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In The News …

White House estimate spells out tough road for Washington region economy (Washington Post): “… the upcoming automatic spending cuts the Obama administration detailed Sunday would strike a tough blow, with nearly 150,000 civilian Defense Department employees facing furloughs and an estimated average loss of $7,500 in pay [...] funding for elementary and secondary education across the region would be slashed by $29 million.” Economist Anirban Basu (Sage Policy Group) points out that sequestration will have a deeper effect on this region than the nation as a whole, as DC, Maryland, and Virginia are “among the most reliant communities in the nation on federal spending.”

Nonprofit Branding 2013: What Has Changed? (Nonprofit Quarterly): “First, we needed to see information technology not as a peripheral function within our organization but central to our mission pursuits. Second, we needed to see our identity less as an extension of our mission statement, but more as a link between the public perception of the impact we create and our higher calling to strengthen communities.” Carlo Cuesta, founder of the Saint Paul-based firm Creation in Common, goes to point out that “We have access to the tools and resources needed to build meaningful relationships with our stakeholders, what we lack are the capabilities to do it in a way that advances authenticity and mobilizes the public will.” Do you agree?

Gray aims high with sustainability plan; can agencies deliver? (Greater Greater Washington): “Last week, the Gray administration unveiled its sustainability plan, which sets some very ambitious, yet very important objectives for 2032, like attracting 250,000 new residents and making 75% of trips happen by walking, biking, and transit.” GGW argues that “to achieve these goals, agencies will have to push forward not just on their existing laudable initiatives, but go beyond.” For example: “it would be better to focus more new housing near Metro stations, streetcars, and high-frequency bus corridors. To do that, though, some administration will have to modify the Comprehensive Plan and zoning to create denser areas somewhere.”

Nonprofit Boost

On Sunday, the Washington Post inquired: “Can nonprofit organizations boost a regional economy?

The impact of a nonprofit is frequently gauged by the reach and effectiveness of its services. But beyond their power to help and support a community, can these organizations provide fuel to rev a regional economy?

In Montgomery County, at least, a new report concludes that nonprofit groups have indeed played an important role in boosting the labor market and the broader economy [...] The report shows that nonprofit workers in Montgomery comprise 10 percent of the county’s labor force and earned a collective $2.2 billion in wages in 2011.

Funded by Nonprofit Montgomery, an affiliate of the Nonprofit Roundtable, the study also “found that the county’s nonprofits have $4 billion in purchasing power” and that they showed considerable resilience during the recession, posting an increase in sector employees from 2007 to 2011 — a period during which the overall number of employees in the county dropped.

Similarly, the study revealed that local nonprofits can fuel economic recovery indirectly as well. For example, adult literacy services enable residents to “qualify for a job, fill out an application or even simply navigate the bus system, all of which can boost one’s chances of earning wages.” And arts and culture nonprofits can direct consumers to nearby restaurants, retail stores, and even parking garages.

What are the other key byproducts of a healthy nonprofit sector? Share your thoughts with us.

In The News …

In speech, DC mayor pledges investment in affordable housing, other city programs (Washington Post): “A ‘prosperity dividend’ from the District’s continued economic growth should be used to make investments in key city government programs, Mayor Vincent C. Gray said in his annual State of the District address Tuesday.” In the third year of his term, Gray has his first opportunity to “pursue significant new spending — starting with a $100 million commitment to affordable housing.” Additionally, the mayor’s upcoming budget proposal “will include a $15 million ‘investment fund’ for city nonprofits. The fund would make competitive grants to groups involved in arts, job training, the environment, health and other areas.”

A Million Strong: Helping Them Through (New York Times: Education): “As often as not, they float in and out of college like nomads, juggling deployments, families and jobs. If they are in service, they take classes at night or on weekends, studying between combat patrols and 12-hour duty schedules [...] Some have physical injuries or mental health issues that can strain their ability to study.” Thus the questions arise: are veterans given the information that they need to make the best enrollment decisions, and then provided with the resources to complete the degree requirements? To answer them, federal agencies are “creating new metrics that reflect military and veteran students’ tendencies to attend multiple colleges and to take more than four to six years to graduate.”

Three Key Takeaways from Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report (Nonprofit Quarterly): “Social media is here to stay, and even as others catch up, Facebook remains miles ahead of the pack [...] If you want to go where the growth is, go mobile. Mobile technology really took root in 2012 with a whopping 120 percent increase in mobile app usage.” And of those surveyed, more than 50% shared their positive and negative reactions about brands over social media — implying that organizations that are not on Facebook or Twitter “could be missing out on helping your stakeholders understand or resolve issues or concerns.”

Further Mapping

Last week, the City Paper “mapped out” the income of Washington DC’s “neighborhood incomes by census tract.” Earlier on, the Washington Post mapped the “percentage of homes in each ZIP code that have negative equity:”

Over the past year, DC-area housing prices experienced “solid gains” (4.4%); however, progress was not even across the metropolitan area. In particular, “many of the homeowners with mortgages higher than their home’s value were clustered in the eastern parts of the District and in Prince George’s County,” where prices have been slower to rise since the housing bust.

Says Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, “I have no doubt that we have turned the corner [...] What we can expect is to see modest price appreciation, something in the neighborhood of 4 percent for the next several years.”

Yesterday on Greater Greater Washington, David Alpert also points out that, as the map above reveals, “the economic recovery is not hitting all areas or all people equally. We need more jobs east of the river and in Prince George’s County.”

Share your thoughts on the housing market’s recovery — and its markedly uneven pace. What would provide the greatest catalyst for growth in the areas that need it?


by Marie LeBlanc, Community Partnerships Coordinator

For the past decade or so, microlending and microfinance have been a hot topic in international aid and development — and through microlending organizations like Kiva, an easy way for concerned global citizens from higher income countries to offer a helping hand to their brethren in lower income countries. Kiva is one of many crowd-sourcing organizations that lets donors lend amounts as small as $25 to collectively support micro-entrepreneurs around the world, who pay back those funds (through Kiva) to the original lenders. Nowadays, small business creation and entrepreneurship are very much at the heart of the conversation about kick-starting the United States economy, and Kiva has responded with an interesting solution: bring the international microfinance model to American cities.

This week, Kiva City launched its DC program, in partnership with Capital One Bank and Catalogue-nonprofit Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC). Kiva City DC is a new online portal connecting small business owners in our nation’s capital with Kiva’s global network of over 870,000 lenders. By providing loans to these entrepreneurs, lenders can help them start, sustain and grow their businesses — and even create new jobs. Kiva City DC is the fourth Kiva City site across the country — along with Detroit, New Orleans, and Los Angeles.

Capital One is helping to provide financial heft for the project — matching all loans made to businesses posted by LEDC online through Kiva through 2013. LEDC provides the borrower base, bringing its expertise in financial and small business skill building to the table, as well as its connections to the Latino community in Washington, DC. LEDC’s Community Asset Fund for Entrepreneurs works to identify qualifying borrowers in the D.C. area, administers the loans and posts profiles of each small business owner online at According to the Kiva City DC website, “Kiva lenders’ funds are used to ease the loan requirements for borrowers, including decreasing collateral requirements, interest rates and fees associated with loan disbursement. With Kiva capital, LEDC will reach out to borrowers that may not have met all of LEDC’s existing criteria, allowing the organization to grow its lending program.”

For more information on borrowers currently seeking loans through Kiva and LEDC, check out borrower profiles online here, and for information on recommending the lending process to potential borrowers, check out LEDC’s online application .

In The News …

Obama’s Jobs Bill: Ready to Take a Chance Again? (Nonprofit Quarterly): Wondering “which parts of the president’s plan are most relevant to nonprofits, and what effect are they likely to have on the sector?” NPQ’s intricate piece walks through both the President’s “track record on nonprofits” and six points of interest to nonprofits in the jobs bill (#4: “Are there any parts of the American Jobs Act that appear to take advantage of the unique skill sets and missions of nonprofits?”), and concludes that “the American Jobs Act must do a better job than ARRA did in involving and including nonprofits of all stripes in its implementation.”

How do we make cities greener? Start by growing smarter?(Greater Greater Washington): Continuing on the green cities theme of yesterday’s article, check out this post on GGW: “a fixed set of people is more sustainable the fewer acres they collectively use. At one point, some viewed the ideal sustainable lifestyle as one where a small bubble of trees and grass surrounds each household. But instead, that just means a lot of heating and cooling energy is wasted to that bubble, and we spend far more energy moving among them [...] The way we grow in the future is likely to be the most significant factor in how sustainable a region we have for generations to come.”

Washington economy grows 3.6% (Washington Business Journal): “Washington’s gross domestic product grew 3.6 percent in 2010, reaching $425.2 billion, the fourth-largest metropolitan economy in the nation. Washington also ranks as the third-fastest growing metropolitan economy” behind Boston and New York. For some additional positive news, metropolitan economies across the country grew in size by 2.5% in the past year, whereas they declined by that same percentage in the previous year.