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.

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

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Development

Corporate Partner Spotlight: Acumen Solutions

There are several businesses and partners that FLOC has been lucky enough to partner with for several years. One that particularly sticks out is Acumen Solutions.

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FLOC was introduced to Acumen Solutions in 2009 when Adam Horvath, a Senior Director, joined our Board of Directors. For five years, FLOC participated in and was a beneficiary of Acumen’s Race for a Cause, raising a total of over $55,000 for FLOC’s Neighborhood Tutoring and Scholars Programs. At this year’s Recognition Event and Empower Awards, Acumen Solutions received the Empower Partner award for going above and beyond to support the work we are doing for low-income students in DC. The award was given in recognition of the pro bono support Acumen has provided FLOC while helping our program managers build a Salesforce database to track student data. This upgrade to a central database has increased our ability to track, analyze and report on individual students’ progress as they participate in FLOC programs.

This week, Acumen Solutions has generously donated 23 laptop computers for our Scholars Program. These laptops will help us replace some of our outdated ones, as well as support our students and staff in a variety of ways.

  • 6th – 10th graders will use the laptops to complete academic assignments during Homework Help as many students do not have computers and/or internet access at home.
  • 11th graders will research postsecondary institutions and career opportunities on the new laptops.
  • Laptops will support our 12th graders in the college application process including college research, resume and personal statement composition, application completion, and financial aid searches.
  • Our local postsecondary students will be able to use laptops to complete assignments, research colleges (if they are transferring) and search for scholarships.
  • New laptops will be helpful to staff when presenting volunteer trainings and workshops.

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We extend a huge thank you to Acumen Solutions for their work in the community and for supporting FLOC and our students.

(Kate Brown is the Development Associate at FLOC.) 

Scholars Program, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Jessica, a Postsecondary Coach

JessicaKaushalJessica Kaushal currently serves as a postsecondary coach in the Scholars program where she is matched with a twelfth grade scholar to provide support on his journey towards a postsecondary education. Jessica joined FLOC last year, after a big move and change in industry encouraged her to give back to the community in a more direct way.

Jessica is no stranger to FLOC, though; this past summer she served as a math tutor to an energetic fifth grader in the Neighborhood Tutoring Program. While she loved NTP, Jessica decided to return as a postsecondary coach because she’s excited about providing the support she lacked to a high-school senior. “[Applying to college] is a complicated process,” said Jessica. “Going from a large public high school to a small private university, where it seemed like everyone already knew how to write a long paper, was a huge jump.”

This year, Jessica works with a student named Nicholas, who is interested in pursuing a liberal arts education, just as she did. Nicholas emigrated from Taiwan at a very young age, but after growing up in the city, he’s excited at the prospect of going to school elsewhere. He hopes to pick up some “non-euro-centric” history in college, and perhaps pursue his interest in behavior economics.

When asked why she originally chose to volunteer with FLOC, Jessica said that she appreciates the long-term relationship FLOC has with many of its students. Volunteering at FLOC has also given Jessica a more holistic perspective about the time and resources it takes to educate a child, which has influenced her mindset within the world of public policy.

We’re thrilled to have Jessica back for another exciting year at FLOC!

(Samantha Bailey is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator at FLOC.)

Scholars Program

Scholars Spring Semester Recap

The Scholars Program had an eventful spring filled with exciting workshops and field trips. The sixth grade Scholars participated in workshops about leadership and identity.  Students enthusiastically identified qualities of a good leader and provided examples of leaders in their families and communities. 6th grade Scholars also created an identity box which included a personal timeline, lists of their favorite things along with a poem about their feelings, desires, and goals.

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The 7th grade students learned how healthy eating and physical exercise impact their performance in school and overall wellbeing. To alleviate personal and academic anxieties, students created stress balls. 7th grade Scholars also researched career fields in education and hospitality where they eventually created their own education nonprofit and toured Omni Hotel.

8th grade Scholars participated in Mock Admission activities where they had the 2015-03-23 19.25.16opportunity to design their own colleges. Students reviewed sample applications and decided who to accept waitlist or deny. 8th grade students also explored what it means to have a healthy verse an unhealthy relationship in all aspects of their life: dating, family, friends, and school.

The 9th grade workshops included discussions about positive self-expression with the help of metaphors; navigating life events and “what if” scenarios; building a timeline of their life experiences; and themes concerning police brutality, how to formulate arguments in a debate, and how to navigate various personal preferences that can help narrow students’ postsecondary choices.

10th grade Scholars spent time researching and developing a 10 Year Plan. Students started the project by talking about what it means to be a self-advocate, the importance of knowing your behavioral style, and creating logos and tag lines that represent who we are. Students wrote about graduating high school, what experiences they would like to have in college and what career they would like to aspire to. Additionally, they built a fictional budget based on the salary of their ideal job and learned how to make a paycheck stretch. 2015-03-18 18.38.58

The 11th grade Scholars focused on their college search.  Each student created a list of ten postsecondary institutions they are interested in applying to during their senior year. They familiarized themselves with the application process, and learned how to determine whether an institution would be a good fit for their career goals, academic skills, and personal interests. Scholars also developed an understanding of the purpose of a personal statement and identified the experiences, activities, and accomplishments that make for compelling and one-of-a-kind essays.

12th grade workshops are designed to introduce seniors to key themes that they will encounter in their postsecondary careers and help them transition successfully from high school. One of our Postsecondary Scholars, India Ellsworth, came to present some information to the seniors about her postsecondary experiences at Penn State-Altoona. She shared valuable insight concerning college life, choosing a major, and time management. The following week, students continued their conversation about the differences between time management in high school and their postsecondary institution and discussed how they defined success personally, professionally, educationally, and socially.

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As the school year comes to an end, we are busy planning for our summer workshops, OEC camps, and SYEP students. Here’s to a great year and an ever better summer!

(Kimberly Davis is the College Access Coordinator with FLOC’s Scholars Program.)

Events, Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Scholars Program

Recognition Event Recap

On Friday May 29th, FLOC held its annual recognition event at the Woman’s National Democratic Club to celebrate all the amazing work our students, families, volunteers, and staff accomplished throughout the year. 11th grade Scholars Ghelatia and Johanna emceed, and FLOC staff gave out special awards to students and volunteers in four different categories: Visionary, Unity, Champion, and Empower.

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The Visionary Award celebrates students and volunteers who have a specific goal, a vision for the future, and have identified paths toward that objective.

NTP Student: Giselle
Scholars Student: Demarro
Volunteer: Gerald Mason

The Unity Award celebrates the people at FLOC who demonstrate exceptional relationship building or mentoring skills.

NTP Student: Valerie
Scholars Student: Jenny
Volunteer: Judith Blagrove
Student and Tutor Pair: Delchristoff and Jason Aiken.

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The Champion Award recognizes students and volunteers who are dedicated and committed to their program.

NTP Student: Wesley
Scholars Student: Joel
Volunteers: Bridgette and EJ Palmer

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The Empower awards are given to people who embody all of FLOC’s values. They go above and beyond in whatever their role is.

Partner: Acumen Solutions
Staff: Kimberly Davis
Family: The Ortiz Family
NTP Student and Scholars Student: A’Tyra
NTP Student and Scholars Student: Maura
Volunteer: Elese Sizemore

FLOC also recognized our 8th graders in Scholars and tutoring for an exciting time in their lives. They are all halfway toward completing their postsecondary degrees! To celebrate FLOC put together some High School Survival Kits. The kits included a FLOC notebook, a FLOC water bottle, a folder they could take on college tours, pens, pencils, and candy.

The night ended with time for chatting, eating food, playing games, and taking pictures at the FLOC photo booth. FLOC is excited to see what our students, families, and volunteers will accomplish in the future!

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(Tamarae Hildebrandt is an NTP Site Coordinator.)

News, Scholars Program

Junior Scholars Tour Ten Colleges and Universities over Spring Break

During Spring Break, the 11th Grade Scholars set out on an extensive college tour through Virginia and North Carolina. Visiting 10 schools in total, the students gained exposure to many different kinds of college and universities. They visited the urban campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, the closed campus of the University of Richmond, the historically black Virginia State University, and the large, bustling campuses of North Carolina State University and Virginia Tech. They met up with current Postsecondary Scholars at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Radford University, who were able to give the 11th Grade Scholars a first-hand look into the college experience following life in DC.

Students at VTECH

The tour also took students through the campuses of Greensboro College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University. The Scholars enjoyed seeing college campuses in action—students studying, rushing to class, playing in the quad, and eating in the cafeteria. They were able to take a peek inside dorm rooms, libraries, study halls, and classrooms. They were able to walk through the different campuses, getting a sense of what size student body felt most comfortable to them.

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They were able to enjoy lunches and dinners in conversation with current Joe bdaystudents, learning more about the available student organizations and quality of food!

And perhaps the dinner they most enjoyed was when we surprised Joe, FLOC’s Postsecondary Program Coordinator, with a birthday celebration he won’t soon forget! We only hope he was able to wash that whipped cream off his face . . .

(Ian McPherson is a program instructor with the Scholars Program.)

Scholars Program

College! More Than Just the SAT.

Over the past 4 months, the 11th graders in the Scholars Program have spent an hour and a half of their workshop time in small SAT prep groups. For half of the students, the first six weeks was spent on math while the other reading, and then after winter break, the groups switched to the other subject to better prepare for the SAT test that plays a significant role in the college admissions process. While not the only factor, most colleges see a student’s SAT score as a strong predictor of their post-graduate success. Recent research has shown that SAT scores are not always the best predictor of how gifted a student is academically, but nonetheless it is an integral piece of getting into college.

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This past Wednesday, all DC Public School students took their first real SAT test at school. This is a great option, because typically students have had to sign up for off-site College Board testing on the weekends, as private and charter school students still have to do. During program that night we had the opportunity to debrief and discuss how the students who took it felt about the seemingly ominous beast known as the SAT. Having spent the past 4 months studying and learning tips and strategies for success, the students came in with a relative confidence regarding their performance and were able to share their experience with the students who haven’t taken it yet.

I have been working with three students (Berniece, Bianca, and Nick) for the past 6 weeks, and while our time in SAT prep has been fruitful, I’ve been able to get to know them as people far beyond what colleges will see when they look at their SAT score next year. I have been able to share my own experiences in college at Gonzaga and offer them advice about choosing the right school and how to meet students once they get there. I shared that the place where you meet most of your friends in college is in your freshman dorm. During my freshman year, I lived in an intentional living and learning community that focused on leadership and service, and being with a group of freshman who had a similar calling offered a great place to meet like-minded people who chose to live there for a purpose. This is advice I offered to my students and all kids going into college because it is such an important piece of one’s college experience.

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Berniece, Bianca, and Nick all have such an excitement for going to college, and the reality is that taking the SAT is one piece of that. Berniece and Bianca both attend Georgetown Visitation Prep for girls and Nick attends W. Wilson High School in Tenleytown. Berniece and Bianca both have a passion for heading south to a warmer climate for college, but I assured them that the climate should not be the reason you choose a college, as I went from hot Arizona to the wintery cold of Spokane, WA, and have no regrets. Nick, an excellent student, has the potential to really attend the college of his choice, and is interested in staying close to home at George Mason University in Virginia.

For me, going to college was not a question; it was automatically my next step after attending an all boys prep school in Arizona. But many of our students at FLOC will be the first in their families to attend university. They did not grow up hearing their parents’ stories of college-life or see themselves naturally getting through college. While preparing the students with all of the logistical steps needed to complete the college application (resume, teacher recommendations, transcripts, and essays) our biggest goal is to allow each student to realize that they’re up to this and perpetuate a reality that they can succeed in college.

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While the SAT test score plays an integral role in the ability for students to get into college, I’ve found that being able to hear about their personal lives and goals has revealed that what students mostly need is passion… to be excited about their futures… to believe in themselves. As students move forward in 11th grade, they will continue to focus on the different pieces of the college application, but most of all they are realizing that college is their future and they have the ability to pursue a school where they can be themselves and find their calling in life.

(Kurt Guenther is the program instructor for 11th Grade Scholars and is serving at FLOC this year as a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.)