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A Safe, Nurturing Place for Girls

The Washington School for Girls – By Kelley Lockard

Kelley Lockard and WSG Students (Class of 2016)

Before 1997, there were few quality educational options or services for girls in Southeast DC. And there was no place where a girl on the verge of womanhood could find mentorship or learn in a safe environment that values her as an individual. That is why the Washington School for Girls (WSG) was founded: to provide a safe, nurturing place for girls to not only learn and grow, but to thrive.

Of course, a lot has changed since the school was founded 20 years ago. More people have started to take an interest in Southeast neighborhoods. There are more resources, more options for education. The community itself is changing. However, through all of these changes there continues to be a strong need for a school that works for and with the community. That’s why WSG is so important, and why our students succeed: we educate the whole child.

WSG 2016-180

We pride ourselves on providing a holistic model of education, one that accepts not just students, but also families. A student’s experiences at home are just as important as her experience in the classroom. We work with parents to engage them in the educational process and help them access the resources they need to support their daughters as learners.

As an administrator and former teacher, I feel I am most attuned to a student’s needs when I have developed a close relationship with her family. I know that if I can build a long-term, reciprocal relationship with a family then I can truly help a child reach her full potential. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing a girl come into her own after entering the school with nearly every aspect of her life in disarray. That kind of transformation does not happen overnight, and it’s impossible without the support of the family.

WSG 2016-131

Luckily for me, I’ve witnessed that transformation innumerable times in my years at WSG. It’s what motivates me to do the work that I do. My desk is full of photos of the young women I have helped to transform, and every day I am fortified by their smiles and the knowledge of their achievement. I look at them and know that they will make a positive difference in their communities.

WSG was built on the beliefs and values of extraordinary, courageous women. As we enter Women’s History Month and approach the 20th Anniversary of the school this spring, I am increasingly reflecting on that fact. In the classroom, our students are learning about women who have changed the course of history, but they are also learning leadership skills, whether it’s helping their teachers hand out assignments, leading an after-school club, or mentoring younger students.

I recognize the ability to lead and the determination to do so in many of our students. It is something I have worked hard to incorporate into the curriculum at WSG because I believe that leadership builds confidence and allows students to become more actively engaged in the classroom. Seeing the lightbulb come on over a student’s head is the best feeling the world, and it only happens when that student knows she is capable of more.

My hope for the future is that our students take the lessons they learn at WSG, both in and out of the classroom, to heart. There are many challenges ahead for our country and the world, especially in terms of equality and justice. The most daunting task in my job as an administrator is to ensure that our students are prepared to face those challenges, to navigate a world that does not always value them. I know that they will not be able to do it alone, but I hope that we can give them the knowledge, skills, and courage to overcome adversity.

Posted on my door is a daily affirmation known as the Serenity Prayer. It’s a very popular prayer and my mother’s favorite prayer, but I never appreciated it until I became a teacher. I look at it every day, sometimes several times (depending on the day), because it reminds me to be myself and accept the things I cannot change. Superwoman is not at all a part of my name, but I find strength in accepting that fact and courage to try anyway. If my students walk away from WSG accepting of who they are and still ready to change the world, then I know I will have succeeded.

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.

 

Mentoring helps students gain access to College

FGCB photo

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

2016 Back-to-School Local Giving Guide

Draft School Supply Drive header

For many students, shopping for school supplies is an exciting time. Selecting a brand new backpack, the perfect notebook, and the right outfit for the first day of school are all things most of us remember fondly from our academic years. While an exciting time for students, back-to-school shopping can be a different experience for parents: between clothing, school supplies, and activities…costs add up quickly! According to the National Retail Federation’s annual Back-to-School Spending Survey, families with children in grades K-12 plan to spend an average $673.57 on apparel and accessories, electronics, shoes and school supplies. With numbers like these, it’s no surprise that back-to-school shopping can be a source of major financial stress, especially for those families already struggling to cover basic needs such as food and housing.

While many may not be able to afford school supplies, these tools are still critically important when it comes to setting up a child for success. Providing a student with the proper supplies to learn not only boosts their confidence in the classroom, but also provides a sense of belonging, and can have a positive impact on reducing absenteeism.

Planning to do some back-to-school shopping? Or just want to make a difference in the life of a local student? The Catalogue for Philanthropy has created a comprehensive list of nonprofits in need of supplies to help prepare local students for success. Some of these organizations have specific needs for Fall 2016, others have ongoing needs throughout the school year, and most have wishlists on Amazon.com, making it easy for you to give with a single click.

Happy shopping!


Fall 2016 School Supply Collection

Horton's Kids

  • Horton’s Kids (Washington, DC) is committed to ensuring that every child in the program starts school prepared and ready to learn. They need 150 durable backpacks, including 30 backpacks for children in grades K-4, and 120 backpacks or messenger-style bags for children in grades 5 – 12, as well as school supplies. All supplies are needed by July 29th.Click for more details.
  • Britepaths (formerly Our Daily Bread) (Fairfax) is helping children in Fairfax County through the Collect for Kids Back to School Program, which is part of a County-wide effort to ensure that children in the community whose families are struggling receive the supplies they need to succeed. Britepaths is working to help more than 2,500 students in Central Fairfax — primarily at JEB Stuart HS, Fairfax HS and the elementary and middle schools that feed into them — have everything they need to succeed this fall. Donors can give in the following ways:
      • Donate Cash: DONATE through August 31! $30 will help 2 students. Any amount will make a big difference.
      • Donate Backpacks: July 1-Aug. 5:Larger sizes especially needed.Drop Off or Order on-line through Amazon or Dollar Days.
      • Donate Calculators: July 1- Aug. 5: TI30xa Solar School Edition, TI-83 or TI-84, new or gently used. Drop Off for Order on-line through Amazon.

The Child & Family Network Center

  • The Child & Family Network Centers (CFNC) (Alexandria) invites you to invest in brighter futures for Alexandria children by collecting school supplies for one of their 8 classrooms. Click for details and a link to the supplies needed.
    • Note: CFNC is also looking for corporations interested in their “Adopt-a-Classroom” initiative. Adopt-a-Classroom helps provide books, school supplies, food, and basic healthcare to one classroom. You assist in funding teacher and school staff salaries and empower students and their families to be the best they can be.
      CFNC has eight classrooms and therefor only eight opportunities for corporations to sponsor a classroom – they will send you quarterly updates and photos of the class and children you have sponsored. Visit this site for more information.
  • Good Shepherd Housing & Family Services Children’s Resource Program (Alexandria) helps ensure that children in their housing programs do not miss out on critical after-school and extracurricular enrichment activities simply because their families are low income. This long standing program provides our children with school supplies, holiday gifts, access to summer camps, music lessons, and winter coats. GSH even sends children to local STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs to encourage their education in science and math. Support their annual school supply drive, or shop their Amazon.com wishlist here.
  • Hope House DC (Washington, DC)For children whose fathers are incarcerated, displacement often has grave consequences. Contact may be lost, family structure weakened, and reintegration of released fathers made difficult indeed. Enter Hope House, whose dream is to reconnect fathers and kids.On August 28th, Hope House will host a back to school party. Each Hope House Kid who attends receives a backpack stuffed with school supplies. Items needed include: composition books, dictionaries, highlighters, binders, calculators…and more. See details here.
  • New Community for Children (Washington, DC) transforms the lives of children and youth by supporting academic achievement, developing life skills, fostering creativity and cultural awareness, nurturing spiritual connections and growth, and empowering children to succeed. It is currently in need of a number of educational items such as digital cameras, printer ink, school furniture, and more.

Reading Partners

  • Reading Partners (Washington, DC) is in need of help filling their reading centers with diverse books through September 30th, 2016. Many students bring up issues of race when working with their tutors. From discussing their identities to understanding those of the characters they are reading about, it is clear that diversity in texts is of the utmost importance to support our students. From this point on, Reading Partners is asking supporters to help collect books specifically featuring girls of color, with the philosophy that resources should be available in order to have intentional conversations about race. By providing books in reading centers that can help tutors affirm positive thinking and behavior when it comes to race, literacy can be used to inspire confidence in students who need it most. Donors can view book requests here.

San Miguel School

  • San Miguel School (Washington, DC) is a middle school, dedicated to transforming lives for academically underserved and economically disadvantaged boys in the Washington, DC, metro area. Immediate needs for the 2016-17 school year include: art supplies (modeling clay, canvases, etc.), magnetic algebra tiles, audio books/cds, markers, etc. See the full list and Amazon wishlist here.

Ongoing Supply Collections: Art and Music Supplies

art enables

  • Sitar Arts Center (Washington, DC)Donations of new or gently used arts materials and instruments help to make programs affordable for children from low-income households. Sitar appreciates donations of musical instruments, art supplies, dance shoes and clothing, photography equipment and supplies, sewing machines and sewing supplies, knitting supplies, prom dresses needed for West Side Story musical! Details here.

 

Ongoing Supply Collections: Sporting Equipment

City Kids Wilderness Project

  • City Kids Wilderness Project (Washington, DC) was founded on the belief that providing enriching life experiences for under-resourced DC children can enhance their lives, the lives of their families and the greater community. CityKids is always in need of the following new or nearly new items: Tents (2-4 person backpacking tents), sleeping bags (backpacking weight), balls: soccer, football, kickball, etc., rain gear: pants, jackets, and ponchos, digital cameras, and more. They also have a City Kids REI Gift Registry!
  • DC SCORES (Washington, DC) believes that every child deserves a “team,” and gets the rich, full childhood that he or she deserves. DC SCORES’ innovative model combines poetry and spoken word (developing an individual voice and sharing personal stories is key to knowing who you are), soccer (kids need more exercise than they get, and the skills and teamwork are fun), and service-learning (because our communities are the big teams to which we all belong).DC SCORES will accept gently used soccer gear, appropriately sized for kids 8-13 years old. Donation details here.

Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena

  • Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena (Washington, DC) – Most of the equipment skaters use have been donated by other skaters in the area. FFDIA is always in need of gently used, mid/intermediate level figure, hockey and speed skating equipment in good condition. No hockey jerseys, please.To donate equipment drop it off at Fort Dupont Ice Arena at your convenience. To arrange a pickup of large quantities of equipment, email info@fdia.org.

 

Ongoing Supply Collections

Bright Beginnings

  • Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center (Falls Church, VA) provides a comprehensive, high-quality, early-childhood program designed to give all young children, regardless of their family’s economic resources, a strong foundation on which to build the rest of their lives. FCMLCC is currently looking for donors to help “set their children’s inner artist free” with the raw materials on their Wish List.

Generation Hope

  • Generation Hope (Washington, DC) is the only community-based nonprofit organization solely focused on college completion for teen parents in the D.C. area. Help these students follow the path to success with the following items: laptops for Scholars (can be used), stamps for mailings, gift cards to Target, Staples, etc. and more.

Inner City-Inner Child

  • The Reading Connection (Arlington, VA) creates and sustains literacy-rich environments and motivation for reading among low-income children and their families. TRC is in need of new books for children in the Read Aloud program. At every Read-Aloud, children choose one or two books to take with them, and TRC is always working to keep the Give-Away Boxes stocked with books that match the interests of the children served. Click to see the titles of books on childrens’ wishlists, or to find how to donate new books to the program.
  • Washington Jesuit Academy (Washington, DC) is a college-prep middle school for boys in 5th through 8th grades in Washington, DC. With a 12-hour school day, 11-month school year and aggressive academic curriculum, WJA prepares students for the opportunities and challenges of college-prep high schools and sets them on an early path toward college. WJA accepts certain, gently-used supplies and goods, as well as pro bono service and talent. Visit their Amazon Wish List or contact us for gift ideas.

Washington School for Girls

  • Washington School for Girls (Washington, DC) is an all-scholarship independent Catholic School serving students in grades 3-8, primarily from DC’s Wards 7 and 8. By offering a comprehensive academic program in a supportive environment, students become confident, competent, and courageous young women. WSG accepts donations of supplies, equipment, and services when appropriate, and also has an ongoing Amazon.com wishlist for books.
  • YouthBuild Public Charter School (Washington, DC) is a public charter school that was established in 2005 as an outgrowth of an effective program begun in 1995 by the Latin American Youth Center. It is one of the few alternative schools in the District that serves youth ages 16 -24 who have dropped or aged out of traditional high schools. Gifts of tangible personal property including professional dress clothing for students, computer equipment, books etc. are needed and welcomed donations.

Help VA Students Go Back to School!

NO TAXES….on back to school supplies this weekend (8/1 – 8/3) in Virginia! Help students in need get ready for school by adding an extra item to your cart — whether online or in-store — or find an opportunity to help sort & pack up donated supplies so backpacks are full and ready for the first day of school!
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Do More 24

There’s still time! Nonprofit organizations across the region are participating in DoMore24 (until midnight tonight!) a day of giving towards community causes. So many of “the best” charities featured in the Catalogue are raising funds today — for soccer uniforms, to publish teen authored books, to provide legal services to homeless individuals and low-income refugees and so much more.

Need some inspiration? Check out our listing of great nonprofits here!

And as a bonus, several of our charities have matching funds to double the impact of your gift today. Take a look at these Catalogue charities, listed by category:

ARTS

ENVIRONMENT & COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT

EDUCATION

HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES

Thinking Beyond Barbie: Empowering Girls in Greater Washington

Michelle Obama.

Sheryl Sandberg.

Oprah Winfrey.

Mrs. Potato Head?

This unlikely combination of women has more in common than meets the eye: Each plays a role (whether consciously or not) in inspiring confidence in young girls to pursue their career ambitions, no matter how big. There are dozens of other female leaders who do so much each day to empower young women, yet according to a recent study, one pop culture icon is not likely to make the cut: Barbie.

A recent study coming out of Oregon State University suggests that little girls playing with Barbie “believe there are more careers for boys than for themselves” — a contrast from girls playing with Mrs. Potato Head, who see an equal range of career opportunities for girls and boys.

Of course, more research on this topic is needed in order fully to understand the impact of dolls on girls’ aspirations, but one key takeaway is that we must inspire confidence in girls so they don’t hesitate to think “big” and think beyond the stereotypes that hold them back. We can do this not only through the toys we buy for our children, but also through the stories we tell, and the activities in which we participate.

For several Catalogue for Philanthropy charities, such as Girls on the Run (DC and Montgomery County) and The Washington School for Girls, inspiring confidence in girls is a central part of their mission. Find out below how you can show your support, and stay tuned to the Catalogue for Philanthropy blog this month as we celebrate Women’s History Month by highlighting other important women’s issues that are a key focus for some of our charities.

Girls on the Run

The Catalogue for Philanthropy is proud to have two local Girls on the Run Councils in our network of charities. Using the sport of running as basis for inspiration and motivation, GOTR program participants meet twice per week in small teams where they learn life skills while celebrating the joy of movement. At each season’s conclusion, participants complete a 5k running event, giving them a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals.

Girls on the Run — DC: GOTR-DC has a variety of volunteer opportunities available, from one-time volunteer opportunities to coaching for a 10-week season. GOTR-DC is currently looking for volunteers for the GW Classic 10 Miler on April 13th, and is also taking names for those interested in coaching for the Fall 2014 season.

Interested in supporting with a donation? For $185, you can cover a full scholarship for 1 runner; $750: running shoes for an entire team; $3,000: a full scholarship for a full team next season (great idea for a corporate fundraiser!)

Girls on the Run of Montgomery County is also looking for coaches and one-time volunteers. Check out the volunteer page for more detail on specific needs.

Interested in supporting with a donation? $100 will cover a full scholarship for 1 season; $500: running shoes for one team of 15 girls; $1000: race fees for 75 parents to run alongside their daughters. Also, don’t forget about SoleMates, which lets you run a marathon or a triathlon while raising money for MoCo’s Girls on the Run Council.

The Washington School for Girls

The Washington School for Girls is an all-girl, grades 4-8, Catholic school located in Anacostia. Its mission is to offer a solid and holistic education to young girls, and it is committed to believing in their gifts, talents and potential. WSG offers a range of volunteer opportunities: from one-time visits – where volunteers participate in a career fair, leadership series presentation or fundraising event – to weekly tutoring, hosting student clubs during Extended Day and office support.

Interested in supporting with a donation? $100 covers 10 books for the Reading Circle; $500: 1 laptop for a WMSG teacher; $1000: transportation for 3 field trips for 1 class.

We hope you’ll support these wonderful organizations and their missions to empower girls in our region!

In the (Snow Day) News…

A few highlights from last week’s news, in case your paper is buried in the snow!

Education

According to a Washington Post article, approximately 6,000 state-funded preschool slots in Virginia were not filled this year beucase localities did not invest the required matching funds to take full advantage of the program. Though data show $23 million earmarked for the Virginia Preschool Initiative went unclaimed, at a cost of $6,000 per student, some 60 districts said they were constrained by lack of resources and space and did not fill their programs. In Northern Virginia, Arlington was the only district to fill 100 percent of funded spots. Some advocates note that the state’s pricetag does not reflect the cost of a high-quality pre-K program, which would run closer to $9,300 per student. This discrepancy leaves communities scrambling to make up the difference. Virginia’s cost per pupil is in keeping with regional spending: $8,000 per student in Maryland and nearly $15,000 per student in the District, which covers all 3- and 4-year olds.

Also in the Post: 100 local school boards in Virginia, including the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, and Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, are challenging a measure that allows for state takeover of struggling local schools. Resolutions filed by these board support a lawsuit currently fighting the General Assembly measure, which affects any school that fails the state’s accreditation or is accredited with a warning for three consecutive years.

Minimum Wage Across the Region

On the heels of D.C.’s minimum wage hike to $11.50 by 2016, Maryland Governor O’Malley has proposed raising the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016, up from $7.25 currently. D.C.’s increase was signed by Mayor Gray last week, and by 2017, the District and Maryland’s Montgomery & PG Counties will all have a minimum wage of $11.50.

Housing

The good news is that Maryland’s housing prices are on the rise. Prince George’s County, one of the region’s hardest hit during the foreclosure crisis, saw a 16 percent housing price increase last year – the second highest in the region. The bad news, according to a WAMU article, is that those rising prices are encouraging banks to foreclose more quickly on homeowners who are late on payments, causing a soar in foreclose rates as banks work through a backlog of foreclosures from the recession. PG County received $10 million in a national mortgage settlement, but very little goes to mortgage assistance, helping approximately 200 homeowners. While most struggling homeowners in PG County owe less than $10,000, many lost income in the recession and “even getting current on their mortgage may not make their home affordable.”

Local Giving & Our Region

The 2013 Combined Federal Campaign is over but reports from the Nonprofit Quarterly & the Federal Times indicate a “sharp decline” in this year’s giving. In the National Capital Region, the largest CFC campaign, pledges were approximately $47 million going into the CFC’s last day, down from nearly $62 million last year. The CFC peaked nationally at $283 million in 2009 and raised $258 million last year, but was hampered by government furloughs, the shutdown in October and coincided with a three-year freeze on federal pay scales. Some 2,000 local charities and 2,500 national charities participated in the 2013 CFC.

More than a third of of greater Washington zip codes are “super zips” according to the American Enterprise Institute. WAMU reports that these zips are mostly contiguous and rank in the top 5 percent nationally on scales of average income and number of adults with college degrees. That means households with an average income of $120,000+ and 7 out of 10 adults with a college degree. Check out the Post’s map of our region’s “superzips” here.

Guest Post: Washington Youth Garden

Today we welcome the Washington Youth Garden to GoodWorks! Using the garden cycle as a tool to enrich science learning, inspire environmental stewardship and cultivate healthy food choices http://iga.edu/best-paper-writing-service-essay/ in youth and families, the Washington Youth Garden is in its 40th year to service to local youth and families.

Today’s post is from Mel Jones, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Coordinator at John Burroughs Education Campus. Gardening is hard work. So is being a public school teacher. It’s no surprise then that school gardens are such an uphill battle for DC teachers and administrators. This letter from one of the Washington Youth Garden’s partner schools helps show why partnerships are so valuable.

Growing Green Dreams at Local Schools

by Mel JonesDisplaying Mel Watering.jpg

Since beginning as a science teacher here over ten years ago, I have made repeated attempts to start a garden. I knew my students would have a better understanding of science if there was more hands-on learning. However, despite my efforts, I didn’t have the expertise or the time to develop a real, working garden.

In 2011, our partnership with the Washington Youth Garden made the dream of a school garden come alive as third graders filled new raised beds with soil and transplanted lettuce, which they later harvested for salad pitas. Since then, the garden has become a part of every student’s experience, from compost investigation projects to school-wide sweet potato tastings.

The garden continues to expose students to new fruits and vegetables and provide an outdoor science laboratory. With grant funding, we’ve hired a School Garden Coordinator who regularly teaches our Early Childhood classes and collaborates with teachers to integrate the garden into science and literacy lessons. Plans are in progress to install a kitchen classroom to give our students year-round opportunities to cook healthy foods and learn about science and nutrition. The Washington Youth Garden has made a truly wonderful difference for our students and our school!

How does the Washington Youth Garden support school gardens?
The Washington Youth Garden provides multi-stage school garden partnerships that help schools integrate their school garden into the curriculum, teach garden-instruction best practices, seek independent funding, and plan for long-term sustainability. Currently, we support thriving school garden programs at four low-income partner schools in Ward 5.

How can you support this?
A pledge of $500 supports the cost of closely collaborating with a teacher to deliver four hands-on, curriculum-aligned garden lessons.

Learn more about the Washington Youth Garden on their website, blog, Facebook page and current Indiegogo Online Fundraiser.

Guest Post: One World Education

Today we welcome Eric Goldstein, Founder & Executive Director of One World Education (OWEd) to GoodWorks. OWEd provides middle and high school common core literacy programs and publishes student essays about cultural and global issues, promoting peer-to-peer learning and building skills for college and career writing. Founded in 2007, the teacher-created nonprofit has been recognized throughout the Capital Region as an outstanding literacy program that improves and celebrates student writing. Nationally, OWEd has been featured on Edutopia, ASCD’s Education Blog, Huffington Post, Comcast Newsmakers, and CBS News. In 2013, OWEd was selected as the first writing program to be adopted for all DC Public High Schools.Prior to One World Education, Eric was a middle and high school teacher in a DC Charter School. We’re delighted to welcome Eric & the OWEd team as a new 2013/14 Catalogue partner!

Step Back & Move Forward

by Eric Goldstein, Founder & Executive Director, One World Education

Sometimes the most effective step an organization can take toward improving its programming is to improve the organization behind its programming. Seven years ago in an 8th grade Charter School classroom, where One World Education (OWEd) was created with my 8th grade students, thinking about anything other than involving more students in our successful writing project wasn’t even a speck on the radar.

The success of that classroom project propelled OWEd’s expansion into a citywide organization. Now the organization provides in DC middle and high schools. As students strengthen the skills needed for college and career-level writing, they learn to write and frame arguments about cultural and global issues that they care about. The organization then on its website with aligned curriculum, so students can read and learn about these topics from the perspective of their peers.

Just as our programs ensure that teachers have strong plans for their students, OWEd followed suit and used the last school year to preparing its own strategic goals. The results have spearheaded program improvements, expansion, and more efficient partner collaboration. As a new member organization in the Catalogue of Philanthropy Community, I’ll use this blog post to share some of One World Education’s goals for long-term success and sustainability.

First, schools had asked OWEd about offering more in-school, professional development (PD). We realized that a higher quality of writing was coming from students whose teachers had participated in our trainings. In response, OWEd developed a Teacher Trainer Academy where our educator team trains a teacher from each partner school. These teachers then lead OWEd’s PD in their own schools – creating leadership opportunities, fostering collaboration, and ensuring program expertise exists in each partner school.

Second, OWEd needed to change its partnership model to be more effective. This year the organization transitioned from working with individual schools to working with school districts and Charter school networks. For the 2013-2014 school year, OWEd partnered with DC Public Schools (DCPS) to implement a citywide, high school writing program. Every 9th and 10th grade DCPS student and teacher has the opportunity to participate in the One World Writing Program this year.

OWEd’s third goal was to deepen its commitment to evaluation. With the DCPS partnership in place, OWEd needed a strong evaluation partner to assess our work with 3,500 DCPS high school students and their teachers. This summer, OWEd contracted the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University to lead this citywide evaluation.

The importance of having a strong, long-term plan is often overlooked in the face of short-term gains. As OWEd programs have demonstrated the ability to create successful teaching and learning experiences in classrooms, the organization was also successful in accomplishing its own goals over the past year. I want to thank those of you who have been a part of this accomplishment.

Thank you for your commitment to education and philanthropy.

To learn more about One World Education, please visit, www.oneworldeducation.org and keep up with Eric’s monthly blog here.