Counting the Three Ways We Are Thankful for You

As we head into this Thanksgiving holiday, we want to count the three ways we are thankful for all of our supporters. We are elated to announce not one, not two, but THREE new exciting social innovative ventures made possible through your support! These fine grantees are helping to build jobs and platforms for self-empowerment in critical communities in the District of Columbia. Together, we are creating healthy communities that value innovation, creativity, and ideas.

Please read on to learn more about Wise Young Builders, the Paper Project, and a new digital certification program for DC’s Street Sense. We are especially thankful for a grant by the Kimsey Foundation whose support shaped our call for proposals during this funding cycle by challenging us to explore how digital literacy, such as the Street Sense program, could be creatively applied to address poverty in the District of Columbia. This funding partnership was a solid example of how DC Social Innovation Project’s model of mentoring, grantmaking, and pro-bono expertise can be effectively paired with donor support to target, improve, and scale new innovation opportunities and projects for change. If you would like to learn more about how you can fund and help shape future grantee calls for proposals, please contact Melissa Ehrenreich, our Executive Director at

Thank you again to our volunteers, donors, and partners for supporting these new approaches to address poverty and build opportunity in communities of need and promise!

Wise Young Builders: Learning By Building

Wise Young Builders LogoWith their project- based learning model, Wise Young Builders serves youth ages 8-12 in wards 5, 6, 7, and 8 (targeting single-parent households) with a goal of addressing math proficiency gaps by applying age-appropriate math curricula to hands-on carpentry and construction projects. WYB pushes participants to not only master math concepts, but apply them to create deep and transformational learning opportunities. The result: A new skill set that is nurtured in the WYB classroom alongside architects, and construction tradesmen and then put into action in the field where children shadow experts who use the same math in their professions every day. WYB operates two 10-week sessions and the DC Social Innovation Project is proud to provide funding to support their 2015 programming and consulting services to solidify their strategic plan in support of their ultimate goal of establishing a residential program.

The Paper Project: A Promising Platform for Student Empowerment

What’s black and white, and read all over? The Paper Project. In a city whose traditional public school system faces the challenges of some of the lowest graduation rates and highest truancy rates in the nation, The Paper Project uses student newspapers to provide a voice, foster student ownership of their schools, and heighten student engagement at a critical stage in formal education. Building off lessons learned from their pilot program, The Paper Project will establish student-led newspapers in public middle schools as a tool to enhance student expression and engagement. With programming organized and led by local high school students, middle school students complete a journalism curriculum and then develop print papers from scratch. Each participating school will print and distribute five print editions throughout the year. The DC Social Innovation Project is excited to support The Paper Project through consulting services to establish and implement a sustainability plan as they seek to scale and provide the opportunity to secure funding for operational support.

Street Sense Digital Marketing Certification Program: Democratizing Digital Jobs

Street Sense LogoStreet Sense is best known for its hard-copy print newspaper that provides jobs, pride, and a voice to empower homeless people living and struggling in the District. In a grant made possible by the Kimsey Foundation, Street Sense will launch a Digital Marketing Certification program to create a new ladder into the digital economy for the homeless through career training and job access to digital “micro-jobs.” Currently those who engage in Street Sense’s services have the opportunity to become a contributing writer for the organization’s print publication and gain income as a vendor. This new program identifies and trains selected individuals to successfully compete in the marketplace for contracted-out digital micro jobs, such as writing blogs, data organization – optimization – and entry, and image editing. In addition, the program supports participants as they build portfolios and source contract opportunities. The DC Social Innovation project is proud to support the pilot of this innovative program through funding to support operations and consulting services to measure the impact and effectiveness of the pilot.


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