Events, News

Fall Fun at Butler’s Orchard

Pop quiz: What’s the best thing about fall?

  1. A long awaited break from the swampy DC summer temperatures
  2. Crunchy leaves on the sidewalks
  3. Trick or treating!
  4. The annual FLOC Field Trip to Butler’s Orchard

hay ride
The obvious answer is the FLOC Field Trip to Butler’s Orchard! This past Friday FLOC families jumped on a bus and headed out to Germantown, Maryland, for an evening full of all our favorite fall activities. Welcomed by our generous friends at the Meltzer Group, we immediately hopped into tractors for a spooky evening hay ride around the orchard. Butler’s Orchard goes all out with their decorations for this time of year, complete with ghosts in the trees, abandoned wagons, and witches brewing potions in the woods! Some of our more seasoned Butler’s Orchard veterans were savvy enough to pocket some snacks and share with fellow hayriders during our harrowing adventure.

As the sun was setting and the fall chill set in, families gathered around huge bonfires to warm up and roast marshmallows for s’mores. Terrell (our 8th and 9th grade Scholars Program Fellow) roasted his very first marshmallow, and he was a total pro.

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Families enjoyed a relaxed evening around cozy bonfires, catching up with friends, and enjoying delicious snacks and extra hayrides. When it was finally time to head home, we were surprised with a trick or treat line of candy bags to fill our bellies for the ride home. All in all, a successful fall field trip.

Huge thanks to our friends at the Meltzer Group for hosting us! Happy Halloween everyone!

(Madelyn Giblin is the Neighborhood Tutoring Program’s Bilingual Program Coordinator.)

Events, Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News

FLOC Students Attend BeyGOOD Pep Rally

On Friday, August 22, Beyoncé’s philanthropic initiative #BeyGOOD and the Brooklyn-based backpack company STATE Bags partnered with DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA) to provide elementary school children from under-resourced communities a back-to-school pep rally. The event took place at Turner Elementary School where 250 children from across the city joined together for a high-energy “Pep Rally for Good” culminating in the students receiving custom-made backpacks and school supplies. The event was part of the #BEYGOODxSTATE “Give Back Pack Program” happening in five other cities along the East Coast.

FLOC’s Neighborhood Tutoring Program sent 15 families to the “Pep Rally for Good” where they enjoyed music, food, and the opportunity to get the essential school supplies their children needed to start off a new school year free of charge!

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This photo highlights one of our FLOC families that attended the event. Davis is a rising 4th grade student who has participated in the Saturday Math program for the past couple of years. Last year alone, he was able to master Carrying in Addition and worked steadily on learning Regrouping in Subtraction. His younger brother, a rising Kindergarten student, also received a book-bag and supplies. We wish them both the best of luck this school year, and we are sure they will put the supplies they received to good use!

(Aurin Agramonte is the Neighborhood Tutoring Program’s Bilingual Program Coordinator, and Kate Fleischer is the Development Associate.)

Events, News, Scholars Program

FLOC Graduating Seniors Unlock Their Future

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On June 13thFLOC held its annual Fred Taylor Scholarship Dinner at St. Francis Monastery to honor and celebrate our graduating seniors from both high school and postsecondary. Students, families, postsecondary coaches, board members and FLOC alumni filled the room to recognize our students’ hard work and highlight their achievements.

Award-winning and journalist, Leon Harris and Fred Taylor, FLOC founding director.
Award-winning journalist, Leon Harris and Fred Taylor, FLOC founding director.

After dinner, Leon Harris, award-winning journalist and ABC News anchor, inspired our students to find their passion by exploring new interests and being prepared when an opportunity arises. He encouraged students to soak up all that college has to offer and never let anyone tell them what they cannot do. Believe in yourself and you will succeed!

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FLOC high school graduating seniors celebrate the start of their new postsecondary journey.

To close the evening, the audience provided “keys to success” for our graduates as they transition to college and beyond. Students were advised to meet new people, study abroad, budget, stay in touch, find a mentor and build a community similar to home. We are so proud of our seniors and wish them the best of luck! Go on and do great things and know that FLOC is always there for you.

FTSD(Kimberly Davis is the Scholars College Access Coordinator at FLOC).

Development, Events, News

Join Us at Our Annual Beyond the Classroom Fundraising Luncheon

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For Love of Children (FLOC) would like to invite you to our annual Beyond the Classroom Fundraising Luncheon on Thursday, May 1, at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park.

This inspiring event brings FLOC friends, new and old, together to hear from FLOC students, families, volunteers, and board members about the work we do to ensure that DC youth have a viable path to educational success and earning a postsecondary degree.  This year’s event is especially important to us, as we share more about our strategic planning efforts and our vision for growth.

In the development of FLOC’s strategic plan, we asked ourselves how FLOC could use its successful focus on enhancing learning to prepare students for postsecondary success, to have an even larger and more meaningful impact. We pushed beyond a simple calculation of growing the number of students served or opening a new satellite operation.  We rekindled a connection to our organization’s roots in the civil rights movement, and were energized by the activist spirit that lives in our organizational DNA.

We soberly named out loud the tragic inequity in our city, where children with family resources can easily secure tutoring, mentoring and college preparation services, while children in less advantaged neighborhoods struggle without access to educational services beyond the classroom — programs and services like those provided by FLOC.  We affirmed our belief that every child matters, and every child deserves access to programs that provide viable pathways to a postsecondary degree.  We embraced our role in empowering FLOC’s key stakeholders, our students and their families, to offer ideas and a path toward that change.

At our luncheon, on May 1st, we will share our vision for FLOC’s growth over the next several years, as well as opportunities to invest in creating a new future for our community and the students and families we serve. We invite you to come, share our message with others in our community, and support a path towards change. To R.S.V.P, please contact FLOC’s Operations Manager, Ellie Haga, by phone at 202-349-3500 or by email at ehaga@floc.org. We hope you will join us.

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).

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).