EDFEST Returns, Making Families First

Now in its fourth year, EdFEST 2017 returns to the DC Armory in Southeast with the purpose of providing a one-stop shop for children and their families in their quest to explore and access the District’s many pre-K through high school options.

The highly-informative and always-anticipated D.C. public and public charter school fair, produced by My School DC and part of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, takes place on Saturday, Dec. 9 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., just ahead of the opening of the My School DC school application and lottery on Monday, Dec. 11.

Admission is free for the estimated 5,000 attendees with interpretation in American Sign Language, Spanish, Amharic, French, Chinese and Vietnamese provided along with over 200 exhibitors and 1,000 school personnel, team members from My School DC and several of their community partners.

We asked EdFEST to share more information about the school fair.

Washington Informer: What are the goals of EdFEST and how do you evaluate success?

EdFEST: The foremost goal of EdFEST is to connect DC families with their 200+ public and public charter school options here in the District. The application for the school year 2018-19 lottery will open the Monday after EdFEST, so this is an opportunity for families, especially those with busy schedules, to visit with school staff, ask questions and see if their school is a right fit for their child. Families leaving EdFEST with an idea of which schools to list on their My School DC application is a success!

WI: What kinds of questions/concerns do you receive from parents or guardians about their children?

EdFEST: Parents and guardians have questions about the lottery application process, from finding schools that would be the best fit for their kids, to understanding how the lottery works. There are several tools we’ve developed to support families through this process: (1) contains a profile for each school that participates in the lottery so families can get a snapshot of what a school has to offer; (2) We have a School Finder on where families can begin to narrow their choices of schools by entering an address (e.g., a home or work address) and filtering by additional points of interest, such as grade, program offered, whether the school offers before or after care, etc. We encourage families to visit schools when possible to get a feel for the school prior to applying to it; (4) The My School DC Hotline (202-888-6336) stands by ready to support families with direct application assistance and to answer any question they may have about the process.

WI: What kinds of things do you provide that make this such a unique and beneficial school fair?

EdFEST: EdFEST and our partners will provide: flu shots for adults, immunizations and dental services for children and teens and health screenings; story times and an opportunity for families to sign up for library cards and for free monthly book deliveries for younger children; information about summer and winter camps; and much more

WI: Has the District’s school application and lottery proved to be the most equitable method of meeting the choice(s) for schools by District families:

EdFEST: Before My School DC, families found it difficult to navigate many different applications and lotteries. The process is now simpler with many supports in place for families to access the application at But the school lottery is a random one and is not first-come, first-served, so all lottery applicants that meet the deadlines (Feb. 1 for grades 9-12, March 1 for grades PK3-8) have a chance of being matched to a school of choice. ranked his or her school choices on their application.

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D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Award-winning journalist and 21-year Black Press veteran, book editor, voice-over specialist and college instructor (Philosophy, Religion, Journalism). Before joining us, he led the Miami Times to recognition as NNPA Publication of the Year.

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