (supported in part by the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation). (Artsblog, 12/9)

EDUCATIONA Battle Expected Over School Spending in Montgomery County (WAMU, 12/9)

TRANSIT | With transit costs taking up nearly a quarter of low-income commuters’ income, why are bike-share, car-share, and ride-share services that promise to save people money mostly used by those who earn more than the median wage? (GGW, 12/9)

Here’s just one way to keep thieves from stealing packages off your doorstep.

– Ciara

Pew poll finds racial equality still a dream for many Americans

– A Pew Research Center survey released yesterday found that fewer than a third of black Americans, and fewer than half of whites, believe that the country has made significant steps toward racial equality in the 50 years since the March on Washington. (NY Times, 8/22)

– On the Washington Area Women’s Foundation blog, Mariah Craven explains why the March on Washington is still relevant (WAWF, 8/22):

I’m simultaneously in awe of and distressed by the timelessness of [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s] speech. It encompasses feelings and aspirations that far exceed the boundaries of race. But so many of the challenges outlined in the speech are applicable today… I’m struck by the fact that if you replace the word “Negro” with words like “poor,” or “black,” or “Latino,” or “undocumented” in the text of the speech, it’s still so relevant.

EVENT: On September 26, WRAG’s final Brightest Minds speaker for 2013, Dr. Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum for African American History and Culture, will be speaking to the region’s philanthropic and nonprofit community about how history shapes contemporary society and informs the work we do in the social sector. More information and registration.

Related: Even if you’re not on Twitter, check out NPR’s feed, Today in 1963. It’s powerful and fascinating.

COMMUNITY | The Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation, along with the Jewish Funders Network and six other foundations, have launched the Jewish Social Change Matching Fund, a national $1 million fund that aims to increase charitable gifts toward Jewish social change efforts. More information about the fund and how to apply available here.

REGION | Largo Town Center has been chosen as the future home of a major hospital development, which the county hopes will revitalize the area (WaPo, 8/23):

County officials said the vote for Largo, which has the backing of Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), was a significant step toward helping the county remedy two of its biggest struggles: providing quality health care to a population that suffers disproportionately from diabetes, hypertension and obesity, and attracting the kind of transit-oriented development that has long bypassed the county.

WRAG Members: Next month, WRAG is co-hosting a convening on the state of Prince George’s County. More details here.

ARTS | Americans for the Arts’ Bob Lynch explains how supporting and engaging with the arts can help CEOs address critical business challenges. His points seem relevant beyond business, however (AFTA, 8/22):

The arts are connectors. They help us connect to our own potential by igniting a creative, bold, and innovative mindset. They help us connect to others by encouraging engagement, empathy, and the understanding that there are many ways of seeing the same thing. The arts connect people to the communities in which they live, the businesses at which they work, and the people with whom they interact.

HEALTH | Seven Fairfax high schools to ban sugary sodas from vending machines (WaPo, 8/23)

If you’re in the mood for more history, I highly recommend checking out Slate’s blog, The Vault. It’s full of fascinating documents, letters, photos, and other primary sources. Be careful though: if you’re even the slightest bit nerdy, you could end up killing a lot of time looking at it. Like I just did.

– Rebekah