Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Youth Voice: Afterschool Partnerships Expand Learning for DCPS Students

This week we’re bringing you the testimony of Nana Asare, an alum of DC SCORES. At last week’s April 14 budget hearing on DCPS, Mr. Asare was joined by Katrina Owens, DC SCORES’ chief of staff and a former DCPS teacher. A recent DCAYA survey of 51 community-based organizations like DC SCORES showed that 83% of kids served after school by those organizations in DC this year were in DCPS. We believe that when DCPS schools and staff actively collaborate with quality programs like DC SCORES to ensure harmony and integration, it yields the best possible experience for students. Nana’s testimony tells such a story.

My name is Nana Asare.  I am a DC SCORES alum and 19 years old. I graduated from Wilson SHS in 2014. I have been a student at Johnson State College where I participated on the soccer team. I joined the DC SCORES program at Brightwood Elementary School in 4th grade. It changed my life.
DC SCORES alum Nana Asare (far right) testifies to the DC Council Committee on Education.
DC SCORES chief of staff Katrina Owens, who also testified, is seated to his right. (April 14, 2016)

My family emigrated from Ghana when I was 2.  Before joining the DC SCORES team I was hard headed, stubborn and had a lot of behavioral issues.  My principal encouraged me to join the DC SCORES team and it changed how I saw myself, my school, and my community. From that day on, DC SCORES and soccer became a huge part of my life. 

DC SCORES provided me a place to succeed and belong.  As I continued in school I continued playing soccer and engaging with SCORES. As a student at Wilson SHS I was a member of the varsity soccer team.  I also volunteered with DC SCORES every summer as a Jr Camp Counselor. It was important to me to make sure that kids currently in the program had an opportunity to find success and their voice like I did.

As a fourth grader at Brightwood Elementary School,
Nana Asare celebrates a goal with his DC SCORES teammates.
When I work with the program I see the kids looking up to me because I was once in their shoes. I take a lot of pride in it and I make sure that whatever message I send out is one that I would want my own younger siblings to live by. I also don’t want them to be as hard headed as I was. I choose my words carefully because I know they will remember it forever. Like I remember my Coach Nelson saying to me “always keep your head up and keep pushing.” She told me to never let anyone tell me that I cannot do something. That I should believe in myself. 

To this day Ms. Nelson and I are very close. When I came home over the last winter break she took me and my brothers out to eat. When I think about my overall DCPS experience I think about how DC SCORES gave me an opportunity to connect with my teachers. I felt like they got to understand me and my needs better and it helped us to get along in the classroom.

DC SCORES is important because it gives kids (and adults) a place to belong. It gave me a sense of hope. DC SCORES was a crucial part of my education experience. It changed how I saw myself and my school community. It also provided me with the opportunity to meet caring adults who I still cherish and count on to this day.


Following Mr. Asare’s testimony, Katrina Owens testified that DC SCORES and DCPS share the common goal that students succeed in school and life, and that expanded learning programs extend the reach and resources of DCPS. 

“Community partners like us can and do plan a powerful role in realizing that goal. Not only do we provide programming, but we bring significant private funds to the table. For every dollar of local government funding we receive, we raise and deploy more than two dollars of private money. This year alone we are bringing well over $1 million in private resources to bear on student outcomes.”

DCAYA believes that with more partnerships like these which we already have in place, DC will have what it takes to offer all our kids enriching out-of-school time learning experiences and the gains in achievement, engagement, wellness and social-emotional growth that come with them. But to do this on the scale that is needed, policy makers, funders, intermediaries and educational leaders must embrace an approach that fully integrates expanded learning into our public education continuum.

For more information on how to get involved in advocating for increased access to expanded learning opportunities for all DCPS students, reach out to DCAYA's policy analyst, Joseph Gavrilovich, at

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