WHY do we do this?
According to the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership Profile, the Ward 8 region of Washington, D.C. has the most school-aged children, low-income families, and teen-aged mothers in the Nation’s Capital. We also have the least grocery stores, business franchises, and job opportunities city-wide. An influx of charter schools and employment training programs have taken over the neighborhood. However, there has been no measurable or sustaining change. Students are being pushed out of school before they reach the ninth grade. Their families are suffering from debilitating impacts of inter-generational adverse childhood experiences. These traumas include (but are not limited to): severe mental health challenges, school push-out practices, long-term unemployment, displacement, and increased susceptibility to criminal activities. These conditions have only been exacerbated since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The Future Foundation (T.F.F.) exists to empower these youth to proactively address the trauma themselves, their families, and communities experience. Our trauma-informed curriculum trains them to navigate and dismantle the oppressive systems that have been structured for economic and educational disparities to exist and thrive. Our programs provide youth and their families access to the language that describes the struggles they are facing. As well as family wellness practices to begin individual and collective healing. Ultimately, the organizing skills they learn give them agency over how they advocate and address social justice (or lack thereof) on the front-lines for themselves and their communities.
HOW do we do this?
If you look at our calendar, you would think we are your average drop-in center for teens. However, that is the farthest from the truth. We are the only drop-in center that facilitates our community programs with a trauma-informed approach. This means our staff is certified to engage families in a way that recognizes and appropriately responds to the impacts of trauma. As well as work diligently to ensure that our collective work does not re-traumatize them. You can read more trauma-informed approaches from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) by clicking here.
Since COVID-19, we have been forced to close our drop-in center because it is too small to adequately social distance. In the meantime, our Stay Woke D.C. youth organizing squad has organized community care collectives where our programs continue virtually.
WHAT do we do?
In order to fulfill our mission, we design, facilitate, and evaluate our results-based curriculum, trauma-informed programs, and family wellness activities. Our organizing model is designed to teach an in-depth understanding of trauma and resilience and their impacts on our lives. We also use our social-emotional approach to re-examine persecution based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, political identity, citizenship, socioeconomic status, varying ability, and HIV/AIDS status. These sessions are curated by our staff for the purposes of:
Supporting our future adults in identifying how resilience is transformed into social justice advocacy, community organizing, and resource regeneration throughout history.
Cultivating youth leaders with supportive families competent in researching and strategically advocating for equitable resource opportunities within their community.
Organizing emotional safe spaces and collaborative service-learning projects led by our future adults and their families that directly address the social issues they are most impacted by and promote individual, family, and community wellness.
For example, our Liberation Library catalogs and cross-references social progress based on location, organizational affiliation, issue, and/or its effect on a specific demographic. The library also offers participants real-life examples and language to expand their own organizing efforts based on what they learn from the Library's offerings.
WHO do we work with?
The District of Columbia identifies youth as anyone between the ages of 13-24 years of age. We welcome any youth in this age range or a parent of youth within this age range. However, we are intentional about separating participants into age-appropriate groups. Ultimately, our trauma-informed work supports "future adults" who envision then execute the strategies and tactics for sustainable social change. Participants do not embrace an apathetic attitude towards securing human rights, economic opportunities, and community wellness. With support from staff, volunteers, and community partners, our youth and their families use tangible solutions to address social problems. Together, we heal and create a future worth fighting for!