Friday, March 23, 2012

April Showers Bring Many Opportunities

As spring approaches and DC receives its few months of bearable weather before an always to be expected thick and swampy humid summer, the cherry blossoms begin to bloom and DC becomes a hub for international tourism.

Besides the enormous influx of tourist making metro rush hour even more difficult, spring is a time for the 2013 FY budget season. And amongst the testimonies and hearings it becomes incredibly easy to overlook the vast amount of resources the District has to offer during the spring. And while it’s important to be an active member of local politics, it’s equally important that one takes a step back to examine and appreciate the novelties that make the District what it is.

The season offers opportunities for the District’s youth to engage and participate in many constructive activities; many of these being free! Over the next few months, the District will offer a variety of events ranging from the Cherry Blossom Festival to the DC Jazz festival. Many of the events focus on a cultural or historical aspect of DC and many use these features to demonstrate DC’s relationship to the rest of the world. You can find a list of the upcoming events at:

In addition, the One City Summer team has worked diligently throughout the Winter to coordinate a variety of camps, summer employment opportunities and special events designed to keep children and youth engaged, excited, healthy and safe. As part of this the District will be re-launching a new and improved One City Summer Website to share events and opportunities in real time (and yes, CBOs will be able to post and highlight what they’re doing too). At the same time youth working with DC Library will be releasing the youth friendly version- to make sure that young people have a way to stay connected and hear about the events that will interest them. at the end of this month.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the launch of these websites, but in the meantime, you can find more information about summer activities and programs by checking out the Department of Parks and Recreations spring-summer schedule of youth events.

DCAYA is also in the process of organizing a youth advocacy day dedicated to positive youth development. Youth Advocacy Day will offer the district’s young people an opportunity to learn about the legislative process in the District, tour the Wilson Building, and connect with their elected officials. The specifics for the event are still being determined but it will take place on Aril 27th at time that does not conflict with the DC school schedule.

It will be interesting to see how the 2013 FY budget compares with the current budget and as someone who is new to the advocacy world, I hope its better. It’s obvious that although the upcoming spring events won’t begin to touch the deficit of positive youth development programs in the District, they do offer something. And in a city that is all too familiar with doing very much with very little, the upcoming spring offers another opportunity to do so.

Friday, March 09, 2012

A Post from Korey Johnson, Outreach Assistant

With performance oversight hearing season going on it's been a while since we've posted anything on our blog! This week's post is by DCAYA's Outreach Assistant Korey Johnson who is new to advocacy work in DC.

Last week, DCAYA hosted a community breakfast for community based organizations (CBOS) that serve children and youth in Wards 7 and 8.This event was one of my first experiences with community providers from east of the river and it was brilliant seeing organizations meet each other and DCAYA for the first time. It was tremendously humbling to experience the utmost dedication and passion that community providers from east of the river have for the District’s children and youth. Staff from the over 20 organizations in attendance not only had a sympathetic understanding of the challenges the young people of Wards 7 and 8 experience while navigating the transition to adulthood but also the different obstacles young people face in general.

Prior to coming on at DCAYA, I knew that Wards 7 and 8 suffered from a lack of economic development and that they were reknowned as one of the more dangerous areas of the city. What I didn’t realize was all the ways that social conditions like crime and unemployment had the capacity to negatively affect young people. A large proportion of the youth in these communities deal with child abuse and neglect, homelessness, and unemployment; these issues typically merge and create new obstacles that often produce worse circumstances. Consequentially, youth serving organizations that operate east of the river have a full plate when it comes to trying to lessen the burdens of children and youth.

After our initial meet and greet at last Friday’s breakfast we had a productive discussion about the central issues these organizations face when working with DC’s youth. Some of the most pressing issues included:

  • · Lack of funding and complicated funding silos
  • · Confusion over where to find best practices and pertinent new research
  • · Lack of provider mobilization and collaboration
  • · Confusion over how to communicate with the philanthropic community

Interestingly, none of the organizations had a shortage of program ideas or solution regarding their respective areas of expertise. Each CBO had clear plans of how they could best involve themselves in the lives of District youth and assist young people in becoming healthy and productive adults. Instead, the issues that were identified as a major challenges for CBOs revolved around funding, sustainability and a lack of connectivity with each other as well as community resources.

DCAYA started its outreach east of the river with the goal of hosting multiple convenings that focused on the self-identified issues that these providers face. Using the feedback received at our first event, we’re actively working on setting up another opportunity for organizations from Wards 7 and 8 to better network and collaborate as well as learn a bit more about some of the best practices going on in children’s and youth programming.

If staff from your organization would like to attend the upcoming events or would like more information about DCAYA’s outreach efforts please contact me via email (Korey@

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Advocates for Justice and Education Wants YOUR Feedback on Informal School Exclusion

Our partners over at Advocates for Justice and Education (AJE) have come up with an "Informal School Exclusion Survey" for parents from both DCPS and DCPCS. You can access the survey and get more information on our website.

Please feel free to circulate the survey to parents from your programs!