As District parents embark on yet another endeavor to enroll their children in quality summertime programming, a collective of local agencies and community-based organizations are gearing up for an event that will allow for the exploration of various options.
On March 25, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education’s Office of Out-of-School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes will host “Summer in the City” at Eliot-Hine Middle School in Northeast. During this four-hour event, hundreds of parents and families can directly engage providers of summer programs, summer jobs and other enrichment activities.
Dr. Shontia Lowe, executive director of the Office of the Out-of-School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes said that more than 40 Learn24 partners, community-based organizations and District agencies — including the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), D.C. Public Library, and D.C. Public Schools — will be represented at “Summer in the City.”
The focus, as Lowe explained it, is on families, especially those with the greatest need for access to quality programming. To meet equity goals, the Office of Out-of-School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes continues to take stock of where programs are placed throughout the city and how best to include special-needs populations.
As D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) prepares to release her FY 2024 budget proposal, the Office of Out-of-School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes is also conducting a needs-based assessment that determines what community-based organizations and parents deem as essential when it comes to enrichment.
Lowe said the findings will help the Office of Out-of-School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes further coordinate resources for the benefit of parents and children.
“We’re on the heels of a pandemic and parents are looking for a safe space for their youth during the summer, a place where they can grow socially and emotionally and have fun,” Lowe said as she explained the premise behind “Summer in the City.” “We will bring together District agencies, Learn24 partners and community-based organizations that provide summer programming so parents know what’s being offered, which will help them make informed decisions about what our District children and youth are doing during the summer months.”
Bowser recently announced the launch of a lottery system for DPR summer camp registration that’s intended to bring more equity to a process that parents have criticized in past years. Over the next few months, DPR will also expand weekday and weekend hours at some of the District’s most utilized recreation centers.
This development comes weeks after DPR provided mid-winter break programming for youth at local recreation centers — including video games, hip-hop Zumba, and Black History movie night.
This summer, District government agencies and community-based organizations will unite to provide similar programming and then some. That means parents who attend “Summer in the City” can also seek out activities that promise to broaden their child’s horizons in the realms of app and web development.
Tim Weedon, founder of Tech Turn Up, a nonprofit dedicated to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), education and equity, expressed his desire to enroll middle and high school students in a summer program that will teach them how to be producers of web-based technology, rather than consumers.
This summer, Tech Turn Up will offer 30 young people six weeks of intense training that establishes a connection between technology and the arts. Students who converge at Jelleff Recreation Center in Georgetown during the summer program will also learn coding through music, and how to edit and create videos.
Weedon birthed Tech Turn Up six years ago after an outside tech program he provided his youth at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington Richard England Clubhouse 14 on Benning Road in Northeast didn’t pique their interest.
From that moment, Weedon learned how to code and facilitate more culturally competent programming. Tech Turn Up has since hosted coding sessions that have brought youth to George Mason University, Howard University and Catholic University of America. The nonprofit has also established a presence in Wards 7 and 8 through its Residency in Tech program.
As Weedon looks forward to “Summer in the City,” he said he’s eager to open up people’s eyes to the endless possibilities that a tech-based skill set can provide.
“Young people are learning how to build apps and websites,” Weedon said. “We’re moving on to NFTs and digital media. This is a great opportunity for families to engage children with other aspirations and put them in programs to develop their skill sets. We need to change direction as far as having this perspective.”