Takeaways from the White House Summit on Working Families

obama-working-families-summittYesterday, I had the privilege to attend the White House Summit on Working Families.  The White House hosted the Summit along with the Department of Labor and the Center for American Progress, to highlight and discuss some of the most pressing issues facing workers and families in our 21st century workplaces.

The Women’s Foundation will have a series of blogs on the Summit, but for now, here are my immediate takeaways:

1. Expect to hear more about paid family leave, especially parental leave; fair pay; and early learning. These were several policy areas the President explicitly mentioned in his speech. He also mentioned many more and announced new and greater flexibility for federal workers.

2. Get engaged at the local level.  National change is slow and, as the First Lady encouraged when she spoke to the Summit, we have to be okay with incremental progress of 20%, stacked on another 20%, and so on.  It is this steady – albeit slow – progress that can help us push forward.  On the local level, mayors and governors can enact change much sooner in their cities and states.  Likewise, CEOs can enact change in their own companies, and show others how these policies support workers and improve the bottom line.

3. Women everywhere, at all levels, are making sacrifices and choices.  As some women ascend, it is our responsibility to mentor the next generation and set “the tone from the middle” or “the tone from the top” – depending on where we are in our careers – and take it upon ourselves to create workplace cultures and policies that are fair, supportive and productive.

4. These are not just women’s issues.  These are issues for all working people, of all family types, and they can’t be pigeon-holed.  Whether it is a working dad, who wants to care for his infant in the first days of parenthood, or a childless worker that needs to take an elderly parent to a doctor’s appointment, issues like paid leave affect the ability of all working people to provide and care for their families while they earn a living and contribute to the economy.

Stay tuned for more in depth coverage of the Summit from The Women’s Foundation! In the meantime, you can find more information on http://workingfamiliessummit.org or check out the conversation on Twitter using #FamiliesSucceed.

Paternity Leave Roundtable Discussion

With Father’s Day just around the corner, we’ve been thinking quite a bit about how men and fathers are important allies in the work that we do. Part of the discussion around here has been about the role that paternity leave could play in women’s economic security, and with the White House holding the first ever Summit on Working Dads earlier this week, paternity leave has catapulted to the national level. Earlier this year, we also saw paternity leave make national headlines when New York Mets second baseman, Daniel Murphy, was harshly and inappropriately criticized for taking paternity leave and missing the first two games of the season. With all of this buzz, we decided to channel our paternity leave chatter and host our first recorded staff roundtable discussion. We are so excited to share it with you and would love for each of you to join the conversation by leaving thoughts, feedback and questions in the comments section below.

To begin our staff discussion, we watched part of the, “Can We All Have it All?” TED Talk from Anne-Marie Slaughter. With her thoughts as a jumping off point, we launched head first into our discussion on paternity leave, recorded for you below. (Note: The recording has been edited for time. The staff at the table for this discussion included Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, Nicole Cozier, Donna Wiedeman, Claudia Williams, Lauren Stillwell and Jessica Zetzman.)

 

As the discussion unfolded, we touched on:

  • The current state of paternity leave in the US
  • Feedback from our own Nicole Cozier, who just returned from maternity leave, on how the lack of spousal leave means leaving a young child in the care of a stranger vs. a partner (:36)
  • The model for paternity leave that exists in Sweden (1:23)
  • What the lack of paternity leave at a child’s birth means for gender roles and caregiving further down the road (2:07)
  • The need not only for leave when children are infants, but for more flexible schedules that encourage family engagement throughout a child’s life (4:45)
  • Family leave and prioritization of work and family (7:52)
  • Is “re-socializing men” the right way forward? (9:00)
  • The rate at which men use or take paternity leave if it were to be made available to them (11:36)
  • The economic effects on women’s future pay potential for every month that their partner takes leave (13:03)
  • Effect of paternity leave on divorce rates, custody and children’s health (14:50)

If you’re interested in any of the articles or statistics we referenced, here is the Secretary of Labor’s Huffington Post Article, a great New York Times article on the effects of paternity leave in Sweden, Pew research on the increasing role of women as breadwinners and the study on the correlation of lower child mortality rates and parental leave.

We want to know: what are your thoughts on paternity leave? Think we missed something? Leave your comments below!

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month: A Snapshot of Our Region

During the month of May, festivities across the nation highlighted the contributions, richness and diversity of Asian and Pacific Islanders. Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month first started as a week-long celebration established in 1978 to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in May 1843, and the contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed in May 1869.

Nationwide, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans have emerged as the nation’s fastest growing racial group, increasing by 51 percent between 2000 and 2012, growing from 10.7 million in 2000 to 16.1 million in 2012. The Washington region is no exception; Asian and Pacific Islanders numbered about 437,000 in 2012, up from 297,000 in 2000, and comprise 11 percent of the total population.

The groups with a larger presence in the Washington region are Indian, Chinese, Korean, Filipino and Vietnamese. But these groups do not even begin to uncover the enormous diversity of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent that are our friends and neighbors, with ties to more than 20 ethnic groups, languages, religions, customs and origins.

This vast diversity influences the economic security and opportunities of Asian and Pacific Islander women in our region and beyond. While Asian and Pacific Islander women on average are only second to White women when analyzing economic indicators, it is not because everyone is doing well. Looking at the population of Asian and Pacific women without any nuance, glosses over the economic and educational inequities of the many groups that are part of this population.

Asian Americans are often considered to be high-achieving, high-earning and highly educated, but data from the 2010-2012 American Community Survey reveals, for example, that in the Washington region, roughly four out of ten Pakistani women (38 percent) are living at or below 200 percent of the poverty threshold, compared to slightly more than one out of ten Indian women (13 percent). Median annual earnings for full-time, year-round workers unearth stark disparities among women in this group as well; while Chinese women earn approximately $70,000 per year, Vietnamese women earn about $27,000 less.

A single-bloc analysis of the status of Asian and Pacific Islander women could leave the group out of important policy discussions. Immigration reform, for instance, is more likely to be associated as an issue of interest to the Latino community, and racial dialogues often times primarily focus on White and Black relations. The “model minority” stereotype, the idea that Asian Americans are landmarks of economic and academic success relative to other minorities, is an undermining factor that affects the most disadvantaged members of the Asian and Pacific community. This dangerous misconception can cause many who share significant challenges of achieving economic security to be overlooked.

To celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, let’s remember the vibrant diversity of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans and the importance of understanding the nuanced backgrounds of women and men, and girls and boys that make this such a vibrant community and allows us to better serve the diverse needs of every woman and girl in our region.

The source of data in this blog post is The Women’s Foundation analysis of the 2010-2012 and 2012 IPUMS American Community Survey, and 2000 Census.  

Memorial Day: One Veteran’s Perspective

Editor’s note: In honor of Memorial Day and the brave women and men who have sacrificed their lives for our country, we bring you today’s blog piece from a Women’s Foundation donor and supporter, Former Sergeant Stacy Kupcheni.

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor military men and women who died in the service of their country, primarily in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. Although female service members are included in the definition, they are often forgotten. Since the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, approximately 280,000 women have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq and as of early 2013 more than 150 women have been killed in these wars, according to the military. This is more than the number of U.S. military women killed in action in Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm combined.

Memorial Day photoRecognition of these fallen women on Memorial Day is somewhat of an afterthought, and is a bit ironic, considering women were almost entirely responsible for the recognition of Memorial Day. Just weeks after the Civil War ended, Ellen Call Long organized a women’s memorial society to reconcile embittered enemies. Usually named some variant of “women’s relief society,” groups sprang up in both the North and South that not only memorialized the dead, but also cared for the war’s disabled and its widows and orphans. The efforts of these women led the way in turning the horrors of war into something that encouraged serenity and reflection.  Unfortunately, many people don’t know the significance that women have played in the origins of this holiday, but even more upsetting, is that all too often, we forget to spend the time reflecting on the meaning of the day itself.

Before joining the Army, I was like many other Americans who just thought of Memorial Day as another day off of school/work, another day for sales events, and the start of summer BBQs. People saying “Happy Memorial Day” didn’t bother me then, and honestly, the day had no true meaning to me. On some level, I knew it was a day for remembering and honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country, but I did not fully comprehend the scope of it.

After nearly 10 years of service in the military, and another 10 years of civilian service in the Department of Defense, 4 deployments to Iraq, and 1 deployment to Afghanistan, Memorial Day has taken on a new meaning.

To me, it is not only to remember and honor those who died in the service of their country, but also to honor those who returned home, like me, feeling like a shell of the person they once were.

No one who goes to war ever fully comes home – at least not in the emotional and psychological sense.  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a very real battle wound that affects everyone differently. Some make it back mostly the person they were before, but many return only physically, forever unrecognizable psychologically.  These invisible wounds of war can be even more devastating than the battle scars that can be seen, but even harder to find support around.  This is a sad state of reality, and while strides have been made to provide mental health services to returning veterans, more must be done.

For many people, the military is a place that means opportunity for higher education and career advancement that they would not otherwise have access to – for me, it made the difference between going to college or not.  Yet, in many cases, the potential for economic security as a result from these opportunities is quickly negated by the impact of the psychological trauma caused by PTSD.  At best, PTSD can make it difficult to perform well at work.  But for many, the implications are farther reaching, resulting in an inability to keep a job, substance abuse, and other destructive behavior as coping mechanism.  For some, the trauma is just impossible to bear.

According to a 2012 Veterans Affairs study, 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Among active duty troops, 2012 was the worst year for military suicides – making troop suicide more lethal than combat, although this data has only been tracked since 2008.   As women, we are often expected to return to the roles that we led as spouses/partners, mothers, and caregivers while bearing these additional burdens of war.

This isn’t the kind of thing that most people want to talk about.  It’s heavy and it is hard.  But those are exactly the reasons why it is so important to talk about.  As a veteran, my desire is that every veteran returning from combat has access to the supportive services they need to try to return to their life at home as whole as they can be.

As a woman, I hope that these services reflect the full reality of our lives as spouses, mothers, sisters, etc., and that they also recognize the often tenuous line that returning veterans walk between economic security and insecurity when battling PTSD, especially women who are already at an economic disadvantage to our male counterparts in our society.

I hope that those who lose their battle with PSTD or “Shell Shock” after returning home are also recognized and honored with appreciation and reverence on Memorial Day because these too, were wounds sustained in battle.

But for today, this Memorial Day, I hope you will honor those among you who risk it all to serve their country by taking part in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3pm (local time).  Take the time to pause for one minute in an act of national unity, amongst the cook-outs and sales, to honor America’s fallen service members, their families, and the women long ago who made it a priority to recognize them.

Reflections on the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative

Editor’s Note: Fight For Children was a part of the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative for four years before leaving in 2014. Skip McKoy, Fight for Children’s Director of Programmatic Initiatives, shares his reflections in this guest blog post.

Fight For Children, SkipAt the end of June, Fight For Children will transition off of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation’s Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative to focus our attention on Joe’s Champs, our early childhood, school-based education program. We developed Joe’s Champs to provide principals, assistant principals, and teachers with professional development and mentorship opportunities focused specifically on students ages 3-4, a period sometimes overlooked by educators but vitally important to a child’s academic and social development. Without the extensive discussions with funders of the early childhood space—including those we met through the Collaborative—we would not be as confident in the success of Joe’s Champs as we are today.

When Fight For Children joined the Collaborative in 2010, we were primarily a grant-making organization.  The Collaborative provided us with an opportunity to engage with and learn from other local organizations interested in supporting early childhood development. As Fight For Children shifts from a grant-maker to an organization that designs and runs its own programs, the Collaborative remains a valuable resource for us, other local funders, and early childhood education leaders.

As I reflect back on our four years as a Collaborative member, I am grateful for the many opportunities and lessons learned. Here are a few that stand out to me:

  1. On the Collaborative, Fight For Children has had the opportunity to join forces with other organizations to leverage our impact on local children. For example, in 2013, as a member of the Collaborative we contributed to the support of ten early childhood education projects, in addition to the projects we support on our own.
  2. Fight For Children has a small staff that goes into the community throughout the year to research potential organizations with which to partner. Being part of the Collaborative exposed us to projects otherwise unfamiliar to us, given our limited resources.
  3. As a non-profit focused on children within DC City limits, Fight For Children staff do not readily have opportunities to learn about innovative approaches occurring elsewhere in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia region. The Collaborative has facilitated our experiences with early childhood education and development projects outside of DC, which we were then able to reference during our development of Joe’s Champs.

Any of these reasons alone would be a powerful incentive for an early childhood funder to join the Collaborative. But, there is another value-add to being part of the Collaborative: the group of funders* represented at the table are all well-respected and thoughtful. They represent a cross-section of foundations and corporations dedicated to improving early childhood care and education in this region. Having different organizations bring to light the multiple sections of the proverbial early childhood education elephant provides a better sense of the big picture, allowing each of us to be more thoughtful change agents and resulting in an even greater, systemic impact.

*The Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative currently includes: The Boeing Company, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, PNC Foundation, Richard E. and Nancy P. Marriott Foundation, Washington Area Women’s Foundation, and Weissberg Foundation.

Message From the Board Chair: Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat Named as The Women’s Foundation President and CEO

portrait-800We are pleased to announce that the Board unanimously appointed Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat as President and CEO of The Women’s Foundation, effective immediately. She succeeds Nicky Goren, who has made a positive and lasting impact on our organization.

Jennifer has been an invaluable asset to the Foundation over the last six years, and we are thrilled that she has agreed to guide us on our mission to drive change and provide economic security to women and girls in the DC region.

Jennifer brings institutional knowledge, reputation, and personal and professional experience that will not only allow us to sustain momentum, but thrive. Prior to joining The Women’s Foundation, Jennifer served as the Director of Public Policy at the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association. Before that, she spent 10 years at Women’s Policy, Inc., departing as the Director of Policy Research and Publications.

She also is an authentic choice, informed by a personal story that gives her a unique perspective on the needs of economically vulnerable women and girls. Jennifer walked the same path as many of the women we serve, growing up in a small town where her parents were laid off on the same day. She experienced first-hand the challenges of achieving economic security, but gained inspiration and strength as she saw and leveraged the opportunities provided by her mother who supported the family through various jobs.

Carolyn-Berkowitz-Jennifer-Lockwood-Shabat-blogJennifer sees great potential for The Women’s Foundation to build on its impactful work by creating a platform to amplify the voices of women and girls. She sees opportunity to leverage the organization’s leadership, and an environment in which women’s issues are top-of-mind, to bring to life common threads of issues impacting women and girls here, across the country and even around the world. She believes that by raising our collective voice, we can ignite a ripple effect of support.

Thank you for your support of The Women’s Foundation. I look forward to a bright future as we continue to invest in women and girls in our community to ensure that they have the resources they need to thrive.

Click here to read the message we shared with the media today. And click here to learn more about Jennifer.

Labor Force Participation by Mothers in the Washington Region

For Mother’s Day, we’ve taken a look at the labor force participation of mothers in the Washington region. With over 72 percent of mothers with young children participating in our region’s workforce, families are increasingly relying on the wages of women in order to achieve economic security. It’s never been more important that workplace policies reflect the realities of women’s lives. Flexible schedules, family leave policies, paid sick days and higher wages are critical to ensuring every mother in the region’s workforce has the chance to succeed.

Mother's Workforce Participation (4) (1)

Find this data interesting? Leave us your comments and questions!

 

Advocacy for Early Learning in Northern VA: A Report from the Field

Emily Griffey is a Senior Policy Analyst for Voices for Virginia’s Children, a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner.

Much like your typical preschool classroom, activity, opportunity and challenge were in the air in Fairfax the week of April 7-11th.  That week happened to be the Week of the Young Child and public hearings on the Fairfax County budget, creating a perfect opportunity to rally early education supporters to demonstrate their impact on school readiness and ask for increased local support. Adding to the opportunities and challenges this year, Fairfax is faced with numerous requests for funding from different stakeholders groups and budget uncertainty. With proposed local budget increases for early learning opportunities on the table – a $714,000 package for additional mentors and professional development for child care providers and an expansion of the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) – advocates were needed to go on the record, along with these many other groups asking for increases, so that early learning would be included in the final budget.

Voices for Virginia’s Children is fortunate to have the opportunity to weigh in on early learning opportunities for Northern VA children through a grant from the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative. While it may seem that Northern VA is one of the more affluent parts of Virginia, Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax are home to 6,000 children under age 5 living in poverty (2012 ACS 1 year estimate). And Virginia’s early learning resources lag behind those provided across the metro area.

Calling the campaign #SchoolReadiness4Nova, Voices activated a network of local community leaders, early childhood program providers, and advocates to participate in a letter writing campaign, rally and public testimony to support the funding increase for early learning. (A report by Mission: Readiness, another  Grantee Partner of the Collaborative, notes that Fairfax falls short of the potential of VPI.)

Voices VA Children 2

Wednesday, April 9th became a Day of Action for Early Learning in Fairfax and kicked off with a rally at one of Fairfax’s 4-star rated early learning centers and a community-based VPI provider, Main Street Child Development Center. Details and video from the rally are available on Voices’ website and Facebook page.

Speakers urged the Board of Supervisors to include the proposed $714,000 investment for school readiness in the final county budget, and to look to the coming years with a plan for significantly expanding VPI participation.

WTOP news radio covered the rally and interviewed Carol Lieske, Director of Main Street Child Development Center and Mary Beth Testa, Voices’ local policy consultant. A clip of the interview ran throughout the afternoon commute that day, and an article was published on the WTOP website.

Advocates proceeded to the public hearing on the budget that afternoon, delivering art from children from Reston and Falls Church to the members of the Board of Supervisors.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is now in the final days of decision-making on the county budget. We think that the flurry of activity during the Week of the Young Child will help to make the case that strengthening school readiness opportunities are essential services in the Fairfax local budget.

You can take action now to show local leaders in Fairfax that early education matters; for more information on #SchoolReadinessforNoVa and how you can participate, visit Voices for Virginia’s Children.

 

Our Visit to Preschool

As an adult, I have little memory of my preschool years.  What I do “remember” is mostly built upon the stories and photos that my parents share with me: the artwork I made; the school play about Thanksgiving; the bright green cast I wore on my arm in my very first school photos (I have been a klutz most of my life…).

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And although I can’t recall the exact lessons learned during my earliest schooling, research shows these years had a tremendous impact on my life. In addition to forming the basis for literacy and numeracy, preschool is also likely where I learned how to behave in a classroom – how to raise my hand, follow instructions, and interact with my peers.  Research shows that high-quality early education builds the academic, social and emotional foundation for success in K-12, college and the workforce.

Last week, The Women’s Foundation and our Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative hosted a tour and conversation with AppleTree at their early learning public charter school site in the Shipley neighborhood of Anacostia, in Southeast DC.  We visited classrooms of three and four year olds, going about their morning activities.  In one class, students were “excavating” dinosaur bones, painting and drawing dinosaurs, or working with dinosaur vocabulary words.

A recent unit on dinosaurs and paleontology has been building up to a field trip to the Museum of Natural History.  AppleTree  uses “play to learn” principles as part of their Every Child Ready curriculum that’s deployed in all of its classrooms.  Every Child Ready is a comprehensive instructional model that drives how to teach, what to teach, and how to tell it’s being done to increase teacher effectiveness and children’s learning in early childhood classrooms.

AppleTree 1

The Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative has invested for several years in AppleTree’s professional development for early childhood teachers, helping to disseminate the Every Child Ready curriculum.  This year, the Collaborative is supporting the organization’s local communications and advocacy efforts, through which AppleTree aims to define quality early education in terms of child outcomes that result in school readiness.

On the occasion of the Week of Young Child, our visit to AppleTree last week was a great reminder of all the ways that individually and collectively our Grantee Partners are striving to provide high-quality early education for our region’s youngest residents.  Whether these children remember learning about dinosaurs – or are reminded later in life by photos and craft projects – these earliest experiences will have a lasting impact on each of their lives, and the vitality of our community as a whole.

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Established in 2008 as a multi-year, multi-million dollar collective funding effort, the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative brings together corporate funders and local and national foundations, with a mission to increase the quality and capacity of, and access to, early care and education in the Washington region.  Click HERE to learn more.

Funders Work Together to Influence Local Early Childhood System

By Stacey Collins, PNC Foundation and Karen FitzGerald, The Meyer Foundation

sponsorship-fpo-2Six years ago, Washington Area Women’s Foundation launched the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative, an effort to bring together local and national funders to increase the quality and capacity of, and access to, early care and education in the Washington region.  We – Stacey Collins of PNC, and Karen FitzGerald of The Meyer Foundation – are pleased to serve as the Collaborative’s current co-chairs.

Many of us on the Collaborative have focused on the value of investing in early childhood for many years. However, early childhood issues have recently taken center stage in national conversations.  As a group of funders investing locally, we know that high-quality early care and education can help close the “readiness gap” for low-income children entering kindergarten.

We invest together through the Collaborative to influence systems-level change.  We seek to influence the quality and capacity of early care and education options, and to ensure that low-income families in our region have access to these options.  This year, our grants include local advocacy investments to preserve and increase public support for early care and education, and investments in the professional development of early care and education providers (to increase the quality and capacity of programs in our region, and to support the career advancement and earnings of the predominantly female workforce).

Beyond our grantmaking, how does working as a collaborative influence our individual approaches as funders and investors?

From my perspective, at PNC…

The collective voice is greater than our individual voices, even on the same topic. From feedback and advocacy to funding, the impact is greater when we work together.

As a collaborative effort, by design, we keep early childhood at the center of the conversation. We focus our investments around programs that create the biggest impact. It is not just about making more dollars available for quality childcare in the region, although that is important. It’s also about getting to know what influences, how trends and policies shift the way early childhood education (ECE) happens, and which organizations are on the cutting edge of driving those changes. Often, that means defining quality and really understanding what the programs we fund are doing to change the trajectory of ECE in the region.

I personally have learned so much from being a part of the Collaborative. It’s a group of smart and passionate advocates. Our discussions about program effectiveness, and how to assess that when no universal quality standard pre-K assessment tool exists, are a great way to learn from others. It’s an opportunity to delve into the “why” behind each other’s focus areas.

From my perspective, at The Meyer Foundation…

Pooling resources and focusing on the entire ECE system – rather than on individual child development centers – helps Meyer have a bigger impact in ECE than we would have through our individual grantmaking.  We fund some ECE work in our education program area, but we don’t focus on it.

The Collaborative gives us the chance to learn more about ECE from funders who know more about the issue than we do. We especially value the opportunity to work alongside corporate and family foundations, who share our commitment to the issue and whose different perspectives make for rich discussions and grant deliberations.

The Collaborative has elevated for us the issue of ECE quality so that it is now an important priority of our grantmaking in this area.

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Click here to learn more about the Collaborative.

The Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative currently includes: The Boeing Company, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, Fight for Children, Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, PNC Foundation, Washington Area Women’s Foundation, and Weissberg Foundation.