Tag: Philanthropy Fellows

New report on the early care and education economy in the District

A new report from DC Appleseed and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute explores the costs of delivering child care for infants and toddlers, and the experiences of early care and education providers in the District (DCFPI, 3/10):

Until now, no one has assessed how much it costs early care and education (ECE) providers to meet the level of quality that the District requires, or how providers are able to maintain quality while serving families who depend on child care subsidy payments from the government. DC Appleseed and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute have collaborated to produce a study to better understand these realities.

The full report is titled, “Solid Footing: Reinforcing the Early Care and Education Economy for Infants and Toddlers in DC.”

WRAG/PHILANTHROPY | Catherine Oidtman, Philanthropy Fellow at the Healthcare Initiative Foundation, reflects on what she’s learned about going “beyond dollars” in philanthropy. (Daily, 3/14)

Related for WRAG Members: We are now accepting applications from WRAG members interested in hosting Philanthropy Fellows this fall. For more information about this program and how to apply, click here.

COMMUNITY | Congratulations to Lynne and Joe Horning and the Horning Family Fund, housed at The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, for being honored with the 2016 Civic Spirit Award! The Horning Family Fund will be honored this evening at the 2016 Annual Celebration of Philanthropy.

– Opinion: Judith Sandalow of The Children’s Law Center offers her thoughts on why the District’s safety net program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), is so vital to low-income children and their families. (WaPo, 3/11)

Related: Ed Lazere, executive director of the DCFPI, recently shared with Daily WRAG readers what legislation to extend TANF could mean to so many households in the District. (Daily, 3/3)

– A pair of economists have found that students in poverty growing up in areas of high income inequality are shown to be much more likely to drop out of high school than students growing up in areas with less inequality. The results were found to be especially true for young boys living in high-inequality states. (WSJ, 3/10)

– Following their recent survey on Americans’ perceptions of race and opportunity in the U.S., The Atlantic breaks down some of the stark differences in opinion. (Atlantic, 3/10)

HOUSING/VIRGINIA | Contentious Ramsey property site in Alexandria clears another hurdle (WTOP 3/13)

AGING | Aging-in-place options most popular with baby boomers (WaPo, 3/14)

JOBS | The National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers is hiring a Project Director to help increase their size, scope and national impact. This is a virtual opportunity. For more information or to apply, click here.

Happy Pi Day – a great excuse to indulge in pizzas and/or pies, and more.

– Ciara

Philanthropy Fellows in the Field: Learning about the importance of going ‘beyond dollars’

By Catherine Oidtman
Philanthropy Fellow at the Healthcare Initiative Foundation
Catherine is a joint Bachelor’s and Master’s student at the University of Maryland. She is working toward a BA in anthropology and an MPP degree focused in health policy.

Editor’s note: We are now accepting applications from WRAG members interested in hosting Philanthropy Fellows this fall. For more information about this program and how to apply, click here.

I am a Philanthropy Fellow at the Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF), an organization dedicated to supporting nonprofit organizations that offer solutions to improving the quality and delivery of healthcare for residents in Montgomery County. Post-graduation I am interested in working with philanthropy and nonprofits on the creation of fully integrated healthy communities policies. When I first heard about the Philanthropy Fellows program, I thought it was the perfect combination of gaining experience in the nonprofit community and learning how philanthropy works in action. Little did I realize just how much I would actually learn through this experience.

When I began my fellowship, I anticipated learning how a foundation operates and its role in the nonprofit community. However, I quickly learned that HIF goes above and beyond just grantmaking. Crystal Carr Townsend, president of the foundation, and the Board of Trustees care about creating a sustainable, high-quality, comprehensive and integrative healthcare system for all residents of Montgomery County. HIF works collaboratively with organizations to establish integrative care that takes into consideration social determinants and the upstream issues (housing, safety, discrimination, access to healthy foods, education, poverty, freedom from violence, environment, etc.) that impact population health outcomes. While HIF is focused on providing comprehensive healthcare, Crystal takes a leadership role in inspiring other entities to collaborate, because many healthcare issues in Montgomery County are impacted by poverty and other social inequities.

My fellowship at HIF has given me countless opportunities that go far beyond just learning about the work of a foundation. I have helped to launch a mentoring program between nursing, pharmacy and social work students at the Universities at Shady Grove and professionals in the community, and I have also gained experience attending professional meetings and Board of Trustee meetings. By accompanying Crystal on site visits, I have seen firsthand how empathy and human connection are critical to addressing complex health issues and to making a positive social impact. This is an inspiring message that I will carry with me as I move forward professionally working in health policy.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with HIF as a Philanthropy Fellow through UMD’s partnership with the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers. This experience has progressed my professional career through enhanced connections in the community and enriched knowledge about foundations, nonprofits, and the importance of integrative healthcare initiatives.

Friday roundup – September 21 through September 25, 2015

– WRAG president Tamara Copeland examined how homeownership, once the American dream that promised greater financial stability, is no longer accessible to many in the Greater Washington region. (Daily, 9/22)

– We introduced the 2015-2016 Philanthropy Fellows, nine students from the University of Maryland’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership working at WRAG member organizations this year. (Daily, 9/21)

– On the Center for Effective Philanthropy’s blog, Maggie Osborn, head of WRAG’s colleague organization, the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, shared some important lessons that philanthropy can learn from jazz music. (CEP, 9/22)

– The release of new data from the Centers for Disease Control may dispel some myths about what we think we know about low-income families and their relationship to fast food, and show how obesity affects various racial groups in America. (WaPo, 9/18 and NPR, 9/23)

– We were also able to see how prevalent obesity has become in certain D.C. neighborhoods. (DC Inno, 9/18)

Basically, the moon is going to get really weird on Sunday. Don’t miss it. 

– Ciara


Meet the 2015-2016 Philanthropy Fellows

(Back row: Catherine Oidtman, Rebecca Kates, Sarah Gordon; Front row: Hannah Davis, Dominique Covelli, Jessica Finkel)

The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers is excited to welcome the 2015-2016 Philanthropy Fellows! Nine students from the University of Maryland’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership are working at WRAG member organizations this year:

  • Alex Gabriel is undertaking research for the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy’s foundation assessment initiative, Philamplify, with Lisa Ranghelli.
  • Catherine Oidtman is working with Crystal Townsend of the Healthcare Initiative Foundation, assisting with grants administration and the implementation of the HIF Scholars professional mentoring program.
  • Dominique Covelli is strengthening Grantmakers in Health’s communications and marketing efforts with Leila Polintan.
  • Hannah Davis is supporting the development and administration of WRAG’s Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility with Katy Moore.
  • Jessica Finkel is assisting with the design of Kaiser Permanente’s philanthropic strategy, working with Tanya Edelin.
  • Mary Kolar is supporting the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region’s Safety Net Initiative and Philanthropic Services grantmaking programs with Silvana Straw.
  • Rebecca Kates is supporting grantmaking, communications, and donor services with Amina Anderson at the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.
  • Sarah Gordon is working with Phyllis Kaye and WRAG’s Healthy Communities Working Group on developing effective communications about the social determinants of health to reach a wider funder audience.
  • Shaundra Patterson is researching potential national funding partners with Nicky Goren in support of the Meyer Foundation’s new strategic plan.

These students are gaining valuable professional experience in philanthropy, making new connections in the community, and bringing fresh ideas and energy to their host organizations. To learn more about each fellow, click here. Check out our website to learn more about WRAG’s Philanthropy Fellows program.

Caring for a growing population of seniors

By the year 2030, about one-in-four U.S. adults will be seniors age 65 or older. As the population ages, the need for quality home-care workers is growing, while their salaries and training requirements are not. (Atlantic, 4/27)

[…] the resources to help seniors stay at home are shrinking. Many seniors are finding that their boomer children are staying in the workforce longer than they did, and are unable to care for them. Demand for direct-care workers is expected to grow 37 percent between 2012 and 2022. Demand for personal care aides alone—the entry-level workers in the field—will grow 49 percent. There are currently 3.5 million direct-care workers in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Seven years from now, there will be 1.3 million more.


On average, home care aides work 34 hours a week, and make an average of $17,000 a year. One in four live in households below the federal poverty line, and one in three doesn’t have health care because their employer doesn’t offer it or because they can’t afford it.Perhaps unsurprisingly, the field has a high rate of turnover—some estimates put it as high as 60 percent.

Of the ten occupations that added the most new jobs in 2012, personal-care aides earned less than all except for fast-food workers, according to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute.

Related: In 2013, WRAG published an edition of What Funders Need to Know about the challenges facing this critical workforce. (Daily, June 2013)

– Ashley Williams, a UMD graduate student who has been working at Capital One since September through WRAG’s Philanthropy Fellows program, reflects on what she has learned during her fellowship about building partnerships between corporate and nonprofit organizations and aligning business strategy and community need. (Daily, 4/27)

WRAG Members: WRAG’s Philanthropy Fellows program is an exclusive partnership with the University of Maryland’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. Through the program, WRAG connects our member organizations with UMD students studying philanthropy and nonprofit leadership at the School of Public Policy. Applications to host a Philanthropy Fellow are due by Friday, May 8. Learn more about the program and how to participate here.

– Last week, WRAG held the first Fundamentals of CSR workshop – a two-day event for individuals wanting to better understand the field of corporate responsibility, corporate philanthropy, and corporate community involvement. Here’s a special thank you to those who helped make the event a big success!

– Income inequality is not just a problem for those in poverty; it’s a growing problem that affects everyone. Economic experts weigh in on some possible ways to begin tackling the widening gap. (The Baltimore Sun, 4/26)

– Forcing Black Men Out of Society (NYT, 4/25)

TRANSIT | Greater Greater Washington has released some new, interactive graphs that show the accessibility of the region’s metro stations to jobs and living spaces. (GGW, 4/24)

IMMIGRATION | Opinion: Think of Undocumented Immigrants as Parents, Not Problems (NYT, 4/27)

Do you communicate through emojis on your smartphone? Find out which ones are being used the most around the world.  

– Ciara

Philanthropy Fellows in the Field: Aligning Corporate Strategy and Philanthropy at Capital One

By Ashley Williams

Ashley Williams is a 2015 Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Policy candidate at the University of Maryland. Through WRAG’s Philanthropy Fellows program, she has been working at Capital One since September 2014.

She shared with us the new insights into corporate philanthropy that she gained during her time so far at Capital One.

As the academic year draws to an end, students turn a critical eye toward the trajectory of their career paths. Whether new job-seekers or experienced career-changers, more and more graduates are evaluating job prospects not only by salary, work-life balance, and potential for advancement, but also by the prospective employer’s social impact. As corporate social responsibility comes to play a larger role in attracting and retaining talent, companies must think critically about whether and how their philanthropy is benefiting the community in meaningful ways.

During the past year, I served as a Philanthropy Fellow with Capital One’s community affairs team. The experience afforded me valuable insight into the strategies that a major company employs to meet this challenge. Corporate philanthropy is structured around a dual focus: creating positive change and supporting the company’s brand. The most effective corporate philanthropy is a balancing act – it requires aligning the business’s value propositions to both customers and to the broader community in a way that is sincere and organic.

Though Capital One has traditionally done this by providing financial literacy education to individuals, it recently embarked into new territory: digital skill-building. As Capital One works to become both a financial leader and a digital leader, it is adjusting its philanthropy to stay business relevant. Capital One’s new Future Edge initiative focuses on expanding opportunities in low- and middle-income (LMI) communities to build digital- and technology-related skills by supporting community partners that provide IT training, increase computer literacy, and teach children programming after school, among other activities. Future Edge also helps those entering technology-related fields to develop complementary soft skills, such as critical thinking, decision-making and collaboration.

This strategy fills a critical community need – nearly 8 in 10 middle-skill jobs require digital skills, and the number of digitally intensive middle-skill jobs has grown at double the rate of other middle-skill jobs in the past decade. However, it also addresses one of Capital One’s key business strategies: improving customer experience through innovative new digital technologies. Supporting nonprofits that focus on building digital skills in LMI communities helps to ensure that everyone, regardless of income, has access to opportunities that make them competitive in these job markets. And, it also strengthens and broadens the digitally-skilled workforce, from which Capital One is able to recruit new talent to support their long-term digital strategy.

This type of strategic thinking helps to ensure that corporate philanthropy and foundation giving align with both community need and business goals. For Capital One, its digital-center partnerships enables its community affairs team to advance the conversation in the philanthropic community around the future of workforce development and how to expand career opportunities in a growing digital economy. These partnerships also encourage nonprofits to think about how new technologies have the potential to transform the way in which social services are delivered and create opportunity for their clients.

My experience at Capital One has provided me with a useful framework for building natural, mutually beneficial partnerships between corporate and nonprofit organizations. As I move forward in my own career, this learning experience has provided me with new tools for thinking creatively about the natural connections between business strategy and community need, and about how grant-making can increase effectiveness by using a systems-approach to address important social issues.

WRAG Members: WRAG’s Philanthropy Fellows program is an exclusive partnership with the University of Maryland’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. Through the program, WRAG connects our member organizations with UMD students studying philanthropy and nonprofit leadership at the School of Public Policy. Applications to host a Philanthropy Fellow are due by Friday, May 8. Learn more about the program and how to participate here.

Corporate grantmakers gather to learn about local needs and opportunities for investment

By Shira Broms
Philanthropy Fellow
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Often, when we think of corporate philanthropy, we tend to think BIG dollars. And, while many companies invest significantly in their communities, they often do so with very small (but mighty!) teams.  Unlike some larger private and independent foundations, corporate giving programs often do not have issue-specific program officers. Instead, corporate philanthropy professionals tend to be savvy generalists with a strong background in business, a knack for building strategic long-term partnerships, and the ability to stay on top of emerging trends to ensure their companies are doing the most good for the communities they serve.

Last week, WRAG hosted our first Corporate Philanthropy Affinity Group of the year to assist companies with staying up-to-date on the needs and trends in our region. Six issue area experts provided an overview of some of the top giving priorities in the DMV and offered a few key investment opportunities that companies might consider. Here are the highlights from each of our panelists:

(Click the image below)

A boost for at-risk D.C. students

Additional funds received by D.C. schools serving at-risk students are proving to boost programming offered. The largest investments went to middle schools, where funds were put toward additional technology, more counselors, and extended school days. (WaPo, 12/2)

The D.C. Council approved $80 million to serve the needs of 36,000 students who are in foster care or are homeless, who are receiving welfare benefits or food stamps, or who are performing at least a year behind in high school. That’s about 40 percent of all of the city’s public school students.

“We know poverty affects the way children can succeed in school,” said Soumya Bhat, education finance and policy analyst for the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute. “Children are more likely to come to school hungry or to be exposed to trauma or have health problems.”

EQUALITY | Ed Davies, executive director at DC Trust, speaks on the significance of building a healthy dialogue surrounding the experiences of young men of color, and the barbershop as an important cultural hub for such conversations. He also speaks on what inspired the launch of ShopTalk, a transmedia storytelling series on the challenges black boys and young men face growing up in D.C. (Washington Informer, 12/2)

ENVIRONMENT | Last month, WRAG co-sponsored with the Summit Fund, Roger & Vicki Sant, the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and the Federal City Council, an event to acknowledge progress and encourage participation in the continued revitalization of the Anacostia River and its watershed. You can view a special film from the event, The Anacostia River: Making Connections, by Stone Soup Films.

COMMUNITY | Rebecca Scherpelz, a UMD graduate student working at the Washington Area Women’s Foundation through WRAG’s Philanthropy Fellows program, reflects on her experience so far in her first job in philanthropy, in a special piece for the Daily. (Daily, 12/3)

CSR | Congratulations to the Advisory Board Company on winning the Serve DC Community Service Award for Corporate Engagement!

HEALTH | A Day in the Life of D.C.’s Needle Exchangers (WAMU, 11/21)

– Yesterday, the New York Times profiled one New York City family’s successful participation in the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) Program, an initiative in which clinicians prescribe dietary changes to reduce nutrition-related diseases like obesity and high blood pressure. Like New York and other cities, the District’s FVRx program works with clinics and their low-income clients to provide participants with financial incentives to increase their purchase of fresh produce at the city’s farmers markets. (NYT, 12/1)

Opinion: In this op-ed, an author/rural farmer contemplates the connections between the de-localization of the food system, rural white Americans, and the events in Ferguson. (HuffPo, 12/1)

Farewell, Clip Art!

– Ciara


From overseas to over the river: learning about poverty right next door

By Rebecca Scherpelz

Rebecca Scherpelz is a 2015 Master of Public Policy candidate at the University of Maryland. Through the Philanthropy Fellows program, Rebecca has been interning at the Washington Area Women’s Foundation since September 2014.

She shared with us her thoughts on her experience at the Women’s Foundation so far.

When I moved to the D.C. area to start graduate school at the University of Maryland, I came for the School of Public Policy’s International Development and Nonprofit Management and Leadership specializations. I was focused on soaking up everything D.C. has to offer, especially when it came to the international focus and global diversity. While I have certainly learned a lot about what happens outside this country, I was simultaneously curious about my own neighborhood and community. I didn’t grow up in the area (I’m a Midwest girl!), so there was a lot to learn.

Thus, when I was offered the opportunity to serve as a Philanthropy Fellow with Washington Area Women’s Foundation, I was excited to learn more about the communities they serve in D.C., Virginia (Arlington and Fairfax counties; City of Alexandria), and Maryland (Prince George’s and Montgomery counties). The Women’s Foundation has been an important bridge to my own education here; but more importantly, the organization is an essential link of support as we empower women and girls to thrive. The intelligent and dedicated team at The Women’s Foundation work strategically to impact women and girls, really making efforts to partner with organizations who are going to move the needle.

Currently, my main roles have included supporting the research, literature reviews, and outlines for upcoming issue briefs, participating in calls and site visits for potential grantees, and helping out as needed for the annual luncheon that took place a few weeks ago. This year, the luncheon’s theme was “Here. Now. For her.”  I was thrilled to be there, not only to see behind the scenes of how a big event like that is managed; but being part of nearly 1,000 people gathered to support the foundation’s efforts really brought the organization’s mission to life.

Professionally and academically, I can see how well this is contributing to my Nonprofit Management and Leadership education, as I’d never worked with a foundation before. Though I had spent five years in the nonprofit sector prior to moving here (including roles that involved grant writing), seeing how the foundation functions has helped me consider what makes a strong nonprofit. A focused mission, innovative thinking, and a supportive staff and board are just the beginning. In many ways, my role with The Women’s Foundation is a living example of the themes and lessons from my courses at UMD, showcasing how partnerships between foundations, nonprofits, community leaders, and the government can be a catalyst for systemic change.

I’m thrilled with the opportunity to serve as a Philanthropy Fellow as part of the partnership between the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership and the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers. Even if my future career has an international focus, I appreciate The Women’s Foundation for giving me a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities right next door.

WRAG Members: The Philanthropy Fellows program is an exclusive partnership with the University of Maryland’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. Through the program, WRAG connects our member organizations with UMD students studying philanthropy and nonprofit leadership at the School of Public Policy. Learn more about the program here.

Reflections from a Philanthropy Fellow: Sara Gallagher

By Sara Gallagher

Sara Gallagher is a 2014 Master of Public Policy candidate, specializing in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. Through the Philanthropy Fellows program, Sara has interned at the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and Calvert Foundation. She shared with us her thoughts on her experience in the Philanthropy Fellows program over the past two years.

The Philanthropy Fellows Program is a great opportunity for philanthropy and nonprofit management and leadership students to gain meaningful work experience in the sector. The partnership between the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers and the University of Maryland’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership matches serious students in paid internships with member foundations and corporate giving programs.

Last year I worked as a Philanthropy Fellow for the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region on a number of communications and branding initiatives. My work at the Community Foundation gave me an in-depth understanding of how these unique community organizations work. I also learned about effective collaborative strategies with cross-sector and regional partners to make broad and deep impacts on issues like education, hunger, housing, and workforce development. I actually applied what I learned during my Fellowship for a major school project: a policy analysis on workforce programs.

This year I am a Philanthropy Fellow with Calvert Foundation, where I work with the Strategic Initiatives team on the development of new impact investing programs. I’ve been really challenged by my work at Calvert Foundation because of their investment focus; a lot of what they do goes beyond my school and work experience. Regardless, I’ve learned about program creation and management, as well as how to use impact investing to leverage the financial resources of philanthropists, investors, and ordinary people. Impact investing is a powerful tool for social change, and Calvert Foundation has shown me how to use it.

My fellowships have allowed me to complement my formal graduate studies with valuable, relevant work experiences, and the ability to practice and expand on my nonprofit training. When I graduate this May, I hope to work for a foundation that strengthens the nonprofit sector through capacity-building grantmaking for effective organizations.

WRAG members: We are now accepting applications for Philanthropy Fellows program for Fall 2014 through Spring 2015. If you are interested in hiring a fellow, please contact Rebekah Seder at seder@washingtongrantmakers.org for more information.