Five years of impact for DC students

In July, Education Forward DC celebrated five years of accelerating the work of visionary education leaders in the District of Columbia.

In that relatively short amount of time, our investment of $43 million in more than 80 unique grantees to build greater equity for DC students has supported meaningful gains for DC’s public schools and the environment that enables their success through expanded resources, improved academic achievement, and more quality school options. And prior to the pandemic, DC was on track to double the number of underserved students who are college and career ready in five years.

These gains reflect better experiences and better outcomes for students, and we’re proud that the range of work we have supported since 2016 has helped advance that change.

New school options for DC students

We partnered with visionary school leaders to provide new and expanded school options for DC students that align with their needs and families’ demands. The result is 26 schools comprising 10,022 seats that cover a wide array of school models—from a new public charter middle school focused on empowerment and social justice, The Social Justice School, to DC Public Schools’ first selective high school east of the Anacostia River, Bard High School Early College DC. And we coordinated initiatives that advanced trauma-informed practices, special education support, and best practice learnings from other cities to ensure our schools are best serving students

Access to better information for families

We supported the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) in engaging more than 4,000 families, advocates, educators, and community members across all eight DC wards to design and launch the first DC School Report Card, a high-quality tool for families to make apples-to-apples comparisons across all District of Columbia Public Schools and public charter schools. Additionally, our investment to launch the State of DC Schools report provides an important cross-sector overview of the performance of DC’s public schools annually.

Infusion of strong leaders and educators

Our investments in educator pipelines have provided DC students with 1,737 excellent new teachers and 265 strong new school leaders and built the capacity of an additional 39 existing school leaders on trauma-informed practices and equity-centered talent management practices to increase teacher effectiveness and retention. And our support of OSSE and TNTP generated a foundational report of our teacher workforce, giving DC leaders a better understanding of teacher diversity, experience, supply, demand, and retention in DC.

Elevation of parent and student voice

We were proud to support leaders as they launched organizations like Parents Amplifying Voices in Education and Black Swan Academy and sought to drive parent and student advocacy in the DC education conversation. Their voice, and that of our coalition partners, has resulted in a 17 percent increase in funding per student since 2016 and greater investments in school buildings, out-of-school time programming, and school-based mental health supports.

A nimble response to the pandemic

When the COVID-19 crisis struck, we partnered with the DC Public Education Fund and the Greater Washington Community Foundation to create the DC Education Equity Fund. The initiative raised $2.5 million towards ensuring schools could provide devices, internet access, and basic needs to DC’s students and their families and preparing for a safe and joyful reopening this fall.

There’s no doubt that the last five years’ work advanced meaningful change, but opportunities remain to serve students in our next round of partnerships. Over the next five years, we will support an equitable COVID recovery so that schools rebound to pre-pandemic levels of performance for students furthest from opportunity and emerge providing a reimagined experience for students that meets their full academic, social, and emotional needs. We’ve already begun that work, which you can learn more about here. We hope you’ll partner with us to ensure all students can leave DC schools prepared to achieve their dreams and thrive in life.

DC education leaders and our grantees reflect on five years of Education Forward DC.