Monthly Archives: April 2015

Board Alumni Gather to Reflect on Past and Future

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.

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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.

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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.)

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Meet Gerald

Gerald Mason 2Gerald Mason currently serves as a Postsecondary Coach in the Scholars program. In this role, he is matched with a 12th grade Scholar to provide individual support on his journey to post-secondary education. Gerald first heard about FLOC through his girlfriend, who thought it would be appropriate that he consider FLOC, given his interest in mentoring and education. He’s always had a desire to serve his community but he recognized that having a passion for giving was not sufficient. He knew it was time for his actions to better mirror his values.

Gerald has been a volunteer since the summer of 2014. He started as a Tutor in the Neighborhood Tutoring Program. This school year, Gerald is working with a student named Aldair, who he is helping to complete scholarship applications. Aldar is the epitome of a modern day gentlemen. He’s smart, compassionate, and family-centered. Gerald finds Aldair’s love for science and truth discovery refreshing and is impressed by his indomitable will.

2015-03-18 19.01.00Gerald’s best experience thus far at FLOC occurred on 3/10/15. That was the day he found out Aldair got into his number one school, Catholic University. Aldair will the first person in his family to go to college. Gerald and Aldair worked hard on improving his SAT score to boost the strength of his candidacy. He made everyone proud by increasing his score by 70 points. His acceptance into Catholic justifies his hard work and further legitimizes FLOC’s efforts.

Besides Aldair’s acceptance into Catholic, every day helping him to secure his future is a legitimate contender for Gerald’s “favorite moment” at FLOC. Gerald and Aldair were both applying to schools this school year which made their bond tighter. They had to be accountable to each other. His acceptance into several schools and Gerald’s acceptance into Cornell University for graduate school makes their journey together this year much more memorable!

A fun fact about Gerald is that his mother was a Director at FLOC in the 1980s, which he discovered after he started volunteering.

(Vanessa Hanible is the Recrruitment and Outreach Associate at FLOC.)

The Harpers Ferry Half Marathon is coming soon! Sign up now!

The winter can be tough: less daylight, cold temperatures, and sometimes dangerous conditions of ice and snow.  On top of that, the food we eat might be less fresh, more processed, out of season, and less nutritious.  All over the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, people are cooped up inside and starving for activities out in the fresh air and a chance to stretch away the winter tensions.  For many, it’s quite difficult to maintain healthy patterns.  Spring is a time to break out of those patterns and shed our cabin fever.

The staff of FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center celebrate this seasonal shift and invite all in need of invigoration to join us on May 9th for this years 5th Annual BCT Harpers Ferry Half Marathon, 5K Trail Run, and Kids Run in scenic and historic Harpers Ferry, WV.  One of our main goals at the OEC is to facilitate healthy character development for youth and adults in a powerful outdoor classroom.  In this case, helping to put on this vernal event is no different.

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Along with a team of friends and affiliates all avid about the potential of outdoor running adventures and races, the Half gets planned and organized months and months ahead of time.  It’s a lot of work but very rewarding.  The proceeds from the race help benefit FLOC and the Eastern Panhandle Indigo Children organization known as EPIC, which is an autism awareness and advocacy non-profit located right here in the Eastern Panhandle of WV.  Not only does the race benefit these two organizations, but hundreds of people are brought together to share the experience of challenging their own limits in the historic national park and along the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.

Last year, nearly 500 participants strided along one of the most challenging and beautiful half marathons in the country.  With the 5k and kids fun run in the mix, too, there is fun for the whole family.  Spread the word, spring alive, and join us for another memorable event this year.  Register and find out more details at:

http://www.harpersferryhalf.org

(Josh Evans is the Program Assistant for FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center in WV) 

Selfies for Math Success

The Thursday night math program at Jubilee has very energetic and curious students. This past Thursday, dynamic duo Denim and Tawanda shared with me how they came to be best friends and what they love most about FLOC. Both students are first graders working on Unit 1 in our math curriculum. They are also paired with two tutors who also happen to be friends with each other, volunteering at FLOC together. In exchange for this interview I allowed them take selfies on the FLOC cell phone:

denimI love coming to FLOC with Tawanda. We get to talk to our tutors, play math games, and have snacks. Our tutors also let us dance together during break. I dance better than Tawanda! ” -Denim, 1st grader
tawanda“Denim and I are best friends. We have sleepovers and play Michael Jackson and sing and dance. At FLOC we race each other doing math worksheets and then our tutors let us dance.” -Tawanda, 1st grader

(Felise Ortiz is an NTP site coordinator and the supervisor of the Thursday night math program at Jubilee Housing.)

The Middle School Transition: Parents Learn, Share, Advise

One of the greatest challenges that students face when transitioning from elementary school to middle school is organization. From switching classes more often to having a locker, students need support to ensure they are developing healthy habits that will continue for their entire life.

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In March, Bethel Tafari, the Scholars Program Social Work Intern, hosted a middle school parent workshop to share the importance of organization and to provide useful tips so parents can better support their child through this transition. The material that was presented to parents consisted of learning styles, brain development stages, and organizational skill strategies for adolescents.

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Following the material, there was an open discussion. Everyone was able to reflect on the material presented, discuss with each other, and give each other advice on different strategies they have used and worked. They were able to walk away with new information that will help their children in organization with school.

(Sara Dia is the Scholars Advisor.)