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Catalogue Blog

Hidden Issues

Yesterday, in The Daily Wrag (Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers), President Tamara Copeland explored “What sequestration means for philanthropy:”

I want to focus on the hidden issues. Much of the impact connected to sequestration will be far less overt. The social worker in me says that as already stressed individuals deal with this reality, mental health-related incidents will also increase. There may be increased incidences of domestic violence, more emergency room visits and falling school performance as home environments become tense. Consider this article about the recession’s impact on our region’s mental health, written when our local economy was actually faring better than the rest of the country.

“The Recession’s ‘Silent Mental Health Epidemic,’ the October 2011 Business Insider article to which Copeland points, discusses a Rutgers University study of “the long-term unemployed,” which found that “32 percent were experiencing a good deal of stress” and “at least 11 percent reported seeking professional help for depression.” Moreover, many more did not have the insurance benefits or financial resources to seek such help, despite potentially needing it.

As Copeland suggests, while our region’s funders should of course ensure that basic needs are met, “it is critical that we keep in mind the less obvious needs a failure to support those, particularly mental health care, can lead to dire consequences.” She also points out that, as much or more so than sequestration, tax reforms could have a critical and perhaps longer-term effect on the national and local nonprofit community.

What are your thoughts? What might be the more “hidden” effects of sequestration?

In The News …

DC area unemployment rate is unchanged at 5.3 percent (Washington Post: Local): “The Washington area jobless rate hovered at 5.3% in November, according to a Labor Department report released Tuesday that revealed little change in the local employment picture [...] the Washington economy has been steadily adding jobs, but not at a fast enough clip for the recovery to shift into higher gear.” Education and health services posted the largest job gains, with the latter alone adding 11,300 between November 2011 and 2012. Local leisure and hospitality continued to add jobs as well, while manufacturing and construction both subtracted. Overall, the area remains well below the national rate of 7.8%.

The Fiscal Cliff Legislation: A Primer for Nonprofits on Its Provisions (Nonprofit Quarterly): “The short message that should be taken away from the so-called “fiscal cliff” legislation passed last night is that it is no time to relax [...] Here is our scorecard on the fiscal cliff mini-bargain.” At the NPQ website, you can read an overview of the final legislation on charitable deductions, marginal tax rates, and other taxes (such as the payroll tax); that said, “good news for nonprofits and the communities they serve is that a variety of programs that benefit working class and lower income people have been saved — for the time being.”

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In Our Schools

By Marie LeBlanc, Catalogue Community Partnerships Coordinator

Today’s political and economic conversations tend to revolve around one problem and its many side-effects: the struggling economy, and thus high unemployment rates and student loan debt, especially among youth and recent graduates. However, for one segment of the population, even the burden of student debt is out of reach because they don’t have the opportunity to go to college. Today, drop-out rates in the US are startling. According to American Graduate, 1.3 million students drop out of high school each year. DC’s high school graduation rate is 76%, with significantly different rates depending on race. Students who don’t complete high school are ineligible for some low-skill jobs, never mind the high number of professions today that require at least a Bachelor’s degree.

The American Graduate Initiative tackles this issue head on, with the support of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. WAMU published a series of articles addressing the dropout crisis in the area. Reporter Kavitha Cardoza explores the “causes and consequences of the dropout problem” in DC, and also look at innovative support for at-risk students provided by a variety of community organizations.

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New Skills (and Words)

From “Older workers face challenges in DC job market” in the Washington Post (Local):

Elected in 2010, DC Mayor Vincent C. Gray campaigned on a pledge to reduce the District’s high unemployment rate. His One City One Hire initiative, announced in September, is intended to link 10,000 D.C. residents with jobs within a year.

So far, though, the program has struggled to reach older workers, who often lose out to younger workers in a city where the jobless rate is 9.9 percent and competition for work can be stiff. [...]

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In The News …

Not Enough Qualified Workers in DC? (Washington Post via DCentric): “Unemployment in some DC neighborhoods is as high as 25 percent. At the same time, cranes fill the skies in pockets of the city, signaling economic activity. So why not encourage hiring unemployed DC residents for those projects? That was the intent behind tightening the District’s hiring rules for projects receiving city money. But now builders and contractors say that the new hiring standards are impossible to meet because the city simply lacks qualified workers.” To learn about a Catalogue nonprofit focused on construction training, head to DC Students Construction Trades Foundation.

3 new private conservation reserves established by communities in Peru (Mongabay: environmental news): “Three new private conservation areas in the Amazon-Andes region of Peru will help buffer the country’s national park system while offering new opportunities for local people to benefit from protecting ecosystems. The new private conservation areas cover 18,882 hectares (46,659 acres) of habitat ranging from high elevation grasslands to cloud forests to rain forests [...] The new reserves are also significant in that they are part of a broader initiative by the Amazon Conservation Association, an NGO with offices in Washington DC and Peru, to support sustainable livelihoods in a region that is traditionally very poor.” A Catalogue nonprofit, ACA preserves miles of wilderness through sustainable use of resources, research, and education.

Housing costs trouble many Arlingtonians (Washington Post: Local): “The biggest problem facing Arlingtonians, by many measures, is the cost of housing. If you don’t have it, and you’re not financially well-off, you can be in for a long, painful search. “Affordable” housing options usually are targeted at those who make 60 to 80 percent of the median income,” which is $110,000 in the county. “Further down the income ladder are those who are already homeless. A-SPAN, the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, recently received a $93,000 grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide housing and case management for six chronically homeless adults in Arlington.” Also a Catalogue nonprofit, A-SPAN also operates Opportunity Place, where homeless individuals can take a shower, wash clothes, secure a health-care referral, and obtain an address.

In The News …

Residents Rally Against Cuts To DC Social Service Spending (WAMU 88.5): “They all turned out to a rally on the Wilson Building’s steps Monday morning, calling for Mayor Vincent Gray to spare funding cuts to social service programs and initiatives that help low-income DC residents. The rally was organized by the advocacy group DC Fair Budget Coalition. Mayor Gray is expected to release his proposed budget March 23 [...] Last year, Mayor Gray proposed $187 million in cuts, 60 percent of which were to social services.” According to Janelle Treibitz, campaign organizer of the coalition, Mayor Gray could propose a change to a current DC law (which mandates that all leftover money from the current fiscal year go into the city’s savings) and use half of this year’s budget surplus to prevent future program cuts. What do you think?

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In The News …

Unemployment Still on the Rise in DC (DC Fiscal Policy Institute): The District ended 2011 with an average yearly unemployment rate of 10.3 percent, slightly higher than the rate for 2010 and far higher than that for 2007 before the start of the recession. This is a sign that economic weakness continues to affect DC residents.” Workers ages 16 to 24 still have the highest unemployment rate (17.4), but this same demographic also saw a drop from 2010 to 2011 — the only group to do so. On the flip side, the rate for residents with a high school diploma continued to rise: from 9.7 in 2007 to 25.3 in 2011.

The report concludes that “the economic recovery is far from complete, so it is important to consider policies to support these populations with high unemployment rates.”

The Helen Hayes Awards Nominations Are Announced (Washingtonian Blog): Special congratulations to the three Catalogue nonprofit theater companies that received nominations for their 2011 productions. TheatreWashington, also a Catalogue nonprofit, announced the nominations this past Monday. Synetic Theatre nabbed fifteen nominations for a single production, their dynamic and wordless King Lear. Adventure Theatre received thirteen nobs in total, including nine for A Year With Frog and Toad and three nominations in the Outstanding Production: Theatre for Young Audiences category. And Woolly Mammoth Theatre received eight nominations, including nobs for Director, Lead Actor, and Production for A Bright New Boise.

With Few Other Options, More Low-Income Patients Visit ER for Dental Care (PBS via DCentric): “More Americans are visiting the emergency room because of toothaches and other routine dental problems — at 10 times the cost of preventative care and with far fewer treatment options than a dentist’s office,” according to a new report from the Pew Center on the States. From 2006 to 2009, the number of emergency room trips for dental care went up by 16% and the trend seems to be continuing. And the costs of that trend are high: “a routine teeth cleaning that could prevent future dental problems can cost up to $100, as compared to $1,000 for ER treatment for untreated cavities and infections.” You can learn more about our nonprofit free (and mobile) clinics right here.

The Arts Work

Last week, we linked to this Chronicle of Philanthropy piece, which reported that the nonprofit sector “added jobs at an average annual rate of more than 2 percent from 2000 to 2010, while for-profit jobs were cut by 0.6 percent each year on average.” Drawn from a study by the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, these findings invite the question: if nonprofit organizations are indeed the third largest private employer in the country, should more job training programs prepare employees to work at them? More broadly, why do nature and arts and human services nonprofits not play a larger role in the national employment discussion?

In “Putting Americans to Work,” published on the Huffington Post yesterday, Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser tackles a similar topic:

But at a time when unemployment is the key political issue and when virtually everyone in politics is struggling to find ways to reduce the ranks of the unemployed, why doesn’t some smart politician realize that the arts are one way to help solve this problem?

Who better to train young people to think creatively, to exercise their own unique ways of thinking than we in the arts? The success of arts organizations and artists depends on the ability of people to be creative and make something new.
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Jobs Growing

From The Chronicle of Philanthropy:

Nonprofits added jobs at an average annual rate of more than 2 percent from 2000 to 2010, while for-profit jobs were cut by 0.6 percent each year on average, according to a new study.

Even during the recession years of 2008 and 2009, charities increased their employment by nearly 2 percent, while for-profit jobs declined by nearly 4 percent, according to the report, which was based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
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In The News …

Can job training help solve the jobs crisis? (Washington Post Blogs): “In the southern US, 51 percent of current job openings are middle-skill, but only 43 percent of the region’s workers are trained to that level, according to a recent study by the National Skills Coalition [...] In a major speech next week, ‘s expected to propose support for job training as part of his renewed push for job growth, focusing especially on the 6.2 million Americans who’ve been out of work for more than six months.” In other words, the current jobs crisis is two-fold: too few entry-level jobs and too few workers for middle-skill opportunities. For some innovative solutions right in DC, check out Catalogue non-profits Byte Back (where adults can access Advanced Certification training and mentorship in technological fields) and New Course Restaurant and Catering (where the kitchen staff all receive comprehensive on-the-job training in commercial food preparation and customer service). Or learn about one our newest non-profits, the DC Students Construction Trades Foundation. Continue reading