October 11th Is Not Just a Day, It’s A Movement…

Seven years ago, the United Nations deemed October 11 International Day of the Girl with the goal to “galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, promoting opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” Around the world, this day is recognized by a focus on advocacy related to issues that impact young women and girls and celebrations of the strength and enduring spirits of young women.

As a foundation focused on supporting the economic stability of women and girls in our region, The Women’s Foundation carries the intent of the Day of the Girl with us every day. It is the impetus behind all of our work, but our project that speaks most directly to the intent of October 11 is our Young Women’s Initiative (YWI), which is a District-wide effort to improve life outcomes and increase opportunities for cis and transgender young women of color and gender expansive youth of color between the ages of 12-24.

There are multiple facets to this exciting work that we have phased in systematically; First starting with listening sessions to hear directly from young women of color in DC about what they need and want in order to realize their life goals. Second, we launched a Young Women’s Advisory Council to formalize the feedback we received from young women of color and to serve as the guiding voice of the project. We, in partnership with the Young Women’s Advisory Council, hosted the GirlsLEAD Summit in March, which provided leadership and life skills workshops to 300 local young women.  And most recently, we released a Blueprint for Action, which takes the collective voice of several hundred young women and girls of color with whom we have engaged through YWI and puts forth their recommendations for an improved Washington, DC, that better supports their needs and ability to thrive.

Today, on this Day of the Girl 2018, we are excited to announce the launch of YWI’s Rock Star Fund. The Rock Star Fund will provide micro-grants to individual young women and girls to support their own leadership development and help them advance advocacy or community development projects in their neighborhoods and schools. We are piloting the Rock Star Fund this year by inviting attendees of the GirlsLEAD Summit to apply for up to $2,000 each to support their projects. The goal of the Rock Star Fund is exactly the goal of the Day of the Girl – to promote opportunities for young women and girls to show leadership.  Applicants will tell us what their leadership development needs are, and members of the Young Women’s Advisory Council well help select the Awardees. This is participatory grantmaking at it’s best – developed by young women of color, for young women of color, and led by young women of color.

While this year’s pilot will be by invitation only, we look forward to opening up applications more broadly in subsequent years. If you have questions about your eligibility for the Rock Star Fund this year, please contact Claudia Williams at cwilliams@wawf.org or call us at 202-347-7737. Applications are due on November 8, 2018.

 

 

Rainmakers Giving Circle Releases 2018-19 Request For Proposals

Rainmakers Giving Circle (“Rainmakers”) is pleased to issue a request for proposals for its 2018-19 grantmaking cycle from nonprofit organizations serving economically vulnerable girls and young women age 24 or – younger living in the District of Columbia, Prince George’s County, Maryland or Arlington County, Virginia.

The Rainmakers’ mission is to improve the lives of the Targeted Population by supporting programs that help them develop useful life skills, improve their self-esteem and achieve their full potential. More specifically, Rainmakers will award grants to programs (each, an “Eligible Program”) that make a compelling case that they will achieve one or more of the following impacts (collectively, the “Desired Program Impacts”):

• Encourage the development of confidence and self-esteem, healthy behaviors and the reduction of risk factors among members of the Targeted Population;

• Increase the competence of members of the Targeted Population in the areas of education, health, interpersonal relations, financial management, employment readiness and prospects, and/or other important life skills; and/or

Provide legal services for the purpose of preventing incarceration or loss of housing or to enhance employment or housing prospects;

All grant funds must exclusively benefit economically vulnerable girls and young women age 24 and younger who reside in the District of Columbia, Prince George’s County, Maryland, or Arlington County, Virginia. Grant funds may not be used for co-educational programs.

Proposals are due no later than Monday, December 3, 2018 at 5 p.m.

To learn more about the RFP, click here!

Towards a Thriving City: A Review of the District’s 2019 Budget for Girls, Women and Families of Color

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The recently adopted DC budget for 2019 takes important steps to address DC’s substantial racial and gender inequities, through notable investments in early education, schools, housing, and homeless services. At the same time, the new budget reminds us how far the city has to go, with funding changes that fell far short of what is really needed to increase the chances for low-income residents to reach their full potential. To ensure that economic opportunity is more evenly shared throughout DC, our policymakers will need to be much bolder with future budgets to invest in essential programs that support DC families. This will likely require the District’s leaders to identify new ways to raise revenues to make those investments.

This policy brief highlights the most significant changes affecting low-income residents, and particularly low-income women, girls and families of color. Where possible, we compare the progress with a measure of the full need.

DC’s Large Racial and Gender Inequities

National and local policies have systematically under-resourced and segregated communities of color in the District, creating longstanding economic and racial inequities that undercut the strength and vitality of our city. The average income of the top fifth of DC households is now 34 times larger than the bottom fifth ($320,000, compared to $9,000). Black median household income is now less than a third of the white median income, and Latinx median household income is only half the white median income.[1]

Economic and racial injustice are distinct and intertwined in DC. Nearly all of the 27,000 extremely low-income households in the District who face housing insecurity are headed by a person of color, as are most people experiencing homelessness.[i] Black students are disproportionately suspended, and only about a fifth of Black high school students test college and career ready.[ii] DC’s Latinx population continues to have the lowest rate of health insurance coverage rate among race and ethnic groups, in part because of onerous enrollment requirements for a DC health insurance program that primarily serves immigrants. Many low-income workers in the District, particularly workers of color, continue to be victims of wage theft, and the unemployment rate in predominately Black Ward 7 and Ward 8 remains higher than 10 percent.[iii]

Budgetary solutions to address these racial and economic inequalities also need to focus on gender and an analysis of the discriminatory practices and policies that disproportionately impact women. Women in the District are paid 86 cents for every dollar paid to men, which amounts to a $10,039 annual earnings gap. The inequity is even starker for women of color in the District: among those with full-time, year-round jobs, Black women are paid 53 cents and Latinas are paid 48 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.[iv] Inadequate government funding for the care and education of infants and toddlers, poor job conditions, and low wages all contribute to far too many women and girls living in poverty.  In DC, there are nearly 63,000 women and girls  in households with incomes lower than the federal poverty line—that’s about $21,000 for a family of three.

FY 2019 Budget:  Important Progress Toward Equity, but Much More Is Needed

There are many critical investments in the District’s 2019 budget that will help create a more equitable future for low-income residents, women and girls, and communities of color. But those investments fall short of ensuring equitable access to health care, funding critical affordable housing needs, maintaining our commitment to ending homelessness, and providing every child with the resources they need to succeed.

  • Universal Paid Family Leave: The District’s recently established paid family leave insurance program, set to start in 2020, will help DC residents remain financially stable by replacing part of their wages when they take time off to be with a new child or to deal with an illness. The program is designed to be especially helpful to low-wage workers, with benefits replacing 90 percent of wages. Good paid family leave benefits improve maternal and infant health outcomes, and enable women to keep their jobs and advance in their careers.[v] The 2019 budget fully funded start-up costs, allocating $5.6 million for implementation and $40 million in capital costs through 2023.
  • Early childhood operators who educate infants and toddlers in low-income families are not paid enough to fully cover the costs of providing the high-quality early care and education that every child deserves. The majority of DC’s early childhood educators are women of color, whose financial security and well-being is weakened by very low wages and limited employer-sponsored benefits, like health insurance or retirement plans.[vi] The FY 2019 budget includes a significant $10 million investment to bring funding for the District’s child care subsidy program a little closer truly covering the cost of high-quality care, improving learning environments for our youngest children and the adults who care for them.

What’s Still Missing: Much more is needed to align child care subsides with the real cost of care, and build a truly comprehensive support system for early childhood development in the District.

  • Affordable Housing: People of color, and particularly women of color, bear the brunt of DC’s affordable housing challenges. The District invests in two important programs to make housing more affordable: the Housing Production Trust Fund, which provides low-cost loans to help build and preserve affordable homes; and the Local Rent Supplement Program, which provides rental assistance that makes homes affordable to extremely low-income residents. The 2019 budget maintains a $100 million investment in the Housing Production Trust Fund, and adds $4.75 million in new funding for the Local Rent Supplement Program.

What’s Still Missing:  These increases, while important, will not substantially expand the availability of housing affordable to the city’s lowest-income residents; much larger investments are required. The District has completed or planned fewer than 3,000 rental units for extremely low-income residents since 2015—serving just a small fraction of the 27,000 such households facing severe rent burden.

  • Ending Homelessness: There are far too many District residents at risk of dying without the dignity of a home. The 2019 budget adds funding for Permanent Supportive Housing for 414 single adults experiencing chronic homelessness, and $2 million for Targeted Affordable Housing for about 110 individuals. Permanent Supportive Housing provides long term affordable housing and intensive case management. Targeted Affordable Housing provides long-term affordable housing. The budget also invests $5.3 million for Permanent Supportive Housing for 167 families with children, and $7.2 million for Targeted Affordable Housing for 347 families. New funding for youth homeless services including permanent housing, transitional housing, wrap-around medical services, shelter beds, after care and prevention totals $4.7 million. The budget also added $2.5 million to the create 83 new units of transitional housing for domestic violence survivors.

What’s Still Missing:  The 2019 budget addressed less than half of what’s needed to help all residents facing chronic homelessness.  Much more is needed to realize the goals of making homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring, and as a result, homelessness will continue to be a highly visible problem in DC. While the FY 2019 budget enhancement for transitional housing for domestic violence survivors increases the survivor housing inventory by 52 percent, the total inventory falls far short of what is needed.

  • Family Income Support: This past April, the District implemented a policy that eliminates the time limit in DC’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which were passed one year ago as part of the 2018 budget. This protected 6,000 families from losing all income assistance and ensures, going forward, that all parents will have resources to care for their children. As part of this change, families also received a substantial increase in their cash assistance benefits, which had been around $160 a month to a family of three. The city’s 2019 budget includes funding to increase benefits for all families by 11.8 percent. A family of three will see their benefits increase from $576 per month to $644.
  • Health Care Coverage: Having health insurance protects families from escalating medical debt after an illness or an injury, and improves health outcomes for DC residents. Moreover, as more people have health coverage, it helps maintain affordability for everyone else. The budget includes $1.1 million to implement a District-wide insurance requirement for health coverage that will require most District taxpayers and their dependents to maintain health coverage unless they qualify for an exemption. The requirement will largely mirror the previous federal “mandate” before it was repealed in late 2017 and will help protect insurance coverage affordability and prevent more residents from becoming uninsured.

What’s Still Missing: The District continue to keep in place an onerous enrollment requirement in its DC Healthcare Alliance Program, which provides health insurance primarily to immigrants ineligible for Medicaid. The burdensome enrollment process is keeping thousands of eligible residents from accessing care. Legislation to reverse this requirement, which would improve health care coverage for DC’s immigrant residents, has been adopted but was not funded in the FY 2019 budget.

  • School Health Services: The trauma of living in prolonged stressful environments can lead to developmental challenges and exacerbate the systemic inequities that many children of color already face growing up in the nation’s capital. The 2019 budget increases funding for school-based mental health by $3 million and maintains $1 million to continue the New Heights program that supports students who are pregnant or parenting. DC leaders also added $4.4 million to support the School Health Services Program and ensure that all DCPS and public charter schools have registered nurses or licensed practical nurses on staff full-time.

One in six District youth suffer from emotional, behavioral, or developmental conditions, yet only one-third of DCPS and public charter schools have full-time mental health clinicians. [vii] Greater investments are still needed to provide trauma-informed health services in schools, neighborhoods and child development centers, particularly for LGBTQ students and students of color. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual high school students consider suicide at a rate 2.75 times higher than heterosexual peers; for transgender students the rate is 3.2 times higher.[viii] High school Latinas consider suicide at a rate 3.5 times higher than white classmates.[ix]

PreK-12 Education: The District does not invest enough resources to provide every student with an excellent education, particularly low-income students and students of color. The 2019 budget makes some significant investments in education, partially addressing this under-funding. The increases include: fully funding special education reforms adopted in 2014, including supporting infants and toddlers with developmental delays, faster evaluations for families, and enhanced transition planning for special education students completing high school; doubling funding for Community School partnerships to turn more schools into community-serving hubs; and increasing summer and after school (out-of-school-time) programs by $10.6 million, reversing budget cuts that have greatly limited access to these programs for low-income students in recent years. The budget also increases the ‘at-risk’ weight in the DC Public School and Public Charter School funding formula, designating $2 million more for supplemental supports for low-income students. And the budget increases the base level of funding for DCPS and public charter schools by 3.9 percent, from $10,257 to $10,658 per-student.

But both per-student funding and supplemental funding for low-income students are still far lower than expert recommendations.

  • Workforce Development: The number of private-sector jobs in the city grew by 27 percent between 2000 and 2016[x], but this rapid pace of job creation has not translated into wage growth for all workers. Instead, wages earned by the lowest-wage DC workers have barely changed in the last decade. Most low-wage workers in the District are women of color. Because women of color are more likely to support children on their own, low salaries disproportionately limit their economic wellbeing.[xi] To ensure that the city’s ongoing growth benefits the DC residents and workers who have been left behind, the 2019 budget dedicates $1.5 million to Career Pathways Innovation Fund and increases money for adult education programs that serve low-literacy adults by $500,000.
  • Metro: DC residents, particularly low-income residents, often rely on public transportation to get to work, buy groceries and accompany their children to school. The breakdowns in service in recent years affect residents’ ability to keep a job or keep up in class. The 2019 budget funds DC’s annual $178 million commitment to a regional funding stream (Maryland and Virginia have pledged $167 million and $154 million respectively.

The city is also taking steps to remedy distressing economic and racial inequities through progressive legislation. The 2019 budget includes some funding for critical new legislation:

  • Phasing Out Harmful School Discipline Practices: When schools rely on exclusionary discipline –such as suspensions—students miss lessons, fall behind upon return, and are more likely to drop out. The Student Fair Access to School legislation adopted this year steers schools away from exclusionary school discipline practices, including out-of-school suspension, which disproportionately hurts students of color and special education students. To support this legislation, the budget invests in the newly established School Safety and Positive School Climate Fund, which includes at least $450,000 new dollars for Restorative Justice Models that better address the root causes of disruptive behavior.

What’s Still Missing: Larger investments are still needed to fully implement the legislation.

  • Comprehensive Supports for Infants and Toddlers: The groundbreaking Birth to Three For All DC legislation passed this year builds on the success of DC’s universal pre-K3 and pre-K4, by focusing on better serving our infants and toddlers with a comprehensive approach. The legislation calls for fully funding DC’s child care subsidy program, raising compensation for early educators, and improving access to health services and supports for families. The 2019 budget commits $1.3 million to seed key components of the legislation, including additional home visiting, the development of a salary scale for early educators, expansion of the Healthy Steps pediatric model, and on-site classes for early educators earning higher credentials. The $1.3 million is financed through an increase to the District’s tobacco tax, which will help reduce tobacco use among DC’s youth over time and improve population health.

What’s Still Missing: Far more funding is needed to fully implement the important reforms in this legislation, rising to about $500 million ten years from now.

  • Ensuring DC Government Construction Projects Create Good Jobs: (PLAs) are single-site collective bargaining agreements between building trade unions and project contractors that govern the conditions of employment for all craft labor on a construction project. Developers often enter PLAs with unions because they promote quality, safety, timely delivery and cost efficiency. The 2019 budget funds legislation requiring that all DC government building projects valued at more than $75 million are built under a project labor agreement There are many jobs that come into the city via economic development subsidies. Female workers dominate the city’s growing leisure and hospitality industry, more specifically the industry is dominated by women of color. When the District has the opportunity to attach high quality job standards to projects receiving subsidies, the District should do so. This could dramatically improve the quality of life for many female workers in the District. The District should also continue to strengthen its workforce development systems so that women who matriculate through job training programs receive quality jobs after completion.
  • Defending Access to Women’s Health Care Services: Federal threats to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) jeopardize the law’s critical improvements toward women’s health coverage and benefits.  The FY 2019 budget includes $107,000 to fund recent Council legislation that requires DC insurers to cover certain health care services for women under the ACA without cost-sharing, including breast cancer screening and counseling, contraception, screenings for HIV, and counseling for sexually transmitted diseases.

Looking Ahead at What’s Needed to Create a Fully Equitable Budget

The progress made in this year’s DC budget reflects an acknowledgement by DC’s leaders of the tremendous gender and racial inequities in our community, and a commitment to address them.  Yet the many places where the new investments in the fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget fall short show that the District lacks the resources necessary to meet the needs of DC residents. If we continue down this path, we will make small incremental changes each year to reduce inequities —but not get anywhere close to eliminating  them.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Leveraging our strong economy, vibrant population, and unprecedented prosperity can give us the tools we need to make investments that are scaled to the size of our needs.  In particular, the District’s leaders should look to raising new revenues in a progressive way—from the households and businesses benefiting the most from the city’s strong economy—and using those revenues to strengthen essential programs that support girls, women, and families in the District.

On September 28th, Washington Area Women’s Foundation released our Young Women’s Initiative’s Blueprint for Action, which presents recommendations for a DC that better supports and embraces the strength of young women of color. The Blueprint represents the collective voice of more than 200 local young women of color and provides guidance for policymakers, government entities, community based organizations, school districts, and funders on how to address the challenges identified by young women in the District.

As we consider DC Fiscal Policy Institute’s budget analysis with a focus on girls, women, and families of color, we invite you to consider their fiscal recommendations alongside the recommendations of young women directly, as outlined in the Blueprint and seize this moment as an opportunity to work toward lasting change for young women in DC.

Read the full Blueprint for Action here. If you have questions about how your organization can utilize the Blueprint’s recommendations, please reach out to us at programs@wawf.org or 202-347-7737.


[i] Claire Zippel, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, “Building the Foundation: A Blueprint for Creating Affordable Housing for DC’s Lowest-Income Residents,” 2018.

The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness, “2018 Point-in-Time Count of Persons Experiencing Homelessness in the District of Columbia.”

[ii] Office of the State Superintendent of Education: “State of Discipline 2016- 2017 School Year”; 2016 – 2017 PARCC Scores

[iii] 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table S1701, https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF

[iv] National Partnership for Women and Families, “DC Women and the Wage Gap

[v] National Center for Children in Poverty, “Paid Family Leave: Strengthening Families and Our Future,” http://www.nccp.org/publications/pdf/text_1059.pdf

[vi] Early Childhood Educator Compensation in the Washington Region, Urban Institute, April 2018.

[vii] Kwarciany, J. (2017, September 25). Back to School: Focusing on Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.dcfpi.org/all/back-to-school-focusing-on-mental-health/

[viii] Office of the State Superintendent of Education Government of the District of Columbia, Mental Health Fact Sheet (2017) https://osse.dc.gov/node/1351701

[ix] Office of the State Superintendent of Education Government of the District of Columbia, Mental Health Fact Sheet (2017) https://osse.dc.gov/node/1351701

[x] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S Department of Labor Current Employment Statistics Survey (2000-2016) https://www.bls.gov/ces/

[xi] Katherine Richard, “The Wealth Gap for Women of Color,” Center for Global Policy Solutions, October 2014, https://globalpolicysolutions.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Wealth-Gap-for-Women-of-Color.pdf.

 

New Report: Blueprint For Action

The Blueprint represents the collective voice of more than 250 young women, policymakers, philanthropists, scholars, service providers, and government officials, and provides guidance for policymakers, government entities, community based organizations, school districts, and funders on how to address challenges identified by young women of color living in the District.

The recommendations included in the Blueprint will guide our research, grantmaking, and advocacy, and we look forward to collaborating with young women and members of the community to implement these recommendations.

We invite you to read the Blueprint for Action following this link https://wawf.org/BlueprintForAction 

If you have questions or comments about the report or the Young Women’s Initiative, please reach out to Claudia Williams at cwilliams@wawf.org

Let Your Voice Be Heard Today!

Let your voice be heard today by helping us with two surveys!

Are you a young woman of color between the ages of 12 and 24 years old in DC? Please help us understand what issues you care about in your neighborhood and what solutions you would like to see by answering this short survey: https://wawf.org/GirlsLEADSurvey

Are you a practitioner, researcher or advocate in DC? Please help us understand what you think are the most pressing issues affecting young women and girls age 12-24 and what solutions you would like to see by answering this short survey: https://wawf.org/YWISurvey

Having your input is critical to effecting positive and lasting change!

After completing the survey(s) by June 15th, participants can enter a name for a chance to win a $100 gift card from Amazon!

The survey results, will help to inform the work of the Young Women’s Initiative going forward and help inform our 2018 Recommendation Report.

We would greatly appreciate if you could share the survey with your networks of young women!

Future-Focused Philanthropy: Investing in the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative

For the past six years, I had the privilege of serving alongside the region’s most distinguished funding professionals via the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative (Collaborative), housed under Washington Area Women’s Foundation. It was a true bright spot in my 10+ years working in the CSR space and on education-related issues while at The Boeing Company. As I turn a new page in my career, allow this outgoing chair to offer a few reflections on why the Collaborative remains one of the soundest investments available to future-focused funders.

The Collaborative is a force-multiplier for good. A collection of top regional foundations and corporate funders, the Collaborative creates a coordinated system of philanthropic resources to improve access to high-quality early care and education (ECE) for low income families. Funders contribute a modest investment, pool it with the other members and collectively determine where to allocate investments. Working as a team, the Collaborative greatly extends the scale of impact individual funders have on their own. And for many foundations that may be considering a first foray into the ECE field, it’s hard to find a better vehicle that will expand your reach, and your knowledge-base, so easily.

The Collaborative is driving real progress on substantial systemic changes across the region. At a macro level over the past three years alone, the Collaborative leveraged over $37M toward high quality early education interventions and, through partners, influenced nine policy changes to better strengthen safety and affordability. Through strong leadership at the Women’s Foundation, the Collaborative is applying a racial equity lens to these investments.  Additionally, the Collaborative is spearheading the regional effort to create a consistent strategy on workforce development for ECE providers, which is backed by the National Academy of Sciences. The Collaborative is facilitating the dialogue between the region’s policy developers, enabling them to align their goals and build a cooperative workforce plan. Given the mobility of the region’s talent and market pressures on wage growth, consistent policies on competencies and credentialing will be greatly needed.

The Collaborative offers members a real leadership platform. The public is demanding more from our ECE sector. That’s a good thing. But the sector remains grossly under-resourced and underappreciated, even from the philanthropy community. Dollar for dollar, ECE investments offer the most effective use of education funding, mitigating the need for costly interventions later in the K-12 pipeline. Working through the Collaborative, membership provides a real opportunity for companies and other brand-conscious foundations seeking differentiation and impact. The Collaborative provides numerous vehicles for member entities to showcase their efforts in this space. And collectively, given the leadership and composition of the members, it represents one of the strongest voices from the funding community on ECE issues.

I look forward to seeing the Collaborative’s continued accomplishments in the months to come. And I hope to see more bright minds and diverse perspectives from the region’s top companies and foundations at this unique funder table. Only then will we really move outcomes forward for young children and families.

–Tom Bartlett, Former Co-Chair of the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative.

Tom Bartlett was the Senior Manager for Boeing Global Engagement and Co-Chair of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative. Together with his partner, he is launching a new impact investing firm aimed at helping more non-profits access impact capital. Working with investors, donors and non-profits, they seek to unite unexpected allies in the creation of social change.

 

Testimony In Support of the Student Fair Access to School Act of 2017 | January 30, 2018

Good Afternoon, my name is C. Nicole Mason, and I am the Vice President of Programs at the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, home to the Young Women’s Initiative–our city-wide effort to improve life outcomes and chances for young women and girls of color in the District. As a part of Young Women’s Initiative, I also facilitate the Young Women’s Advisory Council, a bi-weekly group made up of 21 young women and girls of color between the ages of 12-24 that reside in the City.

Needless to say, I have a personal interest in making sure that every child regardless of her race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status is in the best position to succeed and have her social, emotional and educational needs met while in school, and on a daily basis. Currently, this is not the case.

As you know, In-school disciplinary actions and suspension rates among Black and Latina girls and young women are alarmingly high compared to other girls in the District. Black girls are nine times more likely to receive at least one out-of-school suspension, compared to non-Black girls. Less than 0.2 percent of White, non-Hispanic girls in DC receive an out-of-school suspension.

When the Student Fair Access to School Act of 2017 was introduced by Council Member Grosso, we at the Foundation believed it was an opportunity for the City to address glaring disparities in out-of-school suspensions, create uniform standards across District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), encourage positive approaches and the use of evidence-based and promising practices to discipline in schools, and to curb out-of-school suspensions for minor offenses.

Passing the legislation would put the City on a path to increased educational parity and equity for the most vulnerable students in our system.

When I discussed the bill with our Young Women’s Advisory Board, they were fully supportive of the legislation. Of the 21 girls on the Council, more than half reported that they had been suspended once or more; many for minor infractions ranging from dress code violations to talking back to a school official. Most of the young women that had been suspended believed they had very little recourse to dispute the suspension and struggled, in some instances, with the arbitrary enforcement of rules.

One story from our meeting relayed by one of our Fellows was truly heartbreaking and strikes at the core of why I believe this legislation is so urgent and necessary. One of our Fellows, now a recent graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and current DCPS school teacher was suspended for bringing a knife to school when she was in the 12th grade. When she went through the metal detector at her school in the District, the alarm sounded and her backpack was searched.

Upon further investigation, it was revealed that she was homeless, and worked nights at a local Burger King restaurant. Most nights she would get off work extremely late, and carried the knife for protection as she made her way from Burger King to the local shelter where she lived. She forgot to remove the knife from her backpack before school. Rather than expel her, she was given a 10-day suspension.

I think we have to ask ourselves, was this just? Knowing the situation, could there have been an alternative that would have kept her in school and engaged? More importantly, how can we work to ensure that we are meeting the needs of students and not applying a one size fits all solution to a problem that is multi-layered and complex? I believe the Student Fair Access to School Act of 2017 helps us do just that.

Thank you for this opportunity to submit this testimony.

 

Forward Together: A Reflection on the Impact of the First 100 Days of the Trump Administration on Low-income Girls, Women and Families

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April 29th marks President Trump’s 100th day in office. Washington Area Women’s Foundation releases a report that summarizes action impacting women and families.

“According to the White House press office, the President has signed 30 executive orders, used the Congressional Review Act 13 times to review and overturn federal regulations that went into effect under the Obama Administration and enacted 28 laws during the first 100 days of his Administration. These actions include the revocation of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, a measure that strengthens protections against workplace discrimination and another order that, if it had gone into effect, would have limited immigration and travel to the United States for targeted groups.

In addition to the legislative and executive branch actions that could create barriers for women and girls, the Administration’s appointees do not have a history of promoting women and girls. On January 31, 2017, the President nominated 10th Circuit Federal Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. In his rulings, Judge Gorsuch denied protections for pregnant women and sided with corporations in their efforts to deny women access to the full range of reproductive health care services. Judge Gorsuch was confirmed to the highest court in the land on April 7, 2017.

From high rates of poverty to food insecurity to disproportionately high rates of unemployment compared to other groups of women, low-income girls, women and families face multiple barriers to building their longterm economic security and accessing opportunity. As such, in this current political moment, it will be critical to work across communities to ensure that policies enacted at the federal level do not have a disproportionate impact on these populations.”

Read and download the report here.

The Time is Always Right To Do What’s Right…

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Next week, we will not only celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but we will recognize the inaugural National Day of Racial Healing, and bear witness to both a peaceful transition of power with the inauguration of our 45th President and the mobilization of several hundred thousand women and girls for the Women’s March on Washington. And all within the third week of 2017. As I reflect on the historic significance of it all, a quote by Dr. King comes to mind:

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

Well, that time is now.

Over the last two months, I have been a part of many private and public conversations with friends, family, and colleagues, and I’ve closely watched the public discourse around how we move forward as a country. The divisiveness we see and feel, the name calling and complete disregard for civilized debate, and the general sense that we are being pitted against one another has left many at a loss for how to move forward. As a leader, I’ve been forced to confront my own uncertainties, fears, and discomfort around the task before me as I continue to fight for women and girls, but it was a simple conversation with my 17 year-old daughter that moved me to action. Last week, she said to me, “Mommy,” (yes, at 17 she will still on occasion call me mommy), “I don’t feel like I have a voice, and I don’t know what to do.” My own daughter, the girl I’ve very consciously raised to be a strong, independent feminist, was at a loss, and her words were a wake-up call for me.

“The time is always right to do what is right.” And so I’m pushing my fears and uncertainties to the side, and I’m diving in with everything I’ve got because I never want to hear those words from any woman or girl ever again.

We have a voice, and we are powerful. It’s how we choose to harness our voice and power in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead that matters. We cannot be overwhelmed by the tasks at hand. There are actions each of us can take in our daily lives to make a difference.

  • Make an effort to understand opinions and beliefs that are different from yours. Read books and articles that explore different opinions and perspectives. Seek out media outlets and journalists that you may not necessarily follow. Have meaningful conversations with the friend, neighbor, or colleague with whom you may disagree.
  • Get involved locally. Feel passionate about an issue in your community? Get involved and learn more. Find the organization leading the charge on the issue and get connected. Attend local government meetings or hearings on the issue you care about. Connect with your local women’s commission. Volunteer.
  • Become politically active at the local level. Regardless of your political affiliation, become informed about races happening in your own backyard. Learn more about the candidates and their positions. Attend events and voice your opinion and concerns. Support the development of the next generation of political leadership. Consider running for office.
  • Use your voice. Speak up when you see a wrong that needs to be righted, whether it’s in your neighborhood, your school or your workplace. Write your local political leaders. Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed.

The New Year brings with it a sense of optimism and the idea that one can wipe the slate clean and start anew, whether that means you resolve to eat better, spend more time taking care of yourself, learn something new, etc. This year, I did not make a New Year’s resolution. Why? Because I am resolved that my resolution is not simply year-long but lifelong. At no time in my short 44 years have I been more resolved and committed to fighting for a fairer and more just and equitable community for women and girls than I am today, and I urge you to do the same. Our women and girls deserve nothing less.

Yes, the time is always right to do what is right.

Washington Region Early Care and Education Workforce Network Implementation Plan For Competency-Based Career Pathways

ABOUT THIS IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

This plan was prepared by FSG through the generous support of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation and its Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative.

FSG

FSG is a mission-driven consulting firm supporting leaders in creating large-scale, lasting social change. Through strategy, evaluation, and research we help many types of actors — individually and collectively — make progress against the world’s toughest problems. Our teams work across all sectors by partnering with leading foundations, businesses, nonprofits, and governments in every region of the globe.

We seek to reimagine social change by identifying ways to maximize the impact of existing resources, amplifying the work of others to help advance knowledge and practice, and inspiring change agents around the world to achieve greater impact.

Washington Area Women’s Foundation

Washington Area Women’s Foundation is the only public foundation dedicated to increasing resources and opportunities for women and girls in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. We mobilize our community to ensure that economically vulnerable women and girls in the Washington region have the resources they need to thrive.

Washington Area Women’s Foundation established the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative in 2008, as a multi-year, multi-million dollar collective funding effort. The Collaborative is supported and directed by corporate funders and local and national foundations.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In April of 2015, the National Academy of Medicine and the National Research Council released a report, Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation, that is both ambitious and visionary in its recommendations for how to transform the workforce and systems that serve children from birth through age 8, or third grade.

To catalyze implementation of the report’s recommendations, the National Academy led a national “Implementation Network” of states across the country working to implement recommendations from the report. Our Washington Region Early Care & Education Workforce Network formed as one of the initial state networks, representing different sectors in early care and education (“ECE”) as well as the geographies of Maryland (Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties), Virginia (Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax Counties), and Washington, D.C. Our region decided to form a team based on the unique needs in our region, including better serving our multi-cultural immigrant population with high numbers of dual language learners; embracing that the ECE workforce in our region is highly transient across state lines and thus could benefit from transferable credentials and compensation levels; and counteracting the lack of connectedness to a valued profession and to peers in ECE.

Our project purpose: “Mapping competency-based career pathways that are linked to quality and compensation and can be used across the region” will result in two concrete, connected deliverables:

Deliverable 1: 

Career pathways document

·   Document based on existing ECE professional credential/knowledge/competency frameworks in our region that establishes a practical and common set of quality standards for competencies at different levels, including suggested compensation levels, that are linked to identified competencies.

Deliverable 2:

Blueprint for an implementation mechanism

·   Certification/credential process that assesses and verifies competencies among the region’s ECE professionals according to the competency levels defined in the career pathways document and that establishes suggested compensation levels that correspond to the certification/credential.
Initial feedback on this project has been gathered from dozens of ECE stakeholders in the region and overall this idea has been met with a positive response. Developing the final deliverables, ideally over the course of 12 months, will require a highly collaborative process of further engaging stakeholders in the region. Moreover, research will be conducted to better understand how to create a career pathways document that is clear and user-friendly; what the competencies should be at each level of the pathway; how the competencies can be assessed and verified by a third party; and what the cost and benefit will be of achieving compensation commensurate with demonstrated competencies.In order for these deliverables to be used in practice, the region will need to create supporting infrastructure, for example shared services and practices related to substitutes, mentors, and/or benefits administration. This project will explore the feasibility of this kind of supporting infrastructure.

For the thousands of dedicated ECE professionals in our region, we hope this project will result in greater awareness of where they are on the career pathway; greater ability to engage in continuous improvement of their competencies; increased compensation and compensation alignment among early education and learning settings; and greater connectedness to a valued profession and to peers. This is in service of the ultimate outcome of this work: children in the region benefit from high quality early childhood experiences that foster positive learning and development.

 

DOWNLOAD AND READ THE FULL IMPLEMENTATION PLAN HERE.