Saturday, November 19, 2011

Meet Lecester Johnson, 2011 Exponent Award Recipient

Lecester Johnson, Executive Director
“I am humbled and grateful," says Lecester Johnson, Academy of Hope's Executive Director. "This award is not for me but for our students, staff and community...and I thank each and every person who has contributed to our AoH family throughout 27 years.”
Academy of Hope's Executive Director, Ms. Lecester Johnson, has been selected by The Meyer Foundation to receive one of three of this year’s prestigious Exponent Award.  The award recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of DC’s most talented, visionary, and effective nonprofit executives and comes with a two-year grant of $100,000.  Since joining Academy of Hope in 2006, Lecester not only guided the organization through a very tough economic climate but also managed a sustained growth, expanding the budget as well as programs and services for adult learners.  Lecester brings strategic vision and a deep understanding of education as well as compassion to the plight of individuals living in the District of Columbia who experience low-literacy or who are under-educated.  “She is truly an inspired, dedicated and hard-working leader,” says Mr. Ryan Young, AoH Board Chair. “This is a testament to the impact of an exceptional leader and her dedication to the community.” We thank the entire AoH community and dedicate this award to all of you!

View the press release here.

The Exponent Award, established in 2006, celebrates awardees' success at increasing the impact of their organization's work, instituting sound management, and serving as collaborative community leaders.  This year, only three nonprofit leaders are honored with the 2011 Exponent Award.

The Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation identifies and invests in visionary leaders and effective community-based nonprofit organizations that are working to create lasting improvements in the lives of low-income people in the Washington, DC metropolitan region, and works to strengthen the region's nonprofit sector as a vital and respected partner in meeting community needs.

For more information, click here or contact Adriana Kao at or 202-269-6623

Monday, October 24, 2011

Academy of Hope mentioned in McCartney's Washington Post column

Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney suggests billionaire philanthropist could start with an investment in Academy of Hope to help bring long-term solution to DC poverty.

Robert McCartney, Washington Post columnist and radio/TV commentator, has been investigating and writing about how the billionaire Bill Conway can put $1 billion to help the area's poorest residents.  Bill Conway is a local area businessman who is looking for a way to make a big, long-term impact and has asked the public for ideas on how to help the DC community. 

The Washington Post columnist has been corresponding with Mr. Conway and has done some of his own research.  Mr. McCartney spoke with Academy of Hope's Executive Director, Ms. Lecester Johnson, just recently after he received various positive comments about Academy of Hope and our work.  Mr. McCartney writes in his Sunday column about his conclusion after weeks of research and interviews on how to start tackling the chronic problem of poverty that too many DC residents face.

He says, "The sorry that a sizable number of people in our region - at least 50,000 in the District - are so poorly educated that they're effectively unemployable."  Find out what he suggests and how Academy of Hope fits into that long-term solution plan.

"Here's my idea for philanthropist to help poor find jobs"
by Robert McCartney (Published in The Washington Post on October 22, 2011)

Thank you Mr. McCartney for your thoughtful comments!

Interested in helping?  Volunteer at Academy of Hope as a teacher or tutor, or donate to support our work! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Volunteer at Academy of Hope

One of our returning volunteers, Max reviews student assignments during his class.

Academy of Hope's mission is to provide high quality adult basic education in a manner that changes lives and improves our community. We cannot accomplish our goals without our dedicated volunteers. Here is how you too can change lives in your community.

 Come and be a volunteer teacher or tutor at the Academy of Hope. Teach adults the skills they need to get their high school credential- either with a small class or one-on-one. To get started, commit to teaching 2 hours a week for a 12 week term. Teachers of basic writing and math are needed. Academy of Hope is holding a training session for new volunteer teachers and tutors on Saturday, August 27, from 9 am to 1 pm.

Please call (202) 269-6623 or e-mail for more information. Check the website for more information on The Hope.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Open House at Academy of Hope, Aug. 18th 5:30p

Thursday August 18th 5:30pm, Academy of Hope welcomes you to our Open House. Come speak with students, volunteers and staff and find out how you can be a part of "the Hope". For additional information contact our staff--202.269.6623 or 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Meet Charles Mcpherson, AoH Student

Starting a New Chapter

Charles Mcpherson is an affable, soft-spoken, eloquent man who has spent many of his 47 years struggling against violence, abuse, alcohol and cocaine.  Today he is winning his struggle on all fronts, and is working toward a better future.

Charles spent his early years in Northeast DC with his parents and six siblings.  Though his father was in and out of jail, his mother “made sure that we stayed in school and did our homework”.  She provided discipline, volunteered in his classroom, and bought books and an encyclopedia for her children.  In junior high school Charles was a member of the football and swim teams.  He also enjoyed neighborhood recreation center activities and participated in community clean-ups.  But despite his mother’s best efforts, “she couldn’t protect us from everything”.  Threats came from the violence both within his family and from the streets.  In this environment, Charles learned early how to fight in order to survive.

In March 2011, Charles came to AoH for a computer class.  When he realized he could also study for his GED, he said, “Let me sign up right away!”  Since starting at AoH he has learned a lot and has worked especially hard on math.  He says that his teacher “really knows her stuff” and he is committed to doing the work and passing his GED.    His commitment to the program is demonstrated by the fact that he commutes by bus three-and-a half hours a day, and that he won the AoH Perfect Attendance Award earlier this year.

Today Charles is trying to be an example to his son, now a high school student, and trying to “guide him in the right direction”.  He is also the proud grandfather of ten grandchildren.

As he has grown older, Charles now sees that “life has a lot more to offer”.  He does not want to continue to struggle and very much wants to do better.  Professionally, his goal is to become a social worker, supporting people living with HIV and helping others to protect themselves from infection.  “It’s like I’m starting a new chapter.  I see progress in my life, and joy, laughter and trust.  I’ve come a long way, and never thought that I’d be thinking about a future.”  And yet, at age 47, he says, “I have one.”

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer’s Sizzling in Ward 8

A picture of the area before the renovation.
The lazy days of summer haven’t put a stop to Academy of Hope’s burgeoning programs in Ward 8. To the contrary, new students, new classrooms, and new curriculum have combined to fuel the growth of both the ABE-GED and computer classes as AoH enters its second year of operations in Ward 8.

The biggest change in Ward 8 this summer is the opening of two much-anticipated new classrooms at the main site in the Overlook Apartments at Wheeler and Valley Streets, S.E. Classes started in the new classrooms with the beginning of the summer session. The build-out of the classrooms was completed at a greatly-reduced cost in partnership with Yachad, the Jewish Housing and Community Development Corporation of Greater Washington, a non-profit organization that works with partners throughout the Washington area to revitalize neighborhoods and renovate the homes of lower-income residents. The new space includes a mural celebrating the expansion of Academy of Hope to Ward 8, donated by muralist Julie Dickerson. The new classrooms provide the opportunity to double the number of classes currently offered, increasing our ability to offer classes at multiple levels. And with classes no longer held in the original AoH space, that area serves as a new student lounge and tutoring center.

Summer has also brought to Ward 8 almost 20 new ABE-GED students who, in addition to their regular classes, have been enjoying a new social studies curriculum that will include three field trips centered on the Civil War to Civil Rights Downtown DC Heritage Trail. Students have already enjoyed a visit to and tour of the National Building Museum and are looking forward to trips to Ford’s Theatre and Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.

Computer class offerings in Ward 8 have been enriched this summer, too, with the addition of an IC3 class Monday through Thursday mornings at the Overlook. Students successfully completing this advanced computer class will earn a certificate that will enhance their employment opportunities. We’re excited that the class includes two students who started in AoH’s Ward 8 beginning computer class earlier this year.

As always, the focus of all this activity is student growth, and many Ward 8 students are closer to meeting their educational goals. Five students have passed the practice GED test and are expected to take the GED in the next few months. Under the leadership of Alyssa Ballentine, our Ward 8 The Workplace D.C. instructor, three additional students have made significant grade level gains in both reading and math. So, while “hazy, hot and humid” is the forecast for Washington, Ward 8’s forecast remains all A’s: advancement, achievement and attainment. “The final ‘A’ is amazed,” says Ward 8 program coordinator Daquanna Harrison. “I am simply amazed at the commitment of my staff. From the creation of a new curriculum, to the grade level gains, to running three different levels of computers in one session, my staff has truly put their all into making Ward 8 great. Thank you all so much.”

Ward 8 utilizing their new space.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

AoH Anacostia Community Service Event

AoH volunteers struggling with a tire found in the area.
Academy of Hope encourages all of our adult learners to become active members in their community. This is one of the first goals many learners set when joining the Academy of Hope community. On July 1st AoH students, volunteers and staff members volunteered with the Anacostia Watershed Society to assist with the maintenance, preservation, and conservation of the Anacostia River area. The students in attendance greatly enjoyed this experience and now want to participate in additional community efforts.
Florence finds some interesting trash.
AoH Student Leadership Representative, Florence Akurut said "I felt so happy because I had achieved my goal of keeping and saving the environment of Anacostia and the surrounding areas of the river." Florence is a very active Academy of Hope learner and has taken her position as one of our Student Leadership Representatives very seriously by leading school fundraisers for organizations such as the The Family Place.  After her experience  in Anacostia Florence is now searching for some to assist her with the monetary funds necessary to become a member of the Anacostia Watershed Society.

Kaye stays busy ensuring all is clean.
     Academy of Hope Ward 5 learner, Kaye Fraser also attended the trip to Anacostia and when asked why she thought it was important to keep our parks clean she said "it helps the environment, the air will be better to breath and children can have somewhere clean to play." Kaye is a very dedicated individual and after working overnight at a local hospital she still makes it to class on time every morning.
Community service presents an opportunity for AoH learners to get involved in their community and make a real difference. Feeling like you are a part of your community is very important and many of our learners had never traveled across the Anacostia River to Ward 8 prior to joining the AoH community.       

 We hope to continue increasing enrichment activities and opportunities for all of our adult learners.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Opportunities Fair this Thursday

Join DC LEARNs, Academy of Hope and other organizations from the DC area for the 2nd Annual Opportunities Fair at Watha T. Daniel-Shaw Neighborhood Library from 12-4p, on Thursday June 23, 2011. This is a great opportunity for DC residents to find out additional information about free or low cost job training, college preparation, technology as well as the internet and personal development.

Academy of Hope recognizes the great importance in all of these areas and how this Opportunities Fair can impact DC residents. We will be setting up our own booth to inform the community of the Adult Education resources and services Academy of Hope provides to empower the most marginalized in Washington, DC. Academy of Hope instructors will be available to answer questions and distribute information. We will also be transporting some our adult learners to the Shaw Library so they can learn more about additional services and programs offered throughout the District.

This is a great opportunity for residents of the community to become more aware of both professional and educational opportunities while communing with others at the same time. If interested in attending or if you know someone that this information would be beneficial to then stop by between 12-4p on Thursday, Shaw Neighborhood Library, Lower Level Meeting Rooms. The address is 1630 7th Street NW (near the Shaw/Howard Metro Station). For additional information on the contact Ben Merrion at (202) 727-2431 or email

Friday, June 17, 2011

The 16th Annual Ball and Bee

Academy of Hope hosted its annual Ball and Bee on June 3, 2011, celebrating 26 years of successfully transforming the lives of Washington, DC, adult learners. We would like to send a special thank you to everyone who helped make the 2011 Ball & Bee a spectacular event. This event would not have been possible without our board members sponsors, students, distinguished guests, volunteers and staff. 

The 2011 Ball and Bee, held at the Katzen Arts Center at American University, was a great success. We celebrated Academy of Hope’s mission to provide high quality adult basic education in a manner that changes lives and strengthens our community. Two learners, Kenneth Tolliver and Valerie Moore, took the stage at the program to share their stories and illustrate how their lives have been impacted by our educational services. With such a wonderful night we have already begun the planning for the 2012 Ball and Bee.

Below is a list of the 2011 Ball and Bee sponsored teams and the winning teams. Visit our Ball and Bee website for our complete list of sponsors, all of the Ball and Bee photos, and information on how you can be involved and support the next Ball and Bee.

Winning teams: 
1st Place- Navigant
2nd Place- Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP 
3rd Place-American Institutes For Research
Sponsor Teams:


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Academy of Hope receives 2011 Social Action Award

Academy of Hope is honored to be a recipient of the 2011 Temple Sinai Social Action Service Award. Our Executive Director, Lecester Johnson accepted the award at a special Social Action Shabbat on May 20, 2011. Lecester was accompanied by Bobbie Neuman, long-time Academy of Hope volunteer and member of Temple Sinai congregation. 

Temple Sinai is a center for individuals within the D.C. community, which provides opportunities for members to participate in worship, programs, and services for all ages, as well as a religious education program. The Temple Sinai Social Action/Critical Issues Committee sought nominations for the 13th annual Temple Sinai Social Action Service Award.  This prestigious award recognizes a community-based nonprofit meeting local social service needs within the community.  Temple Sinai wanted to reward small organizations that do tremendous work with limited resources and would benefit from a continuing relationship with the Temple Sinai community.

Academy of Hope was nominated by Marci Levin and Bobbie Neuman for our commitment and dedication to bringing high quality educational and job support for adults from diverse backgrounds throughout the Washington D.C. area. In the nomination, Marci cited some of our many accomplishments including; 37 learners who earned high school credentials, 15 learners who placed in postsecondary education and 182 learners that increased their reading and/or math skills by a grade level or more all in one academic year. By bringing quality adult education, vocational training, and career counseling to the community, Academy of Hope is providing services to those individuals who are having trouble finding jobs and may not be able to provide financially for their families. 

Temple Sinai recognizes us for all of our commitment and many accomplishments and we thank them for supporting Academy of Hope, our learners and the D.C. community.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Join AoH for an Open House April 7th

On Thursday, April 7th Academy of Hope will host an open house at our main campus.

This event is an opportunity for anyone interested in volunteering, supporting, or learning more about the Academy of Hope community and adult education in Washington, DC. All are invited to attend!

There will be a short program at 6:30pm featuring a student speaker. You will also have the opportunity to meet staff and volunteers, to tour our site and enjoy light refreshments.

Thursday, April 7th
5:30 – 8:00pm

601 Edgewood St NE. Suite 25
Academy of Hope
Washington, DC 20017
*Accessible from the Rhode Island Metro Station, and the G8 and D8 buses. Car and bicycle parking is available on-site. Directions are available from our website:
Please RSVP by e-mail to or call (202) 269-6623

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pathways Program in This Month's "East of the River" Magazine

"AoH’s Pathways Prepares Adult Learners For Success" is the headline of an article in the February edition of East of the River Magazine. You can pick up a copy for yourself at any of these locations, or read it online here.

The article is a good overview of what's happening in Pathways program and why it's so important. It's a timely read too, as author Steve Lilienthal notes:
Recently, there has been a great deal of focus in Congress and the higher education community on for-profit institutions accepting poorly prepared students. It’s not a minor issue. The danger for many GED recipients with marginal academic skills is that their financial aid will be dissipated paying for remedial courses that must be taken to improve skills, but do not count as credit for their degrees. Pathways can help to prevent students from suffering such shocks.

If you haven't already, be sure to also check out this article in The Washington Informer, which quotes AoH student Ernestine McSwain.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Returned PC Volunteers Choose AoH for Charity of The Year

Academy of Hope has been selected by the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, DC (RPCV/w) as their 2011 Charity of the Year. AoH was chosen among a group of three finalist for the organization’s Partnership for Peace, which is in its second year. Throughout the year RPCV/w members will support adult learners at AoH through volunteer service, fundraising events, and outreach. RPCV/w is planning a large service event during the Peace Corps 50th anniversary celebration in September 2011.

RPCV/w is kicking-off this year’s partnership on February 26th, with their Second Annual Peace Corps Open; a mini-golf tournament at DC’s H Street Country Club. Registration for would-be golfers (and their spectator friends) is now open to the general public.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Please join us in celebrating our graduates!

Please join us in celebrating our graduates Thursday, January 27, 7:00PM. 
The ceremony will be held at Crawford Hall, the top floor of 635 Edgewood Street, NE.  Onsite parking is available and the building is walkable from the Rhode Island Ave Metro station.  The D8 and the G8 buses stop at 6th and Edgewood.

Please feel free to give us a call at 202-269-6623 with any questions.