We can't afford to. With thousands of students in Washington, DC, still lacking a team to be on (help provide a team by Dec. 31!), the focus is always on doing more — providing more youth at more schools with our high-quality Arts/Athletics/Academics program.
In 2014, we will also ramp up our focus on offering more opportunities for high school youth who have graduated from our formal program to stay engaged.
There's A LOT to look forward to.
But before we close the book on 2013, here's a look (with links) at our hand-picked Top 13 Stories of the year. This was no easy list to create, so please chime in with comments on the stories you think should have been included! And you can always find a list of organizational accomplishments here.
Stories are in chronological order:
13. Poetry flows from supporters close and far during National Poetry Month
For the first time, DC SCORES celebrated National Poetry Month in style — asking staff members, board members, and supporters far and wide to exercise their creative genes and write a poem for us. The results were tremendous. We got a haiku from Chancellor Kaya Henderson; a poem from Councilmember David Grosso; spoken word examples from other youth advocate leaders in DC; and more. The month demonstrated, as we know from watching youth during the fall season, that anyone can create a beautiful piece of poetry when given the freedom to write whatever is on their mind.
|12. Kastenny, staff member Anna, and|
Christian in New York City!
The first week of April, two DC SCORES poets took a very special trip — a train ride to New York City, the Big Apple! Christian Brown of Tubman Elementary School and Kastenny Contreras of Marie Reed Elementary School represented DC at the 7th Annual America SCORES National Poetry SLAM! at the New York Stock Exchange. They were chosen after outstanding performance at our Slam! the previous fall. The students not only spent a weekend exploring New York, but befriended students from America SCORES' 13 affiliate programs and performed brilliantly and courageously under the bright lights. "I love poetry because of the feeling when you speak," Kastenny said.
11. DC SCORES students promote healthy lifestyles during Global Youth Service Day
On a Saturday morning in late April, Columbia Heights was full of energy as a large group of DC SCORES students, staff members, volunteers, and partners from the Sodexo Foundation paraded around the neighborhood delivering a strong message: "NO KID HUNGRY, NO KID HUNGRY." The march was the capper of a morning that focused on promoting healthy lifestyles, with the youth delivering the message and feeling empowered. Through a combination of dancing, fitness tests, and the march, those who came to Global Youth Service Day left feeling inspired to spread the word about being fit and feeling healthy.
|10. Kelly Miller students teaching seniors about new|
technology as their service-learning project!
Each spring, every DC SCORES team dedicates itself to bettering its school or greater community through a service-learning project. The students take the bonds formed during the fall soccer and poetry season and — guided by a detailed curriculum — brainstorm and then implement a project. In the spring of 2013, there was more change throughout the District than ever before. Kelly Miller Middle School students taught seniors how to use modern technology such as smartphones and tablets; Bancroft Elementary School students organized a race in their neighborhood to raise over $1,000 for a local animal shelter; and there were dozens of other incredible projects. What a spring of service!
9. The largest Jamboree! — or any DC SCORES event — ever
Three hours before the beginning of the 18th Annual DC SCORES Jamboree!, staff members and volunteers were setting up soccer goals in the dark at Anacostia Park. That was the preparation time necessary to set up 14 soccer fields that would be home to 128 soccer games during the course of six hours. More than 1,500 people attended the event, which also featured soccer skills stations, relay races, facepainting, a service-learning project competition, and the City Cup championship for elementary schools. The largest event in our program history wouldn't have been possible without the dozens of volunteers and partner organizations who helped it run smoothly throughout the crazy day!
8. Do More 24 (or 48!) — an incredible show of support
On June 6, we asked supporters to give to DC SCORES during Do More 24 — a fundraising drive organized by the United Way. We were participating in the event for the first time, so we were unsure what to expect. The response we received was overwhelming and reaffirmed for us how many people believe in the DC SCORES mission. Nearly 150 people donated during the drive, and more than half of them were first-time donors. Their combined effort provided more than 350 soccer uniforms for DC youth, an incredible performance by our team of supporters. Thank you!!
7. Tournament-record 30 teams participate in DC SCORES Cup
On June 15, more than 500 professionals from the greater DC area converged on the Maryland SoccerPlex for an action-packed day of soccer, camaraderie, and fun for a great cause — the 11th DC SCORES Cup. The DC area's largest corporate soccer tournament grew from 26 to 30 teams and raised an event record $100,000 for our program. While District Sports came away at the end of the day with the large tournament trophy — which they will keep until June 14, 2014 — everyone had a great time on a beautiful day in Gaithersburg, Md. Look for the tournament to continue to grow this year!
|6. Just another action-packed day at summer camp!|
For a combined 14 weeks during the summer, students in Washington, DC, stayed engaged athletically and artistically through DC SCORES summer camps that were free to participants and open to any students — not just those in the fall and spring program. At four sites, students learned soccer skills, built friendships with kids from other schools from throughout the city, and kept their minds active through artistic activities and a variety of field trips. The camps also kept former DC SCORES participants engaged, as several high school students worked as counselors and served as role models for the younger students. With summer learning loss a critical issue for low-income youth, the camps were vital in keeping participants physically fit and thinking critically until school started again.
5. DC SCORES featured on the front page of The Washington Post
On August 1, DC SCORES was prominently featured on the front page of The Washington Post's Metro section — with a long article and a handful of photos from summer camp. The article shed light on an issue that we think about every day and are tackling head-on with our focus on older youth — the lack of athletic opportunities for girls in the District. The article noted that only four of 15 public high schools in DC have consistent girls soccer teams. "That's insane," Executive Director Amy Nakamoto was quoted. The article was a tremendous marketing piece for us, as emails and phone calls flooded in from people who had previously not heard of the program but now wanted to get involved.
In May, DC SCORES received a great honor when we were chosen for inclusion in the annual Catalogue for Philanthropy as "one of the best small charities in the Greater Washington region." It was the third time we were hand-picked for the catalogue, which since forming in 2003 has helped raise more than $21 million for DC nonprofits. The catalogue, which was released in early November, not only features DC SCORES among 74 organizations highlighted but also has a full-page photo of our program.
3. U-16 DC SCORES team thrives during first season
The idea was born during a summer tournament and evolved into a team that fortified during its first season. DC SCORES coaches Popsie Lewis and Simon Landau created a U-16 soccer team for former and current program participants from seven different schools in the District. For some of the kids, it was a chance to keep playing organized soccer during high school. For the younger kids, it was the opportunity to play against older, tougher competition and get better from it. During the season's last game, the team put together an inspired comeback victory. Since then, they've practiced several times and can't wait for another season together.
2. A Poetry Slam! for the ages
We don't beat around the bush when asked what the best event of the DC SCORES year is. It's the Poetry Slam!, and it never lets spectators down. This year was no different, as there were a record 41 performances during the two-night event, the 16th Annual Slam!. The 5-minute performances by each school highlight all aspects of our program, cover the spectrum of emotions from sad to serious to funny, and highlight the confidence students gain to express their innermost feelings during our three-month fall season. Executive Director Amy Nakamoto called the second night of the Poetry Slam! — the Eastside event — the best she's seen during seven years with the organization. Watch the performances and judge for yourself on the DC SCORES YouTube page.
It wouldn't be feasible for our program to continue growing while maintaining high-level — and award-winning — programming if not for our incredibly dedicated staff, board of directors and, of course, coaches. And to expand to serve even more students (1,500 at 47 schools), we strengthened our capacity. Our staff reached 18 full- and part-time employees, including three new positions. We added seven new members to our Board of Directors. And we employed 190 soccer and writing coaches at our schools — the people who make our soccer, poetry and service-learning model work every day!
To everyone who contributed to DC SCORES during 2013 ... and it would take a book to list you all ... THANK YOU for an incredible and inspiring year.
Here's to an even more spectacular 2014!