Tag: east of the river

Assessing a $15 minimum wage

A new analysis by the Economic Policy Institute explores what a $15 minimum wage could mean to workers in the District. A number of local groups remain divided over the long-term impact of raising the minimum wage (WAMU, 5/4):

The organization’s assessment buttresses the arguments made by groups and elected officials pushing the $15 minimum wage: In an area that’s growing increasingly expensive and unequal, giving low-wage workers a pay raise is a needed step towards helping them stay afloat.

But it also marks the start of what is likely to be a spirited debate over the merits of raising the minimum wage, with local business groups standing at the ready to unveil their own studies arguing that while a higher wage may help workers get by, it will also mean that employers either create fewer jobs or [move] to jurisdictions — like Virginia — where the minimum wage remains much lower, at $7.25.

JOBS | WRAG is pleased to announced the launch of our new and improved job board! This service is available to the region’s philanthropic and nonprofit community. Job postings are free for WRAG members and $60 for non-members. As a benefit for using WRAG’s job board, each posting will be included in a weekly roundup of job opportunities right here in the Daily WRAG. For any questions about using the job board, contact Rebekah Seder, seder@washingtongrantmakers.org.

– In their Matters@Hand thought leadership series sponsored by Enterprise Community Partners, HAND looks at some of the emerging innovations surrounding the creation of local funding resources for affordable housing in the region, including one that WRAG is involved in (Helping Hands Blog, 5/4):

In our region, the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers has teamed up with Enterprise Community Partners to develop a new approach to generating resources to invest in local affordable housing.  Individuals and organizations can invest in the Enterprise Community Impact Note and those investments will be used to help finance the creation of affordable housing. Investors will receive a fixed-rate of return and will also receive regular statements about the social impact of their investments.  The goal of the new fund is to raise at least $5 million to help build affordable housing throughout the region, and will reflect a truly innovative way of raising capital.

Washington City Paper offers a glimpse into D.C.’s low-rent units, where many tenants live in constant fear of losing their homes and must deal with unresponsive landlords who neglect properties. (WCP, 4/29)

– D.C. At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds has introduced a bill aimed at landlords who “purposely neglect their buildings and put their tenants’ health and safety at risk.” (WCP, 5/3)

– Local Initiatives Support Corporation has made a $50 million commitment toward ensuring that residents living in the area surrounding the highly-anticipated 11th Street Bridge Park will not be displaced once it opens. (WaPo, 5/3)

–  Opinion5 Issues Foundations Must Confront to Stay Relevant (Chronicle, 5/3)

– Close Up Shop and Go Elsewhere? A Case Study for Philanthropy on What to Do When We Win (NPQ, 4/29)

– The Initiative for Public Art Reston (IPAR) plans to display bike rack designs as public works of art later this year. IPAR issued a call for artists from the region to submit their designs that reflect five sites in the surrounding area. (Reston Now, 5/2)

Anyone know the number to a really fancy plumber?

– Ciara

Montgomery County schools face challenges in serving increasing numbers of English language learners

EDUCATION/EQUITY | The pushback against proposed changes to the structure of Montgomery County Public Schools’ English for Speakers of Other Languages program highlights the rapid demographic changes in the county and the major academic achievement gap between English language learners and other students:

The number of students learning to speak English as they take classes at Northwood High School has tripled in three years. Many of those 350 teenagers have fled Central America as unaccompanied minors. Some are missing years of education. Not everyone graduates from high school in four years. […]

The plans to restructure come as the number of English-language learners has climbed nearly 40 percent since 2007 in the suburban school system, with more than 22,000 such students this school year — about 14 percent of the system’s 156,000 total enrollment.

HOMELESSNESS | The rate of homelessness in Arlington is declining, down 27 percent from last year and 64 percent since 2013. (ARLnow, 4/6)

COMMUNITY | The Healthcare Initiative Foundation has awarded The Universities at Shady Grove a $648,900 grant to fund 112 scholarships over five years to support students at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Social Work program and the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Nursing. The primary goal of the Healthcare Initiative Foundation is to enhance and expand workforce development in the healthcare field within Montgomery County. The scholarships will provide needed pathways to degrees and careers and will help build a culturally competent healthcare workforce. Read more about the program here.

RACE | Study finds police fatally shoot unarmed black men at disproportionate rates (WaPo, 4/7)

TRANSIT | The Purple Line is one step closer to reality. At this rate, construction might begin later this year and be completed by 2022. (WAMU, 4/6)

HIV/AIDS | The graying of HIV: 1 in 6 new U.S. cases are people older than 50 (WaPo, 4/6)

DISTRICT | This week the Kojo Nnamdi Show has featured a series of stories documenting challenges and changes in neighborhoods east of the Anacostia. (WAMU, 4/4-7)

PHILANTHROPY | Opinion: One of the most prominent advocates for strategic philanthropy reflects on the negative side effects of strategic philanthropy done poorly. (Chronicle, 4/4) – Subscription required.

Dog hockey > regular hockey any day.

– Rebekah

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

New reports on absenteeism in D.C.’s Head Start programs

The Urban Institute has released two companion reports on the absenteeism in Head Start programs in D.C. Public Schools. According to the reports, more than 25 percent of the students enrolled last school year were chronically absent, having missed at least 10 percent of the year. (WaPo, 1/26)

Overall, less than half – 44 percent – of the school system’s Head Start students had what one report called “satisfactory attendance,” which is missing 5 percent or less of the school year.

Research shows that early attendance problems often persist, putting children at greater risk of performing poorly on math or reading tests in elementary school, repeating a grade or dropping out of school.

The newly released reports are Absenteeism in DC Public Schools Early Education Program and Insights into Absenteeism in DCPS Early Childhood Program.

PHILANTHROPY | As we move full speed ahead into the new year, thought leaders including WRAG’s own Tamara Copeland, Rosie Allen-Herring of United Way of the National Capital Area, and Vikki Spruill of the Council on Foundations offer their insights on what they think lies ahead this year for philanthropy in the Washington region. (WaPo, 1/25)

ARTS/EQUITY | While THEARC in D.C.’s Ward 8 celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, advocates and admirers of the arts focus on how to get more cultural offerings east of the river. (Elevation DC, 1/27)

“We need a gallery, we need space—period,” says Kimberly Gaines, a creative consultant who lives in Deanwood. She says that it’s a struggle to find good spaces to display art. That the arts organizations that do exist in Ward 7 often need help navigating the grantmaking process. And that some talented artists are being overlooked.


A vibrant art community east of the river would bring residents closer, she says. “This side of town, we’re commuters. We commute downtown. It’s difficult not having art-related entertainment on this side of town. Now, fortunately, you can go over to Southeast, but even still, you’re leaving your community. I just want to see a show in my neighborhood.”

Related for Funders: Next week, WRAG’s Arts & Humanities Working Group will meet to discuss issues related to diversity and racial equity in the region’s cultural sector. More information is available here. Please note that this meeting is for grantmakers only.

HOMELESSNESS | Homeless Population at Motels Continues to Climb, at a Cost of Millions (WCP, 1/26)

HEALTH | Brian Castrucci of the de Beaumont Foundation delves into the growing primary care physician shortage facing insured Americans, and how primary care and public health can work together to remedy the problem. (HuffPo, 1/26)

REGION | As part of their You Are Here project, MIT Researchers have put together some new graphics showing the average median household income for each stop on the Metro system’s lines. The graphs also include overall income averages for each line, with the Orange line having the highest at $97,236. (WaPo, 1/26)

ECONOMY | Inequality Is Not Just About Wall Street: It’s In All 50 States (WSJ, 1/27)

Check out how a photo of a young man helped raise over $400,000 in just one day. 

– Ciara

Today is World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day, a day to raise awareness of the epidemic and unite to fight against it. The first World AIDS Day was in 1988, but here are some facts about the disease today. (USATODAY, 12/1)

Related: If you haven’t already done so, be sure to take a look at the Washington AIDS Partnership’s brand new website.

VETERANS/FOOD | Many military families find it difficult to put fresh food on the table throughout the year, and especially during the holiday season. In Southern Fairfax County, an Army spouse has started a food pantry to serve the families of those serving the country. (WaPo, 11/29)

DISTRICT/EDUCATION | Language immersion programs growing in D.C., but only west of the river (WaPo, 12/1)

COMMUNITY | Are you ready for #GivingTuesday? On Tuesday, December 2nd, the global day of giving and celebration of generosity returns!

TRANSIT | Metro wants more money; without it, officials say, rail service might be cut back (WaPo, 11/30)

ARTS | New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art shares a video on the relationship between art and AIDS throughout the years.

Is it December already? Though it may seem like life is just passing us by, it appears that everything we think about getting older might just be wrong.

– Ciara

Housing and poverty in American cities

The Washington Post explores how housing for the poor is often remodeled into luxury units for a newer, wealthier audience. Though the setting is based in Chicago, the story is not so different from what is happening in a number of metropolitan areas (WaPo, 11/12):

For Chicago, the debate over these buildings captures a larger tension that is simultaneously playing out in parts of Los Angeles and New York and Washington: The new owners and tenants moving in bring higher tax dollars, capital to revive old buildings and momentum to draw even more young professionals. But those benefits have come at a cost. Now Chicago is trying to save what amounts to 6,000 remaining SRO (single room occupancy) units, a small fraction of what once existed in the city as a housing stock of last resort for the poor.

– On Tuesday, November 18th, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, the D.C. Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Partnerships and Grant Services, D.C. Public Schools and the Boys and Men of Color Alliance, will co-host the D.C. Local Action Summit. The city-wide event will thank all of the individuals, public and private organizations and corporations who contributed to the development of the D.C. Boys and Men of Color Success Strategy, and to mark the initiation of the implementation phase of the DC Boys and Men of Color Initiative. Find out more here.

– MedImmune and the Corporate Volunteer Council of Montgomery County will host a STEM Volunteering Workshop & Expo on November, 21st from 9:00 AM through 11:30AM where attendees can learn about the resources and reasons for supporting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education through employee volunteering. You can register here.

– How can the District work to address gaps in health and nutrition services for students? The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute has some recommendations. (DCFPI, 11/12)

D.C. Has Lowest Rate of Uninsured Hispanic Children, Report Says (WAMU, 11/12)

DISTRICT | Opinion: Two longtime residents of Wards 7 and 8 share their thoughts on where incoming Mayor-elect, Muriel Bowser, can begin to unite the neighborhoods east of the river with the rest of the city. (WaPo, 11/7)

NONPROFITS | Link to Nonprofits, an extensive online database that allows individuals in need of assistance and information to connect with qualified service organizations in the region, has launched a new community guide. Visit the site to learn more, or to get your organization included in the listing.

D.C. will soon be home to a chocolate factory! Just in time for the summer.

– Ciara  

A culinary gap East of the River…Data show high expulsion rates at charters…Keep baby boomers in cities? [News, 2.21.12]

REGION | District officials count only six restaurants with waiter service East of the River, so they are making a push to “bridge the culinary gap” from the rest of the city. Some developers are hesitant because they say the “population lacks ‘the expendable cash’ to guarantee success” and foot traffic is sparse. Other restauranteers are hopeful that new residential and government projects will be drivers of change. (WaPo, 2/21)

Related: A local blogger ranks the “walkability” of all 86 Metro stations. Metro Center ranks first, Morgan Boulevard ranks last. (David Klion, 2/20)

– Following last week’s story about DCPS suspensions, the Post’s Bill Turque finds some very surprising results with similar data from charters. Data show that one Ward 7 school, for example, expelled eight percent of its student body last year. (WaPo, 2/18) Is Donald Trump running that school?

– Only 55 percent of students in Alexandria public schools go to college,  which is nearly 20 points behind Fairfax County and seven points behind the state average. (Examiner, 2/21)

Related: Graduation Rates Increase Around The Globe As U.S. Plateaus (WAMU, 2/21)

– Baby boomers retire at a pace of 10,000 a day, and the trend of retirees moving to suburbs is causing the cost of care for the aging to soar. A Salon columnist explores the idea that a way to solve the “boomer retirement crisis” is to encourage boomers to stay in (or move to) cities. (Salon, 2/18)

For boomers, it’s a new era of ‘work til you drop’ (WTOP, 2/21) For some people, this isn’t necessarily bad news. One interviewee says, “I think I would be bored if I just all of a sudden quit everything and did whatever it is retired people do.”

New Dental Clinic Bolsters Access for D.C.’s Low-Income Patients (WAMU, 2/20)

United Medical Center asks for $15 million from D.C. (WBJ, 2/21)

GIVING | Local developer John Akridge announced a $1 million gift to help repair the National Mall. (DCist, 2/21)

CRIME | New statistics show that violent crime in the District has nearly doubled compared to last year, though homicides are declining. (Times, 2/20) So it’s more dangerous, but you’ll probably survive.

TRANSIT | A Metro survey is asking for help naming new Silver Line stations. You can vote for their suggested names or use the “other” box to suggest better names like “Christian Clansky Station at Tysons Corner.”

EVENT | This Friday, February 24, from 3:30pm to 5:00pm, The World Bank is hosting a community conversation for funders and nonprofits on behalf of the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation. Ellen London, president of the Trust, and BB Otero, District Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, will discuss the Trust’s current challenges and the road ahead. For more information and to register, please contact Tessie Marfori at tmarfori@worldbank.org (note: corrected email from previous listing).

Happy Mardi Gras, folks! I can’t believe it’s that time of year already. I’ll be making pancakes for dinner. How about you?

To help you celebrate, here’s a video of Louis Armstrong and Danny Kaye singing the Mardi Gras staple When the Saints Go Marching In.