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Volunteers and Tutors Make a Difference at Bridges to Independence

tutor

Bridges to Independence has been working with and for people experiencing homelessness since 1985, when we were founded as the Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless. In 2016, Bridges served a total of 460 individuals: 248 through our housing programs (emergency shelter and rapid re-housing) and 212 in other programs and services (financial literacy, employment services, etc.).

Our mission is to lead individuals and families out of homelessness and into stable, independent futures. We offer aid and support for all family members, helping them attain financial security and move forward into self-sufficiency. As homelessness is often episodic, we work not only with people who are currently experiencing homelessness, but also with former participants to ensure they are able to remain securely housed and do not fall into homelessness again.

bridges take 2

Former client Mohammed, his wife, and their 5 daughters invited us to their home for a visit. It was wonderful to see the family thriving!

Our vision is to end the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Two-thirds of the people we serve are under the age of 18. We provide youth with opportunities to increase self-esteem, gain leadership skills, and improve their overall health/well-being. We strive to give older students the confidence, skills, and tools needed to pursue and complete post-secondary education or vocational training, providing them with a pathway to economic security.

After many years of helping people move into their own homes, we’ll soon get to experience a homecoming of our own! In September, we will move into a brand-new 4,700 square foot training center, directly adjacent to our Sullivan House emergency shelter. The new space will be a hive of activity and will include a children’s room for youth activities, classrooms for job training, a personal counseling suite, and offices for our staff to continue their crucial work to support families in need. We’ll be able to serve more people, carry out programming more effectively, and explore new and innovative solutions for reducing homelessness.

bridges revised

Gather a team for our Kickball Tournament or volunteer at the event!

Our 12th annual SAFE AT HOME Kickball Tournament will be Saturday, August 5, 2017. Teams, sponsors and volunteers can sign up now at https://bridges2.org/kickball/. We also need volunteers to serve as mentors or tutors, represent Bridges at events, help with office work, and more. For details, see www.bridges2.org or contact Lawson Craighill at lcraighill@bridges2.org.

 

DC SCORES is Team!

Spring, it seems, is here to stay in Washington, DC, and for one nonprofit after-school program, that means service.

sensational

At DC SCORES, elementary and middle school students across the District — 2,200 of them — create change in their communities during the 12-week season through service-learning projects.

Writing coaches hired by DC SCORES80% of whom work at the schools — lead students through the program’s thick service-learning curriculum, taking them on a journey that goes like this:

Stage 1: Examine your community. Kids walk around their school building and into the surrounding neighborhood, equipped with clipboards and a pencil. They jot down what rubs them the wrong way. Is there a lot of trash? Homeless people suffering? A lack of gardens? Stray animals?

Stage 2: Research. After a collaborative decision on which issue to focus on, the kids educate themselves. They look up statistics online. They talk to people who are relevant to the issue locally. They become informed.

Stage 3: Implementation. It’s time to go to work! During the two service-learning sessions after school each week, the kids — feeling empowered like never before — take the steps as a team to create change. Some projects culminate in a big day (examples: a car wash to raise money to feed the homeless; a fun race to fundraise for the local animal shelter; a fitness festival to bring awareness about healthy living to their school community) while others are multi-week processes such as the creation of a school garden.

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Stage 4: Reflection. The last week of the spring DC SCORES service-learning season is spent reflecting on the project. What were the biggest challenges? What felt most rewarding? How did the kids feel when it we completed? Many lessons come out of these projects, and the elementary and middle school poet-athletes in DC SCORES learn just how powerful they are to make a difference in their communities, especially when working together.

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DC SCORES was born in 1994 by a Teach for America teacher, Julie Kennedy, who noticed that girls she taught at Marie Reed Learning Center (now Marie Reed Elementary School) had nothing to do after school. Julie rolled out a soccer ball one day, and the girls embraced the game. On a rainy afternoon, with everyone stuck inside, Julie placed a notebook in front of each girl and and encouraged them to freely write down their thoughts about anything. The poetry aspect, which takes place during the fall season and culminates in the annual Poetry Slam!, came about. Service-learning was added as the third prong of the innovate model shortly thereafter.

EastsideSlam_2016_socialmedia-26

DC SCORES goes where kids in need are — they operate in all eight wards, with 55 sites at DC public and public charter schools and rec centers; the program’s waiting list is 20 schools deep — and gives them the skills and confidence to be successful on the playing field, in the classroom, and in life.

Every aspect of DC SCORES, from the weekly game days to the Slam! to service-learning, is based around team and led by supported, trusted coaches who are considered leaders in their school communities. If you are in Columbia Heights or Deanwood or many other DC neighborhoods, you will see kids and adults walking around in DC SCORES school-customized T-shirts. They wear them proudly.

DC SCORES is team. And the bonds created within DC SCORES lead to stronger, healthier, happier communities throughout the District regardless of resources available. Just consider Imagine Hope Community Charter School – Tolson Campus, which last year created a school garden on its blacktop out of recycled soda bottles.

Give kids an outlet, the confidence, and the tools to make their world a better place, and the result will be beautiful.

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GET INVOLVED
So how can you get involved with DC SCORES this spring?

Volunteer: DC SCORES especially needs volunteers for its season-culminating Jamboree! on Saturday, June 3 for all 2,200 kids and their families. Many roles are available. Additionally, referees are needed for Thursday game days (no experience necessary). Check out all volunteer opportunities HERE.

Website: Learn more about DC SCORES at www.DCSCORES.org or by connecting with the program on any social media platform (just search DC SCORES).

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.

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: 10/18-10/24

With Fall in full swing, our nonprofits are getting busy! See what great events you can head to in the upcoming week. Are you a current Catalogue nonprofit with an event to promote? Make sure to put it in your portal so you can see your event in an upcoming Around Town! Continue reading

Spotlight: Reading Partners

Today we welcome Lisa Lazarus, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic for Reading Partners to Good Works, to congratulate them on their 2013 award from the Washington Post Charities! Lisa has focused on education as a charter and traditional public school teacher, a central office administrator, and a policy practitioner. Prior to joining Reading Partners, Lisa held several leadership roles in the District of Columbia Public Schools, including Chief of Staff for the Deputy Chief of Teaching and Learning, Interim Co-Director of the Office of Secondary School Transformation, and Manager of Strategic Policy and Implementation in the Office of Out-of-School Time. Lisa graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University, earned her Master in Elementary Education from Lesley University and the Shady Hill School Teacher Training Course, and earned her Master in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

1.What motivated you to begin working with Reading Partners? What need does it fulfill and how are you (and your organization) working towards meeting it?

Reading Partners is inspiring because it provides a concrete and user-friendly way for our communities to support local schools and to address a critical problem in our city: the staggering achievement gap between students from affluent homes versus low-income ones. Reading Partners’ particular focus is on literacy and on ensuring that students from low-income communities who struggle with reading receive the individualized attention they need to succeed in school and beyond. Our model is all about recruiting and training community members to serve as a Reading Partner to a young student who will benefit from reading tutoring. My desire to join the Reading Partners team stemmed from my passion to support educational equity. I believe fully and completely that all young people deserve to develop the academic skills they need to choose their own life path, and I believe community service is an under-utilized resource in that work.

2.What exciting change or innovation is on your mind?

Front and center on my mind are all the student-focused enhancements to our curriculum this year. Reading Partners is devoting significant time, effort, and personnel to aligning our research-based curriculum to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This is exciting because it means our instructional materials are right on the pulse of all the latest thinking and best practices in elementary education. In addition to the CCSS project, Reading Partners is rolling out a new level of curriculum this year. The Emerging Reader level of our curriculum will focus on skill development for our students in grades K-3. Over the past few years, we have recognized the need to expand our instructional offerings in basic print concepts and phonological awareness so that our youngest readers get the exact skill reinforcement they need. I am excited to work for an organization that is willing to innovate, adapt, and create new materials in order to ensure tutors and students have exactly what they need.

3. Who inspires you (in the philanthropy world or otherwise)? Do you have a hero?

Gandhi’s reminder to “Be the change you wish to see in the world” is in my office, for that phrase reminds me to live with purpose, lead by example, and make the impact I believe our world needs. While these words guide and ground me, they also necessarily lead me to be inspired by our everyday heroes – our dedicated Reading Partners who give an hour or more of their time each week to tutor and mentor a student in our nation’s capital. Every week these men and women devote their time and energy, taking a tangible interest in a child’s life and thereby ensuring that our students have the concrete literacy skills the need to be successful. I am inspired by:

  • Sonia, a high school student who is helping to organize her friends so they too become Reading Partners.
  • Martin, a college student who takes time from his full course load to work with three students twice a week. Martin has put in additional time to learn his students’ specific needs in order to make students’ time in Reading Partners as impactful as possible. This year he is a team lead who is bringing more of his peers to the reading center each week.
  • Yogi, a working professional who is volunteering with Reading Partners for his fourth year. Yogi makes time to come into Reading Partners every week, and he rearranges his meetings to be there for his student. Noah, Yogi’s last student, said that Yogi was not just “the best teacher I ever had” but also “the best friend I ever had”.
  • Alexa, who spent over 40 hours with her student, Malachi, over the course of last year. With Alexa’s encouragement and focus, Malachi ended the year above grade level! Alexa is joining us as a Reading Partner again this year.

Each of these people, and our hundreds of other volunteers, are “being the change” they and we wish to see in the world. Our tutors demonstrate their commitment through their time in a Reading Partners reading center each week. I am incredibly inspired by and grateful for their dedication and generosity.

4.What is the single greatest challenge that your organization faces (besides finances) and how are you dealing with this challenge?

Our greatest challenge is building a volunteer movement that will result in thousands of volunteers who donate at least an hour a week to ensure that every student who needs personalized attention to learn to read receives it. We are working to build a cadre of people who identify as “Reading Partners” and who are proud to say, “I am a Reading Partner.” When this phrase becomes a household name; when churches, synagogues, youth groups, sororities and fraternities, kickball teams, book clubs, and parents decide to join the movement as Reading Partners; when together our community is addressing literacy proficiency skills by devoting an hour each week to supporting our teachers and schools by providing a young reader with one-on-one, individualized tutoring, then we will be able to ensure that all students – regardless of zip code or skin color or socioeconomic status – have access to the resources they need not only to learn to read, but also – and importantly – to read to learn.

5. What advice do you have for other people in your position?

Ask questions. Set ambitious yet attainable goals, and implement an accountability system to achieve them. Listen – to your colleagues, your volunteers, your board, your school-based stakeholders, your funders, your students’ parents and guardians, and most importantly, your clients – the students themselves. Listen also to your family and friends when they remind you, sometimes gently and other times necessarily more forcefully, to make time for yourself. Take care of yourself so you can continue to do the work you love. Take care of your body; lift weights, hike, run, swim, do yoga, bike, dance. Take care of your mind; read something that is not work-related, go to lectures, learn new things. Take care of your spirit in whatever ways are meaningful to you. Make the time to highlight and cultivate your colleagues’ talents. Learn from other executive directors who are doing incredible work in this area. Thank people. Call your grandmother. Eat nourishing food. Drink plenty of water. Laugh. Feel grateful to have a job about which you are so passionate. Revel in that even as you figure out a way to create a boundary between work and life outside of work. Have fun. And, always do what is best for our children.

6. Congratulations on receiving an award from the Washington Post charities!? What project is this grant supporting? What does this award mean to you or allow you to do?

Generous support from the Washington Post Charities helps to equip us with the resources we need to recruit hundreds of community volunteers to provide weekly, personalized reading tutoring to at least 600 students in 12 schools in 2013-14. Student enrollment in our local program has grown by 20-25% each year since our launch in 2010-11. In order to build and sustain the human capital and organizational capacity required to guarantee a high-quality learning experience for our students, we rely on local investors. The Washington Post Charities is an amazing partner to us, as they deeply understand the long-term importance of helping students to finish elementary school as confident, proficient readers. With our award from the Charities, we look forward to having the right people do the the right work to ensure that we can replicate last year’s outcomes, for 90% of target students in our program narrowed their achievement gap to their peers.

 

 

Around Town: September 6-12

Catalogue nonprofits always seem to have great events and volunteer opportunities available to the community. Check out what some of the best local nonprofits are up to this week!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Charity in Chocolate

Heart of America Foundation
This event features a decadent mix of chocolate & fashion including: – A delicious Chocolate Fashion Show where chefs decorate models in beautiful chocolate couture – More than 50 sweet and savory tasting stations and an open bar for you to enjoy, including a special celebration of Italian culture and cuisine – A raffle campaign with fabulous prizes and proceeds supporting book donations to children in need Proceeds from Charity in Chocolate help The Heart of America Foundation provide books to children in the DC metropolitan area who have little or nothing to read at home.
When: Friday, September 6, 2013 (6:00 PM – 09:00 AM)
Where: Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C., 1330 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20024
Fee? no $110 Guest, tickets discounted for groups of 10 or more, VIP tickets also available
Contact: Daniel Horgan, (202) 347-6278
For more information: click here

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Leave a Legacy Cruise Celebration

Audubon Naturalist Society
Long-time ANS support and current Executive Director, Neal Fitzpatrick, plans to retire in September after 33 years of service. Since Neal has been such a passionate advocate for protecting our local water resources and natural spaces, it seems fitting that his legacy include a fund established in his name that would support the mobilization of people of all ages to protect and restore streams in the greater DC region. To honor Neal and to build his Legacy Fund, we have planned a number of festive events! Join Neal and his wife Roxane, Saturday, September 7th, 6-8pm, aboard the U.S.S. Sequoia Presidential Yacht for an elegant cocktail reception catered by Main Event Caterers, one of Washington, DC’s premiere caterers. Proclaimed by the History Channel as the “Rolls Royce of Yachts,” the Sequoia has catered to a dozen U.S. Presidents for 90 years. It features most of the original furnishings and is full of historic photos and letters. Suggested donation for this event is $500 per person ($400 of which is a tax-deductible gift). RSVP by Friday, August 30th, to Loree Trilling at ltrilling@audubonnaturalist.org or 301-652-9188 x35. Space is limited!
When: Saturday, September 7, 2013 (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
Where: Gangplank Marina, 6th St SW & Maine Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024
Fee? yes $500 per person suggested donation ($400 is tax-deductible)
Contact: Loree Trilling, (301) 652-9188 ext 35
For more information: click here

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Look at Literacy

Literacy Council of Montgomery County
Come learn about the state of adult literacy in Montgomery County, how the Literacy Council addresses the needs of adults with low literacy skills, and how you can be involved.
When: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 (10:30 AM – 11:30 AM)
Where: Rockville Library, Suite 320, 21 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850
Fee? no
Contact: Marty Stephens, (301) 610-0030 ext 202
For more information: click here

Around Town: August 23-30

The school year is almost upon us, but Catalogue nonprofits are still in full summer swing! Check out what these great nonprofits have going on in your neck of the woods! Don’t forget–if you head to an event, let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or by email at info@cfp-dc.org!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Adult Literacy Tutor Orientation

Literacy Council of Montgomery County
The Literacy Council of Montgomery County will hold an information session for volunteers interested in helping adults learn to read, write or speak English. Tutors work one-on-one or with small groups. No foreign language skills are necessary. Tutors meet with students in libraries or community centers at mutually convenient times. Registration is required. Call 301-610-0030 or e-mail info@literacycouncilmcmd.org.
When: Friday, August 23, 2013 (10:30 AM – 12:00 NOON)
Where: Rockville Library, 21 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850
Fee? no
Volunteer Info: Information session for potential volunteers.
Contact: Maggie Bruno, (301) 610-0030 ext 208
For more information: click here

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Nash Run Trash Trap Cleanup

Anacostia Watershed Society
The Anacostia Watershed Society has been experimenting with a stationary device built to strain the trash from the flowing waters of Nash Run, located adjacent the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Northeast DC. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about the trash challenges of the Anacostia and what is being done to address it. We need your help to keep the trash trap clean and functioning well! Contact Maddie at 301-699-6204 ext. 109 or mkoenig@anacostiaws.org to sign up!
When: Saturday, August 24, 2013 (09:00 AM – 12:00 NOON)
Where: Intersection of Anacostia Ave. NE and Douglas Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20019
Fee? no
Volunteer Info: See above.
Contact: Madeline Koenig, (301) 699-6204 ext 109

Monday, August 26, 2013

Wetland Workday

Anacostia Watershed Society
The Anacostia Watershed Society is working to restore a wetland along the Anacostia River called Kingman Marsh. Wetlands do great things for our river — they provide habitat for native wildlife, help filter toxins from river water, and act like a sponge to prevent flooding. We need your help to ensure to restore Kingman Marsh! No previous training or skills are required. All tools and supplies needed (including boots and waders) will be provided. Please note that the work will be muddy and volunteers will be asked to wear waders for the entire event. Bending, lifting, digging, and walking fair distances will be required. If this will be an issue, please consider joining us for another event. Contact Maddie Koenig at 301-699-6204 ext. 109 or mkoenig@anacostiaws.org to sign up!
When: Monday, August 26, 2013 (10:00 AM – 1:00 PM)
Where: Driving Range of Langston Golf Course, Benning Rd. NE, Washington, DC 20002
Fee? no
Volunteer Info: See above.
Contact: Madeline Koenig, (301) 699-6204 ext 109
For more information: click here

Adult Literacy Tutor Orientation

Literacy Council of Montgomery County
The Literacy Council of Montgomery County will hold an information session for volunteers interested in helping adults learn to read, write or speak English. Tutors work one-on-one or with small groups. No foreign language skills are necessary. Tutors meet with students in libraries or community centers at mutually convenient times. Registration is required. Call 301-610-0030 or e-mail info@literacycouncilmcmd.org.
When: Monday, August 26, 2013 (7:30 PM – 9:00 PM)
Where: Rockville Library, 21 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850
Fee? no
Volunteer Info: Information session for potential volunteers.
Contact: Maggie Bruno, (301) 610-0030 ext 208
For more information: click here

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wetland Workday

Anacostia Watershed Society
The Anacostia Watershed Society is working to restore a wetland along the Anacostia River called Kingman Marsh. Wetlands do great things for our river — they provide habitat for native wildlife, help filter toxins from river water, and act like a sponge to prevent flooding. We need your help to ensure to restore Kingman Marsh! No previous training or skills are required. All tools and supplies needed (including boots and waders) will be provided. Please note that the work will be muddy and volunteers will be asked to wear waders for the entire event. Bending, lifting, digging, and walking fair distances will be required. If this will be an issue, please consider joining us for another event. Contact Maddie Koenig at 301-699-6204 ext. 109 or mkoenig@anacostiaws.org to sign up!
When: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 (10:00 AM – 1:00 PM)
Where: Driving Range of Langston Golf Course, Benning Rd. NE, Washington, DC 20002
Fee? no
Volunteer Info: See above.
Contact: Madeline Koenig, (301) 699-6204 ext 109
For more information: click here

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wetland Workday

Anacostia Watershed Society
The Anacostia Watershed Society is working to restore a wetland along the Anacostia River called Kingman Marsh. Wetlands do great things for our river — they provide habitat for native wildlife, help filter toxins from river water, and act like a sponge to prevent flooding. We need your help to ensure to restore Kingman Marsh! No previous training or skills are required. All tools and supplies needed (including boots and waders) will be provided. Please note that the work will be muddy and volunteers will be asked to wear waders for the entire event. Bending, lifting, digging, and walking fair distances will be required. If this will be an issue, please consider joining us for another event. Contact Maddie Koenig at 301-699-6204 ext. 109 or mkoenig@anacostiaws.org to sign up!
When: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 (09:00 AM – 12:00 NOON)
Where: Driving Range of Langston Golf Course, Benning Rd. NE, Washington, DC 20002
Fee? no
Volunteer Info: See above.
Contact: Madeline Koenig, (301) 699-6204 ext 109
For more information: click here

Look at Literacy

Literacy Council of Montgomery County
Come learn about the state of adult literacy in Montgomery County, how the Literacy Council addresses the needs of adults with low literacy skills, and how you can be involved.
When: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 (10:30 AM – 11:30 AM)
Where: Rockville Library, Suite 320, 21 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850
Fee? no
Contact: Marty Stephens, (301) 610-0030 ext 202
For more information: click here

Fighting to Read

Over the past few weeks, we’ve written about the importance of the DC One City fund as a support for the nonprofit sector (see posts here and here). At the same time, adult education advocates have waged another local budget battle over funding for the Pathways to Adult Literacy Fund. Yesterday, Catalogue nonprofit Academy of Hope Executive Director Lecester Johnson joined Community Foundation for the National Capital Region President Terri Lee Freeman to publish an op-ed in the Washington Post about this issue.

Johnson and Freeman tell the stories of Academy of Hope students who have changed their lives by completing a GED program. They also share compelling reasons for why adult literacy is so crucial – not only in general, but specifically in the District of Columbia:

More than 64,000 D.C. adults lack a high school credential. With limited basic math, reading and digital literacy skills, these residents have difficulty following written instructions, completing paperwork, communicating effectively with colleagues or helping their children with homework. This undermines the job security of workers, the economic viability of local businesses and the well-being of families…

Literacy is one of those root problems that, if addressed with serious investments, will pay off in multiple ways. For instance, earning a diploma is not only good for adult students; it also is good for their children. Parents with strong literacy skills can better help their children do homework, study and succeed in school. And young adults whose parents have a high school diploma are more likely to complete high school than are those whose parents do not, according to a 2012 Urban Institute report.

The DC City Council is still making decisions on the FY2014 budget. You can read more about current hearing and decisions online here, and lend support to those fighting for adult literacy programs here.

Universal Pre-School

The Washington Post points out that, “In DC, public school for 3-year-olds is already the norm:”

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called for a dramatic shift in early childhood education: free public preschool for all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds. [...] The District is already doing something more ambitious. Nearly 13,000 of the city?s roughly 15,000 3- and 4-year-olds are attending public preschool. [...]

So as national and state leaders consider a major expansion of public education, the city offers an example of how that that can play out on the ground.

Says Jack McCarthy, Managing Director of the AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation (a Catalogue nonprofit), “Here is a place where funding is in place, universal preschool is policy” [...] If the quality could be improved and ensured for all, “we could close the achievement gap here in five years.”

Hiring teachers with college and advanced degrees to create preschool centers of excellence in language and literacy, and guaranteeing the necessary training and professional development, is central to AppleTree’s mission. You can catch a glimpse inside an AppleTree classroom here.