Development, Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Scholars Program

Looking back, looking forward: end of the year at FLOC

The holiday season is a time of reflection at FLOC. It gives us an opportunity to pause and give thanks to those who’ve helped our organization and the students we serve. We count ourselves extraordinarily lucky to be supported by such a vibrant and passionate community. The remarkable achievements of our students are a reflection not only of the tireless work our students put forth, but it’s also a testament to the generosity of our donors and volunteers.

Nationwide, 81% of students now graduate from high school. Inarguably that’s an important milestone and an indicator that things are moving in the right direction, but it also shows the work that remains. We are failing one-fifth of the young people in this country. The numbers are even worse in Washington, DC. In our city, a city that has more college degrees per capita than anywhere else in the country, only 64% of students will achieve a high school degree. Even fewer will earn a postsecondary degree. A failing of this magnitude is hard to fathom, and it’s even more difficult to create and fight for the lasting, systemic change necessary to rectify it. However, in the push for sustainable and lasting change, we cannot lose sight of the thousands of students in classrooms today who are living the reality of these statistics.

9th grade Scholars group

At FLOC, we believe that the only thing separating students who struggle and students who succeed is opportunity. Over the past 50 years, we have served over 10,000 children, talented young people who thrive when exposed to quality out-of-school-time programming. Thanks to continued and new support, another class (the ninth straight!) of FLOC high school seniors achieved a 100% graduation rate. We’re proud of their hard work and grateful that our donors have allowed us to continue supporting these tremendous young people. Across all our programs, this support and partnership have led to remarkable results.

  • Our Neighborhood Tutoring Program served a total of 380 students and recruited more than 349 volunteer tutors.
  • Those 380 students made more than a year of improvement after just three and half months of steady tutoring.
  • Thanks to a new program model for SAT prep, students improved their composite scores on the SAT by more than 100 points.

math tutoring

This growth is fantastic, but preparing students for postsecondary success requires a lot more than just raising test scores. Today’s student are leaving high school and entering a highly competitive, quickly moving world. They require new skills and new experiences to help them navigate it. Jason, one of our recent high school graduates, is a great example of the ways that FLOC is working to fully prepare students for postsecondary success.

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Ever since he started coming to FLOC, Jason has been a presence. Sometimes this was a positive thing, like when he would encourage his classmates across our high ropes course. Other times, it was a challenge, like when he would take over a workshop with his jokes. In his school life, he struggled to find his place, to share his talents and to achieve success.

As a freshman in high school, Jason had to deal with the death of his older brother. The loss was devastating, certainly distracting and not surprisingly a major factor in his lack of motivation in the classroom. FLOC has been a part of the village that supports him and his family. Jason was motivated by basketball and the special caring relationships he’d formed with his peers and the staff at FLOC. We fought to help him recognize that he still had a path to success, that he had the capability to achieve great things if he challenged himself and remained focused. It didn’t happen overnight, but he began to heal and to grow. Jason’s senior year of high school was his strongest academically, and he graduated on time. He applied and was accepted to a community college, where he intends to get his associates degree before moving on to a 4-year institution to study psychology. We asked Jason what he believes will be his key to success. He shared that he finally realizes the power he has to be great, to make his brother proud and to help others; Jason plans to become a therapist for children who have suffered from traumatic loss. We believe in him and will support him throughout his journey.

Students at VTECH

This year, another group of twelfth graders is preparing for the next steps in their academic journey. Throughout the city, there are thousands more who have the potential to excel, but lack access to the programming that will allow them to do so. Again, the only thing that separates a student in a failing school from one in a top-tier school is opportunity. FLOC represents that opportunity for more than 600 students in the city. We need your support to reach even more students in 2016. Today, during this season of giving, we ask you to make a special gift so that more children can get the tools necessary for academic success. With your gift, FLOC’s dedicated staff and volunteers will be able to better serve even more children. With your support, even more people will hear our message that a high-quality education is the birthright of every child, that viable pathways to postsecondary success should be the bar by which any community of educators is judged.

girls with map

Thank you for your support of FLOC and the work we do, and from our family to yours, happy holidays!

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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.)

Development, News

The Spirit of the Season at FLOC

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I love this time of year for many reasons – one of which is definitely NOT the frigid temperatures! I love it because of the time I get to spend with my loved ones, relaxing and recharging after what is most often a busy year that’s gone by too fast.  I also love it because I find this time of year to be one of the most generous times: a time when people capture the true spirit of the season – realizing it is truly better to give than to receive.

There are few things better than picking out the perfect gift for someone, volunteering your time at a local nonprofit, or opening your checkbook to help support those groups in need. I see this same generosity and spirit in FLOC’s generous gift drive when donors purchase gifts so that every single one of our students has a gift this holiday.  I also see it in the generous FLOC donors who continue to donate year after year. To them, and to all of you who do the same this time of year and beyond, thank you!

At For Love of Children we’re also ready for some rest and relaxation! Our staff is busy wrapping up program before the holidays and reflecting on the successes of the year, while looking towards the year to come.  A lot has happened in the world around us in the past year on local, national, and international levels. But, no matter what has happened around us, all of us at FLOC are reminded that our work is critical to the children and families of this city.

For Love of Children was founded in 1965 by a community of volunteers who heeded a call to action. They joined one another, united in a sense of hope and motivated by a common mission.  Throughout FLOC’s 48-year history, we have been guided by the core values of our founders: to help children thrive and to offer them the educational opportunities they deserve. We still come together as a community united by hope, dedicated to the belief that individuals, working together, can bring about lasting and meaningful change.

Although I don’t interact with our students on a daily basis, the stories I hear inspire me to keep coming to work each day.  Stories like that of Aliyah, a current 8th grader, who provides an example of what can be achieved through hard work and focus. Everyone who worked with her saw her determination and drive to really “buckle down” and work.  She moved through the curriculum at an impressive rate, passing 13 lessons over the course of 6 weeks – her tutor had to work hard just to keep up with her! When the dust settled, she had made almost two years improvement in her fluency skills, and nearly three years of improvement in her general calculation abilities. Aliyah is focused on what she needs to do in order to find academic success, and FLOC is ensuring that she gets there!

Aliyah is just one of the nearly 600 students we work with each year. However, we can’t do this work alone. So, during this special season of giving, we’re asking you to join us in continuing to help students like Aliyah, and all of the students we work with at FLOC, realize their own potential all year long. If you’re interested in making a donation and joining us in our work, click here. You can also mail us a check or call Ellie Haga at 202-349-3500 to make a donation over the phone.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my thankfulness for the amazing staff and volunteers that also help to make our work possible. So, on behalf of all of the students, families, and staff at For Love of Children, we send warm wishes for the happiest of holidays and a safe and healthy New Year.

(Ellie Haga is the Operations Manager at FLOC).