News, Scholars Program

College Night 2015

On Wednesday December 16th, FLOC hosted its annual College Night, sponsored by PrepMatters, at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery. Over 50 parents, students, and alumni met to talk and learn about the college experience. The evening began with a college fair where staff, volunteers, and alumni represented their universities by answering questions posed by curious students. Students were also able to collect brochures and swag provided by colleges and universities all over the country. The fair was also a great place for parents to see just how many college options their students have to choose from.

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After the college fair, parents and students were split up into separate workshops designed to teach them about their role in the college process. The students got to listen to a panel of some our postsecondary students, alumni, an admissions representative, and staff. The students heard stories about how the admissions process works, how to pick a major, transferring to a new college or university, and finding financial aid.

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The students were also able to ask the panel questions. One student, Bethlehem asked “Which major do you pick when you have two things you really want to do?” Desiree on the panel answered that you can do both things. For example, if you’re interested in law and music, you can do music law. It’s more about picking a career nowadays and fitting your major to that. Students also had questions for our panel about college life; Joel, an 11th grader asked “what about the parties?” The panel answered that you’ll find what you’re looking for but you pay lots of money to go to college. It’s about making the right choice and balancing your school work with social life. Thanks to our panel, all of our students learned something new.

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In the next room their parents were also receiving new information from a panel of FLOC alumni, volunteers, and staff. The parent workshop was set up to help parents and family members learn how they can help and support their student through the application process, the financial aid process, and college life. In order to help parents understand how important their support is, Scholars program manager Lindsey Barclay explained the application process and the type of questions the applications ask students to answer. Postsecondary Success Coordinator Veronica Marin also explained that all students have a different process based their personalities and what they want in a college. All of this advice was well received by our parents, some of whom are currently going through this process with their high school seniors. So thanks to our panel, parents are more prepared to support their students on the college journey.

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In order to wrap up the night with a big red bow, we raffled off great gifts including gift cards and a DVD. This year’s College Night was a great evening filled with fun and new information. Thank you to all of our postsecondary students who gave up an evening of their winter break to share with our students, all of our volunteers who came out and shared their experiences, and all of our FLOC staff who represented well for their colleges and universities.

sponsors sign college night 2015

(Joh’nita Johnson is a FLOC Fellow with the Scholars Program. She works primarily with 12th graders and Postsecondary Scholars.)

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Events, Scholars Program

College Night 2014: Mapping Our Journey to Success

On December 17th, FLOC students and parents gathered at George Washington University’s Funger Hall for our annual College Night. After snacks, drinks, and conversation, everyone headed to a college fair. It was a joy to see our middle and high school students interact with our alumni and postsecondary students, who took time out of their winter break to represent their college or university. These empowering connections are the best of what FLOC has to offer. Students and parents alike left the event with more pamphlets than they could carry!

IMG_8381 IMG_8413 IMG_8433After the fair, students, alumni, and parents went to various workshops designed to prepare each of them for their next step on the path toward postsecondary and career success. These interactive sessions were based on this year’s theme: “Get Ready! Mapping Your Journey to Success.” These participant-driven conversations were facilitated by FLOC staff, helping to tie substantive information to the enthusiasm sparked by the college fair. Everyone went home with college brochures and workshop handouts to match their excitement and energy about getting ready for college… and also some special treats! We wrapped up the night with a raffle, giving away movie theater gift cards and more, and everyone left with candy for good measure.

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Thanks to all who came and spent the first part of their holiday season with us at FLOC!

(Jasmine Cornell is the Scholars Program Instructor for 8th and 10th grades and served on the planning committee for this year’s College Night.)

News, Scholars Program, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Caroline Fichtenberg

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Caroline moved to DC five years ago to start a new job. She grew up in Paris; her father is French and her mom is American. Caroline currently works at the Children’s Defense Fund, a national child advocacy organization. She places high value in education and helping children succeed in school.

FLOC seemed like a great program and a perfect fit for her. She joined our team last fall. Since then, she has been in the Scholars program every Wednesday as a Program Assistant where she assists Jessie, our 10th grade instructor, to facilitate fun workshops for the students to help them start thinking about their future academic and professional goals.

Caroline enjoys spending time at FLOC because of its fun environment “where I see the Scholars’ positive energy of possibility and achievement.” For Caroline, spending time with youth has been a refreshing and inspiring experience.

One of her favorite activities while working with the group of 10th graders is when they play Jeopardy, which helps them to “talk about issues and reinforce ideas that we’re working with. They work together and you see what they have learned and what they are thinking.”

For Caroline, the Jeopardy game “is a good way to see their curiosity to learn and share what they know. There is a balance of competition and support for the other team, which I think shows a lot of maturity.”

Caroline represents Princeton University, her alma mater, during FLOC College Night.
Caroline represents Princeton University, her alma mater, at FLOC College Night 2013.

During this school year, Caroline has shown a great commitment to help our students in different dimensions. She represented Princeton University, her alma mater, and participated in a speed networking activity with the post-secondary Scholars during the last College Night, held on December 18th. We are glad to have her on board with us and thankful for her willingness and passion to work with our students.

(Lisvette García is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Associate at FLOC).

Development, News

Introducing the FLOC Champions Network!

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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 kfleischer@floc.org.

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

Events, News, Staff Perspectives

A Look at College Night 2013

High school students during the roundtable discussions.
High school students converse with post-secondary students during the roundtable discussions.

On Wednesday, December 18th, FLOC held a College Night for our Scholars Program at George Washington University. The program was divided into two blocks: a college fair for the first hour, followed by age-specific workshops and roundtable discussions. Overall, the night was a resounding success—we had 121 guests attend, over 25 post-secondary schools represented, and effective workshops for all involved. As someone who wasn’t involved in the planning process, I was able to fully appreciate the night with no added stress. Here were my five biggest takeaways:

1. The Spanish speaking parent workshop was met with tremendous optimism.

Spanish speaking parents participate of a workshop facilitated by Aurin Agramonte and Lisvette García.
Spanish speaking parents participate in a workshop facilitated by Aurin Agramonte and Lisvette García.

As we integrate more Spanish speaking families into FLOC, it’s our job to find ways to accommodate their presence at our events. The college process is more than a student experience, and it’s important that students’ families are just as informed as they are. The Spanish speaking workshop provided nearly identical content to the English version next door, giving information parents’ were extremely receptive to as well as a platform for them to share their thoughts and experiences. It was so well received that many of the parents requested additional workshops in the future for more chances to learn and communicate, something we’re now in the process of implementing.

2. The post-secondary networking workshop was the highlight of the night.

In this workshop we had FLOC volunteers meet with our current post-secondary students to learn about potential avenues stemming from their studies, and to learn about jobs that may or may not be directly tied to their majors. Both sides felt the time was very worthwhile, and it’s always exciting to continue to help our students beyond high school.

3. The number one question I was asked during the college fair concerned my alma mater’s athletic program.

Jim Coleman addressing questions from a student during the College Fair.
Jim Coleman addresses questions from a student during the college fair.

And that’s totally OK. The vast majority of the students that came to my booth weren’t entirely sure what they wanted to study, and handing them a list of seventy undergraduate programs can cause more than just anxiety. Comfort on campus can be hugely influential in the mental well-being of a college student, so I was more than happy to talk about my school’s demographics, clubs, and sport teams.

4. Our students have high aspirations.

This was self-evident when the biggest complaint from the students regarding the event was that there weren’t enough Ivy League schools represented during the college fair. I fielded a lot of questions in regards to certain majors, specific professors, the sincerity of advising departments, and professional placement. Overall I was very impressed.

5. FLOC is awesome.

Najé, a FLOC alumni, represents her school during the college fair.
Najé, a current post-secondary Scholar, proudly represents her college.

So maybe this isn’t something I just figured out but how amazing is it that FLOC can offer help and guidance from first grade through high school until a post-secondary degree? These same individuals come back to help current students navigating the same process they went through, while simultaneously creating some type of beautiful, organic, self-sustaining network. FLOC now has a Postsecondary Success Coordinator who is working to expand this network to not only help current college students, but to aid in job placement as well. There’s a reason I chose to suspend my life for a year to volunteer here, and nights like these make it easy to remember why.

(Jim Coleman is an NTP Site Coordinator at FLOC).