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Pathways to Brighter Futures

cfpdc2013org-DoorwaysforWomenandFamilies-94291-2541 Doorways for Women and Families is a local nonprofit, community service organization that creates pathways out of homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault leading to safe, stable and empowered lives. The causes of family homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault are profound and varied.

Doorways works to break the cycles of poverty and violence through every interaction we have with our clients and by advocating for systemic policy change. We are successful because we treat each person as an individual, tailoring our programs and services to help every adult and child we serve overcome trauma, build life skills and ultimately unlock their full potential. From immediate crisis intervention to counseling, housing and employment support, we offer real options and multiple pathways to build brighter futures.

Together with our community, Doorways puts thousands of adults, youth and children on paths to brighter futures by providing:

  • An immediate, safe response to our neighbors in crisis, including Arlington’s only 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline (703-237-0881)
  • Safe housing options, from emergency shelter through long-term housing, including Arlington’s only Domestic Violence Safehouse, Safe Apartments and Safe Kennel
  • Comprehensive support services that help our clients achieve and maintain stability, including Children’s Services

At Doorways, we have an unofficial motto coined by one of our team members: “Do for; Do with; Cheer on.”

When clients first arrive at Doorways, they are escaping crisis; basic needs such as safety and shelter are their top priority. In the beginning, we “do for” our clients by seeing to these immediate needs for them. Next, we “do with” our clients by partnering with them to set goals for their brighter futures. Through trauma-informed counseling and other tailored services, we help clients address the underlying causes of homelessness and violence and teach them critical skills for achieving and maintaining stability. Finally, we “cheer on” our clients when they are ready to take steps on their own, celebrating their independence while continuing to support their journeys.

From our immediate response to safe shelter and housing to our Comprehensive Service Model, Doorways empowers our clients every step of the way. Learn more about Doorways unique approach at www.DoorwaysVA.org/our-approach.

Who We Serve

Doorways serves our community’s most vulnerable members: families experiencing homelessness and survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Experiencing any one of these in your life is traumatic, but many of Doorways clients have experienced all three. Family homelessness and domestic and sexual violence impact everyone, regardless of age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. We serve women, men, youth and children; in fact, more than half of Doorways clients are kids. Meet three of our amazing clients, Christina, Erica and Khadeejah, and hear about their journeys firsthand:

 

Hope for a Brighter Future

While the issues of family homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault may seem too pervasive to solve, we know that, together, we can make a difference. Doorways envisions a community where all people live free of violence and have safe and stable housing.

Through the generosity of our partners and supporters, Doorways empowers our most vulnerable neighbors to survive crisis, rebuild their lives and achieve brighter futures. In so doing, we help break intergenerational cycles of homelessness and abuse, building the brightest possible future for those we serve and our shared community. The strength, courage and resilience of the women, men, youth and children we serve inspire us each and every day.

Sharing in our belief in their potential and hope for our clients brighter futures, Doorways dedicated and generous supporters enable us to respond to the increasing demand for safety and the growing complexity of the needs of survivors and families seeking self-sufficiency, despite the uncertain, restrictive funding climate that threatens our ability to deliver lasting change in our client’s well-being.

Court Advocacy

Everyone’s journey to a brighter future is different each individual has their own story, needs, goals and dreams; their pathways vary. We celebrate victories big and seemingly small: a baby’s homecoming or first steps; a mother’s new, better paying job; a family’s new apartment; a young man’s breakthrough in counseling; a child’s creation in art therapy. Each step forward makes for a great day at Doorways.

We also know that the challenges that arise along the way are part of the journey, and we’re here to help our clients face and overcome them. We’re humbled to be part of their life and see the transformation that is possible. Through Doorways, this support has helped our most vulnerable neighbors achieve the following in the last couple years:

  • 90% of clients experiencing intimate partner violence enhanced their safety by developing a safety plan, obtaining a legal protective order, and/or receiving accompaniment for emergency medical treatment post sexual assault.
  • 87% of households experiencing homelessness exited to safe housing.
  • 95% of children with social-emotional issues received services and treatment to address their needs.
  • 80% of adults improved or maintained employment or earning capacity, and nearly 70% built savings.

Join Our Cause

The time is now. The need for Doorways programs and services has never been greater. Over the past two years, every Doorways program serving survivors of violence has grown. Last year alone, Doorways responded to 1,347 calls to our 24-hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline impacting 2,206 adults and children a record number in the organization’s history.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in America. This month offers opportunities to raise awareness about sexual violence and resources available to survivors in our community, including our 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline, Hospital Accompaniment for survivors seeking medical attention, Court Advocacy, and our Revive Domestic & Sexual Violence Counseling Program, which offers individual and group counseling to survivors of all ages.

Visit www.DoorwaysVA.org/saam to learn how to participate in our awareness days and events, and how to help raise awareness during SAAM. Go to www.DoorwaysVA.org/join-our-cause for ways to stay involved all year long.

Passion and Conviction with JCADA

By Spencer Cantrell, Legal Access Program Director for the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse’s (JCADA).Spencer provides legal information and referrals to victims of domestic abuse experiencing a variety of legal issues.
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My work at JCADA allows me to combine my passion for helping survivors with a faith-based sensitivity and perspective. JCADA is terrific at helping survivors regardless of race, national origin, ability, background, faith, gender or sexual orientation while also providing a religious and cultural sensitivity that, I believe, makes us unique.

I admire Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She said,”I am passionate about the law because many people forget what lawyering is about. It’s about helping people.” I keep this quote on my desk as a reminder of why I decided to become an attorney and what my motivations are at work on a daily basis.

Recently, JCADA started Family Law seminars, where an attorney is available to come in and share basic information with clients about different family law topics, such as the basics of filing for divorce or child custody factors. This is a great opportunity for clients to learn more, in a safe space, about what they might expect, but also for clients to learn from one another and receive some informal emotional support. I’m very excited to continue this series at JCADA and, eventually, branch out into the myriad of topics affecting our clients, including tax issues, enforcement of court orders, and wills and estate planning.

Working with victims of domestic violence can be quite demanding, and having friends, family and pets at the end of the day can be refreshing. ​​I advise people that want to do this work to maintain a solid, intentional work-life balance. I also advise people to celebrate their successes with clients, because it helps to identify any silver linings that can be found.

I love any success a client achieves, and I define success however a client does. When a client chooses to divorce an abuser and completes that process, it’s typically treated as a success. When a client is able to co-parent with an abuser or enforce their child custody arrangement, that is a success.

One of my favorites is something a highlighted on the JCADA blog last summer, where we were able to help a client in a myriad of ways:helping her write h​er victim impact statement, court accompaniment, crime victim’s compensation reimbursement, retaking classes missed due to court without penalty, and moving to a safer location. I loved thinking creatively of ways to help this client and watching her become more empowered through the process.

Elle Woods said in her commencement speech at the end of Legally Blonde, “passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law — and of life. It is with passion, courage of conviction, and strong sense of self that we take our next steps into the world.” I try to live by these mottos in my interactions with clients.

Making Positive Life Changes at Friends of Guest House

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Friends of Guest House is a safe place in Northern Virginia for women to successfully re-enter the community after incarceration. While residing at Friends of Guest House the women have the opportunity to secure employment, obtain mental health and medical services, build community connections, and attain stable housing.

Each day we strive to challenge our clients to make positive life changes while also challenging the local community to disregard the stigma of ex-offenders. One of our former residents expressed her goals and the challenges of the preconceived opinion society has of her through a poem:

What do you see when you look at me?
Do you see a project to help you learn something?
or at first do you see a person going through things?
Do you imagine yourself to be better than me?

Oh enlighten me on what you see.
Do you see all the potential that I am trying to unleash?
Or maybe you just see the number that was given to me.

Oh ma’am, oh sir, tell me that you see a better life for me.

Well let me discuss what I see.
I see getting it by any and all means,
a growth that the eye cannot see.
Look into the future and that?s all I need
and maybe then you will be asking me
What do you see?

Our program has demonstrated that re-entry support is essential to breaking the cycle of crime and repeated incarceration. Without support, when returning to the community 70% of ex-offenders re-offend within two years. These numbers change drastically for Friends of Guest House graduates: fewer than 10% re-offend. With this in mind, our program offers three levels of support: Residential, Aftercare, and Outreach.

IMG_0218Our Executive Director, Kari Galloway, works tirelessly to ensure that the organization offers full support to the women we serve. She recently reached her 12-year anniversary with Friends of Guest House. Without her, the program would not be as strong and successful as it currently is. She inspires the staff to work hard and, more importantly, she inspires the women to succeed. Not only does she provide the encouragement and support to each client but she holds them accountable for their actions and offers the constructive criticism they need.

One of the biggest challenges for our clients is securing safe and affordable housing in the DMV. In order to afford the housing opportunities in the local area, our clients need to be able to find job opportunities that offer advancement and growth. Currently clients typically secure minimum wage positions and struggle to afford the local cost of living. Unfortunately, these women will typically decide to return home to unhealthy environments that challenge their sobriety and success.

We hope to address both the need for affordable housing and career oriented jobs through our most recent initiatives. The Workforce Development Program is a six-week program that allows clients to develop their resume, learn interviewing techniques, and obtain an internship and eventually a career. We are also piloting a subsidized transitional house for Aftercare and Outreach clients scheduled to open later this month.

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Come see our beautiful clients in action on April 4th at Sara Campbell’s Boutique 320 Prince Street – in Old Town, Alexandria from 6-8pm for a Friends of Guest House fashion show featuring current clients! It’ll be a fun evening to learn more about partnering with our organization while pampering our clients and giving them some time in the spotlight!

Friends of Guest House always welcomes volunteers, donations, and questions. Please visit us at www.friendsofguesthouse.org for contact information!

Hello My Sunshine People! Transforming Lives with Open Arms Housing

by Marilyn Kresky-Wolff, Executive Director, Open Arms Housing, Inc.

Open Arms Housing, Inc. (OAH) establishes homes for some of the most vulnerable women in Washington, D.C.
blog-march13Janet Starke waves to a passing neighbor outside of her new home in N.E. D.C. With support from Open Arms Housing, women like Janet, who were previously homeless, have moved into permanent homes with a welcoming and supportive environment.(Photo credit: Kate Patterson/For The Washington Post)

This Women’s History Month, we think of women in need of housing who have been overlooked for many years who finally have a place to call home.

Our mission is to provide permanent supportive housing for women who have a wide range of mental and physical challenges, and who have lived for prolonged periods on the streets and in shelters.

Open Arms offers individualized services in welcoming environments, using a Housing First approach. The Housing First approach does not require agreement to mental health treatment or sobriety as a criteria for obtaining housing, which is important to expedite getting women off the street and out of shelters. Our vision is to be a leader in the eradication of long-term homelessness for women in Washington, DC who have a variety of mental health and physical challenges.

During this year’s Women’s History Month, we are excited to report a growing national spotlight on the women we house. Open Arms is proud to be among agencies across the country who are engaging in a national campaign called the “One in Four Initiative”. This initiative addresses the stunning fact that 25% of the nation’s homeless population is female and seeks to identify how their needs differ, as well as highlight solutions to meet their needs; from housing alternatives that build community, to treatment modalities that recognize an almost universal experience of sexual and physical trauma, to the opportunity to reawaken needs for self-expression, creativity, and self-worth.

OAH has long recognized the need for specially designed housing services for women. Single buildings, with onsite support services and activities are critical. OAH developed two buildings with efficiency or one-bedroom units, equipped with full kitchen appliances and private bathroom, onsite support service staff, and overnight resident assistance.

A wonderful day at OAH is when one of our longest residing residents says “Hello my sunshine people!!” Or one in which a woman for the first time accepts mental health services with a caring professional…or paints a canvas in art class…or reaches out to a fellow resident who has suffered a loss in her family…or testifies before the D.C. City Council on the need for affordable housing… or tells her personal story of recovery.

Over the next few months, we look forward to finding housing in the wider community for 51 additional women, through a new contract from the D.C. Department of Human Services, which will more than triple the number we currently help. We will be able to offer greater choice in housing, with case managers providing mobile services and linkage to community resources. Each person’s case manager will help her move in, furnish the apartment, make adjustments to living in the community, coordinate the community services, and support her efforts to live independently.

At OAH, we measure outcomes such as 95% housing stabilization rate, 85% resident satisfaction, 100% resident engagement in relationship with support staff, 95% participation in program activities, 70% of participation in mental health and/or substance abuse treatment, and 95% application for all financial benefits for which client is eligible.

Help us support the new residents of our Permanent Supportive Housing Program by donating “Move-in bags” with household supplies, personal hygiene products, and linens.
Join us for An Evening of Food, Drinks and Celebration in Rockville, MD on March 30th at 6:30 – R.S.V.P. to marilyn@openarmshousing.org For more information, please contact us at info@openarsmhousing or call 202-525-3467.

Breast Care for Women Provides Peace of Mind

By Beth L. Beck, President and CEO

Dr. Regina Hampton and Beth Beck co-founded Breast Care for Washington to ensure that all women have access to lifesaving breast cancer screening, diagnostics and treatment, regardless of their ability to pay.

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Three years ago, outraged over the breast cancer mortality rates found in the Washington DC area, they felt it was important to bring a state-of-the-art breast care facility to the area where the need was great and resources limited. Since opening doors in May 2014, over 2,700 women have received care at our facility in Ward 8 and 25 cases of cancer have been diagnosed.

Every day we are motivated by the women who walk through our door, looking for help with a health issue. They come to us after searching the internet, by word of mouth, or from a referral from another health facility that refuses to see them because of their insurance status. When we connect to a woman with a lump in her breast, who has nowhere to turn, and we are able to provide her with immediate care, information and peace of mind – we know we are definitely in the right business!

As a relative young nonprofit, Breast Care for Washington continues to grow and we have not reached our patient capacity yet. Through the development of our robust community outreach program we are now able to reach more women with critical information about the importance of screening and early detection. We work hard to break down barriers to care including adding non-traditional screening times (weekends and evenings) to make our services as accessible as possible to busy women with competing priorities in their lives. Our vision includes a mobile mammography component in the next few years so that we are able to take care directly to our patients where they live and work.

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Breast Cancer is 95% curable if caught early and treated. Women hesitate to get mammograms because of fear, fear of the pain of the procedure as well as fear of something being found. Every day we work to overcome women’s fears by taking the time to explain how mammography works, by creating a warm and friendly environment for medical care, by getting to know our patients and remaining their supporters and advocates over time.

Whether we are working with a woman scared to get her mammogram for the first time or welcoming back a patient for her third annual mammogram with us, seeing the smiles on our patient’s faces makes our day. And we know that the more we encourage women to get their mammograms and make their health a priority, the more lives we will save.

Breast Care for Washington is located in the Conway Health and Resource Center. 4 Atlantic Street, SW Washington, DC 20032. For appointments and information please call 202-465-7164 We do not require referrals for screening mammograms.

Suited for Change: Celebrating Women’s Success

By Suellen Lazarus, Acting Co-Executive Director of Suited for Change

Suited 4At Suited for Change, we know that a well dressed woman is a powerful woman. We serve women who have overcome tremendous obstacles on their way to self sufficiency and are ready to re-enter the workforce. Suited for Change addresses barriers unaccounted for by other workforce programs. We provide professional attire, personalized style mentoring and job-readiness skills to women seeking financial independence. Along with professional clothing, the women who come to Suited for Change gain a renewed sense of power and confidence. Our clothing and mentoring sessions help women enter job interviews with the capacity to succeed.

The women who come to the Suited for Change boutique each day are an inspiration. They arrive at the boutique nervous, often with little confidence, and without appropriate work clothing. Some have been victims of domestic violence. Others have been incarcerated. They are single parents with young children. But all of our clients have been through job training programs and are ready for their first interview. With the help of our volunteer stylists, they are transformed to professional women ready for the workforce. To see this transformation and hear their stories, to know the path that they have traveled, that is an inspiration.

Suited 3A few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of helping “suit” a group of women who were completing the culinary training program at DC Central Kitchen. They were about to graduate from the program and came to Suited for Change for interview clothing. I was lucky to attend their graduation breakfast and hear their stories and their extraordinary journeys. One of the women who had been through the suiting program had never held a job. She was a single parent and shy. She emerged from the boutique beautifully dressed in a black suit with a white silk blouse and pearls. At the graduation, I was delighted to learn that she had been hired at the Ritz Carlton as a pastry chef. This is just one story of many each day.

We celebrate everyday by giving women the opportunity to tell their stories, to make sure that others hear them and gain strength from them. Our goal is to share their stories so others can have optimism, hope and success.

For women preparing for interviews, and those returning after having secured a job, we would love to have greater accessibility to our programs. Many of our clients are single parents juggling beginning a new career, some find visiting our boutique during regular hours a significant barrier. We are located in an office building downtown. This has its advantages in accessibility for some but for others it can be challenging to get to. To provide our clients with additional appointment times and increase capacity, Suited for Change has begun offering weekend suiting hours and we hope to also add evening hours in 2017.

Suited for Change welcomes donations of gently used, current, pressed, clean, interview-ready clothing and accessories. Their boutique is located at 1010 Vermont Ave. NW Suite 450 Washington, DC 20005 Phone (202) 293-0351.

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Celebrate Black History Month with CASA Prince George’s County

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“Make Justice a Reality for all Children,”… Including Foster Children

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said at his “March on Washington” on Aug. 28, 1963, “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” If he were alive today, he may have even rallied support for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA’s) who stand up for boys and girls. CASA’s are volunteers sworn-in by a judge to investigate a foster child’s needs and challenges – from academics to emotional well-being – and then report back their findings and recommendations.

At CASA/Prince George’s County, we celebrate Black History Month and thank Dr. King, and other veterans of the civil rights movement, for marching our nation forward towards a more just reality. In their spirit, we recruit, train and supervise CASA’s in Prince George’s County.

PG County is the wealthiest, predominately African-American county, in the nation. Unfortunately, many parts of the county and its residents suffer from high crime, high poverty rates, and a troubled school system.

Consider this: More than half of foster children nationwide drop out of high school, increasing the chances that they will slip into poverty, homelessness and possibly even jail. Today, foster children often begin their lives impoverished, are abused and neglected, abandoned and even traumatized. None of this is the fault of the children, they were simply born to parents unable to care for them.

Upwards of 70 percent of foster children who have been assigned to one of our CASA’s graduate, increasing the chances that they will enjoy a full and productive life.

We opened our doors in 2001 and, like other CASA’s nationwide, have made a real difference in the community we serve. We now have about 150 CASA’s in a county with more than 400 foster children. Our goal is to have one CASA for each child in foster care.

Studies show that foster children with CASA’s are more likely to thrive. With the help of a CASA, a foster child is more apt to graduate from high school, escape poverty and live a longer life.

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Celebrate Black History Month by?becoming a CASA, or learning more about CASA’s, please call: (301) 209-0491 or email volunteer@pgcasa.org.

Also, see: www.pgcasa.org

Living Life to Your Fullest Potential

Deborah.Drawing about NVTRP

As nine-year-old Deborah Busch – with her twinkling eyes and sweet, shy smile – sits at her kitchen table and chats about why she loves all things horse-related, you would never imagine the challenges she has overcome.

Her mom, Jessica, adopted her out of foster care three years ago. “Deborah suffered from extreme abuse and neglect,” she explained. “When I got her, she was six but she could barely talk and she had no core strength. It was hard just to lift her into the car. She was that floppy.”

On her way to work each day, Jessica would drive past the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program (NVTRP), located in Clifton, VA. Having ridden horses as a child, Jessica knew a connection with animals would play an important role in helping Deborah heal.

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For over thirty-five years NVTRP has helped riders to recognize the unexpected potential in their lives by providing equine-assisted activities to children and adults with disabilities, youth-at-risk, military service personnel and their families.

Students improve fitness level and mobility through horseback riding by gaining core strength, muscle control and balance. Working closely with horses and volunteers inspires them to build self-esteem and further socialization, and also helps to provide a sense of community and belonging.

“Deborah has so many diagnoses: fetal alcohol syndrome, ADHD, significant learning disabilities, it was really hard for her to connect emotionally to anything when she came to me,” said Jessica. A connection with animals is a great way for people to develop empathy. That’s absolutely been the case for Deborah.

Learning to ride and care for a horse not only improves the physical health of a rider, but also generates a critically important sense of achievement.

“Riding helps me do my work a lot. Some things are hard for me, like math and reading, and when I get frustrated, I think about the horses. That makes me feel better.” added Deborah.

Lessons at NVTRP are diverse and include instruction in riding skills, exercises, and games, while also focusing on grooming and horse care. Under the guidance of certified riding instructors, each year over 250 volunteers come together to help more than 350 students achieve an enriched quality of life while overcoming physical, mental, and emotional obstacles.

Deborah began riding at NVTRP in the Spring of 2014 and her mom delights in the success she has found.

“I can’t tell you how great it is to see Deborah do something independently,” Jessica said. “She needs so much support in everything else she does, but it’s like she’s a different kid on the horse. Listening and paying attention are so hard for her every place else. Riding just flows out of her. Riding is what’s fun for Deborah, and it’s so important that she has something fun in her life.”

NVTRP is accredited and nationally recognized by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Int’l). Lessons are taught by PATH Intl. Certified Riding Instructors who are assisted by up to three volunteers per rider. This type of structure and supervision enables riders to participate in a challenging, physically active sport that gives them confidence and a sense of accomplishment.
To learn how you can help riders like Deborah live life to their fullest potential, please visit www.nvtrp.org or call (703) 764-0269.

Celebrate Black History Month with Dance Institute of Washington

Picture #1-webFebruary is Black History Month, a joyous time of celebration and reflection. We applaud the many contributions of men and women of African ancestry, many of whom accomplished feats of greatness despite considerable challenges.

We are indebted to black creative minds throughout history, those who carry the life blood and soul of the African diaspora. In artists from Duke Ellington to Aretha Franklin, from Michael Jackson to Chance the Rapper we appreciate the innovations of song and dance–the beats, the rhymes, the rhythms. Poetry, philosophy, style and culture have all been shaped and enriched by black creators.

The black community has given the world African dance and drumming, jazz, blues, soul, rock, hip hop and countless other modes of powerful expression that survive, evolve, and change the world around us. People of African descent have contributed and continue to pioneer the way in diverse fields including politics, medicine, economics, technology and science, business, sports and more.

For this blog post, Dance Institute of Washington interviewed its students, parents and teaching artists about how Black History Month inspires them.

“Black history lives in dance, because popular dance has a lot of infusion from Afro-Caribbean dance styles. Back in time, dance was a form of communication and recreation,” says Crystal Waters, a DIW parent.

“Black history is dance! Every form of dance comes from black roots,” shares Maria Fenton, another parent.

“All of our lives are connected through dance. It’s a means of communication,” DIW teacher Yasmeen Enahora explains.

Dance Institute of Washington provides youth, especially at-risk, under-served youth from low-income communities, opportunities to develop artistically, socially, emotionally and intellectually through after school dance training, performances, education, work readiness and experience, and youth development.

The late Fabian Barnes established DIW in 1987 after a career with Dance Theatre of Harlem. Celebrating 30 years of service this year, DIW is one of DC’s largest African American arts organizations.? It is a cultural, educational resource, with its own Columbia Heights studios.

DIW meets the needs of DC children through year-round dance training, education, youth workforce development, and performances. DIW affords underserved populations pathways out of poverty. Graduates go on to colleges, including Harvard, Temple and SUNY Purchase; others enter careers with companies such as Ballet San Jose, Suzanne Farrell Ballet, The Lion King and Dance Theater of Harlem.

Black history and, more specifically, the progressive, successful trajectory of black artists leading the way in contemporary ballet and professional concert dance are true inspirations. From pioneer Arthur Mitchell to Dance Institute of Washington founder Fabian Barnes to today’s beloved Misty Copeland, black artists continually rise above barriers and perceived limitations to excel at the highest levels of dance, establishing the strong appeal of the beauty, versatility and virtuosity of black artists and the black experience. To have a thriving dance world, we must continue to diversify both the talent and audience for dance, and the positive examples of successful black dancers help make this possible.

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Black History Month is incredibly important to the work of the Dance Institute of Washington. Black history is vital because the success stories and foundation work established by other African people help to empower and inspire today’s citizens. When young people of color and of all backgrounds learn their history, they feel increased membership and belonging, they discover precedents for their own endeavors. The learning and creativity that come from looking back to our ancestors provide a path forward to new horizons.

Hope for the future

“DIW gives me hope for the future! Seeing so many young people involved in the arts.”–Crystal Waters, DIW parent

“DIW gives me hope for the future because the teachers mentor me and allow me to be exposed to new opportunities, and I admire them for that.”--Lauren Mueller, DIW student

“DIW gives me hope for the future because the teachers give us the experience that they have as professionals, and allow us to see how far we can go, as dancers.”–Terrion Jenkins, DIW student

“DIW gives me hope for humanity. Today, in the world we live in, DIW shows that through dance the continuation of humanity is possible.”–Faith Wilson, DIW student

“I love that black and white people, people of different races, are focusing on dance together. DIW is a place that offers a diverse dance experience for all races, and that’s what is hopeful about it.”–Robyn Lee Murphy, DIW parent

Picture #3Kahina Haynes, DIW’s new Executive Director is working diligently with the board, staff and community to strengthen DIW’s operations, programs and partnerships to secure DIW’s position as a beacon of hope and launchpad of talent for years to come.

Whether you have a lot of time to give or just a little, DIW welcomes the generous contributions of all volunteers and interns who can support the organization’s mission and core programs. Help is always needed in the areas of marketing, board development, management assistance, fundraising, operations, program delivery, evaluation and customer service. To explore possibilities, please email Mari Williams.

Mentoring helps students gain access to College

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Only 46% of low-income students matriculate to college, according to the US Census. Most of these students are afraid they can’t afford college and that huge debt will burden them and/or their families. At First Generation College Bound (FGCB), we break down misperceptions about college affordability and accessibility, and strive to improve our students matriculation and graduation rates.

Our College Access program works with 150 first generation students annually. Countering the perception that low-income students must win a scholarship to attend college, our program welcomes students with a 2.0 or greater GPA and helps them tackle the financial aid process. Many students receive need-based aid assistance that they didn’t know they qualified for. Our students are ready to make successful transitions to colleges that are the best fit for them and can compete academically with their more affluent peers.

Most of our students must overcome long odds to attend college and obtain their degrees. Mentoring enables our students to overcome barriers which have prevented many first generation college students from attending and graduating from college.

In one-on-one coaching sessions and in workshops, we constantly instill college bound attitudes in our students. Our outstanding College Access Coaches develop customized plans for students, empowering them to surmount barriers blocking their way to their goals. Preparing them to do well in the SAT and maintaining a college bound transcript, we remind our students they can compete academically. We demonstrate attending college is affordable and accessible by showing our students how to leverage aid available to attend college.

For more than 27 years, our college access mentoring has ensured 93% of our students matriculate to college, twice the national average, and 64% of our students finish their degrees in four years, twice higher the national average of 33% for low-income students, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.

FGCB is striving to develop support services and training for other organizations and programs. We hope other groups will want to replicate our highly successful model. If more groups adopt our mentoring approach, we’ll come closer to realizing our vision: one day all Marylanders will have equal access to affordable college educations.

You can learn more about our work by visiting www.fgcb.org