Monday, June 17, 2013

JLW Gives 2013 Community Partner Grant to Teen Life Clubs

The Junior League of Washington (JLW) is proud to award a $12,500 grant to a longstanding community partner, Children's National Medical Center, in support of its Teen Life Clubs (TLC) program. JLW’s grant will provide just under half of the fiscal year’s needed funding for the TLC program, with a grant from the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education providing the other funding.
Children's Hospital of the District of Columbia was founded by a group of citizens in 1870 to care for children orphaned during the Civil War. The hospital has grown from a 12-bed row house to Children’s National Medical Center - a 303-bed, medical facility that is ranked among the top pediatric hospitals in America by U.S. News and World Report. In the more than 140 years since its founding, Children's National has become a vital community resource and a significant national force for the advancement of pediatric health care. The mission of Children's National is to excel in Care, Advocacy, Research and Education and is accomplished through: Providing a quality health care experience for our patients and families; Improving health outcomes for children regionally, nationally, and internationally; and Leading the creation of innovative solutions to pediatric health challenges. It is the only integrated health care system in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area dedicated exclusively to the care of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

Beginning in the 1920s, the JLW showed strong support of the children’s hospital by funding a convalescent ward and then a Social Services department. The JLW continued its commitment by funding a director of volunteer services and a Child Guidance Center, and in the 1960s, provided a grant to assist in the opening of an Intensive Care Unit. Today, the JLW provides trained volunteers to the TLC program at Children’s National.

TLC is one of the programs offered through Children’s National’s Adolescent Prevention Education Programs. TLC provides young people with the knowledge, activities and mentorship they need to help them avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. It is a 26-week program that includes weekly club meetings, monthly enrichment activities and group mentorship. Club members can earn a stipend based on attendance, punctuality and participation. At TLC meetings, members address topics such as safe sexual activity, goal setting, responding to violence, maintaining healthy relationships, securing jobs and exploring careers. Volunteers from the Junior League of Washington are an essential part of the TLC events. They provide materials and supplies for events and speakers for particular workshop presentations. With the support and energy of these volunteers, TLC club members are exposed to significant cultural and enrichment activities, as well as positive role models for leadership and good citizenship.

In the last full year of the program, TLC served just over 70 youth through six community sites, which is a major expansion of the program from previous years. This year TLC seeks to serve 100 youth at six to eight sites in the D.C. area. The goal is to continue to expand the program, by gaining access to new youth service locations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, D.C. Parks and Recreation Centers and more schools within the area.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Katie Thomas-Canfield, 2013 Meg Graham Scholarship Recipient

The Junior League of Washington is pleased to announce Katherine Thomas-Canfield as the recipient of the 2013 Meg Graham Scholarship...Celebrating Service and Leadership.

Katie Thomas- Canfield is pictured here at the JLW 2013 Awards ceremony with JLW's 2013- 2013 President Wendy Cumberland.

Katie is a senior at School Without Walls and will be matriculating in the fall to the University of California-Berkeley. She plans to major in international development, and one day hopes to work in the Peace Corps, at the State Department, or with USAID. She currently serves the Class President and is a member of the National Honor Society. She serves as the student representative to the Local School Advisory Team, working with principals, teachers, and parents to better the School Without Walls environment; with the Team, she is currently working to facilitate a merger of a middle school with School Without Walls and help plan the 2013-2014 School Without Walls budget.

Katie has over 540 documented hours of volunteer service. The past two summers, Katie has volunteered with AMIGOS de Las Americas, first in Nicaragua and last year in the Dominican Republic. She has interned with Save the Children International and the Library of Congress. She is passionate about art, having taken classes at the Corcoran College of Art and having had work displayed at George Washington University and American University; she won first place in the 2012 citywide DCPS Arts Exhibition. Katie said her first volunteer experience was when she was two-years-old and went to N Street Village, one of the JLW’s current community partners, with her church.

Bill Graham, husband of the late Meg Graham, says about Katie: “If one looked at Meg's achievements at a comparable point in her youth, the parallels would be striking.”

The JLW is thrilled to support Katie in her higher education pursuits over the next four years and looks forward to her accomplishments.

For more information about the JLW's 2014 application for the Meg Graham Scholarship, including the availability of and deadline for submission, please email or visit our website at

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

2013 Community Partner Grant Recipient- Horton's Kids

For 23 years, Horton’s Kids has served hundreds of children in Ward 8 with continuously expanding, wrap-around services. Karin Walser, a former Capitol Hill staffer, founded Horton’s Kids in 1989.  Since then, the organization has grown from weekend field trips for the children to the current model that provides intensive academic programs with wraparound support services.  Its goal is to connect children with the resources needed to succeed.  The organization’s long-standing presence in the community makes our positive impact on the children possible, and the Community Resource Center has strengthened our relationship with families even further in the last two years.  In the past few years, Horton’s Kids has also expanded its older youth programs.  Today, more than 500 volunteers, staff, community partners, and neighborhood families work together to achieve Horton’s Kids’ mission: To educate and empower the children of Washington, DC’s Ward 8 by providing comprehensive, direct services which improve the quality of their daily lives and nurture each child’s desire and ability to succeed.
Horton’s Kids’ one-on-one tutoring is the cornerstone program of its wrap-around services.  Its education staff has been fine-tuning the tutoring program for more than ten years, and this year, Horton’s Kids introduced an intervention model that provides specific activities and games to target critical foundation skills.  This model is based on learning sequences instead of grade levels and provides additional structure and stability to the children.

Horton’s Kids has successfully developed the “mobile tutoring approach” in which buses take the children, grades K-6, from their neighborhood in Ward 8 to Capitol Hill, where they meet their volunteer tutors.  Before boarding the buses, all participants receive a healthy meal in the recently renovated Community Resource Center in the children’s neighborhood, and they take a snack home at the end of the session.  A minimum of thirty minutes of each tutoring session is devoted to improving literacy skills.

This year, Horton’s Kids will serve 125 children through their cornerstone tutoring program.  An additional 360 children and older youth will receive periodic services (e.g., educational advocacy, health and basic needs, summer programs, etc.) and 300 adults, including the children’s parents and young adults in the neighborhood, engage with Horton’s Kids at the Community Resource Center.  Services include health and basic needs support such as the food pantry and the diaper bank, referrals to medical providers, job training and career services, and education around early childhood development.

The $12,500 grant from the Junior League of Washington will help fund Horton’s Kids’ cornerstone academic program as well as strengthen their relationship with the JLW and continue the strength and viability of their programs.

For more information about the JLW's 2013-2014 grant cycle, including the availability of and deadline for submission, please email or visit our website at

Monday, June 10, 2013

2013 Grant Recipient - Washington Jesuit Academy

The Washington Jesuit Academy is a tuition-free, extended-day / extended-year, academically demanding private middle school for Washington, DC’s most vulnerable children – under-served, adolescent males. WJA empowers these youth to break the cycle of failure and poverty through their own education.  With their 12-hour school day, 11-month school year and aggressive academic curriculum, WJA is preparing students for the opportunities and challenges of college-prep high schools and set them on an early path toward college.

WJA was established in 2002 by community leaders who wanted to improve the odds and outcomes of Washington, DC’s under-served children of all religions with the launch of a sixth grade class.  WJA expanded to sixth – eighth grades by 2004, and expanded again to a fifth grade in June 2012. WJA purchased and relocated to its permanent home on Varnum Street in Northeast Washington in 2004, established a revolutionary healthy meals partnership in 2008 and achieved accreditation in 2010. WJA serves 86 students, as well as 129 alumni across eight cohorts who are still engaged with its Graduate Support Program.  100 percent are enrolled in or have graduated from high school, and the first four cohorts maintain a 79 percent college enrollment rate.

WJA serves a demographic of children who may be the least likely to read – adolescent boys from low-income neighborhoods and disadvantaged backgrounds. These boys enter WJA in fifth or sixth grade having been deprived of basic reading skills from their woefully inadequate neighborhood schools, sometimes as many as five grade levels behind. Further, they grow up in a culture where reading is considered worthless or “uncool,” where few parents demonstrate reading at home and where teens are susceptible to peer pressure not to achieve or try in school.

To address these challenges, WJA uses teaching methods that have been proven to be effective among reluctant, disinterested and underperforming readers. Its curriculum focuses on getting boys to enjoy reading as they gain the comprehension and vocabulary required to read at higher levels. Youth who enjoy reading will want to read more, and will become better readers as they grow into adults.  “Reading the WJA Way” is effective, with the faculty consistently raising student reading levels by an average of 4.5 grades throughout middle school. Classroom strategies include:
  • Full periods of both Reading and Language Arts
  • “Read Alouds” – teachers read stories out loud to show that reading can be fun and to give students opportunities to enjoy stories beyond their individual reading levels; and
  • “DEAR” – Drop Everything And Read – daily opportunities where students read books, magazines or newspapers of their choice to promote personal reading, and reading notebooks, in which students record vocabulary and responses to reading.
WJA serves 86 boys from low-income neighborhoods in the Washington, DC metro region, specifically from Wards 5, 6, 7 and 8 and from Prince George’s County, MD. While WJA admits students without regard to race, ethnicity or religion, all students must demonstrate significant financial need. Of WJA’s current students: 91% are African-American and 9% are Latino; 85% are non-Catholic; 71% are raised by single parent/guardian; the average household income is $32,800, and 80% qualify for Federal Free/Reduced Lunch programs.

The grant from the JLW will serve as an investment in WJA’s literacy education to their under-served youth, especially for the new fifth graders. WJA will allocate the $25,000 grant for the fifth grade literacy instructors, offset costs for classroom technology and replenish classroom and library books, all as a part of the “Reading the WJA Way” program. 

For more information about the JLW's 2013-2014 grant cycle, including the availability of and deadline for submission, please email or visit our website.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

2013 Grant Recipient - The SEED Public Charter School of Washington, D.C.

The SEED School of Washington, D.C. (SEED DC) is a public, college-preparatory boarding school whose primary mission is to provide an outstanding, intensive educational program that prepares children, both academically and socially, for success in college and life beyond. SEED Schools are more than simply schools — SEED is an integrated program that brings, under one roof, the critical 24-hour support necessary for underserved children to realize their potential. More than 330 students in grades six through twelve attend SEED DC. All students live on campus Sunday through Friday, enabling them to benefit from an innovative curriculum that incorporates academic, extracurricular, and life skills learning.

The SEED Foundation was established in 1997 by Eric Adler and Rajiv Vinnakota on the belief that children in an urban environment could benefit from a public, boarding educational program. In 1998, The SEED Foundation established SEED DC as the nation's first urban public boarding school. SEED DC opened its doors with 40 seventh grade students in July 1998, at The Capital Children's Museum and added students to the seventh grade each subsequent year. In 2001, the school moved to its permanent campus located in Marshall Heights, a neighborhood in Ward 7 of the District.  In 2004, SEED DC reached full capacity and graduated its first class of seniors, all of whom were accepted to college. In 2009, SEED DC introduced sixth grade to its program.

The vast majority of students entering SEED DC in the sixth grade — 75 percent — read at a third grade reading level. This significant skill deficit cannot be overcome in one year, nor can it be resolved by forcing students to read and write papers on books they cannot understand. Literacy skill deficits must be addressed as early as possible and the students must build literacy skills by working from their current skill level. Founded on the belief that the more students read, the more they will read on their own, the better readers they will become, SEED DC implemented a daily 40-minute reading requirement for every student beyond what he or she must read for class. As the campus is "home" to all of students for 120 hours per week, Sunday through Friday, students need to have access to books that meet a broad range of reading levels, in every classroom, the library and the dorms, which will ultimately, help to foster a culture of literacy. Students who lack access to reading materials in their home can borrow books from the SEED DC library all year round (including summer). Through its literacy program, SEED DC also makes sure that students are familiar with the public library system and own library cards.

85 percent of SEED DC’s students come from Wards 5, 7 and 8.  99 percent of the student body is African American and one percent Latino. 73 percent of SEED DC’s students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. Approximately 85 percent of SEED DC graduates will be the first in their families to attend and graduate from college.

The JLW’s $25,000 grant will expand and build capacity of SEED DC’s Tools for Literacy Program – to help every student that enters SEED DC’s doors attain grade-level reading skills by the time they enter high school and ultimately ensure that every SEED DC graduate gain acceptance into college and graduate.  The Tools for Literacy Program is the center of the School's efforts to improve literacy skills among all students.  SEED DC is unique for being one of a small group of schools in the District of Columbia to integrate the Reading and Writing Workshop into middle school English and Language Arts Curriculum due to the JLW’s past support.  Specifically, this year’s grant will be used to provide professional development to instructors which is required to remain current and continuously analyze and improve programming, to purchase a large number of books to have leveled libraries in the dormitories and every classroom, and to support the literacy coordinator who will oversee the development and implementation of the program.

For more information about the JLW's 2013-2014 grant cycle, including the availability of and deadline for submission, please email or visit our website at