DC Appleseed is having one of its best years ever. In the hope that you will support our work on this Giving Tuesday, I want to tell you about a few of our most significant recent accomplishments:
Bringing Budget Autonomy to the District
We’ve worked for years to separate the District’s local budget from delay and interference at the federal level. Our message has been simple: D.C. residents and their elected leaders should decide how to spend local revenue, without waiting for legislation by Congress. For that reason, we helped develop the budget autonomy Charter Amendment that District voters overwhelmingly approved in a referendum last April. The Charter Amendment completed congressional review in July and will apply beginning January 1, 2014. On that date, for the first time the District will gain control of its local budget.
Keeping D.C. Open During the Recent Federal Shutdown
Previously, when the federal government shut down, the District did too, depriving D.C. residents, commuters, and tourists of vital District services and putting District employees out of work. But this time, when the federal government shut down in October, DC Appleseed proposed a way for the District to stay open without defying Congress or breaking the law. Using some of the same legal arguments underlying the budget autonomy Charter Amendment, we urged the Mayor and Council to tap into the District’s contingency reserves to keep the District open. District leaders acted on our recommendations and, as a result, the city stayed open.
D.C. is still suffering through a relentless HIV/AIDS crisis in which 1 in 20 D.C. residents is HIV positive and 1 in 50 DC residents has AIDS. On November 13, Mayor Gray and other District leaders joined DC Appleseed in releasing our eighth annual report card “grading” the city’s efforts at confronting this crisis and pointing out needed areas for improvement. The District has made great progress since our first report card. For example, consistent with our recommendations, the District has implemented a comprehensive sexual health program in its public schools, improved the gathering of basic data on the epidemic, significantly increased both the number of condoms distributed and the number of individuals tested for HIV, and expanded its syringe exchange program. But still there is much more work to be done. At last month’s press conference, the Mayor pledged to develop a plan for addressing the specific suggestions we have made for action that is needed.
Establishing a First-Class Community College
DC Appleseed has been working for years to establish a first-class D.C. community college that will help city residents gain the necessary skills to compete for jobs. As chair of a community college advisory board appointed by the Mayor and DC Council, DC Appleseed recommended that UDC develop a “right-sizing” plan to advance the community college and strengthen UDC. UDC has just released its plan and we believe it is a step in the right direction. We plan to continue our work with UDC’s new leadership, UDC’s Board, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Education, and the D.C. Council to obtain separate accreditation for the community college and continue movement toward right-sizing the flagship.
Our nearly 20 projects touch on nearly all aspects of life in this region–from cleaning up the Anacostia River to helping special needs students get the education they deserve to connecting the unemployed with job opportunities to reforming the biggest health insurance company in the region, CareFirst. We need your financial support to continue work on these projects, and I hope you agree that this work is improving the lives of those who live and work in the National Capital Area. If you do, I hope you’ll take a moment make a tax-deductible donation. Many thanks.