Friday, April 27, 2012

Testimony from DC Hunger Solutions

Its always great to see non-traditional partners testify at budget hearings on behalf of youth programming. Below is the testimony of Alex Ashbrook, from DC Hunger Solutions on why we need a stable CYITC.

Submitted Written Testimony  
Alexandra Ashbrook, Director
D.C. Hunger Solutions

Good morning. I am Alexandra Ashbrook and I direct D.C. Hunger Solutions, an initiative of the Food Research and Action Center. Our mission is to end hunger and improve the nutrition, health, economic security, and well-being of low-income residents in the District of Columbia. I welcome this opportunity to submit testimony on the importance of out-of-school time programs as a key tool in the fight against childhood hunger.  Underscoring my comments is a dismal statistic: more than 37 percent of District households with children – the highest rate in the nation – reported experiencing food hardship (defined as not having enough money in the past 12 months to buy food for themselves or their family) according to the Food Research and Action Center’s analysis of Gallup polling data in 2010.

Many of my colleagues will be testifying on the important role of the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (CYITC) in funding out-of-school time programs— often by leveraging public and private funds—and  supporting the quality of these programs through training, best practices, and evaluation tools.  And while I concur that the District needs an entity like the CYITC to support quality out-of-school time programming, my comments will focus on how such an entity is also helping to reduce childhood hunger and improve nutrition for thousands of District children and teens. Without CYITC guiding the network of out-of-school time programs and keeping them financially afloat, D.C. could see hundreds of children lose access to nutritious meals, especially those most at risk of going hungry. 


  • CYITC funding helps support afterschool and summer programs where kids are not only safe, engaged, and learning, but are also fed nutritious meals through federal nutrition programs. Afterschool and summer programs that CYITC supports are eligible for federal nutrition funding to serve meals to the children and teens in their care through the Summer Food Service Program (AKA the D.C. Free Summer Meals Program) and the Afterschool Meal Program.  By connecting thousands of children and teens to federally-funded meals, these nutrition programs not only reduce food insecurity and hunger, but improve nutrition, health, early childhood development, school achievement, and overall well-being.  If CYITC funding were not available, many of these out-of-school time programs could fold, decrease the number of children served, or cut back on the number of days or hours programs were available.  As a result, children would suffer a double loss, losing access to both enrichment programming and free meals.

  • CYITC requires that all grantees receiving funding for summer programs participate in the D.C. Free Summer Meals Program, thereby wisely helping summer programs connect to federal funding.  When CYITC funds summer programs, programs agree to participate in D.C. Free Summer Meals. Because of this requirement, children and teens, particularly those who rely on free school meals, can get free breakfast and lunch when school lets out for the summer at summer programs. The programs benefit financially because CYITC monies do not have to be spent on food since food is free via the D.C. Free Summer Meals Program, which is funded by federal entitlement monies.  Finally, programs benefit because food helps draw children and teens into programs that keep them safe and engaged. This is a winning requirement made possible because CYITC funds and monitors a large number of sites.

·         CYITC could further help promote nutrition at community-based afterschool programs by serving as an Afterschool Meal Program sponsor.  Currently, CYITC does not require sites to participate in the Afterschool Meal Program.  While all CYITC funded programs located in D.C. Public Schools have access to a free supper through the Afterschool Meal Program, many community-based afterschool programs have not been able to participate in the relatively new federal Afterschool Meal Program because of administrative issues.  (The Afterschool Meal Program started in December 2009 in Washington, DC as a federal pilot.) Up until this year, smaller afterschool programs were reluctant to participate because of challenges in understanding and meeting the evolving health and safety standards necessary for program participation.  These barriers have been addressed and now smaller afterschool programs at churches, community sites, or social service agencies can meet the health and safety standards. However, while some have joined the program, many smaller afterschool programs simply do not have the administrative capacity to operate the Afterschool Meal Program. For instance, afterschool programs may not have funding to cover their meal costs prior to receiving their reimbursement, and smaller programs that operate on a shoestring budget may have trouble “fronting” the funds. Other programs may not have a kitchen or food service experience and have difficulty getting a vendor to prepare and deliver a relatively small number of meals at an affordable price.
One way to overcome these barriers is for a larger organization—such as CYITC —to sponsor Afterschool Meals for multiple afterschool programs in the community. The Family League of Baltimore City takes on this role for more than one hundred afterschool programs in Maryland, making healthy nutritious after school meals a reality for 7,000 children and teens.  This model brings in federal funds to pay for the staff time that the Family League spends on administering the program, as well as millions of dollars in funding to feed hungry children a healthy supper. Like the CYITC, the Family League of Baltimore City is a quasi-governmental nonprofit organization that works with a range of partners to develop and implement initiatives that improve the well-being of Baltimore’s children, youth and families.

By sharing best practices and helping surmount administrative hurdles, a body such as CYITC allows for a range of out-of-school time programs to more readily participate in key federal nutrition programs.  In conclusion, all children in the nation’s capital deserve and need the opportunity to benefit from afterschool and summer programs that keep them challenged, learning, and safe. 
Respectfully submitted,

Alexandra Ashbrook, Director
D.C. Hunger Solutions
1875 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 540
Washington, DC 20009
p: (202) 986-2200 ext 3019

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Let's Hear It For the Parents Part Deux

Another parent testimony from Monday's CYITC budget hearing!

Good Morning Chairman Graham and members of the Committee on Human Services.  Thank you for the opportunity to testify today,

My son, Maurice, attends the Kid Power after-school program at Prospect Learning Center. The program has benefited him tremendously.

My shy little boy has blossomed into a confident young man because of the program. The Kid Power staff are extremely patient and give him the positive attention and encouragement he desperately needed.

When Maurice was 9 years old he could not read and was on a first grade reading level. Now, two years later because of participating in the Kid Power program, he is at a 4th grade reading level. I am so grateful.

In addition to academics, Kid Power provides the students with many enrichment opportunities. He participates in gardening and cooking classes and learns about healthy eating. He gets to attend life-skills classes and learns about helping the community. He even gets to go on field trips. He has become a track superstar and has received many medals at Kid Power.  These experiences have given him the self-confidence he needs to excel in all areas of life.

Furthermore, these opportunities do not exist during the school day. Furthermore, the Kid Power programs give Maurice more hands-on learning activities that get him excited. For example, because he likes track, they designed math activities to around his running.

Therefore, I am here today to argue on behalf this program and I speak for many other parents who were not able to testify today. We believe strongly that the non-profit organizations like Kid Power should continue to be an important part of the after-school program.  When Maurice comes to Kid Power, I know he has a different environment than the school day. He actually enjoys staying after school.  As a parent, this is truly a blessing.

Let's Hear It For the Parents!

Monday's CYITC Budget Hearing was a long one, but the youth advocates showed up in force to support the "Trust" and the vital programs it supports on behalf of children and youth in the District. This following post is a copy of testimony given by Linay Foreman, a parent of participants at Kid Power DC, one of the after-school programs that CYITC funding helps keep its doors open.

Good afternoon.  My name is Linay Foreman.  Before I begin, I would like to thank Committee Chairman Graham, and all others in attendance whose passion for the youth of the district brought them to this hearing.

Over the past 3 years, my two daughters and I have had the pleasure of working with Kid Power, Inc, one of the many afterschool programs funded by the TRUST that works tirelessly to provide valuable programming to the youth of DC.  My daughters have found a place where they can express themselves and not be afraid to show how intelligent they are.  My oldest daughter has been particularly involved in one of Kid Power’s programs known as CookieTime.  This program works to instill an entrepreneurial and giving spirit in the youth that it serves by allowing kids to not only perfect their skills in the kitchen, but also become benefactors to charities not just in DC, but worldwide.  Already a deeply caring individual, my daughter has found an outlet and a forum for developing her natural abilities.  She has a network of friends in this program that she knows have her back and nurture her creativity.

As a parent, Kid Power has provided me the peace of mind to know that when school is over, my children have a safe place to do their homework and do something positive for the community.  Over the years, they’ve come home with stories of gardening and yoga, participated in organic gardening markets, and gone on numerous fieldtrips focused on broadening their horizons.  Is Kid Power a safety net for my youth so that I can be sure they are surrounded in positivity after school?  Absolutely.  However, the programs that my daughters have participated in have been far more than a safety net.

In a few years, my daughters will be either in college, or in the case of my youngest, well on her way.  I realize that this proposed budget cut will not have the effect on my daughters that it will on the youngest youth in DC.  However, as a parent and a responsible member of society and of the District of Columbia, I ask you to please look elsewhere for sources of funding before considering cutting funding from the TRUST. Our children are our strength.  PLEASE, preserve funding that builds on this universal truth.

Thank you.

Linay Foreman
Kid Power Parent

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Role of Youth Intermediaries

 Just a quick post today on some of the great research that exists around the role of youth intermediaries in other jurisdictions!

This report, even though its from 2003, is a great overview of different youth intermediary models and their various pros and cons. Of the problems that strong intermediaries help to solve, this report outlines:

1)Absence of a Clear Mandate
2)Lack of Program Standards
3)Variation in Program Quality
4) Staff Training and Retention
5)Inadequate Facilities and Supplies
6)Lack of Dedicated and Sustainable Funding
7)Unidentified Outcomes and Accountability Measures
8) Lack of Recognition

That's quite a list and our own CYITC has definitely helped to combat the overwhelming majority of these issues since its inception! 

Another great report:

This report came out of the UChicago's much revered Chapin Hall Center for Children. This report cites many of the same issues facing youth serving organizations that the above report mentions and additionally cites examples of several high-functioning intermediaries including: 

• The Youth Development Institute
of the Fund for the City of New

• Community Network for Youth
Development—San Francisco, CA

• YouthNet, Kansas City—Kansas
City, MO 

• The Chicago Youth Agency

• Community Partners—Los Angeles,

• Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare
Board—Pinellas County, FL

• The Minneapolis Youth
Coordinating Board

 During this time of uncertainty for our own Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation it is SO important that we recognize the absolutely vital roles that youth intermediaries can play when properly managed and funded. Hopefully these resources are helpful for all you youth advocates out there!


Look at all that Blue in Support of CYITC at today's Budget Hearing!

Help keep the Trust supporting District youth-serving organizations like DC SCORES

Help keep the Trust supporting District youth-serving organizations like DC SCORES

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Principles of Positive Youth Development Re-Cap

Last Friday, DCAYA hosted a special panel discussion on the principles of positive youth development (PYD) and how an outcomes framework like PYD can help facilitate better programming at local non-profits. This event was part of a series of events sponsored by the Horning Family Fund meant to help child and youth serving organizations from Wards 7 and 8 better align their programming with non-profits from across the city.

Our guest panel, which was moderated by DCAYA's Executive Director Maggie Riden,was comprised of:

Cara Fuller, Director of Workforce Development, Sasha Bruce Youthwork

Peter Guttmacher, Director of Programming and Curricula Development at the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation

and Selvon Waldron, Director of Development at Life Pieces to Masterpieces.

The panelists talked about the many creative ways they integrate the 12 Developmental Outcomes of PYD into their respective organization's missions and day-to-day programming. For Sasha Bruce's Youth Build Program, the outcomes around belonging/membership, responsibility/autonomy and employability were especially important because of their focus on on older and out-of-school youth, while for programs like LP2M all of the outcomes had to be addressed and implemented in different ways because of the focus on serving both younger children as well as teenagers. What a lot of providers found interesting was the commonality of PYD and how it could be used across different program areas to yield positive outcomes. For instance, some people found it shocking that traditional out-of-school time providers would have similar processes to workforce development programs or that organizations that provided services to homeless young people would track similar measures as interim outcomes.

Putting their funding hats on, Peter and Selvon also talked at length about how funding entities require the types of outcomes that a process like PYD facilitates and how in this time of economic uncertainty outcomes are the prime driver of funding decisions. Selvon also talked about how once an organization has an established system in place, tracking outcomes becomes second nature.

Overall we had a great group of providers in the room which lead to a great discussion with our panel and a lot of new interest around how to use positive youth development across sectors like housing, foster care and even in traditional educational options like schools which is always encouraging to see. The last of our events targeting providers and youth from Wards 7 and 8 will be our third annual Youth-Advocacy Day which will be held April 27th from 3:00pm-5:00pm in the John A. Wilson Building! Stay tuned for details!

For more information on DCAYA's East of the River Outreach Project, please contact Anne Abbott ( Special thanks to Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative for loaning us their space and to all of the providers from Wards 7 and 8 who came out to learn more about PYD including:

Monday, April 02, 2012

A Post from Our (not so) New Executive Director, Maggie Riden!

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of the blog, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has reached out over the course of this week as I have stepped into my new role as Executive Director. The outpouring of excitement, the emails of congratulations and the many offers of support have been incredible- and maybe more importantly, this level of community response really illustrates the level of engagement, energy and connectivity of the DC youth serving community – and we’re going to need to tap into all of those assets as we dig into budget season.

We all know that understanding and taking part in the budget process is critical, and it couldn’t be more so given the level of economic insecurity and scarcity we’ve experienced in the last few years. In the last two years we’ve seen proposed budgets come from the Mayor’s office that decrease funding for many of the programs and services that we know positively affect children and youth here in the District and this year is no different. Even before the FY'13 budget was released, we had been hearing for weeks about the anticipated funding gap of $172 million- and lingering uncertainty on where cuts would be made, or revenue found.

For those of us that focus on the health and wellbeing of children, youth and families, a few elements of Mayor Gray’s FY'13 Budget should be concerning. Here are a few of the critical elements:

Out- of- School Time Programming for Younger Youth Took a Plunge: Services to children and youth during non-school hours and the summer will be drastically reduced in 2013. The Trust was maintained at a budget mark of $3 million and the DCPS Office of Out of School Time Programs was cut by $5.7 million. One of the few positives in this budget was an increase of $1.3 million for year round youth employment programming

Services to Disconnected and At- Risk Youth Took a Hit: While the budget does include a 2% increase in per-pupil funding, many of the services and supports designed to support non-traditional learners or at- risk children and youth were reduced. For example the alternative education budget was reduced by $1.5 million; the DCPS Office of Youth Engagement, by $1.3 million, DCPS Student Support Services (including school based social and psychological services) was cut by $1.3 million, the DPR Roving Leaders Program was cut by $2.6 million. Again we did see an increase of about $1 million at DOES for their year-round youth initiatives.

Critical Safety Net Services Remain Under Funded: An array of other services and supports including TANF and the DC Health Care Alliance received additional cuts for FY13, while others including the Homeless Services Continuum remain critically underfunded in a few key areas.

There are no easy ways to balance a budget that has faced this level of shortfall over the last few years- no one can deny that- and if we knew that the reductions listed above addressed existing inefficiencies or reflected a targeted approach to changing the conditions that keep so many of our neighbors from realizing their full potential- rather than reductions to programs and services -that would be laudable. Unfortunately, no one at the Wilson Building, or in the respective agencies are giving those assurances. That said, DCAYA hopes you will join us over the next few weeks in expressing to Council and the Mayor that truly achieving One City- requires a firm and consistent investment in children, youth and families.

Information on Agency Budgets is available on:

For more information on the DC Budget Process check out the DC Fiscal Policy Institute's handy dandy Budget 101 Toolkit.

Questions about DCAYA, our budget advocacy and this blog post can be forwarded to Maggie Riden, DCAYA Executive Director. Fortunately, her email has not changed with her job title, you can still contact her via