Tag: Summit Fund

Is the power of philanthropy enough to move the needle on racism? Yes, it already is.

by Tamara Lucas Copeland
President
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

In January, the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) started an intensive exploration of racism called Putting Racism on the Table. Each month, for three hours, grantmakers have been immersed in a topic. Structural racism in January, white privilege in February, implicit bias in March, and this month the focus was on mass incarceration as a case study on how all three factors are operationalized in one system of government, the criminal justice system.

I think that several factors are remarkable about this work. First, eleven major funders in the Greater Washington region came together and said, “We aren’t ready to act. We want to learn.” This was powerful. It has seemed like a societal taboo to talk about the 800-pound gorilla of racism that sits in the middle of the room when discussing housing needs, educational needs, health care, or any of the multitude of community needs that philanthropy seeks to address. But these grantmakers were ready for the talk. Eighty percent of the attendees have come to two or more of the sessions. They have recognized that racism cannot be explored in sound bites. There is a depth and breadth to the topic that requires that you listen, reflect, talk with others, and then sit with the information for a while to make it your own. They are doing the hard work of truly understanding racism. After the sessions, many have been candid in revealing, despite their education and commitment to social justice, just how lacking their knowledge truly was about how pervasive and entrenched racism is in our society. Here’s an illustrative sampling of comments:

“After the session on structural racism, I realized how little I know about racism.”

“The systemic nature of racism is more pervasive than I had previously understood.”

“I think there are situations where white privilege is so ingrained that I am not even aware of the impact I am having just by being present or in casual conversation.”

“Having been through the session on implicit bias, I better understand the very strong and powerful way our subconscious influences our thinking and actions. What can we do?”

I am proud of the commitment that philanthropy has made to this learning journey. People who felt that they were sensitive to and understood racism have learned that it is far more nuanced, unconscious, and institutionalized than many would think. We have achieved the goal of knowledge gain. But, this isn’t learning just for the sake of learning.

Philanthropy has been referred to as society’s passing gear. Its position provides a platform for societal change that goes well beyond dollars. Consider the impact of the national Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on smoking reduction or that of the local Summit Fund on teenage pregnancy prevention. They both felt that they could make a difference and with a laser focus that commitment has led to deep and lasting improvements.

I have heard foundation CEOs talk about how this work is already translating into changes at their foundations. I have heard trustees who are business leaders share the impact that it is having on their thinking and on their actions. And, I have heard colleagues in other states discuss how WRAG’s work has opened the door for a discussion that they didn’t think they could have with funders. The needle is moving – slowly perhaps – but moving, and the momentum is building. Stay tuned.

Meeting unmet needs for a better healthcare system

HEALTH
Over on the Consumer Health Foundation blog, Dr. Rajiv Bhatia discusses how data on the unmet needs (food, employment, housing and transportation) of patients could help the health care system further calculate risk factors in order to provide a more comprehensive experience that would include connecting people with the proper community resources. (CHF, 4/1)

According to a recent national survey, 85% of primary care doctors say that unmet needs for food, housing, employment, and transportation contribute to poor health for their patients. These doctors recognize that they lack the time, tools, and resources to support all of their patients’ health needs and want health care systems to do more. Sadly, few health care systems measure unmet needs as risk factors in the populations they serve or take steps to address these needs.

Quality health care matters a great deal when we are sick, but protecting and maintaining our health requires a foundation of basic human needs. Insecure work, the lack of nutritious food, and unstable shelter are increasingly common experiences in our society that result in high costs for health and healthcare.

PHILANTHROPY | More and more grantmakers are committing to “get on the map!” Foundation president/CEO and chair of WRAG’s board of directors, Patricia Mathews, shares why the Northern Virginia Health Foundation is excited about the interactive mapping tool and sharing their grants data with colleagues. (Daily, 4/6)

HOMELESSNESS
Opinion: As the District’s homelessness crisis persists, David Bowers of Enterprise Community Partners offers his thoughts on how the city must use a broader approach to tackle the problem and bring about lasting change. (WaPo, 4/3)

– According to a report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, federal funding for programs to end homelessness in the U.S. is at its highest level ever. The study also found significant declines in homelessness nationally among sub-populations over the past few years. (HuffPo, 4/3)

The unprecedented funding is “probably in part” to credit for a decline in net homelessness: 578,424 people were experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2014 — down 2.3 percent from the year before.

What’s more, improvements were tracked within every major sub-population, such as the chronically homeless, families and unsheltered persons. Veteran homelessness, for example, has dropped 33 percent in the past five years.

YOUTH/DISTRICT | In this special film, DC Teens: Progress & Promise, made by Stone Soup Films for the Summit Fund of Washington, District teens and leaders working to lower rates of teen pregnancy speak on what is being done to create a better future for young people in the city and why that work is so vital. Check out the video here.

Related: Dr. Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution, who makes an appearance in the film above, will be the featured speaker of our first Brightest Minds event of the year. On April 30, she will explore the growing trend of unwed and unplanned motherhood, its impact on child poverty and wellness, and how the social sector can effectively support efforts for change. This event is open to both WRAG members and nonmembers. More details here.

NONPROFITS
– On April 15, United Way of the National Capital Area (UWNCA) is offering a free training to support any area nonprofit that will participate in the Do More 24 Day of Giving to be held this year on June 4. Nonprofits interested in participating do not need to be members of UWNCA, but must serve the D.C. metro area. Click here to learn more and to register by April 13.

Opinion: Simple Steps to Promote Diversity at Nonprofits (Chronicle, 4/3)

WORKFORCE
– McAuliffe ‘bans the box’ on state job applications (WaPo, 4/4)


Who’s ready for some baseball?! Take this quiz to see how much you know about the sport.

– Ciara

 

Affordable housing does a disappearing act in the District

AFFORDABLE HOUSING
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute has released their new report titled, Going, Going, Gone: DC’s Vanishing Affordable Housing. The report examines the urgency of the affordable housing crisis and offers a glimpse into the lives of those who are struggling to keep up with rapidly rising rents. (DCFPI, 3/12)

Rents have risen rapidly for virtually all residents. The impact has been greatest on low-income households who have not benefited from DC’s recent economic growth. Increasingly, moderate-income households also struggle to afford rent and utilities.

– Two-thirds of low-income households – with incomes under $32,000 for a family of four – spend more than half their income on housing.

– Even renters with incomes up to $54,000 are struggling, as one in three of these households pays the majority of its income towards rent.

Use It or Lose it: A Legislative Tool to Save Affordable Housing Hasn’t Been Funded (WCP, 3/11)

COMMUNITY/CSR | In this post, a member of The Boeing Company‘s Global Corporate Citizenship Team shares how a collaboration with the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, business leaders, and stakeholders, has resulted in significant investments and programming that will bring lasting change to the region. (CFNOVA, 3/11)

FOOD | A new survey takes a look at which schools across the country are purchasing healthy foods locally to feed their students. One surprising find from the survey was that the biggest agricultural states were not among the ones serving the most local food. States including Delaware, Maine, Maryland and Vermont lead the pack. (NPR, 3/11)

ECONOMY | In light of budget season, D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute also recently explored some of the challenges Mayor Bowser will face as she crafts her first budget. More revenue will be necessary to avoid deep cuts for residents in the District. (DCFPI, 3/10)

Related: On Wednesday, April 1 at 1:00 PM, WRAG members are invited to attend a two-part briefing on the 2016 budget and how changes at the federal and local level may affect their work. The event will begin with an overview of the 2016 federal budget by Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and will continue with breakout discussions for each jurisdiction, featuring:

District of Columbia:  Ed Lazere, Executive Director, DC Fiscal Policy Institute
Maryland:  Benjamin Orr, Executive Director, Maryland Center on Economic Policy
Virginia:  Michael Cassidy, President and CEO, The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis

ENVIRONMENT/ANACOSTIA RIVER
– Want to know more about the forthcoming 11th Street Bridge Project that seeks to connect a long-divided community? You can learn more about the District’s first elevated park here. (WaPo, 3/8)

– The Environmental Film Festival kicking off next week will feature a film on the challenges and efforts to make the Anacostia River more suitable for future generations. The film, produced by Stone Soup Films with support from the Summit Fund of Washington, will have several screenings at programs sponsored by the Bernstein Family Foundation and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Related: On Thursday, March 19 at 10:30 AM, WRAG members and invited guests will gather to take a look at the challenges and opportunities of a cleaner Anacostia River. Eligible attendees interested in the environmental health of the watershed or the economic health of the communities along the riverbank can share their thoughts on how philanthropy can continue to catalyze the transformation of the Anacostia.

PHILANTHROPY/EVENTS | Next week begins the second annual Philanthropy Week in Washington – a week-long series of events and activities that highlight the role of philanthropy in our society – hosted by the Council on Foundations. This year, the center piece event will be Foundations on the Hill, hosted in partnership with the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. Click here to check out the week’s schedule of events.


College basketball enthusiasts aren’t the only ones who may lose out on money during March Madness.

– Ciara

New website details spending in D.C. schools

EDUCATION
D.C. Public Schools has released a new, interactive website with detailed information on how schools spend their money and the demographics of enrolled students. (WaPo, 2/23)

D.C. Public Schools created an interactive Web site where you can see where money goes and compare spending with other schools. The site includes detailed information about demographics of enrolled students, staffing and salary information, and changes year to year.

Officials hope the new data center will be useful for principals, parents, and advocates, and start more and more informed conversations about school spending.

Suspended students lose millions of days of instruction while out of school (WaPo, 2/23)

FINANCE/PROGRAMMING | This year, WRAG will be launching new programming geared toward the needs and professional development of foundation finance staff. To learn more about this exciting endeavor, check out this post from WRAG’s Katy Moore. (Daily, 2/24)

ENVIRONMENT
– Scientists studying ocean acidification are finding that ocean water in parts of the world, including some of our not-so-distant shores, is becoming more and more acidic. The change could potentially endanger shellfish over time. (NPR, 2/23)

– The District is ramping up its anti-littering campaign by delivering the message to some of the city’s youngest residents. By teaching school kids not to litter, the city hopes to allocate money that is spent cleaning the streets into other areas. (WAMU, 2/23)

(Sort of) Related: The ocean isn’t the only body of water that needs protection. On Thursday, March 19th at 10:30 AM,  WRAG invites members interested in how philanthropy can meet the challenges and opportunities of a cleaner Anacostia River to a special meeting. To learn more and to register, click here.

HOMELESSNESS/DISTRICT | Does D.C.’s Rapid Re-Housing Program Live Up To Its Promise? (WAMU, 2/20)

HEALTH | Prince George’s County residents in underserved areas will soon have access to necessary care via the “Wellness on Wheels” mobile health clinic. The clinic is a collaboration between the county Department of Public Health and Doctors Community Hospital. (Gazette, 2/24)

POVERTY | Instead of the Income Gap We Should Be Talking About the Wealth Gap (CityLab, 2/19)


Are you a lefty or a righty?

– Ciara

Three major new reports on arts participation and impact in America

ARTS
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has released three new reports (and some fun infographics) on the impact of arts and cultural industries on U.S. GDP, as well as how and why Americans participate (or don’t participate) in certain arts activities. (NEA, 1/12)

The new information will help arts providers and others more effectively understand and develop strategies to engage individuals and communities in the arts.

“The implications from this research are significant,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The findings show that there is great diversity in how people engage in the arts, and this gives us a framework to use our creativity to innovate new ways to reach these audiences.”

Related: Next month, arts funders are invited to the next meeting of the Arts & Humanities Working Group for a discussion with Americans for the Arts about advancing diversity and equity in the Greater Washington region’s cultural sector. More information is available here.

Proposal would bring museum, performing arts center and condos to U street area (WaPo, 1/13)

PHILANTHROPY | WRAG president, Tamara Copeland, speaks out to executives and trustees who may be considering closing a foundation. In her open letter, she highlights two examples of how it’s been done right. (Daily, 1/13)

POVERTY | Reforms that Will Make it Easier to Apply for Public Benefits (DCFPI, 1/13)

EQUALITY | Even the most unprejudiced minds among us can give way to biased thoughts – particularly when it comes to matters of race. Read what a team of Stanford psychologists learned about the social stereotypes many Americans grow up with, without even realizing it. (NPR, 1/9)

VETERANS | VA Data Show Disparities in Veteran Benefits Spending (WAMU,1/12)

WORKFORCE
– 3-D printed cars aren’t just something imagined for the future. A car maker that produces the unique vehicle designs is headed for National Harbor and is bringing around 100 jobs with them. (WBJ, 1/12)

– Using factors like affordability, job availability, and workforce growth, financial website NerdWallet ranked D.C. as number 17 on a list of Best Cities for Job Seekers.(DCist, 1/12)


What do the economy and the facial features of America’s favorite celebrities of the moment have to do with each other? More than we probably thought!

-Ciara

A Letter to Foundation Trustees and Execs Considering Closing a Foundation

By Tamara Copeland
President
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Closing a foundation is not a choice most executives and trustees arrive at easily. However, if you do make the decision to sunset, you couldn’t have a better roadmap for doing this gracefully and effectively than the closings of The Summit Fund and The MARPAT Foundation.

While no one in the social profit sector was happy to learn that MARPAT and the Summit Fund had decided to close, it is unlikely that any of their long-term grantees would argue that they weren’t given sufficient notice. But giving adequate notice was just the first step.

The foundations wanted their work to continue, not as a legacy to their institutions, but as a recognition that the job was not done. They had both made inroads. MARPAT was proud of their commitment to addressing  the needs of wards 7 and 8 in the District and the Summit Fund had worked tirelessly and effectively to prevent teen pregnancy∗ in the District and to improve the Anacostia River. They had laid a solid foundation, but a continuing dedication to the work was needed.

As a next step, both MARPAT and Summit chose to host meetings to inform the local social profit sector, funders, government, and others of the inroads that been made and of the work that still remains. These meetings were another important step for them as ongoing catalysts for change even in the  waning days of the foundations.

Several years ago, WRAG produced a publication called Beyond Dollars. In it, we talked about the catalytic role of philanthropy, a role that is critical for social change. Four factors were identified as pivotal: understanding timing, leveraging other resources, promoting partnerships and using your voice.

Both MARPAT and Summit recognized that with their closing, this was the time to talk about the work. They knew that they had made investments that could leverage other resources. They brought together diverse segments of the community to encourage new partnerships, and they used their voice powerfully to encourage continued action. Just because they were closing, they didn’t stop being strong advocates.

No one takes the closing of a foundation lightly when communities, like ours, need philanthropic investments to correct scores of problems. But when the decision is made, it is noteworthy that in our region we have two amazing examples of how to do it right.


∗ A community gathering on teen pregnancy is planned for March, 2015.

Navigating rent control laws in the District

AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Washington City Paper examines how a number of landlords in the District have been able to find their way around rent control laws and the effects it can have on residents. (WCP, 12/11)

[…] in the District, where affordable housing is vanishing in each successive neighborhood deemed up-and-coming, rent control is one of the few reliable ways to protect residents from prohibitive housing costs. Housing is generally considered affordable if it costs no more than 30 percent of a household’s income. According to a study this year from the Urban Institute, more than half of D.C.’s renter households put more than 30 percent of their income toward rent, and 28 percent pay more than half their income. Meanwhile, the 2007 inclusionary zoning law, which requires residential developers to include low- and moderate-income units in new buildings, produced just 30 such units through 2013. Rent control is the city’s strongest tool for preserving affordable housing without spending a cent. And for many renters who rely on it, it’s under assault.

COMMUNITY | Congratulations! Yesterday, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) presented its 2014 Regional Partnership Award to the Summit Fund of Washington. The award is given annually to an individual or organization that has done the most to support and advance COG’s work program. Recent winners of the honor include the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and WRAG.

PHILANTHROPY | The annual industry forecast, Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2015, is now available.The guide offers an overview of philanthropy’s current landscape, points to major trends, and directs your attention to horizons where you can expect some important breakthroughs in the coming year. Get it here. (GrantCraft, 12/9)

YOUTH/DISTRICT | A new report, “Improving Youth Programs and Outcomes in Washington, DC,” argues that the poor educational and employment outcomes among many D.C. youth programs demand a serious and sustained response by the city, funders, educators, nonprofits and employers. You can check out the full report along with recommendations for improvement by Brookings Fellow Martha Ross and education and workforce strategist Mala Thakur here. (Brookings, 12/10)

ARTS | Last month, the Local Music Task Force, a newly established coalition of diverse individuals in the creative community, gathered during a Future of Music Policy Summit and outlined six key areas where public sector engagement with the music communities can help push increased economic growth in the District. (DCist, 12/10)

EDUCATION
– After a recent report drew attention to the disproportionate ethnic and racial ratio of teachers to students in Montgomery County schools, officials have announced a new initiative aimed at increasing teacher diversity. (WaPo, 12/10)

Education advocates help draft new D.C. mayor’s to-do list (WaPo, 12/10)

HEALTH | Maryland rushes to reenroll residents in subsidized health insurance plans (WaPo, 12/10)


Informal poll – How many people own, or have owned, this coffee table? I’ll admit it…I do!

– Ciara 

A boost for at-risk D.C. students

EDUCATION/DISTRICT
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)

FOOD
– 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

 

What does it take to launch a new initiative?

2014 WRAG Delegation to Cleveland

By Tamara Copeland
President
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

It was 2011 when I first learned of the Evergreen Cooperatives from three local grantmakers – Linda Howard of the Summit Fund, Kristin Pauly of Prince Charitable Trusts, and Margaret O’Bryon then of the Consumer Health Foundation. The Evergreen Cooperatives are worker-owned businesses located in underserved areas of Cleveland that supply nearby anchor institutions with services and goods they need. This philanthropy-led initiative in Cleveland, designed to actually move people out of poverty and into the middle class, was causing a buzz. By inviting the Evergreen Cooperatives’ leader to speak with local leaders, these three foundation executives started a powerful conversation.

A spark/an idea. The spark was undoubtedly the dynamic presentation (View part 1 and 2) by Ted Howard of the Democracy Collaborative, the organization that had been hired by the Cleveland Community Foundation to lead this work in Cleveland. He shared the model, the goals, and the potential for the Greater Washington region with funders, nonprofit leaders, and government officials. There were many questions and some reservations about the model’s potential here, but overall, attendees left wondering, “What if this really could work?” However, that spark alone was not enough to launch the initiative.

Resources and research. A group of about a dozen funders combined their resources for a $250,000 pool to hire Ted Howard and the Democracy Collaborative (based at the University of Maryland) to research the viability of the Evergreen model here in our region. This work included interviewing almost 200 local leaders. Afterwards, there was no question that an adaption of the principles and ideals of the Evergreen Cooperative’s worker-owner model was possible here. But, the due diligence alone was not enough to get it off the ground either.

Deeper research. Now a leader was needed to decide what kind of business had the greatest opportunity for success and to develop a capital plan to underwrite the start up costs of that business. John Hamilton, President of City First Enterprises, was that leader. He understood the business world and he understood the needs of the community. John and his team determined that the biggest opportunity laid in anchoring this work to a municipality. Next, they determined that stormwater/cleanwater management was the area of work with the greatest immediate potential here in our region. Combining those two factors with a desire by Prince George’s County to identify new approaches to combat wealth inequality in the County made Prince George’s County the optimal municipality to begin this work.

Collaboration. So, what does it take to launch an initiative? A strong cross-sector collaboration to meet a community need is a must have. The philanthropic community was the catalyst, the academic community provided the research, and government had a need to address: compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act standards. All of these factors have converged in a way to make the initiative possible.

The last ingredient. Even with all the partnership stars aligning, there is still work to be done. All parties are eager to launch the initiative and implement the tenets of community wealth building in Prince George’s County, but are awaiting finalization of the necessary agreements. We are excited about the potential impact of the Community Wealth Building Initiative and look forward to providing you with an update of our progress soon.


Note: Late last month, WRAG hosted the second tour of the Evergreen model for local funders potentially interested in becoming a part of this work. To learn more, contact Tamara Copeland at WRAG or Jason Washington at City First Enterprises.

A Voice From Philanthropy: A Call to Action for Tomorrow’s Philanthropic Leaders

By Tamara Copeland
President
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Years ago, Julie Rogers of the Meyer Foundation told me, somewhat wistfully, that there used to be a time when a core group of funders in the region could come together and make big things happen.  It wasn’t just Meyer. It was AOL and Fannie Mae. Freddie Mac and Annie E. Casey.  Except for the Meyer Foundation, those stalwarts of philanthropy in our region are gone.

Julie’s comments came to mind last week when WRAG co-hosted an event to celebrate the impact of the MARPAT Foundation.  MARPAT focused its work on Wards 7 and 8 in the District. Somewhat quietly, it used its resources to invest in efforts like  Academy of Hope and Fair Chance DC, programs intended  to enhance the likelihood of low-income residents getting out of poverty. After six years, the trustees have made the decision to sunset their philanthropy.

And, they aren’t the only funders to make this decision. Soon, the Summit Fund will cease its support of Anacostia River cleanup efforts and the prevention of teen pregnancy in the District, after many years of successfully leading the charge on both fronts.

A few years ago, the Fannie Mae Foundation closed its doors. Then, last year, without much fanfare, a letter went to grantees announcing that Fannie Mae itself was ending its philanthropic investment in the region.  At a time when George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis is warning the region about the critical need for affordable housing, one of the major housing funders has totally ended its philanthropy.

I am happy that next week, the Freddie Mac Foundation will celebrate over 20 years of impact that its partner grantees have had on the region. Fortunately, Freddie’s signature adoption initiative, “Wednesday’s Child” has moved to the Dave Thomas Foundation. But the powerful voice that it leveraged on foster care issues is now silent.

MARPAT, Summit, Freddie, and Fannie represented upwards of $25 million in annual giving to the Greater Washington region.  Last year, we reported in our giving report that WRAG members gave $279 million in our region in 2012. A loss of $25 million is not inconsequential. And when considering the earlier closure of the AOL Foundation and the decision by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to cease their grantmaking in our region, that figure is even higher. Certainly familial and corporate realities make such decisions necessary, and perhaps even prudent. But the impact on our region cannot be minimized. We are losing philanthropic dollars and leadership at a time when we need them more than ever.

The problem of poverty east of the Anacostia remains, as do hidden pockets of poverty throughout our region. Affordable housing is not yesterday’s problem. It is today’s.  And while the lovely Yards Park now sits alongside the Anacostia River,, the river is still not safe for swimming.  Important inroads have been made, and to all of the philanthropic leaders who made that possible, we say “thank you.”  Now we need the mantle to be picked up. Who will champion the eradication of poverty east of the river?  Who will champion the production and preservation of affordable housing across our region? Who will be the philanthropic leaders whose  impact we celebrate in the next decade?