(Washington, DC) Today, on International Day of the Girl, Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Antwan Wilson announced new innovation grants for 12 schools as part of Reign: Empowering Young Women as Leaders, a multi-pronged initiative to support young women of color. The Reign innovation grants aim to build community, confidence, and leadership skills in young women of color and by directing resources to address disparities in student satisfaction, graduation rates, and PARCC scores.
“We need to ensure that at every level – every step along the way – we are sending the message to our young women of color that they can achieve at the highest levels,” said Mayor Bowser. “We built Reign based on feedback from the young women in our schools, and these grants are the next step in continuing to shape the initiative so that it meets their needs and addresses the disparities that contribute to the opportunity and achievement gaps, particularly as they relate to race and gender.”
The Bowser Administration launched Reign in February, and in June, hundreds of students, educators, parents, and community members attended the first annual “We The Girls” conference at Howard University, a day-long conference with workshops and discussions focused on three key areas: identity, health/wellness, and leadership, and covered topics ranging from cultural identity to preparing for college. This fall, Reign will also expand to include ongoing Saturday workshops and conferences.
“I have a deep passion for making sure that our schools are places of excellence and equity for all students, including our young women of color,” said Chancellor Wilson. “This investment builds on our commitment to expand targeted programs for the students who need it most, while allowing schools to innovate and strengthen their social emotional and academic supports.”
The Reign innovation grant recipients are:
- Phelps ACE High School ($56,000) will focus on health, wellness, and leadership that includes college tours, weekly wellness meetings, fitness events, mentoring, and field trips for young women in grades 9 through 12.
- Oyster-Adams Bilingual School ($55,000) will launch HER, an initiative that will include self-image workshops, a book club, assemblies, STEM workshops, college tours, and tutoring for students in middle grades.
- Dunbar High School ($42,500) will partner with ANOMOLY to offer group sessions, a monthly speaker series, and field trips.
- Truesdell Education Campus ($32,000) will build leadership skills for students in middle grades, launch sisterhood groups, and focus on family strengthening.
- Browne Education Campus ($28,850) will offer financial literacy workshops and peer-to-peer networking opportunities for students in grades 4 through 8.
- Johnson Middle School ($28,000) will offer financial literacy workshops and build leadership skills through the school’s step team.
- Kramer Middle School ($27,000) will focus on identity by offering self-esteem workshops, field trips and retreats, a speaker series, and community service opportunities.
- Bancroft Elementary School ($24,000) will boost academic enrichment for fourth and fifth grade students, and students will participate in field trips and a cultural showcase.
- Marie Reed Elementary School ($23,800) will implement a social emotional learning curriculum and offer dance workshops and a robotics team and competition.
- Cardozo Education Campus ($23,500) will offer panels, workshops, mentoring opportunities, college tours, and an empowerment retreat for young women in grades 6 through 12.
- Lafayette Elementary School ($20,000) will promote engagement with female leaders through a book series, a mentoring program, and team building activities.
- Thomas Elementary School ($20,000) will partner with ANOMOLY to offer group sessions, empowerment group discussions, and a vision board party.
Reign is based on feedback DCPS received through listening sessions with more than 100 young women of color about how schools could better support them. The three pillars of Reign: Empowering Young Women as Leaders include:
- Creating spaces for young women of color to build community, confidence, and leadership skills inside and outside of school, including an annual citywide conference for young women of color and a series of Young Women’s Workshops in school year 2017-2018.
- Ensuring that schools are empowering places for young women of color by providing support to teachers and staff with training on gender and racial equity and expanding the health and gender curriculum at DC Public Schools.
- Launching Reign Innovation Grants to improve academic and social outcomes for young women of color by focusing on academic development, family engagement, and social-emotional supports.
Since 2015, the Bowser Administration has made unprecedented investments in public schools and put in place a range of programs and initiatives – including the Empowering Males of Color and Reign initiatives – to raise student achievement and promote equity. The Mayor also opened Ron Brown College Preparatory High School, the first and only all-male public high school in Washington, DC. Last week, Mayor Bowser and Chancellor Wilson launched Excellence through Equity funding, a $2.6 million investment that will support efforts to close the achievement gap. The funding will provide more resources and support to schools and students that need it the most. All 115 schools received funding based on the number and concentration of students who scored Level 1 or 2 on the 2017 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment.
This school year, Mayor Bowser and Chancellor Wilson unveiled DCPS’ new five-year strategic plan, a Capital Commitment 2017-2022. Under the new plan, DCPS will strive to become a district of both excellence and equity—a place where every family feels welcomed and every child is given the opportunities and support they need to thrive. The plan sets forth bold goals for DCPS, including doubling college and career readiness rates, increasing high school graduation rates to 85 percent of students, and accelerating early literacy rates by ensuring 100 percent of K-2 students are reading on or above grade level.