Miriam Bishop serves as a tutor with the FLOC Neighborhood Tutoring Program. In this role, she tutors a student named Alex on Tuesday evenings in reading. She has been a tutor at FLOC since March of 2011. Miriam loves the documented success rates and hearing what a difference FLOC has made in students’ lives.
Miriam is an attorney with Willkie Farr & Gallagher (WF&G). FLOC has been a principal grantee of the WF&G Foundation for many years. Miriam first heard about FLOC through the WF&G Foundation newsletter that is circulated within the firm. Miriam went to the FLOC annual fund-raising luncheon that year and was very impressed by the presentation and the work that FLOC does. After attending the luncheon, she began to explore ways to volunteer.
This year Miriam worked with a 4th grade student named Alex. Alex is very intelligent, very active, and very energetic. Alex brings a lot of enthusiasm with him to tutoring, though he sometimes has difficulty staying focused and on task. Miriam works on several things with Alex, including vocabulary, reading and sight words.
Miriam loves to see that children are really learning. She particularly enjoys that look of happiness that comes over their faces when they suddenly “get” a new idea or concept.
Miriam has participated in various FLOC activities held at WF&G’s offices. She has also been to graduation parties and the Outdoor Education Center. In addition to her work as an attorney and her time at FLOC, Miriam is an avid garden. She had flower gardens, vegetable gardens, fruit trees and bushes, and indoor plants, such as orchids, Christmas cacti, and ferns.
Thanks, Miriam, for your years of service to For Love of Children!
(Vanessa Hanible is the Recruitment and Outreach Associate.)
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.
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 Roomfor 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.
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!
(Elizabeth Metz is the Recruitment and Outreach Manager at FLOC.)
For Leaders in Action, the month of December was our Civic Engagement Unit. Not really a time for the typical lesson plans, but an opportunity for our students to focus on their own community and discover what kind of impact they can really make. Less ‘talking’ inside the classroom and more ‘doing’ outside. The trails and wooded slopes of Bolivar Nature Park got combed and cleaned of any bit of trash in sight. The banks of the Shenandoah River at Moulton Park also got a nice makeover after the students removed at least 4 full trash bags of litter, bottles, paper, cans, etc.
These parks are county parks and it was great to make the connection with them surrounding the question of, “Whose parks are these?” The answer was of course, “ours.” They are preserved for the residents of the county to enjoy, care for, and learn from. As we talked a bit after the river clean-up before hopping back into the van, it became apparent just how much had been accomplished in such a short amount of time. When a place is cleaner, others are more likely to take care of it and keep it that way. Part of the hope is that others will see us doing something positive and be inspired to do the same in some unique way. Overall, the students seemed pleasantly surprised at how fun it was to still talk with their friends and get out and move while adventuring through the parks and leaving them better than before. It’s a nice feeling.
On December, 9th the Harpers Ferry kids headed to Willow Tree Manor, one of the area’s only nursing homes. The intention was just to spend time with some residents there, especially since some do not have many friends or family, and most don’t get frequent visits by those who care. That dynamic can be even harder around the holidays. The students read books, played a variety of games, decorated cards to give away, or just talked. Some of the girls really enjoyed doing nails for some of the women there, and others eventually played the all-time favorite of bingo side by side with residents.
Many of the students did well that day, and we were especially proud of Jacob, Aiden, and Zach. They played “Uno” with one of the residents with such patience and enthusiasm that it really made her day. This woman couldn’t talk and had a lot of trouble communicating in any way, and mostly she was just cheating and throwing cards down to the best of her ability. But the boys handled in so well, encouraged her participation, and talked with her the entire time. She was smiling quite a bit.
Aiden’s mom later told us about when Aiden came home that night: “He talked about the woman he played cards with all night and all of the other patients that he saw as well. He came home with such a sense of empathy, caring, and appreciation. He really really enjoyed the experience and I was actually trying to figure out a way he could go back!!!”
I’m sure that when we first headed to Willow Tree and walked through those doors that Aiden and the other students weren’t expecting to get much out of it. But that’s the amazing thing about service and civic engagement. We go in expecting to do something nice for others and then often find that the whole exchange and experience of it helped us to change in the process too.
(Josh Evans is the Program Assistant for FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center in WV)
FLOC 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.
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.
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.
Fifty 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.
We 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.
Over 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.
Starting in the spring semester, our 6th – 10th grade Scholars work in multi-grade groups to explore current DC civic issues. Workshops are developed by our program instructors and conclude with a project. This year our students are exploring the following themes: gentrification in DC, police and violence in the US, immigration, and young people of color in children’s media.
To kick off this year’s theme workshops, Program Instructors facilitated a lesson on the heroes of Social Justice. Students were able to brainstorm and research individuals who demanded change and made a difference in their community. Scholars were especially excited to learn about young activists like Malala Yousafzai, whose fight for education has inspired the world and made her the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Scholars completed the activity by creating a collage of heroes and presenting the research.
Check out some photos of those collages:
Kimberly Davis is the College Access Coordinator in the Scholars Program.
On October 13th, 2014, FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center (OEC) welcomed 23 Middle School Scholars and four staff members to the scenic oasis in West Virginia. Students were greeted by four enthusiastic OEC staff members who led them through engaging low-ropes course activities and games.
As Scholars slowly grew accustomed to bugs native to West Virginia woods, they also learned more about each other and how to solve problems as a team. Students enjoyed the “Trust Fall” activity, which prepared students to listen and
trust each other, two important skills for the infamous high-ropes course in the afternoon. All of that trust building left Scholars famished, and they thoroughly
enjoyed a delicious lunch of chicken nuggets, macaroni, salad, and fruit.
After lunch, the students were delighted to make their way towards the high-ropes course. Some students had attended summer camp at the OEC in the past, and excitedly shared memories from zip-lining last summer with the new students. Once we arrived at the high ropes course, Scholars helped each other with their helmets and harnesses
as they received safety instructions.
Students could choose from three levels of difficulty on the high ropes course, and everyone encouraged one another to participate despite initial uncertainty.
One student, Paola, stated she was too scared to do the high ropes course during summer camp, but with her friend’s encouragement, decided to give it a try this time. Paola gracefully made it across the first portion of the ropes course, and flew down the zip line with an enormous smile as her peers cheered her on.
All of the Scholars did a great job overcoming their fears, supporting one another, and building community. Judging from the amount of snoring on the ride home, our Scholars had an action-packed and enjoyable escape from the city!
(Kayla Blau is the Scholars Program Instructor for 6th and 9th grade)
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).