Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The release of Solid Foundations DC and our latest Youth Homelessness Issue Brief

On Monday of this week, we joined community partners at the Hill Center for the release of Solid Foundations DC, a Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness in the Distrcit by 2022.


We were thrilled to help provide logistics support for this joint event, presented by the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region and the District Interagency Council on Homelessness. The event was kicked off by remarks from Bruce McNamer, President and CEO of the Community Foundation, and HyeSook Chung, the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services.


Kristy Greenwalt, Director of the District ICH, then walked us through highlights from the plan, from the research that informed it to the strategies developed to execute it. She reiterated that this plan was the culmination of an inter sector collaborative effort and data-driven priorities.


Director Greenwalt's presentation was followed by a panel with Maggie Riden, DCAYA's Executive Director, moderating. The panel included both youth served by and providers working at the Department of Human ServicesCasa RubyHIPS DC, the Latin American Youth Center, and Sasha Bruce Youthworks.


The event was well attended with many individuals across various sectors who are all invested in ending youth homelessness in the District. And we look forward to supporting the work of the plan, by doing what we do best and ensuring that legislation, policy, and funding over the next 5 years keeps our youth a priority, particularly those experiecning homelesness, in adequately and appropriately implementing this plan.

Today at noon, Council held a joint Public Oversight Roundtable on Solid Foundations DC. Today, we've also released our latest Youth Homelessness Issue Brief. We hope you check it out and share it, and continue to join us in making sure youth homelesness is a rare occurence by 2022.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Empowering the youth of DC

This month, as the school year winds down and summer is just around the corner, we have a guest blog post from Laura Irene, a board member and overall rock star volunteer with Girls Rock! DC.

The youth have a lot to teach us, it’s up to us as adults to listen and figure out ways to give them the tools they need to realize their power.  At Girls Rock! DC (GR!DC) that is exactly what we aim to do.  As a board member, events coordinator and dj instructor/coach for GR!DC I have been given an opportunity to create, build and support our youth by building positive outlets and encouraging creative spaces for youth.  With a base in music education, Girls Rock! DC aims to create a supportive, inclusive, and creative space for girls, and non-binary, and trans youth of varying racial, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds; abilities; identities; and experiences to develop their self-confidence, build community, stand up, and rock out!

I first discovered GR!DC as a journalist with The Vinyl District. I visited the camp during the 2013 summer and interviewed some of the instructors and the youth.  It was in that experience that I really fell in love with the organization and yearned to be a part of it.  I joined leadership a year later and feel that I have been able to add my unique voice as a women of color to the table alongside those that started the organization 10 years ago.  Which speaking of, this year is our 10th anniversary! While I have not been with GR!DC for all ten years, I am grateful to those that came before me that laid the groundwork for this organization to exist in DC.  We meet every other week throughout the year, which can be a thankless and laborious task as it takes a lot to keep such an organization alive.  None of us would dedicate our time to this organization if we didn’t feel it was worth it, and what is worth it, are the youth we serve.  They are the most amazing little and semi-big humans on this planet! We keep going for them.

I have the honor of getting to know our campers as they develop their instrumental abilities, which is always exciting.  As a dj coach and instructor, it is really funny when the campers discover a vinyl record.  One the first day of camp we take a trip to the record store and have them shop for a couple of records to use in their sets.  We take a while in the store as they try out their records.  One of my favorite memories of shopping at the record store was with my youngest camper, an eight year old.  She would listen to a record (mind you, she just discovered what a record was) and in a matter of seconds decide whether or not she liked it.  When she didn’t like one, her facial expression told us all it would go in the NO WAY pile.  She ended up playing all of the records at the fastest speed, which really hyped her and her fellow djs up. I love how their sense of music and how they like it played comes out as they prepare their sets.  It was so exciting to see this 8 year old hang and keep up with the older kids, she was just as capable.  That’s the amazing part, no matter your age, you have the ability to rise to any level you want if you put in the work.

The accumulation of their hard work is seen at the showcase at the 9:30 Club every year, which is such an exciting time for everyone involved.  Our campers are nervous in the day leading up to their showcase but once they get there and are on stage they are literally professionals.  As a dj coach, it is really special to see the djs entertain the crowd with their new skills.  I feel like a proud mom on the sidelines! Haha, and every year I cry at their talent. But most of all seeing them become fierce and unafraid is so special.  Not only have they mastered their techniques but their self-confidence beams from their faces as they perform. It’s the best experience to see them all feel like stars on the stage and see what everyone else sees in them every day.

While this is a music camp, we also make sure to have workshops that will hopefully get the youth to think more about their roles on this planet. Last year we had a workshop on the School to Prison pipeline given by OnRae LaTeal of Aflocentric. During her talk with our teen youth, she asked everyone to step in the middle of the room if they felt safe at their schools.  Only 2 of the youth stepped forward.  She then she asked them to step in the middle of the room if they felt safe at camp and all of them stepped forward.  That was chilling moment for me.  It’s hard for me to know that so many of our youth feel unsafe in their schools. at the same time, it was extremely moving to know that we create a safe space for them during that week of camp.  It makes me emotional to think about it.  That’s why no matter how hard the administrative and planning can get, it is always worth it.  It’s not about us it is only about the youth.

A brief history of Girls Rock! DC, following in the footsteps of girls rock camps across the United States, Girls Rock! DC was founded in October 2007 by an all-volunteer collective of DC metro area musicians, teachers, artists and community organizers.  We build upon our diverse musical backgrounds, connections to local youth, and approaches to grassroots organizing to create a week-long day camp for Washington, D.C. area youth ages 8-18.  During the week, campers receive small-group instruction on electric guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, turntables, digital music, or vocals; form bands, and collaborate to write an original song or DJ set, which they perform at a showcase at the end of the week.  This year our summer camp runs from June 26 – Friday, June 30 with our FANTASTIC Camper Showcase on Saturday, July 1st! Please be on the lookout for the announcement on our facebook page and website.


A really cool addition to our summer camp and one that I am not sure a lot of people know of is our afterschool program called GR!ASP (Girls Rock! After School Program).  It is as equally amazing as our summer camp and there are a few volunteers who basically run it year round.  It is typically run at a DC school that hosts it and we then bring our gear and instructors to their school to run it.   The GRASP showcase is another tear jerker! June 4th is the date for that showcase at Comet Ping Pong, which we hope to sell out! Our GRASP campers recently had the opportunity to open for the band Diet Cig at the Rock and Roll Hotel last month, so they are more than ready to rock the stage in a couple of weeks!

Laura Irene board member, events coordinator and dj instructor/coach for GR!DC. She can be reached at laurairene@girlsrockdc.org.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The DC Budget Squeeze, a post from DC Fiscal Policy Institute

This week, we are featuring a blog post from DC Fiscal Policy Institute, with their permission. While we've spent the past month highlighting various FY2018 Budget asks that are backed by sound research and community input, we wanted to raise up what could be a quintessential piece of the funding pie, regarding tax cuts whose postponement could be key to insuring we make the investments we need to, so that we continue to make progress on supporting some of our most underserved.

The DC Budget Squeeze: Tax Cuts and Key Spending Demands Left No Room for Other Progress

May 3rd, 2017

The District is enjoying tremendous prosperity, yet there isn’t enough money in the proposed DC budget to support schools adequately or to make meaningful progress on ending chronic homelessness. In fact, funding for most parts of the budget will be smaller next year than this year.

How can that be?

One factor is beyond DC policymakers’ control: A lot of money will be sucked up next year by rising school enrollment, Metro’s woes, and a few other needs. But the other factor is something Mayor Bowser and the Council fully control: tax cuts. The proposed budget allows $100 million in tax cuts to go forward—triggered by a policy set three years ago—which left no room for things that matter a lot to DC residents and our economy.

With the budget now in the hands of the DC Council, they can choose to hold off on tax cuts so that badly needed investments can be made. In particular, the Council should reconsider plans to eliminate taxes on estates worth $5.5 million and to cut taxes on business benefiting from DC’s prosperity. Both the estate tax and business income tax have already been cut in recent years, by the way.

Read the rest of this blog by Ed Lazere here.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

DCAYA Budget Advocacy Day on May 11


The District's proposed FY2018 budget leaves significant funding gaps for a number of key programs that could better address the needs of the children and youth we serve every day.

Call to Action: we invite all our members and youth-serving organizations from throughout the District to join us at the Wilson Building on Thursday, May 11 to meet with Councilmembers and staff to advocate for a more youth-friendly District budget for FY2018!

Council markup on the mayor's proposed budget is scheduled for May 16-18, so May 11 is a critical time to reach out to members and remind them of the importance of our budget asks for DC's youth, which include:

  • Transportation: $2 million to extend transportation subsidies to adult and alternative learners through the School Transit Subsidy Program
  • Youth Homelessness: Up to $3.3 million more to fully fund the Year One objectives of the Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness
  • Expanded Learning: An additional $5.1 million to fund the new Office of Out-of-School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes and better meet the need for quality youth development programming
  • Youth Workforce Development: A comprehensive implementation plan for coordinating and funding youth workforce development initiatives to build on the progress of DC’s WIOA State Plan
  • Per-Pupil Funding: A 3.5% increase in per-pupil funding in the FY18 budget to bring DCPS closer to an adequate standard for education funding next school year
  • Proposed Tax Cuts: Ensure revenue is available to fund these and other critical priorities by delaying the $40 million in estate tax and business tax cuts slated for 2018

On Advocacy Day, we'll walk around the Wilson Building and visit Councilmember offices in teams. A DCAYA staff member will join each team to help support messaging and follow-up.

In order to make the most of your time as we reach out to Council staff, we ask that you RSVP for multiple time slots throughout the day on DCAYA Budget Advocacy Day. After you RSVP, you will also receive an invite to join us on an optional strategy call at 11am on Tuesday, May 9.

Thank you for all you do and we hope to see you on May 11!

And in case you missed it, check out our Actions for Budget Advocacy - Week 4 email.

Monday, April 24, 2017

#DCFY18 Budget Advocacy: Up to $5.7 million Toward Ending Youth Homelessness

Throughout budget season, we’ll be sharing talking points around the #DCFY18 Budget as it relates to our asks of Council and the Mayor for DCAYA’s key issue areas, which have included spotlights on Expanded Learning and Disconnected Youth. We conclude this week with Youth Homelessness.

THE ASK: Up to $3.3 million in additional funding to fully fund Year 1 of the Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness

The DC Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) approved the Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness in December 2016, and the plan includes a five-year projection for scaling services to youth experiencing homelessness. The plan proposes expanding existing services (transitional housing, crisis beds, PSH) as well as bringing new services for youth online (youth rapid re-housing, aftercare) in the first year, the cost of which we estimate to be $5.7 million.

Funding in the mayor's proposed budget for FY18 falls short of that mark, at just $2.4 million, meaning we'll need to work through Council to get to the investment we know is needed if we are serious about ensuring that by the end of 2022, homelessness among people age 24 is a rare, brief and non-recurring experience.

NOW: What are the needed program enhancements and what can be accomplished in the next year?

  • Aftercare and Prevention Services: We presently do not have an aftercare support system in place for youth who have experienced homelessness, meaning that a key service for preventing returns to homelessness is not being met. While the Plan calls for an upfront and full-scale investment to fund more than 60 aftercare slots in its first year, the budget as proposed only funds 20 of these slots.
  • Youth Shelter Beds: While it is understood that a bed in a shelter setting is not an acceptable replacement for a home, the annual census of youth experiencing homelessness reveals a present and persistent need for more safe and low-barrier access to beds for young people in crisis. The Plan calls for increasing our present capacity by 32 beds in its first year and then adding steadily and as needed in future years, but the budget as proposed funds just 20 additional beds.
  • Transitional Housing: Transitional living programs remain a vital intervention in the current system, and those that serve youth in a developmentally appropriate and culturally competent setting are all the more important given the need. They offer a more structured placement than shelter beds, and the Plan calls for 15 new units in its first year with a steady increase in future years to reach full scale by year five; the budget as proposed funds 10 additional units.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing: There are relatively few PSH units set aside for youth in the current system, and as we scale up other housing intervention programs for youth, it is important that PSH keeps pace to ensure that young people in those programs who are found to need ongoing case management and mental health supports have a place to go. The Plan calls for 16 new units in its first year; the budget as proposed funds 10 additional units.
  • Rapid Re-Housing for Youth: Beginning in FY18, DC will bring online a rent-subsidized housing program specifically for youth. While this is an exciting development, and the Plan calls for an ambitious scale in its first and future years, we also recognize that Youth Rapid Re-Housing programs are an option among a diverse array of programs in the District which will need to grow and evolve with our young people. With that in mind, we see the 20 units as proposed in the budget as a good start, and would encourage DHS to pursue efficiency and frequent program evaluation to maximize the impact of funding allotted for this program in its initial year.

Current performance indicates that DHS is poised to work with youth providers to meet the objectives of Year 1 of the Plan by deploying the funds for launching and enhancing the above programs.

For the current fiscal year, $2.3 million in new investments were committed in the FY17 budget to serve more youth experiencing homelessness. With those funds, DHS has to date:

  • Funded a new LGBTQ transitional housing site-based program at SMYAL (8 beds)
  • Funded a new LGBTQ transitional housing apartment-based program at the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) (6 beds)
  • Extended low-barrier crisis beds at Casa Ruby beyond hypothermia season through the end of this fiscal year (14 beds)
  • Supported additional staff at youth drop-in centers at Sasha Bruce Youthwork and LAYC
  • Increased youth street outreach support at Friendship Place
  • Set up a 6-person youth homelessness prevention team at DHS

HOW: Help advocate for funding toward ending youth homelessness in the #DCFY18 Budget

  • Please sign up to testify at the Budget Hearing for the Department of Human Services on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
  • To sign up to testify, you can email humanservices@dccouncil.us, or call the Committee on Human Services at 202-724-8170.

NEXT: Please sign up for updates from DCAYA to stay informed about our budget advocacy and our upcoming Youth Advocacy Day on May 11!

And in case you missed it, check out our Actions for Budget Advocacy - Week 3 email.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

#DCFY18 Budget Advocacy: $2M in Transportation Subsidies for Nontraditional Students

Throughout budget season, we’ll be sharing talking points around the #DCFY18 Budget as it relates to our asks of Council and the Mayor for DCAYA’s key issue areas. You can reference our previous spotlight on Expanded Learning here. We’ll continue this week with Disconnected Youth.

THE ASK: $2 million to expand the unlimited bus and rail component of the School Transit Subsidy program (i.e., Kids Ride Free) to all District residents enrolled in publicly funded adult education programs.

While the Council has made progress towards expanding the program by introducing the Adult Learners Transit Subsidy Amendment Act of 2017, our ask needs to be funded in this budget cycle to ensure adult learners and re-engaging youth receive transportation support in the next year. We are requesting that the expansion is legislated through this year’s Budget Support Act to ensure the program is adequately legislated and funded.

NOW: Why additional transportation funding matters to youth, and why we believe it is a sound investment in FY18
  • Significant Financial Burden: Re-engaging youth and adult learners balance many competing demands to prioritize their return to school. Unlike students under age 22—who have free Metro and bus transportation through Kids Ride Free—students aged 22+ pay the full price. In 2016, a DCAYA survey of re-engaging youth ages 22-24 found that 83% of respondents were spending approximately one-fifth or more of their income getting to and from their programs. Such high spending on transportation means there’s less money available for students to keep themselves and their families financially stable.
  • Undermines DC’s second-chance system: Expanding the program with $2 million stands to leverage the District’s current investment of over $80 million in local and federal dollars to support educational instruction for adult learners. If students cannot afford to get to class, they can’t fully benefit from these investments in their success. DCAYA’s survey also found 21% of surveyed youth 22-24 missed class 3 or more times a month due to insufficient transportation funds. Most programs are less than 40 weeks long, so these youth missed 13% of their program’s total class time because they could not afford to get there.
  • The Problem Will Get Worse: Metro will move forward with a fare hike in July. Currently, taking the bus to class can cost a student $70 per month. The $0.25 bus fare hike will add $10 to that monthly expense. With many DC households living on less than $10,000 a year, transportation costs for just one person could consume 10 percent of a family’s limited income.
  • The Expansion Leverages Existing Policy: Through Kids Ride Free, DDOT and WMATA have negotiated a contractually-bound daily rate for each pupil of $0.65. Therefore, the cost of providing transportation assistance through Kids Ride Free is likely to be much more cost effective than other ways of funding such a program. 
HOW: Help advocate for transportation funding in the #DCFY18 Budget
  • Please sign up to testify at the Budget Hearing for the District Department of Transportation on Monday, April 24, 2017 at 11 am in Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
  • To sign up to testify, please email Aukima Benjamin at abenjamin@dccouncil.us or call 202-724-8062.
  • Whether or not you can testify at the hearing, please email, call, and/or tweet your Councilmember(s) in support of our ask using the hashtag #KeepStudentsOnTrack. For sample tweets, scripts and Council contact information, check these out: Transportation Email, Call, & Tweet Scripts
NEXT: Please check back here next week for more on our Youth Homelessness #DCFY18 budget ask.


And in case you missed it, here's our Actions for Budget Advocacy - Week 2 email for more ways to get involved this budget season!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

#DCFY18 Budget Advocacy: $10 million for Expanded Learning

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be sharing talking points around the #DCFY18 Budget as it relates to our asks of Council and the Mayor for DCAYA’s key issue areas. We begin this week with Expanded Learning.

THE ASK: $5.1 million in additional funding to the Office of Out-of-School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes

Funding for out-of-school time (OST) in the Mayor's proposed budget was kept flat at $4.9 million, meaning we'll need to work collaboratively with Council to get to the full $10 million dollar investment we know is needed.

NOW: Why additional OST funding matters to youth, and why we believe it is a sound investment in FY18
  • Impact on Kids: Quality programs with a youth development focus show positive impacts on kids’ academic gains, participation in school, social and emotional development, and overall health, and research shows that the greatest gains from these outcomes are shown to be for youth who are considered “at risk” of academic failure due to poverty; declining funding means fewer of these outcomes for District youth.
  • Declining Funding and Access: Local funding for community-based OST programs has declined by 60% since 2010, resulting today in only a quarter of the locally-funded slots for community-based afterschool and summer learning that were there for kids just six years ago (from close to 10,000 in 2010 to under 2,500 in 2016). Much of this decline happened as funds were administered through the DC Trust, and reluctance to invest over the years has been understandable given the Trust’s mismanagement over that time period. 
  • New Youth Office, New Opportunity to Invest in Kids: With the Trust’s dissolution and the creation of the new Youth Office, we have a structure for OST to be led with accountability and authority; the Commission offers community-based governance and strong potential for cross-sector and family and youth collaboration, and an in-government entity can better ensure access to student-level data to yield shared, measurable outcomes.
  • Turning the Trend: We see an opportunity ahead in FY2018 to scale up locally-funded afterschool programs in the District to better meet the OST needs of youth and their communities. We are convinced the time is right to inform and influence the re-creation of the youth development system here in the District with the strongest investment in expanded learning we’ve seen in years. This year, we support an initial $10 million dollar investment in expanded learning programs through the new Youth Office in the FY18 budget. This funding will support community-based OST providers to better meet the needs of some 6,000 additional children and youth.
  • Leading Locally in Face of Federal Threats: All of this will also serve to counter potential loss of federal funds; The proposed elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program (which provides before- and after-school enrichment, tutoring and other services) would mean $1.2 billion eliminated from the expanded learning space nationally; DC’s share of this federal funding in FY16 was approximately $6.3 million, with an FY17 allocation closer to $5 million.

HOW: Help advocate for OST funding in the #DCFY18 Budget
  • Please sign up to testify at the Budget Hearing for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 10 am in Room 123 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
  • You can sign up to testify at this link or by calling the Committee on Education at 202-724-8061.

NEXT: Please check back here next week for more on our Youth Workforce Development and Disconnected Youth #DCFY18 budget asks, and the following week for Youth Homelessness.

And in case you missed it, check out our Actions for Budget Advocacy - Week 1 email.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The FY2018 Budget Sells Our Youth Short

As you may have heard the Mayor's proposed FY18 budget, DC Values in Action, was released Tuesday. While we've only done an initial analysis a few things stood out.

First, we're thrilled to see that the proposed budget comes close to maintaining recommended TANF benefits for the over 10,000 children who were at risk of losing assistance this year.

Other areas of the budget are less positive:
  • Funding for Out-of-School Time was kept flat at $4.9 million meaning we'll need to work collaboratively with council to get the full $10 million dollar investment we know we need.
  • The homelessness budget increases youth housing services by $2.4 million; $3.3 million lower than anticipated. One bright note, the PASS and ACE diversion programs both saw modest boosts for next year.
  • School funding only saw a 1.5% increase; 2 percentage points less than recommended by the per-pupil funding formula task force.
  • Our modest transportation ask - $2 million to reduce a major barrier for adult and reconnecting learners- was NOT funded. 
We joined DC Fiscal Policy Institute, Bread for the City, Children's Law Center, Jews United for Justice and Miriam's Kitchen in a Press Release that was issued earlier today which breaks down other areas of the budget.  We strongly recommend reading it.

We'll continue to dig into the budget this week and will be sending out our April Newsletter (filled with some key opportunities to get involved) tomorrow. Equally exciting we'll be launching a new budget advocacy tool for members on Monday. So keep an eye out!

In the meantime, here are Budget Hearing dates. All hearings are held at the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. If you wish to testify, you may sign up here or directly contact the committee staff persons listed below. Some of these agency hearings are held concurrently with other agencies under the committee jurisdiction. Please note that dates & times subject to change. Check the Council website for updated schedule: bit.ly/dcfy18budget. And you can watch hearings live here.

To testify: sign up here or call 202-724-8061

Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education
Budget Hearing: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 10 am in Room 123

Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 11 am in Room 120

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) - Public Witnesses Only
Budget Hearing: Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500

District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL)
Budget Hearing: Monday, May 1, 2017 at 11 am in Room 412

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) – Government Witnesses Only
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412

Public Charter School Board
Budget Hearing: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412

State Board of Education
Budget Hearing: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412


To testify contact: Sarina Loy, sloy@dccouncil.us or 202-724-8058

Commission on the Arts and Humanities
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 10 am in Room 123

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 10 am in Room 123


To testify: email humanservices@dccouncil.us or call 202-724-8170

Department of Disability Services and Office of Disability Rights
Budget Hearing: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at Noon in Room 500

Child and Family Services Agency
Budget Hearing: Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412

Department of Human Services
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500

Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services
Budget Hearing: Thursday, May 9, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412


To testify contact: Charnisa Royster, croyster@dccouncil.us or 202-724-7772

Department of Employment Services
Budget Hearing: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500

Workforce Investment Council
Budget Hearing: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500


To testify contact: Aukima Benjamin, abenjamin@dccouncil.us or 202-724-8062

District Department of Transportation
Budget Hearing: Monday, April 24, 2017 at 11 am in Room 500

Department of Parks and Recreation
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412


To testify: email cow@dccouncil.us or call 202-724-8196

University of the District of Columbia
Budget Hearing: Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 11 am in Room 123

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Youth Advocacy for Action Summit Highlights

This week, DC Alliance of Youth Advocates convened a summit for peers, colleagues and friends from across the DCAYA community to dig a bit deeper into the challenges our youth face, and help inform how we will respond now and in the years to come as we continue our collective work to make sure all our young people are safe and stable, able to grow and thrive.

Here are some highlights from Twitter.



Thank you to all of our attendees. A special thank you to our board members and facilitators. And we are especially grateful to the sponsors who helped make this event possible.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Are you coming to our Youth Advocacy for Action Summit?

DCAYA is hosting our Youth Advocacy for Action Summit in just one week!


As we are in that lull between DC Council's Performance Oversight and Budget Hearings, we thought it would be a great opportunity to gather together.

We already have about 200 people coming to strategize and plan on March 29. Next week, we plan on tackling the many issues facing our youth, with a deep focus on action and collaboration. DCAYA is particularly excited with all the partners helping to guide breakout discussions focused on issue areas outside our own four.

This is a unique chance to brainstorm and join facilitated conversations with local and national experts on the issues our communities work on every day, and addressing how funding, legislation, and policy affect:

  • Girls and Women of Color
  • Boys and Men of Color
  • Youth Development/Afterschool
  • LGBTQ Youth
  • K-12 Education
  • Workforce and Disconnected Youth
  • Mental, Physical and Behavioral Health
  • Undocumented Children, Youth and Families
  • Housing and Homelessness

With the DC budget set to be released in just over two weeks, now is the time to come together to ensure we can serve our populations.

Registration ends this Friday, March 24, at noon. So if you haven't RSVP'ed yet, make sure to do so soon!


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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Youth Workforce Development Testimony from today's Hearing from Amy Dudas

This morning, the Council of the District of Columbia's  Committee on Labor and Workforce Development had their Performance Hearing for the Department of Employment Services and the Workforce Investment Council. Amy Dudas, one of our Policy Analysts, provided testimony.

***

Good morning Chairperson Silverman, fellow councilmembers and committee staff. My name is Amy Dudas and I am here to testify on behalf of the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA), a coalition of over 130 youth-serving organizations operating here in the District to provide our feedback and recommendations to this committee on DOES and the WIC.

I’d like to open my testimony by acknowledging the continued commitment of both DOES and the WIC over the last year to foster inter-agency collaboration , integrate program design for special populations, and to encourage high standards across the District’s workforce agencies. We have been happy to see continued planning and early benchmarks met in the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). DOES has laudably enhanced the diversity of its services to special populations of youth, including youth with disabilities.  As the agency continues this important work, we encourage the training of agency staff to ensure that accessibility is maximized and youth disclosure considerations are handled appropriately. Additionally, the WIC should be leveraged in its oversight and coordination role to ensure this more diverse youth portfolio is streamlined and strategically designed across federal and local funding streams in the coming year.  With that, I’d like to turn my testimony to some specific pieces of feedback from 2016 and targeted recommendations for the year to come.

Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP): 
At a projected investment of $17.1 million for FY16 and serving nearly 14,000 youth, the DOES-administered Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP) continues to represent the District’s largest investment in youth workforce development, and an important entry point into the District’s broader workforce system.  In highlighting any shortcomings in this testimony, we aim to bolster the improvement plans we know are already underway for program year 2017.

Ensure Quality Placements
DOES continued to identify areas of potential MBSYEP quality improvement in FY16. Selected as a 2016 Summer Impact Hub by the White House, the agency was supported in its goal to secure 1,500 private sector slots for youth with the addition of 23 new participating businesses. Along this vein, DOES must continue to work to cultivate effectively prepared and diverse host sites and recruit future host sites on the basis of quality . We are encouraged to hear that DOES has plans underway to emphasize the development of SYEP curricula with host sites through Host Employer workshops, and hope this strategy will be maximized to ensure consistent quality across all host sites.

Leverage Expansion 
The 2016 SYEP also saw the continued program expansion to serve up to 1,000 youth ages 22-24. DCAYA hopes to see this especially vulnerable population of older youth with self-reported difficulty accessing the labor market connected with appropriate next-step options at the conclusion of this summer opportunity. To maximize the benefit of the MBSYEP expansion to youth ages 22-24, we hope to see the continued emphasis on tracked outcomes in the form of intentional and successful handoffs between SYEP and employment, training and/or education.  Last year, the MBSYEP Summer Report was tremendously helpful in ensuring these efforts were executed to high standards of quality and transparency, and we encourage the continuation of this annual publication as a way to demonstrate progress towards those goals.

Maximize the District’s Investment
Given SYEP’s expansive reach (it serves 60% of DC youth aged 14-21) and cost (almost $17.1 million dollars in local funding), it is imperative that the MBSYEP become an outcomes-driven program with well-articulated roles for all stakeholders. We recommend that the DC Auditor’s evaluations be replicated by a third party expert in program year 2017 to support DOES in reaching these goals . Further, we echo the DC Auditor’s recommendation that DOES can more effectively collaborate with DCPS, the Charters and OSSE to ensure connectivity between the MBSYEP experience, summer bridge programs, CTE coursework and year-round employment opportunities. Some of this planning is included in the District’s Draft WIOA State Plan, but we hope the summer of 2017 will provide the opportunity to further implement these plans.

Youth Workforce Development Programs/ WIOA Youth Programs:

Improve Transparency of WIOA Contracting Process 
In FY16, the District successfully ramped up program enrollment to 207 OSY and 90 ISY participants through the implementation of Human Care Agreement contracting process. While this increased participation marks a turning point in the District’s federally-funded youth programming, it remains unclear which local providers have received contracts to provide these services, how many youth are being served in each program, and if these programs are aligned with the educational and training needs of youth or the District’s growth industries. The Department of Labor will start holding states publically accountable to performance outcomes starting in the summer of 2018, but DOES should be using this interim period to work with the WIC to ensure that quality, aligned and compliant programs are in place. It is also important to note that without a clear, shared vision of how the District’s youth workforce development system should be enhanced over time, providers are unable to make organizational planning and investment decisions  that align with District-wide youth workforce development goals.

Streamline Contracting Process
While Human Care Agreement (HCA) contracts have proven a helpful tool in designing a diverse workforce system from the perspective of the District’s workforce agencies, it is important to acknowledge the challenges they can pose for providers. The HCA process is often lengthy as it moves through multiple phases. To a prospective contractor, deadline windows are usually only a couple of weeks, while waiting for a next step of the process to begin can take months. Though we still think the HCA process is a key tool in the design and responsiveness of the District’s youth workforce development system, we hope to see its administration and timeliness improve into FY17 and beyond.

Utilize WIC Oversight and Diverse Stakeholders to Streamline the Youth System
With WIOA’s emphasis on serving the most vulnerable workers, expanding education and training options, helping disadvantaged youth earn while they learn, and aligning planning and accountability polices across core programs, the District will be required to further alter the design of our current workforce programming. The WIC must be positioned to lead and coordinate the city’s strategic vision for its workforce system, with authority to direct both local and federal funding.

Beyond these top-down stakeholder considerations, it’s also important to emphasize the critical role that youth and youth providers play in bringing unforeseen implementation challenges to the forefront, piloting new strategies, and representing the real-time needs and priorities of the youth. Moving forward, we hope the newly established Youth Committee of the WIC will continue to engage community, business, provider, and youth representatives in its work to maximize the effectiveness and connectivity of the District’s youth workforce development programs. Creating consistent opportunities to understand the decision-making process of government partners, garner the buy-in of diverse stakeholders, and voice concerns can go a long way in building the cohesive, data-driven, and holistic system of workforce development with, and for, youth.

Thank you, and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.

***

If YOU have any questions about this, please feel free to email us.

And if you are looking for more ways to involved in Youth Advocacy, as an individual or part of a community based, youth-serving organization, consider joining us in just two weeks at our Youth Advocacy for Action Summit!
And thank you to the following Sponsors who helped make this event possible.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Arts Education Month: 3 Stories of 3 Ways Art Promotes Positive Youth Development

March is National Arts Education Month, and with today's blog, we are highlighting the work of Project Create, a community-based nonprofit that promotes creative youth development through accessible arts education for children, youth and families experiencing homelessness and poverty in Washington, D.C.

At Project Create, we believe that “art has the power to transform, to illuminate, to educate, inspire and motivate” (Harvey Fierstein). Arts education complements in-school learning and serves as an important tool for positive youth development. 

We'd like to share three ways in which Project Create incorporates creative, positive youth development into our programming, and the stories of the young people served by each.

1) LUWANN: Art as Education
In the face of the urgent needs of our students, art makes a difference. We believe that “arts education is not a flower, but a wrench” (Rachel Goslins, President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities). 

A study by the National Endowment for the Arts found that at-risk kids exposed to the arts had better academic outcomes, higher career goals, and greater civic engagement. Thus, they contribute more to their communities, achieve more themselves, and have higher aspirations and hope—all from engaging in art! This conclusion is as clear in practice as it is in the research. At Project Create, we notice that our students are trying harder in school.
Sometimes Luwann brings her homework to our after-school open studio; she seeks help with challenging math problems, or asks one of our interns to quiz her on spelling words. When she succeeds at school, Luwann brings her A papers to us to celebrate. It is rewarding to watch Luwann’s growing commitment to her schoolwork. We love it that art is the hook that draws Lawann, a budding illustrator, into the Project Create studio, and once there, she finds the support she needs to succeed at school.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Youth Workforce Development - A Disability in the Workplace Issue

Last Thursday, we hosted our 2nd Intersectional Happy Hour, a quarterly series of events meant to provide an opportunity to dig a little deeper into how the issue areas we work in do not exist in silos. We kicked off this series in November by examining the intersection of Youth Homelessness and the LGBTQ community here in the District.

And last week we continued to explore how issues impacting our young people fit into the larger landscape of issues and trends affecting communities across the District of Columbia, by sharing a bit about how Disability in the Workplace relates to Youth Workforce Development.
With only a 10 minute or so presentation, the other main goal beyond being informative was to spark conversation and new connections. We are thankful to those who were able to join us last Thursday, and are especially grateful to the Midlands for providing the space. But in case you weren't able to make it, we wanted to share what was presented, for this week's blog.

The slides will auto-advance every 15 seconds upon loading, but please use the controls at the bottom to go at your own pace.


And as mentioned at the end, please contact Amy Dudas for additional information and resources.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Turning Point for Expanded Learning: Behind DCAYA’s Bold FY18 Budget Ask

In June of last year, DCAYA released a report which documented the declining trends in funding for and access to afterschool and summer expanded learning opportunities for DC children and youth. We noted that DC Public Schools (DCPS) elementary schools with the highest “at-risk” student enrollment also tended to have the lowest share of available afterschool enrollment slots through Out of School Time Programs (OSTP), and that the District’s FY16 budget included cuts to OSTP, with programs being offered at eight fewer DCPS Title I schools from SY2014-15 to SY2015-16. 

In addition, local funding for community-based out-of-school time (OST) programs had declined by 60% since 2010, resulting in only a quarter of the locally-funded slots for community-based afterschool and summer learning that were there for kids just six years earlier (from close to 10,000 in 2010 to under 2,500 in 2016). Much of this decline happened as funds were administered through the DC Trust, which closed its doors in September 2016.

Promising Trends. At the start of the current school year, there were 7,700 OSTP afterschool slots in DCPS, up from 6,790 the previous year, and the overall OSTP allocation in the FY2017 budget reflected a 33% increase from the previous school year. New funding covered OSTP programming at three additional schools, more than 800 additional afterschool enrollment spaces, and 183 added FTE positions to provide afterschool coverage at the schools. According to the School Budget Development Guide, DCPS is also adding three more schools to OSTP in FY2018. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Transportation Advocacy Letter for Re-engaging Youth & Adult Learners

DCAYA and our partners at the Adult and Family Literacy Coalition (DC AFLC) have drafted a letter to the City Administrator and Mayor's Budget Director that we'd like to have as many of our members, providers working with disconnected youth, and individual supporters as possible sign on to by Wednesday, February 22nd.

It is our goal to both elevate this ask as the Mayor's team develops her proposed budget, and to garner widespread support among Councilmembers and other key stakeholders in the case this ask will require Council advocacy later in the budget cycle. The letter applauds the DME's transportation report and recommendations, and reiterates the importance of supporting the District's adult and alternative education students.

The letter reads as follows. If you or your organization would like to be included as a signatory, please click on the link toward the end of this post to contact Amy Dudas (amy@dc-aya.org)with the name and title of the organization or individual you'd like to include on the letter:



February 24, 2017

Dear City Administrator Young and Budget Director Brown:

We, the undersigned, want to thank you for the leadership and commitment the Bowser Administration has demonstrated in exploring the transportation needs of the District’s adult learners, alternative education students, and formerly disconnected youth. In the effort to develop an effective and efficient policy solution to the persistent barrier transportation costs pose to this population of students, the Deputy Mayor for Education’s “Report on the Need for Transportation Subsidies and Assistance for Adult Learners” identified a much-needed path forward. As providers of and advocates for adult and alternative education, we especially appreciate the Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s and the Deputy Mayor for Education’s collaboration to identify the unmet need for transportation subsidies among these students, the impact of increased transportation costs on attendance and enrollment for this population, and the options available to provide affordable access to transportation for these learners.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

DCAYA's Advocacy Agenda for 2017

This week, we wanted to share our advocacy agenda, going into this year's Performance Oversight and Budget hearings. We've broken down our short term goals for the next year or so by our four main issue areas.

Youth Homelessness

One main goal is to scale up the capacity of our system to serve close to twice as many youth through developmentally appropriate and culturally competent services. To this end, we will be advocating for fully funding the first year objectives in Youth Strategic Plan, an investment of $5.7 million. Not limited to beds and transitional housing, this investment also includes building support for long term prevention and intervention strategies.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Progress Amidst Uncertainty - A recap of DCFPI's event

Yesterday, DC Fiscal Policy Institute hosted an event, co-sponsored by a number of local organizations, including DC Alliance of Youth Advocates. The event was called, "Progress Amidst Uncertainty: Making the Most of DC's 2018 Budget". Our entire team was in attendance, at the True Reformer Building.
Beverly Wheeler was our Emcee for the morning. Ms. Wheeler is the Director of DC Hunger Solutions, a nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger in the Nation's Capital.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Performance Oversight and Budget Hearings Set by Council

The DC Council has approved the schedule for the coming months’ performance oversight and budget hearings. Below we have noted the hearing dates and times that will be of interest to our members and the youth advocacy community, along with contact information for testifying. You can find our resources for advocacy season and advice for writing testimony in last year’s blog.

All hearings are held at the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. If you wish to testify, you may sign up here or directly contact the committee staff persons listed below. Some of these agency hearings are held concurrently with other agencies under the committee jurisdiction. You can find the full schedules posted on the DC Council’s website.

To testify: sign up here or call 202-724-8061

Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)
Performance Oversight: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 at 11 am in Room 412
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 11 am in Room 120

State Board of Education
Performance Oversight: Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 10 am in Room 123
Budget Hearing: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412

Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education
Performance Oversight: Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 10 am in Room 123
Budget Hearing: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 10 am in Room 123

District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL)
Performance Oversight: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412
Budget Hearing: Monday, May 1, 2017 at 11 am in Room 412

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) - Public Witnesses Only
Performance Oversight: Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500
Budget Hearing: Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500

Public Charter School Board
Performance Oversight: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at 10 am in Room 123
Budget Hearing: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) – Government Witnesses Only
Performance Oversight: Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412


To testify contact: Sarina Loy, sloy@dccouncil.us or 202-724-8058

Commission on the Arts and Humanities
Performance Oversight: Friday, February 17, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 10 am in Room 123

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)
Performance Oversight: Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 10 am in Room 123


To testify contact: Keiko Yoshino, kyoshino@dccouncil.us or 202-724-7774

Commission on Fathers, Men, and Boys
Performance Oversight: Friday, February 24, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412

Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Affairs
Performance Oversight: Friday, February 24, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412


To testify: email humanservices@dccouncil.us or call 202-724-8017

Department of Disability Services and Office of Disability Rights
Performance Oversight: Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412
Budget Hearing: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at Noon in Room 500

Child and Family Services Agency
Performance Oversight: Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500
Budget Hearing: Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412

Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services
Performance Oversight: Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500
Budget Hearing: Thursday, May 9, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412

Department of Human Services
Performance Oversight: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500

Interagency Council on Homelessness
Performance Oversight: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412


To testify contact: Charnisa Royster, croyster@dccouncil.us or 202-724-7772

Department of Employment Services
Performance Oversight: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500
Budget Hearing: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500

Workforce Investment Council
Performance Oversight: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500
Budget Hearing: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500


To testify contact: Aukima Benjamin, abenjamin@dccouncil.us or 202-724-8062

Department of Parks and Recreation
Performance Oversight: Friday, February 10, 2017 at 11am in Room 412
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412

District Department of Transportation
Performance Oversight: Monday, March 13, 2017 at 11 am in Room 500
Budget Hearing: Monday, April 24, 2017 at 11 am in Room 500


To testify: email cow@dccouncil.us or call 202-724-8196

University of the District of Columbia
Performance Oversight: Monday, March 13, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412
Budget Hearing: Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 11 am in Room 123

Watch hearings live here.

And please bookmark this post as well as the calendar on our website.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

When Is the New Year Again?

This week's guest column by Daniela Grigioni examines how uncertainty at the federal level, from the congressional budget to the presidential transition, impacts local service delivery. A shorter version of this op-ed runs this week in the Current.

Across the diverse community that is Washington, DC, we’re lucky to have multiple opportunities to mark the New Year. There’s New Year’s Day on January 1, but there’s also the Chinese New Year coming up at the end of January. In September, we’ll mark Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and the Islamic or Hijri New Year.

Congress enjoys the liberty to set its own calendar. And while the examples above are fixed annual traditions, when it comes to the federal budget and the beginning of the 2017 fiscal year, we’ll soon be marking our third "New Year’s Day" of the year. The first was on October 1, 2016, the official start of the 2017 fiscal year. Unfortunately, Congress elected not to pass a full FY17 budget, adopting instead a short-term spending bill that funded the government for nine weeks, thus avoiding a budget fight in the midst of the presidential campaign. When that funding expired on December 9, our second "New Year’s Day" for the 2017 fiscal year, Congress opted for another short-term measure to carry the government through most of April, leaving funding for the end of the 2017 fiscal year – May through September – unresolved.

Federal Policies, Local Impacts
Federal grants play a huge role in my work — providing afterschool programs for children. The federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative provides funds to DC and to the states, which in turn award grants to community-center or school-based afterschool programs. The After-School All-Stars DC program at Charles Hart Middle School is lucky enough to receive a 21st CCLC grant that makes all the difference to the participating children, and to their families. 

Coming from some of the most impoverished areas in DC, students at Hart are able to enjoy art exploration, dance, athletics, mentoring, a phenomenal class in Healthy Eating run by a professional chef, a farm-to-table garden project, singing and performing, spoken word and poetry, in addition to a partnership with TechBridge, an organization that exposes young girls to the sciences. As part of the afterschool programming, children learn about many careers they might not otherwise, as well as college campuses and college life, and they join in service projects, and meet volunteers and mentors who help them develop leadership skills and the competencies necessary to be competitive on the college and job market.

But running a good program depends not just on having the funding, but also on being able to plan for what funding you’ll have. The federal delay in adopting a full-year budget means DC and the states won’t know how much money they’ll have for 21st CCLC grants until April, seven months into the fiscal year. They may guard against the prospect that Congress might decide to cut funding for afterschool programs, in some cases by holding off on making any grants at all until they know exactly what kind of resources they’ll have. Indeed, if funding were cut, this source of safe, healthy and enriching activities might just disappear. Many children would return to an empty home or remain in the streets and, for many who receive meals through their afterschool program, dinner would be uncertain.

Cost of Uncertainty
Who knows what to expect in the new budget? Every transition brings uncertainty and this one is no exception. The President-elect will have new initiatives, and presumably some cuts to propose, and Congress should and will have its say. We can certainly hope that something as important and worthy as support for afterschool programs never ends up on the chopping block. 

Still, having multiple fiscal New Year’s Days comes at a cost, and the uncertainty it creates for afterschool — and for other essential funding streams – is one of them.  Our students, our families, our workforce, and our country itself suffer with this kind of uncertainty.  In the context of these challenges, it is extremely important that we afterschool providers remind ourselves and others of the value of out-of-school-time programs.  In many communities, we are an anchor for young people and their families; we guarantee a constant and safe presence of service and care; we keep on leveling the playing field for disadvantaged youth.

At After-School All-Stars we’ve tried to diversify our connections.  We work hard on creating volunteer opportunities so that professionals from different walks of life can meet our students and understand how positively afterschool programs impact their lives.  As service providers, we need to continue to expose our work to policy makers, the private sector, the business community and the philanthropic community.

At a time when there aren’t nearly enough afterschool programs to meet the need, our federal budget process should provide certainty and support – not present additional challenges.

Daniela Grigioni is the Executive Director of After-School All-Stars DC. She is a 2016-17 Afterschool Ambassador for the Afterschool Alliance.