News, Scholars Program

Middle School Scholars Engage in Zoology Workshops this Summer

For five weeks this summer, FLOC Middle School Scholars explored the National Zoo through the lens of a zoologist. The first week, students learned about different career opportunities in the field of zoology like Zookeeper, Wildlife Educator, and Researcher.

Students engaged in a number of interesting and fun activities, including an animal bingo competition in both the Reptile House and Small Mammal House. They also had the chance to observe prairie dogs communicate with each other through high pitched squeaks.

The students were also tasked with choosing one animal to gather information about and make observations. Students chose a variety of animals, from a porcupine to a howler monkey. The following week students wrote creative stories about a new animal. Stories ranged from two red-bellied piranhas looking for food to Discus fish named Lola and Charlie raising their family of little fish.

On their last trip to the zoo, students observed animals at the Kid’s Farm and Amazonia exhibit. Students were asked to choose another animal and draw it in its habitat.

Overall, the students had a fantastic time learning about the animal kingdom in hands-on workshops and an exciting environment.

(Colleen Kerrisk is a Scholars Instructor for the 7th and 10th grade students.)


Q & A with Summer Associate Pavithra Chidambaram

(FLOC welcomes new staff each summer. In this miniseries, we are recognizing our summer associates and interns by publishing blog posts about their experiences.  Pavi Chidambaram is the Lead Site Coordinator for the Summer Reading Academy.)

Q: Where are you from?

I’m from Houston, Texas.

Q: Where do you go to school and what do you study?

I go to GeorgeWashingtonUniversity, and I study psychology and international affairs.

Q: How did you first become involved with FLOC?

I started as a tutor in the Language program in October of 2011. Then I started as a site coordinator in mid-October for the Tuesday Night Reading Program.

Q: What are your job duties this summer?

This summer, I run and facilitate the Summer Reading Program on Mondays and Wednesdays with Daniel. We accommodate tutor’s needs, track student progress, and find resources and materials that would be beneficial to students, and prevent learning loss.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working here?

The staff is amazing. I don’t think I will find another job where the staff is so welcoming and fun to be around. Most people complain about having to work everyday, but I’m so excited to work.

Q: Do you plan to continue being involved with FLOC in the future? In what capacity?

Definitely. I’ll keep tutoring and try to work during the summers.


FLOC Featured in Latest Issue of Bittersweet Zine

For Love of Children is proud to say that we were recently featured in Bittersweet‘s “Cultivating Community Development” issue. Bittersweet is an artistic, documentary-style zine known for recognizing both organizations and individuals who are making a difference in the DC community. The zine aims to raise awareness on social issues as well as encourage volunteerism in the community.

Proudly featured in Bittersweet Zine

Thanks to Bittersweet Zine for featuring FLOC, which Deputy Editor Amanda Lahr described as an organization “working to help meet the educational needs of children in the DC area.”


Summer Associate Regan Rundio Highlights Test Prep Workshops

(FLOC welcomes new staff each summer. In this miniseries, we are recognizing our summer associates and interns by publishing blog posts about their experiences.  Regan Rundio is the ACT/SAT Test Prep Instructor.)

This summer, our Scholars have had the opportunity to engage in fun and helpful workshops. FLOC is providing 36 students with a 6-week long workshop focused on readiness for the SAT and the ACT.  Regan Rundio, a VISTA summer associate, is the ACT/SAT Test Prep Instructor.

Regan’s principal duty this summer has been to design the curriculum for these workshops to involve activities, strategies to beat the tests, and reviewing basic concepts covered in the both the SAT and ACT.

“These classes aren’t really places of monumental change, but a lot of small shifts in thinking and the appearance of a lot of little eureka moments,” he said.

The 9th/10th grade program stresses learning various testing strategies and reviewing basic concepts that appear on the exams. 11th and 12th graders also focus on testing strategies, but the academic concepts are more advanced than what the younger students are reviewing. Both groups spend an hour with a dedicated volunteer focusing on math concepts and one hour with Regan reviewing English skills.

The Ohio native has learned so much about education in urban areas. Though Regan mentioned that it was difficult “trying to balance engaging students and teaching them something,” he liked being able to connect with the students on a variety of subjects, including one of his favorites, rapper Waka Flocka Flame.

Last week, the 11th and 12th graders competed against their classmates Jeopardy-style to review English concepts and engaged in other math focused activities. The game of Jeopardy included categories like “Semi-Pronouns”, “Apostrophe Catastrophe”, “Mod-Squad”, “Hip Hop”, and “Testing Strategies”.

“All participants competed nobly as they identified dangling modifiers, matched pronouns with their antecedents, and applied apostrophes to plural possessive nouns, but they were tripped up by the difficult hip hop questions,” Regan said.

Staff Perspectives

Q & A with Summer Associate Brenda Balcarcel

(FLOC welcomes new staff each summer. In this miniseries, we are recognizing our summer associates and interns by publishing blog posts about their experiences.  Brenda Balcarcel is the Community Resource Assistant.)

Q: Where are you from?

I’m from Washington, DC.

Q: Where do you go to school and what do you study?

I’m a rising senior at Mount St. Mary’s University. I’m a Spanish major with a minor in Education.

Q: How long have you been involved with FLOC and in what capacity?

I started as a tenth grader in the College Prep program. I’m still a Scholar and this summer I’m working for FLOC.

Q: What do you do as the Community Resource Assistant?

I’m going to be creating an electronic referral guide for FLOC to use, including health services and other educational services that FLOC doesn’t provide. After interviewing staff, I made a list of the needs that were most common. My job is to research and find organizations that meet those needs and then organize a concrete list of organizations to be able to refer families.

Q: What have you learned while working here?

I’ve learned a lot about the services that DC provides for families. I’m also getting more professional work experience, which is something I was really looking forward to.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working here?

The staff. I think everyone is really friendly and supportive. I don’t feel scared to ask anyone for help.

Q: What are your plans after college?

I either want to pursue a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education or work at an educational organization.


Summer Associate Jessica Shares her New Experiences at FLOC

(FLOC welcomes new staff each summer. In this miniseries, we are recognizing our summer associates and interns by publishing blog posts about their experiences.  Jessica Briatico is the Lead Site Coordinator for the Summer Math Program.)

A year and a half ago, Jessica Briatico began tutoring at FLOC as a work study student. Currently, she’s a summer associate for the Summer Math Academy.

Jess, a rising junior at the George Washington University, is getting the opportunity to see how FLOC operates from a staff perspective.

“When I was a tutor, I had no idea how much work went into enrollment,” Jessica said. This experience focuses on how FLOC works “instead of the hands-on tutor-to-student interaction. It’s a lot more in-depth and it really makes me appreciate what we do here more.”

As a tutor, she dedicated herself to helping one student at a time. Now, Jessica’s taking into account the many moving parts of the FLOC programs. “It’s interesting to see where all the pieces are missing…how students progress, the mentor aspect of [our programs], and how everything falls into place,” she said.

This summer, Jessica has gained much experience using software like Microsoft Excel. She also attributes her growth as a team player to her summer position, particularly because a great deal of running these programs requires much “behind-the-scenes” teamwork.

Jess, a psychology major, is enthusiastic about seeing how “FLOC helps to provide the support and individual attention that’s not possible to provide in a classroom setting. A lot of our students are struggling in school for a lot of reasons, and they come in to the program with low self esteem about their abilities and not really engaged in the learning process.”

Even after a long day at the computer, she looks forward to seeing all the students work and play with their tutors. “There’s a sense of purpose here that I haven’t found in any other environment.” Though her plans after college aren’t set yet, she hopes to continue working with children.


FLOC selected as “one of the best” by Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington

For Love of Children is thrilled to announce that, once again, FLOC has been selected as “one of the best small charities” in the greater Washington region and will be recognized in the 2012-2013 Catalogue for Philanthropy.

We are tremendously proud to be part of the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington. Each year some 250 organizations apply and undergo a rigorous vetting process. This year a panel of 100 expert reviewers from area foundations, corporate giving programs, giving circles, and peer nonprofits participated in the process to choose this year’s 70 nonprofits. All 350 organizations (including ours!) that have ever been featured as a Catalogue nonprofit can be viewed online at the Catalogue’s website, — where donations can also be made. For more information about the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington, click here.

According to Barbara Harman, President and Editor of the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington, “We know that many nonprofits have had a very difficult year. For most, contributions are flat or down, and the decrease or loss of foundation and government funding has created significant budgetary challenges. Individual donors can make a real difference this year, keeping great organizations afloat during these tough times.”

For Love of Children has been part of the Catalogue family since 2008. The Catalogue has enabled us to reach out to individuals in the region who would otherwise not hear our story. The Catalogue also provides us with a stamp of approval, and donors tell us that they appreciate the good housekeeping seal that the Catalogue provides. According to Tim Payne, FLOC’s Executive Director, “The Catalogue is the go-to guide for individuals wanting to ensure their donations have the greatest impact for the best nonprofits. We’re incredibly proud of this great honor and all the doors it opens for us.”

Since its inception in 2003, the Catalogue has helped to raise more than $12.5 million dollars for local nonprofit organizations. The 2012-13 Catalogue will be available in early November (you can request a catalogue online – they’re free), and the Catalogue’s website will go live with the newly featured nonprofits on November 8th. Special features of the site include a gift registry, gift cards, a section especially for kids, and even a “donate now/decide later” fund that lets donors give in December and make their choices in January. Links on nonprofit profile pages connect donors with volunteer opportunities, events, news, videos, and more. According to Harman, “the new Catalogue website is the broadest and deepest regional philanthropy website in the country.” We’re delighted to be featured on it.

For Love of Children is also proud to be called “one of the best,” and we hope you’ll view our profile online at (then search us by name) and help spread the word about the Catalogue so that together we can deepen the culture of giving in our nation’s capital.

(Ellie Haga is the Executive Assistant at FLOC.)