Friday, May 29, 2015

Cheers for our YWLA Graduates!

Today we’re bringing you a glimpse into the Youth Workforce Leaders Academy (YWLA) that we’ve been conducting over the last year, and into our celebration of the inaugural cadre of YWLA Graduates! Through our partnership with the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) and the Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative[1], YWLA was created as learning community to better support the growth and success of local youth workforce development professionals.

With the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) beginning implementation in July, and the District refocusing on quality and measurable outcomes in its workforce development programming, YWLA provides a way to build capacity within local organizations to scale up the District's quality workforce development programming.  As emphasized by our partners at IEL, YWLA has been a homegrown effort to increase coordination as encouraged by WIOA.

Our inaugural cadre of participants has done an incredible job of implementing the best practices highlighted throughout YWLA, culminating in their Capstone Projects. We’d like to spotlight our 15 participants and the impact YWLA has had on their work:

Najmah Ahmad, Director of Curriculum Outreach at Urban Alliance

Capstone Project: Navigating Success; Staying the Course - Curriculum to increase success of college matriculation

Paula Billingsley, Alumni Programs VISTA at Higher Achievement

Capstone Project: Alumni Career Month at Higher Achievement – Series of career exploration programming

Kimberly Davis, College Access Coordinator at For Love of Children (FLOC)

Capstone Project: Scholars Empowerment Curriculum – Series of civic engagement workshops

Elizabeth Edwards, Associate Director of Programs at Year Up – National Capital Region

Capstone Project: IT Certificates for All – Model program for IT certification of all graduates

Libby Hill, Senior Trainer at Global Kids

Capstone Project: Tracking Youth Workforce Development in Global Kids’ Programming – Outcomes plan for workforce development and career readiness

Marcia N. Huff, Esq., Senior Manager at The Young Women’s Project

Capstone Project: Workforce Readiness Curricula for High School & College Students - Curricula to build employment skills, explore careers, and set educational and employment goals

Angela Hughes, Manager of Program Operations at YWCA National Capital Area

Capstone Project: Job Shadowing Opportunities through Community Mapping – Community mapping that resulted in job shadowing opportunities for youth

Jacob Newman, Workforce Director at Latin American Youth Center/Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers

Capstone Project: Alignment of Job Readiness Training for Disconnected Youth – Aligned JRT across the organization’s workforce development programs

Efuntomiwa “Mimi” Okoh, Outreach Coordinator at National Center for Children and Families

Capstone Project: Career Exploration for Youth in Foster Care – Opportunity for job shadowing in fields of interest to youth

Phyllis D. Powell, Senior Youth Workforce Development Specialist at Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services

Capstone Project: Employment Retention Incentive Program – Developed a stronger job readiness and job search program

Kristina Savoy, Program Manager at DOES’s Office of Youth Programs

Capstone Project: Partnership with Rehabilitation Services – Agreement to ensure the proper referral of Year Round and SYEP participants with disabilities

Rachel Sier, Job Developer at YouthBuild PCS
Capstone Project: Best Practices in Employer Partnership Retention - Strategized to develop and maintain partnerships between workforce development programs and local businesses

Nadia M. Sookar, Supervisory Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist at DC Rehabilitation Services Administration

Capstone Project:  Partnership with Rehabilitation Services – Agreement to ensure the proper referral of Year Round and SYEP participants with disabilities

Trisha Taylor, Programs Director at Sitar Arts Center

Capstone Project: Sitar Intern Leadership Program - Selected SYEP students will learn advanced management skills and have additional responsibilities to lead peers  

Ashley Williams, Program Manager at DOES’s Office of Youth Programs

Capstone Project:  Partnership with Rehabilitation Services – Agreement to ensure the proper referral of Year Round and SYEP participants with disabilities

If you’re interested in joining this network of leaders through our second iteration of the Youth Workforce Leaders Academy, please contact DCAYA Policy Analyst, Amy Dudas, at

[1] An initiative of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

DC FY16 Budget Update: Big Wins for Youth Programs

While the final budget vote happens on May 27 at 10am (watch here:


DC Trust: The Committee on Health and Human Services, which oversees the Trust, committed an additional $2 million to the Trust’s baseline budget. With this additional funding, the DC Trust will be able to fulfill the majority of their grant commitments to afterschool programs. Much of the funding, $1.6 million, was moved over from the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, thanks to Councilmember Mary Cheh. Councilmember Yvette Alexander filled the resulting gap with just over $400,000 through reallocating funding from within two different health agency budgets. Although advocates originally pushed for an additional $2.5 million, the resulting $2 million is a huge win for afterschool programs and speaks to the power of our members and the community speaking up to testify on behalf of their life-changing programs.

DCPS: The Committee on Education did not find the $6.5 million to stop the cuts to DCPS afterschool, which will result in a cut to 25 cluster coordinators within the DCPS Out-of-School Time Office. The committee budget report rationalizes the cut with the following explanation, “DCPS has assured the Committee and school communities that there will be no reduction in service levels to families in FY16.” However, the committee report went on to say “The Committee also encourages DCPS to monitor this situation throughout the summer and utilize reserve funds, if necessary, to fill any gaps to service to families that may arise as a result of funding challenges for CBOs.” In other words, since DCPS insisted there was no need for the money that was cut, the chair of the committee, Councilmember David Grosso, was not in a position to fill that cut. We will continue to work closely with Councilmember Grosso to monitor the situation and offer on-the-ground feedback from CBOs and schools.

Youth Homelessness

Single Youth: Funding for homeless youth services remains stable at $1.3 million by the Committee on Health and Human Services in an effort to properly scale initiatives through data-informed measures. Advocates supported this funding mark and are continuing to collect data on homeless youth with the newly established Coordinated Intake System. Through the collected data, advocates and DC agencies will have a greater understanding on the investments needed to stabilize homeless youth and guide them onto a path of self sufficiency.

Youth-Headed Families: The mayor’s allocation of $40 million to replace DC General through FY17 was confirmed by the Committee on Health and Human Services.

Parenting Minors: The Committee on Transportation and the Environment, under the leadership of Councilmember Cheh, moved $500,000 to the Committee on Health and Human Services to enhance services to minor headed households. As a recent Washington Post article illustrated, homeless minors with children have few housing or service options. The pilot will begin to fill the service gap for homeless, parenting minors who do not experience levels of abuse and neglect that warrants CFSA involvement and cannot access adult shelters because they are under 18.

Youth Workforce Development

SYEP Evaluation: During a Committee of the Whole legislative session, the Council approved an amendment introduced by Councilmember Elissa Silverman to require DOES to produce and publish basic information on SYEP participants, including long-term employment outcomes and participation levels at various points in the program. The amendment also lays the groundwork for the development of a rigorous SYEP evaluation to determine a baseline of program quality and identify opportunities for effective interventions within program design and delivery. Along with an amendment introduced by Councilmember Jack Evans to cap SYEP enrollment for youth 22-24 at 1,000 slots, an SYEP evaluation will go a long way to ensure that Mayor Bowser’s additional investment in SYEP of $5.2 million will be used effectively to engage youth 14-24 in a quality career exposure and work readiness training experience.

UDC Funding Restored: In a letter to Council outlining revisions to her proposed FY16 budget (called the Errata Letter), Mayor Bowser included the restoration of $3.5 million to the University of the District of Columbia. The mayor also committed to working with the UDC flagship and the community college to ensure that this investment will benefit programs that place DC residents on career pathways.

Disconnected Youth

Expansion of Kids Ride Free: At the Committee for Finance and Revenue budget oversight hearing for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Committee Chairman Jack Evans expressed concerns about Mayor Bowser’s expansion of Kids Ride Free to rail. The Committee’s budget report stated that the Committee is “analyzing the funding sources for the School Transit Subsidy program to better understand the administration and distribution of the proposed $7 million for Kids Ride Free”. After discussions with Councilmember Evans’ office, DCAYA is confident that the funding for Kids Ride Free is indeed secure, and the Councilmember will work to ensure the sustainability of the program.

SLED Remains Stable: While the Committee on Education expressed their commitment to the maintenance and continuation of the Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System (SLED), the needed $1.36 million was not secured to fill the gap left by an expiring federal grant. However, the Committee and DCAYA received assurances from OSSE that a reduction in personnel-related funds will be absorbed internally through efficiency and prioritization and SLED will not suffer as a result. DCAYA will continue to monitor SLED’s operation, but we are confident in OSSE's commitment to maintain the system.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"Step Up, Door's Closing"

Budget Hearings for FY16 are (for the most part) complete! Now the DC Council is reviewing testimony, striking deals, and collaborating with colleagues as budget markup moves into full swing.

Like most years, transportation is a hot-button issue, and if you were one of the poor souls stranded in Virginia on Monday, you know why.

However, while commuters are reeling over being late to work because of metro delays (a completely valid concern), low-income residents are still struggling with how to afford efficient transportation to and from school or work.

If this initiative passes the DC Council budget markup, low-income and disconnected youth will have a greater chance to connect to opportunities across the DMV!

In DCAYA's study "Connecting Youth to Opportunity: Better Understanding the Needs of Disconnected Young People in Washington, DC," youth reported spending an average of $120 a month on transportation for school and work.

While this barrier was significantly reduced with the establishment of Kids Ride Free in 2013, the initiative did not include rail and only served youth 21 and younger. As a recent Harvard University study points out, transportation is the #1 barrier to economic mobility.

Also, as DC continues to grow, more and more low-income residents are traveling farther distances to get to work.

Increasing access to affordable transportation is key to supporting a sustainable pathway to the middle class. This is why DCAYA is so excited about the Kids Ride Free expansion to rail!

However, the initiative only serves youth 21 and younger. Older youth who often face compounding barriers (childcare, homelessness, criminal record, etc) while striving to obtain their diploma, must still overcome the financial burden of transportation.

Help us educate the DC Council and promote a modest extension of the Kids Ride Free program to include youth through age 24 who are connected to a Local Education Agency (LEA). This small budget increase of an estimated $704,705 to Kids Ride Free, would have a huge impact on youth struggling to complete their education and become a contributing member of the community.

Be sure to thank Mayor Bowser (@MayorBowser) for the Kids Ride Free Expansion and tweet to Councilmembers: Phil Mendelson (@VoteMendo), Vincent Orange (@VOrangeDC), Anita Bonds (@AnitaBondsDC), David Grosso (@cmdgrosso), Elissa Silverman (@tweetelissa), Brianne Nadeau (@BrianneKNadeau), Jack Evans (@JackEvansWard2), Mary Cheh (@marycheh), Brandon Todd (@brandonttodd), Kenyan McDuffie (@kenyanmcduffie), Charles Allen (@CharlesAllenW6), Yvette Alexander (@CMYMA ), and LaRuby May (@LaRubyMay) to support the success of older youth!

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