Tag: community wealth building

Promoting effective philanthropy for Greater Washington | A second quarter report to the community

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

A few years ago, there was a lot of talk in the social profit sector about moving from good to great. Some in that sector may be surprised to learn that folks in philanthropy have been having a similar conversation. What does it take to ensure effective philanthropy? How can we ensure that funds are being invested in the best way to truly improve the region?

So, for the second quarter of 2015, WRAG took “promoting effective philanthropy” as our focus:

WRAG’s “Fundamentals of CSR” seminar, held in April, aimed to promote effective partnerships between corporate funders and the region’s social profit community. Our belief was that corporate philanthropy’s impact would be strengthened by having community partners who better understood the unique philanthropic perspective of corporations. Over 50 members of the local social profit community participated in this very well-received workshop and told us that their knowledge about CSR improved from an average of 4.8 on a 1-10 scale before the seminar, to 7.9 by the end of the two-day seminar. Great. Now, we have to wait a bit to see if that knowledge gain makes a difference.

In May, Community Wealth Building took front and center as we hosted – along with the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the Consumer Health Foundation, and City First Enterprises – the first community update on this initiative. The standing-room-only audience was eager to learn the status of the first business launched under the community wealth building umbrella, and to consider if they saw a place for themselves in this initiative. Many did! So, after several years of planning, community wealth building is taking off in our region. Great? I sure think so.

Next, affordable housing. We all know the current state of this as a crisis in our region. In May, WRAG and Enterprise Community Partners collaborated to present to the Federal City Council on a new funding pool that we are establishing for developers of affordable housing units. It will provide these developers with access to low interest bridge loans. This is exciting and innovative work for WRAG, and is creating buzz as we move into the impact investing arena. Stay tuned for an announcement next month about how you can be involved in this effort, too. It’s not just for institutional philanthropists. We can all play a role in enabling affordable housing in our region. Definitely a move from good (info gathering) –> to great (taking action and making a difference).

And, last, but definitely not least, what will it take to move the social profit sector in Loudoun County from good to great? More communication across sectors and more targeted and increased philanthropic investments. To get there, WRAG hosted our first philanthropy conference in Loudoun County. Over 100 people attended, including 40 funders, along with representatives of social profit organizations and local government. Now that interest in the county has been kindled, the next step is a meeting this summer to really talk about how to move from interest to action.

There will be no lazy, hazy days of summer at WRAG. Moving from good to great takes time, energy, and focus. We’re glad to play a part with philanthropy in our region. Happy summer everyone!

You can read Tamara’s first quarter report to the community about growing philanthropy in our region here

A plan for D.C. General

Amid a great deal of controversy and a number of complaints about the building, the city is taking the first steps toward closing D.C. General Homeless shelter by housing families in smaller facilities across D.C. The new plan for shelter is expected to be less isolating to families, as they would be spread around the city instead of being placed in one large shelter. (WAMU, 10/14)

As part of the plan, the city is seeking to lease buildings across D.C. that would be used to house as few as 15 and as many as 50 families in apartments, single-occupancy rooms and efficiencies. The buildings would be used as emergency shelters during the winter months.

– Among other things, one major area the next D.C. mayor will need to act on is homelessness. And fast. Check out how the candidates plan to approach the 16 percent increase in homeless families expected this winter.  (WaPo, 10/13)

– For some Virginia students, school may not, in fact, be out for summer as Governor Terry McAuliffe will award more than $1.6 million in grants to support year-round instructional programs at 29 Virginia schools in 13 school districts. The effort is to combat the “summer slide” that can often set students back academically when there is no reinforcement during the time away from school. (WAMU, 10/13)

– A school in D.C. is rethinking the way most schools view time, with a greater emphasis on giving ninth graders the tools they need to make it through to graduation right from the start. (HuffPo, 10/10) Thank you to Mieka Wick at the CityBridge Foundation for sharing.

Opinion: When a child becomes sick, many parents are faced with the tough decision of whether or not they will have to send them off to school or keep them at home. Being sick or caring for a sick child, after all, could lead to a loss in wages – or worse yet – a job. Should we change the way we enforce sick leave policies at school and work? (WaPo, 10/14)

‘Men Make a Difference’ in Prince George’s County Schools (WaPo, 10/13)

COMMUNITY WEALTH BUILDING | What exactly does it take to launch a new initiative? WRAG president, Tamara Copeland, gives us some insight by discussing the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland and how local funders are getting involved. (Daily, 10/14)

NONPROFITS | Nonprofit lending circles that help low-income individuals and immigrants with no credit history gain access to the things they may not otherwise have access to are gaining momentum. (NYT, 10/10)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | A Bureau of Labor Statistics report already pointed out that the D.C. metropolitan area is the most expensive place to live in the country, but here are some visuals that help drive the point home, (WaPo, 10/13)

HEALTH | How family planning programs save taxpayers billions of dollars each year (WaPo, 10/14)

TRANSIT | How the Silver Line may already be remaking Tyson’s (ElevationDC, 10/14)

 A recipe for cuteness? Treating a group of second graders to a fancy seven-course meal. Thanks to Kristina Kloberdanz at IBM for sharing

– Ciara

What does it take to launch a new initiative?

2014 WRAG Delegation to Cleveland

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

It was 2011 when I first learned of the Evergreen Cooperatives from three local grantmakers – Linda Howard of the Summit Fund, Kristin Pauly of Prince Charitable Trusts, and Margaret O’Bryon then of the Consumer Health Foundation. The Evergreen Cooperatives are worker-owned businesses located in underserved areas of Cleveland that supply nearby anchor institutions with services and goods they need. This philanthropy-led initiative in Cleveland, designed to actually move people out of poverty and into the middle class, was causing a buzz. By inviting the Evergreen Cooperatives’ leader to speak with local leaders, these three foundation executives started a powerful conversation.

A spark/an idea. The spark was undoubtedly the dynamic presentation (View part 1 and 2) by Ted Howard of the Democracy Collaborative, the organization that had been hired by the Cleveland Community Foundation to lead this work in Cleveland. He shared the model, the goals, and the potential for the Greater Washington region with funders, nonprofit leaders, and government officials. There were many questions and some reservations about the model’s potential here, but overall, attendees left wondering, “What if this really could work?” However, that spark alone was not enough to launch the initiative.

Resources and research. A group of about a dozen funders combined their resources for a $250,000 pool to hire Ted Howard and the Democracy Collaborative (based at the University of Maryland) to research the viability of the Evergreen model here in our region. This work included interviewing almost 200 local leaders. Afterwards, there was no question that an adaption of the principles and ideals of the Evergreen Cooperative’s worker-owner model was possible here. But, the due diligence alone was not enough to get it off the ground either.

Deeper research. Now a leader was needed to decide what kind of business had the greatest opportunity for success and to develop a capital plan to underwrite the start up costs of that business. John Hamilton, President of City First Enterprises, was that leader. He understood the business world and he understood the needs of the community. John and his team determined that the biggest opportunity laid in anchoring this work to a municipality. Next, they determined that stormwater/cleanwater management was the area of work with the greatest immediate potential here in our region. Combining those two factors with a desire by Prince George’s County to identify new approaches to combat wealth inequality in the County made Prince George’s County the optimal municipality to begin this work.

Collaboration. So, what does it take to launch an initiative? A strong cross-sector collaboration to meet a community need is a must have. The philanthropic community was the catalyst, the academic community provided the research, and government had a need to address: compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act standards. All of these factors have converged in a way to make the initiative possible.

The last ingredient. Even with all the partnership stars aligning, there is still work to be done. All parties are eager to launch the initiative and implement the tenets of community wealth building in Prince George’s County, but are awaiting finalization of the necessary agreements. We are excited about the potential impact of the Community Wealth Building Initiative and look forward to providing you with an update of our progress soon.

Note: Late last month, WRAG hosted the second tour of the Evergreen model for local funders potentially interested in becoming a part of this work. To learn more, contact Tamara Copeland at WRAG or Jason Washington at City First Enterprises.

Advocates push for better support of pregnant workers

Advocates for women, civil rights leaders and lawmakers joined forces to file briefs in the Supreme Court in support of a former UPS driver who lost a lawsuit against the company after requesting light duty on the job while she was pregnant. Many pregnant women have been forced out of work and onto public assistance programs due to possible misinterpretation by lower courts and employers of laws designed to prevent discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace. (WaPo, 9/11)

The American Civil Liberties Union and the nonprofit A Better Balance, which advocates for better policies to support working families, argued in a brief that pregnant workers are the only category of worker routinely denied accommodations, like light duty work, stools, water bottles and bathroom breaks, in order to be able to continue working. The Women’s Chamber of Commerce argued in its brief that providing accommodations to pregnant workers is important to the national economy.

And members of Congress argued that lower courts have misinterpreted a 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act that was designed expressly to protect pregnant workers from discrimination on the job.

– With back-to-school season going strong, organizers are using the opportunity to inform D.C. parents that they no longer have to miss out on a day of pay if their child must stay home sick. The legislation is among one of the stronger paid sick leave policies in the U.S., though many don’t know it exists. (WCP, 9/11)

CSR | Congratulations to WRAG members IBM, PNC, Capital One, and Citi for being named finalists for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 2014 Corporate Citizenship Awards!

– Tenants of an apartment building in Columbia Heights are fighting against a hefty 31.5 percent rent increase as infestations and serious repairs have gone ignored in their units. The building is home to all low-income residents who have united together in protest to refuse paying the rent hike. (WAMU, 9/12)

City Proposes Affordable Housing for Hebrew Home (WCP, 9/11)

COMMUNITY WEALTH BUILDING | The Democracy Collaborative has released their report, “Policies for Community Wealth Building: Leveraging State and Local Resources,” highlighting the emerging best practices in state and local policy-making that support community wealth building. On September 25th, WRAG has coordinated a site visit for funders to the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, OH where community wealth building has been underway since 2008.

COMMUNITY | The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s Future Fund (a giving circle of nearly 150 young professionals) has chosen mental health as their 2014-2015 grant focus. Organizations providing mental health services to individuals or families in Northern Virginia who might not otherwise have access to care are encouraged to apply. Funds are intended to benefit individuals aged 13 and up, and may include families. Non-profit organizations can apply for grants of up to $20,000. The total grant pool is $40,000. The deadline for submitting an application is Monday, September 22nd, 2014.

Do you recognize any of these mobile devices from the past? Did you own any of them?

– Ciara