(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser was joined by Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles, DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Antwan Wilson, and Kelly Miller Middle School Principal Kortni Stafford to announce Reign: Empowering Young Women as Leaders, a multi-pronged initiative to support young women of color in DC Public Schools. The initiative, which aims to build community, confidence, and leadership skills in young women of color, will give DCPS more resources to address disparities in student satisfaction, graduation rates, and PARCC scores.
“As we continue making the investments necessary to give every student in DCPS a world-class education and the resources and support they need to reach their full potential, Reign will ensure that our young women of color are not left behind,” said Mayor Bowser. “We know that different students have different needs and that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Next school year is just the beginning for Reign and, in fitting with the goals of the initiative, we will continue to expand the program based on the feedback we receive from the young women in our schools.”
The three pillars of Reign: Empowering Young Women as Leaders include:
- Creating spaces for young women of color to build community, confidence, and leadership skills inside and outside of school, starting with a citywide conference for young women of color on June 3, and continuing as a series of Young Women’s Workshops in School Year 2017-2018.
- Ensuring that schools are empowering places for young women of color by providing support to teachers and staff with training on gender and racial equity and expanding the health and gender curriculum at DC Public Schools.
- Launching Reign Innovation Grants to improve academic and social outcomes for young women of color by focusing on academic development, family engagement, and social-emotional supports.
“Through Reign, we will be able to help more of our young women of color grow into the leaders we know they can be,” says Antwan Wilson, Chancellor of DC Public Schools. “This is a critical socio-emotional investment across health, wellness, and identity for our young women of color, which will allow us to better support our students as we work to close the achievement gap.”
Across the city, DCPS held listening sessions with more than 100 young women of color to hear directly from students on how schools could better support them. Students responses included: “I would like a space to talk about things like feelings [and] learn about each other, how to work in groups, talk about your day, and get rid of stress,” and “We need to learn to build our confidence.”
“Young women of color at DCPS created this program by telling us what supports would help them thrive academically and socio-emotionally,” says Claudia Luján, Director of Reign at DC Public Schools. “In the hundreds of students we spoke with, we heard that young women of color wanted support in leadership, health and wellness, and identity, so that’s what we are seeding for them.”