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.
Although this story of transformation can be told clearly through the data and research, it can also be seen even more dramatically through the stories of our alumni, Kimberly and Erika. Six years ago, if you came to visit FLOC, you might find them working diligently to put the final touches on their college applications, crafting their most compelling personal statements, or working with the staff to secure the most financial aid they could find. You would recognize, in these two young women, a growing sense of confidence, an aspiration to dream big and reach high, and the determination to face any challenge. After years in our programs, hours of intensive tutoring in elementary school, empowering trips to our Outdoor Education Center in middle school, and unique workshops through their high school years, you would see two young women prepared with the skills to succeed.
After their first semester away at college, you would also see the incredible growth that occurs when young people seize opportunity and flourish in new-found independence. You would celebrate with us as Kimberly made the Dean’s List, and Erika was accepted into her dream study-abroad semester in Europe, and as both of them earned their well-deserved postsecondary degrees.
Today, if you come and visit our programs, you will still see Kimberly and Erika. This time, they serve as coaches to two remarkable high school seniors. They are helping today’s scholars open their eyes to the limitless possibilities that can come with hard work, concentrated effort, and commitment to a goal. Kimberly and Erika will stand with their scholars and fulfill the role of a caring adult in their lives, offering support on their journeys. They are proving that our work isn’t finished when a student reaches grade-level, gets a great score on the SAT, or is accepted into a top-tier university. We don’t stop until our scholars earn their postsecondary degree, and then, we bear witness to remarkable homecomings. Our scholars become mentors; our students become guides; Erika and Kimberly become the change they wish to see in the world.
FLOC is working toward the day when Kimberly and Erika’s dedication and academic success are no longer unique, but instead represent the norm for high school students all across the District.