Research Round Robin: May 2019

We’ve collected another month’s worth of research that interested us and has broad sector relevance. This set comes from recent weeks and includes insights on housing for seniors, inclusion of individuals with disabilities, racial violence, climate change, and more.

The Forgotten Middle: Middle Market Seniors Housing Study

According to a new report released last month by NORC at the University of Chicago and researchers from Harvard Medical School, senior housing with health care services will be out of reach in the coming decade for more than half of middle-income Americans over 75 years old. Researchers are calling that growing age and income group of more than 14 million the “forgotten middle.” The report is the first comprehensive look at this group and comes at a time when more than 10,000 boomers are turning 65 each day, and more insurers and care providers are beginning to invest in housing as a social determinant of health. By 2029, many of the nation’s middle-income seniors will need the levels of care provided only in seniors housing, but the report projects that 54% of them will not have the resources to be able to afford that care. The study includes recommendations from some of its sponsors, including the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, for policy changes that could better prepare us to serve this group of seniors.

More on the report:
• Study: 8 Million Middle-Income Seniors Will Struggle To Afford Housing
• More than half of middle-income seniors will lack resources for housing and care, study says

Disability in Philanthropy & Nonprofits: A Study on the Inclusion and Exclusion of the 1-in-5 People Who Live with a Disability and What You Can Do to Make Things Better

One in four Americans has a disability, but most nonprofit boards don’t have anyone with a disability on them. And the representation gap extends beyond just executive leadership. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with disabilities account for about 9% of the nonprofit and cause-based workforce, compared to 19% of the overall U.S. workforce. Concurrently, most people with disabilities who are unemployed are actively seeking to work.  A report released in April by RespectAbility examines how the trend has trickle-down effects for inclusive practices. For example, fewer than 60% of groups typically ensure that their spaces are wheelchair accessible, and very few groups use closed captioning with their video content for deaf viewers. The report findings draw from a survey of 970 nonprofit and foundation employees and outline the current landscape of disability inclusion and how we can address the unequal representation.

More on the report:
• Nonprofits struggle to be inclusive to workers with disabilities

Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents: Year in Review 2018

According to a report released at the end of April by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), 2017 and 2018 were the most extreme for anti-Semitic incidents in the United States in 40 years. Experts say the spike is at least partially linked to the president’s demonization of immigrants and “famous Jews (like George Soros) who advocate on their behalf.” Of the types of anti-Semitic incidents documented in the report, PBS’s FRONTLINE did a special report on the notable jump in hate incidents directed at Jews in K-12 schools from 2015 to 2017—the number of reported incidents jumping from 114 to 457 in that time. The ADL report captures a downtrend in the number of overall anti-Semitic incidents between 2010 and 2013, where the number of reported incidents hit a ten-year low at 751. Reports exceeded 1,000 for the first time since 2011 in 2016 and have totaled close to 1,900 annually in 2017 and 2018.

More on the report:
•  Poway and Pittsburgh: the rise in murderous anti-Semitism, explained
• With Anti-Semitic Incidents in Schools on the Rise, Teachers Grapple With Holocaust Education

UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates

Earlier this month, the UN released the findings from the most comprehensive study of biodiversity ever conducted. It should come as no surprise that the implications are damning: around 1 million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction, and close behind the imminent threat of mass die-off are significant flow-down effects to humans. Degradation of coastal habitats and deforestation are the most concerning trends. The former is the most important protection (natural or synthetic) against floods and hurricanes and now, as many as 300 million people are at higher risk of these natural disasters. And the latter is the most important tool we have for combating carbon emissions. One expert from The Nature Conservancy who contributed to the report is calling the findings a “wake-up call” to the world. Among the significant changes necessary to reverse the negative trends, the food industry will have to make some of the biggest changes.

More on the study:
• 1 million species are at risk for extinction–and humans are screwed
• What Can Be Done To Prevent Mass Extinctions

Federal Charity Drive Pledges Decrease, Again, This Time by 13%

Last month, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported on a decline in contributions to the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) in 2018 from 2017. The CFC is often touted as the most successful workplace giving program on the books. And many nonprofits indeed depend on it as a key source of financial support. According to data from the Office of Personnel Management, giving to the campaign fell to $90 million in 2018, marking a 13% decrease from the previous year. The decline follows a 10-year downtrend in total CFC contributions. The largest single-year decline occurred between 2016 and 2017 with a $70 million drop, and today’s $90 million CFC contribution total is less than a third of what it was in 2008. The Chronicle’s reporting on the downtrend includes the top nonprofit recipients of CFC funds, as well as a snapshot on the significant concurrent decrease in total CFC donors.

Population Decline and School Closure in Puerto Rico

Earlier this month, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at New York’s Hunter College released data on school closures and enrollment in Puerto Rico. The former is up, and the latter is down. School closure and enrollment is one of three serious demographic impacts in the wake of Hurricane Maria that researchers are paying attention to. The other impacts researchers have noted include increasing vacancy rates for housing units and lower growth rates in child populations. According to the Census Bureau’s 2018 estimates—the first official count since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017—the island’s population declined by 4%. The most immediate impact of the school closure and enrollment trends bears out in accessibility to primary education, prompting many families to emigrate to the U.S. mainland.

More on the research:
• Report: Puerto Rico saw 44% drop in students since ’06

Ending the Criminalization of Black Women

USA Today’s Monica Rhor recently shared months of in-depth reporting with a series of feature articles on a chilling trend: black girls are being criminalized at alarming rates, and the biases that drive the phenomenon often manifest astutely in schools. Although black girls don’t misbehave any more than their white peers, they are more likely to be disciplined and receive harsher penalties for the same behavior. Among the research that Rhor referenced for the intensive reporting project was a new study released by Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality, which focused in specifically on the phenomenon of adultification. Under the psychological phenomenon, racial and gender biases feed a perception—often unconsciously—that black girls are more insubordinate and aggressive and less in need of nurturing and protection than their white peers. The impact of the psychological phenomenon plays out in alarming statistics reported by African American Policy Forum and Columbia Law School’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies: Black girls are six times more likely to get out-of-school suspension and three times more likely to be referred to juvenile court than their white counterparts. Rhor’s reporting mines from several secondary and primary sources and outlines solutions that address the entrenched systemic racism at play, including restorative justice programs, diversion courts, and bias trainings for schools and law enforcement.

More on Rohr’s reporting:
• What can be done to stop the criminalization of black girls? Rebuild the system
• Pushed out and punished: One woman’s story shows how systems are failing black girls
• How did USA TODAY report on unequal treatment for black girls? Trust and deep reporting

Add Your Voice

The research summaries above are by no means an exhaustive list of the newest information out there to help us better understand the nonprofit landscape. So if we missed a report you think we should know and share about, let us know by leaving a comment!

Types: All
Global Topics: Data, Education, Environment, Health and Human Services, IS Member, Nonprofit Capital, Race, Equity, and Inclusion