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.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program

Motivated to Learn: Delchristoff and Jason

There are many reasons why our students progress as much as they do here at FLOC’s Neighborhood Tutoring Program. Some attribute their success to their amazing tutors who work tirelessly to ensure their students are able to master the concepts they are learning at FLOC. Others are motivated by the idea of getting to college and they realize that the harder they work at FLOC, the closer they will be to attaining their dreams. There are others for whom those aforementioned motivators hold meaning, but they still need something else to get them going.

This is why FLOC has established the FLOC Incentive Store. At several points during the school year, the FLOC staff stocks up on inexpensive items at Target or Five Below that students might like as an incentive. During program, students are able to earn 0-3 stars from their tutors at every session based on their academic progress and behavior. Students can then exchange their stars every two weeks for an item at the FLOC Store. Our store has been very popular because not only can students get small incentives for their work every two weeks, but they can also put larger items on “layaway” until they have accumulated the necessary stars to win the item of their choice.

Delchristoff_Jason 2014

This brings us to Delchristoff: one of our more energetic students in the Saturday Math program who has been with FLOC for a few years now. He is excited about our program and the opportunity to meet new staff and tutors each year. Last fall, he met Jason Aiken, a new tutor with FLOC, and they have been inseparable ever since. This year, they have been working on Regrouping with Subtraction so that Delchristoff can gain mastery of this concept.

Last Saturday, Delchristoff came to store with 4 stars. He noticed that we had a new item in our store that he really wanted – a Redskins hoop set – valued at 40 stars, so he asked me to put it on layaway for him to purchase in December. Although it seemed unlikely that he would be able to earn 36 stars in the next 4 sessions, I asked him what he needed to do in order to get the necessary stars for the set. He told me that all he needs to work on is sitting on his chair – more specifically he needs to sit still and do all of his work. Jason, his tutor, laughed and agreed. It seems that Delchristoff gets very animated when working on Math and he prefers to learn through games instead of the traditional worksheet method. While we definitely encourage the use of games during program, his tutor would like Delchristoff to also get more comfortable with the worksheets in order to work on his mental math skills (i.e. stop counting on his fingers) and to work on his very large handwriting.

If Delchristoff is able to work on these goals, Jason believes that he will be able to get 40 stars by the end of the school year in May. Let’s hope Delchristoff sticks to his goals so that he can earn more stars each week for his hoop set… and, of course, get closer to grade level in math!

(Aurin Agramonte is the Bilingual Program Coordinator in the Neighborhood Tutoring Program and the site supervisor for the Saturday morning math program.)

Events, Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Scholars Program, Staff Perspectives

FLOC celebrates 9th Annual Recognition Event and Empower Awards

Last week, FLOC held the 9th Annual Recognition Event and Empower Awards at the Woman’s National Democratic Club. The event was well attended with a great mix of students, families, and volunteers from both the Neighborhood Tutoring Program (NTP) and the Scholars program. What I loved most about the event was that we highlighted everyone together. All of our honorees were recognized for embodying the values of dreaming, advocating, and bridge building. For those who were not able to attend the event, I would like to share some of the important moments of the event.

The first is a sentimental moment where a colleague and I were able to honor one of our FLOC advocates who had recently passed away. Her name was Fanny Canar and she first arrived at FLOC’s door in the fall of 2006 to get tutoring support for her daughter. Although NTP was not the right fit for her daughter, she ended up enrolling her into the Scholars program and later became an advocate for many other families who needed FLOC’s free educational services. Over the course of 8 years, Fanny would ask questions about the enrollment process, take applications and she would even follow up with families when we needed help. She was a true believer of FLOC and she will be dearly missed. I am so blessed to have known her and to have participated in the portion of the ceremony commemorating her.

Another memorable part of our ceremony was when we honored our 8th graders for being halfway to college. We named that portion of the ceremony, “Halfway Day 2014”,  because that is exactly what my mentor did for me when I was in 8th grade. She bought shirts with our college graduation date on the front for everyone in my class and she encouraged us to dream and plan for that date. I was strongly impacted by her gesture and her involvement in my life that I thought it would be appropriate to replicate that with our 8th graders. Here is a picture of the four 8th graders who attended the event and received a shirt!

Eighth graders celebrate being halfway to college!
Eighth graders celebrate being halfway to college!

Finally, the event ended with a very touching and powerful video that showed our students, families, and volunteers talking about their dreams, their bridge-building skills, and their motivation to be advocates.

Overall, the event was a success and I am so glad to have been part of the planning process. I couldn’t have done it without my co-chair Kimberly Davis, the Scholars Program College Access Coordinator, and the committee: Elizabeth Metz, the Recruitment and Outreach Manager, Jim Coleman, NTP Site Coordinator, Lauren Ballinger, Scholars Program Instructor, and Ibsaa Adam, NTP Site Coordinator. Thank you to everyone who attended the event and all of the FLOC staff who helped us bring the event to life! We couldn’t have done it without all of you!

(Aurin Agramonte is the NTP Bilingual Program Coordinator)

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).