Testimony drafted by Ana Hageage, LAYC Workforce Investment Director
Presented by Luis Quiñones, LAYC Education Director on February 17, 2016, at the DC OSSE Oversight Hearing
My name is Luis Quiñones, and I am the Director of Education for the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) in Columbia Heights. LAYC is a long-standing multi-service youth organization with deep ties to immigrant and minority communities in the District. My testimony is intended to share the work that LAYC is able to conduct as a result of OSSE grants, commend OSSE’s leadership on initiatives made this past year, and suggest changes for the coming year that would greatly benefit the youth and families that we serve through our network of programs.
As a recipient of 8 OSSE grants totaling $950,000 LAYC has been able to provide 900 youth with the following programs and services:
- LAYC Community Schools, serving over 500 disconnected youth enrolled in Youthbuild PCS, Next Step PCS, The LAYC Career Academy, and LAYC’s WISE Program
- Cardozo Community Schools, serving over 125 high-risk youth enrolled in Cardozo’s education Campus
- After School Programs for 100 TANF recipients at Cardozo, Powell, and Raymond Elementary and Middle Schools
- 21st Century Learning serving 110 High school students at Cardozo and Roosevelt High School through academic, STEM, and enrichment activities
- Physical Activity for 100 youth at Roosevelt and Wilson High schools
- Sexual Wellness Advocacy Training program (SWAT), by providing funds for STI, STD and pregnancy testing to 300 youth
We would like to thank OSSE for the strides made under new leadership which include the following:
- The reinstatement of the Advisory Council for Community Schools
- The allocation of funds for program evaluation Community Schools
- The expansion of the Community Schools program to 2 more schools, totaling 11, in the District
- Streamlining grants to provide young people with positive engagement activities
In order to build on the work and momentum that has occurred this year, LAYC suggests the following changes:
Grow Community Schools from just a grant program via the following actions:
- Restructure the grant to provide multi-year funding with a minimum of three years to allow for continuity of work and minimize staff turnover.
- Identify and require the collection of key indicators as well as an annual external evaluation for all Community Schools Providers.
- Make the Advisory Council permanent and designate a coordinating entity to staff the committee and provide technical assistance to grantees.
- Utilize members of the Advisory Council to tackle the issue of data sharing between Public Charter Schools, DCPS, and their respective Community school.
Minimize administrative and bureaucratic challenges to providers by:
- Ensuring there is adequate coverage to manage grants, particularly when transitioning to new staff
- Developing a clear, consistent, and realistic reporting process including quarterly reporting timelines and recurring trainings on OSSE’s new EGMS system to minimize errors that might delay payment and program implementation.
- Identifying ways to make TANF contracts more inclusive of youth with extreme barriers. Enrollment is often stalled due to missing or incomplete eligibility documentation that could be obtained through collaboration with other DC agencies such as DHS or DOES and is often difficult for youth to obtain copies of.
- Leveraging OSSE’s internal talent to provide relevant professional development opportunities
And lastly, while a budget issue, allocate flexible dollars in OSSE grants for line items such as meals during out-of-school time that schools don’t have resources to provide.
We greatly appreciate the opportunities that OSSE affords our youth and we know the city values the LAYC and our contribution to youth development. Thank you for your time and please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with further questions.
LAYC Education Director
LAYC Workforce Investment Director