Wednesday, December 28, 2016

It's Raining Wins, Hallelujah!

For our final blog of the year, we thought we'd share some of the recent wins that blew our collective minds, just at the beginning of this month, in case you didn't see the email our Executive Director sent out last week.

461 Youth Earned A State Diploma

On Saturday December 3rd, the first cohort of GED recipients in the District were awarded their State Diplomas. We couldn’t be more proud of their hard work- or more thankful for the hundreds of youth and partners that helped to pass that policy through the SBOE. This graduation celebration for State Diploma recipients marked the culmination of their persistence and resilience, and we’re confident it marks one of many more accomplishments on their path to success.

We’re leading the way on out of school time

On Tuesday December 6th, the Office of Youth Outcomes and Grants Establishment Act of 2016, which sets out the system to redevelop and cohesively/effectively support and fund before, after and summer programming passed unanimously through a first Council vote; protecting AND expanding these critical services for the nearly 38,000 at risk students.

We are on the forefront of ending youth homelessness

On  Tuesday December 13, the DC Interagency Council passed the “Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness” (CPEYH...We’re still looking for a better title and acronym), a five year programmatic and funding strategy designed to grow a safety net system to ensure youth homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurring. For the nearly 600 youth on any given night in DC experiencing homelessness or housing instability- that is a literal life changing, and potentially lifesaving, service and support.

Not a bad way to begin the end of the year! But also a sign of why the year-round support of individuals like you is so important.

These kind of wins happen all year round. And if you'd like to ensure that we are able to be as nimble and responsive to opportunities like this, but also able to do the groundwork in the months leading up to these wins, to move the bar forward for DC youth:

Thank you, and see you in 2017.

- Your DCAYA family

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

DCAYA's Top Ten Blog Posts of 2016

To wrap up the year, we thought we'd take a look back at our Top Ten most read blogs for 2016, beginning at number 10!!

10) FY2017 Budget Asks, 3/31/16

As you know, our asks take a look at the Mayor's proposed budget, incorporate our own policy analysis and research, and are a mix of requests:
  • to maintain what is in the Mayor's budget,
  • to increase the amount of funding to appropriate levels, and at times
  • to insert funding that isn't included at all.
Our asks for the current fiscal year included Transportation Support, Educational Data Capacity, Youth Workforce Development, Youth Homelessness, and Expanded Learning. Little would we know that the latter ask, as it related to allocation to the DC Trust, would be part of a completely new landscape the following month.

9) Local Funding for Local Opportunity: The Role & Vision of the DC Trust in Expanded Learning, 3/9/16

9 months later, it's pretty interesting to see how the core values shared in this post continue to be a part of the conversation, as legislation for an Office of Youth Outcomes and Grants is in the midst of the markup process, following the dissolution of the DC Trust.. From our community providers, several themes that emerged were:
  • The impact of expanded learning programs on achievement outcomes
  • The capacity of community partnerships to maximize resources
  • The need for stable local funding intermediaries
So although the landscape might be a different one, as our community and representatives finalize what a new youth development entity looks like, the direction and purpose of our work remains constant.

8) A transcript of the Kojo Nnamdi Show's segment on the DC Trust, 5/4/16

Our next most read blog was simply a transcript of a Kojo Nnamdi Show segment focused on the DC Trust, what went wrong and what's next. One of his guests included Andria Tobin, Executive Director of Kid Power Inc, but also a member of DCAYA's Board of Directors. On one our favorite quotes from the show, from Andria:
"So we want to make sure that there’s a really thought out plan to make sure those funds are protected for many nonprofits and youth in the District, one that is collaborative and strategic, and is flexible and innovative in the way that the Trust was designed to be."
7) Lights On Afterschool: 4 Questions with DC Afterschool Ambassador Daniela Grigioni, 10/19/16

This month's blog took a closer look at afterschool, in an interview with Daniela Grigioni, who had been selected as one of 15 leaders from across the nation to serve as a 2016-2017 Afterschool Ambassador for the Afterschool Alliance. This is the third of our blogs in the top ten which related to Expanded Learning. This is one of our four main issue areas, and has to do with learning outside of the classroom, particularly after the school day and over the summer.

6) Homeless Youth Census: Data-Driven Advocacy Calls for Greater Investment to End Youth Homelessness, 3/2/16

As with many of our efforts, the need for accurate, robust, and timely data leads to better advocacy. And the Homeless Youth Census is both a great example and a relatively recent success. Benefits of this census highlighted in the 2015 Report Fact Sheet were that it:

  • Provides understanding of the number of youth experiencing homelessness in the District
  • Informs the various and complex needs of youth experiencing homelessness and help bring solutions to scale
  • Educates key stakeholders of where resources should be allocated
What's especially wonderful looking back at this post was another very recent success we highlighted in last week's blog post, that the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness voted to approve the 5-year Comprehensive Plan to end youth homelessness.

It should be no surprise that one of our most read blog posts was an update regarding the hearing schedule set by DC Council, which is our primary advocacy season. We've already been planning for the FY2017 hearings over the past several months, which included our regular community input sessions across our four issue areas as well as a special effort to move the Office of Youth Outcomes and Grants legislation forward so that an FY2018 budget has somewhere to put Out-of-School Time funding.

This month, we re-released #ExpandLearningDC, our policy and funding framework for afterschool and summer learning in DC, originally posted in April. The report had been updated following the vote that month by the DC Trust’s Board of Directors to dissolve the organization. This version also used updated data to better reflect trends in out-of-school time access within DCPS.

3) #ExpandLearningDC, 1/28/16

Even more read than the previous blog post, was our first Expanded Learning post of the year. As you can tell from this year's highlights, our work is definitely more of a marathon rather than a sprint. Although our main advocacy season happens during regular times each year, not only is there a tremendous amount of work that is required to prepare for and then evaluate after hearings, but there are also the unplanned events and developments that we have to monitor and respond to, like the dissolution of the DC Trust. And this refers not just to DCAYA's staff of four, but the hundreds of member organizations whom we do our work with.

2) Leading the Way in Youth Workforce Development!, 8/3/16

The runner-up to our top read blog post for 2016 was our recap of a joint program we have with the Institute for Educational Leadership, the Youth Workforce Leaders Academy aka YWLA. Through in-person learning sessions with national and local experts, online discussions, capstone projects, individual professional development action planning, and facilitated peer-to-peer learning, participants will significantly expanded and grew their expertise in providing high quality youth workforce development services This post recapped the year with our 2nd cadre, and recognized each individual in this post.

1) New Year, New Resolutions, 1/6/16

Our most read post was our first one of 2016, a light-hearted start to the year, using GIFs to animate some New Year's Resolutions we wanted to make, both personally and professionally.

And THAT was 2016! We hope you enjoyed this look down memory lane, as we look ahead to 2017. We also hope you may have learned a bit more, not just about our work highlighted at various points throughout the year, but how it all ties together. And this work is only possible, because of the year-round engagement of our members and support from our community.

If you would like to support us during this holiday season, please consider showing your support with a donation, and thank you in advance!

- Your DCAYA Team

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

DC ICH Votes to Approve 5-year Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness

At the December 13 quarterly meeting of the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), members agreed by unanimous voice vote to adopt the ICH Youth Subcommittee’s Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness (short title TBD). 

The youth plan will complement the ICH’s Homeward DC plan which addresses homelessness among adults and families. The ICH Council’s approval of the plan is a culmination of more than six years of community efforts to bring youth homelessness in the District to light, and to meet that awareness with dedicated action. 

For DCAYA, the first major benchmark was reached in November 2011 with our release of From the Streets to Stability: A study of youth homelessness in the District of Columbia. Before that time, little to no concrete information was available related to the issue of youth homelessness in DC – in terms of the size of the population, or the unique needs and characteristics of homeless youth. The report highlighted the need for a more services and for a diverse array of supportive services and programs for youth, and the groundbreaking effort led to more people taking notice over the next several years. It was followed up in October 2013 with a community coalition-led Bold Strategy to End Youth Homelessness.

In May 2014, DC Council passed the End Youth Homelessness Amendment Act, requiring a new youth drop-in center and a street outreach program, a new intake system to ensure that there is no “wrong door” for youth seeking support, more beds for youth in crisis, a publicly-funded Homeless Youth Census to be completed annually, and finally, a community-wide comprehensive plan to end youth homelessness.

The Youth Plan: Vision Statement and Benchmarks

With the groundwork laid by the 2014 legislation, the District now has the start of structures and supports needed to end youth homelessness. This goal does not mean that a youth will never experience housing instability or homelessness again. Rather, it means that our community will have a system in place to prevent homelessness for youth whenever possible, and if literal homelessness cannot be prevented, to ensure that the youth’s homelessness is brief and non-recurring, with access to stable housing within an average of 60 days or less.

This is vision statement for the Comprehensive Plan: By 2022, youth homelessness in the District will be a rare, brief, and nonrecurring experience.

For youth experiencing homelessness, their housing crisis comes at a key point in their development into independent adults. Recognizing this difference between youth and adults, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness has developed core outcomes for youth that go beyond resolving the youth’s housing crisis to also helping them with building permanent connections, achieving education and employment goals, and developing social-emotional well-being. Addressing these core outcomes will require a community-wide effort with the involvement of partners in the District beyond the usual stakeholders in the homeless system.

The plan lays out specific benchmarks to assess progress toward the vision, including:
  1. Our community has ended chronic homelessness among youth;
  2. Our community has a system in place to identify all youth experiencing homelessness;
  3. Our community has the ability to provide immediate access to developmentally appropriate emergency shelter for any youth without a safe place to stay;
  4. Our community connects youth to stable housing as quickly as possible; and,
  5. Our community provides Transitional Housing only for youth that prefer it, and that Transitional Housing is stable, does not have barriers to entry, and has high rates of exit to permanent housing.

What’s Next

The ICH will be formally releasing the plan in early 2017. The plan will be published to include a series of short vignettes written by District youth experiencing homelessness, and there is also a contest underway for youth to determine a name for the plan. 

The plan also lays out more than 40 key strategies which DC agencies and community partners will undertake in the coming years. The ICH’s youth subcommittee will continue meeting monthly in 2017 to work across youth-serving agencies, community-based organizations, local advocacy partners, and young people from the community to support the key strategy work. And as performance and budget hearings approach in the spring, DCAYA will be crafting an advocacy agenda in strong support of achieving the plan’s benchmarks.

To stay informed about the plan’s 2017 release and the title contest, or to find out more about the work of the ICH Youth Subcommittee and DCAYA’s advocacy, please contact Joseph Gavrilovich, Senior Policy Analyst.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Add It to Your Toolbox:!

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

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:

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:

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.


[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

The Future of Youth Development Programming- Testimony from Maggie Riden

Bill 21-865 is the 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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Expanded Learning and a Halloween Hearing

It's the season for Expanded Learning! Actually October IS Afterschool Awareness Month, so for this week's blog we thought it would be a good time to highlight some recent activities and updates, as well as an upcoming hearing.

Lights on Afterschool

Just last Thursday, was Lights on Afterschool, a day which saw a million Americans celebrate afterschool programs around the country. This nationwide event was launched in October 2000, and highlights the role of after school programs in "keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn and helping working families."

Our own staff members, Joey Gavrilovich and JR Russ visited two participating schools last week here in the District, Hart Middle School and Stuart-Hobson Middle school, respectively.

Stuart-Hobson: A speed mentoring session
Hart: Performance by the After School All Stars' Drumline
Did you, your youth, and/or your school participate in this year's Lights On Afterschool? Do you have any favorite afterschool programs or memories you'd like to share? Please do so in a comment.

Expanded Learning Issue Brief

Joey Gavrilovich, our Senior Policy Analyst, has been particularly busy. He just recently updated our Expanded Learning Issue Brief, which you should check out and share, if you haven't yet. One particular highlight is the following chart.

It breaks down the deficit of learning hours many children enter 6th grade with:
These children are typically beginning 6th grade with only about 60% of the learning hours afforded their higher income peers, missing out on some 4,000 hours of out-of-school time learning.
If you would like to read more, please check out our latest Expanded Learning Issue Brief.

Public Hearing on the Office of Youth Outcomes and Grants Establishment Act of 2016

Coming up on Monday, October 31, the Committee on Education will have a public hearing on B21-865, “Office of Youth Outcomes and Grants Establishment Act of 2016.”

DCAYA and other advocates have been at the table over the past several months with leaders from DC government and local philanthropy to help address the path forward for supporting afterschool and summer programs for District youth. This legislation proposes a framework for greater strategic coordination and funding for out-of-school time programming.

The hearing will begin at 10:30am at the John A. Wilson Building. And if you are interested in testifying, you have until 5:00pm tomorrow, Thursday, October 27 to sign-up. Those who wish to testify may sign-up online at or call the Committee on Education at (202) 724-8061.

That's it

We hope you enjoy the rest of Afterschool Awareness Month!

- Your DCAYA Team

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Lights On Afterschool: 4 Questions with DC Afterschool Ambassador Daniela Grigioni

In September, the Afterschool Alliance announced that Daniela Grigioni had been selected as one of 15 leaders from across the nation to serve as a 2016-2017 Afterschool Ambassador. Since 2001, more than 200 individuals have served as Afterschool Ambassadors with the Afterschool Alliance, working in their communities and states to increase awareness of the need for afterschool, and acting as a voice for the movement. Since December 2015, Daniela Grigioni has served as the Executive Director at After-School All-Stars DC. Prior to that, she was the Manager of External Relations for Afterschool Programs at DC Public Schools.

*For more info on Expanded Learning, please be sure to check out DCAYA's new issue brief!*
What is the Afterschool Ambassador program, and what does your role mean for DC?
The program identifies afterschool providers and advocates of special achievement, and uses its national platform to help them raise their voices in support of afterschool. This is the first year that DC has had an ambassador! As an Afterschool Ambassador for DC, I want to work to build support for afterschool programs here in District as well as in the nation, and help advance the goal of making those programs available to all children and families who need them. I will also continue my work as the Executive Director at After-School All-Stars DC (ASAS DC).

What sort of resources will you have as an Ambassador?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

So What is “Health Check” and What’s the Big Deal?

AmeriHealth is the largest Medicaid managed care organization (MCO) in DC with more than 100,000 members and a part of the AmeriHealth Caritas family of companies, a national leader in managed care. This month, Market President Karen Dale, shares why the "Health Check" is so important to you and your youth.

You’ve probably heard the term “Health Check” 100 times before, whether at the doctor’s office which is the most common, your insurance plan, on television, the radio, at school, or from an athletic coach.  So what is it?  Health Check is a regularly scheduled visit to a pediatrician or family doctor to ensure proper growth and good health for children and youth.  These visits start at birth and should continue until a person turns 21 years old.  The Health Check includes various screenings but the most familiar are a complete physical exam, immunizations if needed, dental screening, vision screening, hearing screening, lead screening, and even behavioral health screenings.  As the child gets older, some portions of the Health Check will change to incorporate some additional tests and screenings based on age, while other portions will no longer be needed.

But what’s the big deal?  Prevention!  Many childhood illnesses do not show up right away, and the Health Check exams can help keep children and youth healthy by spotting potential illness or challenge before it happens.  The Health Check exam including the up to date immunizations not only promotes proper growth and good health, but it is also used as the back-to-school and athletic participation requirement each school year.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Shared Use: Safe Places for All Kids to Play and Grow

October is Afterschool Awareness Month, and for the next four weeks, DCAYA will be featuring the work of our community-based out-of-school time (OST) partners. To kick things off, we’ve invited our friends at the Advocates for Better Children’s Diets to share about shared use of community facilities in the District – what it is, where the disparities are, and what it means for youth in OST hours. Read on for more information and steps you can take to join the DC Active Kids campaign for shared use!

Washington, DC is often thought of as one of the healthiest cities in the US. It ranks 50th out of 51 states for obesity. On paper, DC looks like a beacon of health, but that’s not the whole story.

DC has significant disparities when it comes to health. When we add overweight to obesity, we find that 56% of all adults living in DC are overweight or obese. These rates increase to more than 72% in the District’s neighborhoods east of the river (Wards 7 and 8). Racial disparities with regards to obesity in the District are extreme, for example, less than one in every 10 white District residents are obese, whereas one in every three African Americans in the District are obese.

Childhood obesity is a growing focus for many health professionals because overweight and obese children often grow up to be overweight and obese adults, therefore they will have to deal with all of the associated diseases including hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol. D.C. has the ninth highest childhood obesity rate in the United States, according to Child Health Data.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Promising Practices in Work-Based Learning

Today's blog previews a new paper from the National Skills Coalition and the National Youth Employment Coalition on the promising practices in extending work based learning models to youth populations. You can find the full report, Promising Practices in Work-Based Learning for Youth, here!

As the U.S. labor market recovers from the Great Recession, businesses are hiring new workers and taking advantage of emerging opportunities. In fact, the unemployment rate is below five percent for the first time since 2007. Unfortunately, young workers are not benefitting from the improved economy at the same rate as the overall workforce.

People between the ages of 20-24 are unemployed at a rate nearly double the national average and the jobless rate for those between the ages of 16-19 is nearly triple the national rate. Disconnected and at-risk youth have more difficulty finding employment, earn less throughout their career, are more likely to be incarcerated, and are more likely to be young parents than their peers who are in school or working. Youth unemployment also leads to lost income tax revenue, a greater burden on safety net programs, and increased expenses associated with higher crime levels. Connecting these younger populations to high-quality employment and training opportunities is critical to ensure that the next generation of workers can access the same economic opportunities as generations before.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A field trip opportunity unlike any other

This weekend is the grand opening weekend of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The newest museum is the 19th one in the family of Smithsonian institutions. And with all the coverage about the historical significance of this museum, we thought it would be worth taking a look of the power of a simple field trip to a museum.

Several years ago, EducationNext published The Educational Value of Field Trips. The piece begins with a brief history of the field trip once being a cornerstone of public education in America. Schools saw the benefits of these experiences out of the classrooms justified the costs.
With field trips, public schools viewed themselves as the great equalizer in terms of access to our cultural heritage.
The piece goes on to discuss the decline of culturally enriching field trips over the past decade or two. There are a variety of factors beyond the obvious financial ones, including a focus on increased time needed to prep students for standardized test, as well as a shift from "enrichment" to "reward" field trips.

EducationNext highlighted the challenge of making the case for this particular type of enrichment activity because of a lack of "rigorous evidence about how field trips affect students". They then presented research from " the first large-scale randomized-control trial" to examine what students learn from visiting, in this case, an art museum.*

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Supporting Disconnected Youth & Adult Learners this #AEFLWeek

In today’s blog, we’d like to share the work of our colleagues at the Adult and Family Literacy Coalition (DC AFLC) @DCAdultEdu. DCAYA’s connection to this work stems from our interest in stable, thriving families as foundations of youth success, and as a function of the disparate definitions of accessibility across the educational and workforce opportunities available to re-engaging youth. 

As councilmember David Grosso, Chairperson of the Committee on Education, noted in a hearing last session, “If children are not learning the skills they need to complete high school, and their parents do not have their high school education, then we are nowhere near breaking cycles of poverty and/or inequality.” At that same hearing, DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson underscored, “A 2002 estimate indicates that 37% of adults age 16 and over in the District of Columbia operate at the lowest defined level of literacy, or below basic. This compares to national averages of 21-23% of adults scoring at the below basic level.” 

Clearly, the need to address the pervasive barriers to success for DC’s disconnected youth and adult learners is profound. Read on to learn more about how we can align our work in the coming advocacy season!

Washington, DC, is a city of extremes in education. On the one hand, the District has one of the most highly educated populations in the United States. According to research from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, 71 percent of all jobs in the District of Columbia will require additional education beyond a high school credential—either some postsecondary education or training—by 2018.

At the same time, one in three DC adults have trouble reading a map or completing a job application, and more than 21 percent of DC’s working-age adults—more than 60,000 individuals—lack a high school diploma.

Low literacy and low educational attainment are root causes of poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and poor health. Adults without a high school diploma are more than seven times as likely to live in poverty as are those with a credential. National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week (September 26-October 1) is an opportunity to raise awareness around the need for and impact of adult education and celebrate the accomplishments of DC’s adult learners.

Members of DC AFLC will also spend the week highlighting the barriers adult learner face in their pursuit of an education and policy solutions that seek to remove those roadblocks. At the top of that list is the lack of access to affordable transportation. A recent survey of nearly 1000 adult learners across the District conducted by the Deputy Mayor for Education’s Transportation Task Force found that 62% of adult learners depend on public transportation for their commute to and from school (52% on bus and 10% on rail). Of those adult learners, 41% say their biggest concern about their commute is the cost of transportation, and more than a quarter say that issues with transportation have caused them to miss school occasionally or often.

Unfortunately, adult education providers have few options for providing transportation assistance to learners. The majority of learners enrolled in classes fall outside the age range for the Kids Ride Free Program, and while DDOT offers subsidized tokens for K-12 schools, that subsidy is not offered to adult education providers. Therefore, any assistance is reliant on the budget of the providers—often tight themselves.

When adult learners choose to come back to school, they are making a significant investment to do so. They invest their time: learners often arrive to class after they’ve already dropped their kids off at school and/or finished a shift at work. And when classes are over, they head back out to retrace their steps. They invest their energy: knowing that a credential is the key to moving closer to their goals, learners walk through the doors on their own volition. They are not mandated to do so, and it’s up to them to return the next day. And they invest resources from their limited budgets.

Adult learners are investing in their future—and that of their family—when they choose to come back to school. Likewise, The District has made an important investment in adult education. Now we need to go further and ensure that adult learners have the tools they need to get to school, so they can move up and move on to the next step in their lives. This AEFL Week, DC AFLC members will be asking DC Council to do just that.

For more information on how you can get involved in National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week or the work of the DC Adult and Family Literacy Coalition (DC AFLC), please contact Jamie Kamlet at

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

#YOUthCountDC 2016: The 2nd Annual Homeless Youth Census is September 16-24!

This week’s blog is a look ahead to the 2nd Annual Homeless Youth Census, set to take place District-wide from September 16-24, 2016. 

We reached out to our friends at the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness (TCP) to help respond to some frequently asked questions about the census: what it is, who is counted, and what is its impact.

What is the Homeless Youth Census?
In May 2014, the DC Council passed the End Youth Homelessness Amendment Act, funding an expansion of accessible youth-friendly services. The Act also mandated an annual census of District youth experiencing homelessness to address the lack of consistent and reliable data. The Homeless Youth Census (HYC) is an annual count and survey of unaccompanied minors and transition-aged youth experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity.

The first census was conducted by the Department of Human Services (DHS) in close collaboration with TCP over a nine day period at the end of August 2015. The census revealed there were some 545 unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness in the District of Columbia – almost half of whom identified as LGBTQ. This marked the first time that we have had such a thorough estimate of youth who are homeless (and particularly those identifying as LGBTQ) and the importance of having this knowledge cannot be overstated: it has implications for expanding services, targeting outreach and fine-tuning supportive services.

How Does Doing a Census Help End Youth Homelessness?
During the Council’s performance oversight hearing for DHS last February, DCAYA testified that the agency and community partners were on track in their expansion of services to youth, but that continued progress was going to require added investment in the coming fiscal year. 

Because of the availability of data from the HYC, advocates had a strong case to make at the DHS budget hearing in April for scaling up prevention services, as well as adding to the supply of crisis beds and transitional and independent living spaces for youth. The Council and the Bowser administration committed $2.3 million in the FY2017 budget in new investments for these services. This represented a significant increase over previous years and one which can largely be attributed to the use of census data.

Conducting the census on an annual basis enables the District to track data and trends over time^, which can shed light on the interventions and support needed to stem the tide of youth homelessness. The census process and its results strengthen advocacy efforts to annually secure the public funding necessary to reach the District-wide goal of ensuring homelessness among unaccompanied minors and transition-aged youth is rare, brief and non-recurring by 2020.

Who is Counted?
Through surveys conducted by street outreach professionals, in drop-in centers and meal programs, and though other community partnerships, the HYC collects information about demographics, housing and homelessness status, education and employment status, health and well-being, and system involvement (e.g., child welfare, juvenile justice) across the following youth populations:
  • Unaccompanied Minors (under the age of 18) living apart from their parents or guardians, excluding those in the physical custody of the District
  • Transition-Aged Youth (age 18-24) who are “economically and emotionally detached from their parents and who are unstably housed”
  • “Literally Homeless” Youth who are residing on the street or in emergency shelter and transitional housing situations
  • “Housing Insecure” Youth who are residing in non-permanent housing situations, including “couch-surfing” and “doubled up”, which are often identified as risk factors for experiencing literal homelessness
  • Subpopulation Information is also captured (e.g.,  pregnant and parenting, gender expression, sexual orientation) to better understand population trends.

Of fundamental importance, the results of the census show us that at any given time there are hundreds of youth moving from couch to couch, and when their options run short, shelter to shelter. 

How Can I Help?
The HYC equips youth, advocates and service providers with vital knowledge about youth in crisis. Each new community partnership helps to expand that knowledge and work toward ending the crisis. 

The 2nd Annual HYC is set to take place District-wide September 16-24, 2016:
  1. To sign up as a community partner, please contact Eileen Kroszner, Program Officer, at the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness: or 202-543-5298
  2. For HYC survey sites and more information, including how you can be counted if you are a youth experiencing homelessness, please visit

track data and trends over time: For example, HYC survey data help to identify patterns in responses and factors which affect how youth experience homelessness, including special subpopulations (i.e., LGBTQ Youth, Mental Health, Justice System involvement); to identify patterns in responses describing services used and gaps in services; and, quantify and qualify the scope of minor and young adult homelessness to guide resource decision-making.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Youth Summer Jobs Programs: Aligning Ends and Means

This week we’re bringing you a guest post from Martha Ross, a fellow at the Brooking Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. Her newest paper Youth Summer Jobs Programs: Aligning Ends and Means, which she co-authors with Richard Kazis, takes an important look at the intentions and outcomes of summer youth employment programs from a national perspective. Read on for highlights of their work!

Summer jobs programs for youth have experienced an upsurge of investment since the 2007-2009 recession and the associated spikes in unemployment among young people. The well-documented drop in teen and young adult employment rates has raised concerns that it is becoming more difficult for young people to find pathways into the labor market, particularly for African-American and Latino teens living in neighborhoods with fewer job opportunities. Summer jobs programs offer a paycheck, employment experiences, and other organized activities in the service of multiple goals: increasing participants’ income, developing young people’s skills and networks to improve their job prospects, and offering constructive activities to promote positive behavior. The District of Columbia is one of a handful of jurisdictions that retained their summer jobs programs after the loss of dedicated federal funding in the late 1990s with the passage of the Workforce Investment Act.
Summer jobs programs are often one of the most high-profile youth initiatives of a given jurisdiction.  They typically last about six weeks and provide work opportunities to teens and young adults who otherwise might struggle to find jobs. Recent research finds that summer jobs programs have positive effects: reducing violence, incarceration, and mortality and improving academic outcomes.
But a strong program does not automatically follow from good intentions. Program design and implementation carry the day and determine the results. Although the research is encouraging, it is not robust enough to support generalized statements about program effectiveness, and it has not yet conclusively linked summer jobs programs to improved employment outcomes.
Summer jobs programs are complex endeavors to design and deliver within a very compressed time frame. No matter how dedicated the organization and staff operating the program, the demands of recruiting, assessing, placing, monitoring, and paying so many young people at one time are significant. In the absence of agreed-upon standards and best practices, quality is likely to vary considerably—both between cities and within a city, depending on the worksite or partner organization helping to run the program.
In a new paper, Youth Summer Jobs Programs: Aligning Ends and Means, my co-author Richard and Kazis and I assert that we need better answers to some fundamental questions: how much should we reasonably expect from a summer jobs program? For whom are the impacts the greatest? What are the critical program elements to improve a young person’s skills and job prospects?
Based on interviews and a scan of the literature, we identified a core set of practices that support high-quality programs, divided into two categories.
Program design
  • Recruiting employers and worksites and sustaining their participation to provide the maximum number of job opportunities.
  • Matching young people with age- and skill-appropriate opportunities, differentiating by age, work readiness, and youth interests so that no one goes to a workplace unprepared to succeed.

  • Preparing young people to succeed and learn new skills by providing training and professional development on work readiness and other topics, including financial capability.

  • Supporting youth and supervisors to maximize learning and development by structuring the job placement and monitoring progress over the summer to address problems that arise and provide guidance to supervisors on working with young people.

  • Connecting the summer program to other educational, employment, and youth development services so that the summer program both feeds into and draws from other community resources.

Capacity and infrastructure

  • Ensuring sufficient staff capacity and capability to deliver critical program elements at a high level of quality, executing with clear roles, sufficient staff training, and coordination across partner organizations.

  • Deploying information technologies to improve program management and communication among partners and participants, including information management systems to streamline enrollment and job matching and to strengthen tracking and evaluation.

  • Simplifying coordination and strengthening training through partnership management tools, such as sample job descriptions and assessment tools that help structure the work experience and support youth and worksite supervisors.

We concluded that it is harder than most people think to run a high-quality summer youth employment program and to measure progress towards the goal of helping young people improve their skills and job prospects. We also concluded that it is both easy and unwise to expect too much of a summer jobs program, especially for the most vulnerable and unprepared young people, who typically need more intensive and longer-term services. Ideally, the current wave of energy and investments in summer jobs programs around the country will inspire and empower cities to step back from the day-to-day management of a summer jobs program and assess their program design and organizational capacity against the ultimate goal:  helping young people succeed in their communities and in the workplace.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Back to School!

As youth and their families all over DC prepare to head back to their classrooms (and for students in 10 DC Public Schools, they're already back), we thought we'd post some back-to-school tips.

Safe Track
DC Public Schools released a document to highlight the impact of WMATA's Safe Track plan on the ability of students to get to school in a timely fashion. And while the document highlights which schools each "Surge" could affect, between updates to Safe Track since it began as well as varying ways in which schools are accommodating students that are adversely affected, we recommend student parents, guardians, and caregivers reach out directly to understand how each school will handle any effects Safe Track may have on a student's attendance and punctuality, despite alternative planning for transportation.

School Supplies Drives
Keep an eye out for a drive to collect school supplies in your neighborhood and even your workplace. In the building where our offices are located, there's a drive to support our neighbors, the students at Thomson Elementary School.

Not sure where to start? Check out DCPS' site on how you can give directly to a school near you.

DC Hunger Solutions is a great resource. They include information about the School Breakfast and Lunch Programs, as well as After School Suppers and Snacks options.

In addition to guiding visitors to these programs, they also have robust advocacy and informational resources on their website.

Out of School Time
As you may know, DCPS will be offering Out of School Time (OST) programs in 53 schools this school year. A number of our member organizations also offer OST programs throughout the year.

If you are considering enrichment activities for your youth, don't just check out either of the two links above, but please reach out to  us if you would like to be engaged in our OST advocacy efforts, as well.

DC Re-Engagement Center
For some of our older youth from 16 to 24 years old, the DC Re-Engagement Center is a great resource to connect them to. They provide support and services for DC youth who are not enrolled in school or other educational programs and who do not have a high school diploma or credential.

As we enter this final stretch of the summer, we hope you all stay cool and stay hydrated. We hope some of the links above are helpful and please share them forward!

- Your friends at DCAYA