Scholars Program

Scholars Spring Semester Recap

The Scholars Program had an eventful spring filled with exciting workshops and field trips. The sixth grade Scholars participated in workshops about leadership and identity.  Students enthusiastically identified qualities of a good leader and provided examples of leaders in their families and communities. 6th grade Scholars also created an identity box which included a personal timeline, lists of their favorite things along with a poem about their feelings, desires, and goals.

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The 7th grade students learned how healthy eating and physical exercise impact their performance in school and overall wellbeing. To alleviate personal and academic anxieties, students created stress balls. 7th grade Scholars also researched career fields in education and hospitality where they eventually created their own education nonprofit and toured Omni Hotel.

8th grade Scholars participated in Mock Admission activities where they had the 2015-03-23 19.25.16opportunity to design their own colleges. Students reviewed sample applications and decided who to accept waitlist or deny. 8th grade students also explored what it means to have a healthy verse an unhealthy relationship in all aspects of their life: dating, family, friends, and school.

The 9th grade workshops included discussions about positive self-expression with the help of metaphors; navigating life events and “what if” scenarios; building a timeline of their life experiences; and themes concerning police brutality, how to formulate arguments in a debate, and how to navigate various personal preferences that can help narrow students’ postsecondary choices.

10th grade Scholars spent time researching and developing a 10 Year Plan. Students started the project by talking about what it means to be a self-advocate, the importance of knowing your behavioral style, and creating logos and tag lines that represent who we are. Students wrote about graduating high school, what experiences they would like to have in college and what career they would like to aspire to. Additionally, they built a fictional budget based on the salary of their ideal job and learned how to make a paycheck stretch. 2015-03-18 18.38.58

The 11th grade Scholars focused on their college search.  Each student created a list of ten postsecondary institutions they are interested in applying to during their senior year. They familiarized themselves with the application process, and learned how to determine whether an institution would be a good fit for their career goals, academic skills, and personal interests. Scholars also developed an understanding of the purpose of a personal statement and identified the experiences, activities, and accomplishments that make for compelling and one-of-a-kind essays.

12th grade workshops are designed to introduce seniors to key themes that they will encounter in their postsecondary careers and help them transition successfully from high school. One of our Postsecondary Scholars, India Ellsworth, came to present some information to the seniors about her postsecondary experiences at Penn State-Altoona. She shared valuable insight concerning college life, choosing a major, and time management. The following week, students continued their conversation about the differences between time management in high school and their postsecondary institution and discussed how they defined success personally, professionally, educationally, and socially.

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As the school year comes to an end, we are busy planning for our summer workshops, OEC camps, and SYEP students. Here’s to a great year and an ever better summer!

(Kimberly Davis is the College Access Coordinator with FLOC’s Scholars Program.)

Events, Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Scholars Program

Recognition Event Recap

On Friday May 29th, FLOC held its annual recognition event at the Woman’s National Democratic Club to celebrate all the amazing work our students, families, volunteers, and staff accomplished throughout the year. 11th grade Scholars Ghelatia and Johanna emceed, and FLOC staff gave out special awards to students and volunteers in four different categories: Visionary, Unity, Champion, and Empower.

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The Visionary Award celebrates students and volunteers who have a specific goal, a vision for the future, and have identified paths toward that objective.

NTP Student: Giselle
Scholars Student: Demarro
Volunteer: Gerald Mason

The Unity Award celebrates the people at FLOC who demonstrate exceptional relationship building or mentoring skills.

NTP Student: Valerie
Scholars Student: Jenny
Volunteer: Judith Blagrove
Student and Tutor Pair: Delchristoff and Jason Aiken.

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The Champion Award recognizes students and volunteers who are dedicated and committed to their program.

NTP Student: Wesley
Scholars Student: Joel
Volunteers: Bridgette and EJ Palmer

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The Empower awards are given to people who embody all of FLOC’s values. They go above and beyond in whatever their role is.

Partner: Acumen Solutions
Staff: Kimberly Davis
Family: The Ortiz Family
NTP Student and Scholars Student: A’Tyra
NTP Student and Scholars Student: Maura
Volunteer: Elese Sizemore

FLOC also recognized our 8th graders in Scholars and tutoring for an exciting time in their lives. They are all halfway toward completing their postsecondary degrees! To celebrate FLOC put together some High School Survival Kits. The kits included a FLOC notebook, a FLOC water bottle, a folder they could take on college tours, pens, pencils, and candy.

The night ended with time for chatting, eating food, playing games, and taking pictures at the FLOC photo booth. FLOC is excited to see what our students, families, and volunteers will accomplish in the future!

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(Tamarae Hildebrandt is an NTP Site Coordinator.)

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.)

Development, News

Words from FLOC’s First Executive Director and the 50th Anniversary Launch Video

Award-winning and journalist, Leon Harris and Fred Taylor, FLOC founding director.
Fred Taylor (right) FLOC’s founding executive director, visits with journalist Leon Harris (left) at the 2014 Fred Taylor Scholarship Dinner.

Looking back on FLOC’s past 50 years is exciting for several reasons, one being that a handful of those who helped to start the organization are still active in the organization today, whether by supporting FLOC monetarily or sharing their talents by volunteering. One of them is our founding Executive Director, Fred Taylor. I was able to get some of Fred’s thoughts on FLOC’s first 50 years as an organization. Fred writes:

As I celebrate FLOC’s first 50 years, three things stand out for me as truly inspiring:

1) the vision and energy with which FLOC began during the rising tide of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and FLOC’s capacity to persist and thrive even as the energy of that great national movement waned;

2) the vision and courage of the FLOC Board in 2003-05 (after my retirement) to risk the huge change from primary financial dependence on DC government contracting to become totally self-supporting through fundraising, and to shift from multiple service programing to concentrate on equipping and empowering DC youth with limited support and prospects to get a 21st century-worthy education with the interior discipline and vision to match through out-of-school programming (catch up, stay in school, graduate high school, gain acceptance, graduate from college, get a job with a future); and

3) the wisdom and boldness of the 2013-14 FLOC Board to revisit the vision that drives the organization by undertaking and adopting a daunting comprehensive five-year strategic plan. This plan envisions FLOC once again as a catalyst for systemic change for left-out and left-behind children and youth in this potentially great city. It commits FLOC to approximately doubling in size and outreach in order to model and nurture the kind of widely shared citywide effort required for achieving educational justice for the young. It dares to believe that a single organization operating from the margins of the city educational system can succeed as a catalyst for system change, provided it functions as a team player for a much larger goal than its self-glorification.  Lastly, as I look back over what I have written I think “Wow! This still developing history is worth celebrating, and I am so grateful to still be a part of it.” 

Keeping in mind Fred’s words, take a look at the video that highlights some of our students and their experiences at FLOC:

(Kate Fleischer is FLOC’s Development Associate.)

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.

PS College Map

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.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Outdoor Education Center, Scholars Program

Sparking Success in 2014: A Look Back at a Wonderful Year

imageAs we enter the last month of the year, let’s take a look back at all we’ve achieved together in 2014.  Today, FLOC joins the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates in telling stories of our students’ successes.  Some highlights of the year:

In our Neighborhood Tutoring Program,  77% of students made at least six months improvement in reading or math and 62% made at least one year of improvement in reading or math during the school year.

Our Scholars Program once again celebrated 100% on-time graduation of our 18 high school seniors in the class of 2014.

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High school seniors submitted 100 applications to public and
private postsecondary institutions, and 100% were accepted into a postsecondary institution.

One senior received the Posse Foundation’s full tuition scholarship to The University of Rochester.

Over 500 volunteers contributed their time regularly to our programs at some point in 2014, including spring semester, summer program, and the beginning of this current school year.

And we chronicled all our exciting moments on this very blog.   Some story highlights:

In January, we introduced you to a new community- and capacity-building effort some of our most dedicated volunteers were spearheading.

In February, you heard the news as brought to you by a talented and
confident student in our reading tutoring program.

In March, our Middle School Scholars investigated and reported on careers that interested them.

In April, we took you on a tour of our NTP school site at Tubman Elementary.

st joesIn May, we filled you in on all the exciting details of our 11th grade Spring Break College Tour to six schools and five states in five days.

In June, we were in celebration mode as we gave out awards at the annual Recognition Event and Empower Awards and also honored our graduates at the annual Fred Taylor Scholarship Dinner.

In July, we were hard at work (and play!) in our summer tutoring program.

In August, we introduced you to one of our outstanding High School Scholars and told you all about the summer writing workshops that he and his peers participated in.

In September, we took a look back at the many Scholars in the Workplace visits our students embarked upon this spring and summer.

In October, our Scholars kicked off a new school year by heading to MS OEC trip 1West Virginia for a visit to the FLOC Outdoor Education Center.

In November, we told you about a new model for getting our 11th graders ready for the SAT.

Which brings us to December…

Before the year is out, we’ll get in another two weeks of math and reading tutoring and college access and success programming.  We’ll celebrate our annual College Night event at GW and mark the end of the semester with festive holiday parties.  And we’ll keep our eyes on the future, continuing to empower our students to spark their own success stories and working to reach more students than ever before.

Here’s to another exciting year ahead in 2015!

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(Elizabeth Metz is the Recruitment and Outreach Manager.)