Tag: Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation

$20 million to support male black and Latino students in the District announced

EDUCATION
D.C. Public Schools Chancellor, Kaya Henderson, has announced plans to invest $20 million into support programs for black and Latino male students under the “Empowering Males of Color” initiative. Plans also include opening a new college prep school for boys east of the Anacostia by 2017. (WaPo, 1/21)

Henderson said her decision to invest heavily in the specific needs of boys of color has everything to do with “mathematics.” Black and Latino boys make up 43 percent of the students enrolled in D.C. public schools. By almost any measure – reading and math scores, attendance and graduation rates – their performance is lagging.

“Far too many students are not benefiting from the progress we are making,” Henderson said at a news conference at the remodeled Ballou High School in Ward 8. “It’s a very real, very urgent problem.”

[…]

In the District, 48 percent of black male students and 57 percent of Hispanic male students graduate in four years, compared with 66 percent of their classmates. Only about a third of black male students are proficient in reading and math, according to the DC CAS scores, compared with almost 60 percent of students who are not black or Latino males.

– Another integral part of the new “Empowering Males of Color” initiative is the recruitment of 500 mentors for 500 male students. Those interested in becoming mentors can complete this form.

Essay Instead of a Test? Va. Lawmakers Reconsider Graduation Requirements (WAMU, 1/22)

COMMUNITY
– George Jones, chief executive officer of Bread for the Cityan advocate for the fight against poverty in D.C., was honored as Georgetown’s 2015 John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award recipient at the Kennedy Center on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! You can watch the video here. Thanks to the Naomi & Nehemiah Cohen Foundation for sharing.

PHILANTHROPYOpen Society Foundation‘s Campaign for Black Male Achievement has spun off into its own organization after being based at the foundation since 2008. The change signals the continued interest in greater investment in toward young men of color. (Chronicle, 1/21)

Open Society Foundations provided the spinoff with an initial five-year grant of $10-million. Mr. Dove says five other organizations, including the Robert Wood Johnson, John S. and James L. Knight, and Skillman foundations, the California Endowment, and Casey Family Programs have also provided support.

REGION
– How will the region (and the rest of the United States) change over the next 15 years? The Urban Institute has released an interactive map of the future based on current trends. (Urban Institute, 1/22)

– According to a new report by a marketing firm, D.C., Maryland and Virginia are all among the top 10 places in the country with the highest percentage of households worth more than $1 million. Maryland leads the pack for the second year in a row with 7.67 percent. (Washingtonian, 1/21)

VETERANS | A new bakery in Georgetown offers more than just coffee and croissants. The business recruits veterans who are re-entering the workforce into a six month work-study program in which they learn all about running a business and take classes at Georgetown University. (DCist, 21)

DISTRICT | A former Google executive and his team have been releasing a series of maps for a number of cities, including the District, that highlight data on a number of interesting topics. The maps include data for D.C.’s food deserts and environmental information. (WaPo, 1/21)

TRANSIT | Awaiting a decision, activists rally for the Purple Line (GGW, 1/21)


One way to predict a person’s risk for heart disease? Their tweets!

– Ciara

A six-month update on Helping Families Home

HOMELESSNESS 
Earlier this year, 25 organizations (including eight grantees of the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation) gathered to release Helping Families Home: A Roadmap for the District – a community plan outlining their recommendations on what D.C. should immediately do to get to a high-quality homeless services system. Now, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute has a six-month update on the District’s progress, including a full report and report card summary. (DCFPI, 12/9)

There has been progress in some important areas: a new homelessness prevention program is set to be launched this winter, there are new investments in affordable housing for families, and the District is securing additional shelter capacity for this winter. The District has released a plan for a new system of smaller shelters to replace the DC General Family Shelter, but it is not clear if this plan will yield enough shelter capacity to meet the need.

Yet there has been a tremendous lack of progress in several key areas. Many of the problems with DC’s Rapid Re-housing program – the main tool for getting families out of shelter – have not been addressed. Little progress has been made to meet the unique needs of youth-headed households, which make up nearly half of all families seeking shelter. The DC General Family Shelter has received only some of the improved case management and services it needs. Also, the District is planning to fill the gap in the homeless services budget by using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding, and it is not clear whether this will lead to cuts in other vital programs. Finally, DC has made little progress towards the goal of providing access to shelter year-round.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING/DISTRICT
– A plan by a developer to put a luxury hotel, condos, and retail in Mount Vernon Triangle, along with an affordable housing component in Anacostia, has left many residents east-of-the-river underwhelmed. In an area with an abundance of low-income housing, residents question why the location of the projects cannot be reversed. (WCP, 12/10)

– A new report from the Washington DC Economic Partnership – with support from Capital One Bank, Pepco, and Washington Gas  says that District developers will add 12,000 new residential units in next three years. (DCist, 12/9)

ARTS | On their blog, Americans for the Arts considers how starting the conversation about diversity in the arts isn’t always easy, but it must be done. This is part of a series of updates on their ongoing Greater DC Diversity Pilot Initiative (supported in part by the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation). (Artsblog, 12/9)

EDUCATIONA Battle Expected Over School Spending in Montgomery County (WAMU, 12/9)

TRANSIT | With transit costs taking up nearly a quarter of low-income commuters’ income, why are bike-share, car-share, and ride-share services that promise to save people money mostly used by those who earn more than the median wage? (GGW, 12/9)


Here’s just one way to keep thieves from stealing packages off your doorstep.

– Ciara

The region looks to move away from federal spending

REGION/WORKFORCE
A new study, “Improving the Washington Region’s Global Competitiveness,” from George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis points to the region’s ongoing reliance on federal spending as a major cause for concern for local governments. The report also calls for D.C., Maryland and Virginia to join forces in the effort to attract business and investment in the region and boost the private economy. (WaPo, 11/24 and WTOP, 11/25)

Exacerbated by federal sequestration cuts that went into effect last year, the decline in federal spending has contributed to a regionwide shift from higher-paying jobs — government contractor or subcontractor, for example — to jobs that pay less, according to the Center for Regional Analysis.

 Between September 2013 and this past September, the Washington region lost 13,000 jobs in federal government, business and professional services, education, health care and other higher-paying fields, according to federal data analyzed by the center.

FOOD
– Last month, the Washington Regional Food Funders (WRFF) convened over 100 stakeholders from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to learn about federal funding opportunities to strengthen the region’s food system and discover ways in which nonprofits, philanthropy, government, and others can partner effectively to do so. Today, WRFF releases a summary of the meeting with thanks to their members, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dietel Partners, and the Gannett Foundation.

– For The Next Food Drive, Go For the Canned Tuna, Not the Saltines (WAMU, 11/24)

PHILANTHROPY | The 2014-2015 edition of the Catalogue for Philanthropy is here! A number of WRAG members like Booz Allen Hamilton, the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Capital One, the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, the Richard E. and Nancy P. Marriott Foundation, the Meyer Foundation, and Pepco helped to make this publication possible.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING/DISTRICT | Many housing units east of the river, that were once sold for as much as six times their current sale price, are among the lowest-priced properties available. A lack of development has made the units very difficult to sell, despite the ever-increasing demand for housing to the west. (CHOTR, 11/24)

HOMELESSNESS/YOUTH | According to a new report from the National Center on Family Homelessness at the American Institutes, in 2013 the number of children who were homeless increased in thirty-one states and the District of Columbia, and was also up by at least 10 percent in thirteen of those states and the District. In a composite state ranking from 1 – 50 (from best to worst) across four domains: 1) Extent of Child Homelessness; 2) Child well-being; 3) Risk for child homelessness; and 4) State policy and planning efforts, Maryland came in at number 11 and Virginia at number 15.   (PND, 11/24)


Due to the holiday, there will not be a news roundup for the rest of this week. Safe travels to those hitting the road.  I leave you with this and, most importantly, this. Happy holidays!

– Ciara

Making D.C. a more age-friendly place

AGING/TRANSIT
With a growing portion of the D.C. population classifying as older adults, a new report focuses on how the city can do more to address the transportation needs of aging residents and help them to age in place. The report by the Coalition for Smarter Growth, with support from The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Prince Charitable Trusts, and the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation, looks at the areas of pedestrian safety, public transit and alternative transit options for seniors. (GGW, 9/9)

Baby boomers in DC, who are an estimated 17 percent of the District of Columbia’s population, represent a growing older cohort. Both their presence and well being are important to sustaining vibrant and inclusive neighborhoods. The potential contributions to our neighborhoods by older residents are undermined without forward-thinking planning to address the growing and unique needs of our oldest residents.

HOUSING | When taking into account housing expenditures – including rent/mortgage, furnishings/equipment, housekeeping supplies, and household operation costs and utilities – the Washington area’s housing costs are the highest in America, according to a recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though residents in the region don’t pay the most in the nation for rent or mortgage, the other costs help to put Washington on top of the list. (WCP, 9/8)

[…] in aggregate, Washingtonian (and nearby suburbanite) households spent an average of $17,603 on housing costs in 2012, beating out (or losing to, really) every other metropolitan area that the BLS looked at. D.C.-area expenses were nearly twice those in Cleveland, which sits at the bottom of the list.

NONPROFITS | President Tamara Copeland shares why she’ll be lacing up her walking shoes next spring to walk 60 miles in three days. (Daily, 9/9)

EDUCATION | Nearly four out of five families who voluntarily participated in truancy-prevention programs saw an increase in their child’s school attendance, a new study has found. A large majority of the families that participated did not need to be referred to the program the following school year. (WTOP, 9/9)

DISTRICT | In the first open debate on a state measure since 1993, a Senate committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would grant D.C. statehood. (WAMU, 9/8)

**REMINDER | WRAG’s Brightest Minds event featuring Rachel Goslins on the transformative power of the arts, previously scheduled for tomorrow, has been canceled. For more information, contact Rebekah Seder, seder@washingtongrantmakers.org.**


In case you missed the third and final supermoon of 2014 like I did, it was gorgeous according to these photos.

– Ciara

Comprehensive study on housing needs across income levels uncovers critical needs

HOUSING 
Today, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region released a first-of-its-kind report, “Housing Security in the Washington Region,” revealing the critical need for affordable housing across varying income levels in the Greater Washington region.  The landmark study is the first to comprehensively examine housing needs and how housing policies and programs are funded by public and philanthropic sectors in multiple jurisdictions. The study was commissioned with generous support from The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and was researched and prepared by the Urban Institute and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. A companion guide for funders was developed with input from WRAG members Silvana Straw of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Jacqueline Prior of The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Karen FitzGerald of The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, Alison McWilliams of Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation and David Bowers of Enterprise Community Partners. (CFNCR, 7/15)

Stable and affordable housing for people at all income levels is a goal that our region should be able to achieve. Without stable housing, it is difficult for people to obtain economic security, a quality education, good health and employment,” said Terri Lee Freeman, president of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. “We commissioned this study in order to quantify the needs for affordable housing and inform strategic investments by the philanthropic sector, as well as the public and private sectors.We are optimistic that the study can help leaders better address homelessness and housing issues in their communities and direct resources to those most in need. All people in our region deserve the chance to prosper as our region prospers.”

You can access the full report here.

Related: Today, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region will also hold a special briefing on the new study. The event will include two sessions – a public briefing on the study, followed by a private briefing for philanthropic funders and donors only co-sponsored by WRAG. Find out more here.

CSR │ WRAG’s Director of Corporate Strategy, Katy Moore, provides some thoughtful commentary on the Chronicle of Philanthropy‘s recent article on the state of corporate giving. (Daily, 7/15)

COMMUNITY │ Congratulations to Brian Castrucci of the de Beaumont Foundation for being named a 2014 Terrance Keenan Institute for Emerging Leaders in Health Philanthropy fellow. The Terrance Keenan Institute is a program of Grantmakers in Health that was created to nurture the next generation of heath grantmaking leaders and further their professional development.

EDUCATION │ In an effort to keep up with changing demographics and bridge the achievement gap, Montgomery County officials are clashing on proposed boundary changes to prevent further segregation in public schools. (WaPo, 7/14)

BUDGET D.C. Council Overrides Gray’s Budget Veto; Tax Cut Plan Approved (WAMU, 7/14)

TRANSIT │ With so much spotlight lately on cycling as a mode of commuting in the District, City Lab offers a revealing look at where low-income commuters stand in the discussion. (City Lab, 7/15)

DISTRICT │ Just how engaged are D.C.’s residents in civic activities? Take a look at six charts that break down data from a report conducted by the National Conference on Citizenship and Serve DC. (DCist, 7/14)


We may have even more in common with our friends than we think.

Ciara

Pew poll finds racial equality still a dream for many Americans

EQUALITY
– A Pew Research Center survey released yesterday found that fewer than a third of black Americans, and fewer than half of whites, believe that the country has made significant steps toward racial equality in the 50 years since the March on Washington. (NY Times, 8/22)

– On the Washington Area Women’s Foundation blog, Mariah Craven explains why the March on Washington is still relevant (WAWF, 8/22):

I’m simultaneously in awe of and distressed by the timelessness of [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s] speech. It encompasses feelings and aspirations that far exceed the boundaries of race. But so many of the challenges outlined in the speech are applicable today… I’m struck by the fact that if you replace the word “Negro” with words like “poor,” or “black,” or “Latino,” or “undocumented” in the text of the speech, it’s still so relevant.

EVENT: On September 26, WRAG’s final Brightest Minds speaker for 2013, Dr. Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum for African American History and Culture, will be speaking to the region’s philanthropic and nonprofit community about how history shapes contemporary society and informs the work we do in the social sector. More information and registration.

Related: Even if you’re not on Twitter, check out NPR’s feed, Today in 1963. It’s powerful and fascinating.

COMMUNITY | The Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation, along with the Jewish Funders Network and six other foundations, have launched the Jewish Social Change Matching Fund, a national $1 million fund that aims to increase charitable gifts toward Jewish social change efforts. More information about the fund and how to apply available here.

REGION | Largo Town Center has been chosen as the future home of a major hospital development, which the county hopes will revitalize the area (WaPo, 8/23):

County officials said the vote for Largo, which has the backing of Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), was a significant step toward helping the county remedy two of its biggest struggles: providing quality health care to a population that suffers disproportionately from diabetes, hypertension and obesity, and attracting the kind of transit-oriented development that has long bypassed the county.

WRAG Members: Next month, WRAG is co-hosting a convening on the state of Prince George’s County. More details here.

ARTS | Americans for the Arts’ Bob Lynch explains how supporting and engaging with the arts can help CEOs address critical business challenges. His points seem relevant beyond business, however (AFTA, 8/22):

The arts are connectors. They help us connect to our own potential by igniting a creative, bold, and innovative mindset. They help us connect to others by encouraging engagement, empathy, and the understanding that there are many ways of seeing the same thing. The arts connect people to the communities in which they live, the businesses at which they work, and the people with whom they interact.

HEALTH | Seven Fairfax high schools to ban sugary sodas from vending machines (WaPo, 8/23)


If you’re in the mood for more history, I highly recommend checking out Slate’s blog, The Vault. It’s full of fascinating documents, letters, photos, and other primary sources. Be careful though: if you’re even the slightest bit nerdy, you could end up killing a lot of time looking at it. Like I just did.

– Rebekah

Fighting for voters’ rights…Giving Tuesday…Local universities partner with KIPP charters [News, 11.27.12]

COMMUNITY | The Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation is a champion of an essential truth – that the right to vote is central to American democracy. To this end, the foundation has spent years building a funding portfolio that strengthens civic participation, especially through efforts to ensure that the rights of under-represented constituencies are protected.

Leading up to this year’s presidential election, voter rights advocates were deeply concerned about planned efforts for organized voter suppression – especially for minority populations in swing states.  The Cohen Foundation’s Daniel Solomon, who serves on WRAG’s board, was determined to make sure that the electoral process would occur justly and fairly. So, he went to Ohio to participate in a huge voter protection effort.

As expected, the protection effort was needed. Read his story, Putting My Mouth Where Our Money Is. (WG Daily, 11/27)

EDUCATION | Georgetown University (Hoya Saxa!) and Trinity Washington University have announced a new partnership with the KIPP charter school network. The universities have set recruiting targets to create a pipeline for KIPP graduates to attend these schools. (WaPo, 11/27)

GIVING
– Have you heard about Giving Tuesday? It’s a campaign to brand the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (today!) as a day for charitable giving, in the same vein as Black Friday and Cyber Monday for shopping. Read more here. (WAMU, 11/26) Black Friday keeps creeping earlier and earlier – it started before Thanksgiving this year – so hopefully the same trend will happen with Giving Tuesday.

– According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, online giving during Thanksgiving week was up 61 percent from last year. (Chronicle, 11/27)

– The Bridgespan Group has released a huge collection of video interviews with more than 50 major philanthropists. The project, called Give Smart, offers great insight about why these people give, what their goals are, and how they measure impact.

ARTS | Last week, Courtland Milloy wrote a great piece on THEARC (Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus) in Anacostia. (WaPo, 11/20)

BUDGETS | According to the Examiner, the District lost more than $4 million in revenue from tickets because of errors committed by the issuing officers. While nobody is perfect – and the traffic violators are surely happy – that’s a lot of dough to waste. More than 4 million donuts worth. (Examiner, 11/27)


Are you sick of Gangnam Style yet? In case you aren’t, some genius choreographed a huge Christmas lights show for the song. It’s pretty awesome.

And for those of you who are sick of hearing the words “Oppa Gangnam Sytle,” see if you can solve this really tricky Sporcle puzzle. It is doable without any guessing, but you might want to scribble some notes – and be sure to read the rules.

Daniel Solomon: Putting My Mouth Where Our Money Is

By Daniel Solomon
Trustee, Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation
Member, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, Board of Directors

The Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation began funding civic engagement in 1991 with a grant to Project Vote, a non-partisan voter registration and get-out-the-vote organization concentrating on underrepresented constituencies. In 1998, we were among the founding funders of DC Vote, which seeks full representation in Congress for DC residents. Our support of both groups reflects our view that a meaningful right to vote is central to American democracy.

Starting in 2008, we greatly expanded our financial commitment to civic participation. We have since supported almost a dozen different organizations seeking to register, involve and encourage voting by unmarried women, African-Americans, Latinos, immigrants, young people and other infrequent voters. We did so out of recognition that our direct service and advocacy efforts on issues of teen pregnancy, homelessness, reproductive health, the environment and other funding priorities could be undercut in the legislative process if those we wished to help did not vote. Since then, we have invested $1.2 million in voter engagement efforts.

We have great data from these groups as to the millions of Americans they have added to the voting rolls. This year, I went to Ohio to see whether voter suppression efforts were undermining that work.

I was fortunate to participate in a voter protection effort organized by attorneys from across the country who came to Cleveland to help oversee the electoral process. Ohio was expected to be both the epicenter of the election and a hotbed of challenges to voting. Doubts still lingered about whether Ohio’s votes were counted properly in 2004. Most worrisome was the potential impact of one group that was organizing hundreds of volunteers to disrupt voting in precincts with large numbers of minority voters.

I arrived in Cleveland three days before the election armed with a hundred pages of Ohio voting rules and voter assistance checklists. I and fifty other lawyers spent eight hours on Sunday being trained by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in the rules governing voting and what to do if those rules were not being followed. Meanwhile, outside the building thousands of Cleveland residents were waiting to vote early in a line that stretched many football fields long.

Along with half of our lawyer cohort, I spent Election Day in that same building, which was Cleveland’s official election center. The rest of the lawyers fanned out to precincts where it was believed there might be problems. I handled more than 75 phone calls from the field, either from our lawyer-observers, the Voter Protection Hotline, or directly from poll workers trying to help voters determine whether they were eligible to vote.

First and foremost, I saw that the officials in Ohio tried to run a good election and mostly succeeded. For example, some groups did behave in ways that were disrupting voting. At several sites they held up cell phones in a way that made voters believe they were being photographed. They questioned voters about their ID status and residence even though they were only permitted to observe, not talk, while inside the polls. My most significant intervention of the day was helping the person in charge of one polling location restore order where official “observers” from the Democratic and Republican parties were practically at each other’s throats. Ultimately, the use of the cell phones was banned, and the observers were warned to stick to observing or face ejection.

I learned that oversight by outside organizations and transparency of the process are critical. Everybody has to know the rules and know what recourse is available if the rules are not being followed.

I also saw first-hand the importance of early voting. Forty percent of Cuyahoga County voted early. Ohio was able to announce its election results shortly after the polls closed. Florida’s curtailment of early voting certainly contributed to their results not being finalized until Saturday.

While our grantmaking is helping to increase the involvement of underrepresented voters in the electoral process, the process of voting still needs improvement. Each state has its own unique set of voting laws and procedures. States vary greatly on whether they place more emphasis on keeping ineligible people from voting than on increasing voter registration and participation. Some states use electronic voting equipment that does not leave a paper trail, which makes it impossible to verify after the fact whether votes were properly counted. Sadly, voter intimidation is still too frequent a fact in many areas. Legitimate voters are being purged from voting rolls by some states that use overly strict requirements, while others that restrict ex-felon voting often use overly-loose database matching to purge tens of thousands of eligible voters.

Non-partisan voter registration and get out the vote activity do increase the franchise, but we still have a long way to go before all those who should be voting actually get the chance to vote.


Pictures (top to bottom):
– Thousands of people lined up to vote early on the Sunday before Election Day
– Daniel Solomon; Craig Kaplan, an organizing lawyer; Sandy McNair, member of Cuyahoga County Board of Elections
– “Souls to the Polls” cooked up added benefits for getting out to vote

Female condom project saves $8 million in health costs in first year…Profile of DC Vote’s Ilir Zherka…Arlington County faces increasing poverty rate [News, 3.26.12]

HIV/AIDS | Data from a new study show that a public-private partnership in the District that provides free female condoms in parts of the city with high HIV rates has already saved more than $8 million in future medical costs. The study estimates that every dollar spent saves $20 in future costs. (WaPo, 3/25)

In the year since the program’s launch, more than 200,000 condoms were distributed through grants made by the Washington AIDS Partnership. Channing Wickham, the Partnership’s executive director, is encouraged by the results:

This program is a perfect example of a win-win outcome: we’re saving lives as well as saving money. The program directly prevents HIV infections, and it also provides an incredible return-on-investment for the project’s funders – and for the healthcare system – by saving future costs. We’re proud to be a part of this public-private partnership.

Related: Read more about the Female Condom Initiative.

ADVOCACY | The April issue of the Washingtonian profiles DC Vote’s executive director, Ilir Zherka, and the organization’s history, challenges, and future strategies as it fights to achieve full representation in Congress for the District.

The Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation’s Daniel Solomon is a co-founder of the organization and a vocal champion of the cause. He says that choosing Zherka as executive director was a key component of a long-term plan:

As a philanthropist, I saw – we all saw – the importance of building a structure that could keep pushing the issue forward, even and especially in lean times.

Note: Washingtonian content does not become available online until a few weeks after the magazine hits stands. You can pick up a hard copy now, and we’ll link to the article when it is available online.

COMMUNITY | Donald Graham, chairman of the board and CEO of The Washington Post Company and trustee of the Philip L. Graham Fund, was on the Kojo Nnamdi Show last week. He talked about his relationship with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. (WAMU, 3/22)

POVERTY/HOUSING | Despite Arlington County’s high average income and low unemployment rate, the recession has caused a “dramatic spike in the number of people living below the poverty line.” The increase is putting a strain on the county’s housing assistance program. (WAMU, 3/25)

BUDGETS | Mayor Gray released his proposed 2013 budget on Friday. The DC Fiscal Policy Institute analyzes the budget and identifies cuts that “disproportionately impact programs that help keep families stable,” including health care coverage for low income residents, affordable housing, homeless services, and assistance for families. (DCFPI, 3/26)

ARTS | Gray’s budget appears to increase funding to the D.C. Commission for the Arts and Humanities, but the City Paper points out that the boost is “not what it seems.” (City Paper, 3/23)

NONPROFITS | More Than 40% of Nonprofits Plan to Add Workers This Year (Chronicle, 3/23)

NOMINATIONS | The Washington Business Journal is seeking nominations to honor partnerships of local businesses with nonprofits that assist families and children for the MassMutual Citizenship Award. Deadline is March 30. More info.


The fault line that brought us last summer’s highly dramatic EARTHQUAKE! rumbled again last night with a 3.1 tremor. That reminded me of the French village of Bugarach, which is currently seeing a massive pilgrimage of New Agers who believe that the town’s volcanic mountain will save them from the end of the world.

The story of the mountain is actually pretty interesting – and mysterious. It has strange magnetic properties and has allegedly been the site of secret experiments conducted, at various points, by the Nazis, Israel’s Mossad, and the French government. Here’s a New York Times article about it.