Tag: Community Foundation for the National Capital Region

Cleaning (and greening) D.C.-area rivers

D.C. Water plans to utilize green infrastructure – surfaces that will reduce combined sewer overflow to the Potomac River and Rock Creek – in areas around Columbia Heights, Takoma, Petworth, and surrounding neighborhoods. The project will bring with it a number of additional benefits, but critics wonder if the plans continue a history of neglect of the  Anacostia River and its surrounding neighborhoods. (City Lab, 6/9)

Green infrastructure’s ability to absorb water where it falls has been proven to be effective, and to have a number of “co-benefits.” After all, a lot of what we’re talking about are trees, plants, and soil. Installing green infrastructure in strategic spots creates additional green space for the neighborhoods. That also means a reduced heat-island effect, improved air quality and health outcomes, more wildlife habitats, job creation, and increased property values. It’s exciting news for the District, which will join New York City, Philadelphia, and a handful of other U.S. cities embarking on major green infrastructure projects.


But longtime residents of [the] Anacostia area won’t get quite the same added benefits of green development as in Takoma and Georgetown, where income levels are historically much higher. [CEO and General Manager of D.C. Water, George] Hawkins says he hopes that the city will focus more greening efforts in the Anacostia area, to make up for what D.C. Water won’t be doing there. Yes, years from now, the river will be clean, an amazing and long unimaginable future. But as the co-benefits of green infrastructure go to show, a clean river is just the beginning of truly expansive environmental justice.

To stop sewage from overflowing in the Anacostia, Nannie is digging in (GGW, 6/10)

EVENTS/HOMELESSNESS | On Tuesday, June 30 at 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region will hold a forum on youth homelessness in the region. For more details and to register, click here.

PHILANTHROPY | The Foundation Center has released a new paper by Emmett Carson, CEO and president of Silicon Valley Community Foundation (and keynote speaker at WRAG’s 2013 annual meeting), in which he examines the role of U.S. community foundations and their continued impact in their communities. (GrantCraft, 6/8)

– In a national survey of educators, teachers cited student poverty as the biggest barrier to learning. Respondents to the survey shared that as much as 20 percent of their time is spent helping students with nonacademic problems. The number of public school children who live in poverty continues to rise nationwide. (WaPo, 6/9)

How Poverty Alters the Young Brain (City Lab, 6/9)

– For those in poverty, the money-based bail system imposed by most jurisdictions can often mean spending months behind bars for nonviolent offenses before ever getting a day in court. (NYT, 6/10)

Though money bail is firmly entrenched in the vast majority of jurisdictions, the practice is coming under new scrutiny in the face of recent research that questions its effectiveness, rising concerns about racial and income disparities in local courts, and a bipartisan effort to reduce the reliance on incarceration nationwide.

– When it comes to unequal access to wealth creation and social mobility, for some, we must first determine if the real problem lies in inequality or opportunity. (Atlantic, 6/5)

ARTS/IMMIGRATION | Coming This Fall: A Film on D.C.’s Undocumented Immigrant Youth (WCP, 6/10)

Check out these photos of what might be D.C.’s largest public art project. 

– Ciara

Increased giving among largest foundations in 2015

According to a new Chronicle of Philanthropy survey, the nation’s largest foundations have significantly increased giving since last year, though they have yet to reach 2007 figures. The forecast is a good showing of overall financial health among foundations, but shows it will take some time to reach pre-recession levels. (Chronicle, 6/1) – Subscription required

“Foundations were severely hit by the financial crisis,” says Lester Salamon, director of the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

In the years following the downturn, uncertainty about the markets “lingered for quite a while” among foundation chiefs, Mr. Salamon says.

But after three straight years of double-digit market gains, he says, many foundations had no choice but to increase their generosity last year, lest they be penalized for failing to pay out a minimum of 5 percent of their assets (certain expenses other than grants can be used to meet the payout rates), as required by law.

– Opinion: Is the world of philanthropy shrouded in too much secrecy? One writer points to some broad goals to bring oversight to the philanthropic sector in the wake of allegations of questionable practices among widely-known foundations.  (NYT, 5/30)

COMMUNITY | The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region (CFNCR) recently celebrated the inaugural graduation of their Youth Workforce Leaders Academy. The Academy, launched through the Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative at CFNCR, provided professional development to fifteen youth workforce leaders in the region. To read more about the program and how to provide support, click here. (CFNCR, 5/29)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | In their continuing Matters@Hand thought-leadership series sponsored by Enterprise Community Partners, HAND examines what is being done in the region to bring about more affordable housing and some of the approaches the area could borrow from other areas. (Helping Hands Blog, 6/1)

WRAG vice president, Affordable Housing Action Team, and Greater Washington Housing Leaders Group member, Gretchen Greiner-Lott, adds:

In this piece, Dr. Lisa Sturtevant explores other region’s efforts to make housing more affordable. Some of the successful examples she highlights may seem “small” but can, she thinks, have great impact over time due to the fact that they help to “build broader support for regional action.”  That is exactly what WRAG is trying to do through the Greater Washington Housing Leaders Group (GWHLG), which is mentioned in the piece. The GWHLG is a collection of more than a dozen public and private sector leaders concerned about and looking at strategies to increase affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households in the region.

– A Washington Post analysis reports that the number of individuals fatally shot by police nationwide so far this year is steadily approaching 400. The study also includes findings such as the gender, race, and socioeconomic class of the victims, as well as details surrounding the circumstances of the incidents. (WaPo, 5/30)

The Missing Statistics of Criminal Justice (Atlantic, 5/31)

EDUCATION | D.C. mayor’s first budget thin on new investments for middle schools (WaPo, 5/31)

Some words are just hard to remember how to spell. Have a look at which words are most commonly being Googled for a spell check in each state.

– Ciara

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments releases new annual report on homelessness in the region

Though there were a number of reports over the last few months that pointed toward disappointing numbers, newly-released results from the annual point-in-time homelessness count found that the Greater Washington region saw a 2.7 percent decrease in homelessness from last year. Despite the slight drop, there is still much room for improvement. (WaPo, 5/13)

The tally, released Wednesday, confirmed a continued crisis of homelessness in the Washington region evident to almost anyone who lives, works or visits the city’s downtown core during winter, when homeless men and women amass in entrances to Metro stops and many other spots where they can stay warm. It also may have understated the challenge still faced by D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), who has vowed to end chronic homelessness in the city.

Much of the overall dip resulted from a 300-person drop in homeless parents and children in D.C. shelters on the night of the count.

But unlike last year, when the number of homeless families peaked near the date of the 2014 federal count, this year several hundred entered shelter or were placed in overflow motel rooms in the District throughout February, March and even early April.


Beyond the District, numbers of homeless families also surged this winter in the city of Alexandria and in Fairfax, Frederick and Montgomery counties. Given that trend, few on Wednesday celebrated the slight decrease in the total from last year’s count.

The data comes from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments new annual report, Homelessness in Metropolitan Washington.

–  D.C. Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger spoke on the District’s own six percent decrease in homeless residents, stating that a celebration of the results would be too premature, “because there are still far too many people [who are homeless.] (City Paper, 5/13) 

Southeast D.C. facility for homeless veterans gets a boost (WaPo, 5/13)

WRAG/PHILANTHROPY | Interested in following the conversation from WRAG’s first-ever Loudoun County Philanthropy Conference? Check out the hashtag #FundLoudoun on Twitter to see what panelists and participants are saying.

NONPROFITS | Next month, the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, in partnership with the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, will hold a new, four-part communications series/training for leaders of nonprofits based in or serving residents of wards 7 or 8. The multi-day training seeks to help organizations strengthen their voices and raise awareness about issues affecting residents east of the river. For more information on how to register, click here.

Opinion: A number of emerging new studies are examining the long-term effects of government programs like the earned-income tax credit, Medicaid, SNAP, and more, on families. Though data can only go back so far, there is evidence that children whose families received benefits have better outcomes as they enter their 20s and 30s than those whose families were denied benefits. (NYT, 5/11)

Obama Urges Liberals and Conservatives to Unite on Poverty (NYT, 5/12)

How well can you read the emotions of others? Sometimes it’s all in the eyes! Take this quiz to see if you can tell what these people are thinking.

– Ciara

Food banks in the region prepare for summer

Though Loudoun County is among one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, food banks there are preparing themselves for the summer surge in demand from many families who rely on their services (WaPo, 5/13):

More than 12,500 children in Loudoun public schools depend on free or reduced-price lunches through their schools, county education officials said. When the school year ends, the missing breakfasts and lunches place considerable pressure on economically vulnerable families, said Jennifer Montgomery, executive director of Loudoun Interfaith Relief.

“In the summer, you have this confluence of events — you have kids getting out of school, and now these parents are scrambling to pay for child care, and they’re also having to find food,” she said.


Although the percentage of people living below the poverty line in Loudoun is fairly low — about 4 to 5 percent, Montgomery said — about 30 percent of the county’s residents are underemployed and scraping by on less than a living wage.

Related: Tomorrow, WRAG will hold our first-ever Loudoun County Philanthropy Conference, focusing on the unique needs of the area with panelists representing the government, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors. The event will be held at the Middleburg Community Center and is supported by the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, and The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.

A new report by the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis finds that the need for further transit investment in Northern Virginia is critical in order to elevate the economy and spur business development. Business leaders and elected officials echoed similar sentiments at a recent gathering (Fairfax Times, 5/8):

“In order for this region to remain competitive, we have to have a 21st century transportation network,” said Robert Puentes, a senior fellow with the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

Many businesses are already voting with their feet and choosing to relocate to more transit-accessible areas, according to speakers at Friday’s forum.

A Virginia Tech analysis of 2011 U.S. census data found that 59 percent of the jobs in Northern Virginia are located within a quarter mile of a Metro or VRE station or a bus stop. More than 90 percent of new office space in the region is within a half mile of a Metrorail station, according to Shyam Kannan, director of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Office of Planning.

HOUSING | In a recent ranking of states with the least affordable home prices using 2013 U.S. Census data, the District came in at number two behind Hawaii. (Time, 5/11)

Though it may not be as hot as it was yesterday, outdoor movie season is officially here!

– Ciara

New study looks at role of place in determining economic mobility

POVERTY | A new study finds that poor children raised in some cities and regions are far more likely to rise out of poverty as adults than they would be if raised in other places (NY Times, 5/4):

Economists say the study offers perhaps the most detailed portrait yet of upward mobility — and the lack of it. The findings suggest that geography does not merely separate rich from poor but also plays a large role in determining which poor children achieve the so-called American dream.

These places [with higher levels of income mobility] tend to share several traits…They have elementary schools with higher test scores, a higher share of two-parent families, greater levels of involvement in civic and religious groups and more residential integration of affluent, middle-class and poor families.

In the Greater Washington region, children raised in Fairfax and Montgomery counties have more income mobility than those raised in the District or Prince William County. You can manipulate the regional data with this nifty interactive graphic here.

WRAG/WORKFORCE | In her latest column, WRAG’s president Tamara Copeland reflects on why good jobs are an important step to preventing the hopelessness that precipitated events in Baltimore (Daily, 5/4):

If we want to lessen the likelihood of the horrors of Baltimore happening in our neighborhood, I believe that we have to give people hope. For me, hope comes in the form of a job, a job with a future, a job that is secure, a job that pays a fair wage. If you have that job, you can hope to live in a nice house, in a nice neighborhood. You can hope to save enough to give your child the education that you know is needed. You can hope that your children will emulate your work ethic and see the benefits of work. Hope is a powerful motivator and when that hope is more than an emotion, when that hope leads to the reality of purchasing that home, setting up an education savings account and maybe even taking your family on that first-ever vacation, you are no longer a part of the problem. You’re a part of the solution.

– The summer 2015 class of Frank Karel Public Interest Communications Fellows have been announced. This fellowship places first-generation and minority undergraduate students at area nonprofit organizations to expose them to social change communications.

WRAG is pleased to be the fiscal sponsor for this program. Says Tamara Copeland,

“We can fully appreciate the importance of communications when we see the shift in thinking that occurs when we change the terminology we use from “affordable housing” to “housing affordability,” or when images accompanying stories about Baltimore are of people cleaning up the city and not the burned out buildings that remain. The power of phrasing and of pictures should not be minimized when we think of what changes public opinion and leads to social change. So, when WRAG was asked to be the fiscal agent for the Karel Fellows, we were honored to take on this responsibility that directly aligns with our work.”

– In a blog post, Angela Jones Hackley, interim president of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, announces the new EQUALITY Fund (Equitable Alternatives to Incarceration for Teens and Youth), created in partnership with the Kovler Fund, to provide investments in programs focused on addressing tensions in low-income communities, and the disproportionate incarceration of young men and boys of color in the region. (CFNCR, 5/1)

EVENT | The Consumer Health Foundation‘s annual meeting, Building Healthy Communities through Regional Economies, takes place on Monday, June 8. Harvard University’s David R. Williams, an internationally recognized authority on social influences on health, is the keynote speaker. Click here for more information and to register.

EQUITY | Obama to Unveil Nonprofit for Young Minorities After Baltimore Unrest (NY Times, 5/4)

HOUSING | With Prices Tripling, Homeownership Tanks Among Low-Income Washingtonians (CP, 5/1)

I’m not sure I’d be able to communicate with a 12-year-old anymore.

– Rebekah

The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region names new president and CEO

The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region has announced that Bruce McNamer is joining the foundation in June as
president and CEO

In a statement, CFNCR board chair Martin Weinstein said,

“Bruce is a dynamic leader who is deeply committed to strengthening our region through innovative, impactful, and effective philanthropy…His knowledge of real market opportunities and commitment to smart, bold innovation make him the ideal person to lead The Community Foundation in its next phase of growth. I know that Bruce will be an extraordinary leader, not only for our Foundation, but for this region’s philanthropic community at-large.”

Upon hearing the announcement, WRAG president Tamara Copeland, said,

“I was excited to hear the announcement of the new CEO of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. With such a rich background and history in both the philanthropic and social profit sectors, I know that he will be a great addition to the local philanthropic community. Congratulations, Bruce. I look forward to personally welcoming you to the WRAG community.”

BALTIMORE/PHILANTHROPY | Recognizing that many here in the Washington region would want to support our neighbor Baltimore, WRAG reached out to the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers to see how we might be helpful. Here’s the message from their CEO, Celeste Amato.

HOUSING | DC’s housing affordability crisis, in 7 charts (GGW, 4/30)

ENVIRONMENT | One of the signs of a healthier Anacostia River is the increase in wildlife living in and around it. (CP, 4/30)

AGING | Senior Villages and other community-based and affordable models for allowing elders to live at home will become increasingly necessary as the population of people over 65 skyrockets in the years ahead. (Atlantic, 5/1)

SOCIAL INNOVATION | Bill to Promote Social-Impact Bonds Has Support in High Places (Chronicle, 4/28)

BUDGET | Mayor Bowser Does a Lot with a Lean Budget But It May Not Work Again Next Year  (DCFPI, 4/30)

“America Online can do all that?”

– Rebekah

Friday roundup – March 30 through April 3, 2015

– WRAG president Tamara Copeland shared how a regional call to action for business and government leaders came to include the funding community. (Daily, 4/2)

– WRAG announced an upcoming conference on the needs of Loudoun County. The Loudoun County Philanthropy Conference will take place on Thursday, May 14 and is sponsored by the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and the Middleburg Community Center. (Daily, 4/1)

– The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia‘s Eileen Ellsworth and Jen McCollum shared why they’re excited to “get on the map” and use the interactive tool that allows them to share their grants data with colleagues. (Daily, 3/30)

– The Community Foundation for Prince George’s County is inviting the funding community to visit nonprofit organizations that are moving Prince George’s County forward through safety-net, education and workforce development services. Guests will spend approximately one hour touring facilities, observing programs in action, and conversing with the organization’s leadership team. Those interested in going on a site visit should email Alicia Barrett at abarrett@cfncr.org to register at least one week in advance.

– D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser got things in full swing this week. After a little bit of March Madness, Bowser delivered her State of the District address outlining plans to create “pathways to the middle class,” and later released her proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2016. (WCP, 3/10, WaPo, 3/31, DCist, 4/2)

– Some residents and party leaders in Fairfax County are concerned with the lack of diversity among candidates for public office, as demographics there have seen quite a shift in the last 15 years. (WaPo, 3/29)

– Prince George’s officials shared their 2020 Strategic Plan for the school system with five main areas for improvement – academics, workforce development, safe and modernized facilities, community engagement, and organizational effectiveness. (Gazette, 4/2)

– Attorney General Karl Racine approved the plan for an all-boys school for minority students east of the Anacostia as part of the “Empowering Males of Color” initiative. (WCP, 3/30)

Healthy Communities Working Group: A Conversation with Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Director, D.C. Department of Health (WRAG members)
Monday, April 6, 2015  12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Get on the Map: A How-To Webinar 
Thursday, April 9, 2015  2:00 PM – 2:45 PM

Take a look at this year’s best Peeps dioramas!

– Ciara



Announcing the Loudoun County Philanthropy Conference

What do you think of when you think about Loudoun County? If you say horses, wineries, and Dulles Airport, perhaps you haven’t been paying attention to all the exciting changes happening in this often overlooked area of our region.

Loudoun County is the fastest-growing jurisdiction in the Greater Washington region. According to the Center for Regional Analysis, the population has more than doubled in the last 15 years! And, thanks to new job centers, mixed-use developments, and the influx of younger people into the county, Loudoun is also leading the region in economic growth. With the county’s shifting demographics, new economic growth, and the opening of the Silver Line, this is an ideal time to learn about changing needs and explore opportunities for philanthropic investment.

That’s why, this spring, WRAG is focusing on Loudoun County by hosting our first-ever Loudoun County Philanthropy Conference on May 14. The goal of this gathering is to introduce the region’s philanthropic community to the specific needs in Loudoun, provide a venue for collectively exploring strategies for addressing those needs, and, ultimately, to encourage increased and more effective philanthropic investments in the county.

Michael Cassidy, President and CEO of the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, will kick things off with an overview of the needs and opportunities in Loudoun. Following Michael’s presentation, we’ll hear from a panel of experts representing the philanthropic, nonprofit, and government sectors on what their seeing “on the ground” in the county. Then, over lunch, funders interested in supporting Loudoun will have the opportunity to network with their philanthropic colleagues, discuss issues of shared interest, and explore individual and collaborative funding strategies for addressing county needs.

The event is open to WRAG members, non-members, nonprofits, government officials, community leaders, and anyone else interested in learning about the needs of the county. For more information, click here.

A BIG thanks to our already confirmed conference sponsors:

logo - claude moore_0

logo - claude moore_0


Middleburg Community Center:

Middleburg Community Center

Friday roundup – March 16 through March 20, 2015

– The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region shared why they’re excited to “get on the map” and use the interactive tool that allows them to share their grants data with colleagues. (Daily, 3/16)

– WRAG philanthropy fellow Shira Broms provided highlights from each panelist at the year’s first Corporate Philanthropy Affinity Group. (Daily, 3/17)

Opinion: An affordable housing crisis with no end in sight (WaPo, 3/19)

– Washington Regional Food Funders consultant Lindsay Smith explored the urgent need for funders to support emergency food service providers in the region. (Daily, 3/18)

–  D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, signed a first-of-its kind joint agreement to develop a strategy to end homelessness across jurisdictions. This comes after Mayor Bowser released a detailed plan to end chronic homelessness in the District over the next five years. (WaPo, 3/17 and 3/16))

How Much (Or Little) The Middle Class Makes, in 30 U.S. Cities (NPR, 3/19)

CEO Coffee & Conversation: The 2030 Group’s Bob Buchanan (WRAG member CEOs and CEO-equivalents only)
Wednesday, March 25, 2015   9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

Funders’ Roundtable of Montgomery County: Investing in Our Neighbors with Special Needs from Cradle to Career (The Funders’ Roundtable is a networking group exclusively for donors, foundations, and companies interested in giving in Montgomery County, MD.)
Thursday, March 26, 2015  12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Today is the International Day of Happiness! Can you watch this video without smiling

– Ciara

Follow-Up: Protecting key federal nutrition programs of local importance

by Lindsay Smith
Washington Regional Food Funders

In the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, SNAP served more than 1.8 million people last year. (Some local studies also suggest that not all of those eligible for these benefits received them.) Federal programs like SNAP, the school lunch program, and WIC, support millions of people in D.C., MD, and VA. Cutting these programs places additional demands on our region’s emergency food service providers to meet the nutritional needs of low-income community members.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming clearer everyday that some in Congress are intent on cutting SNAP again when what’s needed is the opposite. Last summer, Charles Meng of the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) attributed a 40 percent increase in the number of people AFAC was serving in just one year to a cut in SNAP benefits, and the expiration of unemployment benefits. He explained:

“This is unlike a recession situation when we see people coming to us, and when the recession eases, they’d be leaving us…we’re not seeing that, these are basically going to be our clients on a long-term basis because this is a structural change to the funding available from the feds.”

Continued funding for emergency food assistance is critical but so is supporting policy change if we hope to eliminate hunger and improve health.

I encourage funders to support our region’s emergency food service providers and:

  1. Talk with them about their programmatic aspirations and where there may be opportunities to build a stronger regional food system in the process. A number are working to increase healthy food options as demand for this increases.
  2. Ask what federal and local policy changes would make a difference to their clients’ ability to access healthy food, and if the organization is in a position to support their clients to share stories about the impact of food insecurity on their lives.
  3. Use your own voice to talk with legislators about the impact of a weakened social safety net on your grantees and the communities they serve. Sharing your own story is not lobbying, though it’s always useful to review the differences between lobbying and advocacy.

One priority a new report from the Food and Agriculture Policy Collaborative calls for is protecting and improving SNAP to ensure that Americans don’t go hungry and to help build a more sustainable food system. Doing so will require funders to consider their ability to invest in longer term policy change. There are proven well-established advocates, and new ones, who can sustain the campaign needed to eliminate hunger and build a more sustainable food system. In the near term, they’ll need support to demonstrate the short-sighted nature of cutting effective programs like SNAP. They also need support to continue to broaden their coalitions and to identify strategic opportunities to change the narrative on SNAP   – improving the program can reduce hunger and its costly consequences even more than it does now.

Lindsay Smith coordinates the work of Washington Regional Food Funders (WRFF), a working group of WRAG. On May 7, 2015, WRAG will offer Food Security 101 for WRAG members in partnership with the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region to examine some of the themes raised in this post in greater detail, and how it relates to our broader regional food system.