For Love of Children (FLOC) provides educational services beyond the classroom to help students succeed from first grade through college and career. FLOC brings together students, volunteers, families, and community partners in proven programs that teach, empower, and transform.
FLOC’s services are provided for free to students from low-income families in the District of Columbia and West Virginia. Our experience shows that when students are encouraged and prepared, they can overcome any challenges and complete their educations.
In operation since 1965, FLOC has served more than 10,000 children and youth and has become one of the most respected nonprofits in the community. Today, roughly 25 staff and 300 volunteers serve nearly 600 students per year in local schools and FLOC’s facilities.
“One of the best small charities in the Greater Washington region.”
Greater Washington Catalogue of Philanthropy
Our vision is a city where every child’s potential – regardless of zip code, skin color or family status – is unlocked with a post-secondary degree, opening the doors to success in life.
• Every child matters and is equally important.
• The best education combines quality in the classroom with enhanced learning opportunities outside the classroom.
• Every family who needs and wants these opportunities should have guaranteed access.
• Every child deserves a clear, viable path to a post-secondary degree.
Throughout FLOC’s over 50-year history, we have believed that education provides young people with the tools they need to transform their own lives, their families’ lives, and the community around them. From our founding call to close a city-run warehouse for young wards of the state, to our current continuum of out-of-school time programming, we have been led by our conviction that all young people can be, and deserve to be, full, contributing members of our community, and by the knowledge that we live in a city in which we leave too many young people behind without the tools they need to succeed in school and beyond. With this driving vision, we built our multi-layered approach to supporting and guiding each of our students to successful completion of a postsecondary degree.
However, increasingly we are driven not only by our convictions, but also by the growing data that shows the devastating results of leaving too many of our young people without the skills and knowledge they need to compete in our ever changing, high-tech economy. A recent study by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University estimated that by 2018, 63 percent of U.S. jobs will require some form of postsecondary education or training. Yet here in our nation’s capital, barely half of DCPS youth graduate from high school. That shocking statistic only leads to more sobering numbers. According to the DC Alliance for Youth Advocates, there are over 14,000 young people in the District neither enrolled in school nor employed, and less than 42% of 20-24-year-olds in DC have full-time employment. (DC Alliance of Youth Advocates, Youth Workforce Development Issue Brief – http://www.dc-aya.org/policy-and-advocacy/og/10). In the highest-need Wards of the city, those statistics are even more grim.
Every day, FLOC is changing that statistic by providing opportunities for students to succeed in school, aspire to earn a postsecondary degree, and become contributing members of their communities. Unlike many other youth-serving programs, we provide a continuum of support that guides our students from first grade, through completion of a postsecondary degree. Through our Neighborhood Tutoring Program, we intervene early to make sure that students do not fall further behind in reading or math. Building on those academic skills, our Scholars Program exposes our students to experiences, information and activities that build persistence skills to help them progress through their educational journey and into a chosen career.
We know that getting our students to a postsecondary institution is not enough, so we continue to provide support and mentoring to our students in postsecondary through regular check in’s, distance learning seminars, and professional development workshops held during semester breaks. As a 2011 study by the Lumina Foundation showed, “individuals with a bachelor’s degree now make 84 percent more over a lifetime than those with only a high school diploma, up from 75 percent in 1999.” We want to get all our students to their graduation day, so they can enter adulthood with career options open to them, rather than with doors closed in front of them.
Our statistics show that FLOC’s educational outreach is succeeding. In the past six years, FLOC has helped 90 students navigate the college application process and build skills to be successful in postsecondary. Of the 90:
• 100% have graduated from high school;
• 56 students are currently enrolled in a postsecondary institution
• 29 students are current Fred Taylor recipients
• 15 students have received a postsecondary degree; 93% graduated within four years.
Champions of Neglected Children
In operation for more than 50 years, For Love of Children (FLOC) has served more than 10,000 children and youth and has been one of the most respected nonprofits in the community. FLOC was founded in 1965 by a consortium of churches and concerned citizens to assist 900 abandoned and abused children, who were then being warehoused in the District of Columbia’s overcrowded and understaffed “Junior Village.” FLOC and its partners arranged viable schooling and living alternatives for these kids, and secured the closing of Junior Village in 1973. FLOC’s early leaders also founded DC’s first Child Advocacy Center and co-founded the Consortium for Child Welfare, a city-wide collaborative of 16 foster care and adoption agencies.
From the mid-1970s through the 1990s, FLOC continued to embrace a variety of child and family services and served as an incubator for developing programs. One of these was Hope and a Home, a transitional housing program that helped parents create nurturing and stable homes within the caring and loving support of a community. In 2005, Hope and a Home incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3) agency. FLOC also was one of the founding members of the Healthy Families Initiative, and its program remains a strong part of Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care. In 1999, FLOC designed the Family Intervention Program (FIP) in collaboration with the Casey Family Programs of Seattle and the DC Child and Family Services Agency.
As other nonprofit collaborations and public agencies emerged to address the community’s needs, FLOC reevaluated its mission and decided, in 2005-2006, to focus on educational programming as the most effective way to help young people achieve a positive future. While the refocused mission is relatively young, FLOC’s educational programs have deep roots. The Neighborhood Tutoring Program was founded in 1997, the Outdoor Education Center in 1971, and the forerunner of FLOC’s Scholars Program in 1999.
Inspiration from the Civil Rights Movement
FLOC’s dedication to grassroots change springs directly from the civil rights movement of the 1960s. In March 1965, the Rev. Gordon Cosby, Minister of the Church of the Saviour of Washington, DC, was among those who took part in the landmark civil rights demonstration in Selma, Alabama. Crosby drew inspiration from the black church in the South, which claimed for its people the promise of equality and justice. He shared this inspiration and faith with his congregation at home, challenging them to recognize how God’s spirit may call upon them in service to their community. That belief inspired hope for change far beyond desegregation, including the idea that neglected areas could be turned around — city by city, block by block — by people of faith and determination.
Upon his return from Selma, Cosby delivered a series of sermons on the exclusion of black Americans from economic and civic life, which was illustrated tragically by institutionalized DC children, who were separated from the nurturing support of strong families and schools. As Cosby developed these connections, a cadre of his congregants felt the calling to tackle these problems, and FLOC was born.
Thus while Christian roots are an important part of FLOC’s founding, they served as a spark for work that was always non-sectarian and practical. The early activists’ work continues to inspire FLOC’s mission to this day.
One of the civil rights movement’s earliest initiatives was challenging inequality in educational opportunities for African-Americans. Today, most children in this country, particularly low-income children of color, do not receive the quality education they deserve. One wonders what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would say about this. As a man of hope, he would probably speak optimistically about our youth and rebuke the idea that some children lack the capacity to learn. Every student can learn. The primary goal of FLOC is to ensure that all students — regardless of race, ethnicity, or neighborhood — receive the support they need to achieve their dreams.