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7 Questions – Aaron Knight (Legal Counsel for the Elderly)

We’re super glad to welcome to “7 Questions” … Aaron Knight, the Development Director at Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE). LCE champions the dignity and rights of DC’s vulnerable seniors by providing free legal and social work services to those most at-risk — empowering, defending and protecting our older neighbors in need.

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

Legal Counsel for the Elderly recently partnered with the Washington Area Women’s Foundation to co-host a groundbreaking community “listening session” on the obstacles to economic security faced by older women here in the Washington region. The demographic trends are truly startling: during the past decade, the population of women over 65 living in the metro area grew by 18%, compared to just a 5% increase in the overall population. This has huge implications for our community, and it is heartening that several local funders are collaborating with service providers like LCE to deal with this new reality.

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In The News …

Welcome to Wednesday, folks! A handful of non-profit news to follow …

Revamping the Teaching Profession: Investing in teachers from the very beginningThe Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania has an extensive post on the “the importance of investing in high-quality teachers from the very beginning of their careers [...] Investing in the early preparation and support of high-quality teaching candidates [...] is an area where individual philanthropic capital can play a critical role.” Among the results of several such support models? “The retention rates for the three founding programs represent an improvement of 66% to 84% over the national five-year retention rate of 50%.”

Re-envisioning No Child Left Behind, and What It Means for Arts Education — Over at Createquity, Jennifer Kessler provides a detailed analysis of what President Obama’s ‘Blueprint for Reform: the Re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and what it all could signify for the future of arts education in public schools. She explains that “the biggest shift presented by Obama’s proposal is that … the government offers incentives in the form of grants to people doing the best work” and will encourage “a new investment in improving teaching and learning in all content areas.” But are all “content areas” given equal resources?

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Quotes for the Day

From Mayor Vincent Gray’s State of the District address:

Picture with me a Washington where the government is lean and efficient — the kind that supports businesses, places of worship, schools, and non-profits; envision a government that makes every tax dollar go as far as it possibly can. It’s a government in which public servants recognize the value of the trust bestowed upon them and carry out their responsibilities with humility, dedication and pride.

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Middle Ground?

I just stumbled upon this article (“For Teachers, Middle School Is Test of Wills”) published four years ago this month in the New York Times as part of a “Critical Years” series, which examined developments in middle school-specific pedagogy and “survival skills.” A few key passages jumped out to me:

Faced with increasingly well-documented slumps in learning at a critical age, educators in New York and across the nation are struggling to rethink middle school, particularly in cities, where the challenges of adolescent volatility, spiking violence and lagging academic performance are more acute.

As they do so, they are running up against a key problem: a teaching corps marked by high turnover, and often lacking expertise in both subject matter and the topography of the adolescent mind [...]

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Around Town: March 25-27

Hey there, Greater Washington! For this final weekend of March, are you looking …

For Community?

On Friday at 7:00 AM, The Reading Connection will host their annual Wine & Words: meet Jeff Kinney (author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid), taste Virginia wines and food from area chefs, and bid in a silent auction. For dedicated runners and leisure walkers alike, join the 1st Annual Red Shoe Run & Walk 5K this Sunday at 9:00 AM in Herndon, VA, to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington (prizes and surprises included!). Then at 10:00 AM, Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts begins its Cancer Help Program Retreat for adults and caregivers seeking physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing. From 6:00-9:00 PM, the Literacy Council of Montgomery County will host a SCRABBLE SCRAMBLE to support its adult literacy programs (players will be able to buy a peek at a dictionary).

For Theater?

On Saturday at 10:00 AM, Capitol Hill Arts Workshop presents Sugarfootn’ with Sugarfoots: A Black History Storytelling Celebration through ARTdays, a series of free concerts and events. And at 3:00 and 8:00 PM, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company welcomes back renowned monologist Mike Daisey with his wickedly funny The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. And from 3:00 to 5:00 PM, District of Columbia Arts Center will host The District Monologue Slam, designed to showcase Washington’s most dynamic actors; each willing participant will place their name on a sign-in sheet for 16 slots that will be available on a first come basis!

For Dance?

Featuring all live music, Bowen McCauley Dance’s Kennedy Center Terrace Theater performance and Gala on Saturday at 7:30 PM will include two world premieres and notable guest performers from the Joffrey Ballet and Mark Morris Dance Group. And on Saturday at 8:00 PM and Sunday at 7:00 PM, you can ease on down the road to recession (and back from the brink) in Nicholas Leichter and Monstah Black’s take on The Wizard of Oz for the Obama generation at Dance Place.

For Music?

Washington Bach Consort’s founder/artistic director J. Reilly Lewis and Assistant Director Scott Dettra join forces for an afternoon of virtuoso music performed on harpsichord and National Presbyterian Church’s magnificent pipe organ on Sunday at 3:00 PM. Also at 3:00 PM, catch the lively Concerto for Two Timpani and the enchanting Scheherezade from “The Arabian Nights” at American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras.

Remember! All details are available on Happenings.

7 Questions – Stuart Naranch (Art Enables)

Today, we are welcoming to “7 Questions” …. Stuart Naranch, Production Manager of Art Enables! An entrepreneurial arts program for area adults with developmental or mental disabilities, Art Enables provides opportunities for the creation of “outsider” and folks art, which is then marketed at exhibits in the studio, through local retailers, and online. Participants also receive 60% of the sales of individual pieces and flat fees for designs. Do browse the store and check out the events calendar — so awesome!

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

I think it has to be moving our studio to its new location on Rhode Island Ave NE from New York Ave NE. We have had more drop-in visitors in the first months of being open than all the time in the old location and there is a great sense of community and more opportunities for neighborhood partnerships.

2. What else are you up to?

We are always busy trying to develop new products for our artists’ portfolios. We want to create art works that can be displayed in non-traditional manner that are suited to our new neighborhood.

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In The News …

Welcome to Wednesday, folks! Sending non-profit and local news items your way …

Japan: “Cutting Through the Noise” – At the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at UPenn, yesterday’s post outlines “the questions donors should ask, the capabilities to look for in a nonprofit, and an example of an organization well-positioned to deliver help in Japan now.” While rightly focused on the crisis in Japan, the questions posed (and the answers offered) also provide a good basis?for considering any philanthropic effort in the aftermath of a profound disaster. Key questions to consider include: “What are the most critical needs on the ground?” “What are the gaps in local capacity for meeting these needs?” and “What capabilities are needed to address these gaps effectively?”

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Women’s History Month

We are nearly to end of March — and thus, near to the conclusion of Women’s History Month. And in visiting the National Park Service exhibit on Eleanor Roosevelt, this particular quotation caught my attention:

Champion of domestic social reform, economic justice, and human rights, Eleanor believed citizenship demanded participation, saying “We will be the sufferers if we let great wrongs occur without exerting ourselves to correct them.”

This month does indeed focus on women’s history, but in remembering and honoring great women leaders of the past, we must strive to give women and girls the resources to become great leaders in the future. Since the successful passage of the 19th Amendment, and since Roosevelt’s tenure in the White House and the United Nations, this country has made incredible progress: in education for women, in representation, in leadership. Yet countless women still need and deserve the resources to make their own personal progress — which is why non-profits focused on women and girls are such vital parts of our community:

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Learning & Housing

From “How a GED Is a Real Advantage…” by Ralph da Costa Nunez, President of the Institute For Children, Poverty & Homelessness, from Saturday’s Huffington Post:

Recent data demonstrate that obtaining a GED has employment and income benefits for all recipients. Nationally, high school dropouts who obtain a GED on average increase their earnings by $115 per week or $3,500 per year.

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Around Town: March 19-20

Happy Friday, Greater Washington! I was not too pleased about “springing ahead” last weekend. But on the other hand, I am liking the extended daylight. So why not celebrate the prolonged light with one (or more) of our non-profits this weekend? Such as …

Prince George’s Child Resource Center (TBA, Largo, MD)

Volunteers needed for the Building for Success Conference on Saturday, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM! You would check-in and register participants, facilitate workshops for the trainers, and just be a friendly and helpful presence throughout the day. Email for more info.

Literacy Council of Northern Virginia (James Lee Community Center, 2855 Annandale Road, Falls Church, VA)

The annual “Reading: A Family Affairs” brings books to life for hundreds of families on Saturday from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM. Puppeteers, musicians, and storytellers will provide interactive performances that encourage family reading at home — in the most fun way possible. Learn more here AND read our “7 Questions” interview with LCNV’s Executive Director!

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