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In the (Snow Day) News…

A few highlights from last week’s news, in case your paper is buried in the snow!


According to a Washington Post article, approximately 6,000 state-funded preschool slots in Virginia were not filled this year beucase localities did not invest the required matching funds to take full advantage of the program. Though data show $23 million earmarked for the Virginia Preschool Initiative went unclaimed, at a cost of $6,000 per student, some 60 districts said they were constrained by lack of resources and space and did not fill their programs. In Northern Virginia, Arlington was the only district to fill 100 percent of funded spots. Some advocates note that the state’s pricetag does not reflect the cost of a high-quality pre-K program, which would run closer to $9,300 per student. This discrepancy leaves communities scrambling to make up the difference. Virginia’s cost per pupil is in keeping with regional spending: $8,000 per student in Maryland and nearly $15,000 per student in the District, which covers all 3- and 4-year olds.

Also in the Post: 100 local school boards in Virginia, including the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, and Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, are challenging a measure that allows for state takeover of struggling local schools. Resolutions filed by these board support a lawsuit currently fighting the General Assembly measure, which affects any school that fails the state’s accreditation or is accredited with a warning for three consecutive years.

Minimum Wage Across the Region

On the heels of D.C.’s minimum wage hike to $11.50 by 2016, Maryland Governor O’Malley has proposed raising the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016, up from $7.25 currently. D.C.’s increase was signed by Mayor Gray last week, and by 2017, the District and Maryland’s Montgomery & PG Counties will all have a minimum wage of $11.50.


The good news is that Maryland’s housing prices are on the rise. Prince George’s County, one of the region’s hardest hit during the foreclosure crisis, saw a 16 percent housing price increase last year – the second highest in the region. The bad news, according to a WAMU article, is that those rising prices are encouraging banks to foreclose more quickly on homeowners who are late on payments, causing a soar in foreclose rates as banks work through a backlog of foreclosures from the recession. PG County received $10 million in a national mortgage settlement, but very little goes to mortgage assistance, helping approximately 200 homeowners. While most struggling homeowners in PG County owe less than $10,000, many lost income in the recession and “even getting current on their mortgage may not make their home affordable.”

Local Giving & Our Region

The 2013 Combined Federal Campaign is over but reports from the Nonprofit Quarterly & the Federal Times indicate a “sharp decline” in this year’s giving. In the National Capital Region, the largest CFC campaign, pledges were approximately $47 million going into the CFC’s last day, down from nearly $62 million last year. The CFC peaked nationally at $283 million in 2009 and raised $258 million last year, but was hampered by government furloughs, the shutdown in October and coincided with a three-year freeze on federal pay scales. Some 2,000 local charities and 2,500 national charities participated in the 2013 CFC.

More than a third of of greater Washington zip codes are “super zips” according to the American Enterprise Institute. WAMU reports that these zips are mostly contiguous and rank in the top 5 percent nationally on scales of average income and number of adults with college degrees. That means households with an average income of $120,000+ and 7 out of 10 adults with a college degree. Check out the Post’s map of our region’s “superzips” here.

In the News …

I wanted to highlight this post from Greater Greater Washington; the piece was written yesterday morning, the City Paper picked it up yesterday afternoon, and the comments thread debate is still going now. Bryan Weaver, executive director of Hoops Sagrado, recounts his twelve-year connection to Jamal Coates, who was killed in the 13th & U funeral shooting. He concludes:

“I don’t profess to have the answers. If I did, Jamal would not be dead. But I do have some ideas about how we as a community — the entire community — can begin to frame the conversation that will hopefully bring about real change and possibly save some lives [...] We need real action. We need people who are really willing to look at our system and fix it [...] The best way to stop a bullet is an education and a job.”

The debate has focused, at least in part, on whether small and localized changed can make the difference or whether a national paradigm shift is necessary. For a simple answer, I’d say that the former is of course critical while we are waiting on the latter. But I’d also posit that education and outreach programs created for a single neighborhood, a single street, or a single block can have an impact (and an intimacy) that no national program could ever duplicate.

Do check out the post in full and TBD also has an interesting perspective. Moreover, take a look at some of the amazing work that our non-profits are doing in Education and Human Services. The changes may be local and specific, but that translates to deep and undeniable.

In The News …

Welcome to Wednesday, Greater Washington! Just passing along some mid-week buzz from the non-profit news and blogsphere …

2010 Exponent Awards (Meyer Foundation) - many congratulations go out to the five incredible winners of the Exponent Awards, recognizing visionary non-profit leadership. Click here to learn more about the winners, four of whom lead Catalogue charities!

Urban Agriculture Challenge: Communities Helping Themselves (With Delicious Results!) – check out and the Huffington Post to learn how urban agriculture programs are improving food security, employment, and health in their communities and how online fundraising challenges are supporting their (tasty) aims.

Finding a Balance – The Philanthropic Initiative’s blog has sparked a multi-blog, multi-website debate on the “quantitative or technocratic elements of philanthropy” versus the “more amorphous elements,” such as values and emotional responses. Check it out! (More thoughts to come from here…)

Signal on DC education reform - the Washington Post is rerunning this Sunday’s opinion piece by former DC Council member Kevin P. Chavous regarding the future of DC schools and education reform under Vincent Gray. He argues that “maybe the change will provide the impetus we need.” What do you think?

Who Manages Your Group’s Facebook Page? – join the discussion over at As social media becomes ever more prevalent and powerful, who should be the organization’s online voice? Or need it have only one?

7 Questions – The Beginning!

Good morning and welcome to a new feature here on GoodWorks! Once (or sometimes twice) a week, we will feature a staff member from one of our Catalogue charities — spotlighting the amazing people that make it all happen, plus providing access to their insight and advice. For our inaugural “7 Questions” interview, we have … Merry Cavanaugh, Director of Development at Washington Jesuit Academy:

1. What was your most interesting recent project, initiative, partnership, or event?

The most interesting project was getting our back field totally renovated this summer. The field had no drainage and was under water every time it rained. Ruppert Landscaping donated a new turf field and we raised additional funding to move our basketball courts out of the middle of our parking lot and put them behind the school. So now we have a brand new soccer/football field and a full and half-court basketball court, along with a new garden for vegetables and beautiful landscaping around the front and the back of the school.

2. What else are you up to?

We are finishing off the last year of a Capital Campaign that we started at the worst time ever — September 2008. We have been truly honored that many people have made significant donations and pledges to the campaign despite the economically trying times and we plan to wrap it up by the end of this school year.

3. Is there a moment, person, or event that inspired you to do this particular work?

I was inspired to do this particular work by students that I worked with in my old job. I worked in a school that was mostly tuition-funded, and we raised additional funding through the traditional annual giving, etc. from parents and alumni. However, we had a special program for 10 students who attended on full scholarships and who lived in low-income projects. I raised the funding for their scholarships. I saw how hard those students worked and how much they appreciated being able to go to a decent school. I often said that raising scholarship funds was the easiest money to raise. As a result, when I had the opportunity to work in a school that was completely, 100% scholarship funded, I was thrilled.

4. Who is your hero in the nonprofit/philanthropy world?

My hero in the nonprofit world is Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s Zone. He has approached a problem with a wholistic solution, rather than just addressing parts of the problem.

5. What is the single greatest (and non-financial) challenge to the work that you do every day?

The biggest challenge — which I have created for myself, and which I also love — is keeping each of our student sponsors informed on what is going on with their student. Each of our students is paired with a person or a group of people who “sponsor” him. I work very hard to keep everyone connected and to sustain personal connections — it is labor intensive!

6. What advice do you have for other people who want to work in education?

I guess it would be to leave politics out of it.

7. What’s next?

We are trying to scale up our program so that it can serve more children. We are exploring how best to do that — add younger grades; focus on our graduates more; establish another site.

EXTRA: If you could have a power breakfast with any three people (living, dead, or fictional) who would they be?

Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo DaVinci, and Dirk Pitt.

Collegiate Directions in the Washington Post

President Nina Marks calls for a “common financial aid offer” form, similar to the “common app” that now simplifies the application process for high school seniors. The idea is to simplify the bewilderingly complex business of interpreting financial aid offers from colleges and universities — especially for families whose children are “first in their generation” to go to college. Read Nina’s excellent op-ed here.

CityDance Ensemble and Theatre Lab School Win 2010 Mayor’s Arts Awards: Congratulations!

Congratulations to two Catalogue nonprofits who are winners of the 25th annual Mayor’s Arts Awards. They are CityDance Ensemble for “Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education” and The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts for “Innovation in the Arts.” This is an awesome honor and we at the Catalogue salute you!