Washington Area Women’s Foundation Weekly

In this week’s roundup of news affecting women and girls in our community: We wonder what Dr. King might say about the high rate of poverty among women and girls in the DC area.  The top five findings of 2011 from the Institute of Women’s Policy Research.  The impact of Pre-K on the achievement gap.  Is it time for a poverty revolution?  Plus, a young, aspiring scientist is headed for a national competition as her family deals with homelessness.

— Ahead of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, Women’s Foundation President Nicky Goren visits the MLK Memorial and reflects on what Dr. King would think about more than 200,000 women and girls living in poverty in the DC region.

— The Women’s Foundation is inviting supporters to join us and volunteer at A Wider Circle on MLK Day.  Click here for details.

— The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) — a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner — has posted a list of their top five findings of 2011. Topics on the list include how women have fared during the economic recovery, the unmet child care needs of student parents and how much paid sick days would save taxpayers.

East of the River Magazine explores the innovative work of AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School.  The article also takes a look at the impact a quality Pre-K education can have on the achievement gap.  AppleTree is a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner.

— “In the fight against poverty, it’s time for a revolution,” David Bornstein writes in a commentary on The New York Times website. Bornstein calls for re-defining poverty, restructuring how social services are handled, and focusing on collaborative, long-term solutions.

— Here’s your feel great story of the week: a 17-year-old Long Island high school student whose family had to move into a homeless shelter a year ago is a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search competition.  Samantha Garvey says she doesn’t have the best home life, but she hopes that she made her parents proud by being one of just 300 students nationwide to participate in the semifinals of the competition.  You can watch her story here:

Careers for Women: A Key to Economic Recovery

IMG_0096Last month, The Women’s Foundation was among a group of organizations and individuals invited to an important discussion about women and the economy held by the White House Council on Women and Girls.  Created by President Obama in 2009, the Council works to ensure that federal agencies are taking the needs of women and girls into account as they draft policies and create programs.

At the briefing on women and the economy, we got a sobering look at how women have been impacted by the recession and recovery.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that administration officials say jobs will be the key to all of us – women and men – recovering successfully.

Dr. Judith Hellerstein of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers explained that working women have been concentrated in industries that fared better at the beginning of the recession.  Since the recovery began, however, industries where women are concentrated (e.g., the public sector) have not fared as well.  Dr. Hellerstein added that African American women and Latinas have faced the highest increase in unemployment rates and African American women continue to lose jobs drastically.

So what are the jobs that will help women get onto successful career pathways now and into the future?

“Women have to think green,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.  “Green is going to be the future.”

Secretary Solis said that 2.7 million jobs have already been created in the green sector.  She also said that more women need to be exploring careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Dr. Rebecca Blank from the U.S. Department of Congress told us that STEM jobs are growing faster than other sectors and pay 26% more; however women and people of color are enormously underrepresented in the field:

  • 24% of STEM workers are women;
  • 6% of STEM workers are black;
  • 6% of STEM workers are Hispanic.

So why do fewer women enter a growing field that pays well?  Dr. Blank said that while women are more likely than men to go to college, they are much less likely to enter college prepared for STEM studies.  She suggested that positive attention focused on science and math for girls beginning at an early age would benefit them from elementary school into their careers.

“Girls can do science and math, have great fun doing it and contribute to the world!” Dr. Blank said.

There are many fantastic organizations right here in our community that are working to prepare girls and women for these types of careers.  The Campagna Center, for example, used a grant from Washington Area Women’s Foundation’s Rainmakers Giving Circle to start a program that encourages students at T.C. Williams High School to explore STEM careers.  The Latinas Empowered to Achieve their Potential (LEAP) program helps students improve their leadership skills, learn more about topics like physics, and conduct their own experiments.

Goodwill of Greater Washington – another Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner – holds green construction classes for adults through the Green Pathway DC program.  The 10-week pre-apprenticeship program includes four weeks of green construction training and three weeks of weatherization, green advantage or smart meter installation.

“We’ve seen an increase in women coming through the program.  There was a time when there weren’t any women and now we’re seeing three or four,” Latoria Strickland told me last year.  Latoria is a senior career trainer with Green Pathway DC.

Our Grantee Partner Year Up also takes a hands-on approach, training young people for internships and jobs in Information/Technology.  In addition to practical lessons in IT, Year Up helps young people think about career pathways.girl at computer

“My internship phase allowed me to meet with the head of my company and collaborate with them,” said Kimberly Holloway, a recent graduate who now works for a cyber intelligence company.  “It really opened up a lot of opportunities for me financial-wise and professionally.”

Programs like these are setting up women and their families to have brighter futures.  By providing women and girls with the resources that will enable them to enter career pathways with stability, benefits and family-sustaining pay, we’re making investments in the economic well-being of our entire community.

Dr. Adriana Kugler, chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor summed it up best: “By helping women, we’re helping the entire country.”

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

In today’s rundown: The new poverty measurement finds Latinos to be the poorest group in the U.S.  It’s going to cost an additional $5 to feed your family at Thanksgiving this year.  And discounted broadband services for low income families starting next summer.

— The new supplemental poverty measure released by the U.S. Census Bureau earlier this week finds that Latinos are the poorest group of Americans, according to DCentric. The new measure puts the nationwide Latino poverty rate at 28 percent.  The official measurement finds that African Americans have the highest poverty rate in the country.

— The cost of Thanksgiving dinner is on the rise, reports the Virginia Farm Bureau.  This year, feeding a group of 10 adults turkey, side dishes and dessert will cost $48.03.  That’s nearly $5 more than last year, reports WAMU.

— A free health education text messaging service aimed at medically under-served women is reaching a number of goals, according to the White House Council on Women and Girls’ blog. Text4Baby sends three text messages per week to subscribers with information on doctor’s visits, immunization and Medicaid.

— Cable companies around the country will begin offering discounted services to families with an annual income of $29,055 or less, reports DCentric. Cutting costs will make having the internet more affordable to low income residents.

Income, Poverty & Insurance: What the New Census Report Means for Our Community

RandomSamplingsYesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau released the new report Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010. The report found that in 2010, the median household income declined 2.3 percent to $49,445; the poverty rate rose to 15.1 percent, with 46.2 million people living in poverty; and the percentage of people without health insurance remained steady from 2009.

Since its release, The Women’s Foundation staff has been combing through the 87 page report, looking at the local impact, particularly on women-headed families.

“The big takeaway is that the number of female-headed households with related children under 18 living in poverty rose to 40.7 percent,” says Gwen Rubinstein, program officer at The Women’s Foundation.  “That’s compared to an 8.8 percent poverty rate for married-couple households.”

The median income for women-headed families decreased by 3.3 percent, from $33,135 to $32,031.

Rubinstein also notes that:

  • 19.9% of DC residents were living in poverty in 2010, compared to 17.9% in 2009;
  • DC has the third-highest poverty rate in the nation (behind Mississippi at 22.7% and Louisiana at 21.6%);
  • the poverty rate in Maryland rose from 9.6% in 2009 to 10.8% in 2010;
  • the poverty rate in Virginia did not change;
  • median income has stagnated across our region;
  • and, the percentage of Virginia residents without health insurance rose from 12.6% in 2009 to 14.1% in 2010.

Washington Area Women’s Foundation will be working with Grantee Partner The Urban Institute to continue to review and interpret data from the new report and provide updates on the ways in which these statistics impact our community and what they mean for our work.  Stay tuned for more… and to review the report yourself, please click here.

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

After a holiday hiatus, your headline hungry daily rundowner is back and ready to bring you the most important women and girls’ news in 2011.  In today’s rundown: The posse that goes to college together. | Tax season volunteer opportunities. | Recognition for those who advance human rights in northern Virginia.

The DC EITC Campaign is accepting volunteers for the tax season.  This campaign to raise awareness for the Earned Income Tax Credit provides free tax preparation services and financial support to low-income DC residents.  Click here for details and to sign up.

A “posse” of local high school students has received full-tuition college scholarships.  The Posse Foundation gave 62 students more than $8 million in scholarships.  Groups of 10 students (a posse) will go to top colleges together.  NBC Washington has the details.

The Fairfax County Human Rights Commission is now accepting nominations for its 33rd Annual Human Rights Awards. The awards recognize businesses, nonprofits and individuals who advanced human rights in Fairfax County last year.  Submissions are due by February 28th. (via WAMU)

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

In today’s rundown: The expanding income gap in D.C. | Economic insecurity may be affecting a majority of Americans. | And tea time provides valuable lessons for local teen girls.

— Washington, DC is one of the national leaders in income growth, reports The New York Times. But the economic boom is leaving a gaping disparity in income with “unemployment for residents with only a high school diploma more than” doubling to 19 percent, the highest in 30 years.  The article cites information from the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner.

— “For most Americans, economic insecurity seems to be the rule rather than the exception,” according to Philanthropy News Digest. The information comes from a new report that takes a look at how economic insecurity affects the well-being of Americans.

The Washington Post reports on the High Tea Society, a group that teaches teen girls in D.C. responsibility, finance and cultural awareness.  The girls in the program hope to start a tea catering company.

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

Today’s rundown is all about breaking through the glass ceiling… Plus, the homeless man who is an activist for the homeless.

— Today, Good Morning America aired a segment on why women are having trouble breaking through the “glass ceiling.”  The answer — according to GMA — is that women need more mentors or professional sponsors.  Here’s the video explaining why mentors could make a $10,000 difference in salary:

— And The George Washington University’s Kathy Korman Frey explains why you should have a very specific number of mentors on the Hot Mommas blog.

— Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner Thrive DC is mentioned in this Washington Post article about a homeless man who is reaching out to thousands and advocating for the homeless via social media.

IWPR's Top 5 Findings of 2010

IWPR LogoThe Institute for Women’s Policy Research (a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner) has released the top five findings that their rigorous data analysis has revealed in the past year.

1. The recent recession was not predominantly a “mancession.”

While men represented the majority of job losses during the recession, IWPR’s research shows that single mothers were almost twice as likely as married men to be unemployed.  Another IWPR briefing paper examines how the “Great Recession” was an equal opportunity disemployer, doubling nearly every demographic group’s unemployment rate.  In many families, women increasingly became the primary breadwinner, but they still spent more time in unpaid household labor than men.  This imbalance of effort at home persists whether men are employed or not.

2. Only 12 percent of single mothers in poverty receive cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

In the briefing paper, “Women in Poverty During the Great Recession,” IWPR shows that the numbers of single mothers in poverty receiving TANF assistance varies in the states.  In Louisiana, only four percent of single mothers in poverty have TANF assistance.  While in Washington, DC, the jurisdiction where impoverished mothers have the highest enrollment, still only 40 percent of single mothers receive any cash assistance through TANF.

3. Community colleges would need to increase the supply of child care on campus at least 10-fold to meet the current needs of students.

More than one-quarter of the students at community colleges have children, yet the supply of child care on campus does not meet the current needs of students.  For many student parents, community college is an avenue to better jobs that allow them to support their families.  As part of IWPR’s current project on post-secondary education, IWPR released a face sheet in June, which noted that the proportion of community colleges providing on-campus care for the children of students decreased between 2001 and 2008, despite the great need.

4. Young women are now less likely to work in the same jobs as men.

Reversing the progress made by earlier cohorts of young women entering the labor market, younger women today are now less likely to work in traditionally male and integrated occupations, which tend to pay better than traditionally female occupations.  When told that traditionally male occupations pay more, women receiving workforce training said they would choose the higher paying job.  In addition, women earn less than men in all but four of 108 occupational categories including in occupations — such as nursing and teaching — where women represent the majority of workers.

5. The majority of all likely voters support paid sick days.

IWPR’s new study shows that, while 69 percent of likely voters — including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — endorse laws to provide paid sick days, two-fifths of all private sector workers lack this benefit.  IWPR’s research also shows that preventing workplace contagion of communicable diseases — such as influenza or H1N1 — by providing paid sick days will save employers and the US economy millions of dollars.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women, promote public dialogue, and strengthen families, communities, and societies.  Learn more by visiting the IWPR blog at: http://iwprfemchat.wordpress.com/

No Suffering in D.C.? Wake Up, Congress!

Allen WestThis weekend, U.S. Representative-elect Allen West (R-FL) made some comments on Meet the Press that were incredibly frustrating in their inaccuracy and divisiveness.  He was responding to a question from anchor David Gregory about Bush-era tax cuts.  Here’s part of the transcript from NBC:

MR. GREGORY: The — Congressman, the — on the issue of tax cuts , do you buy the president’s argument, “Look, let’s extend those Bush -era tax cuts for the middle class first, then we can come back and do the upper earners, or at least have that conversation”?

REP.-ELECT WEST: No. I think that we need to extend those tax cuts permanently across the board. Look, I come from a — an area down in South Florida where unemployment is at 13 percent, foreclosures are absolutely high. We are seeing closed upon closed storefronts. But yet, when you walk around here in Washington, D.C., you don’t see people getting laid off, you don’t see, you know, anyone suffering, you don’t see the foreclosures. There is a belief that things are not going well down on Main Street, and they need to be heard. There is a belief that it has to start from up here with the right type of cuts in the spending, the right type of cuts in the growth of government.

So, the Congressman doesn’t see anyone suffering when he walks around D.C.  I wonder how much he has walked around the District and where, exactly, he’s walking.  Has he walked around Ward 8 where the unemployment rate is 26.5 percent?  Has he walked past the new IHOP in Columbia Heights where 500 people – many of whom were overqualified – applied for jobs?  When he’s walking, is he talking to any single women who are caring for their families on less than $29,900/year – the median income for this family type, according to our new report 2010 Portrait of Women & Girls in the Washington Metropolitan Area?

I get what the Congressman is trying to do – sort of.  He wants his constituents back in Florida to think that he’s coming up here and bucking the system.  He’s the one in D.C. who understands them.  He’s going to show those wealthy, out-of-touch fat cats a thing or two about the real America.  He’s representing Main Street inside the Beltway.  But what he and many other politicians don’t seem to get is that Washington, D.C. stretches far beyond Capitol Hill.  This is a city that struggles with unemployment and foreclosure and a shrinking middle class – just like the rest of the country.  To imply that we don’t have these problems is insulting and shows a frightening myopia.  These things are happening all around you in D.C.  Open your eyes.  We’re not different – we’re a microcosm of what’s going on in your home state.

So to Rep. West, the incoming Congressional class, the seasoned members of Congress, and journalists (come on David Gregory! You should have said something about the inaccuracies mentioned on your program – this is your city, too.), I’d like to extend an invitation for you to learn more about the city that you inhabit for a good part of the year.  Yes, this city is set up so that you can breeze in and out and go about your business without ever seeing the need – but is that really what a public servant is supposed to do?

You can get started by reading The Women’s Foundation’s new report 2010 Portrait of Women & Girls in the Washington Metropolitan Area.  In it you’ll find a comprehensive look at the lives, strengths and needs of women and girls in this region – and I guarantee you it will look familiar.  The challenges that local women and girls face are very similar to those of women and girls around the country.  And the idea that you can improve an entire community by increasing the economic security of women-headed families is universal.

Next, I’d like to take you on a walk that will have you leaving Pennsylvania Avenue and meeting some of our 150 Grantee Partners – organizations that are fighting the very issues that Rep. West claimed D.C. isn’t struggling with.  Hopefully he and others can recognize that the work of these incredible nonprofits isn’t in vain.

If you’d like to learn more, you can reach me at mcraven@wawf.org or 202-347-7737, ext. 207.

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

In today’s rundown: The impact of the economy on the local housing market has an upside for some residents as a luxury condo building is turned into affordable housing. | Is the marginalization of sex workers contributing to the HIV epidemic? | And how local nonprofits and causes may benefit from a new website.

— Originally intended for luxury condos, a downtown Silver Spring building is being converted into affordable housing after sitting empty for over a year.  The Argent on Blair Mill Road will open next month.  During construction, condos in the building — which was supposed to open in 2009 — were expected to sell for $300,000 or more.  Now, monthly rent will range from $842 to $1,272.  Click here for more details.

— How can we respond to the HIV epidemic both locally and abroad if sex workers are marginalized?  That’s the question Aziza Ahmed is asking on the Open Democracy blog. Ahmed, who works to educate sex workers, says some laws and attitudes impede access to health services for sex workers.

— Earlier this week, TBD.com, a local news website, was launched.  TBD is being called a blueprint for other online news sites because of the amount of community participation involved.  The Social Citizens blog says this could be beneficial for nonprofits and causes, in particular.