Tag: foundations

Fairfax County Public School Board allocates $1 million to remedy isolation and restraint practices

VIRGINIA | In a move signaling a focus on special education, the Fairfax County Public School Board has adopted a $3 billion dollar budget for the next school year, which is a 4.1% increase from the previous year. The budget includes over $1 million to remedy isolation and restraint practices in the district. (WAMU, 5/24)

Fairfax County Schools district guidelines prohibit seclusion “unless there is a dangerous situation, and seclusion/restraint is necessary to protect the student or another person or person” but last March an investigation revealed hundreds of cases in which elementary students in schools designed to serve students with special needs were secluded and restrained. Next school year’s budget will include funding for multiple teaching-specialist positions, including five behavioral specialists … “All of the people who provide supports to these children through direct education supports or physical supports, we are addressing their compensation with this budget,” said Fairfax school board chair Karen Corbett Sanders, who is also planning on hiring a new special education ombudsman.

CENSUS 2020 | David Biemesderfer, President & CEO of United Philanthropy Forum, has put out a call for philanthropy to help meet the unprecedented challenges facing the 2020 census, amplifying the joint message from the Ford, JPB, Kellogg, and Open Societies Foundations.

REMINDER: WRAG is co-convening, along with 14 funders and other institutions, a day-long forum called Interventions That Work: Census 2020 & Hard-to-Reach Communities. The event will bring together the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to bridge the gap between information and action necessary to enable an accurate census. Learn more and register here by May 30th.

LGBTQIA | New Trump administration rule would weaken protections for transgender people in health care (WaPo, 5/24)

– The Montgomery County Council has approved a $5.8 billion budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which includes $2.6 billion for schools, an increase of more than $80 million. (WTOP, 5/23)

– Prince George’s teachers reach a deal to restore raises lost during the recession (WaPo, 5/23)

RACISM | In her first official act outside a ceremonial bill signing, newly elected speaker Adrienne Jones sought to remove the last item commemorating the Confederacy from the Maryland State House — a plaque that pays tribute to soldiers who fought on both sides of the Civil War. (WaPo, 5/23)

HOUSING | How Housing Supply Became the Most Controversial Issue in Urbanism (CityLab, 5/23)

DISTRICT | The new statehood effort called 51 For 51 launched on Tuesday as a “coalition comprised of DC -based and national groups committed to equal representation rights for DC’s over 700,000 residents.” (dcist, 5/23)

JUVENILE JUSTICE | Federal Prosecutors Have Opposed Every Request For Early Release Under A Local Law Aimed At Juvenile Offenders (dcist, 5/23)

FOUNDATIONS | Listen Up, Grant Makers: Radio Is a Hot Way to Advance Knowledge and Culture (Chronicle, 5/23)

PHILANTHROPY | Four ways philanthropy can support the diversity of the Asian American Pacific Islander population. (NCRP, 5/14)

Social Sector Job Openings 

Development Associate | Sitar Arts Center – New!
Grants Manager | Arabella Advisors
Institutional Development Officer | Martha’s Table
Development Manager, Washington, DC | Reading Partners
Director of Individual Giving | Horizons Greater Washington
Grants Compliance Manager | Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter
Director of Communications, Technology, and Administration | Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
Director of Corporate and Foundation Advancement | Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
Engagement Officer | Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
Grants and Communications Associate | Neighborhood Health
Senior Manager of Member Engagement and Partnerships | United Philanthropy Forum
Director of Development​ | ​Washington Tennis & Education Foundation
Director of Operations​ | ​Washington Tennis & Education Foundation
Director, Flamboyan Arts Fund​ | ​Flamboyan Foundation
Membership Director​ | ​Council on Foundations
Development Director​ | ​Council on Foundations
Communications Director​ |​ Council on Foundations
Learning Engagement Manager​ | ​ Council on Foundations
Program Coordinator | TGR Foundation – A Tiger Woods Charity
Individual Giving Manager | Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Hiring? Post your job on WRAG’s job board and get it included in the Daily! Free for members; $60/60 days for non-members. Details here.

Community Calendar

To add an event to WRAG’s community calendar, email Rebekah Seder. Click here to view the community calendar.

Looking for ideas about what to do in DC this Memorial Day?

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back next week on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday!

– Buffy

Should traditional public schools and charters have to follow the same rules?

– A proposal in DC to force charter schools to make data and information more public has catalyzed the debate about traditional public schools and charters following the same rules. The debate in DC, which has over 100 charter schools and where almost half of the city’s public school students attend them, is focused on how much access the public should have to information about and from charter schools. (WaPo, 2/4)

“They are public schools, and they should be equally public and accountable,” said Scott Goldstein, executive director of EmpowerEd, a teacher advocacy group that is circulating a petition calling on charter schools to be more transparent. “The community wants to engage and be part of the conversation.”

– Mayor Bowser has asked the DC Council to use $54.9 million in funds earmarked for the renovation of the one public ice rink in the city and use it for emergency fixes on 21 schools, and the community is pushing back. (WAMU, 2/1)

RACE | A recent Black History Month panel discussion in Prince George’s County focused on ways African Americans have influenced the country and the world, and delved into a local twist to black cultural rebirth during the Great Migration. (WTOP, 2/2)

HEALTH | In 2015 DC had promising results through an innovative program working to get those who overdosed on opioids into treatment for a two-month period, and then it stopped. (City Paper, 1/31)

– The population growth in DC is slowing down. (WAMU, 1/31)

– The DC Fiscal Policy Institute recommends DC budget considerations focus on affordable homes, strong schools, good roads, and quality jobs, and highlights the budget as a key tool for addressing the racial and economic inequities the city. (DC Fiscal Policy Institute, 1/31)

HOUSING | America’s Housing Affordability Crisis Only Getting Worse (Forbes, 1/31)

NONPROFITS/RACIAL EQUITY | Race to Lead: Women of Color in the Nonprofit Sector, just released by the Building Movement Project, highlights the intersection of barriers facing women of color in nonprofits.

– The Foundation Center and GuideStar have announced they have joined forces, and will now operate as a single new nonprofit organization called Candid.

– “It’s Very Empowering.” Latino Giving Circles Are on the Rise (Inside Philanthropy, 1/31)

Harvard’s top astronomer won’t stop talking about aliens possibly being among us.

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back on Thursday and Friday this week!

– Buffy

A conundrum for low-income parents returning to school

For low-income parents who have not completed high school, pursuing a GED can be challenging beyond getting reacquainted with the classroom experience or missing work; many parents must also deal with missing class to care for children on the road to creating a better economic future for their families. (Atlantic, 2/19)

About one in 10 low-income parents participate in education and training courses, according to a 2014 report by the Urban Institute. About half of those parents work while enrolled, creating a need for childcare.


Working parents often take classes in the evenings but childcare centers generally close before 6 p.m., leaving parents to find informal options, such as asking a family member to come over or dropping a child off with a neighbor.

Opinion: Economists have reported a rising rate in the deaths of white, less-educated Americans, along with a number of theories on the reasons behind the trend. A sociologist shares his own take on what may be contributing to the shift. (NYT, 2/22)

Strokes on the Rise Among Younger Adults (NPR, 2/22)

Event: In recent years, several studies have examined inequities in funding for arts organizations of color, and have offered different recommendations. On Friday, February 26, American University will hold a public colloquium on this issue and will connect recent reports to current practice and experience of cultural managers and artists. Learn more here.

Related: Last month, we highlighted a few of the big ideas from a recent convening of arts funders at WRAG to discuss strategies for advancing equity and diversity in the arts. (Daily, 1/11)

– Have you seen any of the eye-catching artwork at the McLean Metro Station? You can read up on the artist’s process for what is among the first of several public artworks that will go up along the Silver Line stations. (Fairfax Times, 2/18)

– New data from the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis finds that arts and cultural production contributed $704.2 billion to the U.S. economy in 2013 – a 32.5 percent boost since 1998. (National Endowment for the Arts, 2/16)

PHILANTHROPY | Use an Abundance Mentality to Streamline Foundation Processes (PhilanthroFiles, 2/19)

SOCIAL PROFITS | How can board chairs better impact the organizations they serve? Check out ten helpful, practical tips for board chairs to inspire and lead. (CompassPoint, 2/12)

Have you ever visited this nearby park? A surprising number of people in the region have not.

– Ciara


New study a ‘wake up call’ for funders of black and Latino arts groups

The University of Maryland’s DeVos Institute of Arts Management has released a new national study on funding for African American and Latino arts groups. The report, with its controversial findings, may serve as a ‘wake up call’ to some arts funders (LA Times, 10/12):

Sending “a wake-up call” to arts donors, a new national study paints a bleak economic picture of African American and Latino nonprofit museums and performing arts companies and suggests that donors may have to let weaker organizations wither so that the strongest ones can grow.

Funders may need to support “a limited number of organizations,” says the report by the University of Maryland’s DeVos Institute of Arts Management, “with larger grants to a smaller cohort that can manage themselves effectively, make the best art, and have the biggest impact on their communities.”

– Take a glimpse at the highly anticipated expansion of the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Center – also known as THEARC – scheduled to break ground later this month. Big plans are in place for the facility. (WBJ, 10/6)

Arlington County proposes speeding up its exit from the Artisphere (WBJ, 10/12)

–  CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield has announced that it will award $3 million to social profit organizations and government organizations in the region to develop new, innovative telemedicine programs that improve access to healthcare. (WBJ, 10/12)

– Grantmakers for Effective Organizations has released a new publication, The Source Codes of Foundation Culture, a resource exploring the organizational culture of foundations and what it takes to modify the values and practices deeply ingrained in their work. (GEO, 10/8)

– The Foley Hoag Foundation is now accepting applications from qualified social profit organizations located in Washington, D.C. through an invitation-only process. The foundation seeks help in identifying those organizations who may be a good fit. Guidelines focus on eliminating inequality in all forms and on small grassroots organizations. You can find more information on the guidelines  here.

– A study commissioned by the Montgomery County Board of Education examines how the county’s school system has served students with specials needs and their parents. According to the report, further staff training, more psychologists, and greater efforts to educate parents on complex processes will be necessary to bring the high-performing schools to where they need to be. (WaPo, 10/9)

– In the District, a growing number of parents are opting out of traditional schooling in favor of home-schooling, with the number of registered home-schooling families up by a third over the past two years. (WaPo, 10/10)

A Discouraging Portrait of America’s Urban Public Schools (City Lab, 10/9)

SOCIAL INNOVATION | Read how financial institution Goldman Sachs saw success while dabbling in social impact bonds with an investment in 100 Utah preschoolers. (NYT, 10/7)

All aboard!

– Ciara 

Study shows housing crunch hits home for many

A new report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University finds that half of all renters across the country are handing over more than 30 percent of their income to cover housing costs, and around 25 percent have rental costs exceeding 50 percent of their monthly income. The study found that even moderate-income renters are struggling to cover housing costs. (Atlantic, 6/29)

It’s not just the poorest city-dwellers who are feeling the rent pressure. As prices rise, even those who make median incomes are finding that their rent eats away at a more significant portion of their pay than it once did for those in the middle class. It’s also not just the Millennial crowd: This problem is also  evident across different age groups, including Gen X and Boomers who never left the rental market, or find themselves back in it after the housing crash.

A big part of the problem is that fewer households are making the transition from renting to owning, which means more competition for limited inventory—driving rental prices up. Renters who would previously be able to qualify for mortgages are either finding that mortgage lenders are still super strict post-recession, or that there simply aren’t many homes in their price range—or both. “In normal times when homeownership was achievable you could get a starter home for between $150,000 to $250,000,” says Andrew Jakabovics, a senior director at Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit that focuses on affordable housing. “That segment of the market is basically dead.”

– Last week, at the 2015 Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND) Annual Meeting, a plenary session was convened by a number of groups, including WRAG, under the auspices of the Greater Washington Housing Leaders Group – a group of nonprofit, public, philanthropic, and business leaders. Check out some of the key messages from the session in this recap.

COMMUNITY/WRAG | WRAG president Tamara Copeland delivers her second quarter report to the community, focusing in on how we’re working to promote effective philanthropy in the region. (Daily, 6/29)

– Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a $5 million donation to Dream.US, a scholarship fund that helps undocumented immigrants go to college, founded  by Donald Graham, a trustee of the Philip L. Graham Fund. (WBJ, 6/26)

Opinion: Pablo Eisenberg reflects on how and whether foundations can end inequality. (Chronicle, 6/25)

Opinion: In the Wall Street Journal, Sean Parker of Napster fame, writes about an emerging brand of philanthropists who steer away from conventional philanthropy and favor radical experiments – the “hacker elite.” (WSJ, 6/26)

LGBT | Funders for LGBTQ Issues celebrates last week’s Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality and estimates that philanthropic support for civil unions and marriage equality has gone beyond $100 million since 1989. (LGBTQ Funders, 6/26)

– A new report by One DC, “Trained to Death” and Still Jobless, presents a case study of a major development in the District that received subsidies based on a commitment to hire D.C. residents, explores the program’s shortcomings, and provides recommendations for reform. (DCFPI, 6/26)

– Although D.C. is often considered one of the best cities for working women, there’s always room for further improvement. (WBJ, 6/26)

AGING | Will Baby Boomers Change the Meaning of Retirement? (Atlantic, 6/28)

Extraordinary art can be sculpted out of most anything – even butter

– Ciara

The importance of seeing the impact of philanthropy

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

On May 31, The New York Times published an op-ed entitled “Who Will Watch the Charities?” written by David Callahan, the founder and editor of a site called Inside Philanthropy. In it, he raises many concerns that seem to surface from time to time about the perceived lack of oversight and transparency of philanthropy, the ineffective use of funds, and what he refers to as the “charade that all philanthropy is somehow charitable.”

His comments have created a bit of an uproar in the philanthropic community. Some have noted his conflation of private foundations and public charities. Others have commented on his flippant likening of the charitable (or my preferred term, “social profit”) sector to the Wild West, suggesting an “anything goes” reality. That is not the case.

Contrary to what Mr. Callahan’s title suggests, there is a system of oversight in place that rests with the federal and state governments. What is missing is just plain sight – the actual act of seeing. Ironically, while the general public can see the results of philanthropic investments in their communities, they may not realize, for example, that private foundations are what enabled that new job training program to open or that senior housing center to be built. Local philanthropy is often invisible.

Private foundations are deeply engaged in philanthropy to effectively address entrenched social problems. (We highlighted this impact a few years ago in our report Beyond Dollars: Philanthropy and BIG Change in the Greater Washington Region, which we shared with our region’s Congressional delegation to make sure they were aware of the impact). Private foundations and their social profit partners are both meeting immediate needs in our communities, as well as working to create structural change so that everyone can thrive.

Painting the social profit sector with a broad brush, as Mr. Callahan does, is a disservice to the important work that both private foundations and their grantees are doing to make our country a better place for everyone. Can that work be improved? Of course. But maybe the real question is “who will celebrate philanthropy?”

Read reactions to the op-ed from the Council on Foundations, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, and our colleagues at the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, Philanthropy New York, and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.

Impact investing: a continuously growing trend in philanthropy

Opinion: More and more foundations are getting into impact investing as a means of generating greater financial and social return. As the practice broadens, an author shares how foundations wishing to get involved can stay involved and remain relevant. (Chronicle, 3/18)

Impact investing needs to be judged based on how much incremental capital it attracts and the social results it creates. It’s time to stop worrying about being a catalyst and instead discover and track the opportunities where impact investing is the best tool for solving a problem. Impact investing can’t resolve the cross-purposes that are inherent in the way today’s foundations operate, but it will become the must-have app if philanthropists expect to stay relevant.

Related: WRAG has identified a regional issue that would benefit greatly from impact investing. For more information, please contact Gretchen Greiner-Lott.

– In the D.C. and New York City metropolitan areas, nonprofit organizations are seeing major growth and are increasing pay and staff size. Along with that growth, however, comes an increase in competition for top candidates as job seekers cite low salaries as a leading reason for turning down positions. (Chronicle, 3/17)

3 Tips for Telling Stories That Move People to Action (Chronicle, 3/18)

Related: Paul VandeCarr, who wrote this piece, spoke to our community last year about effective storytelling practices and techniques. He gave us some follow-up tips on the Daily. (Daily, 6/2014)

RACIAL JUSTICE | A new study from the American Civil Liberties Union found that, in Maryland, unarmed African Americans were killed at 10 times the rate of unarmed whites in the past four years. (WAMU, 3/19)

– The District’s plan to revive the streetcar system was predicted to spur growth on H Street NE and Benning Road. As the future of the streetcar hangs in the balance, residents wonder if the Benning Road corridor will ever see the revitalization that H Street has. (WCP, 3/18)

– After cancelling the Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar lines, the Arlington County Board announced that there will be no alternative plans presented until 2016. (ARLnow, 3/18)

Maryland is still searching for ways to make the Purple Line cheaper (GGW, 3/19)

D.C. home health-care workers organize to seek $15 an hour (WaPo, 3/19)

Related: In 2013, we published What Funders Need to Know: Quality Care = Quality Jobs, which takes a look at how direct care jobs can be improved in order to better support workers, as well as ensure better care for our rapidly aging population. (Daily, 6/25)

– How will the U.S. prepare for the estimated 11.5 million Americans over the age of 85 by the year 2035 – a significant increase from a current 5 million? At a recent panel in D.C. on the issue, an author offered her recommendations for an approach to accommodate aging baby boomers. (Forbes, 3/17)

ENVIRONMENT | Beginning in early 2017, Prince George’s County plans to join D.C. and Montgomery County in banning Styrofoam containers. The move is an effort to address landfill and littering problems in the area. (Gazette, 3/19)

Farewell, Internet Explorer…

– Ciara

What a month on SNAP is like

SAFETY NET | In a front page story today, the Post profiles a local family struggling to get by from month to month on food stamps and services from local nonprofit organizations — an experience that has become even more challenging with the recent reduction in SNAP benefits (WaPo, 12/16):

It was Thursday, which meant giveaways at a place called Bread for the City. Fridays were free medical care at the clinic in Southeast Washington. Saturdays were the food pantry at Ambassador Baptist Church. The 1st of each month was a disability check, the 2nd was government cash assistance and the 8th was food stamps…

Except this month had introduced a historic shift. The nation’s food stamp program had just undergone its biggest cut in 50 years, the beginning of an attempt by Congress to dramatically shrink the government’s fastest-growing entitlement program, which had tripled in cost during the past decade to almost $80 billion each year. Starting in November, more than 47 million Americans had experienced decreases in their monthly benefit, averaging about 7 percent. For the Richmonds, it was more. Not far across the Anacostia River from their house, Congress was already busy debating the size and ramifications of the next cut, likely to be included in the farm bill early next year.

It was a debate not only about financial reform but also about cultural transformation. In a country where 7 million people had been receiving food assistance for a decade or longer, the challenge for some in government was how to wean the next generation from a cycle of long-term dependency.

Raphael’s challenge was both more pressing and more basic: Her monthly allotment of $290 in food assistance had been reduced to $246. She already had spent the entire balance on two carts of groceries at Save a Lot. There were 22 days left until the 8th.

EDUCATION | D.C. teachers offer wide range of views on city policies (WaPo, 12/14)

– Lucy Bernholz looks at how big data will change philanthropy. (WSJ, 12/15):

Foundations will be able to develop, assess and revise their giving strategies by pulling information from community surveys, organizational reports and an up-to-date “ticker” of other philanthropic giving. As a foundation, for instance, considers its annual giving in support of early-childhood education, it will be able to click on visualizations of the past few years’ progress on reading readiness at the programs it has previously funded.

– Here’s a clever idea from a food bank in Madrid: a “vending machine” that lets you donate money for food items. (Guardian, 12/10)

– NPR’s Marketplace program ran a series of stories on foundations, donors, and philanthropy last week.

REGION | In case you missed it, the Post has a run down of the Brookings Institution’s Bruce Katz’s keynote speech at the the Council of Government’s annual meeting last week.

This has got to be the most insane and/or awesome holiday light display in the world.

– Rebekah

Predictions for the nonprofit sector in 2013…Gov. McDonnell wants TFA in VA schools…Call for nominations for outstanding foundations [News, 1.4.12]

– In case you missed it, it’s now 2013, which means it’s time for the annual round of predictions for the future of the nonprofit sector. Rick Cohen shares insights on how the sector will change over the next 12 months from a number of nonprofit leaders (NPQ, 12/20):

Terri Freeman of the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region (and WRAG’s board chair), says,

“We are looking at a significantly noticeable contraction in charitable giving in 2013…While I think people will continue to give, they will likely give less and be much choosier about who receives their charitable dollars.”

Mario Morino of Venture Philanthropy Partners says,

“The pending cuts in federal spending and tectonic shifts in the U.S. economy, workforce, and demographics will leave our society with less money for services at the very time we will have more demand for services from a broader swath of the population. These forces will hit home in 2013 with leaders in the nonprofit field, prompting them to do more to rethink, redesign, and reinvent their organizations and programs to meet these challenges.”

Related: 5 Things That Will Change the Way Nonprofits Work in 2013 (Chronicle, 1/4)

How Small Nonprofits Can Improve Their Fiscal Health (Chronicle, 1/3)

Virginia governor Bob McDonnell has put forth a package of education-related proposals, including allowing Teach for America to place teachers in Virginia public schools. (Examiner, 1/4)

– Across the country, education reform efforts and STEM programs garnered the most support from education funders in 2012. (Foundation Center, 1/2)

DISTRICT | Mendelson Shuffles Committee Assignments On D.C. Council (WAMU, 1/3)

AWARDS | The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy is seeking nominations of foundations for four awards: outstanding large private foundations, mid-size/small private foundations, corporate foundations, and grantmaking public charities. The deadline for nominations is February 1. More information available here.

Having finally jumped the bandwagon and started watching The Walking Dead, I found this video particularly interesting/ominous.


Helping funders and nonprofits tell better stories with data

By Rebekah Seder, Program Manager
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

We all know that collecting and analyzing data is critical to communicating the impact of the work that we do. However, sometimes the charts, graphs, and tables that are used to present data end up looking like this – messy, confusing, and almost impossible to interpret. When funders and nonprofits are under pressure to show the results of their work, telling an effective story with data is a crucial – if often overlooked – skill.

Yesterday, the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers hosted Cole Nussbaumer, a People Analytics manager at Google, for a session in our Brightest Minds series titled “Storytelling With Data: Visualizing Philanthropy.” Cole’s motto is helping “rid the world of ineffective graphs, one exploding, 3D pie chart at a time,” and her work focuses on communicating quantitative data. For a group of funders and nonprofits yesterday, she explained the basic principles of data visualization and led participants through a workshop on improving some of their own graphs.

Here are a few key take-aways from Cole:

1. Use the right kind of graph for your data: Bar graphs work better for categorical data, and line graphs work better for showing changes in data over time. Pie charts, however, don’t work well for anything.

2. Get rid of the clutter: Only include the information that is needed to get your point across. Meaningless colors and unnecessary labels and data points can make displays difficult to read and interpret.

3. Draw the reader’s attention where you want it: By making judicious use of color and size variations, you can make your audience see the information you want them to see before they even realize they are seeing it.

4. Tell a story with your data: Use text to provide background information and to explicitly state what you want the reader to take away from your data.

5. Practice: Creating good data visualizations is hard, so get feedback from your colleagues and be prepared to spend time to get them right.

Check out Cole’s blog at www.storytellingwithdata.com to learn more about communicating effectively with data, and to see some helpful before-and-after data visualization makeovers.

This was the second installment of Brightest Minds, a colloquium series in celebration of WRAG’s 20th anniversary. The next event, on October 4, will feature economist Susan Raymond.