Tag: WRAG

Friday roundup – June 20 through June 24, 2016

THIS WEEK IN RACIAL EQUITY 
– Marcela Brane, Herb Block Foundation president and CEO, shared this year’s winner of the Foundation’s annual Herblock Prize for Editorial Cartooning. Be sure to check out the winning cartoon, “Racist EZCash,” by Mark Fiore(Daily, 6/20)

– The latest video in the Putting Racism on the Table series is live! The video features Dr. Manuel Pastor, Professor, Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, on the experiences of non-black racial minorities in the United States. While you’re at it, stop by our website to find the viewing guide and discussion guide that accompany the video.

THIS WEEK IN THE WRAG COMMUNITY 
– WRAG’s summer intern Hudson Kaplan-Allen offered the key takeaways from the first session of WRAG’s 2016 Nonprofit Summer Learning Series, “Dos and Don’ts of Working with Grantmakers,” and the importance of cultivating authentic relationships among funders and grantees. The event featured keynote speaker Rick Moyers of the The Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, and panelists Julia Baer-Cooper, consultant with the England Family Foundation and Prince Charitable Trusts, Ben Murphy of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and Tracye Funn of Washington Gas. (Daily, 6/21)

– PwC took home the Outstanding Corporate Citizen of the Year (Large Business) award at the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Awards.

THIS WEEK IN THE DISTRICT
– Unemployment rates in D.C.’s ward 7 and 8 are at the lowest levels in several years, according to recent federal data from the Department of Employment Services. (WCP, 6/17)

THIS WEEK IN HOMELESSNESS
– Officials in Fairfax County are striving toward a more supportive community for the homeless with the opening of a new center. (WaPo, 6/22)

– According to data, more than 1.3 million U.S. students were homeless in 2013-2014. Advocates are looking to bring greater awareness and support to youth experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty, and a new report surveying homeless youth reveals that many schools may be failing to help students. (WaPo, 6/17)


JOBS

Associate | Innovation Network, Inc. | Deadline: 07/01/2016
Research Assistant | Innovation Network, Inc. | Deadline: 07/01/2016
Philanthropic Services Associate | The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region
Grants Manager | The Norman & Ruth Rales Foundation
Senior Communication Consultant | Kaiser Permanente
Part Time Bookkeeper/Accountant | ACT for Alexandria
Associate Director | Arabella Advisors
Director, Corporate Philanthropy | Council on Foundations

WRAG’s Community Calendar

Click the image below to access WRAG’S Community Calendar. To have your event included, please send basic information including event title, date/time, location, a brief description of the event, and a link for further details to: myers@washingtongrantmakers.org.


So today is apparently #TakeYourDogToWorkDay. Brace yourself for cuteness overload and click the hashtag to see some dogs hard at work.

– Ciara 

HUD proposes changes to federal housing vouchers in major markets

HOUSING/EQUITY
The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently shared a proposed new rule that would adjust the maximum value of federal housing vouchers in several markets in order to account for variations in what it costs to live in certain neighborhoods (WaPo, 6/17):

Instead of setting “fair market rent” standards at the metropolitan level, in about 30 major metros including Washington, New York and Chicago, HUD will set them by ZIP code instead. That shift will mean significant change for a program that serves 2.2 million households, more than live in public housing projects.

The policy is designed to enable low-income families to use their housing aid to move to neighborhoods with less poverty, lower crime and better schools — an opportunity that research has shown can boost prospects for poor kids. Until now, the voucher program that was supposed to give families a chance to move out of deeply poor housing projects has largely concentrated them instead in deeply poor neighborhoods. In cities such as the District, a voucher just isn’t worth enough to afford entry into truly “high opportunity” places.

–  A radical idea to compensate black homeowners harmed by racial bias (WaPo, 6/17)

WRAG/WRAG COMMUNITY
– WRAG’s summer intern Hudson Kaplan-Allen reflects on the key takeaways from the first session of WRAG’s 2016 Nonprofit Summer Learning Series, “Dos and Don’ts of Working with Grantmakers,” and the importance of cultivating authentic relationships among funders and grantees. The event featured keynote speaker Rick Moyers of the The Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, and panelists Julia Baer-Cooper, consultant with the England Family Foundation and Prince Charitable Trusts, Ben Murphy of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and Tracye Funn of Washington Gas. (Daily, 6/21)

– Daniel Solomon of the Naomi & Nehemiah Cohen Foundation will be leading DC Vote as the interim executive director. Solomon is a founder and board member of the organization.

EDUCATION/DISTRICT | Neurological research on child brain development following traumatic experiences has inspired some educators to rethink past approaches to zero-tolerance discipline. Schools in the District are investing in better strategies to help students overcome persistent stress. (WaPo, 6/18)

VIRGINIAMeasure to improve police trust, transparency up for vote in Fairfax (WaPo, 6/21)


A glimpse at public libraries across the country.

– Ciara

Authentic relationships are key to fundraising success

by Hudson Kaplan-Allen 
WRAG’s 2016 Summer Intern

How important is it for funders and grantees to have authentic relationships? Very important, according to the “Dos and Don’ts of Working with Grantmakers,” the first session of WRAG’s 2016 Nonprofit Summer Learning Series. Keynote speaker Rick Moyers of the Meyer Foundation, and panelists Julia Baer-Cooper, consultant with the England Family Foundation and Prince Charitable Trusts, Ben Murphy of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and Tracye Funn of Washington Gas shared advice ranging from how to initiate a partnership with a grantmaker to how to craft an effective proposal.

Nonprofits often view funders as if they were an ATM machine, trying to figure out the right pin, Moyers said. It is a game of cracking the code with the hope that the prize will be a blank check. Fifteen years ago, Moyers was an eager nonprofit leader looking to increase support from his biggest funder. Moyers found himself at a reception with the executive director of the foundation. His first instinct was to approach the E.D. and get straight to the point – and that is exactly what he did. Fast forward to the present, Moyers has, on occasion, found himself in his former funder’s shoes. Interactions like these are never authentic. Conversations should not be about a transaction, but about cultivating a common vision for the future. It’s important, too, to be a good listener.

Moyers and others addressed the question that every nonprofit leader has contemplated: what is the most common reason grant requests get turned down? Funn responded that if a funder truly believes in a program, they will find the money or try to connect the applicant with another potential funder. Murphy pointed out that if there is a great project hidden behind a poor proposal, it deserves a chance. Baer-Cooper noted that requests are frequently turned down by small family foundations because they don’t have enough resources to fund everything that comes their way.

Participants asked about strategies and practices for approaching grantmakers. Nonprofits should have an idea of what the foundation is looking for, the panelists said. No one wants to receive a generic cookie-cutter email. It’s frustrating to sit down with someone who hasn’t done his or her homework.

Moyers concluded where he began, with a discussion of authentic relationships between funders and grantees. To Murphy, authenticity is about reaching a point in the relationship where he and his grantees can have honest conversations and work hand-in-hand to effectively address organizational and societal challenges. Baer-Cooper defines authenticity as transparency and honesty. Funn emphasized the importance of being true to your values. “Don’t change who you are, just bring me into your world,” she said. Ultimately, programs that connect authentically are the ones that will succeed.


To learn more about the 2016 Nonprofit Summer Learning Series, please check out our recent announcement in The Daily WRAG. To register for the next two events in the series (July 14 and August 19), please visit WRAG’s online event calendar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

– Ciara

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

Our Region, Your Investment Gets Traction with Local Investors

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

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

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

Joshua Bernstein, President, Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation

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

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


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

Six policy recommendations to preserve affordable housing in the District

HOUSING
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s “Housing Preservation Strike Force” has released six new recommendations for preserving affordable housing units in the city to keep them accessible for lower-income residents (WCP, 6/13):

According to the mayor’s office, the strike force’s six recommendations are:

  • Establishing a preservation unit within a D.C. agency to identify specific affordable-housing opportunities, and to create a database of affordable-housing units
  • Funding a “public-private preservation fund” to “facilitate early investments in preservation deals”
  • Launching a program to renovate affordable housing in “small properties” of between five and 50 units
  • Drafting additional regulations for the District Opportunity to Purchase Act, which allows D.C. to purchase properties that risk losing their affordable-housing subsidies
  • Incentivizing residents and developers to take advantage of the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act through “predevelopment activities, legal services, third-party reports, acquisition bridge financing,” and data-collection
  • Creating programs designed to benefit seniors, such as “tenant-based vouchers or other rental assistance”

– The D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development has launched a new pilot program to preserve affordable housing in ward 8, as neighborhoods east-of-the river expect economic development over the next several years. (WCP, 6/10)

PUTTING RACISM ON THE TABLE | While the Putting Racism on the Table learning series has drawn to a close, the lessons learned will linger on in the minds of the attendees. In this blog post, WRAG president Tamara Lucas Copeland asks Julie Wagner of CareFirst and Terri Copeland of PNC to share their deepest insights and major takeaways from the full series. (Daily, 6/13)

EQUITY
– DC Fiscal Policy Institute discusses the importance of approving the Improving Access to Identity Documents Act that would allow District residents with incomes below 200 percent of poverty to obtain birth certificates, driver’s licenses, or ID cards at no charge. (DCFPI, 6/10)

– The Hell of Applying for Government Benefits (Atlantic, 6/12)

LGBT/DISCRIMINATION | In light of Sunday morning’s mass shooting in Orlando, The Atlantic takes a look at how, despite the advances in LGBT rights throughout the years, many still find themselves subject to violence at alarming rates. (Atlantic, 6/13)

PHILANTHROPY 
– Nonprofit Quarterly presents a two-part series authored by president of the F.B. Heron Foundation, Clara Miller, in which she discusses how they’ve worked to build a foundation that continues to evolve and engage with the larger economy. Check out part 1 and part 2. (NPQ, 6/8 and 6/9)

– Funding Infrastructure: A Smart Investment for All (SSIR, 6/10)

ECONOMYWhich U.S. Cities Suffer the Most During a Recession? (City Lab, 6/9)


Tonight is Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Which team are you rooting for? Can it be the Cavs? Please!?

– Ciara

Do we need an X Prize to address affording housing in high-cost areas? Yes!

by Tamara Copeland
President
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

My father owned a small real estate business. He used to say that real estate was the best investment because you could live in it, borrow against it, or rent it out. I learned this lesson about asset building as a child. And still today, home ownership continues to be the largest investment that most people make. The asset of a home is one of the enduring symbols of having achieved the American dream. Those who own a home are rewarded through tax credits unavailable to non-home owners. The owned home is the source of funds that allows many people to send their children to college, and while all the votes aren’t in yet regarding the pros and cons of reverse mortgages, the home seems to be how some will support their retirement.

Yet far too many people are financially unable to purchase a home – this core to asset building. So, I am a bit surprised when those of us committed to social justice reform aren’t focused more on home ownership. I wanted to find out why. I talked with bankers, developers, and housing advocates. “The federal government used to subsidize the development of affordable houses,” one banker told me. “When they stopped, building these properties wasn’t practical.”  “What about condos?” I asked when a developer told me that land was just too expensive in our region. “We can’t depend on lower-income people being able to pay the condo fee,” was his response. No matter where I asked, roadblocks were the answer.

I refuse to believe that the American ingenuity that led to inventing the automobile, putting the first human on the moon, and building the internet can’t solve this problem. It just takes smart people focused on smart new solutions. What would happen if experts on land use joined with architects and builders, housing policy wonks, financiers, and community organizers to figure out how to produce affordable houses for low-income people in the Greater Washington region? What would it take to get people from various disciplines to actually come together? It has to be more than the basic principle of creating diverse housing stock to meet the housing needs of diverse income brackets. That reason hasn’t worked so far. What would catalyze such a conversation?

I think it would take an X Prize.

I believe that the simple act of enabling affordable home ownership in the Greater Washington region has to be seen as a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal, and that a large sum of money has to be put on the table for an innovative team to solve it. We like to celebrate the number of people with advanced degrees who live in our region. We talk a lot about our knowledge economy. Nineteen institutions of higher learning are located here. And, I recently attended a meeting at which this region was touted as being more entrepreneurial than Silicon Valley based on the number of new ventures birthed here. We have the knowledge and we have the need. We can be a model for the country. Our problem is not unique.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that this need rests within a larger sphere of need for affordable housing, including more affordable rental units. In fact, WRAG is already working to try to address it. But even housing advocates, were stunned to learn from an Urban Institute study last year that “not a single county in the United States has enough affordable housing for all of its extremely low-income renters.” Here in the Greater Washington region, where rental costs are soaring, we knew this reality. But certainly, we thought, someone, somewhere, had figured this out. No one has.

What a tremendous boost for the country it would be for the affordable housing challenge, both home ownership and the production and preservation of affordable rental units, to be solved right here in the nation’s capital.

Who will incentivize this work? Who can fund an X Prize? Philanthropy can.

Nationally, rates of disconnected youth vary widely

ECONOMY/WORKFORCE
A new Brookings Institution analysis examines data on unemployment among teens and young adults across the U.S. Many of America’s youth remain “disconnected” – not working and not in school. (Brookings, 5/24)

Nationally, an estimated 3 million young people aged 16–24 (7.6 percent) are disconnected. The majority of these young people are between 20 and 24 years old, suggesting that the problem becomes more acute after young people are of an age to have graduated high school. They are disproportionately people of color. Rates of disconnection vary widely by metropolitan area, and in some places, young blacks and Latinos are up to 3-to-6 times more likely to be disconnected than young whites.

[…]

Some of the metro areas with the highest employment rates among prime-age adults did not have particularly high rates among teens and young adults, including Washington, D.C.; Hartford, Conn.; Raleigh, N.C.; Albany, N.Y.; and Austin, Tex. These places all have relatively highly educated populations, and the disproportionately high employment rate among adults aged 25–54 relative to younger workers probably reflects that these metros import workers from other places.

– With an estimated two-thirds of all venture capital money finding its way into just six major U.S. metro areas, according to a new study, are America’s rural towns and smaller areas being completely left behind in the economy – further contributing to the problems of income and geographic inequality? (City Lab, 5/24 and WaPo, 5/23)

– America’s Road to Economic Opportunity Is Paved With Infrastructure Jobs (City Lab, 5/18)

WRAG/SOCIAL PROFITS | Booz Allen Hamilton‘s Laura Dempsey and WRAG’s Katy Moore share how the upcoming Nonprofit Summer Learning Series came to be, and why those looking to build solid relationships with the local funding community should sign up to attend. (Daily, 5/24)

PUBLIC HEALTH | Brian Castrucci, Chief Program and Strategy Officer of the de Beaumont Foundation, discusses the importance of holistic approaches and multisectoral collaboration in effectively facing complicated health challenges. (HuffPo, 5/18)

HOMELESSNESS/DISTRICT | DC Fiscal Policy Institute looks into the progress the District has made in lowering the numbers of homeless families, while examining the work that still lies ahead. (DCFPI, 5/24)

PHILANTHROPYAfrican American museum’s fundraising touches deep history among donors (WaPo, 5/24)

POVERTY | A small new study takes the research behind the ways in which one’s neighborhood can shape their level of future economic mobility a step even further and finds links between one’s city block and successful outcomes. (Atlantic, 5/23)

CSR | The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is accepting nominations for their 17th annual Corporate Citizenship Awards, recognizing the most accomplished social and community initiatives within the business community.

HOUSINGWashington’s Supply of Entry-Level Homes Is Shrinking (Washingtonian, 5/24)


Here’s one way to deal with train delays.

– Ciara

New partnership offers low-cost, high-impact learning opportunities for local nonprofit community

by Laura Dempsey, Lead Associate of Community Partnerships, Booz Allen Hamilton and Katy Moore, Managing Director of Corporate Strategy, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers and Booz Allen Hamilton are excited to announce a new partnership designed to leverage local philanthropic expertise to help build the capacity of the Greater Washington region’s nonprofit community: the Nonprofit Summer Learning Series.

Since 2007 Booz Allen has sponsored high-quality learning opportunities for nonprofit organizations to gain critical insights from leading nonprofit development officers, foundations, and corporate grantmakers. The Nonprofit Speaker Series was created to help nonprofit executive directors, development directors, staff, and board members build their capacity and learn best practices. On average, over 350 nonprofits per year have participated in the series.

Last year, WRAG launched its highly anticipated “Fundamentals of CSR” workshop, designed to help local nonprofits ‘crack the code’ to better understand local corporate funders. Since then, WRAG has seen an increase in demand from local nonprofits looking to connect with the area’s top experts in grantmaking.

From these two successful programs, the new Nonprofit Summer Learning Series was born. Designed and taught by some of the Greater Washington region’s most respected grantmaking professionals, this low-cost learning series “pulls the curtain back on philanthropy.” WRAG and Booz Allen invite Daily WRAG readers to join us as we shed light on how grantmakers think, how they approach their work, what they look for in strong nonprofit partners, and how you can build new and stronger relationships with the local funding community. Click the links below for details on speakers, locations, fees, and registration.

June 10 | The Dos & Don’ts of Working with Grantmakers
Even if your organization has successfully received grant funding for years, do you truly understand the ins-and-outs of working with grantmakers? Do you know and understand recent trends and shifts in philanthropy? Do you know how funders like to be approached? How they make decisions? How they’re organized and staffed? Do you know how to cultivate not only relationships but true partnerships with your funders? Join us to hear from four leading grantmaking professionals in our region as they offer practical advice and insights on these topics and more.

July 14 | Navigating the Grants Process: From initial contact to long-term partnership
You’ve identified a potential funder, made contact, applied for and received a grant, sent the acknowledgement letter… But that’s just the beginning! Join us to hear from four of our region’s top grantmaking professionals as they offer practical advice and insights on navigating the grants process from getting your foot in the door all the way to long-term partnership.

August 19 | Having Tough Conversations with Your Funder
Have you ever needed to have a difficult conversation with a funder? Topics might include financial sustainability or fundraising challenges, leadership transitions or staff turnover, or not being able to achieve key objectives set forth in your grant agreement. A nonprofit leader’s ability to successfully navigate these challenging discussions can be key to building trust and deepening relationships with your funders. Join us to hear from three pairs of funder/nonprofit partners as they discuss some difficult conversations they’ve had over the years and how they came through the other side.

Improving reading scores is about a whole lot more than teaching kids to read

by Natalie Wexler
Trustee, The Omega Foundation

Why is it harder to raise reading scores than math scores for students from low-income families? And why do kids who seem to read well in elementary school then struggle with grade-level text in middle and high school?

For decades, most elementary schools have taught reading as a skill: children have practiced reading comprehension strategies like “finding the main idea” or “making inferences” on simple stories. The theory has been that it doesn’t matter what students are reading, as long as they’re reading something. And in many elementary schools, especially those serving low-income students, the curriculum has been narrowed to “the basics:” reading and math.

But reading comprehension is highly dependent on background knowledge – as Daniel Willingham, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, will explain at the second event in WRAG’s Public Education Speaker Series on June 2. If students don’t learn about history, science, and the arts in elementary school, they’ll be at a tremendous disadvantage in high school, when they encounter texts that assume a lot of knowledge and vocabulary they don’t have. That’s particularly true for low-income students, who are far less likely to acquire academic knowledge at home.

Willingham – an accessible and engaging speaker as well as the author of several popular books – was recently cited in a speech by Secretary of Education John B. King. “We know from decades of research from folks like Daniel Willingham at the University of Virginia that knowledge matters for reading success,” King said. “It is not about reading vs. science and social studies.”

Willingham’s talk will shed light on why the achievement gap between wealthy and low-income students hasn’t narrowed in decades (in fact, some say it’s wider than ever), why it widens during school years, and what it will take to begin to close it.


WRAG’s 2016 Public Education Speaker Series is generously supported by The Omega Foundation, with additional support from the Tiger Woods Foundation. The series touches on a variety of critical topics facing students today. Education funders should click here to learn more about the series and to registerPlease, note that these programs are open to grantmakers only.