Public Education Project

Kent Withycombe Project Director
Elinor Hart Coordinator
Jhonna Turner Parent Engagement Program Coordinator

 
In accord with its longstanding belief that a high quality and free public education for all children in our city is a fundamental civil right, the Committee administers three related programs – the DC Public School Partnership Program, the DC Public Education Reform Program, and the Parent Empowerment Program.

The DC Public School Partnership Program partners 50 area law firms and businesses with individual DC public schools throughout the city, in the process bringing tutoring, mentoring, and other academic enrichment services to thousands of children. The main concept is for these firms and businesses ultimately to become an integral part of the network of community support for their partner schools. These school partnerships also encourage parental involvement activities and support school fundraising, repairs, upgrades and beautification projects.

The Committee’s Public Education Reform Program historically has involved both direct representation of parent organizations and school system leaders, and the publication of policy papers related to issues such as building conditions, school governance, student health services, extracurricular and athletic programs, and overall levels of school funding. It published reports in 2005 and 2010 evaluating the state of DC Public Schools, and it will publish another report in 2015. The latest study currently underway is examining the growth of charter schools in the District and is evaluating the effect of that trend on the education of low-income minority students and on the traditional system of neighborhood public schools.

Firms, businesses and individuals interested in supporting the Committee’s DC Public School Partnership Program and its education policy research are encouraged to contact Kent Withycombe, Public Education Project Director, at kent_withycombe@washlaw.org or 202-319-1000, x 145; or Elinor Hart, Coordinator of the DC Public School Partnership Program, at elinor_hart@washlaw.orgor202-287-2966.

DC Public School Partnership Activities

Each partnership between a law firm or business and a school is unique and depends on the age and grade level of the students, the priorities of the school’s principal and teachers, and the interests and background of the law firm employees. Academic enrichment activities include tutoring in reading, writing, science and other academic subjects. Many firms coach clubs such as Geoplunge geography, Scrabble, Bridge, and high school mock trial, moot court, debate, and other teams. Some firms have taught classes, created Saturday academies, and helped with college essays, applications, campus visits and test preparations. All of these activities focus on achieving academic goals identified by the schools, while also keeping students excited about learning and attending school. Firms also have worked on computer hardware and software upgrades, library renovations and school beautification. Several arranged drives for clothing, books and back-to-school supplies, and provided information, meals and childcare for PTA meetings.   The Education Project and several firms that have helped parent teacher organizations form at their schools and assisted them with fundraising organizations are drafting a School Partnership Fundraising Guide & Toolkit that will be published in 2015 so that many more WLC School Partnership firms, schools, and parent organizations can make informed decisions about which parent-teacher organization and fundraising vehicle best suits their needs.    

Several yearly contests and tournaments take place that involve the law firms and businesses that are partners of DC Public Schools: the city-wide GeoPlunge Tournament in the late fall or winter; the Cooking for Kids Bake Sale & Taste-Off in March; and the DC-wide Street Law Mock Trial Tournament in late March or April. The Project also organizes three School Partnership Coordinator Luncheons in the fall, winter and spring, where firm and school representatives share their latest insights regarding programs and projects at their schools. The Project also has a School Partnership Recruitment Luncheon each May.

The Parent Empowerment Program

The Parent Empowerment Program (PEP) was formed with the vision that, in order to support each student’s civil right to a high-quality education throughout the city, there must be a concerted effort to improve our public education system by empowering parents and students from within.  It is clear, from many studies throughout the nation, parent engagement embedded in the school setting can change the outcome and direction of many students who are typically marginalized for various reasons. Empowering parents and supporting the community in being stronger and more confident advocates for children, could influence the academic outcome for the school and maintain a more civically engaged community.

By working through Washington Lawyers' Committee School Partnership Program, at least ten D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) parent groups will have an opportunity to choose an academic enrichment project that will increase parent participation and student enthusiasm in learning.  The expectation for PEP is to match funds raised by parent groups each year. Principals, teachers, and parents at the local schools will select programs/activities for Fund support based on the needs they perceive.  Law and Accounting Firms that are in the DC Public School Partnership Program will support their partner schools in making sound, equitable and informed decisions when choosing which academic enrichment project will create lasting change in their school.

If interested in supporting the Parent Empowerment Program, please contact Jhonna Turner, Parent Engagement Coordinator, at jhonna_turner@washlaw.org or 202-319-1000, x 136; or Kent Withycombe, Education Project Director, at kent_withycombe@washlaw.org or 202-319-1000, x 145.

Each partnership between a law firm or business and a school has its own unique attributes and activities that depend on the age and grade level of the students, the priorities of the school’s principal and teachers, and the interests and background of the law firm or business employees. Examples of partnership activities include:

  • Academic Enrichment
    • Volunteering as a reading tutor with programs including Tutormate, Good Read, or Everybody Wins!
    • Teaching an environmental law course
    • Coaching or sponsoring GeoPlunge teams (a card competition that teaches kids U.S. geography in a fun and exciting way)
    • Serving as Street Law mock trial mentors
    • Coaching Scrabble, bridge, or chess teams
    • Sponsoring field trips to law offices, courthouses, museums, and monuments
  • College and Career Support
    • Assisting high school students with college essays, applications, and standardized test preparation
    • Employing high school summer interns
    • Hosting monthly luncheons at the law firm
  • School Beautification and Facilities Improvement
    • Funding computer hardware and software upgrades
    • Supporting library renovations
    • Gardening and painting
  • Parent Engagement and Student Support
    • Providing meals and childcare for PTA meetings
    • Arranging drives for clothing, books, and back-to-school supplies
    • Organizing a holiday card competition/fundraiser
    • Hosting a “fun day” at the school

The Education Project also hosts several meetings and helps coordinate other events throughout the year, including regular luncheons where firm and school representatives can share their experiences and insights regarding activities at their schools:

  • Fall
    • School Partnership Principals & Coordinator Luncheon (September)
    • Annual Benefit and Celebration (November). A raffle that raises money for the Committee and the Education Project, with amazing trips and prizes. The raffle period concludes with an evening concert and reception. Well-known musicians, as well as DC high school choirs or musicians, perform.
    • Annual Geoplunge Tournament, National Portrait Gallery (November)
  • Winter
    • School Partnership Coordinator Luncheon (January)
  • Spring
    • Cooking for Kids Bake Sale & Taste-Off (March). Area firms participate in a bake sale and tasting competition.
    • DC High School Street Law Mock Trial (February-April)
    • School Partnership Coordinator Luncheon (April)
    • School Partnership Recruitment Luncheon (May)

To learn more, contact Kent Withycombe, Public Education Project Director, at Kent_Withycombe@washlaw.org or 202-319-1000, x 145, or Elinor Hart, (DC Public School Partnership Coordinator), at Elinor_Hart@washlaw.org or 202-287-2966.

 Organization-School Partnerships

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer &
Feld LLP
Tyler Elementary School

Arent Fox LLP
Randle Highlands Elementary School
Eastern Senior High School

Baker Botts LLP
Roosevelt High School

Beveridge & Diamond, PC
Savoy Elementary School

Bracewell & Giuliani LLP
Brightwood Education Campus

Bryan Cave LLP
Burroughs Education Campus

BuckleySandler LLP
Cleveland Elementary School

Cadwalader Wickersham &
Taft LLP
Jefferson Academy Middle School

Carr Maloney PC
Seaton Elementary

Cleary Gottlieb Steen &
Hamilton LLP
McKinley Technology High School

Coburn & Greenbaum PLLC
Inspiring Youth Program

Covington & Burling LLP
Cardozo Senior High School

Crowell & Moring LLP
Plummer Elementary School

Deloitte
Raymond Education Campus

Dickstein Shapiro LLP
Ellington School of the Arts

DLA Piper US LLP
Thomas Elementary School

Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
Ann Beers Elementary School

Eaton Law Firm
I
nspiring Youth Program

Epstein Becker & Green, PC
Langley STEM Education Campus

FTI Consulting
Tyler Elementary School

Federal Highway Administration
Payne Elementary School

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver &
Jacobson LLP
School Without Walls High School

Gilbert LLP
Eliot-Hine Middle School

Goodwin Procter LLP
West Education Campus

Hogan Lovells US LLP
Kimball Elementary School

Hollingsworth LLP
Garrison Elementary School

K&L Gates LLP
Bancroft Elementary School

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
Noyes Education Campus

 

Kilpatrick Townsend &
Stockton LLP
Middle School at Cardozo
Education Campus

Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Marie Reed Elementary School

McDermott Will & Emery LLP
Stuart Hobson Middle School

O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Washington Metropolitan
High School

Paul Hastings LLP
Garfield Elementary School

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton &
Garrison LLP

Anacostia Senior High School

Pepper Hamilton LLP
Stanton Elementary School

Perkins Coie LLP
Powell Elementary School

Pierce Atwood
Patterson Elementary School

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw
Pittman LLP
Luke Moore High School

Price Benowitz LLP
Inspiring Youth Program

Reed Smith LLP
Bruce Monroe at Park View
Elementary School

Savills Studley
Hendley Education Campus

Shearman & Sterling LLP
Ketcham Elementary School

Sidley Austin LLP
Thomson Elementary School

Steptoe & Johnson LLP
H.D. Cooke Elementary School

Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP
School Without Walls at
Francis Stevens

Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP
Columbia Heights Education Campus

Tower Legal Services
Turner Elementary School

U.S. Courts for the District of
Columbia Circuit
J.O. Wilson Elementary School

U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission
J.O. Wilson Elementary School

Venable LLP
Kelly Miller Middle School

Veris Consulting
Ludlow Taylor Elementary School

Williams & Connolly LLP
Dunbar Senior High School

Zuckerman Spaeder LLP
Orr Elementary School


 

 

 

 

The Parent Empowerment Program (PEP) was formed with the vision that, in order to support each student’s civil right to a high-quality education throughout the city, there must be a concerted effort to improve our public education system by empowering parents and students from within.  It is clear, from many studies throughout the nation, parent engagement embedded in the school setting can change the outcome and direction of many students who are typically marginalized for various reasons. Empowering parents and supporting the community in being stronger and more confident advocates for children, could influence the academic outcome for the school and maintain a more civically engaged community.

By working through Washington Lawyers' Committee School Partnership Program, at least ten D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) parent groups will have an opportunity to choose an academic enrichment project that will increase parent participation and student enthusiasm in learning.  The expectation for PEP is to match funds raised by parent groups each year. Principals, teachers, and parents at the local schools will select programs/activities for Fund support based on the needs they perceive.  Law and Accounting Firms that are in the DC Public School Partnership Program will support their partner schools in making sound, equitable and informed decisions when choosing which academic enrichment project will create lasting change in their school.

If interested in supporting the Parent Empowerment Program, please contact Jhonna Turner, Parent Engagement Coordinator, at jhonna_turner@washlaw.org or 202-319-1000, x 136; or Kent Withycombe, Education Project Director, at kent_withycombe@washlaw.org or 202-319-1000, x 145

Apply for the Parent Empowerment Program here.

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