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Equitable Development in the District

by Marie LeBlanc, Community Partnerships Coordinator

This year, the print Catalogue for Philanthropy opened with an infographic, “Our Region, Our Impact”. The spread presented facts and figures on the levels of poverty and income distribution in the Greater Washington region, as well as the impact of Catalogue nonprofits and ways they serve under-served communities. As many readers are likely aware, income inequality on the Greater Washington region is one of the highest in the nation — the top 20% of earners bring in annual salaries of over $250,000 and the bottom 20% of earners, not even $10,000.

Within the District, gentrification has played a large role in not only increasing inequality, but the ways in which rich and poor interact and engage in geographic spaces. This week, the Nonprofit Quarterly highlighted the work of one DC nonprofit, ONE DC, in addressing gentrification (or displacement, as they refer to it) and promoting equitable development across the city:

Equitable development is defined as development activity with a triple bottom line, taking into account the interests of the business community and local developers, fairness in the treatment of employees, and sustainability in protecting and enhancing resources (human and others) in responding to an array of social and environmental needs. There are many communities throughout the U.S. experimenting with these principles, and one such project that offers a manifestation of this burgeoning “equitable development” movement is ONE DC (Organizing Neighborhood Equity DC) in Washington, D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood…

By engaging in what ONE DC refers to as “participatory democracy,” this membership-led organization is confronting several powerful private and public entities to protect residents’ interests. Its strategy, as stated on the organization’s web page, is one where “people within movements for social change, those directly affected by the issues, make the decisions related to the campaign or movement; minimize hierarchy within their organization to maximize shared power and equity of voice; and utilize direct action as an effective means to compel decision-makers to implement decisions made by the community.”

Perhaps the most interesting and innovative aspect to ONE DC’s work is that “the overarching goal is not simply reform but institutional change and social transformation.” Unlike other direct service organizations that provide a much needed, but often one-off service to clients trapped in systems of poverty, ONE DC attempts to achieve specific objectives (“human rights to affordable housing, living wage jobs, and equitable development”) by empowering affected communities with voice in the process and stake in the (equitable) development of their communities.

Learn more about and support Catalogue nonprofits also working in community and economic development online here.

In The News …

At rally, leaders promise action on affordable housing (Greater Greater Washington): “Over 300 people rallied for affordable housing this weekend with the Housing for All Campaign [...] The next few months will be critical for housing funding. The task force is scheduled to release its report in the next few weeks, and Mayor Gray will announce his housing plan.” Do you agree that affordable housing is poised to become “key political issue?”

Report: Current Approach To Strategic Philanthropy Is Limiting (The NonProfit Times): “The current top-down approach to strategic philanthropy limits its overall effectiveness,” according to a new study by the Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). Says NCRP Executive Director Aaron Dorfman, “All grantmakers want to maximize the impact of their grants [...] What they may not realize is that the missing piece in their grantmaking strategy is the social justice lens.” What do you think of the report’s central suggestions?

Free Tax Help Clinics Begin Friday (ARLnow): “Starting this Friday, Arlington County is holding free clinics to assist residents with tax preparation. The clinics are intended to serve residents with ‘low or moderate income.’” Several clinics list a maximum income for those interested in taking part; all clinics begin in February and run through April, with locations at public libraries, Department of Human Services, and ECDC Enterprise Development Group.

At The Theatre …

Last night, at the National Theatre, theatreWashington announced the nominees for the 2013 Helen Hayes Awards. All together, theater companies in the Catalogue community received fifteen nominations. Many congratulations to …

- Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, which was featured in the first Catalogue in 2003, received eleven nominations, including Outstanding Director and Resident Production for The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.
- Constellation Theatre Company, which recently joined the Catalogue community, received a nomination for the James MacArthur Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor.
- Adventure Theatre MTC, which was featured in the 2009 Catalogue, received three nominations, including two for Outstanding Production, Theatre For Young Audiences.

Congratulations to the nominees and, of course, to theatreWashington itself — which was first featured in the Catalogue in 2006.

Life Of Its Own

When I am in my painting, I am not aware of what I’m doing. It is only after a short “get acquainted” period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well.

– American painter Jackson Pollock, born today in 1912

Around Town: January 25-27

See what’s coming up at Catalogue’s nonprofits …

Constellation Theatre Company (at Source, 1835 14th Street NW)

Zorro, the masked avenger, is born when quiet, bookish Diego must find a way to fight corruption and injustice. Catch a performance of Zorro on Friday and Saturday at 8:00 PM and Sunday at 2:00 PM.

Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center (Original Pancake House, 7395 Lee Highway, Falls Church, VA)

Come warm up with coffee and pancakes on Saturday from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM and “dine for dollars” in support of the Children’s Center.

We Are Family Senior Outreach Network (Kelsey Apartments, 3322 14th Street NW)

Volunteer to assemble and deliver free grocery bags to over 250 low-income seniors in Columbia Heights, Petworth, and Adams Morgan on Saturday at 10:00 AM. Sign up here!

Dance Place (3225 8th Street NE, Washington, DC)

Stephanie Miracle’s choreography investigates the intersections between physical realities and supernatural landscapes; come by on Saturday at 8:00 PM or Sunday at 4:00 PM.

Joy of Motion Dance Center (Jack Guidone Theater @ JOMDC Friendship Heights, 5207 Wisconsin Avenue NW)

Percussive Dance Project, part of JOMDC’s annual choreography showcase series, introduces innovative works in rhythm tap, step and more. Nab tickets for Saturday at 8:00 PM.

Coming up: Bartending 4 Change will serve it up for Women Thrive Worldwide at Stoney’s Upstairs Bar this coming Thursday at 6:00 PM.

From the Field: Safe Shores

by Sherika Brooks, Executive Assistant to the President

“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.” -Nelson Mandela

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC ranks highest in the rate of child abuse per capita in the nation. That means that in the District alone, 24.6 children per 1,000 are victimized annually. The national average? 10.0 per 1,000. These sobering and heartbreaking statistics clearly illustrate how important it is to have services that can help the children and families who are affected by this abuse.

Enter Safe Shores-The DC Children’s Advocacy Center. Safe Shores is a Catalogue nonprofit that provides intervention, hope, and healing for children and families that are affected by abuse and violence in DC. Last week, Community Partnerships Coordinator, Marie LeBlanc, and I attended Coffee for Kids, an informational tour of the Safe Shores facility right outside of the NoMa neighborhood in Washington, DC. Situated in a former school building, Safe Shores has created an environment for kids and their families to feel supported, comfortable, and most importantly, safe.

Prior to Safe Shores, the investigative and legal process for child abuse cases in the District could be just as traumatizing for a child as the abuse itself. Forcing a child to be interviewed separately by police, social workers, medical professionals, prosecutors, and a different selection of court personnel can leave a child feeling more like the perpetrator than the victim. Safe Shores helps to eliminate these different interviews by housing interview rooms complete with in-wall cameras and microphones that produce a live feed to the room next door, as well as recording the interview. The live feed/recorded video allows for members of DC’s Multidisciplinary Team which includes the Metropolitan Police Department, Child and Family Services, Children’s National Medical Center, the Office of the Attorney General, and the United States Attorney’s Office to watch and have access to the video instead of subjecting the child to multiple interviews. Safe Shores also provides victims and their families with resources such as counseling, art therapy, medical checkups, and victim services such as a clothing closet (complete with toys) and a meal fund to cover the cost of food to children who are on site for interviews, therapy, or awaiting court sessions.

As an adult, walking into Safe Shores, touring their amazing facility, and hearing their staff talk about what they do reminded me that, unfortunately, abuse can happen to anyone. The staff members give the same amount of care to the children that walk into the center’s front doors as they would their own children–which says a lot about this amazing program and their dedicated staff (who are on call 24/7–because abuse can happen anytime). The Catalogue for Philanthropy and the Greater Washington area are lucky to have Safe Shores as part of our community and we are so grateful for all of the hard work that you do.

If you are interested in attending a Coffee for Kids session, volunteering with, or just learning more about Safe Shores-The DC Children’s Advocacy Center, check out their website.

In The News …

In Maryland, forecast calls for more hires (Gazette): “About 22 percent of companies in Maryland plan to hire more employees in the first quarter this year, up from 17 percent in 2012′s first quarter, according to a recent survey by employment services company Manpower Group.” Nationwide, that number is five percentage points lower and the best prospects, reportedly, are in professional and business services. One reason? Many “employers that have been piling up profitable quarters say factors such as the fiscal cliff and a lack of qualified employees put a damper on their hiring plans last year.”

Chancellor Kaya Henderson names 15 DC schools on closure list (Washington Post): “More than one in 10 DC public schools will close as part of a plan Chancellor Kaya Henderson put forth Thursday, a retrenchment amid budget pressures, low enrollment and growing competition from public charter schools [...] Closing half-empty schools will allow her to use resources more efficiently, she said, redirecting dollars from administration and maintenance to teaching and learning.” Community feedback persuaded the Chancellor to keep open five schools originally slated for closure. You can read the detailed Consolidation and Reorganization Plan on the DCPS website.

Graduation Rate Hits Record High For High School Students: Government Report (Huffington Post): “More US high school students than ever are graduating on time, according to new information released by the research arm of the US Education Department. The percentage of students who graduated from high school within four years of starting ninth grade in the 2006-2007 school year hit a record high.” In that year, 4 million students began high school and, four years later, just over 78% have graduated — a 2% increase overall. But while more students are completing high school, “fewer than half of those in the class of 2012 were “college ready” as determined by the College Board last fall.”

One People

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.

– President Barack Obama, January 21, 2013

Greater Readiness

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood. The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific, and religious freedom have always been nonconformists. In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformist! (1963)

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. (1968)

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Around Town: January 19-21

Dance, volunteer, and swashbuckle with Catalogue nonprofits …

Dance Place (3225 8th Street NE, Washington, DC)

An integral part of the DC dance community for over 20 years, KanKouran presents their annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Friday & Saturday at 8:00 PM. Tickets right this way.

Constellation Theatre Company (at Source, 1835 14th Street NW, Washington, DC)

Zorro, the masked avenger, is born when quiet, bookish Diego must find a way to fight corruption and injustice. Catch a “pay what you can” preview of Zorro on Friday at 8:30 PM.

Rock Creek Conservancy (Multiple locations in DC)

On Saturday morning, save Rock Creek Park trees in Normanstone Park in front of the British Embassy or at Soapstone Valley park trail head on Albemarle Street NW. Learn more right here.

We Are Family Senior Outreach Network (at Metropolitan Community Church, 474 Ridge Street NW, Washington, DC)

Assemble and deliver grocery bags to low-income seniors in the North Capitol and Shaw neighborhoods on Saturday at 10:00 AM. You can sign up online right here.

Coming Up: “Look at Literacy” with Literacy Council of Montgomery County on Wednesday at 7:30 PM at the Rockville Library.