Tag: Foundation Center

The next “great entrepreneurial city”

AOL co-founder Steve Case recently discussed what he predicts will be the “third wave” of the Internet, in which all areas of life will be more seamlessly connected, and how he thinks Greater Washington’s talent pool could shape the region into one of the great entrepreneurial hubs with better coordination between the business and tech communities. (WBJ, 1/12)

[…] the community must continue to build networks between the tech and business communities, drive more investment in big ideas and make sure to retain the talent that moves here, which Case described as “core issues.”

“If done right — and I think they can be done right — it really will position D.C. to rise as one of the great entrepreneurial cities in this next wave,” Case said.

– The Truth Initiative has long been a leader in the fight against teen smoking. The Chronicle of Philanthropy shares how they rebranded in order to further connect with youth and continue to crush the rates of teen smoking. (Chronicle, 1/7) – Subscription required

– Foundation Center president Brad Smith introduces a new online data dashboard, funding map, and report from Foundation Center and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy called Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy. The interactive dashboard offers a quick glimpse at disaster-related funding trends for 2015. (Philantopic, 1/12)

EDUCATION | Opinion: Natalie Wexler, education blogger/editor of Greater Greater Education and DC Eduphile, and trustee of the Omega Foundation, explores the rigors of D.C. high school diploma and diploma equivalency programs in her latest blog post. (GGE, 1/12)

RACIAL EQUITY/GENDER EQUITY | There is a racial wealth gap in the U.S. that persists well into retirement for most black and Latino citizens. For black women especially, studies find, the disadvantages that contribute to this wealth gap stretch far beyond that of their peers. (Oregon Live, 1/11)

Just for fun, check out your odds of winning the Powerball jackpot, according to this interactive simulator. Then, if the odds are in your favor, see what you could buy in the Greater Washington region with all that money.

– Ciara


Making a Difference | A Fourth Quarter Report to the Community

by Tamara Lucas Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

In my third quarter report to the community, I referenced our mission statement. I’d like to do that again: “The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers promotes increased, effective and responsible philanthropy to improve the health and vitality of the region and all who live here.” Certainly, it’s an appropriate and laudable mission statement. But, at the end of the day, how do we know we’re succeeding? This quarter, our work focused on outcomes and our impact in the community.

Taproot Foundation – Earlier this year, WRAG applied for a Taproot Foundation grant because we wanted to know if we were making a difference. Were we living up to our mission statement? If you don’t know the Taproot Foundation, it is an entity that utilizes coordinated, pro bono services from the local corporate community to address the needs of the social profit sector. Via a comprehensive, six-month assessment, Taproot determined that the answer is “yes.”  WRAG’s value and impact rests in what Taproot calls our “pillars of value and impact:” 1) WRAG as a convener; 2) WRAG as a source of knowledge and information; 3) WRAG as the voice of philanthropy in the region; and, 4) WRAG as a promoter of collaboration and relationships.

Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility – This quarter, the second class graduated from our joint program with Johns Hopkins University. While already effective in their corporate responsibility work, the graduates acknowledged that participation in this year-long course made them even stronger in their positions. That’s exactly what we hoped would happen. Good news for anyone in the corporate community looking to  improve their work in CSR: there is still space in the 2016 class.

Get on the Map –Through a partnership between the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers and the Foundation Center, WRAG is now able to map the philanthropic investments of our membership. Launched this quarter, this mapping tool enables WRAG members to know who else is investing in a certain issue, in a certain geographic area, or to a certain social profit organization. Better information will lead to better coordinated investments. Just an FYI: this tool is available on our website only to WRAG members.

WRAG’s 2015 Annual Meeting – “Philanthropy All In” was the theme for this year’s annual meeting. The immediate feedback suggests that the business meeting session on The Metropolitan Revolution and regional cooperation, followed by the luncheon presentation, “The House that Racism Built,” gave the sold-out audience lots of food for thought. If you weren’t able to attend, video from the sessions will be available soon. After you watch Dr. David Williams’ presentation on racism, look out for an artistic element that powerfully underscores his message.

Is WRAG making a difference in the community? We think so, and hope you do, too.


Annual report on American philanthropy estimates record giving

According to the newly released 2015 Giving USA: Annual Report on Philanthropy, charitable giving is estimated to have risen to a record $358.4 billion last year. The Chronicle of Philanthropy breaks down some of the report’s key findings (Chronicle, 6/16):

The figures show that donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations last year topped the record giving figure achieved in 2007, just before the recession started to affect donation figures. The recovery was the shortest on record after such a devastating and deep recession and was also far faster than experts had predicted. Some had said it would take a decade or more until giving bounced back.

“Giving USA” says now that the 2009-to-2014 recovery is the fastest on record in the past 40 years. The report, researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, is considered the most comprehensive source of data on patterns on Americans’ charitable giving.


As the economy grew, philanthropy grew even faster. Giving reached 2.1 percent of GDP of last year — up from 2.0 percent in 2013 and the highest it’s been since 2003. That growth may seem insignificant, but each 0.1 percentage point results in an increase of $17 billion.

– Foundation Center president Brad Smith discusses the difficulty foundations often face in embracing the term “inequality.” (Philantopic, 6/16)

ENVIRONMENT/EDUCATION | A new study finds that exposure to green spaces can bolster cognitive outcomes in children. Researchers found students with more vegetation surrounding their schools showed more progress in working memory and attention over the span of a year. (Atlantic, 6/16)

YOUTH | Teenagers Are Losing Confidence in the American Dream (Atlantic, 6/15)

HEALTH/GENDER EQUITY | Insurance Still Doesn’t Cover Childbirth For Some Young Women (NPR, 6/16)

If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all…especially in Arlington County,VA; Fairfax County,VA; and Rockville, MD.

– Ciara

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

D.C. Council votes on 2016 District budget

As the D.C. Council and Mayor Bowser prepare to adopt a finalized 2016 budget, Washington Business Journal breaks down some of the key provisions being voted on and some of the areas where consensus has proven difficult (WBJ, 5/27):

Two main points of contention remain between the legislative and executive branches ahead of Wednesday’s vote.

The first is the number of police body cameras the District will acquire next year: The council, led by Public Safety Committee Chairman Kenyan McDuffie, is providing funding for only 1,200, and Bowser wants double that. Mendelson said the council is squarely behind McDuffie on this matter.

The second is the permanent expansion of the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program to include individuals between 22 and 24 years old. The council will fund the expansion this summer, but not next year, Mendelson said. Young adults, he said, should be receiving workforce training either through D.C.’s community college or through various government programs, not working a “six week minimum wage job.”

Bowser on Tuesday signed a law expanding SYEP for 22-24 year olds, but only for the upcoming summer. She used the opportunity to lobby for future years.

ARTS | Grantmakers in the Arts and Foundation Center have released a new report, “Foundation Funding for Arts and Education,” that takes a look at trends in arts funding by private foundations using data from 1999 through 2012. (GIA, 5/18)

PHILANTHROPY | In their latest edition of Responsive Philanthropy, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy looks at the subject of implicit bias, including how it can make its way into grantmaking, and offers valuable strategies for reducing it. (NCRP, Spring 2015)

AGING | In response to a large aging population, adult day services have emerged as a growing industry and a viable alternative to senior homes in places like D.C. (NPR, 5/23)

POVERTY | The Failures and Merits of Place-Based Initiatives (City Lab, 5/25)

MARYLAND/WORKFORCE | Maryland gains 16,400 jobs in April, highest total in 5 years (WBJ, 5/27)

SOCIAL JUSTICE | History can offer a glimpse into the possible outcomes of the recent protests that have erupted in several cities following incidents of police brutality. Research supports that one outcome in particular has been most persistent over the years. (WaPo, 5/21)

YOUTH | The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has released a report on disengaged youth around the world who are not employed or in school. The report found that one in every six young people in the U.S. is disengaged. (WaPo, 5/27)

Do you think you can spell these National Spelling Bee winning words

– Ciara

Why We’re Getting on the Map: Prince Charitable Trusts

More and more funders have signed on to “Get on the Map” by e-reporting their grants data to the Foundation Center. The data will populate WRAG’s Foundation Map, a data mapping and visualization platform that will allow members to explore who is giving to what and where across the Greater Washington region.

The 20th WRAG member to commit to get on the map is Prince Charitable Trusts. Says managing director Kristin Pauly,

“I am thrilled to see WRAG participate in the “Get on the Map!” campaign. I think it will be so useful to have a picture of philanthropic activities in this region. In fact, Prince operates from 3 geographic locations: Washington, DC; Chicago, Illinois; and Newport, Rhode Island. We immediately formatted our grant information from all 3 offices and sent them into the Foundation Center for our respective geographic areas. As a relatively small foundation, we are especially interested in leveraging our funds. Having access to up-to-date information on where colleague funders are giving will help guide investments and possible collaborations and funding alignment. Prince is happy to support this effort and encourages other WRAG members to do so as well.”

Get on the Map is an initiative to improve the quality, timeliness, and availability of grants data for and about funders. WRAG Members: To learn more about the platform and how to contribute your data, watch this recent webinar or sign up for the next webinar on May 14.

Why We’re Getting on the Map: The Northern Virginia Health Foundation

Lately we’ve been highlighting some of the reasons why WRAG members are committing to “get on the map” by e-reporting their grants data to the Foundation Center. The data will populate WRAG’s Foundation Map, a data mapping and visualization platform that will allow members to explore who is giving to what and where across the Greater Washington region.

The Northern Virginia Health Foundation signed on to this initiative from the start. Says Patricia Mathews, foundation president and CEO and chair of WRAG’s board of directors,

“The Northern Virginia Health Foundation is pleased to participate in this important effort to improve the data infrastructure of the WRAG community. As a health funder, it is critical for us to understand how our investments intersect with our colleagues’ funding toward other issues that impact the health and wellness of Northern Virginians, like housing affordability, education, and the environment. We anticipate that WRAG’s Foundation Map will be an important tool in our efforts to align our grantmaking in support of creating healthier communities across Northern Virginia. We encourage all of our fellow WRAG members to contribute their data to make this tool as powerful as it can be. This could truly be a way to work toward achieving a healthy region.”

Get on the Map is an initiative to improve the quality, timeliness, and availability of grants data for and about funders. WRAG Members: To learn more about the platform and how to contribute your data, watch this recent webinar or sign up for the next webinar on April 9.

Why we’re getting on the map: The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia

We’ve heard from several funders recently about why they are participating in WRAG’s Get on the Map campaign with the Foundation Center. These funders appreciate the value of both sharing their grants data with their colleagues in the local philanthropic community, and having access to their colleagues’ data in order to work more strategically and efficiently.

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia is one of the latest funders to sign on to the campaign.

According to foundation president Eileen Ellsworth,

“The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia is thrilled to participate in the ‘Get on the Map’ initiative. As a funder, our role is to remain informed about the needs of the region, identify the organizations working to address those needs, and understand the funders interested in supporting their efforts. Our community is so rich with both nonprofits and funders. Not only will this powerful tool shine a light on philanthropy trends in the region and help us to guide our future work, but it will also help us more strategically target and coordinate grant dollars to support the greatest needs in the region.”

Says Jen McCollum, Vice President of Donor Relations,

“Armed with the data generated through this initiative, we will be better equipped to educate our donors about the needs of the region. We know there are great things being done by nonprofits in the area but we also know there is a tremendous amount of work to be done. This concrete data will help us better direct our efforts, inform our donors and generate increased partnerships with like-minded funders in the region.”

Get on the Map is an initiative to improve the quality, timeliness, and availability of grants data for and about funders. By e-reporting their grants data to the Foundation Center, WRAG members will help to build an interactive mapping platform that will allow members to see who is funding what and where in our region. To learn more about the platform and how to contribute your data, watch this recent webinar or sign up for the next webinar on April 9.

Why We’re Getting on the Map: The Alexander and Margaret Stewart Trust

More funders are getting on the map. Last week, Angela Jones Hackley and Ben Murphy explained why the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region is sharing their grantmaking data to help build WRAG’s Foundation Map.

One of the latest funders to participate in this effort is the Alexander and Margaret Stewart Trust.

Here’s why they’re getting on the map, according to executive manager Lori Jackson:

“As the sole staff person of the Alexander and Margaret Stewart Trust, I don’t have a lot of time to meet with colleague funders or do extensive research on the local funding landscape. Having immediate and easy access to my WRAG colleagues’ grantmaking data – and their having access to our data – will help make it easier to find out who else is funding our grantees and potential grantees, and to identify possible new areas of funding alignment or collaboration. We all want be strategic and effective in our giving, and WRAG’s Foundation Map promises to be a tool to help do this. I hope that my colleagues will share their data to make this tool as powerful as possible.”

Get on the Map is an initiative to improve the quality, timeliness, and availability of grants data for and about funders. By e-reporting their grants data to the Foundation Center, WRAG members will help to build an interactive mapping platform that will allow members to see who is funding what and where in our region. To learn more about the platform and how to contribute your data, watch this recent webinar or sign up for the next webinar on April 9.

Why I’m asking WRAG members to Get on the Map

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

In the eight years that I have been at WRAG, there has been one resounding refrain from our members: we need to know who is funding what, we need the information to be easily accessible, and we need it to be up-to-date. And, for the last eight years, we’ve told you that we didn’t have the tools to provide that data. Instead, we made phone calls, hosted meetings, sent emails, convened brown bag lunches, and compiled survey results. All valuable methods of connecting you to information, but not the most efficient or comprehensive ways of giving you what you really wanted: data.

Now, we have a real solution: Foundation Maps, an interactive, searchable mapping platform from the Foundation Center that will visualize members’ grantmaking in the Greater Washington region. Participating in this effort by sharing your current grantmaking data is easy and painless (you can learn more about the process here).

WRAG’s most basic function is to connect funders so that they can do their work more efficiently and effectively. WRAG’s new Foundation Map will be fundamental to this mission and will allow us to better serve our members.

More importantly, WRAG’s Foundation Map will help inform your work – as foundation CEOs, CSR professionals, program officers, or grants managers. With a few clicks, you will be able to scan the local philanthropic landscape for detailed information about who else in the WRAG community is funding your grantees or prospective grantees. You will be able to find out who else is funding in a similar issue area or targeting a particular population, and what other nonprofits are working in the same space. You will be able to identify funding gaps, trends, and new opportunities for collaboration or funding alignment. The Foundation Map will serve as the information backbone to this community.

“Data” is a buzzword of the day and many increasingly question, rightly, whether data-driven decision-making leads us to undervalue experience, relationships, and qualitative knowledge. WRAG’s Foundation Map won’t replace the convening, information sharing, or networking aspects of WRAG. But, it will help us take these activities to the next level by collecting the available data and making it easily and quickly accessible to the funding community. It won’t do this, however, without a majority of members taking steps to share data.

This is the tool that we have been waiting for. Now, let’s make it as powerful as it can be. Can we count on you to Get on the Map?

WRAG Members: Click here to learn more about the Foundation Maps platform and how to contribute your data. Questions? Contact Rebekah Seder.