Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Add It to Your Toolbox: BackOnTrackDC.org!

http://osse.dc.gov/service/dc-reengagement-center

Back in October of 2014, DCAYA was thrilled to support the creation of the District’s first DC Youth ReEngagement Center, an initiative of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), which  provides educationally disengaged youth a one-stop location for the assessment of education status, referral to one or more school completion options, and support to re-enroll and stay enrolled. Since its opening two years ago, the REC has enrolled over 400 youth in educational placements and has supported 30 students through the attainment of a high school diploma.  Now, the REC is seeking to scale the success of their brick-and-mortar center with the launch of BackOnTrackDC.org.

As an even broader approach to provide District residents who have taken a non-traditional path with reliable and up-to-date information on their educational options, BackOnTrackDC allows its users to search from programming that meets their individual needs and accounts for specific barriers. The website helps them identify best-fit programs by filtering key considerations in their decision to return to school: the type of secondary credential offered, whether a program provides English classes, and whether the program will help them with workforce readiness and career training. The website also supports filters for critical wraparound services, including the availability of night classes, support in finding postsecondary or job placement, bilingual instruction, and on-site childcare. Search results then lead users to organizational profile pages that include the specifics of their programming and contact information. Importantly, the website also gives users the opportunity to reach out directly to REC staff through a “Connect With Us” option.

While the DC Youth Re-engagement Center was established to meet the needs of youth ages 16-24, BackOnTrackDC is designed as a resource for youth and adults as they explore the range of alternative and adult-serving education programs and career pathways in the District. If your program offers secondary credentials, and you’d like to be included as a member of the BackOnTrackDC network, you can either submit a request through the “Connect With Us” button on the website and check “Partner with the ReEngagement Center”, or reach out directly to Isaac Hammond-Paul, Deputy Director of the REC. 

Keep in mind that being included on the website requires management of your organizational profile by your staff. The ideal profile manager:


- Works closely with your organization’s administrators, ideally on a registrar or recruitment team;
- Keeps up-to-date on enrollment timelines and fluctuations;
- Is aware of organizational specialties and strengths; &
- Maintains current knowledge of programmatic fluctuations.

In turn, REC staff will provide a 15-minute training on how to manage and update your organizational page, will provide ongoing technical assistance should any issues arise, and they commit to visiting your program once a year to ensure the website’s users are receiving accurate information.

With over 8,000 youth 16-24 currently disengaged from school, BackOnTrackDC is an important addition to the District’s overall efforts to provide its residents with the educational and career pathway opportunities they need to thrive. It is the result of collaboration between RaiseDC’s former Youth Employment Change Network YECN) and the ongoing work of the Disconnected Youth Change Network (DYCN). An example of the great work that can be accomplished through a collective impact approach, BackOnTrackDC received generous support from Next Step PCS and the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.


We hope this new resource will prove valuable to your programs and the youth you serve, and that the District will continue forging forward to stem the tide of youth disconnection and fully support those seeking to re-engage.

Amy Dudas is the disconnected youth and workforce development policy analyst at DC Alliance of Youth Advocates. She’ll be advocating at the DC Council this spring to ensure that the District fully supports youth on their path to educational and lifelong success in the workforce.  If you’re interested in informing our 2017 Advocacy Agenda, please contact her at amy@dc-aya.org.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

One month closer to ending Youth Homelessness in DC

As National Homeless Youth Awareness Month comes to an end, SMYAL is preparing to open an LGBT homeless youth facility. And just two weeks ago, we hosted our first Intersectional Happy Hour at Local 16, looking at how youth homelessness is an LGBTQ issue here in the District.


LGBTQ youth account for 43% of  the 545 youth experiencing homelessness at any given time, here in the District. Our city is 68 square miles, which means that is the equivalent of 8 homeless youth for every square mile in DC. And all youth require a tapestry of supports and services, because homelessness does not look the same for each individual.


So we wanted to highlight just some of the resources here in the District, for youth experiencing homelessness:
And if you'd like a way you can help, beyond the general support and donations all these organizations need, check out Stand Up for Kids' Winter Clothing Drive:
Join StandUp For Kids in assisting Washington’s homeless and at-risk youth this holiday season by donating coats and winter accessories. StandUp will distribute these to youth who need them through our outreach center and any extras will be given to DC schools. Please contact Natasha Byrd, our director of program support, to arrange drop-off details. Consider working with your office or apartment building neighbors to do a drive! 
Make sure to also keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter, so we can keep you updated on our work to end youth homelessness, here in the District.

Even though Giving Tuesday is over, our End of Year campaign has begun. Over the past 5 years we've helped double emergency shelter and transitional living capacity for youth. Please consider making a donation of 25 dollars to help us continue moving forward so that all youth, even those experiencing homelessness, have a safe place to at least go to sleep at night.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Give to DC Youth on Giving Tuesday

This year, on Tuesday, November 29, 2016, DC Alliance of Youth Advocates are participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving.
Last year, more than 45,000 organizations in 71 countries came together to celebrate #GivingTuesday.  Since its founding in 2012, #GivingTuesday has inspired giving around the world, resulting in greater donations, volunteer hours, and activities that bring about real change in communities.  We invite you to join the movement and to help get out and give this November 29.

So for the holiday season, we ask that you Give to DC Youth. Our youth are facing tough times on multiple socio-economic fronts and have fallen behind when compared nationally, including youth unemployment, high school dropout rates, and youth living below the poverty line.
Over the past 5 years, the support of individuals like yourself have enabled us to lead advocacy and awareness campaigns which resulted in:
  • Doubling emergency shelter and transitional living capacity for youth
  • Sustaining and protecting over 25,000 after school and summer program slots
  • Helping secure and guide $124,000,000 to support expanded learning opportunities &
  • A $78,000,000 investment in year round youth workforce development opportunities and career pathway entry points
We accomplished all the above, in addition to many other successes, because  of our family of supporters.

And because this work is a marathon, Giving Tuesday and End of Year Giving, is a very crucial water station to help keep our work hydrated 365 days a year.
And the impact of your donation ripples across multiple wards, affects the work of hundreds of organizations, and improves the lives of tens of thousands of youth. With your support, our work gives all youth a chance to succeed, a change for the best, and a choice they can own.

So please Give to DC Youth, by going to: bit.ly/givetodcyouth2016

And remember that Giving Tuesday is about giving time as well as money. Many are using it as an opportunity to volunteer. Whatever you do, however you share your support, don't forget to use the hashtags #GivingTuesday or #GiveLikeALocal!

- Your team at DCAYA

P.S. In case you want to give while you get, before Giving Tuesday, you can do so at Amazon Smile. Just click here first: bit.ly/dcayaamazonsmile


Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Out-of-School Time partners letter

DCAYA has drafted a joint letter to the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME and Council that we'd like to have as many of our members, OST providers and individual supporters as possible sign on to ahead of the markup. It lays out some core tenets that have emerged from discussions to date which are important to highlight for policy makers.

The letter reads as follows. And if we can include you/your organization as a signatory, click on the link toward the end of this post (and let us know how it should appear on the letter, e.g. your name/title, a board chair/ED's name, both names, or just the organization name):


November 17, 2016


Dear Deputy Mayor Niles, Chairman Grosso, and Members of the Committee on Education:

We wanted to thank you for the collaborative leadership you have shown in the months since the
announced dissolution of the DC Trust, most recently at the DC Council Committee on Education’s
October 31 hearing on Councilmember Grosso and Councilmember Nadeau’s proposed Office of
Youth Outcomes and Grants.

As a provider of community-based out-of-school time (OST) services in the District, we especially
appreciate that stakeholder partners have been at the table with policy makers, that all partners
are clearly focused on the present need in the community, and that efforts to forge a defined path
forward for funding OST have been balanced with the intention for a system that may evolve over
time. This is all reflected in how you have both made clear an intent to create a long-term strategic
plan informed by meaningful community input and inclusive participation.

We see areas of cohesion between both the Council’s and the DME’s proposed OST system
models, and as we move into this next phase, we see the following tenets as critical to the longterm
success of youth development in DC:

  1. Governed by a body with broad stakeholder representation, which has clear authority to create and approve a strategic plan informed through meaningful community input processes, and which is empowered to ensure the strategic plan is carried out as intended.
  2. Includes a strong executive leadership position with youth development expertise, and the staff, resources and authority necessary to span the multiple clusters, agencies and partners that are integral to holistic youth development. While accountable to the broad governing body for carrying out the long-term strategic plan, this position and staff should be housed in government with a distinct level of authority and transparency, subject to regular Council oversight for performance and budget.
  3. Is streamlined in all functions to minimize burden and opportunity costs put on providers and families, specifically A) for providers presently navigating numerous systems with varied requirements and processes in grant making, reporting, capacity building, and vetting/partnerships with government agencies; and, B) for families presently forced to navigate multiple systems to provide duplicative information and, in essence, “prove poverty” to access core youth development opportunities.

We are happy to discuss these with you further, and are confident that in the coming weeks our
continued collaboration will produce a legislative path forward which reflects the consensus of
policy makers, advocates, and the OST provider community and the children, youth and families
we serve.


Sincerely,

[DCAYA Member/Partner Organizations – click here to email DCAYA and sign on!]

CC: Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, Ward 1; Councilmember Brandon Todd, Ward 4;
Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 6; Councilmember Yvette Alexander, Ward 7;
Councilmember Anita Bonds, DC at-large

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Executive Director's testimony from this Monday's hearing on B21-865

Bill 21-865 is Office on Youth Outcomes and Grants Establishment Act of 2016. This past Monday,
Maggie Riden, our Executive Director, and numerous other community members were at the Council of the District of Columbia. The Committee on Education held a public hearing on the Bill. Here is the testimony Maggie provided:

***

Thank you, Chairperson Grosso, members of the Committee on Education, and staff. My name is Maggie Riden, and I am here today on behalf of my organization, the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates, a coalition of over 130 youth-serving organizations in the District. I want to start by thanking you, Chairperson Grosso, and your colleague Councilmember Nadeau for putting forward this legislative proposal. Since the DC Trust announced its dissolution six months ago, we have come a long way in a short time. We applaud the leadership of this Council in prioritizing a strong path forward for funding youth development in the District, as well as the leadership of the Deputy Mayors for Education and Health and Human Services for acting with urgency to ensure continuity of funding in FY2017, and to begin envisioning a path forward informed by best practices in other jurisdictions.

To support these efforts, DCAYA has provided historic local context on the history of this system and current challenges; as well as summarized and provided extensive research and analysis on emerging/best practice in designing youth development systems. In addition, we have also been active in collecting feedback from community-based expanded learning partners, which provide youth development services across the District to more than 8,000 children and youth. Since April, we have had numerous phone conversations and one-on- one meetings with providers, local funders and youth development experts, and have also held four well-attended member meetings on this issue. DCAYA strongly believes that the best solutions to policy and systems challenges comes from a combination of local and national research and analysis, examination of best practice, consideration of local context and robust stakeholder input. I just want to underscore that to the best extent possible, these different inputs and considerations inform our testimony today.