Development, Events, News

Beyond the Classroom Fundraising Luncheon: Celebrating FLOC’s 50th Anniversary

On May 13th, FLOC celebrated a milestone of 50 years of service to students in the Washington, DC community. At this year’s Beyond the Classroom luncheon, FLOC shared with board members, volunteers, new and old supporters, and community partners our vision for growth in the next 3 years; a look at the work we have accomplished and what is left to be done; and a call to help raise the vitally important funds to realize this work.

Please take a minute to read Executive Director Tim Payne and FLOC student alumnae Brittany Okafor’s remarks. Also, check out the video we debuted at the luncheon showcasing our work the past 50 years and why FLOC is an organization worth celebrating.

If you missed this year’s luncheon, please join FLOC at Come Dream With Us: The Future of FLOC on Wednesday, May 20 from 6-8pm at the WNDC. Details and RSVP at this link.

(Kate Fleischer is FLOC’s Development Assistant.)

Development, News

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.

board alum 2

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.

board alum 1

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.)

Development, News

Words from FLOC’s First Executive Director and the 50th Anniversary Launch Video

Award-winning and journalist, Leon Harris and Fred Taylor, FLOC founding director.
Fred Taylor (right) FLOC’s founding executive director, visits with journalist Leon Harris (left) at the 2014 Fred Taylor Scholarship Dinner.

Looking back on FLOC’s past 50 years is exciting for several reasons, one being that a handful of those who helped to start the organization are still active in the organization today, whether by supporting FLOC monetarily or sharing their talents by volunteering. One of them is our founding Executive Director, Fred Taylor. I was able to get some of Fred’s thoughts on FLOC’s first 50 years as an organization. Fred writes:

As I celebrate FLOC’s first 50 years, three things stand out for me as truly inspiring:

1) the vision and energy with which FLOC began during the rising tide of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and FLOC’s capacity to persist and thrive even as the energy of that great national movement waned;

2) the vision and courage of the FLOC Board in 2003-05 (after my retirement) to risk the huge change from primary financial dependence on DC government contracting to become totally self-supporting through fundraising, and to shift from multiple service programing to concentrate on equipping and empowering DC youth with limited support and prospects to get a 21st century-worthy education with the interior discipline and vision to match through out-of-school programming (catch up, stay in school, graduate high school, gain acceptance, graduate from college, get a job with a future); and

3) the wisdom and boldness of the 2013-14 FLOC Board to revisit the vision that drives the organization by undertaking and adopting a daunting comprehensive five-year strategic plan. This plan envisions FLOC once again as a catalyst for systemic change for left-out and left-behind children and youth in this potentially great city. It commits FLOC to approximately doubling in size and outreach in order to model and nurture the kind of widely shared citywide effort required for achieving educational justice for the young. It dares to believe that a single organization operating from the margins of the city educational system can succeed as a catalyst for system change, provided it functions as a team player for a much larger goal than its self-glorification.  Lastly, as I look back over what I have written I think “Wow! This still developing history is worth celebrating, and I am so grateful to still be a part of it.” 

Keeping in mind Fred’s words, take a look at the video that highlights some of our students and their experiences at FLOC:

(Kate Fleischer is FLOC’s Development Associate.)

Development, News

Celebrating 50 Years as an Organization

raftingFLOC is celebrating a milestone this year: fifty years of serving disenfranchised youth in Washington, DC. This is a milestone that few organizations reach and FLOC owes much of this success to those who came before us and our own community. Our students and families have always been on the forefront of what we do.

Gordon Cosby was instrumental in the founding of FLOC.
Gordon Cosby was instrumental in the founding of FLOC.

When Reverend Gordon Cosby came back from the march in Selma, Alabama, in 1965, he asked his congregation the difficult question: “What will be our Selma?” In FLOC’s beginnings, they gathered support of their churches and the community to shut down Junior Village, a warehouse for 900 abandoned children. FLOC and its partners arranged viable schooling and living alternatives for these children, and shut Junior Village down in 1973. FLOC’s early leaders also founded DC’s first Child Advocacy Center and co-founded the Consortium for Child Welfare, a city-wide collaborative of 16 foster care and adoption agencies.

From the mid-1970s through the 1990s, FLOC continued to embrace a variety of child and family services and served as an incubator for developing programs.
One of these was Hope and a Home, a transitional housing program that helped parents create nurturing and stable homes within the caring and loving support of a community.  In 2005, Hope and a Home incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3) agency.  FLOC also was one of the founding members of the Healthy Families Initiative, and its program remains a strong part of Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care.

NTP pair

As other nonprofit collaborations and public agencies emerged to address the community’s needs, FLOC asked those we served what they needed for the community to thrive. FLOC reevaluated its mission and decided, in 2005-2006, to focus on educational programming as the most effective way to help young people achieve a positive future.  While the refocused mission is relatively young, FLOC’s educational programs have deep roots.  The Neighborhood Tutoring Program was founded in 1997, the Outdoor Education Center in 1971, and the forerunner of FLOC’s Scholars Program in 1999.

One of the civil rights movement’s earliest initiatives was challenging inequality in educational opportunities for African-Americans. Today, the majority of low-income children of color do not receive the quality education they deserve. One wonders what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would say about this. As a man of hope, he would probably speak optimistically about our youth and rebuke the idea that some children lack the capacity to learn.  Every student can learn. The primary goal of FLOC is to ensure that all students — regardless of race, ethnicity, or neighborhood — receive the support they need to achieve their dreams.

doors for familiesFifty years is a long time in the life of an organization. This city has changed a lot in that time. But through it all, FLOC remains focused on one thing: all the children of our community are equally important. Yet too many young people are left struggling to find opportunities to unlock their potential. We can’t stop at the 600 students we serve today. We have to reach more students and teach them these vital skills. We have to organize and empower all of our stakeholders to harness the strength of the communities we
serve. With them, we believe we can transform this city.

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.

graduateWe know that meaningful and lasting solutions come from the concerted efforts
of like-minded partners. We will work to align our resources and interests with other organizations to take collective action, to create a network of support reaching any family in need of educational services. Not only will more students participate in our programs; more students will participate in more high-quality programs all across this city.

We recognize that 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. We will work tirelessly with them to transform our community.

IMG_9876_croppedOver the next three years, we intend to raise two and half million dollars in additional financial support. We will leverage this capital to accomplish four major goals: investing in the Fred Taylor Scholarship Fund, allowing us to financially invest in FLOC students working to secure a postsecondary degree; second, ensuring our continued vitality and health by creating a reserve fund; in addition, devoting the capacity building resources necessary to support our growth; and most importantly, funding the program expansion, partnerships, and community organizing work that will bridge the persistent opportunity gap in our city.

We hope you will join FLOC in its efforts to expand, grow and serve more youth on their path to postsecondary success.

(Kate Fleischer is FLOC’s Development Associate.)