Envision walking into a room full of children who have developed the joy and excitement of reading, interacting with young adults and college students who have career aspirations of working with or even teaching young students. Imagine this time of hope, inspiration and esteem building where both youth and adults are chanting and cheering encouraging words to one another.
We’ve created programs like READ Aloud time where our everyday heroes: police officers, school teachers, social workers, parents, politicians, and other members of the community, volunteer to read books aloud to our budding scholars. This type of engagement engages and gives confidence to the young students, changing the trajectory of their lives. NCCF’s Out-of-School-Time programing is funded by the District of Columbia’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).
J.C. Nalle Community School prepares its students to become world citizens and their families to be champions for the academic success of their children. The outcomes attest to the increase in academic proficiency for children and to a school culture that ensures achievement of its vision statement: The mission of J.C. Nalle Community School is to promote the development of the community and family’s ability to foster each child’s dream collectively, in a safe place, and with academic excellence.
The J.C. Nalle Community School, is an evidence-based community school model located in the East of the River, Ward 7 community of the District of Columbia. J.C. Nalle is the first of its kind in Washington, DC. Through partnership with the District of Columbia Public Schools, Freddie Mac Foundation, and Children’s Aid Society, NCCF produced the first turn-around school for Reading in the District, and has been the non-profit, community school program leader for the last 20 years.
The Community School model offers innovative academic and cultural enrichment activities, structured out-of-school time, mental health support, and parental support to students and their families. This rich partnership allows NCCF the opportunity to bring community leaders, resources and organizations to further enhance academic success and social development of students by exposing them to experiences beyond what their neighborhoods offer. A few notable long-lasting partnerships include: Project Hope with DC Police officers, Guitars not Guns, DC Mamba Street Hockey, Community Cares Community Does: Leadership and Mediation classes, and A Day of Fun at the University of Maryland, TG4E Inc. (Tennis and Gold for Everyone).
In partnership with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) established by Marian Wright Edelman, a prominent, international child advocate, Freedom Schools match students from Kindergarten through Twelfth grade in vulnerable communities with college students aspiring to be teachers with the goal of increasing literacy skills for its participants (who we refer to as scholars).
NCCF’s Freedom Schools have sites all across the District of Columbia through after-school programming along with providing six-week summer camps. Freedom Schools have served youth at the Kennedy Short-term Family Housing Program, the Sterling Short-term Family Housing Program, the New York Avenue Family Shelters, and at the former DC General Family Shelter (the site of the first Freedom School in a homeless family shelter in the nation). Over the last three years, the Freedom School team has served close to 300 scholars and has engaged 25 servant leaders.
At the end of each school year and summer camp, each scholar leaves the program with their favorite books that they are able to take home and begin building their own home libraries.
From September through the end May, JC Nalle students and their parents convene on Saturday mornings from 9 to 12:30 for structured academic enrichment and tutoring with the intent to close the gaps in students’ educational journeys and increase proficiency. Saturday School assists students who need extra time and assistance in order to meet DCPS high academic standards in both math and reading. Parents also learn alongside of their children, enabling them to assist with homework and overall academic enrichment. During Saturday School, parents have the opportunity to participate in Parent University workshops which promotes parental involvement and advocacy, family literacy, as well as parent education. Parent University aims to prove that when parents are involved in their students educational journeys, their children perform better, both academically and socially.
The goals of the Saturday School Program at JC Nalle are to improve academic performance, bring together parents and students to address any gaps in learning, enhance critical thinking skills, foster a love for learning, develop study and organizational skills, encourage collaboration and teamwork, build confidence and self-esteem, and promote a growth mindset that prepares students for a bright future.
During the summer, NCCF provides a safe space for youth to continue to learn and grow. We operate a 5-week sports and learning camp for students who live in Ward 7 or attend JC Nalle. The camp runs Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm. Students receive both academic and recreational support as we address both physical and learning well-being. During the camp, students participate in a recreational process that prepares young people to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a coordinated, progressive series of activities and sporting experiences that help them to become socially, morally, emotionally, physically, and cognitively competent. Youth leadership is both an internal and an external process leading to (1) the ability to guide or direct others on a course of action, influence their opinion and behavior, and show the way by going in advance; and (2) the ability to analyze one’s own strengths and weaknesses, set personal and vocational goals, and have the self-esteem to carry them out.
As we prioritize leadership development during the camp day, student experiences are connected to positive outcomes, including decreases in negative behaviors (such as violence and bullying) and increases in positive attitudes and behaviors (such as motivation, academic performance, self-esteem, problem-solving, positive health decisions, and interpersonal skills). Participation in leadership development experiences during our summer program is linked to increased self-efficacy and the development of skills relevant to success in school and at home such as decision-making and working well with others. Building self-advocacy and self-determination skills, an important aspect of leadership development for youth participating in our sporting program, correlates with making a successful transition back to school in the Fall. The Sports and Learning Camp creatively addresses and prevents summer learning loss while ensuring youth are in a safe and structured environment.