Around Town: March 16-18

I’m writing this blog post from the (windy yet balmy) outdoors! Enjoy the spring-like weekend with a CFP nonprofit …

Blackbird by Adam Rapp at District of Columbia Arts Center (2438 18th Street NW)

On Friday through Sunday at 7:30 PM, Barrelhouse Theatre presents this ferocious modern love-story between two troubled individuals who are caught in a continuing loop of bad luck and bad choices; for reservations, call (202) 462-7833. Tickets are a super-reasonable $16 and $12 for members.

Green Living Expo with Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (at Washington Lee High School, 1301 N. Stafford Street, Arlington)

Looking for practical ways to green your lifestyle? On Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, the expo will feature businesses and organizations with products and services focusing on energy conservation, eco-friendly transportation, healthy homes, and more. Children’s activities are included, plus the event is just three blocks from the Metro.

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Post-Pi Day

Hope that you had a good (and potentially tasty) “Pi Day” yesterday!

According to, “With the use of computers, Pi has been calculated to over 1 trillion digits past the decimal. Pi is an irrational and transcendental number meaning it will continue infinitely without repeating.” As many of us learned in middle school, Pi is the ratio between a circle’s diameter and its circumference and thus can be employed to calculate the area of a circle and volume of a rectangular prism. Pi also makes regular appearances in physics, statistics and probability, and calculus.

So if you celebrated with both edible and numerical pie yesterday, consider learning more about our educational nonprofits today — which are improving and supplementing math and technology education for students in our region. Just for some examples:

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In The News …

Residents Rally Against Cuts To DC Social Service Spending (WAMU 88.5): “They all turned out to a rally on the Wilson Building’s steps Monday morning, calling for Mayor Vincent Gray to spare funding cuts to social service programs and initiatives that help low-income DC residents. The rally was organized by the advocacy group DC Fair Budget Coalition. Mayor Gray is expected to release his proposed budget March 23 [...] Last year, Mayor Gray proposed $187 million in cuts, 60 percent of which were to social services.” According to Janelle Treibitz, campaign organizer of the coalition, Mayor Gray could propose a change to a current DC law (which mandates that all leftover money from the current fiscal year go into the city’s savings) and use half of this year’s budget surplus to prevent future program cuts. What do you think?

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Success Anywhere

From the American Graduate series on WAMU 88.5, “Scaling Up Solutions To The Dropout Problem:”

The cheers are a daily ritual at Browne [Education Campus], a struggling K-8 school hosting a group of City Year volunteers as part of the “Diplomas Now” program. The volunteers also interact with students one-on-one. [...]

Researchers and educators continue to design new ways to help improve the success rates of schools like Browne, which has less than 30% of its students reading and doing math at grade level. But one of the biggest challenges is translating those one-off programs into systems that can be successful in any school.

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“He saw that all the struggles of life were incessant, laborious, painful, that nothing was done quickly, without labor, that it had to undergo a thousand fondlings, revisings, moldings, addings, removings, graftings, tearings, correctings, smoothings, rebuildings, reconsiderings, nailings, tackings, chippings, hammerings, hoistings, connectings.”
The Town and the City

“I want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. I want to fish as deep down as possible into my own subconscious in the belief that once that far down, everyone will understand because they are the same that far down.”
– Letter, 1950

– novelist Jack Kerouac, born today in 1922

Around Town: March 9-11

Hey, Greater Washington! Where are you headed this weekend?

Free Drop-In Tango Practica with Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (545 7th Street SE)

On Friday from 7:00 to 9:30 PM, tango dancers of all levels have an opportunity to practice, collaborate, and learn in a collective space; free and open to dancers of all levels.

Blackbird by Adam Rapp at District of Columbia Arts Center (2438 18th Street NW)

On Friday through Sunday at 7:30 PM, Barrelhouse Theatre presents this ferocious modern love-story between two troubled individuals who are caught in a continuing loop of bad luck and bad choices; for reservations, call (202) 462-7833.

Heart of L’Arche Tour at L’Arche Greater Washington DC

On Saturday from 10:00 to 11:00 AM, learn more about the people and mission of L’Arche, plus hear what a family member has to say about what L’Arche has meant to them. Please contact Michelle Wirth at (202) 232-4539 for the address.

Wetland Meadow Site Prep with Anacostia Watershed Society (3901 Hamilton Street, Hyattsville, MD)

Help to control dangerous storm water runoff from reaching the river by planting native plants and flowers along the side of the river on Saturday at 11:00 AM. This event is now full.

Taking Care

From “Commentary: Mental Health Of DC Youth Needs To Be Priority” by Judith Sandalow, executive director of the Children’s Law Center, on WAMU 88.5:

Health care can be the difference between life and death. I’m not talking about a surgeon performing quadruple bypass. I mean mental health services such as therapy, counseling, and medication. [...]

The human and financial cost of not treating mental health disorders is staggering. Nationally, 67 percent of young people in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Last year, 66 percent of children entering foster care in the District were found to have mental health needs. And last year, more than 200 children were sent to residential programs as far away as Texas because DC couldn’t provide intensive in-home support.

Citing the example of an 11-year-old boy who was treated physically, but never mentally, following a drive-by shooting, Sandalow points out that “literally thousands of the District’s children never get needed mental health services” — and mental wounds, like physical wounds, cannot heal if not promptly detected and treated. Moreover, these same wounds have long-term effects, and costs, for both the individuals and communities; thus spending on preventative medicine is, in essence, an investment for the future.

Often, mental health needs are not instantly apparent — like a broken bone or cold. Realizing, understanding, and ultimately responding to these needs require a high level of engagement that is not present in every child’s life. So how can we ensure both proper care and the engagement that leads to it?

Rather Awesome

From “Easy Money” in City Arts Magazine of Seattle, WA:

The Awesome Foundation was founded in 2009 in Boston by a guy named Tim Hwang. He came up with the simple formula of 10 people giving $100 each that is handed out as grants on a monthly basis. It went from the one chapter in Boston to four chapters to 12 chapters. Two years later, it’s at 30 chapters.

The Awesome Foundation does high-frequency, low-stakes grant-making. Most grant-making institutions do high-stakes, low-frequency grantmaking. They often think big about initiatives and form multiyear commitments with their grantees. [...] The foundation’s success has to do with the simple formula. [...] Our trustees know where the money goes. They’re really invested in the success of these small projects.

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Utopia of Life

[...] William Faulkner said, “I decline to accept the end of man.” I would fall unworthy of standing in this place that was his, if I were not fully aware that the colossal tragedy he refused to recognize thirty-two years ago is now, for the first time since the beginning of humanity, nothing more than a simple scientific possibility. Faced with this awesome reality that must have seemed a mere utopia through all of human time, we, the inventors of tales, who will believe anything, feel entitled to believe that it is not yet too late to engage in the creation of the opposite utopia. A new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth.

Nobel Lecture of Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, born today in 1927

Let It Be Known

From “What Donors Want — but Often Don’t Get” in the Chronicle of Philanthropy:

Charities don’t do nearly enough to tell donors how their money will be used. That;s one of the striking preliminary findings from a new survey by the researcher Penelope Burk. This is the fourth year that Ms. Burke, president of Cygnus Applied Research, has conducted an online survey with thousands of donors. (See my article about last year?s findings.)

The survey asked donors “what could unleash your philanthropy at a whole new level?” Nearly half of the donors said that they had more money to give but held back. Many of them said that was largely because they had not received enough information about how past donations had been spent.

Burk’s blog reports that “even in the worst moments of the recession, close to 50% of donors we surveyed agreed that they could have given more money.” One survey respondent explained that the “the thing that could unleash my philanthropy at a whole new level is [...] knowing that the money I give is making a real difference in people’s lives (not just a drop in the ocean of need);” another said that she would appreciate non-profits “giving loyal donors feedback about their accumulative giving to a cause over five, ten or even fifteen years.”

So let us know: what do you do to keep your donors “in the know?” And donors, what do you most appreciate hearing and enjoy leaning about at the non-profits that you support?