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National Foster Care Month with Barker Adoption Foundation

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The Barker Adoption Foundation is a nonprofit, private adoption agency that provides comprehensive adoption-related services for birth families, adopted persons and adoptive families through ethical adoption programs and post adoption support services.

Since 1945, we have provided adoption services and our programs today include a Domestic Infant Program, International Programs in China, South Korea, India, and Colombia, as well as extensive Post Placement and Family Support services including support groups, therapy, and educational programming. We also have a program called Project Wait No Longer (PWNL) which facilitates older child adoptions from foster care programs.
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At Barker, we believe that every child deserves a stable, loving, forever family and this is especially true of children “stuck” in the foster care system. Today, there are an estimated 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system. Tragically, over 100,000 of these children are legally eligible for adoption, yet remain in temporary and often transient foster care situations – waiting for the love and stability of a “forever family.”

By age ten, a child’s likelihood of being adopted goes down by 50 percent and an estimated 22,000 children “age out” of foster care every year with no family ties. In late 2005, The Barker Adoption Foundation launched Project Wait No Longer specifically to find adoptive families for the older children in foster care who often have the greatest need, yet tend to be the most difficult to place due to the scars of impermanence.
Tran-Larson Family 1In October of 2007, PWNL placed its first child and, as of 2016, PWNL has found permanent, safe, loving families for 117 older foster youth. PWNL heavily invests in the front-end of the adoption process, which results in a much greater chance of success for the new families. PWNL’s goal is not just to place a child with any family, assuming anything is better than foster care. The goals are to stop the cycle of disruption in the child’s life and find the right fit with the right family and achieve permanency and stability for the child. Having a program dedicated to finding families who are passionate about providing forever families for children in need is a huge part of the important work that we do.

I'm a Moody Family PicWe are inspired every day by the resilience of the children who come through our programs and the birth and adoptive parents who choose to embark on adoption journeys. We are inspired by the willingness of parents who are able to open their homes and their hearts to parent an older child with a history of trauma, neglect or abuse. We are inspired by those make “forever homes” possible for some of our neediest children. Finally, we are inspired by those people whose lives have been touched by adoption or the foster care system who have used their experience and fortitude to reach back to the next generation of children coming through the system to support them.

At Barker we are always seeking innovative ways to better meet the needs of the individuals and families that we serve.?Outreach, education and post-placement services for prospective parents and children in this program are going to be the keys to continued success. In addition, we continually develop new groups or services to provide support to our birth parents, prospective adoptive parents and families who have already been formed through adoption and are in the post-placement period.

Our newest program, CONNECT, is a mentoring program for children adopted by families through our older child program. Through this program we match adults who themselves have had experience with foster care and/or adoption with youth adopted through our older child program. We are looking forward to the growth and development of this newly launched program! So far, these unique connections have had a great impact on the youth we serve.

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Each individual that we work with is unique, and success is defined differently in every case. Success for us, especially in the PWNL Program, is supporting a child in finding a permanent and “forever home.” At the center of our work is always the best interest of each and every child – and we work tirelessly to find a loving and supportive family for as many children as we can and then supporting that placement with post-adoption services that help heal, share and celebrate families.

Some of our greatest days, can be our toughest days as well. Adoption is borne out of loss, and as such, a placement day can be a day of celebration for one family and a day of great loss for another. We are sensitive to this and therefore consider any day that we can make the right decisions on behalf of a child, or advocate for a birth or adoptive family a great day. While, there is no one “great day” at Barker, we will admit that staff has been known to “dance” in the hallways on the days that we make matches of our older waiting teenagers with loving and permanent families.

Families can reach us by visiting our website at www.barkeradoptiondfoundation.org, or by calling 301-664-9664.

We need volunteers! One of the biggest needs we have at Barker is for people who are willing to help us recruit families for older waiting children. Even if older child adoption is not a good fit for your family, there are many things that anyone can do to help us spread awareness of the needs of children in foster care. You can:

  • POST flyers, brochures and posters anywhere you’d like!
  • CONNECT PWNL with any adoption friendly organizations, community groups, or companies.
  • HOST an informational get together at your home for PWNL staff to share adoption information with people in your life who are interested in learning more about older child adoption.

We are also recruiting volunteers for our CONNECT mentoring program. We are in need of adults who are passionate about helping and supporting our adoptees adapt to their new family situations. All mentors are required to have foster care or adoption history in their own lives.

For more information about volunteering with outreach or through our mentoring program, please contact Alex Williams, PWNL Outreach and Program Support Specialist at awilliams@barkerfoundation.org or by calling 301-664-9664.

Motherhood is a Sisterhood with DC Diaper Bank

By Corinne Cannon, Founder and Executive Director, DC Diaper Bank
33593131875_ca921b159b_oNext month, DC Diaper Bank will distribute our 5 millionth diaper to a little one in the metro area. If you had told us that we would reach this milestone in six years we would have laughed! But we’ve gotten there because so may people have come together to make supporting vulnerable families a priority.

DC Diaper Bank was founded to ensure that all moms — all families — have what they need to thrive. Through our network of 40+ partnerships in Maryland, DC and Virginia, we distribute diapers (150,000+ each month!) and other necessary essentials, like formula, period products, adult diapers, and breastfeeding supplies, to families with young children experiencing poverty.

Diaper need is an issue for 1 in 3 families in poverty in this area and nationally. Government support like WIC or SNAP does not cover diapers, and as any parent will tell you — they are expensive, especially when you aren’t buying them in bulk. Diapers at a corner store can cost up to $.50/diaper, when a child goes through 10 diapers a day, that expense adds up quickly! Lack of diapers can lead to a host of problems, from diaper rash for babies to employment issues for grown-ups, since a supply of clean diapers is required by most child care providers.

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The moms out there doing their best in tough circumstances inspire us! At DCDB, we’ve come to realize that motherhood is a sisterhood — we help a mother out when we can, we are helped by other moms when we need it, and that’s how we raise healthy, strong, thoughtful members of the next generation.

We’re also inspired by our partner organizations, who every day find new and creative ways to engage families in their programs and support them through challenges. Finally, we’re inspired by the families that volunteer with us (1,500 each year!)– folks that are demonstrating to their children that it’s never too soon to help someone out, and that your time, and dollars, can have a real impact on someone in need.

We are excited to be broadening our definition of essentials right now — in addition to diapers, we are able to offer our partner agencies formula, wipes, period products, hygiene items and feeding supplies, and the list grows! Success for us is every child having everything they need in those critical first years of development, and every family having the support they need.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities and other was to get involved at dcdiaperbank.org

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Around Town 5/18-26

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

CASA in the Community: Stream Clean-up

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)/Prince George’s County
Join CASA for a day in the community! As part of our events in honor of National Foster Care Month, CASA staff and volunteers as well as other members of our neighborhood will work to clean up the stream behind our office which is a part of the Anacostia watershed. We will have support from the Alice Ferguson Foundation and the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment, Sustainable Initiatives Division. Come join us for a day of giving back as we contribute to the beautification of our neighborhood and cleanliness of the Anacostia watershed. Lunch for volunteers will be sponsored by Douglas Development. Sign up to join us!

When: Thu May 18 2017 (11:30 AM – 3:00 PM)
Where: CASA Headquarters, 6811 Kenilworth Avenue, Riverdale, MD 20737
Fee: no
Volunteer Info: Volunteers will use provided tools and supplies to help to clean litter out of the stream and nearby embankment
Contact: Kara Bundy, (301) 209-0491
For more information: click here

The Crucible

The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts
The Crucible is Arthur Miller’s retelling of hysteria surrounding the Salem Witch trials written when America was experiencing similar fears over communism. Long considered an American classic.

When: Thu May 18 2017 (7:30 PM)
Where: The Theatre Lab, 733 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Fee: yes $15 – Adults $10 – Students
Volunteer Info: Ushering, concession sales, etc.
Contact: Dane Petersen, (202) 824-0449
For more information: click here

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Crucible

The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts
The Crucible is Arthur Miller’s retelling of hysteria surrounding the Salem Witch trials written when America was experiencing similar fears over communism. Long considered an American classic.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Kids to Parks Day

National Park Trust
Kids to Parks Day is a nation-wide day of outdoor play organized by National Park Trust (NPT) in cooperation with a host of local and national collaborators. Next year’s KTP Day will be held on Saturday, May 20, 2017, the week before the official start of summer. NPT is encouraging childrenacross the country to explore their neighborhood parks and discover science, history, nature and adventure right around the corner or just across town. Visit us at kidstoparks.org. Note: The address listed is the National Park Trust corporate office. Events will be held nationwide.

When:Sat May 20 2017 (00:00 AM – 11:45 PM)
Where:Nationwide, 401 E. Jefferson St., Rockville, MD 20850
Fee:no
Contact:Chris Reif, (301) 279-7275
For more information:click here

Laurel Community Day 5K & 1 Mile Walk

First Generation College Bound
Laurel Advocacy & Referral Services, Inc. (LARS) and First Generation College Bound (FGCB) are joining forces for a 5K to kick off Laurel High School’s Community Day! The 5K run and 1 mile walk begin at McCullough Field on Saturday, May 20th, starting at 8AM and following Laurel’s official5K course through Riverfront Park and Old Towne. All proceeds from this joint fundraiser will be split between LARS and FGCB to help advance our shared vision for the Laurel community: a place where everyone has the support they need to rise above difficult economic circumstances. After the 5K, the fun continues just up the road at Laurel High School, including a car show, food trucks, a moon bounce, and more from 11-3PM. Pick up your race packet and t-shirt on Friday, May 19th from 3-6PM at LARS (311 Laurel Ave, Laurel MD 20707). Registration and packet pick-up is also available on the morning of the race at McCullough Field, starting at 7AM. Registration for runners and walkers is $35 after May 1 and includes a commemorative race t-shirt. Visit www.laureladvocacy.org to register online or to download a paper registration form. Can’t make it this year? Register as a “sleepwalker” and you’ll still receive a race t-shirt! Contact Laura Wellford at (301) 776-0442 ext. 27 or lwellford@laureladvocacy.org for more information or Nickole Conyngham at (301) 490-0911 or nconyngham@fgcb.org on sponsoring, participating, or volunteering.

When:Sat May 20 2017 (08:00 AM)
Where:McCullough Field, Montgomery & 8th Street, Laurel, MD 20707
Fee:yes $35
Volunteer Info:course marshals, clean up, set up, refreshments
Contact:Nickole Conyngham, (301) 490-0911

Eiko Otake

Dance Place
A Body in Places is Eiko Otake’s first solo project, the scale of which varies radically between locations and incorporates both performative and non-performative elements. Central to the project is a drive to explore non-traditional venues and to respond to the innate characteristics of each specificplace. At the core of each variant is Eiko alone on a colorful futon, projecting and exploring solitude, gaze, fragility and intimacy. In Eiko & Komas performances, two bodies represent drama even when the other was absent. A Body in Places does not offer such drama. Performing as a soloist, Eiko Otake willfully partners with the particularities of places and viewers. In October 2014, Eiko Otake launched A Body in Places project with the photo exhibition A Body in Fukushima and her performance A Body in a Station in 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. The durational performances began Eiko’s exploration of how the fragility of the body within public places mutually affects and is affected by the gaze of passers by. Eiko Otake will be bringing her A Body in Places project to 8th St NE for a residency: Saturday, May 20 11:00 am: FREE Outdoor Performance of A Body in Places at the Brookland’s Monroe Street Farmer’s Market on the Arts Walk at Monroe Street Market (716 Monroe St NE) 7:00pm: FREE Outdoor performance of A Body in Places on 8th St NE, concluding in Dance Place’s Cafritz Foundation Theater and followed by A Body in Fukushima lecture / photo demonstration (Dance Place, 3225 8th St NE)

When:Sat May 20 2017 (11:00 AM)
Where:Dance Place 8th Street Arts Park, 3225 8th Street NE, Washington, District Of Columbia 20017
Fee:no
Contact:Amanda Blythe, (202) 269-1608
For more information:click here

The Crucible

The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts
The Crucible is Arthur Miller’s retelling of hysteria surrounding the Salem Witch trials written when America was experiencing similar fears over communism. Long considered an American classic.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Red Shoe 5K Run and Walk

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC
7th Annual Red Shoe 5K Run and Walk. Kids Fun

When:Sun May 21 2017 (09:00 AM)
Where:Dulles Station, Herndon, VA, Dulles Station, Herndon, VA 20171
Fee:yes $35 for adult participation ($40 day of)
Volunteer Info:General race assistance, manning sign-in tables, distributing refreshments etc
Contact:Kristen Claus, (202) 529-8204
For more information:click here

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Senior PGA Championship

LIFT-DC
Volunteer on behalf of LIFT-DC to staff one of the food vending stations during the Senior PGA Championship. Each completed 6-8 hour volunteer shift on behalf of LIFT-DC results in a donation to our organization. Volunteers receive one parking passes and one meal during the day of their shift, as wellas a non-transferable complimentary pass that allows volunteers to watch tournament play before/after their shifts.

When:Thu May 25 2017 (07:00 AM – 7:00 PM)
Where:20391 Lowes Island Blvd, Potomac Falls, VA 20165
Fee:no
Volunteer Info:Volunteers will staff food vending stations for 6-8 hour shifts where they will take food orders, serve food and/or helping staff the cash register.
Contact:David Wyman, (202) 750-8417

Friday, May 26, 2017

Senior PGA Championship

LIFT-DC
Volunteer on behalf of LIFT-DC to staff one of the food vending stations during the Senior PGA Championship. Each completed 6-8 hour volunteer shift on behalf of LIFT-DC results in a donation to our organization. Volunteers receive one parking passes and one meal during the day of their shift, as wellas a non-transferable complimentary pass that allows volunteers to watch tournament play before/after their shifts.

When:Fri May 26 2017 (07:00 AM – 7:00 PM)
Where:20391 Lowes Island Blvd, Potomac Falls, VA 20165
Fee:no
Volunteer Info:Volunteers will staff food vending stations for 6-8 hour shifts where they will take food orders, serve food and/or helping staff the cash register.
Contact:David Wyman, (202) 750-8417

Getting to Know Thanks USA

ThanksUSA provides college, technical and vocational school, need-based scholarships for the children and spouses of U.S. military personnel from all five branches of the Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves.

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Roughly 2.9 million military family members in the US don’t wear the uniform but “serve” too; 560,000 service members claim 1.1 million children as dependents. And there are more than 100,000 military children ages 17-22 in active duty households.

Scholarship applicants are eligible for grants if their military family member has served 180 days since September 11, 2001, and preference is given to spouses and children of the wounded and fallen. Since 2006, ThanksUSA has awarded nearly 4,000 scholarships totaling $12 million in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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College affordability is one of the greatest burdens facing military families who largely depend on a single income — an average annual salary for an E9 over 20 years of service is $46,000 plus variable housing and cost of living allowances. According to Blue Star Families 2016 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, military families are 27% less likely to have dual incomes than civilian families.

ThanksUSA seeks to lift part of this burden with the gift of scholarships. Each ThanksUSA scholarship is for $3,000, which may not seem like a large amount but most military spouses and children receive some form of tuition assistance because of their family finances. An additional $3,000 goes a very long way — enabling the scholar to drop a part-time job; to pay for travel expenses, books and fees; or to close the gap between affording and not affording a more expensive school.

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ThanksUSA began as the “brain blast” of two sisters, Rachel and Kelsi Okun of McLean, Virginia, while on a family vacation in August 2005. They became fascinated with the appeal of treasure hunts. The girls wondered about using the appeal of treasure hunts to inspire children and their parents to support a national goal. Asked what that mission should be, the girls said they wanted to help the families of military troops. They were inspired by their neighbor, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Lanier Ward, who had been severely injured in Iraq. Although the girls had already sent care packages to soldiers overseas from school and church, and had written letters to soldiers, they wanted to do something more.

ThanksUSA’s military family scholarship program was born out of compassion and a simple idea, and over a decade later, ThanksUSA is still inspired by Rachel and Kelsi’s passion for helping military families.

One of ThanksUSA’s most exciting times of the year is the opening of its scholarship application, April 1-May 15, and the subsequent awarding of scholarships to these applicants. Year-round we work hard to get the word out about our scholarship program and to raise awareness and funds to award as many scholarships as possible to deserving military spouses and children. We look forward to learning about our new scholars – their journeys, their ambitions, and their passions – and following them throughout their schooling and beyond.

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ThanksUSA is also extremely excited about our weekly Wounded Veterans Adaptive Tennis Clinic at East Potomac Tennis Center in Washington, DC. In February, we kicked off this clinic as a way to give back to wounded veterans by providing a sport that acts as rehabilitation, as well as a fun way to stay active and socialize.

The clinic is taught by PTR Adaptive Tennis Certified, USPTA wheelchair certified and 2015 PTR Maryland Member of the Year, Brenda Gilmore. Brenda says: “It’s been quite rewarding for me to see not only the progress of the participants but to see how much they enjoy each other’s company as much as they do learning to play tennis. I think this is truly one of the highlights of their week!” And it is truly the highlight of ThanksUSA’s week as well! Getting to know the veterans and their stories, and watch as their passion for tennis grows off the court, is a rewarding experience.

ThanksUSA has plans to continue this clinic into 2018, and there is growing interest in beginning clinics in additional cities.

A great day at ThanksUSA is spent at one of our events – including our military appreciation days and our golf and tennis tournaments – where our military and their families are appreciated and thanked for their service. Getting out and about in such active environments with our supporters, who meet and get to know our troops and their kids and spouses, all while raising money to boot, is a great reminder of why ThanksUSA works hard every day!

America’s troops and their families deserve our respect and our thanks for their selfless service. Members of the United States Armed Forces have borne significant burdens to protect this country, and we can’t let their contributions be forgotten.

Anyone can reach us by visiting our website, www.thanksusa.org, or by messaging us on Facebook. Any questions or comments can also be directed to ThanksUSA Executive Director, Michele Stork at MicheleStork@thanksusa.org or (703) 855-4108.

We happily accept volunteers for our events throughout the year. We know there are many people who also have a passion for serving members of our Armed Forces and their families, and we look forward to working with them! Here are some of our upcoming events in the Washington DC region:

May 8: ThanksUSA Charity Golf Tournament
May 27: Tennis Thanks the Troops All-American Family Day Bash
October 25: Treasure our Troops Gala

Another way to engage with ThanksUSA is to like and share our posts on social media:

Facebook: ThanksUSA
Twitter: @ThanksUSA
Instagram: @ThanksUSA

A Local Recipe for Healthy Kids

by Emma Boel, City Blossoms
IMG_6151 City Blossoms is a nonprofit dedicated to fostering healthy, diverse communities by developing creative, kid-driven green spaces and innovative resources.

Working out of Washington DC as its home base, City Blossoms innovates new resources and techniques in urban, educational gardening and youth empowerment. City Blossoms facilitates local empowerment within predominantly black and Latino populations by partnering with schools and organizations, maintaining Community Green Spaces, and offering tools and trainings to educators and community leaders. Their holistic approach incorporates art, gardens, science, cooking, healthy living, and community building into one joyful and educational experience for people of all ages.
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The nonprofit reached a total of 3,500 students at its gardens in 2016, and boasted 300 hours of free programming at its two community green spaces in the same year. Washingtonians rave about the results. One garden parent, a city native, insists, “Programs like City Blossoms are absolutely vital to the youth of DC.”

This impactful work has recently resulted in an exciting new outcome: City Blossoms just printed a cookbook.
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Garden Gastronomy, Gastronomia del Jardin is a vibrant collection of bilingual recipes designed to help children become enthusiastic and healthy chefs. Perfect for the educator, parent, or veggie enthusiast interested in sharing the joy of cooking with kids, this artfully constructed book is full of colorful photographer and cheerful illustration to make it an appealing treat for readers of all ages. The book includes 32 bilingual garden recipes, guidance on cooking seasonally with local produce, and tips for preparing food with kids.

The recipes include snacks and dishes like Sunflower Seed Pesto, Strawberry Mint Salad, and Garden Ramen. It’s a valuable product in-and-of-itself, however, the book’s most important feature may be its local roots.

Every recipe has been made time and time again by thousands of little hands. Every dish comes with the approval of young DC gardeners, who have built this book in the same way they have built their gardens: themselves. City Blossoms wrote and published the book after testing and tasting each recipe in the gardens with young chefs. They hope it will reach educators, gardeners, parents, and food justice activists. They hope it will find readership around the country. However, they know that these dishes have already made their way into the homes of the children who provided the energy for its creation, and that feels like a great start.
FullSizeRender 8The best days at City Blossoms are those full of community. We love to have volunteers at our garden work days, participants in our Open Time programming, and visitors at our public Community Green Spaces. To buy a copy of the cookbook, to connect with us, or to become a member of our essential team of donors and partners, visit our website at cityblossoms.org.

Nourishing Body and Soul at Thrive DC

By Greg Rockwell, Community Relations Manager, Thrive DC

Thrive DC is a “one-stop shop” for homeless services in Columbia Heights. We provide a range of services to help clients take their next step out of homelessness AND avoid becoming homeless in the first place.
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Since 2002, the average rent has gone up $3,000. At the same time, DC has lost HALF of its affordable housing to gentrification and luxury condos.

For the 8,000 – 10,000 already homeless individuals, and the many more living on the edge of poverty, that means DC has literally no room for them. We are experiencing a crisis where people are living on the street without resources and people in housing are just trying to hang on.

Thrive DC acts as an anchor and support system to these people to help them take their next step out of homelessness.

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“There is a spirit of community that infuses the organization. The direct services provided are necessary for the body, but the community serves the soul. Who’s to say which is the more valuable? Both are necessary and both can be found in great measure at Thrive DC.” — Volunteer

In 2019 we will celebrate 40 years of service to DC’s homeless population. In honor of that milestone we are also looking for a new space that we can grow in and provide even better service to our clients.

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Our clients are our inspiration, and our relationships with them drive everything we do. We get so excited to see them succeed!

When clients achieve the goals they set for themselves; to get sober, to get a job, to get housing, to re-establish their lives after years of incarceration – that’s what success looks like for us.

A great day includes a client achieving their goals, a big donation of socks or underwear, and a fresh baked plate of our Development Director’s world famous macaroons.

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Thrive DC is located in Columbia Heights, on the bottom level of St. Stephen’s Church at 16th St & Newton St NW. We love volunteers, and need around 20 volunteers a day to help with our breakfast & dinner programs, employment programs, and front desk work.

One of the biggest things people can do is to take our business cards and keep them in their wallet, purse, or pocket. We encourage people to interact with panhandlers as their conscience dictates, but also to always let clients know the next place to get more help.

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LearnServe Helps Young People Find Their Voice

By Scott Rechler, Learn Serve International

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LearnServe believes in the power of young people to affect social change, and in the power of social change work to shape young leaders.

Youth have the energy, creativity, and passion to identify injustice and drive innovative change,yet often feel powerless to act on that potential. LearnServe helps them find their voice. We envision a new generation of young leaders standing up for the issues that matter to them most.
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A basketball tournament designed to bridge DC teens and police officers. English classes for immigrant and refugee students in northern Virginia. Support for girls building self-confidence and a healthy body image. A fleet of electric school buses. Meet the high school students behind these dynamic new ideas and more at the 8th Annual LearnServe Panels and Venture Fair on Thursday, April 27 from 5:00 – 8:00 pm at Washington Latin Public Charter School (5200 2nd St NW, Washington, DC 20011).
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Students teams will present their ideas in short pitches to panels of business and community leaders, and in a science-fair style exhibition with the opportunity to win up to $200 in seed funding for their projects. RSVP online at http://learn-serve.org/programs/fellows/2017-panels-venture-fair.

LearnServe International is a non-profit organization that equips students from diverse backgrounds with the entrepreneurial vision, tenacity, confidence, and leadership skills needed to tackle social challenges at home and abroad.

Each year LearnServe brings together 100+ students from public, charter, and independent schools in the Washington, DC area. We strengthen their academic and professional success through three complementary programs. The LearnServe Fellows program guides students as they design and launch entrepreneurial ventures with social goals. LearnServe Abroad introduces social innovation through a global lens, as students volunteer with entrepreneurs overseas. Seeding Social Innovation offers curriculum materials to bring social entrepreneurship into the classroom.

We invite you to join the community of individuals, businesses, and schools committed to sparking a new generation of social entrepreneurs across the DC region. Get involved and learn more about our programs at www.learn-serve.org.

Defend Waterways of the Potomac with Potomac Riverkeeper Network

By Nathan Ackerman, VP Communication & Creative, Potomac Riverkeeper Network

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Photography: Lindsay Bernal, courtesy of Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Potomac Riverkeeper Network is a non-profit environmental organization fighting to keep pollution out of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers through grassroots organizing and legal advocacy.

We believe experiencing our rivers builds appreciation for them. We defend and enhance public access to the waterways of the Potomac watershed through Riverkeepers, who identify and address threats to the Potomac, Upper Potomac, and the Shenandoah.

We serve the 6 million people who rely on our rivers as the source of their drinking water, the thousands of recreational users of the rivers, and the many more who may never spend time on our rivers but appreciate their beauty, and the vital role they play in our economy and the ecosystems they sustain.

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Photography: Lindsay Bernal, courtesy of Potomac Riverkeeper Network

We protect and defend our rivers because they sustain life. Our rivers supply our drinking water and put food on the table. Keeping our rivers healthy keeps the Chesapeake Bay healthy – which generates 33 billion in recreational and economic benefits each year. But beyond the economic benefits, we believe our rivers have intrinsic value that merits protection.

The work we do is important because our country still allows industry, municipalities and agricultural operations to externalize significant costs by using our rivers to dispose of their waste and pollution. Proposed rollbacks of federal clean water protections make our work more important than ever – local vigilance, citizen action, public education and engagement are the last lines of defense.

Our work in Alexandria, Virginia kept nearly a billion gallons of sewage and contaminated stormwater out of the Potomac by exposing the extent to which the city was polluting our nation’s river. Generating pressure through the media and raising public awareness cut over a decade off of the original plan for fixing the problem.

When we discovered families in Dumfries, Virginia were being poisoned by toxic coal ash leaking into their drinking water, we organized the community, and worked to get a law passed to address the situation.

We are inspired by the belief that people have a fundamental right to clean water. We are inspired by single moms working two jobs who find time to speak up for the environment at public hearings. We are inspired by the fact that nearly 50 years ago President Lyndon Johnson called the Potomac River “a national disgrace” but today long lines lead to the Key Bridge boathouse filled with people who can’t wait to get out on the river, thanks to the Clean Water Act.

Here in Washington, we’re seeing a dramatic change in the public perception of the river – urban planners see it an an amenity, not an afterthought.

“Choosing to save a river is more often an act of passion than of careful calculation. You make the choice because the river has touched your life in an intimate and irreversible way, because you are unwilling to accept its loss.”

(David Bolling, How to Save a River: Handbook for Citizen Action)

Our biggest outreach event of the year, RiverPalooza, kicks off June 3rd with a day of paddling followed by a BBQ and Bluegrass party in Harpers Ferry. RiverPalooza runs most weekends through the summer and will feature 14 river adventures for all ages and skill levels – kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, canoe and camping trips. For those looking for ways to experience our rivers, this is the way to do it.

On the campaign front, we just committed to taking a leadership role in fighting a pipeline project that would carry fracked gas from Pennsylvania through the Maryland panhandle, and under the Potomac River. The company proposing this doesn’t have a great safety record. There’s no need for Maryland to risk their natural resources, tourism and recreation dollars on a pipeline that does nothing for them – the gas isn’t going to Maryland, it’s going through Maryland. Banning fracking in Maryland was the first step. Keeping pipelines out is next.

  • Success for Potomac Riverkeeper Network is a healthy Shenandoah and Potomac River, made possible by holding polluters accountable and building public awareness and appreciation for the role rivers play in our lives.
  • Success would be never reading another headline about how the swimming portion of the National Triathlon was cancelled because the water was unsafe for human contact.
  • Success is stopping cities from dumping raw sewage into the river. Success would be building the next generation of advocates for our rivers, setting their expectations high, and giving them the tools to win.
  • A perfect day is bringing a group of people to a scenic stretch of the Shenandoah for the first time and seeing their faces light up as they discover what we fight for and why – without any explanation.

We can be reached by calling 202 888 2037 or by emailing nathan@prknetwork.org or maria@prknetwork.org. Our website has information about our priority issues, links to take action, to volunteer and to join our organization. A great way to engage with us is to participate in one of our RiverPalooza trips, which are led by our Riverkeepers or liking us on Facebook.

“Keep your rivers flowing as they will, and you will continue to know the most important of all freedoms – the boundless scope of the human mind to contemplate wonders, and to begin to understand their meaning. “

(David Brower, The Foreword to Oregon Rivers by Larry Olson and John Daniel)

 

 

 

 

Every Day is Earth Day at National Park Trust

by Grace Lee, Executive Director, National Park Trust

Preserving parks today; creating park stewards for tomorrow.

EW Stokes_Bladensburg park
Photographer: Chris Rief, courtesy of National Park Trust

Celebrated each year on April 22nd, this year’s Earth Day falls during National Park Week (April 15th through April 23rd). National Park Week is celebrated at more than 400 national park units across the country, many of which are located right in our backyard. Did you know that the White House, National Mall, Rock Creek Park and the C & O Canal all are National Parks?

Neval Thomas_National Mall_Lincoln Memorial
Photographer: Chris Rief, courtesy of National Park Trust

Earth Day is a time to pause, think, and take action to protect our environment – something that is at the core of the mission of National Park Trust (NPT), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit included in this year’s Catalogue for Philanthropy. For more than 30 years, NPT has worked to protect our national parks locally and across the country. Our mission focuses on preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow.

St. Fancis Xavier_Anacostia Park
Photographer: Chris Rief, courtesy of National Park Trust

NPT acquires privately owned lands located within and adjacent to our national parks including national parks in the DC-metro area. There are millions of acres of privately owned land located inside the boundaries of our national parks. NPT’s land acquisition projects are selected from a high-priority “wish list” provided to us by the National Park Service; many are at risk for development.

The long-term protection of our country’s unique natural, historic and cultural treasures depends on our youth – our future stewards who will protect these special places for generations to enjoy. Most of the visitors to our national parks are white and aging. If our parks are to be protected in perpetuity, we must connect our growing young and diverse populations with these special places. Simply said: kids need parks — and parks need kids.

EW Stokes_Carderock
Photographer: Billy Schrack, courtesy of National Park Trust

That’s why in 2009 we launched our fun and innovative Buddy Bison School Program in the DC-metro area in six under-served elementary and middle schools. At the heart of the program is our mascot Buddy Bison who encourages kids to explore outdoors, the parks are yours! Little did we know how quickly (in just eight short years!) our program would grow, as teachers eagerly incorporated environmental education into their classrooms. As a result, and thanks to the outstanding support from our donors, we now fund 60 Title I schools locally and across the country. Our dream? To grow and sustain 100 schools in honor of the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, which was celebrated last year.

The Buddy Bison program provides park trips tying in STEM, history and social studies curricula. In addition to being terrific outdoor classrooms, parks are also ideal places where students can learn about health and wellness through outdoor recreation and park stewardship through career and volunteer opportunities.

Neval Thomas_National Mall_FDR
Photographer: Chris Rief, courtesy of National Park Trust

This Earth Day, we invite you to join us in taking action to protect and preserve our national parks and the environment. Then on Saturday, May 20th, let’s keep the momentum going by celebrating Kids to Parks Day – a national day of outdoor play, organized by NPT, that focuses on kids, our future park stewards. There are lots of free park events registered at kidstoparks.org including several in our backyard.

If you’d like to learn more about our work and how you can get involved, visit parktrust.org because…Every day is Earth Day at National Park Trust!

Saving the Amazon Rainforest with Science

By Ana Folhadella, Development and Communications Associate, Amazon Conservation Association

The Amazon rainforest is under attack. While the region still maintains vast tracts of intact, megadiverse, and carbon-rich forests, it faces escalating threats from illegal gold mining, illegal logging, illegal drug plantations, unsustainable agriculture, cattle pastures, and road construction. At current rates, more than half of the Amazon rainforest may be destroyed or severely damaged by 2030.

Keeping the Amazon standing is crucial for our survival as a species. The Amazon has long been recognized as one of the most biologically rich regions on Earth. It is home to millions of species of animals, plants and insects, essential not only to the indigenous communities living in the region, but also to the overall health of our planet. The rainforest is not just some far-away land that gets showcased at National Geographic specials from time to time, and deforestation happening there affects us right here in the U.S.A. This forest stores 80 to 120 billion tons of carbon, which helps stabilize the Earth’s climate. Destroying such a large storage of carbon will have devastating effects on all of our lives.
ACA5 The Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) was established for the sole purpose of protecting the Amazon rainforest and all those who call it home. Since 1999, we have been pioneers in conservation, focusing our efforts on a key area where the Amazon rainforest meets the Andes mountains in Peru and Bolivia.

Our founding program provided financial and technical support for Brazil nut harvesters in Peru, as an incentive for helping protect the Amazon rainforest. We now work with more than 100 communities in the Andes-Amazon to help them make a living in ways that also sustain biodiversity in the forest and have widely expanded our conservation efforts into other areas. Moreover, now we:

  • Protect over 3.8 million acres of Amazonian rainforest through the creation of legally recognized protected areas and other conservation strategies;
  • Plant tens of thousands of trees every year to help restore damaged habitats;
  • Use innovative satellite imagery to monitor deforestation in near-real time and alert key stakeholders of potential illegal activities;
  • Host hundreds of researchers annually, who advance our understanding about biodiversity, conservation methods, and the impacts of climate change;
  • Partner with indigenous communities to develop forest-friendly livelihoods;
  • And much more!

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A vital part of our conservation approach is the use of cutting-edge science to inform projects on the ground, promote rational discourse on tough policy questions, and educate and inspire the next generation of conservationists. To this end, we manage some of the best biological research stations in the tropics where each year we host hundreds of scientists and students from all over the world, conduct biological monitoring, and provide workshops and educational opportunities for local communities.

To this date over 200 research projects have been conducted at our stations, including studies on the effects of climate change on amphibians, the impact of overgrazing on threatened high altitude wetlands, the dynamics of mixed-flocks of birds, the diet of Andean bears, and the diversity of orchids in the region.

Dr. Miles Silman, Professor and Director at the Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability at Wake Forest University stated that ACA’s field stations are our laboratories and windows into the future of Earth’s highest biodiversity area. They are important not only to understand biodiversity now, but how it will survive in the future.

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Our scientific approach can also be seen in our Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP), where we use high-resolution satellite imagery from sources like NASA to track deforestation in the Amazon and analyze its causes. Not only do we use science to track this deforestation in near real-time, we also have formed closed alliances with local authorities who now use this data as a key piece of information to stop deforestation before it gets to a point of no return. The information we publicly post on MAAP is strictly scientific and unbiased, which helps authorities and lawmakers utilize it to further conservation efforts.

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Not only do we use science-based conservation in all of our protection efforts, we also strive to train the next generation of conservationists who will be at the forefront of environmental conservation years from now. We believe that supporting new conservationists early in their careers will be key in ensuring the Amazon is protected by trained experts for generations to come.

ACA’s very own General Science Coordinator, Sandra Almeyda, started off as a scholarship recipient and is now a full-on biologist contributing to the protection of the Amazon. “I started my scientific career thanks to a scholarship granted by ACA to develop my undergraduate thesis,” she says, “now as the General Science Coordinator, one of my main motivations is to inspire young scientist and provide them with opportunities to follow their passion, to experience science first hand, and to fall in love with their profession, like I did.”

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We hope you will join our conservation journey to keep the Amazon rainforest safe and our climate in check. You can make a difference by:

Learn more about how your support is helping protect the Amazon and how you can become a conservation hero at http://www.amazonconservation.org/.

PS: All the beautiful images in this post were taken at our biological stations in Peru and have NOT been photoshopped! Come experience this magical place in person!