Events, News

FLOC’s 8th Annual Book Festival: For Love of Reading!

On Saturday, November 17, FLOC celebrated its annual Book Festival with over 150 students and their families gathering at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery. The evening was highlighted by our guest author, Debbie Levy, who shared her inspiration for the book We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song, a story of the racial history in America. She guided the students through an interactive presentation, reading excerpts from her book, sharing historical events in the civil rights movement, and even including a few musical interludes!


Each student was able to collect up to 15 books to take home and expand their reading collection. The book festival offered books for our youngest students in Kindergarten all the way up to books about college for our high school students. The night also featured  guest appearance from PBS’s Arthur. The younger students especially were overjoyed to see one of their favorite TV and book characters at FLOC’s Book Festival.


Inspired by We Shall Overcome, the students also did an activity focused on community action. In this activity, students were prompted to make a personal pledge that would address some aspect of change in their community, school, or personal life.

The book festival offered an opportunity for FLOC students to come and share an evening focused on improving literacy. Every student left with a smile on their face and a handful of books that will promote their interest in reading and academic success.


The over 1,500 books that went home with FLOC students were generously donated by Sedgwick, LLP, M&T Bank, SIGAL Construction Companies, Raffa, P.C., Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, KEYS for the Homeless, and Geppetto Catering (who also provided delicious refreshments!) A huge thank you to WHUT – Howard University Public Television for bringing everyone’s favorite aardvark, Arthur! They also provided backpacks for students to take their books home.

We are grateful for all those who helped out with and attended this year’s book festival and look forward to continuing this event for years to come.

(Kurt Guenther is a program instructor in the Scholars Program and Kate Fleiscsher is the development assistant.  Both served on the planning committee for this year’s Book Festival.)

Development, News

Introducing the FLOC Champions Network!

champions jan 14-edit

There’s a brand new initiative at FLOC called the FLOC Champions Network, a cohort of current volunteers who are eager and excited to assist with FLOC’s fundraising efforts, create a sense of community among volunteers, and help build capacity for the organization as a whole. Another goal of the network is to have a dedicated group which promotes FLOC to people who might not be aware of FLOC and its mission. The current cohort of Champions is made up of 11 volunteers and FLOC’s Development Assistant, Kate Fleischer:

  • Nicole Muryn: Sat AM
  • Yulya Spantchak: Sat AM
  • Renee-Lauren Ellis: Sat AM & PM
  • Sarah Solon-Hanover: Sat PM
  • Siri Raasch: Sat PM
  • Jeanelle Spencer: Tuesday
  • John Connolly: Tuesday
  • Ben Richman: Postsecondary Coach Substitute
  • Rachel Melo: WNDC
  • Ashley Elstro: Saturday
  • Brooke Pearson: Postsecondary Coach

Recently, the Champions had their kick-off meeting to discuss ideas and objectives for the network’s first year. Many of us agreed that we joined FLOC in part to meet new people. We’ve decided to take the lead in making the FLOC tutoring experience less individual and more social.

On Saturdays, we’d like to have an informal coffee hour between tutoring sessions, where people can get to know their fellow tutors. Additionally, we’re planning to host a happy hour event in the early spring for all tutors.

We also want each tutoring group to have the chance to work together on projects. The first one will be a “Fund-Race” where each tutoring program  is a team that encourages one another to get 100% of their tutors to donate to FLOC (within their means). The donations will be anonymous, but this will be a great way to bring volunteers together and raise money for FLOC’s programs.

The Champions Network will also be working within our workplaces and communities to raise visibility for FLOC, and garner new support and volunteers. If you would like to share FLOC with your own coworkers or friends, but need support, let us know, and we will help you come up with a great way to share FLOC!

We will also be helping FLOC continue to put on successful events throughout the year, like the Annual Fundraising Luncheon in May, the Book Festival, and College Night for students.

If you have any questions about how to get involved or want to know more, contact Kate at

(This post was written by FLOC volunteer tutors and Champions Rachel Melo and Siri Raasch).

Events, Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News

FLOC Book Festival: A Great Success

book festival
Students had the opportunity to take home their favorite books.

Our 7th Annual Book Festival took place at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery on Saturday November 16th. Over 130 people attended the event including FLOC students, volunteers, parents, and board members. This year we were able to celebrate our annual literacy event by distributing over 1,170 books to the 73 students who attended.

Marc Tyler Nobleman shared his anecdotes about how he became a writer to the students and their families.
Marc Tyler Nobleman shared his anecdotes about how he became a writer.

One of the highlights of the event was the presentation by author Marc Tyler Nobleman. He explained his start into writing by winning a contest in elementary school and how his love for writing and comic books characters grew over the years into a prominent career. All students were able to walk home with a signed copy of one of his books such as Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman. After Nobleman’s presentation, the students rotated through the different areas to meet and take pictures with Super Why from PBS; choose their books; and dress up like super heroes for our FLOC photo booth.

Super Why from PBS and our students.
Our students were very excited to meet Super Why.

We are extremely grateful for getting to partner with PBS this year and to receive extra activities for our students. All students were able to leave with a reading chart which they can send back to PBS after they have read a certain number of books to receive a prize.

The Book Festival was made possible by many great sponsors this year. Over 400 books were donated through book drives held by Raffa, Sedgwick LLP, SIGAL Construction, and University of Maryland’s Chi Sigma Iota Honor Society. We also received over 300 books from Books for America. We would like to thank First Book DC  for a wide variety of new books as well as providing volunteers for the event. Special thanks to JBG Companies for sponsoring the event, especially our board member, Matt Blocher, for making it possible.

Finally, we would also like to thank all of our FLOC families and volunteers for coming out to the event. We hope you enjoyed getting to mingle with some of our staff as well as meet students that are also in the program. We hope to see you all next year!

(Catherine Brenner is an NTP Site Coordinator at FLOC).