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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.

When Women Have a Chance in Tech

By Elizabeth Lindsey, Executive Director of Byte Back

women in techWomen make up only 25 percent of the computing workforce in the United States. For women of color, this drops drastically, with just 3 percent of the workforce made up of African American women and 1 percent Latina women.

March is Women’s History Month: a time to celebrate progress, recognize deficits, and act for equality. Now is the perfect time to give a woman her start in tech.

In Byte Back’s 20 years, our demographics have never reflected the outside tech world. That’s kind of the point. In 2016, 417 women, or 61 percent of Byte Back’s student body, found empowering tech skills for free at Byte Back.

Byte Back offers a pathway of practical tech training and career services for DC-area residents, leading to professional careers and economic opportunity.
When women are offered the chance to learn and use technology the same as men, women access vital life opportunities, including high-paying jobs, healthcare, sexual and gender violence services, family care, and more.

Underserved, marginalized women who have never thought a career in tech was possible find it at Byte Back:

  • Betty faced years of unemployment and age discrimination. When she got computer training and earned a Microsoft specialist certification, she found a high-paying administrative job at the District of Columbia Superior Courts.
  • Jewel was a teen mother, surviving on government assistance and a job at a supermarket. She earned a certification and found her path as a tech administrator.
  • Lark struggled as a single teen mother and a runaway youth, and felt lost in her career and in life. She found direction and a career thanks to the education and care she received at Byte Back.
  • Olivia had unsteady jobs as a security guard and hairdresser and was homeless, sleeping in her car. Since she earned her CompTIA A+ certification, she has not only found a job but a stable career that allows her to have her own apartment and not just survive but thrive.
  • Lashaun, a current A+ student, works all night and shows up to her class in the morning. She is on her way to becoming certified and landing a job that doesn’t require night shifts.
  • Fatoumata was a recent immigrant from Senegal and a new mother. She got computer training and a certification to start her career and now confidently supports her son as a single mother.

Society told these women a career in tech wasn’t an option. But once they entered Byte Back’s doors, they found confidence and people who believed in their success.
These amazing women are not only changing the face of tech or changing statistics, they are part of a bigger change that’s needed. With technology, women can connect to the world and build connections to employers, friends, and family. With technology, women can move into jobs to support their families – tech jobs, white collar jobs, medical jobs. With technology, women can help their families teach their children, communicate with teachers, open up a world of knowledge.

Aleta computer 2 cropIt doesn’t have to be expensive, or complicated. So much can be solved by teaching women how to use technology. With a small investment in women’s lives, we can have a huge impact on social change.

Today, we urge you to find a way to support women, whether it’s as a mentor, a volunteer, or a supporter of a community organization. Byte Back is opening opportunities for women to cross the digital divide and to advance in IT careers. Groups like Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and Lesbians Who Tech are making sure that women are not alone in tech online and in real life.
If we all work together, we can make sure women have the power to use technology to change lives. Please help us continue to bridge digital gaps and gender gaps in tech – email me today at elindsey@byteback.org to become a mentor or hire a Byte Back graduate.
——-

Byte Back improves economic opportunity by providing computer training and career preparation to underserved Washington, DC metro area residents.
Through free computer and advanced IT certification classes, Byte Back helps graduates gain invaluable skills, experience higher rates of self-confidence, and launch successful new careers. Byte Back’s programs have provided a pathway to technology skill development and fulfilling living-wage careers for thousands of individuals who have struggled with underemployment, unemployment, and poverty.

 

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.

Picture #2

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.

Guest Post: LearnServe International

On the eve of the 5th Annual LearnServe Venture Fair, we welcome Scott Rechler, CEO and Director of LearnServe International to GoodWorks! LearnServe International’s program prepares students in greater DC to be the next generation of global leaders and social entrepreneurs. Their Fellows Program brings together over 70 high school students from 30 public, private and charter schools to learn how to bring sustainable social change to their communities. Over an academic year, students design and launch their own social ventures — action projects to benefit their schools and communities — while learning core business entrepreneurship skills, including budgeting, strategic planning, and team-building.

Can you really teach social innovation?

by Scott Rechler, CEO & Director, LearnServe International

 

Could the next Jamila Larson, Mazi Mutafa, or Robert Egger be sitting in class right now in the District, Maryland, or Virginia?

Maybe.

In a March Washington Post article, J. D. Harrison opened his article titled “Can you really teach entrepreneurship?” with a similar question, but a different cast of characters: Steve Jobs. Mark Zuckerberg.

Toss in Bill Gates, and you’ve got the three examples of entrepreneurs referenced by every high school group I speak with. And for good reason. All three have built successful companies whose products shape our daily lives, and a personal brand that complements their corporate identities.

Ask a room full of high school students for examples of social entrepreneurs? Uncomfortable silence.

We are surrounded by powerful examples of social entrepreneurs here in the DC region. But they’re not (yet) household names — unless you happen to spend time with their organizations.

Take for example Jamila Larson, founder of the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, which brings much-needed recreation to kids living in shelters. Or Mazi Mutafa, founder of Words Beats & Life, giving young people a voice through hip-hop. Or Robert Egger, founder of DC Central Kitchen — and of C Forward, an initiative to raise the profile of the non-profit sector nation-wide.

The next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg may well be sitting in a DC classroom today, preparing to launch the next breakthrough technology or scalable business. And sitting right next to her is the next Jamila, Mazi, and Robert.

LearnServe is committed to inspiring and training the rising generation of social entrepreneurs. These are the young people who know they want to do something good in the world — but may not yet know what or how. We help them blend this passion with the tenacity, vision, and technical skills essential to entrepreneurship in order to transform the lives of their classmates, neighbors, and communities.

Tricia Granata, executive director of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship in DC, reflected in Harrison’s article on the “innate entrepreneurial spirit” of young people, and the importance of helping them develop the accompanying technical skills.

LearnServe offers an outlet for our students to channel this innate entrepreneurial spirit and build those technical skills — coupled with a powerful dose of empathy and social insight.

LearnServe alumni have gone on to launch companies introducing fair trade coffee to China, and improving hygiene in India through the sale of sustainable soaps in the U.S. They have created lasting organizations teaching foreign languages to elementary school students, and science to middle schoolers. Yasmine Arrington, a LearnServe and DCPS alum and founder of ScholarCHIPS, was awarded the Washington Women of Excellence Award for Community Service earlier this month for her work raising college scholarship funds for children of incarcerated parents.

Tomorrow, 70 more young social entrepreneurs will “pitch” their social venture plans to a panel of business and community leaders at LearnServe’s 5th Annual Venture Fair and top projects will receive seed funding to help get their ideas off the ground. We invite you to join in celebrating their creative spirit and vision for our community. These are our region’s rising generation of social innovators.

Harrison concludes his article with a quote from Wendy E. F. Torrance, director of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation: “No matter what career they choose, it’s important for young people to look at the world through the lens of an entrepreneur.”

We couldn’t agree more — and we are working to ensure that lens is wide enough and community-oriented enough to include Jamila, Mazi, Robert and Yasmine, alongside Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

To learn more about LearnServe International and their Fellows Program, visit them online at: www.learn-serve.org. Meet the Fellows at the 5th Annual Venture Fair tomorrow (4/24) or get involved here!

Around Town 11/1-11/7

Happy November! Catalogue nonprofits are kicking off the month right with lots of great events all around the area. Let us know if you are heading to one (and you never know, you might even see us there!). Don’t have time to get out to an event? Request a copy of our brand new catalogue (out on November 1st!) and get to know our new class of nonprofits!
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Guest Post: Girls on the Run

Today’s post comes from Girls on the Run – DC whose program teaches over 2,000 girls in DC’s eight wards about self-esteem and healthy living through running.

by Kelsey Lyle, Program Coordinator GOTR-DC

“My daughter, who usually complains about walking even a few blocks, came home last week after running almost 2 miles and was so energized and proud of herself that she asked to run around our block a few times. Running a 5K seemed impossible to her when she started, but now she’s figured out that she can run further and longer than she ever knew. I’m looking forward to an improved outlook on fitness, which I hope will serve her throughout her life.” – Dawn, GOTR-DC Parent of 3rd Grader

This is one of many stories that parents of Girls on the Run DC participants can tell. Girls on the Run DC is an afterschool program that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. The program takes place over the course of 10 weeks and concludes with a 5k event to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of the girls in the program.

Our volunteer coaches are the key ingredient to our success as an organization. Volunteer coaches empower girls to appreciate who they are and encourage them to take on a healthy lifestyle. They are what make the program happen- a role that is a blend of teacher, mentor, and friend. Each practice session offers a lesson on topics that include peer pressure, self-esteem, cooperation, and more. In addition to running during practice, the girls are asked to give a thoughtful reflection to the topic of the day. At the end of the program, each team creates and completes a community service project.

This Fall season Girls on the Run DC is in more than 50 schools and has over 70 Girls on the Run teams. Each year we serve over 2,000 girls in the DC metropolitan area. Approximately 60% of our sites receive scholarships, and we, as an organization, fundraise on their behalf.

We rely on volunteers to assist with many different aspects of our organization. We need over 200 volunteers to make our November 24th race day possible. If you would like to help out with Girls on the Run 5K as a race day volunteer please sign up on our website: http://www.gotrdc.org/get-involved/volunteer.

Find out more about Girls on the Run DC at our website, or Like us on Facebook!

photo: Emily Weiss (emilyweissphotography.com)

Around Town 10/25-10/31

We are in the final stretch of October (can you believe it?)! See what these great nonprofits are doing to help October go out with a bang! Continue reading

Around Town: 10/11-10/17

No matter what type of event you are looking to head to this weekend, the events featured below will all help you make a difference in your community. See what you can do to give back to great nonprofits in your own backyard. Continue reading

In the News…

It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week, and DC’s Mayor Gray is hosting a city-wide conversation on mental health on Saturday October 12th. The forum, entitled “Creating Community Solutions DC,” aims to engage hundreds of residents to “develop strategies to reduce the stigma associated with, and increase openness to, mental-health care,” according to the City’s website. This conversation will be the starting point for a community action plan to be developed by government officials, nonprofit and private sector leaders.
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Around Town: September 27-October 3

Catalogue nonprofits are staying busy! If you are looking for something fun to do with your friends and family this upcoming week, try one of these events put on by some great Catalogue nonprofits!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Beethoven’s Eternal Masterworks

National Philharmonic
Soovin Kim, violin, Piotr Gajewski, conductor – Come hear award-winning violinist Soovin Kim perform one of the most popular works ever written: Beethoven’s only violin concerto, a virtuosic masterpiece both lyrical and serene, radiating surprises and a soaring spirit. When Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 was premiered, the press commented that it “projects its force upon all people of all ages, just like the great natural phenomena, which leave us in awe every time they appear. This symphony alike, will still resound centuries to come, for as long as there will be man and music.” Beethoven Violin Concerto Symphony No. 5
When: Saturday, September 28, 2013 (8:00 PM)
Where: The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852
Fee? yes $28-$84 (Kids Free)
Contact: Deborah Birnbaum, (301) 581-5100
For more information: click here

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Montgomery County Farm Tour (by bike!)

Montgomery Countryside Alliance
MCA is partnering with Potomac Pedalers for the 5th annual MoCo Farm Tour. Bikers can choose from winding farm routes of 17-75 miles through Montgomery County’s Ag Reserve. There is also a picnic for bikers and event volunteers at Kingsbury’s Orchard.
When: Sunday, September 29, 2013 (09:00 AM)
Where: Start: Pooleville Golf Course, 16601 West Willard Rd, Poolesville, MD 20837
Fee? no
Volunteer Info: Help set up the picnic for bikers- shuttle biker’s belongings back to their cars, engage with event attendees about the purpose and importance of the Ag Reserve. Service learning hours are available for MCPS students.
Contact: Kristina Bostick, (301) 602-4013
For more information: click here

Beethoven’s Eternal Masterworks

National Philharmonic
Soovin Kim, violin, Piotr Gajewski, conductor – Come hear award-winning violinist Soovin Kim perform one of the most popular works ever written: Beethoven’s only violin concerto, a virtuosic masterpiece both lyrical and serene, radiating surprises and a soaring spirit. When Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 was premiered, the press commented that it “projects its force upon all people of all ages, just like the great natural phenomena, which leave us in awe every time they appear. This symphony alike, will still resound centuries to come, for as long as there will be man and music.” Beethoven Violin Concerto Symphony No. 5
When: Sunday, September 29, 2013 (3:00 PM)
Where: The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852
Fee? yes $28-$84 (Kids Free)
Contact: Deborah Birnbaum, (301) 581-5100
For more information: click here

Teddy Bear 5K & 1K Fun Walk/Run

Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center
Register now to Join Boston Marathon runners and a local Junior Olympiad recordholder for the Teddy Bear 5K and 1K Walk/Run on the W&OD Trail starting in the heart of Falls Church, VA. All participants will receive T-Shirts and great prizes will be awarded the top three male and female runners in 8 age categories, plus best overall male, female and Stroller-Runner. Bring your Teddy Bear or favorite stuffed friend to be admitted to a tea party after the race. Online Registration thru Sept. 26 at www.safetyandhealthfoundation.org/TeddyBear. Proceeds benefit the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center, a high-quality early childhood education program serving all children, regardless of their family’s financial resources.
When: Sunday, September 29, 2013 (4:00 PM – 6:00 PM)
Where: W&OD Trail, 400 N. Oak St., Falls Church, Virginia 22043
Fee? yes 5K thru Sept. 26, $30; 1K thru Sept. 26, $15.
Volunteer Info: Volunteers welcome to assist along the trail, giving out water to runners.
Contact: Renee Boyle, (703) 534-4907
For more information: click here

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Volunteer Opportunity at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Children’s National Medical Center

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, DC
Volunteer Opportunity at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Children’s National Medical Center Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Greater Washington DC needs volunteers to work a weekly 3 hour shift in the Ronald McDonald Family Room located at Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC). Shifts are seven days a week: 9AM to Noon, Noon to 3PM, 3PM to 6PM and 6PM to 9PM. Volunteers will be cross trained by both RMHC and CNMC. A commitment of two shifts a month/60 hours a year is required. Contact: Karen Judson, 202-529-8204/kjudson@rmhcdc.org. www.rmhc.greaterdc.org.
When: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 (09:00 AM)
Where: Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC), 111 Michigan Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20310
Fee? no
Volunteer Info: Greeting and helping families, coordinate family programming activities and more.
Contact: Karen Judson, (202) 529-8204
For more information: click here