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Invest in the Future of 20 New Youth Leaders!

by One Common Unity, Inc.
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Invest in the Future of 20 New Youth Leaders!
Invest in the Future of 20 New Youth Leaders!
Invest in the Future of 20 New Youth Leaders!
Invest in the Future of 20 New Youth Leaders!
Invest in the Future of 20 New Youth Leaders!
Invest in the Future of 20 New Youth Leaders!
Invest in the Future of 20 New Youth Leaders!
Invest in the Future of 20 New Youth Leaders!
Invest in the Future of 20 New Youth Leaders!
Invest in the Future of 20 New Youth Leaders!
Invest in the Future of 20 New Youth Leaders!
Invest in the Future of 20 New Youth Leaders!
Invest in the Future of 20 New Youth Leaders!

We are in the midst of another transformative year of youth empowerment, education, artistic expression, and peace building. This past quarter, we were proud to have launched our Mental Health Campaign and continue our programming and mental health services virtually. Despite the uncertainty of the times we live in, we remain committed to our work, our communities, and spreading our light.

 

Highlights from the second quarter of 2020 include:

 

  • OCU Programs: In response to COVID-19, One Common Unity has shifted our programming, embracing online platforms, so that we can continue supporting our students, families, and wider community in the most meaningful and impactful ways. Our Program Facilitators continue to engage in-school and after-school Fly By Light chapters through virtual means. In addition to meeting with their Fly By Light chapters, facilitators are also offering weekly virtual Fly By Light programming to the wider OCU community. Additionally, our clinicians are now providing mental health services to the wider community around and across Washington, DC. One Common Unity’s licensed mental health clinicians have expanded services to provide telehealth therapy and outpatient support to students at our schools and other clients throughout DC. In addition, this quarter we were excited to host the following virtual programs for our students and community: 
    • Virtual Summer Showcase: OCU was proud to host our first virtual showcase on May 27, 2020. It was an evening of healing, hope, and connection, featuring local artists such as Alixa Garcia, John Johnson, and Kanikki J, as well as the talent, artwork, and voices of our Fly By Light students, and reaching over 3,000 people around the world!. Special shout out to our host, Princess Best, aka “the HipHop Momma”, our talented youth artists, and our special guests. 
    • Fly By Light Online: In addition to our virtual work with students, our Fly By Light Facilitators have expanded programming to include the wider community. We’re proud to have hosted the following programs, many of which will continue through the summer (to join us, stay tuned on our Instagram): 
      • Music Mondays: Hosted by HipHop Momma Princess Best- live music cyphers and community raps are constructed via Instagram live. Special FBL alumni guests Samaria, SneakyBarShar, Dougie D, and NateSkywalker have all co-facilitated. 
      • Tune In Tuesdays: Hosted by FBL facilitator Princess Best, Tune In Tuesdays is a moment to slow down and tap into our inner peace, collectively through meditation and meaningful discussion regarding current events.
      • Wellness Wednesday: Led by FBL facilitator Tyler Grigsby, Wellness Wednesdays is a short 30-minute workshop of mindfulness & art activities. Join us to get present in the moment, and create something inspiring while social distancing. 
      • Parenting By Light Thursday: Led by FBL facilitator Princess Best, Parenting by Light is for parents stressed from homeschooling & teleworking. Parenting is HARD; and parenting in COVID seems impossible for many. Princess offers a dynamic space for thoughtful reflection, catharsis, and tips/tools for parenting in a pandemic.
      • Dance By Light: Led by facilitator Johneé Wilson, our weekly Fly By Light dance party gives your body a beautiful opportunity to move, release and connect!  Johneé gives a brief tutorial every week on a dance such as the cha-cha slide or cupid shuffle. Participants dance together, at a distance! One of our favorite Dance By Light Fridays was a dance party in honor of Black Lives Matter! 
      • Funding Update: This quarter, we were so honored to receive grants from Capitol Hill Community Foundation and The Rotary Club of Washington D.C. In addition, we have been touched by the outpouring of support from the community through our online fundraiser, which has currently raised $7,751. To learn more or support, click here. 
  • COVID-19 Emergency Mental Health Services Campaign: One Common Unity has opened our mental health services to anyone in Washington, DC struggling with the profound emotional and psychological impact of this COVID-19 crisis. While there has been a collective push to ensure that people have access to foundational needs such as food, shelter, and safety, there has been relatively little mention of a wide-spread effort to address the pandemic’s devastating impact on mental health. Our efforts will ensure that our community, and most importantly, our children, can receive the vital mental health care needed to combat the unprecedented emotional distress of the COVID-19 crisis. 

 

In addition, we’re excited to spend the summer on some of the following exciting initiatives: 

  

  • Fly By Light National Training: Join us in July for part one of our second Fly By Light National Training! Building off of the success of our first year, we are thrilled to offer this initiative expanding our programming to include a national training which will certify teachers all over the country to lead Fly By Light chapters in their communities. Our award-winning program model and curriculum includes after-school and in-school workshops, overnight nature immersion retreats, annual city-wide showcases, professional development for teachers, parents, and other school administrators, and youth-led social justice campaigns. This summer, educators, artists, and activists around the country who are passionate about building the next generations of changemakers and bring Fly By Light to your school or city! The second part of the training runs until October for flexible scheduling for participants.
  • The Soul Of A Crisis: Join us for a virtual candlelight vigil and meditation led by our Executive Director, Hawah Kasat every Monday evening from 9pm - 10pm EDT. Learn more and register HERE
  • Celebrating 20 year history: August 17th, 2020 marks OCU’s 20th year anniversary! Stay tuned for our calendar of Fall events celebrating this exciting time

 

On behalf of our youth and staff, thank you for your support of One Common Unity. Because of you, we are able to continue building healthy, safe, and resilient communities through the transformative power of education and the arts. We couldn't do any of this without you, and we are so grateful for your support.

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In 2019, you enabled us to serve over 5,000 youth at 24 DC schools, supporting them in building critical skills in social-emotional literacy, conflict resolution, mindfulness, artistic-expression, and harnessing tools to advance peace and justice in their schools and communities. 3,373 students participated in Fly By Light programs. 98 youth engaged in approximately 140 hours of programming, which included after-school workshops, weekend field trips, overnight nature retreats to national parks, and participation in our citywide showcases. 1,271 youth participated in between 8-40 hours of programming through a variety of in-school workshops, tailored to meet the requirements of each school. A further 2,004 students built awareness of self-care practices, social-emotional literacy, or restorative justice through school-wide assemblies or other school-wide initiatives. Looking forward, we are excited to leap into our 20th year as an organization and continue our work of youth empowerment, education, artistic expression, and peace building. 

Highlights from the first quarter of 2020 include:

 

    • Funding Update: This quarter, we were so honored to receive grants from Walter Brownley Trust and Venable Foundation. We were recently approved as a partner organization with 1% for the Planet. In addition, our end of year campaign brought in a generous amount of donations for our work. We were so grateful to expand our community with so many generous supporters, inspiring speakers and energizing performances from Fly By Light youth and alumni.
    • Organizing Troupe: We are so proud of our inaugural Organizing Troupe cohort, who held their first day-long retreat in January! This youth-led program grew out of  a summer retreat in 2019 where Fly By Light youth ambassadors posed the question, "Why don't we come together more often to make bigger change across the city?" Now students representing 8 different high schools come together each week to talk about what's really going on in DC and how to create systemic change through mindful arts activism. Last month they collectively wrote their vision statement: "To build a safe community that supports and empowers youth through advocating and breaking down oppressive systems for a more accessible life experience." Stay tuned for how their campaign evolves and manifests moving forward! Check out photos from the retreat here!
    • Mother-Daughter Dinner: On February 27, our program team, along with Program Facilitator and Performance Troupe Director Princess Best organized a Mother-Daughter Dinner at Dunbar High School. It was a wonderful evening for creating space for mother-daughter connection, discussion, and performances over great food. And this is just the beginning - we have our first ever Mother-Daughter retreat day coming up in March!

 

 

  • Media Features: In February, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Hawah Kasat, and Clinical Director, Maria Gomez, were featured on NBC4 to discuss how OCU is transforming school cultures and creating healing in our neighborhoods. We recently received the NBCUniversal and Telemundo Project Innovation Grant Award to support our programs and initiatives.

In addition, we’re excited to spend the summer on some of the following exciting initiatives: 

  • Summer Showcase: In May, we are excited to host a number of our youth and alumni for a summer showcase to show off their hard work throughout the year. Stay tuned for more details! 
  • Fly By Light National Training: Join us in July for our second Fly By Light National Training! Building off of the success of our first year, we are thrilled to offer this initiative expanding our programming to include a national training which will certify teachers all over the country to lead Fly By Light chapters in their communities. Our award-winning program model and curriculum includes after-school and in-school workshops, overnight nature immersion retreats, annual city-wide showcases, professional development for teachers, parents, and other school administrators, and youth-led social justice campaigns. This summer, YOU can join educators, artists, and activists around the country who are passionate about building the next generations of changemakers and bring Fly By Light to your school or city! Learn more here.
  • Mental Health Expansion: In addition, we are excited to continue expanding our school-based mental health services to deepen and strengthen the work we are doing with our Fly By Light students and their families.

 

On behalf of our youth and staff, thank you for your support of One Common Unity. Because of you, we are able to continue building healthy, safe, and resilient communities through the transformative power of education and the arts. We couldn't do any of this without you, and we are so grateful for your support.

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As we enter the last few days of the year, we want to personally thank you for making our work possible. In the last twelve months, you enabled us to serve over 5,000 youth at 24 DC schools, supporting them to build critical skills in social-emotional literacy, conflict resolution, mindfulness, artistic-expression and harness tools to advance peace and justice in their communities. Together we are striving to transform school cultures and we are creating spaces of joy, healing, and love. 

As 2019 draws to a close, we’re proud to look back on a busy fall season full of peace education, artistic expression, and community building.  Highlights from the fall include:

  • Intention Not Detention: On September 9th, we released our newest music video, “Miss Intention,” composed by and featuring OCU's dynamic and inspiring Facilitator and Performance Troupe Director, Princess Best (aka The HipHopMomma). The video kicks off our #IntentionNotDetention campaign to establish Intention Rooms™ as designated alternatives to in-school suspensions. Intention Rooms are safe, trauma-informed spaces to support students to reflect upon and transform behavior. This starts with an intentional, trauma-informed alternative to punitive discipline; one that builds students’ self-esteem, sense of agency, and empowers them to lead the lives they are capable of. Check out this feature on #IntentionNotDetention on NBC Washington. Or, learn more at: www.OneCommonUnity.org/Intention.
  • World Leaders Listen Up!: Imagine what would happen if young people from all over the world were able to come together to discuss our global futures? That's exactly what happened at our office and Malcolm X Park in Washington, DC on September 27th. Thanks to a special collaboration with Amigos de las Américas and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), we were able to bring our Fly By Light youth leaders together with 60 youth leaders from Colombia, Ecuador and Palestine for a day of dialogue, drumming, art and dancing. Topics that youth discussed with each other as priorities in their communities included access to education, global climate crisis, paramilitaries, war, domestic violence, government corruption, youth substance use and addiction, sexism, LGBTQ justice, racial justice and ending police brutality.
  • Mental Health Expansion: In addition to offering our award winning Fly By Light program across all 8 Wards of DC, we expanded our school-based mental health services through the city's School Based Mental Health Expansion program. In addition to our facilitators, we have placed mental health clinicians in 14 public schools across the city to provide a three-tiered continuum of behavioral health support, offering prevention, early intervention and treatment services to our students.
  • Mother Daughter Dinner: On November 30, our program team, along with Program Facilitator and Performance Troupe Director Princess Best organized a Mother Daughter Dinner at Eastern High School. It was a wonderful evening for creating space for mother daughter connection, discussion, and performances over great food. And this is just the beginning - we have our first ever Mother Daughter retreat day coming up in March so stay tuned and message us if you want to get involved or support!
  • The Curriculum-Based Support Group (CBSG®) Program: On September 30th, OCU successfully completed a two-year implementation of the CBSG® Program in 11 schools across DC. CBSG isa unique, multicultural, evidence-based preventative intervention designed for students whose high-risk situations - including Adverse Childhood Experiences, attitudes and behaviors place them at elevated risk for future behavioral and health problems including substance abuse, delinquency and violence. OCU established 24 cohorts with students ages 12-18. Students met in confidential, small group settings and were taught a set of essential life skills to help them learn how to cope with difficult family situations, resist negative peer pressure, respect themselves and others, set and achieve goals, and make healthy choices.
  • Funding Update: This fall, we were so honored to be chosen for a Capital Hill Community Foundation grant, a DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities grant, and a grant through the DC Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs to support the work of One Common Unity and Fly By Light.  In addition, on November 14th we hosted a fundraiser called Elevate Peace an evening to celebrate nearly 20 years of our transformative work. We were so thrilled to come together with so many generous supporters and hear from inspiring speakers and program alumni.

Thank you so much for being a part of the One Common Unity family. Because of you, our work is possible and we invite you to increase your monthly contribution to deepen our collective impact in 2020. Your generosity enables us to support students in all eight wards of Washington, DC to shine their light, reach their full potential, and ignite a community-wide shift towards peace and justice. We are so grateful for your continued support!

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Block Party, 1
Block Party, 1

Wow! What a busy summer! As we head into fall — working in 21 schools through both our in-school and after school Fly By Light program and our new Mental Health expansion! — we’re proud to look back on a summer full of peace education, artistic expression, and community building. 

Highlights from the summer include:

  • Peace & Positivity - Music Video, Block Party, and NBC Feature: On June 21, we released "Peace & Positivity" — an inspiring music video, written and performed by Fly By Light Alumni artists DougieD, Nfinity Zhy and Isaiah King. To celebrate, we hosted a Peace & Positivity Block Party in Anacostia on July 13, which brought together and called upon community members to end violence. The event was also featured on NBC
  • Fly By Light Summer Nature Retreats: This summer we hosted two Fly By Light youth retreats: one on June for 16 high school students and another on July for 9 middle school students. Both retreats ran for four nights and five days and took place at the Am Kolel Sanctuary and Renewal Center in Montgomery County, Maryland. Our youth spent their time developing their arts expression, social-emotional and environmental leadership skills through activities which included daily yoga and mindfulness, teambuilding and community dialogues around social justice issues, gratitude practices, nature immersion, specialized training in arts expression, and immersive day trips including hiking, kayaking, and a farm animal sanctuary. Youth emerged from the retreat ready to bring back the experiences and skills they learned, and spread the work of Fly By Light throughout their schools and communities. In addition, two of our high school students were so inspired by the retreat that they created an “Organizing Troupe,” which meets once a week at OCU’s central office and helps to build an intentional social justice movement and create connections across our programs.
  • An Imperfect Union: An Imperfect Union is a weekly Facebook series that brings two people together with opposing views to work together on a service project in their community. We were thrilled to be featured on episode 42, which focuses on two adults with opposing views of the U.S. asylum process. In the second half of the video, OCU Co-Founder and Executive Director, Hawah Kasat, facilitated a meditation and group poetry session for our School Without Wall High School students and the two adults. After the workshop, all participants expressed increased positivity and were able to find common ground. 
  • Fly By Light National Training: From July 15-19, we were honored to host 22 educators, teachers, youth workers, community organizers, artists, and activists from around the world for our first ever Fly By Light National Training! Our award-winning program model and curriculum includes after-school and in-school workshops, overnight nature immersion retreats, annual city-wide showcases, professional development for teachers, parents, and other school administrators, and youth-led social justice campaigns. This new initiative allowed us to train and certify each participant to lead Fly By Light chapters in their communities and we are excited to expand our movement both nationally and globally. 
  • Professional Development Training for School Staff and Teachers: Thanks to a new partnership with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), our FBL facilitators began offering professional development trainings for teachers and staff focused on trauma-informed care, social-emotional literacy, cultural competence and humility, anti-racism/ implicit bias, and other topics as needed. Through these workshops, OCU equips teachers with the current youth development best practices and supports them long-term to transform classroom cultures and climates.
  • Funding Update: This summer, we were so honored to be chosen for a Community Service Grant through the DC Rotary Foundation as well as a DC Humanities Council grant for a new film project. In addition, we were awarded an additional $500,000 from the Department of Behavioral Health to continue to expand our mental health services.

In addition, we’re excited to kick off the fall with some of the following exciting initiatives: 

  • Intention Not Detention: On September 9th, we will release our newest music video, Miss Intention, composed by and featuring OCU's dynamic and inspiring Facilitator and Performance Troupe Director, Princess Best (aka The HipHopMomma). The video kicks off our #IntentionNotDetention campaign to establish Intention Rooms™ as designated alternatives to in-school suspensions. Intention Rooms are safe, trauma-informed spaces to support students to reflect upon and transform behavior. This starts with an intentional, trauma-informed alternative to punitive discipline; one that builds students’ self-esteem, sense of agency, and empowers them to lead the lives they are capable of. 
  • Elevate Peace:You’re invited to join us for Elevate Peace, an evening to celebrate nearly 20 years of our transformative work. Elevate Peace will take place on November 14th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the historic Josephine Butler Parks Center. The evening will feature inspiring speakers and performances from program alumni along with curated cocktails and delicious small bites. Save the date!
  • Mental Health Expansion: In addition to offering our award winning Fly By Light program across all 8 Wards of DC, we are very excited to expand our school-based mental health services through the city's School Based Mental Health Expansion program. In addition to our facilitators, we are placing mental health clinicians in public schools across the city to provide a three-tiered continuum of behavioral health support, offering prevention, early intervention and treatment services to our students.

On behalf of our youth and staff, thank you for your support of One Common Unity. Because of you, we are able to continue building healthy, safe, and resilient communities through the transformative power of education and the arts. We couldn't do any of this without you, and we are so grateful for your support.



Block Party, 2
Block Party, 2
Retreat, 1
Retreat, 1
Retreat, 2
Retreat, 2
National Training
National Training
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We are in the midst another transformative year of youth empowerment, education, artistic expression and peace building.  As winter transformed into spring and the school year drew to a close, we were proud to spend the second quarter of 2019 in fifteen schools across all eight DC wards and grateful for the support of our community.

Highlights from the second quarter of 2019 include:

  • Funding Update: This quarter, we were so honored to be chosen for an ArtWorks grant through the National Endowment of the Arts, a grant from the Capitol Hill Community Foundation, a general operating support grant from the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities and a Project Innovation Grant through NBC4 to provide cameras, iPads and multimedia training to our Fly By Light students. In addition, our Evening Elevating Peace event on March 14 brought in a host of new committed and engaged donors and volunteers.
  • Professional Development Training for School Staff and Teachers: Thanks to a new partnership with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), our FBL facilitators began offering professional development trainings for teachers and staff focused on trauma-informed care, social-emotional literacy, cultural competence and humility, anti-racism/ implicit bias, and other topics as needed. Through these workshops, OCU equips teachers with the current youth development best practices and supports them long-term to transform classroom cultures and climates. This quarter, they led a successful training at School Without Walls Middle School for 30 teachers and staff, after which one participant reported: “Because [OCU facilitators] come from outside of the school, [they] are able to see and say truths that those inside are unable to see or say.” We will be offering 7 trainings in June - August.
  • Gun Violence Panel: In April, the DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council organized a public panel and conversation on creating youth-oriented solutions to prevent gun violence in the community. We were excited to have OCU Co-Founder Mikuak Rai serve on the panel at Anacostia High School and look forward to being one of the grassroots organizations leading the way toward violence prevention in DC.
  • Self-Love Retreat: In April, we hosted 12 students from all over DC for a spring self-love retreat. On their day off from school, these students chose to join us in coming together to explore how strengthening positive relationships to themselves can create change in their own lives and the lives of others in their communities. Check out these awesome photos from the retreat (taken by Program Facilitator and photographer Tyler Grigsby).
  • Fly By Light Summer Showcase: On June 5, 48 Fly By Light youth and alumni artists from across the city shared original music, poetry, and dance at the 2019 Fly By Light Summer Showcase. Working in school and after-school with One Common Unity's facilitators in the Fly By Light program, these youth worked through art to find their voices, express themselves, and bring awareness to the issues they face as teens in D.C. Over 250 community members came out to see their art, listen to their stories, and be inspired by this beautiful, positive community of young leaders.
  • Strategic Planning: 2020 marks the celebration of OCU’s 20th anniversary. Following its last few years of rapid growth and expansion, OCU leadership has determined it to also be an opportune time to envision the organization’s next twenty years and develop an actionable strategic plan for realizing its vision. After a nationwide search lead by our Board of Directors, OCU is thrilled to begin working with consultants Allison Brown and Isabelle Moses to begin the implementation of a strategic plan in 2020. We were excited to kick off the process with a Board Retreat in May and look forward to the opportunity to strengthen our impact.

In addition, we’re excited to spend the summer on some of the following exciting initiatives:

  • Fly By Light National Training: Join us in July for our first ever Fly By Light National Training! We are thrilled to launch this new initiative expanding our programming to include a national training which will certify teachers all over the country to lead Fly By Light chapters in their communities. Our award-winning program model and curriculum includes after-school and in-school workshops, overnight nature immersion retreats, annual city-wide showcases, professional development for teachers, parents, and other school administrators, and youth-led social justice campaigns. This summer, YOU can join educators, artists, and activists around the country who are passionate about building the next generations of changemakers and bring Fly By Light to your school or city! Learn more here.
  • Peace and Positivity Music Video Release: Mark your calendars for June 21 for the release of "Peace and Positivity" — the forthcoming anthem of summer 2019! We're so excited to release this inspiring music video, written and performed by Fly By Light Alumni artists DougieD, Nfinity Zhy and Isaiah King. Check out a sneak peek here.
  • Mental Health Expansion: In addition, we are excited to continue expanding our school-based mental health services through a new grant from the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health. We are now in the process of hiring a staff of social workers and clinicians to deepen and strengthen the work we are doing with our Fly By Light students and their families.

On behalf of our youth and staff, thank you for your support of One Common Unity. Because of you, we are able to continue building healthy, safe, and resilient communities through the transformative power of education and the arts. We couldn't do any of this without you, and we are so grateful for your support.

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Organization Information

One Common Unity, Inc.

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @OneCommonUnity
Project Leader:
Hawah Kasat
Washington, DC United States
$41,218 raised of $50,000 goal
 
1,156 donations
$8,782 to go
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