Development, Events, News

Partners “FLOC” to Serve DC Students

For Love of Children has been the fortunate recipient of two volunteer service days by our corporate partners at CEB and Deloitte. Both groups joined FLOC staff at our office to get prepped for our Summer Academy, which started on June 20th. There was a lot of cleaning and organizing, and each and every volunteer put in a lot of hard work with a smile.

Volunteer Service Days are vitally important to organizations like FLOC that rely on donations to get the supplies we need and on having enough hands to assist our small staff in keeping our facilities organized, cleaned, and maintained. Even though our space at FLOC is great, sometimes we get overcrowded with old and overly used items because we have hundreds of kids using every room and office (even the Executive Director’s) over the course of each year, and that can takes its toll on our facilities and the quality of our educational materials. It is important that every student that walks into FLOC’s doors walks into a welcoming environment, that every parent can walk in and see our past work and our achievements, and that every tutor can come in and find quality materials to teach their student right where they are supposed to be.

CEB

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CEB arrived at FLOC early on May 13th bright eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to help us out with some serious sprucing up the FLOC facilities. CEB’s incredible volunteers made some big, and very much needed, changes to our office. Not only did they donate furniture for several of our spaces, but since the furniture came in parts they even put it together for us. And the fun didn’t stop there! They broke out the hammer and put our accomplishments spanning FLOC’s 51 years of existence on our wall so that everyone who walks in can see the history of our mission. They even painted and rearranged our Executive Director’s office. For everyone’s sake, we didn’t keep any “before” pictures on that one!

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The CEB volunteers were even kind (and brave) enough to help us with our overcrowded program spaces and they threw away old furniture and other items that had been well-loved over the years by students. Creating space that can now be used by NTP students and their tutors and by the Scholars staff and students. It was hard work, and there was a lot of handwashing, but they powered through and made our space look fun and clean again.

Deloitte

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Deloitte came in on June 10th for their 6th consecutive Impact Day with FLOC, and they brought a full team of 18 people to help out. For all of their projects they had to put their organizational and creative skills to use. One group sorted out ALL of our closets and made us space where we didn’t know we had any. Now our staff can easily find what they are looking for and they can store more items that may have been crowding their offices before. Although FLOC does not condone hoarding, the Deloitte volunteers did find a few interesting items, such as a stapler from the 1960’s and a megaphone still in its box!

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Another group went through hundreds of donated books and our books that we already have in our library to determine which books were out of commission and which books would be perfect for our students to peruse. This was so helpful to our staff and tutors who want to provide the best reading material that they can for students, but don’t have the time to sift through the donations.

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Finally, we had a group working on a Career Board for our students. Part of FLOC’s mission is to get students focused on their futures. To help fulfill this need, Deloitte created a fantastic interactive career board that answered some of the bigger questions that students have about what it means to have a job and what they need to do to be prepared for a future career. Now every time a student walks down the hallway they can look at some great information and a wealth of experience from professionals who have already gone through the process of finding a career. Not to mention the board looks really cool!

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FLOC sincerely thanks all of these amazing volunteers from our partners at CEB and Deloitte who took time out of their own schedules to get us ready for our Summer Academy!

(Laura Evans is the Development Associate at FLOC.)

 

 

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Neighborhood Tutoring Program

Jubilee Thursdays

February was the start of the math program at Jubilee Housing. FLOC has had a relationship with Jubilee Housing and its youth services programming for many years. This started with Jubilee referring students, then progressed to hosting a program onsite. This is the second year that FLOC has been able to take a math tutoring program to Jubilee during the spring semester.

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Last week during program, one of the tutors, Jason, asked his student, Richard, if he would like to play trashketball after he took a practice timed test. In response, Richard pulled out his backpack… which just happened to have a basketball hoop inside of it. Throughout the night the kids and tutors would take turns playing basketball. A couple of the students are on math fact units and are studying to take a fluency test. In order to make studying more fun and just little competitive, the tutors decided they would play H.O.R.S.E. Before they could shoot, students had to answer a question first. The game got a little competitive between students and tutors, but of course, the students won!

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Incorporating games and activities into tutoring like this allows the students to stay more engaged and makes learning more interactive.

(Nicole Morgenstern is an NTP site coordinator. This spring, she’s supervising the Thursday tutoring program at Jubilee Housing.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Kevin

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Kevin is a Thursday night math tutor, who has been volunteering at FLOC ever since he moved here from the Midwest a few years ago. During the week, he is an engineer at a company that designs solar panels, but he always had an interest in tutoring. One day, Kevin came across FLOC in the comments section of a Reddit article on volunteering in DC, and the rest is history!

For Kevin, tutoring is a nice change from his day job; he enjoys hanging out with the kids, and being able to give back to the community by volunteering. One of his favorite FLOC memories is from summer tutoring a couple of years ago: Kevin wished his student luck at her upcoming track meet, and she melted his heart by responding, “Good luck at your job! I know you’ll do well because you’re so smart!”

Tutoring at FLOC has helped Kevin to grow both personally and professionally.  Professionally, he feels as though he is better able to explain complicated concepts to others outside of the engineering sphere. Personally, Kevin said that he has enjoying gaining a better perspective about his community and a greater appreciation for his own education.

(Samantha Bailey is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator at FLOC.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Brenna

BrennaBrenna began tutoring math at FLOC this past fall, after coming across the opportunity in a volunteering newsletter at Deloitte, where she works, and hearing her coworkers’ wonderful stories. Having worked with children in the past, Brenna was excited to work with today’s students and reengage in education, while also giving back to her community.

While she has tutored several different students over the course of the school year, Brenna said she enjoys finding things in common and bonding with her students. “The first student I tutored, Emmanuel, has the same favorite cartoons and television shows as I do,” she said. “I enjoy being able to connect with kids where they are; it reminds me to laugh a little and not to take myself so seriously all the time.”

Brenna is looking forward to volunteering with FLOC in future years as well. Because of her interest in higher education, she hopes to become a postsecondary coach and work with an individual student as he or she prepares for college.

(Samantha Bailey is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator at FLOC.)

Scholars Program

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Financial Aid Season!

FLOC is committed to ensuring that every student obtains a postsecondary credential, which requires the financial means necessary to obtain it.  The high cost of college and vocational school can present a barrier to our students and their families.  But financial aid opens doors for students pursuing a postsecondary degree.  To that end, FLOC staff and volunteers are gearing up for financial aid season.

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The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) opened on New Year’s Day.  It is critical in accessing scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities for college-going students.  We know that our students benefit greatly from financial aid and have been working tirelessly to ensure they complete the FAFSA, accurately and on time.  Our 12th grade coaches will be equipped to provide one-on-one support to all of our high school seniors.  Our Scholars who are currently pursuing postsecondary degrees will receive a step-by-step how-to guide on completing the FAFSA, with additional support provided by staff and volunteers.  And while the FAFSA can be completed well into 2016, Scholars are encouraged to “Apply online by Valentine” to ensure they are among the first in line to receive the maximum amount of aid.

Scholars are also diligently working on their DCTAG (Tuition Assistance Grant), DC-CAP (DC College Access Program), institutional aid, and a whole host of scholarship applications.  Scholars will even have the opportunity to participate in social media campaigns and enter raffle competitions.

Students at VTECH

As acceptance letters and financial aid awards begin to roll in, FLOC staff will have critical conversations with students and their families to ensure clear understanding of what can be a maze of postsecondary jargon.  Our students and families are committed to their educational success and with the guidance provided by FLOC, they are well on their way to successful postsecondary careers.

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The countdown has begun and we are ready to make this a fruitful financial aid season!

(Lindsey Barclay is the Scholars Program Manager)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Thank you for your support of FLOC and the work we do, and from our family to yours, happy holidays!

GW Interns/Tutors, Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Tom and Jess: Tutors & Team Leaders

For nearly 20 years, FLOC has had an invaluable partnership with George Washington University’s DC Reads program, a program of the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service. Through this partnership, GW students (both volunteers and federal work study employees) are placed as tutors in nonprofits like FLOC. This year,  more than 30 GW DC Reads tutors are placed at FLOC.

Tom Guettler and Jess Williams are serving this year as team leaders for FLOC through the DC Reads program, and they both tutor reading at FLOC during the week.

Tom and Jess

How did you first become involved with For Love of Children?

Tom: I first heard about FLOC through Community Building Community, which is a pre-orientation program for freshman at GW. FLOC sounded like a great way to get involved in the DC community, and some of the guides had great things to say about DC reads as a whole!

Jess: I was looking for a way to get involved in community service when I came to GW, and some friends told me about DC Reads! From there, I chose to work with FLOC, because I was shocked that a city as educated as Washington, DC still has such a high illiteracy rate among children.

What does being a DC Reads Team Leader entail? What do you enjoy about it?

Tom: Generally speaking, we help promote FLOC and generate student interest. Jess and I are also here to be a resource for the GW students who work at FLOC. We help students with their federal work-study arrangements, rescheduling trainings, and facilitate contacting the FLOC office.

Jess: I really enjoy being a resource for students, and having people come to me for help! As coordinators, we also host events within the GW FLOC community. We’ll have movie nights where we share food and watch an educational film, and recently we had a reflection event. Students brought food, and we spent the afternoon discussing out tutoring experiences and sharing stories.

Speaking of reflection, do you have a favorite FLOC memory?

Tom: Last winter, my schedule changed and I wasn’t going to be able to tutor the same student anymore. After I had told both my student and site-coordinator, I ended up changing classes, and was able to return on the same day the following semester. My student was expecting to have a new tutor, and he was excited when I showed up! The coordinator had not told him I was returning, and it meant a lot to know that he cared about having me as a tutor, specifically.

Jess: My story is similar! Last year, I was explaining to my student that I had to go home for summer break. She became a little upset, and repeatedly said she would miss me, asking why I had to leave. I hadn’t realized how close we had become in such a short amount of time, but it meant a lot that she cared whether or not I was there.

Imagine you have sixty seconds to convince someone to tutor with FLOC. What do you say?

Tom: Do it! Tutoring with FLOC has changed the preconceived notions I had about non-profits–FLOC is well-organized, easy to work with, and makes a tangible impact. Tutoring is a wonderful way to give back to the community, and you grow as a person as well.

Jess: Tutoring with FLOC is an excellent way to get out of the “Foggy Bottom bubble,” that you so often hear about here. There is so much more to DC than our neighborhood, and I’m proud to say that I’m invested here. I feel as though I’ve become a citizen of DC, not just a student.

(Samantha Bailey is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator at FLOC.)