Chairman Brown, Deputy Mayor stress importance of economic development for children

We had an amazing D.C. KIDS COUNT event yesterday at the PNC headquarters, a stone's throw from the White House. Leaders from the business community, funders, advocates, community-based providers and others gathered to discuss what the Census tells us about our changing city and where we must go to ensure that every child has a bright and successful future. We were so thrilled to see so many of our partners there. We will post the video soon, but in the meantime here are some highlights:

Mike Herrald, PNC's regional president, spoke movingly about the "Two Washingtons" -- one rich and fortunate, one poor and too often forgotten. Here in the nation's capital one in three children live in poverty. PNC's Grow Up Great initiative invests in early care and education for young children to help break the cycle.

Chairman Kwame Brown spoke passionately about the need to invest in education -- particularly in middle schools -- to help children chart a productive future.

Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Victor Hoskins got the whole room choked up as he shared his story of growing up poor in a large family in the Chicago housing projects, only to go on to graduate from Dartmouth and MIT and become a high-ranking government official in Maryland and now D.C. As a young man, he had been fortunate to have an adult mentor who taught him to play chess and exposed him to the finer things in life, like drinking tea, something he would have never otherwise experienced. In high school, he decided to "pay it forward" and mentored a younger student. This would be the most memorable experience of his high school career -- and he actually started crying as he recalled it. He impressed on everyone in the room the importance of mentoring a child or youth -- changing their context so that they too can dream big and go on to achieve great things.

Also, DC Action released our first KIDS COUNT issue brief, "A Tale of Three Cities: What the Census Tells Us and How We Must Respond." (Download it here.) The three cities bit is a twist on the familiar theme: Census data show us that while the "rich" and "poor" wards are moving in opposite directions and becoming less diverse, other wards in the city's core are more diverse than ever -- economically, racially and ethnically. The city needs to look closely at how these neighborhoods are changing to match social services and public funding to the needs of the community. Jenn Comey from the Urban Institute's NeighborhoodInfo DC program and Martha Ross from Brookings' Greater Washington Research program presented the data.

Other interesting findings in the brief:

  • D.C.’s population growth has been powered by jumps in the population of non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics and non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islanders;
  • The number of young children (under 5) is on the rise, although the entire under-18 population is shrinking;
  • Child poverty declined during the mid-decade housing boom but has increased since the recession, especially among black children; and
  • While the income gap is growing and poverty continues to be concentrated east of the river, some D.C. neighborhoods are more economically diverse than a decade ago. 

Take a look -- we'd love to hear what you think! We'll be posting more charts and maps on our site soon.