Tag: Greater Washingon region

New report closely examines racial and ethnic incarceration disparities in each state

A new report examines the rates of incarceration for whites, African Americans, and Hispanics state-by-state, finds three contributing factors to the racial and ethnic disparities in those rates, and makes some recommendations for reform. (Sentencing Project, 6/14)

Truly meaningful reforms to the criminal justice system cannot be accomplished without acknowledgement of racial and ethnic disparities in the prison system, and focused attention on reduction of disparities. Since the majority of people in prison are sentenced at the state level rather than the federal level, it is critical to understand the variation in racial and ethnic composition across states, and the policies and the day-to-day practices that contribute to this variance. Incarceration creates a host of collateral consequences that include restricted employment prospects, housing instability, family disruption, stigma, and disenfranchisement.

Related: In the most recently released video of WRAG’s Putting Racism on the Table series, James Bell, J.D., founder and executive director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, discussed mass incarceration and how structural racism, white privilege, and implicit bias collide within the criminal justice system.

OUR REGION, YOUR INVESTMENT | Our Region, Your Investment is gaining traction with local investors, with a recent $500,000 investment from the Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation. Says Joshua Bernstein, president of the foundation (Daily, 6/16):

The Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation is working to address the deficit in housing affordability in the D.C. area. An investment in the Enterprise Community Impact Note aligns our investment strategy with our mission and leverages our impact.  We are grateful for the opportunity that Our Region, Your Investment has created to invest funds in ways that promote additional investment in housing solutions.

COMMUNITY/LGBT/PHILANTHROPY | Following the recent tragedy in Orlando, a number of WRAG members have organized efforts to provide support to victims and their families or share valuable resources with those serving LGBT communities. Wells Fargo has announced a donation of $300,000 toward victims and community recovery through the OneOrlando fund, set up by the City of Orlando and administered by the Central Florida Foundation. The Council on Foundations has shared a resource guide created by Funders for LGBTQ Issues featuring Orlando’s local LGBTQ social profit organizations and fundraising efforts for the victims, and the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region has also shared resources for those who want to help.

EDUCATION/DISCRIMINATION/VIRGINIA | Students at Alexandria’s public schools are bringing to light what they describe as “excessive, discriminatory and reckless approach[es] to discipline” from the school system. Today, The Kojo Nnamdi Show explores those claims and the research that supports their argument. (WaPo, 6/3 and WAMU, 6/16)

Related: On Thursday, July 7, the third installment of WRAG’s Public Education Speaker Series (supported by The Omega Foundation and the Tiger Woods Foundation) tackles the topic of racial and gender disparities in school discipline, with Professor Anne Gregory of Rutgers University. WRAG members can click here to register.

ARTS/CULTURE African American Museum prepares for ‘a mini-inauguration’ (WaPo, 6/15)

PUBLIC HEALTHGun Violence ‘A Public Health Crisis,’ American Medical Association Says (NPR, 6/14)

Going back to school is tough at any age, but imagine going back to the 10th grade at age 68! This grandfather shows us it’s never too late.

– Ciara

Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation Invests $500,000 for Affordable Homes in Greater Washington Region

Our Region, Your Investment Gets Traction with Local Investors

Since its launch in January, Our Region, Your Investment has been presented to community members and local stakeholders as an investment opportunity to end the housing crisis in the Greater Washington region. Recent news coverage has featured our leadership in addressing the region’s housing crisis, and research has stated that a lack of affordable housing threatens our region’s economic competitiveness. Our Region, Your Investment provides an actionable step that concerned citizens and organizations can take to be part of the solution.

So far, individuals, nonprofit organizations, and foundations have made investments to provide affordable homes in the region. The most recent investment came from the Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation, which invested $500,000 to further the impact we are already having.

The Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation is working to address the deficit in housing affordability in the D.C. area. An investment in the Enterprise Community Impact Note aligns our investment strategy with our mission and leverages our impact.  We are grateful for the opportunity that Our Region, Your Investment has created to invest funds in ways that promote additional investment in housing solutions.

Joshua Bernstein, President, Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation

Along with other investments, this money is hard at work supporting projects such as Fort Stevens Place in Washington, D.C. and Clarendon Court in Arlington, VA. Combined, these investments have ensured that 160 families are not forced to leave our community due to unhealthy living conditions and/or unaffordable rents.

If you are interested in making an investment that provides a blended social and financial return, contact Rachel Reilly Carroll and visit the Impact Note webpage to learn more about Our Region, Your Investment!

Disclosure: The Enterprise Community Impact Note is offered by Enterprise Community Loan Fund, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation. It is guaranteed by Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation. The Enterprise Community Impact Note is not FDIC or SIPC insured and is only available in states where authorized. This brochure is neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation of an offer to buy these securities. The offering is made only by the prospectus, which can only be delivered by eligible employees of Enterprise Community Loan Fund, and should be read before investing. WRAG is not affiliated with Enterprise Community Loan Fund, Inc. or Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. WRAG is not offering to sell nor soliciting an offer to buy these securities. WRAG is not providing advice, receiving compensation, or making any suitability determinations in respect to you.

Has the American Dream become an affordable apartment?

by Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

For several years now, the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) has been discussing affordable housing. With an anticipated influx of residents into our area in the next decade, George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis predicts we will need 150,000 new units and that a large number of those units need to be for those in lower-income brackets.

For those lower-income individuals in the Greater Washington region, what constitutes an affordable home? I have been asking that question of many people over the last year. Folks shake their heads and say it depends. They talk about the high cost of land, the lack of government subsidies, and the need for transportation to areas on the edges of the region where the cost of land is less. But, I keep pushing. What is an affordable home in this region? That’s when the conversation turns to rental units, not houses.

It appears that there is no such thing in our region as an affordable house. According to 2013 census data,  the average household income in metropolitan Washington, D.C. was $90,149, and depending on differing information in multiple sources, the average cost to purchase a house in the region seems to be somewhere around $450,000. When you do the math, that makes the average household in our region unable to purchase the average house in the region without being fiscally imprudent.

There is something fundamentally wrong with that.

My father, uncle, and aunt were all real estate brokers. I grew up in a family that reinforced the value of home ownership. My father used to say, “You can live in it, rent it, or borrow against it.” He, like many in our country, viewed owning a home not only as the symbol of achieving the American dream, but also as one of the key elements toward financial stability.

In our region, that reality doesn’t seem to be an option for thousands of people. Don’t get me wrong, I do agree with WRAG’s current work to promote and enable the production and preservation of affordable rental units. What is the solution to homelessness? A home! We want to do everything that we can to get people into a place that they know as home. Research supports the value of having a home, not just financially, but emotionally, psychologically, and practically.

But let’s not forget that we still need to find a solution to help low-income people purchase homes. Why? Because for most people a home – whether that is a traditional house or a condominium – is the largest asset that they will ever have. That asset is often a major part of what enables a family to move into the middle class.

I continue to believe what I learned from my family years ago – owning a home is fundamental for financial security. Financially accessible home ownership. Who will work with WRAG to make that happen?

Loudoun County:  Uncovering the Needs, Coordinating a Response


by Lynn Tadlock
Deputy Executive Director of Giving, Claude Moore Charitable Foundation
Vice Chair, WRAG Board of Directors

I have worked in the Greater Washington region since college – mostly in public service – and have been amazed at the development, economic changes, and demographic shifts in our region. I’ve also seen the vast opportunities and difficult challenges that this growth and change have presented for many of our region’s jurisdictions and residents.

After a long career in Fairfax County government and now as the deputy director of one of the largest foundations in our region – the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation – I have come to understand that no one sector can fully address these challenges and opportunities alone, especially in this region where our issues are so connected and our populations are so transient. If we are to improve the quality of life in each of our jurisdictions and the region as a whole, we need a collaborative, multi-sector approach – what I call the “three-legged stool” – where government, business, and the social sector work in collaboration for the benefit of all.

We need that collaboration now more than ever. While some parts of our region are experiencing boom times, all jurisdictions are feeling the impact of federal budget cuts. Many nonprofits and faith-based organizations are experiencing increased demand for human services and burn-out of long-time leaders. While, at the same time, much of the business community is reducing or redefining its charitable giving.

This is all especially true in Loudoun County – our region’s fastest growing jurisdiction. And, the impact of these factors is amplified by the fact that their impact on residents often goes unnoticed in other parts of the region.

On May 14, cross-sector leaders from around the region will have the opportunity to learn about the unique needs and opportunities of Loudoun at the Loudoun County Philanthropy Conference. I invite you to join me and other philanthropic, nonprofit, government, and business leaders for this unique opportunity to learn about the needs in Loudoun, explore strategies for addressing those needs, and network with colleagues who are dedicated to improving quality of life in our region.

I am delighted that our region’s philanthropic sector is leading a conversation on how we can work together to ensure that the legs of Loudoun County’s three-legged stool are solid. Let’s make the Loudoun County Philanthropy Conference our starting point. I hope to see you there.

An effort to reduce pregnancies among Hispanic teens in Montgomery County

YOUTH | While the overall teen pregnancy rate has been declining, there remains a significant disparity between Hispanics and other groups, an issue that one local nonprofit has been working to address in Montgomery County (WaPo, 3/29):

Even as the Latino birthrate has fallen in Montgomery over the past two decades, it remains more than 2.5 times higher than the rate for the county’s black girls in that age group and more than three times the rate for white girls.


Since 1996, the earliest year in which Montgomery officials have published data, the great disparity between birthrates for Latino and white teenagers has hardly changed. Meanwhile, the gap between black teenagers and Latino teenagers has increased. This has perplexed local officials at a time when teen pregnancy rates in the nation are plummeting and the gaps between all races and ethnic groups continue to shrink.

For advocates, the disparity has come to symbolize the socioeconomic gulf between Latinos, largely a population of new immigrants, and more established populations in one of the country’s most affluent counties.

COMMUNITY | Today the Citi Foundation announced the launch of Pathways to Progress, a three-year, $50 million initiative in 10 cities, including D.C., to provide career training to 100,000 low-income youth. (Citi, 3/31). More information on the initiative is available here.

VETERANS | The Post commissioned a wide-ranging survey of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a must-read for those interested in issues affecting veterans and their families. The quick take-away from the intro: “More than half of the 2.6 million Americans dispatched to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with physical or mental health problems stemming from their service, feel disconnected from civilian life and believe the government is failing to meet the needs of this generation’s veterans.” (WaPo, 3/29)

Related: WRAG members have been convening regularly over the past year to look at ways philanthropy can better support veterans and their families in our region. Last year, they learned about challenges some veterans encounter when transitioning to the civilian workforce, and today (literally, right this minute) they are examining the potential of scaling up a successful program in Montgomery County for the entire region.

– Housing advocates see great potential for affordable housing options in Ward 8, particularly as developers begin to re-hab the area’s “abandominiums” – condos and apartments that have been left empty. (WAMU, 3/28)

How your housing affects your health (WaPo, 3/26)

EDUCATION/WORKFORCE | In his latest column, Robert McCartney argues that recent changes to the GED exam, put in place to meet higher demands of employers, are making the exam far more difficult to pass during a time when unemployment for those without high school diplomas is so high. (WaPo, 3/29)

REGION | The population of the Greater Washington region continued to grow last year, due primarily to the availability of jobs. (WaPo, 3/28) As Stephen Fuller explains in the article, “very few people flock to D.C. to enjoy the weather.”

HEALTHCARE | Maryland gears up for health exchange redo (WaPo, 3/30)

ARTS/PHILANTHROPY | S&R Foundation provides Washington Ballet with live music, affects city’s music scene (WaPo, 3/28)

CSR | Breaking Down The Benefits Of In-Kind Giving — And The Regulations Around It (Forbes, 3/30)

Related: On Thursday and Friday last week, WRAG and Johns Hopkins University hosted the second session of the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility. Check out the speaker-line up and photos from the session. From the pictures, it looks like a fun and jammed-packed two days. We’ll begin taking applications for the 2015 class early this summer. More information here.

You know how in some circles the first thing people ask you is “what do you do?” That drives me crazy. Here’s a cool video that gives an overview of all of the obnoxious ways people form quick judgments about new acquaintances all over the country.

– Rebekah

Local billionaire Bill Conway seeks advice on how to fund lasting impact [News, 9.26.11]

Bill Conway, co-founder of the Carlyle Group who has given more than $6 million to the Capital Area Food Bank, is preparing to give away more than half of his net worth. In doing so, he’s seeking advice on how to achieve lasting impact (WaPo, 9/25):

“So much of what I do now is stopgap. Somebody’s hungry; we give money to the food bank,” Conway said in an interview in his Pennsylvania Avenue office.

Conway is intrigued by a recent suggestion from his wife, Joanne, to use his wealth to create large numbers of productive, self-sustaining jobs for the poor.

“More effective than giving away half my fortune before I die is finding a way to help people have a good-paying job,” he said. That would help not only the newly employed, but also their families and the rest of the community.

Readers – here’s your big chance. If you have an idea, email Conway at inquiries@carlyle.com. Post columnist Robert McCartney wants you to copy him as well – mccartneyr@washpost.com. Let’s see what we can come up with.

COMMUNITY | On Friday, Northrop Grumman cut the ribbon at its new headquarters in Falls Church. Welcome (officially) to the neighborhood! (WBJ, 9/26)

EDUCATION | D.C. parents raise concerns about middle schools (WaPo, 9/26) Bill Turque says, “Without dramatic improvement in middle school quality, the long-term prospects for reform are bleak.”

SUSTAINABILITY | As it begins a new sustainability planning effort, the District is seeking ideas on how to make the city the “greenest, healthiest, most livable city in the country.”

GIVING | Most Americans Believe in Starting Movements Online, Study Says (Chronicle, 9/26) And here employers are trying to limit social networking at the office. The nerve! (WTOP, 9/26)

WORKFORCE | Inflation swallows raises in the Washington area (WaPo, 9/26)

TRANSIT | Here are the top 10 busiest Metro stations. See how many you can guess before you click the link. (WBJ, 9/24) Hint: this list does nothing to explain why there has been single-tracking between Medical Center and Grosvenor nearly every weekend for the last three years.

REMINDER | WRAG members: Don’t forget to join us for a very quick webinar today at 2:30pm about how your foundation can best support Give to the Max Day. Register here.

I learned a valuable lesson this weekend. When the waiter at Lauriol Plaza says, “It’s just a mild grilled jalapeno,” he’s either lying through his teeth or the chef is secretly trying to kill diners. Whatever sort of sinister item really was served was high enough on the Scoville scale to make two grown men cry in front of our girlfriends as we shoveled sour cream and rice into our mouths to combat the raging inferno.

Also, I’m still a bit incredulous about the Redskins’ 2-0 start to the season, so I will refrain from trash-talking the Cowboys. Until tomorrow. Can’t wait for the game tonight though! Hail victory!