3 young students planting flower pots

Courtesy of Live It Learn It

school is even more challenging than it was before
According to a research brief from Curriculum Associates, “more students are underprepared for grade-level work” than they were before the pandemic and “pre-existing inequities in learning that existed for students of color and students in lower-income communities before the pandemic are being exacerbated by the condition of education during the pandemic.” Whether we call it “learning loss” or, as many prefer, “unfinished learning,” there is no question that school is now even more challenging than it was before. Students and families (and teachers!) need more support – in reading for the youngest learners, in mathematics for all children but especially late-elementary and middle school youth. Anxiety, depression, the loss of social skills and what we might call “school skills” (how to show up, follow a schedule, raise your hand, deal with teachers and classmates, manage your time) also intensified during the pandemic, so re-learning how to “do” school, build relationships, set goals, and develop life skills is even more urgent now than it was before. (The teacher shortage across the US, as reported by The Washington Post, only adds to the problem.) Nonprofits are seeing these needs and working to address them with intensive tutoring, one-on-one mentoring, social-emotional learning, mental health programming, wraparound services like food and financial support, and new ways to engage/reengage the disengaged. As the world changes around them, one way to help students process it is to foster their active participation in their education, to encourage them to advocate on their own behalf. It’s time to listen, both to them and to the teachers and mentors, both in and out of school, on whom we depend.
2 smiling kids in class
Courtesy of Child and Family Network Centers
child and family network centers
CFNC was born when a group of mothers in public housing watched 17 of their children fail kindergarten and decided to do something about it. Annually, it serves 139 children and their families, most of whom live just slightly above the poverty line (average income for a family of four is $27,000). With an eighth grade education (at most) and English as a second language, the majority of parents face both economic and linguistic challenges. CFNC provides, at no cost, high-quality preschool education for their children, health services, and family support, right onsite in Alexandria. Workshops help parents advocate for their children in school, support education at home, and help the littlest ones transition to kindergarten ready to learn and grow. This is comprehensive care that children and families need to prepare for success, in school and in life.
wish list $100: home education kit of paper, pencils, and crayons for 10; $500: child-friendly furniture for 1 classroom; $1000: part-time classroom support for 1 teacher
Barbara McLaughlin,
Executive Director
3700 Wheeler Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22304
Tel 703 836 0214 ext 133
Learn More
Give Now
storybook treasures
wish list $100: literacy kit of
5 books, treasures, and mini-books,
1 t-shirt, love of reading necklace,
book collection bag; $2500: programming
for a full class of 25 students
Denise Corbo,
Executive Director
42437 Holly Knoll Court
Ashburn, VA 20148
Tel 703 517 3728
Learn More
Give Now
SBT was founded by a veteran public-school teacher (and “teacher of the year”) to work with PreK through 3rd graders in Title I schools where kids arrive with learning needs as diverse as their backgrounds. It trains teachers in its curriculum and delivers culturally relevant literacy kits to classrooms five times a year. Kits contain curriculum guides (to provide the framework for rigorous, advanced thinking), the books themselves (which kids keep to build their libraries), and “mini books” (for students to take home). Classrooms dive deep into each book, immersed in and connected to a shared story. Mini-books guide parents and caregivers to ask the kinds of questions that encourage higher level thinking in their children. SBT treasures (small, book-related tokens) help foster emotional connections with books. The reward? Seeing the achievement gap close and students rise to their greatest learning potential.
community services foundation
wish list $100: 4 $25 grocery gift
cards for parents; $500: STEM kits
and games for student participants at 1
program site; $1000: Surface2Go
computer notebooks for 3 students
Shenita Vanish,
Vice President
6602 Greig Street
Seat Pleasant, MD 20743
Tel 301 925 4251
Learn More
Give Now
It begins with something simple: children in an apartment complex have no place to go at day’s end and are struggling in school. An out-of-school-time program is formed to offer tutoring and recreational activities – and CSF is born. It now serves more than 700 children annually in 23 subsidized housing-based community centers throughout the region. One fourth of children and half of seniors live below the poverty line; all struggle with access to opportunity. So elementary school students receive two hours daily of math, language arts, STEAM, digital literacy, character education, health and wellness. Adults access digital literacy, GED, job readiness, ESOL, nutritional and parenting training. Activities for seniors are offered three to four hours every day and fresh groceries are distributed each month to households needing assistance. Enhancing the lives of residents and preparing them for a better future: that’s the vision.
beacon house
wish list $100: safety equipment
for a student-athlete; $500: 2 weeks
of one-on-one reading or math
tutoring sessions; $1250: Summer
Camp Program for 1 student
Kevin Hinton,
CEO & Executive Director
PO Box 29629
Washington, DC 20017
Tel 202 436 0806
Learn More
Give Now
In Ward 5’s Edgewood Commons affordable housing community where the average annual income is just $12,000, Beacon House shines a powerful light. In a typical year, weekdays bring some 150 children and youth, ages 5-18, to this after-school education and youth development organization for homework help, one-on-one and group tutoring, STEM lessons, and college readiness programming. Trusted adults from the community and nearby universities serve as volunteers and mentors, providing students with academic support while fostering a sense of stability and belonging. Many students also take part in the award-winning athletics program, which attracts more than 300 youth from all over the city. Results are transformational: more than 90% of seniors graduate in a typical year and enroll in college, technical training, or military service within four months. For children in Ward 5 and beyond, Beacon House ensures that the future is bright.
youth education & enrichment
2 young students inspecting a gauge or meter
Courtesy of Live It Learn It
youth education & enrichment
live it learn it
Students at DCPS Title I schools rarely experience the enriching, out-of-classroom learning enjoyed by their more affluent peers. LILI believes this injustice contributes greatly to the disparate outcomes experienced by students of different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. So LILI ignites student potential through field trips to DC’s historical, cultural, and natural resources. Students investigate the effects of plastic pollution along the Anacostia River, get inspired while exploring Frederick Douglass’s former home, and analyze the challenges of the Great Migration while contemplating the paintings of Jacob Lawrence. LILI provides materials, arranges transportation, and facilitates instruction, including both in the classroom and in the field. A professional development program builds teachers’ capacity to lead experience-driven lessons in school as well. History, science, art, and culture come alive for over 2,100 children each year – and generate a priceless love of learning.
wish list $100: hands-on learning materials for 5 classes; $500: 1 full session of anti-racism training for staff; $1000: 3 buses to take students to their field destinations
Dr Michelle Edwards,
Executive Director
735 8th Street SE, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20003
Tel 571 492 2004
Learn More
Give Now
access youth
wish list $100: attendance
rewards and incentives for 4 students;
$500: life skills classes for 10
students; $1000: a full year of
programming for 1 student
Jodi Ovca,
Founder & Executive Director
1511 44th Street NW
Washington, DC 20007
Tel 202 210 1335
Learn More
Give Now
Improving educational outcomes begins with something basic: keeping young people in school, not in the juvenile justice system. And that means addressing the things that cause them to drop out in the first place: chronic truancy, suspension, and first-time arrest. Access Youth tackles all of these. At Ballou, Anacostia, HD Woodson and Eastern High Schools, and at Johnson and Kramer Middle Schools, two program managers per school build trusting relationships with students, enrolling them in 6th and 9th grade and continuing through graduation. A truancy prevention program provides encouragement, motivation, and support for attending school, while a restorative justice program works on relationship building, goal setting, progress monitoring, and life skills development. Rooted in conflict resolution and mediation, not punishment, programs will serve 900 students this year, decreasing behavior issues, boosting attendance, increasing school engagement, improving performance, and creating better outcomes for kids.
mikva challenge dc
wish list $100: 5 hours of 1-on-1
youth leadership development; $500:
Action Civics for 1 DCPS classroom;
$1000: stipend for 1 public-service
student internship at a civic office
Robyn Lingo,
Executive Director
1325 Childress Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
Tel 202 321 4117
Learn More
Give Now
Mikva develops the next generation of civic leaders, civil servants, and community organizers by empowering young people to drive real change in their lives. Its flagship program, Action Civics, is integrated into the curriculum of middle and high schools across the city. Classes select, research, and analyze a community issue, develop strategies, and take concrete steps to affect policy. Mikva trains teachers in the curriculum and hosts citywide “challenges” where students showcase their ideas before community judges. After school, Elections in Action gives 30 students a way directly to impact local public policy and elections – even before they are eligible to vote. A second leadership program brings together youth from across the city to work collaboratively with DCPS leaders, bringing youth-driven school policy recommendations to the table. Young people care deeply about our world: they should have the tools to change it.
washington urban debate league
wish list $100: supplies and printing
costs for an entire year; $500: trophies
for all 4 divisions at a regional
tournament; $1000: 1 semester of
debate instruction by an expert coach

David Trigaux, Director of
Programming & Development
5101 34th Street NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel 727 542 4806
Learn More
Give Now
In Greater Washington, high quality debate programs (and the associated academic benefits) have traditionally been available only at private schools. So WUDL focuses on equity and creates debate programs at public schools in DC and Prince George’s County, 75-80% of which are in Title I schools. It supports them with expert teacher-coaches, curricular resources, and monthly tournaments … all at no cost. Students develop grit and perseverance alongside skills in critical thinking, research, and effective communication; meanwhile, test scores, attendance, and graduation rates begin to climb. The most successful participants travel to regional tournaments where they display their skills and compete for college scholarships. A summer institute introduces students to the new debate topic for the coming year, boosting competitive success. Declared League of the Year by the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues, this young organization already reaches 60+ schools!
mentorship & college access
Two older students laughing on a bench
Photographer Michael Edwards, Courtesy of Spark the Journey
spark the journey
wish list $150: application fees
for 3 students; $250: one month’s
groceries for a family of 4; $1500:
A college bus tour for 40 students
Brandon White,
Executive Director
609 H Street NE, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20002
Tel 202 682 6020
Learn More
Give Now
Since 1993, Spark the Journey (previously Capital Partners for Education) has placed hundreds of motivated students from families with low incomes on the path to high school graduation, college completion, and career success. Eighty percent are first-generation-to-college students; 99% are students of color; all are from families with low incomes that face systemic barriers to education. Starting in tenth grade and continuing through college, Spark offers a continuum of one-on-one mentoring, academic support, career preparation, and workforce development services. This intensive, long-term approach does wonders: 97% of students who have completed the high school mentoring program have enrolled in college and gone on to graduate at more than double the rate of their similarly-situated peers, prepared to be successful in their careers and to improve their economic security. A cap and gown – and a new beginning – are within reach.
the dream project
wish list $100: parent education
program for 1 parent; $500:
college coaching for 2 college freshmen;
$3000: 1-year scholarship for a scholar
Karen Vallejos Corrales,
Executive Director
PO Box 7419
Arlington, VA 22207
Tel 703 672 1541
Learn More
Give Now
For a student who is undocumented, pursuing higher education can feel like an insurmountable challenge. In addition to facing legal limitations, most come from families with low incomes, lack access to accurate information about the education system, and are left believing that college is both legally and financially out of reach. Working throughout Virginia, the Dream Project starts with high school seniors, providing college tours, a college readiness class, and one-on-one mentors who help facilitate the college application process. Graduating mentees (as well as other college-bound immigrant students) are then eligible to become Dream Scholars. And scholars receive much more than just financial assistance: social-emotional support, an emergency loan fund, pro-bono legal services, an alumni network, and parent education classes are all available to help overcome additional barriers. Dreams of college, career, and a future can be dreams fulfilled.
posse dc

wish list $100: college-level writing
materials for 10 scholars; $1000:
training for 12 on-campus mentors to
support 120 scholars; $5000: support
for 1 DC scholar for an entire year

David Barber, Director
1319 F Street NW, Suite 604
Washington, DC 20004
Tel 202 347 7071 ext 224
Learn More
Give Now
Posse identifies local public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who might otherwise be overlooked in the college admissions process and places them in multicultural teams (“posses”) of ten that act as support systems on campus and beyond. It expands the pool from which top institutions recruit students, helps create more inclusive campus environments, and ensures that scholars (an astonishing 90%!) persist and graduate so they can take on leadership positions in our diverse nation. Sixty from the DC area are chosen annually and full-tuition, merit-based, leadership scholarships are awarded by partner institutions (Bucknell, Lafayette, Lewis & Clark, Sewanee, University of Rochester, and UW-Madison). Pre-collegiate training prepares students for what lies ahead; an on-campus mentor tracks progress; a career program leads to internships and jobs. Posse invests in what counts: the intelligence, talent, and dreams of young people.