May 8, 2015

Give a Head Start: Investing in Early Care and Education

Your support of Washington Area Women's Foundation fuels investment in Early Care and Education.  Join with us to support a critical opportunity for children to increase school readiness and close the achievement gap.

Did you know?

  • Kids who enter kindergarten prepared are four times more likely to graduate high school.
  • In 2013, the average annual cost of full-time center-based care for an infant in the District of Columbia was $22,000, or about 92 percent of the median income of a female-headed household.
  • The cost of center-based care for an infant in the District of Columbia was three times higher than the cost of a year's tuition and fees at a four-year public college in 2013.
  • Every public dollar invested in early care and education saves taxpayers up to $13 dollars in future costs.

In 2014, early care and education grants helped reach over 6,300 low-income children across the region.  These grants improved teacher-child communication in the classroom, supported literacy efforts and interventions, invested in the professional development of child care workers and empowered families to advocate for quality child care across the region.

In the Washington metropolitan region, more than 200,000 women and girls are living in poverty.  Early care and education is one critical strategy to help increase the economic security of families and, together, we can make influence change that will have lasting impact, not just on this generation, but for generations to come.  

Please donate today to Washington Area Women's Foundation.


Feb 12, 2015

Your Support Opens New Doors

Because of supporters like you, new doors are opening for Beverly S.

Beverly S., a recent graduate of The Women's Foundation's Grantee Partner Academy of Hope, exclaimed, “Getting my high school diploma is the best!” She adds, “It’s so good to take on a challenge and complete it. It (a high school credential) is already opening up new doors of opportunity for me!”

Beverly, like so many adults in Washington, DC, was desperate to get her high school credential and begin to turn her life around.  She was one of the lucky ones.  More than 64,000 adults in the District of Columbia lack a high school credential but the city only serves about 7,000 residents through its locally funded adult education programs and adult charter schools. In recent years, Academy of Hope has had a waiting list of over 200 adults each term with the goal of obtaining their GED or improving their academic skills to obtain a better job or to enter college. According to the U.S. Department of Education, over 30 million adults lack a high school credential in the U.S.  Across the city, adult education providers report long waiting lists for their services. Yet, for the last ten years, national and local funding has continued to decline, with more cuts to come due to sequestration.

The need for adult education services is great. Your commitment to funding The Women's Foundation helps make life-changing programs, like the one Beverly participated in, possible. 

Adult education has been the easy target for cuts as we blame adults for squandering an opportunity as children – one that some would argue, given the life circumstance of many who drop out, never existed. The ramifications of continued funding cuts in adult education have begun to reveal themselves. The release of survey results from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competency (PIAAC) in fall 2012 confirmed what many in adult education already knew: American adults are not doing well in literacy, numeracy or problem solving skills compared to other countries. The impact of low literacy extends beyond the adult with low skills. PIACC findings indicate that, more than any of the 24 nations participating in the survey, a U.S. parent’s literacy and socioeconomic status had the greatest impact on a child’s ability to succeed in school. Because of this, it is not surprising that U.S. results from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA,  are also lagging. PISA is designed to test whether high school students can apply what they’ve learned in school to real-life problems.

When dealing with the drop-out crisis, elected officials often cite stopping the pipeline of dropouts as a justification for increased funding in K-12 education. The pipeline, however, begins with the parent. Parents with strong literacy skills can better help their children do homework, study and succeed in school. According to a 2012 Urban Institute report, young adults whose parents have a high school diploma are more likely to complete high school than are those whose parents do not. They are also less likely to live in poverty.

Nov 18, 2014

Here. Now. For Her.

President Jennifer with her mom and daughters
President Jennifer with her mom and daughters

Each year around the holidays I am reminded of all the things for which I am grateful. Among them are the experiences and people that helped shape me. If you have been fortunate enough to achieve any measure of success in life, you have had these as well – the people and places along the journey that nurtured and inspired you.

I am here today because of my mother, Dianna Lockwood. My mom grew up poor in a small town in New Hampshire, on a working farm, the youngest of three sisters. She never had the opportunity to go to college and was determined that my brother and I would. She and my dad created a wonderful life, until it all came crashing down during the recession of the 1980s when both of my parents lost their jobs. My father never quite recovered from that setback and it was my mother who got up each day, worked several jobs, and made sure that my brother and I had what we needed. Her example of strength and resiliency taught me.

I do what I do because of her. I’ve devoted my career to working on behalf of low-income women and their families because I want her to know that the investment she made in me, all of her sacrifices, were not in vain.  And now that I’m a mother, I have a new, more profound understanding of what she did, and I know that as I strive to make a better life for my own daughters, I am paying forward what my mother has given me.

There are more than 200,000 women and girls living in poverty across the Washington metropolitan region, who like my mother and I have a story of hope to step beyond their own experiences and limitations. Sadly, that statistic hasn’t changed significantly in recent years, particularly in light of the recession and what has now become a slow and prolonged recovery for those most in need. As frustrating as these numbers are, and as impatient as we all are for change, we have to remember that most women in our community didn’t suddenly fall into poverty.  And just as it didn’t happen overnight, it won’t be resolved overnight.

And that’s why, now, more than ever, we are grateful for your support.

The challenges our region faces to address poverty are complex. This is the time to stand firm in our commitment, craft a bold vision, and re-double our efforts so that future generations of girls can one day achieve their dreams. 

We must do all that we can to move women and girls from a place of economic vulnerability to security. As I look ahead to our work in the coming year, I need your support to realize our goals.

Our investments in girls will support high school completion, develop self-esteem, encourage positive choices, and empower them as social change agents. Our goals for investing in women are to obtain jobs with family sustaining wages and benefits, support increased financial capability, and provide the foundational skills that allow them to break the cycle of poverty for their children.

Your support makes it possible for us to:

  • Provide financial education, job training, and access to early care and education resources to thousands of low-income women in the region.
  • Invest more resources into ground-breaking two-generation work with girls and their female caregivers to break the cycle of poverty.
  • Leverage the combination of our investments and our influence to have the greatest impact with our powerful voice on behalf of women and girls.

These goals are ambitious. But, I believe that—together—we can achieve them. We are poised and ready to lead a movement that will shape the future of local families, our communities, and this world. Let’s harness our collective strength to, in turn, strengthen others.

There are thousands of women and girls with hopes and dreams that deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential who need us. Your support matters and makes a difference in their lives.

Stand with me. Here. Now. For Her.

With gratitude,

Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat

President and CEO

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