Wednesday, November 22, 2017

This Year We are Thankful for...!

This holiday season, we’re thankful for all of your support. We're also thankful for our youth. However when it comes to youth voice and making space for young people to not only be heard, but for their stories and experiences to directly inform policy, we know that there always more work to be done.

And so we wanted to share two videos that we thought did a great job of putting youth front and center, allowing them to be and express themselves, while also giving you a couple of tunes to dance your way into the holiday.

The first was made in observance of International Day of the Girl:

And this second one was done for World Children's Day:

So as we work to raise up the voices of our young people here in communities all over the District, and give each young person the services they need to survive as well as the opportunities they deserve to thrive, it means so much knowing you’re right there beside us, helping to move our cause forward.

And if you can help as part of next week's Global Day of Giving, please bookmark our Giving Tuesday page here:, and set a reminder on your calendar for November 28.

Also, if you're free Wednesday, December 6, please join us at Local 16 from 6:30 to 8:30 for a casual DCAYA Holiday Gathering. RSVP here if you can make it.

In the meantime, have fun and safe travels the rest of this week and over the weekend. And Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at DC Alliance of Youth Advocates!


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America

As we eagerly await the data from 2017’s Youth Count DC, here’s a look at some national numbers and recommendations.

Today, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago released a brief highlighting the results from a national survey on unaccompanied youth homelessness in the US. The brief, Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America, highlights data collected from young people who have slept on the street or in shelters, ran away from or were kicked out of their homes, or couch-surfed, living with friends or family. Findings from the study show that, nationally, one in ten young adults ages 18-25, and at least one in 30 adolescents ages 13-17--at least 3.5 million young adults and 700,000 adolescent minors-- experience some form of homelessness unaccompanied by a parent or guardian over the course of a year.

The brief also indicated that particular subpopulations are at higher risk of homelessness:

The brief also highlighted seven national recommendations developed from data from the study:

Those interested in the study itself, Prevalence and Correlates of Youth Homelessness in the United States, can find it in the Journal of Adolescent Health and can access it here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Six Months After the Launch of Solid Foundations DC

Six months after the release of Solid Foundations DC: Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Youth Homelessness, we’re taking a brief dive into how the plan is progressing for National Homeless Youth Awareness Month.

In 2016, Youth Count DC, DC’s annual census of youth experiencing homelessness in DC, revealed 537 Transition Age Youth experiencing homelessness or housing instability. To address the issue of so many young people lacking access to safe and stable housing, DC’s Interagency Council on Homelessness drafted and adopted Solid Foundations DC: Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Youth Homelessness.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

A Visit to Latin American Youth Center

This week, we're thrilled to introduce you to a new member of the DCAYA staff, Laura Romero. We'll let her introduce herself in this post, as well as share a bit from her visit to Latin American Youth Center.

As the new Youth Policy Associate at DCAYA, I am learning about issues that affect youth in DC--one of those issues is youth homelessness. I’ve always been interested in the nonprofit world, but my passion for politics led me to American University where I study an interdisciplinary major, CLEG (Communication, Law, Economics and Government). I’ve worked with nonprofits before. Specifically, I taught English at Colombia Chiquita, an organization dedicated to helping abandoned and at-risk children. I was also the founder/president of the American Red Cross Club at my high school where we Citizen CPR certified students and installed fire alarms in low-income neighborhoods. Now, at the DCAYA, I’m learning about many issues. I’m sitting in on meetings and listening to people discuss passionately about what they are working on, and I’ve had the opportunity to go out into the city and immerse myself into the issues that affect youth here.

In October, I had the opportunity to visit the Latin American Youth Center (“LAYC”) Safe House Drop-in Center, a safe space for youth who are in need of housing resources. The center offers employment and educational guidance, long-term case management, assistance in finding housing programs and shelters as well as supplies, clothes and other needs. 

Walking into the center, you immediately feel the sense of community and openness. The center encompasses diversity and inclusion and welcomes youth 24 years old and under of any race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity without, limiting its assistance to those who are of Latin background. 

Low-income youth face many barriers to succeed, and to address those barriers, LAYC helps provide opportunities like GED exam preparation, year-round tutoring and homework assistance as well as college preparation. Besides providing academic opportunities, the organization provides safe housing, including transitional housing for homeless and runaway youth, and health and wellness assistance, including sexual health education and counseling.

I was able to meet with John Van Zandt, the Safe Housing Program Manager, who is very dedicated and passionate about his work with LAYC. John joined LAYC 8 years ago after having been a spanish teacher at a high school. He gave Mariah, the DCAYA Youth Voice Fellow, and I a tour around the drop-in center to give us a better idea of the work at LAYC. 

On the first floor, the center has a place where youth can use computers for educational and recreational purposes, and behind that room is where the bunk beds are. LAYC opens their doors to any young person who is in need of any assistance--some youth might need a place to live while others just want to be in a safe space for a couple of hours. 

The second floor was my favorite. The smell of pasta and mashed potatoes led us into a spacious living room. Young people were sitting on couches while one young woman prepared a meal that smelled absolutely delicious creating a cozy, homelike setting. 

We also toured other rooms of office space and storage. One room, designed by IKEA after awarding the organization a prize, serves as a room of needs where youth can get clothes, shoes, or diapers. LAYC is always in need of donations; anything from food to clothes to supplies can be of great use to these youth. 

Although my visit was short, I was able to witness the dedication the staff has to bettering youth’s lives. What they do isn’t easy, but it’s rewarding and full of constant joy. Having had the chance to see what this amazing organization does was an unforgettable experience. 

Organizations like LAYC are important because they help children, teenagers, and young adults find their potential and motivate them to overcome barriers. LAYC gives them opportunities that they’ve never had before.

November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. Every year, as many as 7,354 youth will experience at least one night of homelessness in the District. Currently, there is not enough shelter/housing for youth experiencing homelessness to meet the growing demand in the District. DCAYA will have an ongoing series of blog posts where experts and more members of DCAYA will share insights and information on youth homelessness.

We are grateful to have Laura on board and we hope you'll get a chance to engage with her, during her time at DC Alliance of Youth Advocates.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Flipped Classrooms

 As part of Afterschool Awareness Month, we reached out to one of our Member Organizations for a guest blog post from one of their parents. DC PAVE "connects, trains, and empowers charter parent leaders to give families in DC a voice and choice in the vision for education in our city". We are thrilled to have Robert St. Cyr. as a guest author, this week.

In a traditional school, students typically are lectured in class by a teacher when, by definition, there’s very limited opportunity for discourse. Yes, you read that right, very little opportunity for interaction when the student is together with their peers and their teacher. They are then assigned homework that they will do by themselves at home at precisely the time when human interaction is most needed. Despite the crippling limitations with this process, it works quite well for middle income students because they have the support system at home to explain salient points they might have missed during the lecture. Not so much for kids of low-income parents. Essentially, middle-income students have the support system at home to close the knowledge gaps as soon as they are formed. Middle-income students do not carry those gaps from session to session or grade to grade causing them to fall further and further behind as time goes by. Low income kids, on the other hand, carry those gaps with them all the way to the working world – and that’s if they can find a job.