A Night at the Kennedy Center

This week a few lucky MiT 15s got to attend the Children’s Defense Fund’s 40th anniversary celebration at the Kennedy Center. Blanche Heard, an amazing member of the Dunbar Alumni Federation gave us these amazing tickets! We are so lucky that the Dunbar community is so supportive of us! After a pizza dinner at school the girls got all dressed up (SO glad we’ve given the girls some beautiful dresses over the last year, they all had something perfect to wear!) and we headed out to KenCen.

The girls (and some of the board members) had never been to the Kennedy Center before and it was wonderful to show them the gorgeous building, the gardens and the incredible view. But nothing compared to seeing the students of the Freedom Schools, the singers, cellists, and tap dancers who look like them, Geoffrey Canada and all of the INCREDIBLE stories of perseverance, determination and success in the face of incredible odds. So many of the evening’s speakers had faced the same situations that our girls are coming from right now and it was amazing for them to see young men and women with similar backgrounds telling their stories about how education, mentoring and hard work got them to that stage.

On top of all of that, the most incredible moment was hearing Marian Wright Edelman and Hillary Clinton speak. How lucky is that? For our girls to get to see and hear both of these amazing women on the same stage in the same night was extraordinary. It was an experience they’ll never forget.

We would never be able to give our girls these experiences without our amazing supporters. Thanks so much Ms. Heard!

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leadHER: Scavenger Hunts, Letters to Ourselves and Dance!

This week was our first leadHER class with the 2016s. Our amazing leadHER Chair, Jazmyn, always has one of the best classes and this week was no exception. leadHER is all about leadership and community service and the girls spend this first class learning to define leadership (with a collage!), learning about their own leadership skills (with a really great self-assessment), going on a scavenger hunt to work on their group leadership skills, and finishing up the day with a moveHER class, which today was a dance class taught by Howard student Ebony Ingram. Ebony was an amazing dancer, the girls loved her so much they even asked for more stretching! She dances with Greenpoint Unlimited Dance, a great dance company that works with young dancers. It was a great class for our girls! My favorite part? The girls wrote letters to themselves, encouraging themselves to read when they are down. They all wrote pretty powerful stuff, I think Damoni’s line “Pick your head up high, you have a lot to be proud of” says it all. They’re such amazing girls.

A new year has begun!

We are so excited here at MiT, we’ve started our second year! We had our first class on Saturday with TWO classes, the 2015s and the new 2016s! So exciting. The girls met each other, the younger girls got to see Womble Carlyle for the first time, met the board members and teachers, and had their very first moveHER workout session! The older girls got to share their experiences in their first year of MiT and talk about everything they learned and how much they’re grown and met their mentors for the first time.

This is an especially exciting year for the girls, Dunbar High School has been rebuilt and is absolutely gorgeous. The students’ entire educational experience will be different in such beautiful surroundings. And on the first day of school all of the MiTs got gift bags with new t-shirts, pink planners, chocolate and more. Everyone is so excited for what the new year will bring, it’s going to be amazing!

It’s the end of our first year!

It’s the end of Michelle in Training’s first year and I don’t know about you but I thought this year was AMAZING! So much more incredible than I imagined it would be.

We spent first semester getting to know our amazing girls and teaching them the basics of the HERs. It took some time but we could really see a difference this semester. Even better is that they have. The girls are more organized, more polite, more dedicated to their schoolwork and each other, and generally just really growing up before our eyes. They ask me constantly if we’ll have MiT in college, they came running to our teacher liaison absolutely devastated when someone told them MiT was only for sophomores and they were really, really picky about what girls we accepted this year. They care about the program and each other and it’s starting to show.

The school is also really starting to respect us, being an MiT is super impressive at Dunbar now! They put us in the yearbook and we had a lot of girls apply this year. This is all due to the amazing work of our incredible board, the girls being such great examples and ESPECIALLY to Ms. Evers, our teacher liaison, who is an amazing MiT ambassador at Dunbar.

Next year we’ll be continuing with six girls in the class of 2015. Every one of these girls loves MiT and is so dedicated to the program, each other and their own futures. It has been really amazing to see.

As for the Class of 2016, we have nine new girls who are so excited to be in MiT! One girl is the sister to a current MiT (yaay!) and another was so excited when I called that she made me say it again with her mom and grandmother listening! They’re a great group of girls and can’t wait to get started. In fact, two of the girls came to our amazing community service day last week (thanks Jazmyn! If you haven’t seen the pictures, check them out HERE) and had a blast.

On the other side, we now have a roster of 80+ volunteers with more applying every week and the community is continuing to rally behind us. We’ve had several people go out of their way to fundraise for us, offer us assistance, venue space, computer and supply donation and everything else we needed to succeed this year.

So exciting!

So what’s next? This summer we’ll have a VMiT happy hour (so sign up to volunteer now!) to celebrate our amazing volunteers, we’re looking for mentors for the class of 2015 and we’re planning an amazing fall semester for both classes. In August our second year starts. The Class of 2016 will have the same fall semester that this year’s class had, learning the basics of MiT and building the relationships that will help us succeed with this new class for the next three years and beyond. The Class of 2015 will work with their mentors and SAT tutors to prepare for testing and college applications. It will be a busy semester, our first with two simultaneous classes, but I know it will be even better than this year.

Thanks so much for all of your support and good wishes! We couldn’t have made it this far without an amazing community behind us.

See you next year!
kat
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Community Service Day!

As an end of the school year treat, we took a few of the girls from the class of 2015 and our brand new class of 2016 to a community service day! Our wonderful leadHER chair, Jazmyn, found out that the National Park Service was having a day to encourage more African Americans to visit national parks, so she signed us up for a community service project at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Kenilworth is pretty amazing, the gardens are beautiful and they’re right in Anacostia! Who knew?

Not only did the girls get to learn a little bit about planting grass and dealing with worms (you can guess how they felt about that one), they also got to meet Audrey Peterman, an amazing woman who travels the country and writes book to encourage more Blacks to visit National Parks. After lunch in the park we took the girls home and celebrated the end of our very first year!

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So Much Happening!

Phew! Spring semester has been CRAZY. The girls have had state testing, spring break, the world’s most difficult Biology class and goodness knows what else. We have neglected our blogging but are moving along and will post an update soon! Lots of stuff coming up, including:

  • Our very first fundraiser!
  • Recruitment of the class of 2016!
  • 11th grade mentors for the girls!
  • Other stuff

Wish us luck, and stay tuned!

 

Project Armed and Dangerous

MiT has been so incredibly lucky in the last few weeks.

Our girls are doing incredibly well.

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We were on PBS!

We got a mention in the Washington Post!

And we met the amazing Desy Osunsade! Desy works with an organization called Black Benefactors and we met at a young philanthropist happy hour. After I told Desy about MiT and our amazing girls, she decided to help out! Desy was especially struck by the huge digital divide that our girls are facing and decided to do something about it. So, she’s using her birthday as an opportunity to raise money to donate computers to MiT! How amazing is that? She’s calling it “Project Armed and Dangerous” and we could NOT be more excited to have the support and incredible generosity of someone as incredible as Desy.

If you’d like to join Desy on her quest to close the digital divide at MiT, you can donate using the button on the side. ——————————->

All funds received will go towards Desy’s project!

Thanks so much for being our hero Desy!!

kat & MiT