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

In today’s rundown: A Grantee Partner will be featured during the MLB All-Star game.  |  Foundation giving was down nearly 10 percent last year.  |  It takes more than money to become an effective philanthropist.  |  One writer declares Obama the first female president.

— If you watch Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in a couple of weeks, you may see the executive director of a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner!  Dr. Mark Bergel of A Wider Circle has been named a People Magazine and MLB All-Star Among Us.  Mark and the other All Stars will be recognized at the game on July 13th.

— Tomorrow the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers will release a study that found that area foundations’ giving dropped nearly 10 percent last year.  Click here for details.

— Warren Buffett recently kicked off the biggest public fundraising drive in history, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which advises donors to make smart, well-informed and educated decisions when they give.

— Dude communicates like a lady?  According to the Washington Post‘s Kathleen Parker, President Barack Obama is “our first female president.”  Parker argues that the president is rhetorical-testosterone deficient when it comes to dealing with crises.  Click here to find out why.

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

800px-Elena_Kagan_2In today’s rundown: The Supreme Court/Elena Kagan confirmation hearings are underway.  |  HIV testing is up and the new AIDS cases are down in the District.

— You can watch live coverage of Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing on the Washington Post website.

–HIV testing is up and new AIDS cases are down in Washington, DC, but the HIV/AIDS rate in the District remains nearly 10 times the national rate.  Click here for more from a new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Defeat Poverty DC: If Not Now, When?

DefeatPovertyDC Logo

With poverty more of a problem than it has been in decades, The Women’s Foundation’s Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat says now is the time to step up and take action.  She calls on individuals, politicians and organizations to come together to defeat poverty.  Read on to find out what you can do.

Sometimes problems appear to be so big that they seem insurmountable and we become paralyzed just thinking about what it would take to overcome them.  We forget that the problem didn’t simply happen overnight.  Generally, there were a series of events, words and/or actions that, when left unresolved over time, culminated into a much larger problem.  And of course we want there to be a quick, easy fix because anything else is just too hard, too daunting to contemplate.

I can’t help but wonder if that’s the case when it comes to the “problem” of poverty in the nation’s capital.  Do we think it’s insurmountable? Are we so daunted by the stats that we are paralyzed?  Do we think it’s really someone else’s problem?

Regardless of the answers, at what point do we decide to turn a challenge into an opportunity?  My response: Now! And here’s why.

Successes and Setbacks

Seven years ago, Washington Area Women’s Foundation released A Portrait of Women & Girls in the Washington Metropolitan Area, which found that single, female-headed families suffered disproportionately from the region’s poverty.  In the District of Columbia, 30 percent of women-headed families lived in poverty.  These stark findings have guided our grantmaking over the past six years with a laser-like focus on improving the economic security of low-income, women-headed families.  This approach has helped 6,000 women increase their incomes and assets by $22 million.  Last year alone – in the midst of the recession – we helped 66 women become homeowners, 1,000 women increase their assets by $2.2 million, and 70 women increase their incomes by more than $600,000 due to job placements.

But even as we celebrate the achievements of thousands of women, we’re seeing frustrating setbacks across the community.  Today, 37 percent of women-headed families in DC are living in poverty—the highest poverty rate among all family types.  Some may look at the increase and throw up their hands in defeat and stumble off the field in dismay (apologies for the soccer analogy, World Cup fever).

I think that’s the wrong reaction.  At The Women’s Foundation, the startling statistics are pushing us to think creatively about our work and our investments, forcing us to re-examine our assumptions and open our minds to new possibilities, and most importantly, reinforcing the importance and necessity of collective action.  No one individual, nonprofit, business, government agency, or funder can do it alone, but collectively we might have a fighting chance.

Be Part of the Solution

That’s why Washington Are Women’s Foundation is supporting Defeat Poverty DC, a coalition of organizations and residents in the District working to bring greater focus during the 2010 election season and beyond to the damaging effects of poverty on our entire city.  As the mayoral and City Council races kick into high gear in their run-up to the primary on September 14th, there is no better opportunity to highlight the critical need to address poverty in DC.

Tired of feeling paralyzed?  Want to do something?  Visit Defeat Poverty DC’s website and take action:

  • Join the Campaign and receive email alerts and updates about the campaign, as well as actions you can take to make a difference.
  • Email Local Officials about this effort using a template email, which you can personalize or send as is.
  • Spread the Word about Defeat Poverty DC through Facebook and Twitter accounts and by talking about the campaign on your community listserv.
  • Download a Notice to Candidates and post it on your window or door to let candidates know that when they come knocking you expect to hear their plan for defeating poverty in DC.
  • Attend a Volunteer Training on June 30th to learn about the best ways to get candidates to support real solutions to poverty.

With the poverty rate increasing to 19 percent last year (the largest increase since 1995), now is the time to come together and insist that our political leaders actively work to defeat poverty in DC by advancing policies that:

  • Make Work Possible through job placement, increased literacy, and access to quality child care and reliable transportation.
  • Make Work Pay by improving job training, ensuring access to better wages and benefits, and lessening the tax burden on low-income families.
  • Make Basic Needs Affordable by bridging the gap between the high costs of living in DC and the incomes of working poor residents, including increased availability of nutritious food, health care and affordable housing.

If not now, then when?

Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat is vice president of programs at Washington Area Women’s Foundation.

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

Metro_PhotoIn today’s rundown: The cost to ride the Metro will increase this weekend followed by another fare hike in August.  |  HIV testing will be offered in some D.C. libraries this weekend to mark National HIV Testing Day.  |  A new documentary features D.C. public schools and Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

— This Sunday, Metrorail, Metrobus and MetroAccess riders will see the next increase in fare adjustments.  Fares will be increased again on August 1st.  For details about the increases, please click here.

— To mark National HIV Testing Day on June 27th, HIV testing events will be held at libraries throughout the District all weekend.  This is the first time that HIV testing will be offered at D.C. libraries.  For a look at where and when testing will be available, please click here.

— The D.C. public schools and Chancellor Michelle Rhee are featured in a documentary that was screened in Silver Spring this week at the annual AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival.  “Waiting for Superman” is a film about the state of public education in the U.S.  It was produced by the makers of “An Inconvenient Truth.”  Click here for details about the film.

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

In today’s rundown: As the economy continues to struggle, community college enrollment is on the rise.  But rising enrollment and tight budgets could be bad news for some students.  |  IT remains a growing profession, yet women are leaving the field in droves.  |  The only woman to pitch in the Negro American League could be honored in D.C.

— Enrollment at Northern Virginia Community College continues to rise, even as the effects of the recession continue to be felt.  With classes available for about a third of the cost of most Virginia four-year schools, NVCC has an enrollment of more than 78,000 right now.  They expect to reach 84,000 by 2015.  Click here for details.

— Community colleges everywhere are seeing enrollment increases, but that’s not necessarily good news.  Two-year schools are becoming more difficult to get into and tight budgets mean course offerings have been cut.  Many students say they feel stalled.

— Information technology continues to be one of the fastest growing professions, yet women are leaving the field in huge numbers.  One woman tells Women’s e-News why she became disillusioned with a field she loved.

— The only woman to pitch in baseball’s Negro American League could be honored with a field named after her in Northeast D.C.  75-year-old Mamie “Peanut” Johnson was discovered nearly 60 years ago at what is now the Rosedale Recreation Center in Ward 6.  The D.C. Council still has to vote on the Mamie Peanut Johnson Field Designation Act of 2010.  Click here for more.

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

heatIn today’s rundown: Ways for seniors and the homeless to stay safe as the temperatures stay high.  | The Obama administration’s plan to end homelessness.  | Gloria Steinem discusses women, men and equality with Stephen Colbert.

— The District has released its plans for helping people stay safe in the heat and humidity of the summer.  Click here for details on when cooling centers will open and when street showers will be activated.

— The Obama administration has released a 74-page strategy to end homelessness.  The plan includes expanding programs to secure housing for veterans and families with young children and increasing meaningful employment opportunities for people at risk of experiencing homelessness.

— In a previous post on The Women’s Foundation blog we raised questions after reading an Atlantic article entitled “The End of Men.”  Last night, Stephen Colbert discussed the same topic with Gloria Steinem, questioning why a gender pay gap is a bad thing and suggesting that children are the real enemy.

Not Time to Celebrate: Women Catch Up With Men in Achievements, Not Earnings

Equal Pay

An article in the most recent issue of The Atlantic (“The End of Men” by Hanna Rosin) asks a lot of questions about women’s progress in the economy.  Reactions are flying around Twitter and other cultural touchstones, like The Colbert Report.

One of the article’s questions I have been thinking about is: What if the modern, postindustrial economy is more congenial to women?  My conclusion so far is: I will remain unconvinced until women begin reaping the higher economic rewards that would and should follow if this were the case.

Currently, some economic rewards for women have come in the form of less job loss than men.  Overall, the recession has been relatively less economically dislocating for most women because the sectors women tend to work in (such as health care and education) have not been shrinking.  Although, as I have noted here before, women who head families have higher unemployment rates than many other population groups (11.6 percent in May 2010, compared to 9.8 among men 20 and older, for example).

Increasing educational attainment among women – both in general and relative to men – should also reward them economically.  Americans with bachelor’s degrees, for example, have more than two times the median weekly earnings of those who never completed high school (see here).  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, women are projected to earn 62.3 percent of associate’s degrees, 60 percent of bachelor’s degrees and 61 percent of master’s degrees conferred in 2009-10.

Still, these rewards are behind schedule:

  • Women surpassed men in attainment of associate’s degrees in 1977-78, bachelor’s degrees in 1981-82 and master’s degrees in 1985-86.
  • Women are not earning as much as men in most occupations.  According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (a Grantee Partner of The Women’s Foundation), median weekly earnings for full-time women workers were $657 in 2009, compared with $819 per week for men (a gender wage gap of 19.8 percent).
  • Women are not earning as much as men even in most women-dominated occupations. Women who are registered nurses, secretaries, maids and cashiers still have lower median weekly earnings than men in the same jobs.

We literally cannot afford to rest on our successes.  We must continue to advocate for women’s economic equality at the international, national and regional levels, including in pay, benefits (such as paid sick leave) and workplace flexibility.

Gwen Rubinstein is a program officer at Washington Area Women’s Foundation.

Weekly Round-Up: News and Analysis on Women and Poverty (Week ending June 18, 2010)

The latest news, analysis and opinion on the state of low-income women and their families from Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity. This week: Why women are paid less each year than men….Plus, one city’s health department pinpoints the reasons behind maternal deaths.

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, a national foundation-led initiative, is excited to collaborate with the Women’s Foundation to bring you the latest news and analysis on women and poverty. Spotlight is the go-to site for news and ideas about fighting poverty.

Here’s this week’s news:

· The Associated Press publishes research by the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota’s Center on Women and Public Policy that finds that, on average, Minnesota women are paid $11,000 less each year than men with the same jobs, regardless of the occupation.

· A week after Alaskan Gov. Sean Parnell vetoed expanded funding for Denali KidCare, the state health care program for low-income children and pregnant women, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services says that the program funded 664 “medically necessary” abortions, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

· A New York Times article reveals that more mothers die during pregnancy or soon after in New York than in almost every other state, a statistic that many social scientists attribute to poverty and lack of insurance.

· The Associated Press reports that a Californian mammogram program for low-income women has failed to report its work to California legislators for more than a decade.

To learn more about Spotlight visit

To sign up for our weekly updates with the latest news, opinion and research from around the country, click here.

The Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity team

The Not-So-Real Housewives of Places That Are Close to DC + 5 Things to Remember Next Time You're on a Reality Show

RHoDCastPhotoAfter months of rampant, party-crashing, camera crew-spotting speculation, we found out last week who will be representing the metro area on Bravo’s “Real Housewives of D.C.”  The Washington Post stated the obvious right away, pointing out that the participants are not exactly “real” representatives of the D.C. region: “Four out of five are white, all are affluent, and most live in the ‘burbs,” according to the Post’s The Reliable Source.

I suppose it would have been expecting too much of Bravo to ask that they keep it real while casting their reality show.  As you’ve read on this very blog before, we live in an area that is as economically diverse as it is ethnically diverse. There are women here who are exceedingly wealthy and others for whom every bill, meal and rent check is a struggle.  In the District, 54 percent of the population is black, and nearly 10 percent is Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census.

And while, perhaps, the show was conceived as a peek into the lives of the super rich and influential, the level of conspicuous consumption portrayed on previous seasons is both insulting – particularly in cities where the economic gap is wide – and bordering on irresponsible.  Besides, given the number of families on the “Real Housewives” series that have faced eviction, foreclosure and bankruptcy, this illusion is far more fantasy than reality.

Just as troubling as the lack of ethnic representation and fiscal savvy on the show is the fact that, according to preliminary reports, the casting does not reflect the character of our region, either.  The New York Times summed up the apparent theme of the show with this headline: “Air-Kisses and Sniping?  That’s Politics on the Real Housewives of DC.”

Since I moved to Washington, D.C., I have been incredibly impressed by the number of intelligent, genuine, caring, friendly and strong women I’ve met.  Those women will not be on the “Real Housewives of DC.”

I don’t personally know the women who are participating on the show.  I can’t speak to their individual characters and can only make a determination based on their public behavior up until now.  We know, for example, that the White House state dinner crashers are on the show.  We also know that another housewife, became tabloid-famous in England for making out with Prince Harry. This cast is oozing class already, huh?  But we may be in store for some surprises, too (fingers crossed).  A number of the women have their own businesses.  Stacie Turner was raised in foster care and went on to earn an MBA from Harvard.  Several cast members have charities they support listed on their Bravo profiles.  So, perhaps, there’s hope for DC to turn things around for the cringe-inducing “Real Housewives” franchise.

I know the first season has already been taped, but I’ve compiled a helpful list of tips for the “Real Housewives” to use at the reunion show and beyond to mitigate embarrassment and do an OK job of representing the DMV (given the medium, I’m really just hoping for OK; it’s better than mortifying):

#1. You’ve done well for yourself?  Congratulations!  Now Be That Woman and spread the wealth. Follow the examples of The Women’s Foundation community by becoming actively engaged in supporting organizations and programs that make a proven difference in helping local women and girls improve their lives, too.  And you don’t have to pretend to be filthy rich to become involved – I’m sure every nonprofit in the region would echo our sentiments: we gladly accept your time, talent and/or treasure.

#2.  Don’t make catty comments about other women, especially in regards to their physical appearance. We should all live by this.  As Dwight from the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” would say: it’s “trés, trés déclassé.”  Also, everyone will just assume you’re drinking what the kids call hater-ade.  This rule is especially important if there is a microphone under your mouth (whispering won’t help) and a video camera pointed at your face.  I guess you don’t have to welcome every woman you meet into your sisterhood, but it’s totally unnecessary and a waste of energy to tear her down.  Also, keep all prostitution-related words and phrases out of your vocabulary.

#3.  Point your passion in the right direction. Over the years we’ve watched the cast members of the “Real Housewives” dig up dirt on one another that a professional P.I. couldn’t find, organize complex soirees in honor of themselves, and become so enraged by some perceived slight that they turn into something akin to the Incredible Hulk and flip over heavy furniture.  If only all that energy could be used for good instead of petty, petty evil.  Got a lot of pent-up rage?  Why not get angry about how difficult and time-consuming it can be to apply for food stamps?  Good at digging up facts?  How about you pinpoint companies that don’t participate in pay equity?  Like to plan events?  Our Leadership Luncheon committee is always looking for fresh ideas.

#4. Don’t play dumb. You didn’t know you were living in a house you couldn’t afford.  You thought your kids only drank alcohol under adult supervision in your home.  You didn’t think your boyfriend would show anyone else that private video you made.  No one believes you, so don’t insult yourself and us by saying it out loud.

#5.  Your kids are watching. And everyone else, too.

So, how will the “Real Housewives of DC” represent?  We’ll find out beginning on August 5th.

Readers – will you be watching?  Do you have any other tips for aspiring DC-area reality stars?  Leave a comment below.

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

casa_logo_25years_horiz_large_copyIn today’s rundown: A Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner turns 25.  |  And enrollment at local two-year colleges is on the rise.

— Casa de Maryland, a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner, celebrated its 25th anniversary by opening a new multicultural center in Langley Park.  Casa is the largest immigrant advocacy organization in Maryland.

— As the cost of attending a four-year traditional college continues to rise, community colleges in Maryland and Virginia are seeing an increase in enrollment, according to WAMU.  Virginia community colleges have seen a 7.2 percent increase in enrollment over last year.  And in Maryland there was an 11.7 percent jump between 2008 and 2009.