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.

GW

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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Outdoor Education Center

Empowerment and Health

Students today are faced with many decisions in their life. FLOC aims to help students understand that they constantly have many choices, even when it comes to their health and the health of their community. Part of the youth empowerment programming adopted by FLOC’s West Virginia Leaders in Action program includes the self-awareness and knowledge that they do have power to make good decisions and affect change.

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Here in WV, the statistics for childhood obesity rates reached close to 18.5% in 2011 placing the state high on the list at number 13 compared with the 50 other states. For the same year, DC youth obesity rates were just above 21% putting the district at 4th highest among other states.   Poor health and nutrition and lack of activity can also be major determining factors in a person’s ability to focus, to sleep well, and have energy and motivation. The link between education and health is well documented, but it would not be surprising that students’ health could affect their education as well.

For the second half of the fall semester, our Leaders in Action programs have been immersed in the Health and Nutrition unit. Students looked at the consequences of added sugars with the enhanced visuals of actually measuring out the numbers of teaspoons of sugar in a variety of familiar foods and products. They also discussed standard dental hygiene practices and strategies for caring for our protective tooth enamel such as avoiding sugary acidic beverages. Everyone was surprised to learn that most fruit juices and sports drinks are comparable to sodas when it comes to acidity and sugar content.

The focus this month is on the importance of movement and activity in our lives.  Learning or developing unhealthy habits as a child can set a person up for a lifetime of difficulties and disease.  Play and movement can be fun, and implementing healthy habits can increase a child’s energy and confidence.  So last week, in honor of the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign, we visited a local county park’s indoor playground and got active for one hour.  After learning how to measure their heart rates and get them up to beneficial levels, with the help of a moon bounce and some fun games like clothes pin tag, all those present got the recommended 60 minutes of activity in for that day.

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The health of a population is affected not just by education and awareness, but also by economic inequalities, and access to healthy food and safe, active, appropriate spaces to play, among other things.  We don’t want our young people to be limited in life by preventable health issues.  Their potential is at stake, so let’s move towards a more healthy and just society together.

(Josh Evans is the Program Assistant for FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center in WV)

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.)

Development, News

Board Alumni Gather to Reflect on Past and Future

On April 16th, board member, Kate Vogt opened her home for a reunion of FLOC Board Alumni to celebrate the organization’s 50 years of service. The evening was highlighted by FLOC’s Executive Director, Tim Payne, recalling the organization’s inspirational history and laying our strategic path towards 2017.

board alum 2

In 1965, 25,000 people marched together from Selma to Montgomery, including Rev. Gordon Cosby. On the plane ride back to DC, Rev. Cosby wondered, “What’s our Selma?” He shared his experiences with members in his congregation, and week by week more of them were moved to act. Fred Taylor was one of them, and led the charge to close an institution for wards of the state, forming For Love of Children in the process.

Reflecting on that moment, FLOC’s Board and staff asked a year ago, “What is our Selma today, and where do we need to go?” And the answer was pretty clear.

There are more postsecondary degrees in Washington, DC than anywhere else in the country, but precious few of those degrees are going to students who were born here. Too few students in this city are ever given those opportunities. In classrooms across DC, only two in five low income students can read on grade-level, and the numbers aren’t much better in math. Only half the students in ninth grade classrooms will ever make it through to graduation. Fewer still will go on to college. For too long, this gap has been allowed to exist, and untended it grows wider and wider.

At FLOC, we still believe that every child matters. All are equally important. We see a city where every child’s potential – regardless of zip code, skin color, or family status – is realized.

We’ve demonstrated that high-quality, enhanced learning programs give students the skills and knowledge that lead to postsecondary success, and so we are working to double the number of students we serve. 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. Meaningful and lasting solutions come from the concerted efforts of like-minded partners, and so we will work to align our resources and interests with other organizations to create a network of support reaching any family in need of educational services, ensuring that more students participate in high-quality programs all across this city.

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. At FLOC, we believe we can transform our communities, transform our city, by starting one young person at a time.

Those early questions asked by Rev. Cosby and FLOC’s founders 50 years ago have spurred years of tireless work to secure better outcomes for youth in this city. Today, it is in the efforts of our former board members, their commitment and leadership that have guided FLOC through the past half-century.

board alum 1

In keeping with this leadership, several of our long-standing FLOC supporters and board alumni have made a special investment in FLOC to celebrate our 50th anniversary. Two very generous anonymous donors have committed to match all donations made by board alumni this year, $1 for $1, up to $50,000. They will ensure that alumni support will now have double the impact. By December 2015, we want to announce that our board alumni have contributed more than $100,000 to sustain FLOC’s efforts into its next 50 years.

FLOC is grateful for the work of its board members, past and present, and all that they have done and continue to do to strengthen the work of FLOC.

(Latoyia Allen is the Director of Development.)

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.)