On April 16th, board member, Kate Vogt opened her home for a reunion of FLOC Board Alumni to celebrate the organization’s 50 years of service. The evening was highlighted by FLOC’s Executive Director, Tim Payne, recalling the organization’s inspirational history and laying our strategic path towards 2017.
In 1965, 25,000 people marched together from Selma to Montgomery, including Rev. Gordon Cosby. On the plane ride back to DC, Rev. Cosby wondered, “What’s our Selma?” He shared his experiences with members in his congregation, and week by week more of them were moved to act. Fred Taylor was one of them, and led the charge to close an institution for wards of the state, forming For Love of Children in the process.
Reflecting on that moment, FLOC’s Board and staff asked a year ago, “What is our Selma today, and where do we need to go?” And the answer was pretty clear.
There are more postsecondary degrees in Washington, DC than anywhere else in the country, but precious few of those degrees are going to students who were born here. Too few students in this city are ever given those opportunities. In classrooms across DC, only two in five low income students can read on grade-level, and the numbers aren’t much better in math. Only half the students in ninth grade classrooms will ever make it through to graduation. Fewer still will go on to college. For too long, this gap has been allowed to exist, and untended it grows wider and wider.
At FLOC, we still believe that every child matters. All are equally important. We see a city where every child’s potential – regardless of zip code, skin color, or family status – is realized.
We’ve demonstrated that high-quality, enhanced learning programs give students the skills and knowledge that lead to postsecondary success, and so we are working to double the number of students we serve. Starting this year, we will add new tutoring programs at partner sites and introduce new cohorts of students to our proven college access program. Next year, 150 new students will receive our support. By the 2017-2018 school year, we will open a community-based center east of the river so that traditionally underserved students can access our high-quality programs close to home. This growth will continue until at least 1,200 students are served directly by FLOC.
But that’s not enough. Meaningful and lasting solutions come from the concerted efforts of like-minded partners, and so we will work to align our resources and interests with other organizations to create a network of support reaching any family in need of educational services, ensuring that more students participate in high-quality programs all across this city.
The ultimate goal of our work is to empower the children and families we serve. We will stand side by side with our families, joining them in their call to demand the services their children need. At FLOC, we believe we can transform our communities, transform our city, by starting one young person at a time.
Those early questions asked by Rev. Cosby and FLOC’s founders 50 years ago have spurred years of tireless work to secure better outcomes for youth in this city. Today, it is in the efforts of our former board members, their commitment and leadership that have guided FLOC through the past half-century.
In keeping with this leadership, several of our long-standing FLOC supporters and board alumni have made a special investment in FLOC to celebrate our 50th anniversary. Two very generous anonymous donors have committed to match all donations made by board alumni this year, $1 for $1, up to $50,000. They will ensure that alumni support will now have double the impact. By December 2015, we want to announce that our board alumni have contributed more than $100,000 to sustain FLOC’s efforts into its next 50 years.
FLOC is grateful for the work of its board members, past and present, and all that they have done and continue to do to strengthen the work of FLOC.
(Latoyia Allen is the Director of Development.)