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A Transformative & Empowering Community with Calvary Women’s Services

By Daniela Jungova, Development Associate, Calvary Women’s Services

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Calvary Women’s Services offers housing, health, employment and education programs that empower homeless women in Washington, DC to change their lives.

As the state of homelessness in DC continues to be critical, Calvary reaches women who are most likely to be trapped in cycles of poverty and homelessness, women who have experienced domestic violence, are struggling with substance addiction and are living with mental illness.

Calvary’s programs address the root causes of homelessness, so women can take control of their lives and plan for their future. In addition to meeting women’s basic needs by providing safe housing, meals and other amenities, all women in our programs have access to services that empower them to regain their health, build new life skills, and achieve financial independence.

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Our comprehensive services for women include personalized case management, life skills, education and arts classes (LEAP), health services, addiction recovery meetings, and job placement services (Step Up DC). Women who obtain jobs through Step Up DC have an average hourly wage of $13, and 90% of those who secure employment with Step Up DC’s support transition into stable housing.

“Calvary is a great place to live if you’re serious about making a change. I’m working on changing my life from the inside out. Nothing will stop me from doing what I need to do to turn my life around,” says Calvary resident Adrienne.

Now that summer is in full swing, women love to spend time on Calvary’s back patio. Just a couple of weeks ago, the patio got a major makeover thanks to the generous support of the U.S. Green Building Council – National Capital Area.

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The patio has undergone improvement projects that include the planting of new vegetable plants (such as peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes), herbs and three beautiful peach trees, as well as the installment of a “green wall” with climbing vines.

The patio quickly became a welcome respite from women’s busy days. Women now enjoy their education classes outside at the tables, and take ownership over maintaining and watering the garden. Every day, they check on the growing vegetables and find joy in tasting the results of their work.

CFP4But the new garden is not the only place where women’s hard work is paying off. Calvary’s safe, respectful community as a whole is a truly amazing place of transformation – a place where it is possible for women to heal from histories of trauma, build supportive relationships, and gain the skills and confidence to live independently.

We believe that every woman has the strengths and gifts that allow her to make these positive changes. Thanks to Calvary’s small, intimate environment, we are able to meet each woman as an individual and give her the support she deserves as she works to overcome her challenges. Our model works – every five days, a woman moves from Calvary into her own home.

CFP1I invite you to learn more about Calvary at www.calvaryservices.org. We are currently looking for volunteers who can lead various life skills, education and arts classes, assist women with job applications, prepare nutritious, home-cooked meals, and staff the front desk. We have opportunities for groups and individuals alike – check out all of our volunteer opportunities here. You can also sign up for our monthly newsletter and follow us on social media to stay up-to-date with all of Calvary’s happenings.

We hope you will join our transformative, empowering community!

In the (Snow Day) News…

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

Education

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.

Housing

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.

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 …

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 …

Maryland’s ‘achievement gap’ highlighted by new advocacy group (Washington Post): “Maryland has the second largest disparity in the country between low-income students and their wealthier classmates on the 8th grade math test the fourth largest socio-economic disparity in the country on the corresponding 8th grade English test,” MarylandCAN reports in their “State of Maryland Public Education.” Says MarylandCAN executive director Curtis Valentine, “We have a lot to be proud of in Maryland when it comes to educating our kids … but we struggle to serve all Maryland students.”
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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 …

Regional jobless rates fall in November (Washington Post): “Steady private sector growth drove down the unemployment rates in the District, Maryland, and Virginia for the second consecutive month in November, according to a US Labor Department report released Tuesday. The data showed that the District’s unemployment rate dropped to 10.6 from 11 percent the month before, fueled mainly by gains in the professional and business services sector and in education and health.” Virginia’s jobless level fell 0.2 percent (from 6.4 to 6.2), while Maryland’s dropped 0.3 percent (from 7.2 to 6.9).

Leadership needed to extend DC school day (Greater Greater Washington): “Both the Washington Teachers’ Union and DC Council agree that DCPS should likewise increase teachers’ time on task, but no one is showing needed leadership to make it happen [...] The innovation that is perhaps most common in successful charter schools, according to a new research study, is an extended school day. On a comprehensive ranking of public charter schools by educational outcomes released by the DC Charter School Board, all of the top performing charter middle schools have school days longer than the 6.5 hour DCPS school day.” Do you agree? If so, what is needed to drive such a change?

Americans Are Most Generous, Global Poll Finds (Chronicle of Philanthropy): “Americans give more to help others than the residents of 152 other countries, according to a new global survey. That’s a big change from last year, when the United States ranked No. 5. people whether they had donated money to a charity, volunteered their time, or helped a stranger in the previous month.” Ireland and Australia closely followed the United States in the rankings, with the United Kingdom and New Zealand tied for fourth position.

20 Year Goal

Monday morning food for thought from Martha Ross of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, via WAMU 88.5:

The city should commit to an ambitious goal: by 2022, 90 percent of DC’s young people will earn a post-secondary credential and obtain full-time work by the age of 24. Such a shared goal would have a cascading effect, and require partners in the public, private and social sectors to re-think and re-orient their standard operating procedures [...] Building and expanding such programs will be a complex, multi-year project, but it’s not out of our reach. In fact, city leaders have already taken a number of steps. They created a community college, revitalized the Workforce Investment Council, and are developing an intermediary to better match residents with job openings. These steps are necessary but not sufficient. We must do more.

What do you think? Is such a goal achievable? And what might be the first steps for us, in the nonprofit sector?

Closing The Skills Gap

Yesterday’s “In The News” highlighted this piece from DCentric; and I think that its thesis bears repeating. As author Elahe Izadi points out, “Many of the available jobs in the District, the ones that attract people from around the country, require advanced degrees. This mismatch, or skills gap, means many of those born and raised within the District are increasingly being left out of its economic success.” Many residents of low-income DC communities also lack access to computers and high-speed internet and “about 20 percent of District adults are functionally illiterate.”

How, and when, can we resolve the “skills gap” problem? To start, here are a few Catalogue nonprofits who are working to do precisely that. We absolutely would suggest learning more about their work and their needs.
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In The News …

Division of Labor: The Gap Between Skills and Jobs (DCentric): “While much of the country struggles with job creation, DC is in the unique position of having more jobs than residents [...] Many of the available jobs in the District, the ones that attract people from around the country, require advanced degrees. This mismatch, or skills gap, means many of those born and raised within the District are increasingly being left out of its economic success.” According to the DC Department of Employment Services, professional, technical, or scientific or federal government positions make up nearly half of the area’s jobs; and 65% of November online job postings stipulated that applicants needed a minimum of a bachelors degree.
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