April 24, 2009

Beyond Bread: The Serve America Act Becomes Law

~USA Today is reporting that community health clinics that accept patients regardless of whether they have insurance are under great strain as unemployment rises. Since health insurance is tied to employers in this country, being laid off means more than losing just a paycheck. I would argue that, especially in DC, the health safety net was under strain for years before the economy fell off a cliff. Bread for the City has been operating at capacity for a number of years (in fact, the lack of healthcare in our community is the reason we’re expanding our center in Shaw). Still, our medical clinic has since its inception accepted patients regardless of whether they have health insurance, and I’m glad community clinics are getting into the public eye more.

~The DC Fiscal Policy Institute’s blog had a nice follow-up to the stories we’ve been running about the Bag Bill. Though DCFPI has not formally endorsed the bill, they do point out that in Seattle (where a similar bill was passed) 88% of respondents with incomes under $25,000 told pollsters they were willing to pay a little extra for bags. Hopefully some person or group will field a similar poll in DC and dismiss the misconception that low-income residents care less about cleaning up their community than their more affluent neighbors.

~President Obama signed the much-lauded Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act this week, expanding a number of AmeriCorps programs. Though your correspondent is more concerned about what was left out of this bill than what is in it, the act certainly comes at the right time. Recent college graduates are going to have a hard time finding work in non-profits right now, and AmeriCorps is a good way to get experience while providing a very necessary support to direct-service organizations.

~I’m happy to congratulate the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, a non-profit organization we work very closely with, on the fundraising equivalent of sinking a half-court shot. In only six weeks, a group of attorneys halved the organization’s deficit by soliciting donations from 330 attorneys in DC.

~Philanthropy Journal reports that newspaper foundations are putting a halt to their charitable giving.

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