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DC Project Connect The Connect Newsletter FALL ISSUE 2019 Click Drag to View DCPC is approaching a 5 year Anniversary The mission of DC Project Connect is to provide crisis intervention and information resources to families affected by incarceration and support reentry initiatives that strengthen families Incarceration hurts We foster healing WWW DCPROJECTCONNECT COM D C Project Connect Advocacy Collaboration DC Project Connect Collaborates with Walden University to Distribute Care Kits for DC Area Returning Citizens On a sunny day at the National Harbor when Walden Univerisity graduate students anticipated doctoral hoodings and various recognitions of scholastic achievement the Univerisity s Office of Alumni Engagement conspired with DC Project Connect to conduct a civic outreach project sponsoring and coordinating the assembly of over 1 000 care kits for DC area citizens who are of indigent status who will return from prison In the midst of Walden s graduation ceremonies students faculty and family members rolled up their sleeves and placed soap dental care products and other toiletries into bags for a 1

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DCPC holds that family support is one of the most effective reentry strategies DCPC assists families with staying connected to their incarcerated loved ones through advocating for social change DCPC partners with a host of community partners and faith based institutions to provide various social justice initiatives as well as mentoring and support for returning citizens marginalized component of our society To make the assembly process more personal Walden s participants DC Project Connect s Board Members and volunteers wrote and placed personal notes in each care package welcoming the recipients back home This process was remarkable stated Dr Geoff Johnson DC Project Connect s executive director It was astonishing how graduation attendees joined the assembly line sharing their own personal stories of how people they knew were impacted by incarceration conveyed Dr Avon Hart Johnson president of DCPC Unlike most jurisdictions since the enactment of the 1997 Revitalization Act Washington DC has not had a prison in the local vicinity Instead affected persons are transferred to Federal Bureau of Prison facilities located all over the country As such few of these DC residents receive visits from family or friends while incarceated and the challenges of reentry are often complex and daunting DCPC Board members and volunteers marveled at the Walden University student and faculty seemless and unyielding participation in this endeavor In fact several DCPC members admired that Walden University students must engage in a social change 2

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endeavor to meet the requirements of their academic curriculum In this Issue Attorney General Karl Racine addressed the ReThink Justice DC Coalition DCPC explores incarceration contributing to un ending debt for those who experience imprisonment Dr HartJohnson interviewed Gordon Jackson Vice President Core Services Group DC Core Core was awarded the city s residential re entry center RRC contract from the Federal Bureau of Prisons DC Project Connect DCPC thanks Walden University for sponsoring and hosting this community service project The care kits will be distributed by DCPC to returned citizens via several nonprofit organizations and government organizations Attorney General Karl Racine addresses the ReThink Justice DC Coalition DC Project Connect actively participates in the ReThink Justice DC which is a coalition of individuals representing an array of professional nonprofit religious and government organizations committed to social justice issues in the District of Columbia Occasionally the ReThink Justice Coalition invites public officials like Karl Racine DC Attorney General AG to address its constituents Racine took office in 2015 Although the AG strongly advocates for D C autonomy he cautioned that the city is in a state of emergency due to recent trends involving gun violence and homicide rates In this regard new gun related cases will not be tried in DC courts AG Racine 3

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said such matters further challenge the District government s authority and autonomy DCPC CEO President Addressed the Plenary at the International Coalition for Children with Incarcerated Parents Conference University of DCPC participated in the Inside Out Graduation ceremony at the DC Jail Letters can be a cost effective lifeline for inmates and their families DCPC provided psychoeducational support programs to clients at the Fairview Residential Reentry Center Quincy Booth Director DC Department of Corrections discussed ongoing programs and initiatives at the DC Jail with the Rethink Justice DC Coalition Huddersfield Yorkshire England The International Coalition for Children of Incarcerated Parents INCCIP held its second bienniel conference at the Univeristy of Huddersfield Yorkshire England during August 12th through 14th 2019 One hundred plus advocates researchers academics affected familiy members and community organizations gathered at the university for this three day event The conference included informative worshops symposiums presentations on global ideas intiatives as well as a vist to a women s prison in York England 4

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Federal Bureau of Prison subsistence fees place financial strains on residence at area halfway houses Dr Hart Johnson provided a keynote address entitled Standing for Justice Finding Hope through Advocacy Her moving testimony raised awareness about advocacy as well as the need for domestic and international criminal justice reforms DCPC encourages those who have not heard Hart Johnson to listen to her passionate oratory messages for social change which will be available on the www inccip org website in the near future DaVita made a financial contribution to DCPC for its work in the DC community Dr Hart Johnson and the Storybook Research Team presented preliminary findings at the International Coalition for Children with Incarcerated Parents Conference University of Huddersfield Yorkshire England Dr Avon Hart Johnson and Storybook Research colleagues Dr Renata Hedrington Jones Walden faculty Dr Geoffrey Johnson DCPC Madra Cochrane and Miki Gilmore traveled to 5

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Solitary Confinement practices in state and federal prisons and jails demand more scrutiny from the general public and law makers Special Events DCPC provided training for new board members and volunteers at an orientation session held in Washington DC the United Kingdom to present preliminary research findings In a workshop entitled Storytelling as a Creative Intervention for Children with Incarcerated Parents conference participants were informed about this qualitative study designed to understand how parents and caregivers communicate about parental incarceration with minor children under their care The researchers also sought to understand how guardians of children with incarcerated parents perceived the use of storybooks as a possible means of intervention Attendees posited that storybooks might be used to help children understand the dynamics of parental incarceration and their associated emotions Advisory Board members Charles Hart and Dr Geoff Johnson participated in the Andrew Jackson Academy Career Day 6

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Several DCPC Executive staff and volunteers attended Prison Rape Elimination Act PREA training DCPC updated their Federal Bureau of Prison background checks DC Project Connect became official members of the DC Reentry Action Network A byproduct of this research was the creation of three children s storybooks addressing the topic of parental incarceration The themes of each story are based upon the research findings These stories will be provided in hard copy and digital format Walden University sponsored this research project and allowed DCPC s vision for social change and uplift of all segments of our various communities to be realized DC Project Connect continues to be an active component of Halfway House Committee PTR DC ReThink Justice Coalition 7

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DC Project Connect Executive is on the Board and Executive Staff of the International Coalition for Children of Incarcerated Parents DC Project Connect Executive provides active participation and Board member support for the International Prisoner Family Conference Dr HartJohnson Dr HedringtonJones and Dr Johnson completed 8 focus groups and interviews for the qualitative 2018 2019 Storybook Research project DC Project Connect Helps Sponsor Youth Ambassador to the the International Coalition for Children with Incarcerated Parents Conference University of Huddersfield Yorkshire England Every now and then God places a shiny object before you that is a true gem DCPC befriended Anye Young a teenager when she was completing high school achieving high honors we might add Ms Young is not only a gifted scholar and aspiring actress she also used her personal life story to write a book entitled Teen Guide to Living with Incarcerated Parents A Self Help Book for Coping During the Age of Mass Incarceration Fast forward to the summer of 2019 Ms Young has graduated from high school with honors and awaiting to attend a university to earn her bachelors degree DCPC along with author Madison Strempek and nonprofit organization Bridging Group sponsored Ms Young to provide a keynote address at the ICCIP conference She provided a stirring testimonial about her life and the trials and tribulations associated with personally experiencing parental incarceration Although Ms Young testimony spared few eyes from tears her story was not one 8

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of loss but rather of transformative hope courage and accomplishment in spite of her parental circumstances DCPC wishes Ms Young support and continued success as she transitions to the university life Walden University contributed funding for DCPC s national research and local crisis intervention operations Spotlight On DC Department of Corrections DCDOC DC DOC oversees the DC Jail and the Correctional Treatment Facility CFT which houses persons awaiting trial or parole revocations convicted of a misdemeanor or convicted and await transfer to BOP prison facilities In the Spotlight Inexpensive Intervention Letter Writing Pen pal programs have grown throughout the corrections systems They can offer persons behind bars positive contacts with people outside of prison Pen pal programs may also uplift incarcerated persons via friendships and or spiritual growth The DC Project Connect staff have participated in several letter writing projects involving persons who are incarcerated We found that letters can be both a lifeline and ray of hope for inmates and their companions Children often want to have relationships with their imprisoned parent As such encouraging children to connect with their parent through letters may be a cost effective means to establish and or maintain parental communication Letters can provide a 9

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means of bonding and allow children a way to share their experiences growing up with their incarcerated mother father Children can also share drawings of themselves or their friends school church or home Further letters may offer family members a means to parent from behind bars DC Code Offenders have been transferred to the BOP since Lorton Prison closed via enactment of the Revitalization Act of 1997 Per the Washington Lawyers Committee approximately 60 percent of District s prisoners are accused of or convicted of felonies 2015 Almost 50 percent of these individuals are standing trial for felonies and 10 percent have been convicted and will be transferred to federal prisons WLC 2015 DC Project Connect Participates in the InsideOut Program DC Project Connect executives visited the DC Jail to observe and participate as community stakeholders in the Inside Out program This program provides college students the opportunity to go inside prisons and jails and engage with persons serving time for various offenses DCPC heard student s first hand perspectives on corrections and justice For those serving time the program provided an opportunity to discuss matters with someone outside of corrections and ask questions and reassess their perceptions of education justice and social change 10

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The Correctional Treatment Facility CFT previously operated by contractor only services low and medium category individuals The CFT is comprised of men and women and also houses male and female youth Children Who Experience Parental Incarceration The majority of women in prison are mothers Trauma related to this event are common children with incarcerated mothers are more likely forced into new living situations During our visit approximately 12 American University students merged with their counterparts who were incarcerated at DC s jail The room became a portal for conversation banter and laughter There was seeming total integration of the students and the jail s residents The communication and smiles associated with student resident bonds felt genuine DCPC executives dispersed into the groups of participants in the room The residents and the students were curious about our nonprofit organization During our discussions we heard about life at the jail and various projects associated with the Inside Out program A key myth dispelled during our visit was that persons at the jail can serve multi year sentences especially when they were awaiting trial As such persons suspected of violent crimes could be jailed for months or years without ever appearing before a judge In reflection it appeared that the Inside Out program altered the thinking and perhaps transformed the students as well as the inmates One of benefits observed was residents hunger for knowledge especially regarding the meaning of legal terms One resident confessed that he didn t understand all the language used during e g 11

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his own trail as well as court documents and other criminal justice proceedings grandparents foster care the may result in change of school friends and lifesyle familiar to the child the reason for the parent s absence may not be fully or adequately disclosed subsequent confusion may appear in school truancies lack of attention in school learning difficulties and poor social skills Protective Factors Begin with the caregiver and home environment School and identification of friends Family ties Positive outlets might include glee clubs recreational center activities learning to play The students appeared to recognize the humanity of the persons in their groups and the jail in general The conversations were at times brutally candid including mistakes made as well as perceived flaws and racial disparities in the criminal justice system The Inside Out program at the DC Jail also gives all participants an opportunity to acquire college credits from the sponsoring academic institution DCPC offers thanks to Tiffany Simmons a director of the program for her invitation to attend and participate in this event for students who are trying to make a difference in their own lives while also seeking to build social skills with individuals in the community In the Spotlight Incarceration Can Trigger Seeming Eternal Debt Department of Justice data 2016 reports that over 10 000 persons return to their communities from prisons and jails every week 12

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A lurking hurdle for many of these individuals are hefty financial obligations that may hamper their efforts for successful reentry an instrument or sports Caregivers of Children with Incarcerated Parents Understand that the child might be overwhelmed and traumatized The arrival of this child will add responsibilities to your household Personally you may also feel overwhelmed The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that about 2 3 of people in prison and jail were employed at least part time before their arrest BJS 2015 The National Conference of State Legislators NCSL reports that approximate 1 5 million people in federal and state prison have one or more children under the age of 18 In 2015 the Marshall Project projected that 1 in 5 parents has child support obligations that continue to accumulate during their imprisonment NCSL reported that on average an incarcerated parent with a child support order has the potential to leave prison with a 20 000 child support debt Other common feelings include grief guilt isloation anger and sadness Currently 40 states and Washington DC treat incarceration as involuntary unemployment Office of Child Support Enforcement 2014 In addition all 50 states have processes for criminal prosecution for failure to pay child support NCSL Criminal Nonsupport Child Support It may take time for matters to resolve themselves Meanwhile allow the child to find or develop some In a related financial matter Alana Semuels reported that the legal fees for ex felons can include bench warrants filing charges clerk fees courtappointed attorney fees drug and crime lab 13

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analyses jury fees and the costs of incarceration Fines Fees that Keep Prisoners Poor 2016 safe space and maintain open lines of communication provide a stable home environment openly seek support and positive networks for self and child address pending issues of shame associated withparental incarceration Keep a wtchfull eye on the child s eating and sleeping patterns habits interests friends etc Considerations School Enrollment Talk with a school counselor teacher principal DC Project Connect Attends the State s Attorney for Prince George s County State of Justice Symposium On September 10 2019 DCPC attended the first State of Justice symposium for the Prince George s County MD State s Attorney SA State Attorney Aisha Braveboy is the top law enforcement official in the county She was sworn into office in January 2019 The symposium show cased SA Braveboy s recent accomplishments planned initiatives and upcoming agenda for the State s Attorney Office SAO She introduced the following divisional units under the auspices of SAO Major Crimes Special Victims Family Violence Unit Guns and Drugs Special Prosecutions Homicide Unit Domestic Violence Motor Vehicle Safety Fairness in Sentencing Unit and her flagship initiative the Youth Justice Division YJD SA Braveboy announced that YJD will fundamentally change how juvenile crimes are handled via prosecutions and 14

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restorative justice initiatives At its core SAO will focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment In this regard Braveboy vowed to end the school to prison pipeline and reduce violent crime She intends to build a brighter future for youth living in the county Find out about special programs offered at the school and community Share special needs Health Care Obtain a physical exam Assess whether the child needs counseling or other professional services Dental care Determine Avenues to Assist Friendships School Community Groups Religious Offerings Sports Interests expressed by the child SA Braveboy announced that she doesn t believe in the cash bail system and SAO will no longer promote enforce any cash bail initiatives In this regard SAO won t request cash bail as a condition for release before trial This may help people suspected of crimes maintain their jobs and family ties while awaiting court dates Last year 2018 Dr Hart Johnson interviewed Braveboy and the other candidates seeking the State s Attorney position regarding their opinions and platform on bail reform and criminal justice matters affecting PGC At that time Braveboy affirmed the notion that persons are presumed innocent until proven otherwise DC Project Connect Spring Training Orientation This Spring 2019 DCPC provided training and orientation to our new advisory staff and volunteers The training was held at the Community Family Life Services downtown office Washington DC 15

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Bill of Rights for the Children of Prisoners 1 To be kept save and informed of my parent s condition 2 Input in decisions that affect me 3 Input in decisions affecting my parents 4 Input in my care via my parent s absense 5 Communic ation with my parents 6 Proper support 7 Be free from negative judgment and labels associated This day long orientation and training provided attendees information about DCPC s mission purpose strategic plans as well as past and ongoing programs and initiatives The orientation session also gave new members and volunteers an opportunity to ask questions meet current DCPC board members and consider projects that they can involve themselves Ten persons participated in this highly interactive meeting DC Project Connect Media Team attends the 2019 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation DCPC attended the opening plenary message and brain trust sessions of the annual Black Congressional Caucus Foundation The Annual Legislative Conference themed 400 years Our 16

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with parent 8 Pre adult assistance to a relationshi p with my parents Legacy Our Possibilities featured the largest class of African American legislators fifty five 55 These individuals provided a variety of forums and brain trust session to highlight leading issues affecting the Black community The CBCF also featured a wealth of entertainers academics community activists and experts in the areas of health technology finance education and much more All DCPC staff volunteers and constituents are encouraged to attend this uplifting and informative annual event Photo Credit and Special Thanks to Charles Hart Special Thanks to Ms Rose Watkins for coordinating improvements for our financial operations A special thanks to Brenda Fawcett Monique Davis Miki Gilmore Renata HedringtonJones Geoff Johnson and Avon HartJohnson for work on the In the Spotlight Federal Bureau of Prisons Subsistence Fees The Federal Bureau of Prisons BOP contracts the services of residential reentry centers RRC to provide housing and assistance to citizens returning home from their prisons Halfway houses offer these individuals opportunities to reestablish ties with their communities while finishing their sentences Per BOP regulations returning citizens are expected to be employed in a full time job within 15 days of arriving at an RRC In addition twenty five percent of their gross income goes to 17

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a subsistence fee paid directly to the RRC contractor to contribute toward the cost of their confinement BOP 7320 01 7300 09 Storybook Research Project Congratulations to Miki Gilmore on the tremendous work in creating the MyStory and Me website Of notable mention Monique Davis who will conduct voiceovers for the Storybook research project Thank you ReThink Justice Half Way House Working group for the ongoing advocacy for returning citizen D C Legislator Rep Eleanor Holmes Norton recently requested clarification on these fees via correspondence to the Acting Director BOP October 2018 She also introduced H R 2988 to eliminate the requirement that residents at BOP halfway houses pay a subsistence fee of 25 percent of their gross income to offset the cost of being housed Only last year BOP eliminated subsistence fees for those on home confinement Far from promoting financial responsibility subsistence fees actually prevent returning citizens from meeting their financial obligations Holmes Norton commented I am sure that you agree that we should not be imposing additional burdens on returning citizens Washington Informer 10 18 17 In 2013 the D C Corrections Information Council CIC reported that subsistence fees are collected on residents at the Hope Village RRC DCPC is concerned that the practice of collecting subsistence fees from this very vulnerable population should be re evaluated with consideration of the following Many citizens returning home from prison have difficulties finding full time employment 18

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especially after being away from their communities for a year or more Societal stigma associated with incarceration may hinder many ex felons from finding suitable employment The 15 day window for finding employment seems overly optimistic and should be evaluated RRCs should assess whether returned citizens are ready to handle current technology the mental rigor associated with working a fulltime job and other soft skills In the Spotlight Correction Practices Solitary Confinement Presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker and Senator Richard Durbin are furthering criminal justice reform via their efforts to limit the practice of solitary confinement throughout the federal prison system Solitary confinement is also referred to as disciplinary segregation segregated housing restrictive housing the hole or other suggests of exclusion 19

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Corrections officials use solitary confinement for multiple reasons including to curb violence behavior issues mental lapses contraband violations or protection from the general population Persons experiencing solitary confinement can spend up to 23 hours a day alone in a holding cell the size of a parking space Some former prisoners describe confinement as being so tight that a person can stand and touch holding cell walls Confinement generally involves minimum human contact and little access to natural light Furthermore some individuals have reported being in this status for several days to multiple years The ACLU recently cited various health related consequences associated with solitary confinement including instances of PTSD weight loss anger anxiety depression and other psychological and physical endangerment s The Association of State Corrections and the Arthur Linman Public Interest Program Yale law school released a report in 2015 which estimated that 80 000 to 100 000 persons experience some form of solitary confinement The report notes that statistics on the use of solitary confinement are difficult to determine because of variances in nomenclature definitions and limitations on the 20

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data collected on housing practices in state and federal prison institutions DCPC believes the use of solitary confinement is fundamentally at odds with most notions of prisoner rehabilitation and successful reintegration strategies This practice also seems so potentially dangerous to prison residents that more transparency is needed in its use duration and benefits or lack thereof DC Project Connect Executives Participate in the Maryland Reentry Roundtable The Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform MAJR invited DCPC to participate in the Maryland Reentry Roundtable session A panel discussed various issues such as reentry intake and preparation risk assessments and data sharing by correction officials Common needs of returned citizens include health care drug and alcohol treatment family support systems housing and employment Panel members also shared their views on wraparound services care and supervision Other comments A panelist shared his strategy of encouraging returned citizens to see beyond their current condition and determine where they would like to see themselves in the near and distant future 21

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Others shared the value of education and job training programs Returned citizens spoke about possible services being provided to citizens prior to release from prison For example GED certificates and other educational endeavors could be obtained while imprisoned Another participant commented that internet computers and functional libraries should be available in prison facilities DC Project Connect Executives Participate in the National Children of Incarcerated Parents Conference Arizona State University Arizona State University Center for Child WellBeing sponsored its second National Children of Incarcerated Parents Conference in Phoenix AZ Dr Hart Johnson conducted a workshop and information session on Parents and Caregivers Storytelling for Children with Incarcerated Parents She explained the methodology used in the Storytelling research whereby several focus groups and interviews were used to gather data 22

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The research team interviewed parents and caregivers predominantly in Washington DC Baltimore MD and Richmond VA to understand their communication practices with minor children who were impacted by parental incarceration The research disclosed compelling data that will be rolled out in a qualitative report resource tools and children s storybooks https www mystoryandme com Dr Hart Johnson also facilitated panels on the Literary Examination of Children with Incarcerated Parents and Interventions for Children s Visits with their Incarcerated Parents Interdisciplinary Research Perspectives Dr Geoff Johnson served as a panelist for the children intervention session DC Project Connect Dr Hart Johnson interviewed the Vice President Core Services Group Drs Johnson Johnson are members of the ReThink Justice DC Halfway House Committee and Dr Hart Johnson chairs the Halfway House Working Committee The halfway committee focuses on three tenants specific to the wellbeing and care of RRC residents 1 services 2 transparency and 3 public safety 23

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Dr Hart Johnson interviewed Gordon Jackson Vice President Core Services Group DC Core at a committee meeting Core was awarded the city s residential re entry center RRC contract from the Federal Bureau of Prisons Jackson said Core will use workforce development training initiatives and tailor its services to the needs of prospective employers Jackson advised that Core seeks partnerships with community members and constituents Jackson advised that Core utilizes evidencebased approaches He mentioned that another important emphasis of Core is family reintegration Other Comments Core believes in maintaining the dignity of returned citizens Soft skills may be needed to obtain employment e g being on time positive attitude self confidence Core hopes to capitalize on some of the legacy programs and services in the greater Washington DC area To achieve goals and contract obligations Jackson noted that Core needs a facility to house returning citizens and host operations 24

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DC Project Connect Participates in the Annual Career Day Event at the Andrew Jackson Academy Geoff Johnson DCPC Executive Director re Andrew Jackson Career Day DCPC executive staff Charles Hart Communication Director and Dr Johnson CEO spoke to 7th and 8th grade students at the Andrew Jackson Academy Annual Career Day Unique to this career event participants must prepare a 15 to 20 minute presentation about their careers discuss what our jobs entail on a daily basis provide insights and or inspiration that led us to our chosen vocation Charles Hart doing his camera magic Participated in Andrew Jackson Day DCPC staff also tried to motivate and encourage students to continue their schooling and give their best efforts in the classroom Students asked an array of questions about our careers and college experiences DCPC has participated in this career day for two consecutive years We applaud the educators at Andrew Jackson Academy for assembling parents community members and public figures to 25

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participate in this event Hopefully something said by DCPC and the other participants will resonate with the students to follow their career goals and dreams The day after this event Hart spoke to students at Kenilworth Elementary School about his IT career DC Project Connect operations and related work in the community We each need to do our part to save a generation DC Project Connect DaVita Contributes to DCPC Community Operations DCPC would like to thank DaVita for its ongoing financial contribution to our nonprofit organization and its engagement in the Washington DC community DaVita s financial contributions will support DCPC s programs and operations including crisis intervention and assistance to families affected by incarceration During our visit DaVita managers honored DCPC with a tour of their facility and Dialysis Center N E Washington DC Ms Kirlew is a phenomenal leader and the staff are very professional The patients who visit the center are tremendously blessed to have such wonderful support DCPC looks forward to ongoing engagement with DaVita Together we can aid each other to uplift this community DC Project Connect Dr Geoff Johnson Executive Director Www dcprojectconnect com Dr Avon Hart Johnson President Co founder 26