Thursday, December 10, 2009

AoH Volunteer Discusses HIV and Life-Skills Science

Volunteer Karyn Pomerantz, from the GWU School of Public Health and Health Services, teaches a course on life skills science at AoH. She is dedicated to drawing the connection between low-literacy, injustice, and poor access to health information and healthcare.

In a recent post on the DC LEARN's Literacy Blog she describes some of the misconceptions her students had about health and disease, due to lack of access to information and the skills needed to distinguish good information.  She also mentions some of the outcomes of their discussions:
We spent a few sessions talking about preventive screenings...  One student visited his doctor with the list of screenings recommended for him and asked his doctor to schedule them.  The doctor stared at him in surprise, probably not expecting that he would even know what to request!  Yet, the doctor promised to schedule the tests in the future.

Friday, December 4, 2009

AoH in Global Giving Open Challange

AOH is currently participating in the Global Giving Global Open Challenge.  We only have until December  21st to raise our target of $6,600! 

By reaching this goal we will guarantee much-needed assistance to low-income students as they work hard through the winter term.  Money from this project goes directly to GED books, testing fees, and transportation help to all students in need for this term.

This is a great chance to be directly involved in supporting adult learners; spreading the word about AoH and helping us win up to $6,000 in additional award money.  If we raise at least $4,000 Academy of Hope will be eligible for future projects with matching funds.

Here are some simple steps you can take to get the word out about the desperate need for programs like AoH:
  1. A $10 donation is all it takes.  Even a small donation will let others know that this is an issue worth caring about.
  2. Spread the word in person and through email. 
  3. Help expand our online network!  Post a link to our Global Giving site on Facebook or Twitter.  
  4. Share with your friends one reason why Adult Education matters to you.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

AoH Welcomes Korean Delegation

This October we were delighted to welcome 35 delegates from the South Korean National Institute of Lifelong Education (NILE) as part of their tour of  adult education in the United States.

The Academy of Hope community has always believed that learners of any age can better themselves and their communities through access to education.  What we didn't know is that the government of South Korea has made this belief into law.  South Korea's Lifelong Education Law , which states that all people have a right to learn throughout their lifetime, lead to the founding of the NILE in 2008.  

The NILE delegation, which was made up of educators and government officials, set out for the United States in search of unique perspectives on adult education.  We were eager for the opportunity to share our 25 years of work in DC and what followed was a true cultural exchange... 

The day began with an overview and Q&A about AoH and our programs.  The delegates were especially interested in the External Diploma Program, which allows students with work and life experience to pursue a high school diploma by completing 65 competencies.  

An AoH graduate and a current student spoke about conditions that helped them to succeed.  Both highlighted the fact that the Academy of Hope close by and felt welcoming, even when other things in there lives had caused them to take time off from school.  Executive director Lecester Johnson emphasized that community programs, like Academy of Hope, are able to be more flexible than other programs and are often seen as more welcoming by students.  

We inspired to learn of the NILE's work to promote lifelong learning.  Although the term "lifelong learning" exists in the United States, from what we were told, it is much more widely used in South Korea.  We are thankful for the chance to share ideas and look forward to a rich international relationship.   

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Meet Our Volunteers: Tom Brown

Tom Brown is a recent recipient of the “Trevor DaCosta award for longtime volunteers and friends of Academy of Hope.” He has volunteered at Academy of Hope since 1985. When asked to appear on the AoH website he shared this letter...

Here are a few words from a long term volunteer:

As I neared retirement in the late 80's after 30 years in government -- always a long arms reach away from the people we tried to serve -- I wanted to be closer. At the same time, my church was launching programs designed to help less advantaged neighbors. One was a GED school for adults called the Academy of Hope. I signed on in the early days to help founder, Marja, by teaching math. We were very small in the early days, but every year found ways to broaden our reach.

I learned that adults always have more going on in their lives than learning bookish subjects; things like health and family that seem more important, even to me, than the day's homework. Olive, for instance had trouble staying awake and Marja discovered that Olive's bed had no mattress. One day after class Marja invited me to give her a hand. That day ended as we squeezed a double mattress into Marja's car, then into an elevator, and onto Olive's box spring. An Academy of Hope education reaches beyond books.

Chanta grew up in Pol Pot's Cambodia; his escape to Washington where he joined siblings and cousins is a story in itself. In his early classes with us, there was only one goal: how to read a map to Atlantic City. One cousin had a car, and all had a plan to get rich at the gaming tables. His study paid off, they got to Atlantic City, but I never heard about any winnings and never heard of a return trip. But Chanta did get a job, and we soon heard that his focused study habits served him well with employee-of-the-week awards and promotions.

Mary and her infant son John were so close that John came to class while she started a new life free from alcohol and drugs. Mary's two daughters were separated from the family in foster homes. Several years of study brought Mary health care employment as valued staff at a home for HIV-infected mothers. She also became self-supporting and she re-gathered her family. But, within months, a hereditary disease attacked Mary's brain. She became totally disabled and was hospitalized for some years unto death. It was a tragic ending made bearable perhaps, by the recovery and re-gathering that preceded her disease.

I loved to hear Mattie tell her story because Mattie is even older than me. In Georgia, her mother taught her good work habits; by the time she was 10, she and her sister together could pick a bale of cotton each day. Years later when Mattie moved to Washington, she opened a corner store. Since it went well, she did the same for siblings as they came north. When I met her three years ago, she was not after a GED, she did not need a better job. She just wanted to read and write better, and she wanted to learn arithmetic.

Mattie owned seven houses in D.C. including one on 14th Street where she was making some changes to keep up with neighbors near the center of Columbia Heights. It's true, she did not know how to add and multiply but she surely had good business instincts.

Over the years, we've celebrated hundreds of graduations with students and their families. Lives have changed. But the life I'm writing about today is mine. Perhaps I've taught a little, though more often; I've just been present when the student was ready to learn. And me, I've been close enough to meet and appreciate a bunch of great people whom I'd never have met but for The Hope.



Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Computer classes return with ByteBack

Two sets of computer skills classes are now in progress at AoH.

Byte Back is offering free classes for low income students and community members in the afternoon at AoH. (Schedule here) Their "PC Beginners" class begins 9/29.

We have also resumed community computer classes in the evening (though registration has ended for this term.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

News Feed Launched

This fall marks the start of a new school year, and the launch of several new ways to keep in touch with the AoH community:

News from The Hope - Viewable from either the AoH homepage or Blogger @ (

The Literacy Connection - Our newsletter for friends and donors is now available in an online addition by email.

Twitter - We're tweeting too:

Events - Our homepage features upcoming events, but all of the above channels will keep you informed too.

The new Stay Connected tab on homepage is your link to all of these new possibilities.