This week inPOINTS celebrates Washington, D.C. and the District of Learning. This summer inPOINTS spent a hot and humid week visiting some of the great programs serving young people in our nation’s capital. Starting with this introduction video, we will be posting short videos we made about these programs throughout the week.
When most people think of Washington, D.C. they think of White House, The Capitol Building, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and other government related aspects of the city. But the tourist attractions only really take up a small quadrant of the city.
District of Learning ( DOL) is helping the young people of Washington, D.C. release the city’s potential along with their own by giving them a voice and helping them through opportunities that utilize the cities resources. The District of Learning is a platform that gives young people access to online and citywide resources to pursue their interests, create their own learning pathways, and record their learning with achievements and digital badges.
District of Learning is also a driving force to connect the many organizations and institutions, large and small, throughout DC who serve young people. District of Learning hopes to be a catalyst for greater collaboration and collective action.
When the Chicago Art Department (CAD) visited DC to document the District of Learning they saw that there are so many different communities that have youths with a passion embedded in the city.
CAD visited numerous organizations that participate in DOL including:
- Art Lab – an informal learning space and a digital studio with professional technology including a sound studio, green screen, animation software, and broadcasting capabilities.
- College Tribe – Black men mentoring Black boys through STEM education. Mentors and mentees are together three days a month engaging in STEM projects like robotics, chess, public speaking, learning how to use Microsoft Word, and field trips across the DC area.
- DC Scores – an after-school program helps students improve their fitness levels, develop self-expression, and establish deep community connections through service projects — all while developing closer bonds with teachers and peers.
- Queen Beez – a program that allows young girls to uplift and express themselves through song and dance.
- Hero Leadership Academy – DC HERO Program annually conducts a summer Leadership Academy in July and August for HERO Program participants, including a week-long tour of Marine Science and Oceanography Institute and college tour.
- Martha’s Table – addresses emergency needs with food and clothing programs, and work to assist children and families as they break the cycle of poverty through education and family support services.
- Critical Exposure – trains youth to use photography and advocacy to make real change in their schools and communities
Programs like these that participate in the DOL help passionate and creativity driven youths find their place.
“Young people are experts on what they want to learn. They are experts on who they are and what their interests are,”
“Young people are experts on what they want to learn. They are experts on who they are and what their interests are,” Felicia Ramos, Program Director at Critical Exposure said. “I think the platform (DOL) really allows them to find things they’re interested in.”
DOL serves the people, the kids, and residents of DC by connecting them to larger resources the city has, like the Smithsonian and non-for-profit organizations, large and small, and after school programs. District of Learning hopes to give the youth a sense of the diversity and a range of programs to connect to.
“It’s a way of creating a network so that a young person can go to one organization based on a particular interest or program and then go to another organization so this really becomes their entire city,” Timothy Jones, Director of Healthy Connections at Martha’s Table, said.
Youths in DC get to really connect to their inner passions and interests through these learning arenas then are able to show what they’ve learned through online badges, that can later be used so that their experience and progress is recognized.
DOL lets students and residents of DC use resources around the city and see the city through a broader lens so that they can really identify the city as their own.