Washington, D.C., Deserves Pandemic Relief Funding Equal to States

The Bainum Family Foundation joined a public statement issued today by the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers regarding funding for the District of Columbia as part of federal legislation designed to provide support during the COVID-19 crisis. The statement was also signed by the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, Federal City Council, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Maryland Philanthropy Network, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and many foundations across the D.C./Maryland/Northern Virginia region. While expressing concern for the overall well-being of the District, it specifically draws attention to the vast economic and racial disparities that exist in D.C. and a population at high risk regarding the coronavirus. We are pleased to be part of this collaborative effort.

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The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, treated Washington, D.C. differently than virtually all other federal legislation by funding it comparably to U.S. territories rather than states — which meant it lost some $750 million in essential financial support (the District of Columbia was allocated about $500 million compared to $1.25 billion for states). This break with Congressional precedent should matter to everyone. As representatives of philanthropic, business and nonprofit organizations in the Greater Washington region (D.C., Suburban Maryland and Virginia), we are adamant that it is both fair and appropriate that future COVID-19 legislation maintain decades of past practice by funding D.C. comparably to states.

D.C.’s population of 705,000 is higher than some states. Its residents pay the highest per-capita federal income taxes in the country and together pay more taxes than 22 states. A U.S. Senate report notes, “Congress already treats the District as if it were a state for the purpose of over 500 statutory purposes — from federal taxation to military conscription to highway funds, education funds and national motor voter requirements. The Supreme Court has also deemed D.C. the equivalent of a state for certain constitutional purposes…”

D.C. residents support and protect the home of the nation’s treasures ― from the Smithsonian Institution to the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, from the National Archives to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum ― and the institutions of the federal government itself. They ensure that vital federal functions continue to operate. Many are essential employees who put themselves at risk by commuting and showing up at work every day to keep the government and essential services going.

The District is also home to vast economic and racial inequities, with a population at high risk. There are almost 3,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in D.C., more than in 20 states, and over 26,000 cases across D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Nearly half of D.C.’s residents are African-American, many of whom experience the risk factors that may contribute to the much higher rate of illness and death from COVID-19 than for white Americans ― being required to leave their home to work, commuting on public transportation, living in crowded (or no) housing, and having pre-existing conditions and uneven access to medical care (including no hospital in the lowest-income area of the city). The District also has more than 76,000 small businesses with 247,000 employees, and more than 12,000 nonprofits with more than 118,000 employees, whose livelihoods are threatened. For these reasons, the District needs and deserves the extra stimulus funding that comes with including it among the states.

Some of us live or work in Washington, D.C., while others are based in Maryland or Virginia. This virus knows no borders. We all recognize the valuable role D.C. plays in our nation, and we join with other leaders around the region to insist that any future stimulus funding give Washington, D.C. the full and equitable funding it deserves.


Dr. Madye Henson, President and CEO
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG)

Glen O’Gilvie, CEO
Center for Nonprofit Advancement

Anthony A. Williams, CEO and Executive Director
Federal City Council

Jack McDougle, President & CEO
Daniel Flores, Vice President, Government Relations
Greater Washington Board of Trade

Heather M. Raspberry, Executive Director
Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND)

Celeste Amato, President
Maryland Philanthropy Network (MPN)

Chuck Bean, Executive Director
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG)

Carol Thompson Cole, President & CEO
Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP)

Eric Kessler, Owner
Arabella Advisors

David Daniels, CEO and President
Bainum Family Foundation

Amy Owen, President
Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties

Yanique Redwood, PhD, MPH, President and CEO
Consumer Health Foundation

Julia Baer-Cooper, Philanthropic Advisor
England Family Foundation

Tonia Wellons, President & CEO
Greater Washington Community Foundation

Sarah Alex, Executive Director/COO
The Herb Block Foundation

Nat Chioke Williams, Executive Director
Hill-Snowdon Foundation

Dara Johnson, Executive Director
Horning Family Fund

Richard Marker, Founder/Co-Principal
Institute for Wise Philanthropy

Richard England, President
The Lois and Richard England Family Foundation

Jonathan J. Halperin, Trustee
The Marcus Foundation

Jennifer Mizrahi, Co-Founder
Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund

Susie and Michael Gelman, President/Managing Director
The Morningstar Foundation

Angel Braestrup, Executive Director
The Curtis & Edith Munson Foundation

Lisa Cohen, Co-Founder
Open Horizon

Ruth Schimel, Leader
The Schimel Lode, Choose Courage Publishing

Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, President & CEO
Washington Area Women’s Foundation

Melissa Adams, AVP & Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer
Washington Gas

Hanh Le, Executive Director
Weissberg Foundation

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President