News, Scholars Program

FLOC Students Take to the Hill

On Friday, April 17th, during DCPS and FLOC spring break, 8 FLOC High School Scholars had the opportunity to be lobbyists for a day.  They began their Capitol Hill visit with a working breakfast, learning and discussing about the U.S. legislative system, how to influence decisions and reach consensus, and the do’s and don’ts of lobbying.  Then the students broke up into teams of two and headed off to House and Senate office buildings to shadow some professional lobbyists and participate in meetings with congressional staffers on topics ranging from health care to cyber security to transportation infrastructure and more.

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One of our high school sophomores got to lobby a congressional staff member on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind law (or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act), which sets national standards for closing the achievement gap and provides funding for state and local school districts.  Joel had the opportunity to share his own experiences with DC’s annual assessment tests and his recommendation that Congress make college more affordable for all students.

After a full morning of learning and lobbying, it was time for a fantastic lunch in one of the Congressional dining rooms, including ice cream for dessert, and a tour of the U.S. Capitol. Our tour included some of the usual interesting stops, like the Capitol Rotunda and murals, Statuary Hall, the old Supreme Court Chambers,  and the exact center of Washington, DC. But it also included some extra special behind-the-scenes peeks that the general public doesn’t usually get to see, such as visiting the Senate Cloakroom and stepping onto the Senate floor, touring the Minority Leader’s office, and a ride on the Capitol subway.  Many thanks to the staff from the offices of the National Governors Association, Senate Sergeant at Arms, Senator Bennett from Colorado  and the staff of the Democratic Cloak Room for making this tour possible, plus the Senate pages who spoke to us about their lives as high school students living and working in DC for the semester.

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Our group of students included an aspiring politician and a young woman set on being the “second Latina Supreme Court Justice,” so the insiders glimpse into our political process was such a fabulous experience to help them on their career journey!

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(Elizabeth Metz is the Recruitment and Outreach Manager at FLOC.)

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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.)

Scholars Program

Sounds of the Season, Sounds of Celebration

For our high school seniors here at FLOC, it’s that most wonderful time of the year—college application time! Deadlines are fast-approaching, but thanks to the hard work of our students and their Postsecondary Coaches, we have already seen a few acceptance letters make their way to our seniors. Thomas recently celebrated his acceptance to Allegany College and Chesapeake College in Maryland; Shante received a letter offering her a space at Livingstone College in North Carolina; Chardonnay received admission offers from three local schools (Montgomery College, NOVA, and Trinity) and Wilson just received a phone call confirming his acceptance to Albright University in Pennsylvania. Yes, a phone call! What a great way to receive the good news, actually hearing someone say, “Congratulations! We would love to have you join us next fall!”

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Sounds of celebration at FLOC quickly followed these offers from these colleges and universities. What a fitting addition to the cacophony our seniors have heard during their years at FLOC. Our weekly program spaces are filled with singing, dancing, laughing, snacking—these kids sure love Chipotle!—and, yes, even some shouting from time to time. We host a kind of controlled chaos, but it is within these spaces that lasting relationships are built and lives are changed forever.

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Throughout the winter and into the spring, we will continue celebrating the offers that our students receive, but these joyful moments will have been months—even years—in the making. This year, each of our high school seniors has been paired with an individual volunteer committed to supporting them throughout the application process. These Postsecondary Coaches have been invaluable to the success of our seniors here at FLOC. Providing our students with the resources they need to access quality postsecondary opportunities and career success is each Coach’s small contribution to the move for educational justice in D.C., but it is truly the laughter shared that keeps them coming back each week.

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So even as we see the days grow shorter and feel the air get colder, let us remember to listen carefully for the joyful sounds that surround us this holiday season—especially laughter, celebration, and those life-changing phone calls!

(Ian McPherson is the Scholars Program Instructor for the 12th grade.)

Development, News, Scholars Program

First Ever #ProofPointDay to Recognize First Generation College Students and Allies

Today, on May 30, 2014 first generation students and allies are helping to raise awareness of what it’s like being a first generation college student in the first ever #ProofPointDay. The idea for the campaign came from Chastity Lord, the current CEO of Achievement First Public Charter Schools in New York City. She wanted to have a day for “communities across our country where college graduation is not an expectation are surrounded by thousands of visible and vocal #proofpoint first generation students and allies – creating a new narrative about what is possible.”

FLOC is proud to support this endeavor as an ally to our own first generation college students in the Postsecondary Scholars Program and our future first generation college students in our Middle School and High School Scholars Programs. To learn more about #ProofPointDay you can visit the campaign website and to learn how you can get involved with FLOC’s Scholars, please visit our volunteer page.

We asked some of our students what being a first generation college student means to them, check out some of their responses below:

Kelsey – University of Maryland College Park

Being a first generation college student means beating the odds and achieving your dreams. It means making my mother proud; setting an example for my younger sister; and being a role model to other Latinos and undeserved minority that achieving a higher education is possible. It’s an experience that has impacted my life in the best possible way, and it would have not been possible without the help of FLOC!

Jennifer – Montgomery College

Being a first generation college student to me means ending the cycle of poverty that my family has been in.  I am setting the example for the future generations to teach them that being successful is the best thing there is and that education is the key to success.  Going back to that poverty is not the answer and I will show them that. That’s what being a first generation college student means to me.

Erica – Pace University

To be a first generation college student means that I can carry out the knowledge that I have gained from so many people.  It’s an honor to say that I made it to college and will graduate.  It will give me opportunities that I could never imagine and for that I am grateful.

Adam – Salisbury University

As a first generation college student I learned the importance of education. I see opportunities that I have in the future for me and help people as they help me throughout my struggle times.  By going to college I can succeed as an individual and become a better student.

Alayna – Penn State University

It means to me, that there is more pressure.  Since you’re the first you have to set an example for yourself and your family, to try to overcome adversity.

David –Trinity Washington University

Being a first generation college student means a lot to me, because I am opening the door for my young siblings and showing that that if I can do it they can too.  Also for them to see how an education can change someone’s life.  Being a first generation student allows me to make my family be proud of me for the great things I have achieved.  It has allowed me to go out their help inspire other kids and show them the importance of an education.

Jasmine– Washington Adventist University

People didn’t think I was going to attend college, because I was so in love with dance.  They thought I just grow up to be a dancer and nothing else.  Being a 1st generation student, allows me to show people that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.  I am glad that I am a college student; that I am a 1st generation student.

Nicholas – Sewanee: The University of the South

For me, it means that my parents aren’t able to help me in some aspects of my college life.  But it’s also a source of motivation from my parents as they want me to take advantage of opportunities they never had.

(Kate Fleischer is the Development Assistant at FLOC).

News, Scholars Program

10th Grade Scholars Make Connections

Each year around this time, FLOC partner College Summit organizes a Career Week, bringing professionals from the community into high school classrooms and after-school workshops to share their journeys through high school, college, and the world of work.  Last Wednesday, as part of this effort, three professionals from Deloitte, Blackboard, and Howard University volunteered an hour of their evening to visit the FLOC Scholars 10th grade workshop.  One by one, the panelists spoke of overcoming challenges in high school in order to get to and succeed in college and career.

One of the panelists instantly scored points with a student when she said she attended Woodrow Wilson High School, where he currently attends.  She spoke of how academic mentors, professional connections, and her personal persistence helped her realize her potential, turn around her grades, and obtain jobs working with students after college.  Her words of wisdom were well-received; she encouraged the students to take advantage of the opportunities that a college access and success program like FLOC provides.

The second panelist caught the attention of the students when she told her story of changing course; she started school wanting to be a doctor, but when she struggled in her chemistry class, she decided to change her major and become a personal trainer instead.  And after graduation she was exposed to work and new experiences abroad and then made her transition into the field of consulting.  She taught the students the importance of adapting but never giving up when our paths get rocky – and they will get rocky.

And last but not least, the third panelist lent her perspective about college life to the students.  Although she emphasized the importance of time management, she also explained how college coursework was more interesting, thus allowing her to grow as a person.  After college, she landed a job at a growing company and, before long, was recognized for her good work and promoted to a management position.  She also demonstrated her love for learning, sharing that she is currently working toward a master’s degree.

After listening attentively, the students jumped at the chance to ask the panelists questions about their future goals and dreams.  After an engaging hour of high school, college, and career talk, it was clear that the work the students had been doing all year was paying off.  The 10th grade students were more eager than ever to get back to work on their “10 Year Plan”, researching and preparing for how their own path might play out over the next decade.

(Jessie Garrett is a Scholars Program Instructor at FLOC).

News, Scholars Program, Student Spotlight

Meet Tewabech: A Self-Determined and Artistic Scholar at FLOC

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Upon first interaction, Tewabech doesn’t strike you as a typical high school student. She’s reading George Orwell’s 1984 a second time for fun – this time outside of class to get more meaning out if it. If for some reason you needed ceramic carving tools, Tewabech could pull hers out of her backpack for you to borrow.

Tewabech is currently an 11th grader at arts-magnet high school Duke Ellington and this is her fourth year partaking in FLOC programming. Although her school lets out later than most, she makes the effort to come to FLOC each Wednesday for SAT prep.

She is a talented artist who is also passionate about science.  We witnessed her eyes light up as she learned of the Smithsonian’s prestigious summer internship opportunity called the Youth Engagement through Science (YES!) program. She was diligent and determined in completing her application and we wish her the best of luck.

Not only does Tewabech take her academics seriously, but she also places strong value on her relationship with teachers at school and staff members at FLOC. She is articulate in conversation and possesses maturity beyond her 17 years.  She emphasizes the importance of her family, and serves as a great role model for her younger sister, who she picks up every Monday from the Middle School Scholars Program.

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FLOC staff members unanimously agree that Tewabech has a bright future.  As a 10th grade student in the Scholars Program last year, she combined her drawing skills and her ambitious dreams to create an exemplary “10 Year Plan.”

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Tewabech wrote about getting good grades and building strong friendships in high school, and envisioned herself extending her college-going years to attend medical school and become an anesthesiologist.  She planned to never lose sight of her passion for art, and when making her budget for life after college, she recognized the importance of both saving and spending smart.

(Lauren Ballinger is a Scholars Program Instructor at FLOC).