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Finding our Way Back to Mental Health: The Need for Accessible, Affordable Treatment in the Midst of Collective Trauma

March 15, 2022

In 2019, about 8 percent of the population was dealing with "active symptoms" of anxiety or depression. Now, that figure is 28%, a fourfold increase impacting over a half million adults in Northern Viginia. This doesn't include some 200,000 adults whose anxiety and depression levels are transient, but have received, or sought to receive medication or talk therapy in the previous four weeks. In total, whilst 750,000 adults in Northern Virginia have mental health needs, 370,000 who want therapy or counselling are unable to get it.This report investigates four systemic barriers to people getting the care they need, offering recommendations on how Northern Virginia can work to support this large group of people by addressing systemic barriers to treatment, and what the roles the nonprofit sector, from foundations to community programs and others, can play.

Farm Forward: How Chesapeake Bay Farms Can Improve Water Quality, Mitigate Climate Change, Create a More Resilient Future, and Support Jobs and Local Economies

February 15, 2022

This report highlights the multiple benefits of agricultural conservation practices essential to restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. It examines practices that reduce pollution, combat climate change, improve soil health and farmers' bottom lines, and boost local economies. Measures such as these are especially relevant now as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rolls out multiple initiatives promoting climate smart agriculture and Congress has started hearing on the 2023 Farm Bill with a review of USDA conservation programs.

Economic Democracy Case Studies

February 8, 2022

The Economic Democracy Project at Demos envisions liberation for Black and brown people. This requires us to address inequities in economic, political, and institutional power. The concept of economic democracy recognizes that everyone deserves a stake in the system and that the economy should exist to serve the people—the demos. In a moment in which a corporate ruling class exploits racial and class divisions to dodge accountability and accumulate power, preserving our democracy requires creating opportunities for the public to lead and shape economic outcomes.The Economic Democracy Project aims to highlight and develop strategies that Black and brown communities can use to build economic and political power. It has 3 priorities:Break up and regulate new corporate power, including Amazon, Google, and Facebook.Expand the meaning of public goods and ensure that services are equitably and publicly administered.Strengthen "co-governance" strategies so that people and public agencies can collectively make decisions about the economy.The case studies outlined here spotlight 4 community campaigns working across the U.S. to reclaim power over economic resources.

2021 Chesapeake Bay State of the Blueprint: Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia

January 7, 2022

Time is running out. A healthy Bay, clean streams, and resilient rivers are at risk without a major acceleration in pollution reduction.Less than four years remain to the 2025 implementation deadline for the historic Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—our last, best chance to save the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams. Its success is critical to our region's health, economy, outdoor heritage, and quality of life. Make no mistake, the Blueprint is working, but much work remains in a short amount of time.Our State of the Blueprint report looks at one question: Are the Bay states on track to reduce pollution by the Blueprint's 2025 deadline?Based on our assessment of progress in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, which together account for roughly 90 percent of the Bay's pollution, the answer collectively is 'no.' If progress continues at its current pace, the Bay partnership will not achieve the Blueprint by 2025.

Does Refugee Resettlement Impact State and Local Finances? The Fiscal Effects of the Refugee Resettlement Program

September 3, 2021

Over forty years ago, the people and government of the United States chose to provide refuge and dignity to those who need it through the bipartisan U.S. Refugee Act of 1980. In recent years, our refugee resettlement system has suffered increased restrictions and the lowest refugee acceptance numbers in the history of the program, particularly under the Trump administration.In the first months of his presidency, President Biden proposed increasing the refugee resettlement ceiling and signed Executive Order 14013 to review, rehabilitate, and enhance the U.S. refugee resettlement system. Additionally, as a result of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program was expanded for thousands of Afghan nationals employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government. Similarly, the Biden administration expanded the Priority 2 (P-2) refugee resettlement program for other at-risk Afghans. Building and capitalizing upon local support will be key to successfully rebuilding refugee resettlement and supporting refugees and SIV holders once they have arrived.This local support is hard won, however, as some perceive refugees to be an economic or fiscal burden on local communities. In a recent survey of local officials in receiving communities, 40 percent mentioned the economic impacts of refugees, compared to only 25 percent who mentioned refugees' cultural fit. This policy brief examines the fiscal impacts of refugee resettlement on states and local communities, using Virginia as a case study to provide more insight into resettlement's implications for state and local fiscal health.

American Rescue Plan Act: Ideas, Opportunities & Resources for Virginia's Philanthropy Community

July 14, 2021

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021, enacting one of the largest economic relief programs in U.S. history. Of the bill's $1.9 trillion, nearly $7 billion is designated for Virginia to help alleviate the pandemic's financial burden on residents and families; expand access to affordable health coverage; address students' learning loss and mental health challenges; provide assistance to small businesses and local governments, and more. About half of this historic investment – $4.3 billion – has been allocated directly to Virginia's counties and municipalities – those local communities where Virginia's philanthropic organizations focus the majority of their work. The other half of the funding will be allocated by the General Assembly at its special session scheduled to start August 2, 2021. In addition to funds specifically designated for states and local governments, there are expected to be funds allocated programmatically through federal agencies for which many community-based programs may be eligible.ARPA's investment in the Commonwealth has the potential to reduce pandemic-related hardships experienced by many Virginians and begin to set the stage for a strong recovery that benefits all. At the Virginia Funders Network, we believe that philanthropy has an opportunity to work in partnership with local and state government officials, as well as with business and nonprofit leaders, to support the equitable and strategic allocation of these public dollars and to improve and expand the quality of community resources available to help Virginians thrive.The purpose of this document is to help philanthropic leaders:ensure the allocation, distribution, and use of funds in the Commonwealth addresses top community needsadvocate for accountability and help to track and document the use of these public resourcesleverage these public funds with foundation and corporate support and other private fundsbuild stronger relationships with government at all levels across the Commonwealth, andenhance opportunities for all Virginians to thrive.

The Power and Problem of Criminal Justice Data: A Twenty-State Review

June 30, 2021

Despite accounting for a substantial portion of local, state, and federal budgets, our criminal justice institutions are among the least measured systems in our country. In an effort to bring transparency to this sector, MFJ has collected, standardized, and made public 20 states' worth of criminal justice data.The purpose of this report is to share what we have learned through this effort, including: (a) what we cannot see when data are missing, and (b) the value that data can provide when they are available and comparable. In particular, we identify patterns around the following:There is a substantial lack of data around pretrial detention and release decision-making, as well as individual demographics (particularly indigence).New data privacy laws are also making it needlessly difficult to obtain certain data. This poses challenges to understanding how individuals experience the system in cases that do not result in conviction.There is great variation in how counties dispose of and sentence nonviolent cases; how financial obligations are imposed on individuals; and the collateral consequences that individuals face when convicted.Across many of these findings, where demographics are available, we have an opportunity to identify and respond to significant disparities in group outcomes.This report challenges stakeholders and policymakers to dig deeper into these patterns and missing data. It also implores policymakers and legislators to improve criminal justice data infrastructure to ensure a more transparent, fair, and equitable implementation of justice.

Nonprofit Needs During COVID-19: Data and On-the-Ground Insights

March 16, 2021

Presentation from a webinar sharing data from a survey conducted by the Center for Nonprofit Excellence. Data were collected from March 19, 2020 to May 12, 2020 from 102 respondents.

Using State-level Policy Levers to Promote Principal Quality

November 17, 2020

In this report, we examine how seven states use state policy levers to advance policy change to improve the quality of school principals. These states are all actively engaging in a collaborative initiative focused on principal preparation program redesign. We consider the following questions, drawing on data about the use of various policy levers in the states:How does a state's context shape its use of policy levers to improve principal quality? What  policy  levers  are  states  using,  how  are  the  levers  used,  and  what  policy changes have states made that affect the way levers are used? What supports the effective use of policy levers?What are the barriers to and facilitators of policy change?All seven states in the study were part of The Wallace Foundation's University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI). Launched in 2016, UPPI is supporting seven university-based principal preparation programs to work in collaboration with their district and state partners to redesign and improve the programs to better support the development of effective principals.  The programs were chosen for the initiative, in part, because they were located in states that had favorable conditions for supporting principal quality. In addition, the programs had expressed interest in and already conducted some initial work toward redesigning their principal preparation programs. The UPPI programs and their respective states are Albany State University (Georgia), Florida Atlantic University (Florida), North Carolina State University (North Carolina), San Diego State University (California), the University of Connecticut (Connecticut), Virginia State University (Virginia), and Western Kentucky University (Kentucky).We drew on three data sources for this analysis: (1)  biannual interviews with UPPI participants, (2) interviews with state-level stakeholders across the seven UPPI states, and (3) relevant secondary data, such as state plans, state licensure requirements, state legislation, reports from state departments of education, and research literature on school leadership. In this report, we focus on seven policy levers that states can use to improve school leadership. The first six of these were drawn from research as described by Manna (2015), and the seventh was derived from Grissom, Mitani, and Woo (2019): setting principal standardsrecruiting aspiring principals into the professionlicensing new and veteran principals approving and overseeing principal preparation programssupporting principals' growth with professional development evaluating principalsusing leader tracking systems to support analysis of aspiring and established school leaders' experiences and outcomes.

Balancing Speed, Equity, and Impact during a Crisis: The Greater Washington Community Foundation’s Response to COVID-19

October 14, 2020

This report chronicles the genesis and evolution of the Greater Washington Community Foundation's efforts to raise and coordinate funding from a wide range of individual and institutional donors to address the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a particular focus on The Community Foundation's COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, the largest of its kind in the region, this account highlights the balance of various grantmaking imperatives that characterized Greater Washington's philanthropic response to the pandemic more generally.

Changing the Narrative: A Visual Art Project

January 1, 2020

VISIONARIES, the Harrisonburg, Virginia, TRHT Changing the Narrative project recognizes African American history through creative visual art forms. The project centers on the under-recognized histories and peoples of African American descent living in the Shenandoah Valley.n 2019, the Northeast Neighborhood Association of Harrisonburg, Virginia, was awarded a grant from Virginia Humanities, made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, as part of the statewide Changing the Narrative projects. The HarrisonburgTruth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Advisory Committee is sponsoring this project in Harrisonburg in order to cultivate a more inclusive narrative—one in which all Virginians can feel valued.

How Partisan Gerrymandering Prevents Legislative Action on Gun Violence

December 17, 2019

This report examines how the pernicious problem of partisan gerrymandering stymies efforts toward sensible reforms in several states—including North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia—despite strong public support for gun safety measures. These states provide some of the most extreme examples of gerrymandering: Even though Democrats won a majority of the statewide votes, control of the state legislatures remained with Republicans who, for the most part, have refused to allow meaningful debate on any commonsense gun safety measures. In each of these states, it is likely that, in the absence of partisan gerrymandering, the legislature would have enacted measures to strengthen gun laws—measures that could have saved lives.The report also puts forward a policy solution: States should require independent commissions to draw voter-determined districts based on statewide voter preferences. Implementing this policy would end partisan gerrymandering and increase representation for communities that have too often been shut out of the political system and also suffer the most from the lack of sensible gun safety legislation