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Mentoring Month

On this chilly Monday, January comes to a close — as does the first month of 2011, as does National Mentoring Month.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had not thought about this month’s moniker until I saw it pop up around the non-profit blogsphere: on Social Media & Social Justice, Allison Jones catalyzed a discussion on mentoring and age — and how youth need not be barrier to providing career advice and support. She aptly points out that, through mentoring, “You’re forced to think about your choices: Saying “just because” doesn’t fly when you are mentoring someone. They want to know why you made certain choices and the consequences (good and bad).” And writing from the Indianapolis non-profit community, Jessica Journey blogs a tribute to three of her mentors, highlighting leaders who have transitioned from one sphere to another: from for-profit to n0n-profit or from foundations to education.

Taking her theme a bit farther, mentors have a particular power when they can alert a young person to the simple breadth and versatility of life. Especially for middle and high school students, who they are now can feel like who they will be forever — so a mentor who not only has incited social change and justice, but who took a few turns or alternative routes to get there, can provide hope and motivation. According to the MENTOR: National Mentoring Partnership:

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Around Town: January 29-30

Good snowy morning, Washington!

That was an exciting bit of weather. But according to our friends at WUSA9, we are looking at a relatively warmer weekend. So do check out these great performances at our non-profits!

District of Columbia Arts Center

Last chance! A Cre@tion Story for Naomi, Bright Alchemy Theatre’s tale of a teenager’s search for direction and purpose in the realms of cyberspace, closes this weekend! So head to DCAC tonight or Saturday at 7:30 PM. Stay until 10:00 PM, you can catch Shawn Mikael’s Theater — a sketch comedy featuring DC’s established and newer comic talents.

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Quote for the Day

What’s more, we are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea — the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That’s why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here. It’s why our students don’t just memorize equations, but answer questions like “What do you think of that idea? What would you change about the world? What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The future is ours to win. But to get there, we can’t just stand still.

– President Obama, State of the Union 2011

In The News …

Welcome to Wednesday, DMV folks! Just passing along some mid-week news …

Student Test Scores Show US Science-Education Deficiency — The results from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress were released this week and, according to the Wall Street Journal, may well “reinvigorate the national debate over America’s future competitiveness in science and technology.” Possible reasons for the science deficiency “included shortages of qualified science educators and of advanced science classes in low-income and rural schools” and many teachers “blamed the lackluster showing on No Child Left Behind.” While the results are a cause for concern, do they clearly indicate that science education is lacking? Or rather, could they suggest that standardized tests are the wrong medium for assessing that education — or fairly assessing ability for students of all backgrounds?

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7 Questions – Steve Park (Little Lights Urban Ministries)

Many Catalogue cheers for Steve Park, Executive Director of Little Lights Urban Ministries! Dedicated to the children of the Potomac Gardens public housing complex in Ward 6, Little Lights provides homework help, SAT practice, after-school activities, and Camp Heaven in the summer — and it all works. Last year, 100% of their students stayed in school.

1. What was your most interesting recent project, initiative, partnership, or event?

Just this week, we opened up our Little Lights Family Center located right on the grounds of Potomac Gardens Public Housing in Capitol Hill. We fully renovated a dilapidated apartment unit into a high-tech computer lab and resource/employment center. We will also be providing adult education classes and workshops in the space as well. We have also even agreed with the principal of the nearby elementary school to have some office hours in our space to do outreach to the parents.

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Open Sesame

Courtesy of Philanthropy 2137, this short (two-letter-focused) post from last Friday:

It just occurred to me. The last decade was defined by the prefix “e” — ePhilanthropy, eDiplomany, eCommerce.

The next decade will be similarly defined by the prefix “o” for Open — oGov, oData, oPhilanthropy.

As they say on Sesame Street, this past decade was brought to you by the letter “E.” Will the next indeed be brought to us by the letter “O”? And moreover, what do these single-letter prefixes even imply? I always see that lower-case vowel as an indication of means and medium. In other words, “ePhilanthropy” is philanthropy brought to you by means of the Internet, giving that takes place and is shaped by its digital nature — and by its accessibility.

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Around Town: January 22-23

Good morning, Greater Washington! Hope you are all enjoying this strange bout of balmy weather … prior to (predictions) of further snow. So what are you up to this weekend?

Looking to Volunteer?

Definitely stop by Byte Back’s information session this Saturday at noon. Based in DC, Byte Back has a great core of volunteer tutors who offer computer literacy instruction to low-income individuals — in everything from surfing the web to composing an email to using a mouse. To learn more about joining up, call (202) 529-3395.

At 1:00 PM on Saturday, For Love of Children invites new and returning volunteers to learn more about their mission, goals, and tutoring programs for kids in the Shaw and Columbia Heights neighborhoods. Call (202) 349-3509 for more info!

Looking for Dance and Music?

On Saturday at 8:00 PM and Sunday at 4:00 PM, Dance Place will welcome TAKE Dance and a showcase of Artistic Director Takehiro “Take” Ueyama’s repertory of powerful athletic movement contrasted with delicate gesture. Nab your tickets here.

You can still catch The In Series‘ double-bill of “pocket operas:” new English adaptations of the iconic Cuban musical, Maria la O, and the clown tale I Pagliacci are back at the Source Theatre on 14th Street on Saturday at 8:00 PM. (And the reviews have been great!)

Looking for Theater?

DCAC is busy again this weekend! Bright Alchemy Theater’s A Cre@tion Story for Naomi, the tale of a teenager in search of direction and purpose in the realms of cyberspace, returns at 7:30 on Saturday and Sunday. Then at 10:00 PM on Saturday, the lively Capital City Showcase (a variety show that will feature any and all things DC) will take the stage. Lean more here.

… Are you looking to perform?

Skipping ahead to next week, Washington Revels will kick off its next round of awesome children’s classes. Monday marks the first day of How Deep is the Snow? A Blizzard of Fun! For students in grades 2-3, these workshops will celebrates the coldest months through crafts, stories, song, and dance, while developing skills in collaboration and performance. You can register online!

And at 7:00 PM on Monday, singers and non-singers alike can head to CHAW to learn all about the oral tradition and singing rhythms, chants, traditional songs from Africa and the Diaspora. Reservations are definitely encouraged and all the info is here.

Quote for the Day

Courtesy of Tactical Philanthropy Blog:

Not everything is art. Art has meaning and value. Not everything is philanthropy. Philanthropy has meaning and value.

But with the White Painting we see the ultimate stripped down attempt at art and amazingly we find that it has meaning. I think we should take the same approach to thinking about philanthropy as we contemplate the value and meaning (or lack thereof) in new efforts to create social impact that stray far outside the familiar realm of donating and volunteering.

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In The News…

In focusing on world-wide philanthropy news this week, I both wanted to share the following items and give a shout-out to Catalogue’s international non-profits. Definitely check them out to learn more about making a difference all around the world.

Haiti, one year later — For the 1-year anniversary of the 7.0Mw earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the Big Picture on paid tribute last week to the “12 months of struggle and heartache photos of (and by) Haitians as they continue to cope with the aftermath of such a massive disaster.” These images certainly transcend words, so do look for yourself.

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MLK Avenues

If you have not already, do check out this piece in yesterday’s Post. “Taking to roads to find Martin Luther King’s legacy” highlights the years-long journey of a group of DC students with a simple yet ambitious goal: gaining a deeper understanding of Dr. King’s life and work by exploring the streets named for him — including DC’s own Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE:

Eight teenagers from five D.C. high schools crisscrossed the country with two mentors and video cameras, visiting more than a dozen “MLK streets.” Their driving tours in 2008 coincided with the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, putting the students between a history they barely knew and history in the making.

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