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 ( 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.

As your offices work to develop the Mayor’s budget, we urge you to include the Deputy Mayor for Education’s recommendation to expand the unlimited bus and rail component of the School Transit Subsidy program (Kids Ride Free) to all District residents enrolled in publicly funded adult education programs. The DME report found that to serve the 7,494 students enrolled in community-based organizations (CBOs), UDC’s Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning programs (WDLL), and adult charter and alternative education schools who are not currently receiving assistance through Kids Ride Free, the government would need to invest between $1.5 and $2 million dollars a year. This expansion of the Mayor’s signature Kids Ride Free program would leverage the program’s existing technology infrastructure and a low negotiated cost of ridership between DDOT and WMATA.

Unlike students through age 22—who do not have to pay to ride Metro rail and bus because they are enrolled in the Kids Ride Free program—students aged 22 and older currently pay full price, which poses a significant financial burden that often threatens an individual’s success in adult education programming. 
  • In 2016, a DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA) survey of youth in adult or alternative education placements (many of whom were formerly disconnected) ages 22-24 found that 83% of respondents were spending approximately one-fifth or more of their income getting to and from their programs.
  • 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.
  • Because adult learners and the education programs that serve them currently have to pay the full, face value of transportation, any assistance they are able to offer must be done at a very high cost: one DC Adult and Family Literacy Coalition (DC AFLC) member reported spending $17,000 a year on transportation assistance for students, and another program spends $50,000 annually. 
This modest investment stands to leverage the District’s current investment of over $80 million in local and federal dollars to support educational instruction for adult learners. The DME report notes that “the current investment in adult education could yield greater results with a reduction in transportation costs for adult learners.” Moreover, this policy expansion would aid in filling the gaps in services referenced in the DC WIOA State Plan. The Plan describes that there are “an estimated 5,500 youth (6.8% of the total youth aged 16- 24) that want to work but have not looked for work recently due to issues such as transportation and child care,” and that inadequate access to transportation has been a challenge cited by business stakeholders in retaining District employees. By reducing a primary barrier to residents’ success in basic skill remediation through this policy expansion, they are empowered to better navigate a career pathway toward sustainable, fulfilling employment.

We are happy to discuss this recommendation with you further, and are confident that in the coming weeks our continued collaboration will produce a path forward that reflects the consensus of policy makers, advocates, the adult education community, and the learners and re-engaging students we serve.


DC Alliance of Youth Advocates
Maggie Riden
Executive Director
DC AFLC Steering Committee
Lecester Johnson

(Your individual or organizational support will be included here.)


Chairperson David Grosso, DC At-large

Chairperson Mary Cheh, Ward 3

Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 6

Councilmember Jack Evans, Ward 2

Councilmember Trayon White, Ward 8

Councilmember Brandon Todd, Ward 4

Councilmember Anita Bonds, DC At-large

Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5

Councilmember Robert White, DC At-large

Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 6

Members, DC Council Committee on Education

Members, DC Council Committee on Transportation & the Environment

Phil Mendelson

Elissa Silverman

Chairman, Council of the District of Columbia

Chairperson, DC Council Committee on Labor & Workforce Development

Jennie Niles

Hanseul Kang

DC Deputy Mayor for Education

DC  State Superintendent of Education

Courtney Snowden

Diane Pabich

DC Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity

Interim Executive Director, DC Workforce Investment Council

Edith Westfall

Acting Dean, Workforce Development & Lifelong Learning at ‎University of the District of Columbia - Community College

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