With each year, the number of Program Instructors working with our young people grows. These exceptionally talented people are our front line. They train our tutors, supervise tutoring sessions, support our young people during hard times, and celebrate them when things go well.

This year, we had 12 incredible instructors, and we thank them for their tremendous service to our tutors and their students.

At Anacostia, Mr. Chibundu’s loud laugh and sense of humor were matched with Ms. Shekinah’s intense concern and curiosity. For the second year in a row, Ms. Quilla ran things solo at Beacon House, and we’re so proud of her decision to pursue graduate studies in Social Work. Ms. Stacy and Mr. Vincent created a true family with the Ballou cohort working at King. And, our other group of Ballou tutors, working at Simon, were lead by Ms. Sully’s high energy with Mr. John calmly shaking his head nearby.

Ms. Paiyal and Mr. James were the perfect pair to launch our program at Dunbar. The kids loved them, and they clearly enjoyed each other as well. Though we have lost instructors mid-year before, it never pained anyone like it pained Mr. James. That showed us how much it mattered to him. We were incredibly appreciative of the work Ms. Sisi did stepping in and stepping up at the end of the year.

And, finally, there was Eastern. Ms. Courtney brought a new energy to Eastern’s team of tutors. When conflict emerged, Ms. Courtney always felt comfortable steering into it and having conversations that may make others uncomfortable.

Every one of these instructors made this year work. Our participants love Reach. You can feel it on the last day when you see both tutors and students crying. When teens pull away, not wanting to say goodbye. When people linger, knowing there’s not a next session. This work is hard. Very hard. And we appreciate all you do to support, celebrate, and instruct the young people we serve.

And, of course, there is one person missing from the list above: Mr. Headen. Jeremiah started as a Program Instructor five years ago. As he moves on from Eastern, and from our work, we are immensely grateful for all he gave to Reach. His first cohort of tutors now includes both a Morehouse man and a Marine. His Reach kids are high school graduates and they will forever smile when his name is mentioned. Thank you for all your work, Mr. Headen.

Our work simply would not be possible without the caring and consistent commitment demonstrated by this group. We hope you’ll join us in thanking them for their work this year.

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Thank you, Jusna.

Dear Jusna,

“The first follower is actually an underestimated form of leadership in itself. It takes guts to stand out like that.” – Derek Sivers, How To Start A Movement

Looking back, it’s almost comical. You applied for a job with an organization that barely existed. There was no staff. There was no office.  On your first day, you actually helped pick up the desks we would be moving into our new office. You carried them up and down flights of stairs…in heels.

It seems so long ago, but like yesterday.

In many ways, you are the one that made Reach real. You helped me define the organization’s beliefs and, for five years, you held me accountable to them. You are a truth teller, an advocate, and an activist.

When I imagined an organization where love and unconditionality played a central role, you never once seemed to think I was crazy. You simply loved our kids unconditionally and learned the power of that approach. You answered the late night emails, you challenged the status quo, you gave our kids hugs and, when they deserved it, side eyes.

Kyare no longer refers to women as females. Sejal has a source of constant support. Fatimah has a twin. Terrell knows he has to defend the statements he makes. Za’Metria knows she is never alone. Mylia knows what a wonderful birthday feels like. Litzi knows how incredible she is. Miles is just getting started.

And Josh is a father. He’s a caring, attentive, loving father. He’s going to be an incredible father. Josh. Look at that. Own that. Know what you did.

The impact you had on the lives of our kids is permanent. You did that with your optimism, your passion, your fire. This work is difficult, and you feel it so deeply.

I have regrets. There are things you learned from me that I wish I could take back. At times, you focus so much on the need to do better that you lose the good you’ve done. You struggle to take compliments. When I tell you that you’re amazing, you’ll struggle not to roll your eyes. You won’t believe it to be true.

You’re amazing. Don’t ever forget that. We won’t.

As we carried desks into our new office in 2011, I don’t know if you could have imagined this. We’re a $1,000,000 organization.  Next year, we’ll serve 350 kids. We’ve published 13 books. We have a summer program. We won the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize. A to Z is part of the DCPS curriculum. Kyare is a Morehouse man. Litzi will be a valedictorian. Rashaan is a US Marine.

Thank you so much. Thank you for your commitment to our kids and to the organization. No hire in our future will ever be so important. Thank you for all you have done to make the organization what it is today.

On Monday, I’ll walk into Reach’s office, and you won’t work there anymore. Reach has never had an office that didn’t include you. The transition will be hard, and you will be missed. But, like we say to our kids, we believe in unconditionality. You have a permanent invitation and a complimentary ticket to any event Reach ever holds. Employment status changes, but family is forever.

Don’t forget to visit. We’ll miss you.

With immense gratitude,

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Growth. Part III.

Today, we are excited to announce our third new partnership for the 2016 – 2017 academic year. Starting this fall, we will begin work at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, our first site in Ward 4. Since 2004, E.L. Haynes has been serving elementary school students. The high school did not open until the fall of 2011. And, though the high school shares a campus with the school’s early grades, their profiles are actually somewhat different.

At the elementary school 45.5% of 3rd graders are “Approaching college and career ready or above,” according to the 2015 DC Public Charter School Board School Report. This at a school where 30% of the elementary school students are English Language Learners, a much higher percentage than at any of our other partner schools. At the high school, only 22% of readers are on track or college readiness and the most recent data available lists a graduation rate of just under 60%. Approximately 15% of the teens are English Language Learners.

E.L. Haynes is a strong organization with a strong reputation. And, due to the unique combination of students at the Kansas Avenue campus, this partnership with Reach could prove uniquely beneficial as the school includes both our teen tutors and their elementary school students. In partnership with the school’s leadership, we hope to contribute to improved outcomes, increased engagement, and the development of an even more caring school community. We are looking forward to getting started.

Growth Goal: Reach currently serves 250 participants at 5 DC sites in Wards 5, 6, and 8. During the 2016 – 2017 academic year, Reach expects to serve approximately 360 participants – 180 teen tutors and 180 elementary school students – at 8 sites in DC’s Wards 4 – 8.

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Job Posting: Program Associate

Program Associate – Job Description

Organizational Overview: Reach Incorporated develops confident readers and capable leaders by preparing teens to serve as tutors and role models for younger students, creating academic improvement for both.

Position Overview: The Program Associate will supervise and support Program Instructors, address successes and challenges at after-school sites, create a culture of continuous instructional improvement, and create communities grounded in Reach’s core beliefs. The Program Associate plays a uniquely powerful role in building multi-year relationships with participants and shaping program culture.

Salary: $45,000+, based on experience

After-School Program Support: Ensure values-based leadership and successful implementation of program curriculum at all program sites.

  • Attend sessions, Monday – Thursday.
  • Be present on site to manage challenges related to staffing and culture.
  • Ensure all participants are assessed using identified tool(s).
  • Support recruitment and enrollment processes.
  • Plan and host tutor outings to build strong relationships.

Tutor/Instructor Development & Support: Build relationships and support the continuous improvement of both Program Instructors and tutors.

  • Ensure fidelity to Reach Incorporated curriculum and culture.
  • Support Program Instructors as they develop individual and team goals for themselves and for their tutors.
  • Observe Program Instructors and provide feedback to improve instruction and community culture.
  • Serve as the primary point of contact for Program Instructors and Liaison Teachers.
  • Support Program Instructors and Liaison Teachers in celebrating participant success and managing challenging behaviors.

Communications: Ensure communication of stories and successes to appropriate internal and external stakeholders.

  • Communicate significant program challenges to the Program Manager.
  • Ensure the appropriate documentation of student successes and challenges.
  • Advocate for participants both inside and outside of sessions by communicating with parents, teachers, and school leaders.

Other Projects:

  • Identify growth areas and provide leadership when aligned with Reach’s priorities.
  • Support, as needed, Reach’s Summer Leadership Academy.
  • Attend and support Reach events, including teen-author readings, book sales, and all major fundraising events.

To apply, send your resume and cover letter to In your cover letter, please describe your interest in this job and identify the ways in which you align with Reach’s core beliefs. Applications will be accepted until the job is filled. Preferred start date is on or before June 20, 2016.

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Growth. Part II.

Reach Incorporated is excited to announce our second expansion site for the 2016 – 2017 academic year. In the fall of 2016, we will grow our work at Anacostia High to include Orr Elementary School.

Located in Anacostia, Orr Elementary will soon move to a brand new facility, replacing the current open concept design. Orr students have a variety of extra-curricular options, and Reach will be offered to identified students through one of DC Public Schools’ Empowering Males of Color grants. According to the most recent data, only 12% of Orr students met expectations in reading, but we are sure that number will soon be rising.

This new partnership with Orr will allow us to grow our tutor cohort at Anacostia High. This year, we served 25 teens in partnership with Ketcham Elementary School. Next year, we expect to hire 40 teens who will serve students at both Ketcham and Orr. In addition to growing our tutor cohort at Anacostia, we will also attempt to strengthen our partnership by building more intentional partnerships with teachers and administrators.

Growth Goal: Reach currently serves 250 participants at 5 DC sites in Wards 5, 6, and 8. During the 2016 – 2017 academic year, Reach expects to serve approximately 360 participants – 180 teen tutors and 180 elementary school students – at 8 sites in DC’s Wards 4 – 8.

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Growth. Part I.

Reach Incorporated is excited to announce our first expansion site for the 2016 – 2017 academic year. In the fall of 2016, we are excited to begin work in partnership with Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School (TMA) and Savoy Elementary. These two schools, which actually share a gym, will now build community as TMA scholars tutor 2nd and 3rd grade students at Savoy.

Savoy Elementary School serves a population where 99% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. With a strong focus on the arts, Savoy students aim to be “peerless in their academic achievements and fearless in their artistic accomplishments.” A DCPS priority school, Savoy is making significant strides under the leadership of Donyale Butler, a Mary Jane Patterson Fellow and second-year principal at Savoy.

Across the gym at Thurgood Marshall, a strong academic culture exists. Students are developed “to succeed in college and to actively engage in our democratic society.” Under the leadership of Rich Pohlman, TMA is one of the city’s strongest charter schools, but it does serve a population in which 73% of the students are economically disadvantaged and 57% qualify as at-risk. Additionally, because the high school sets such high academic standards, a significant number of 9th grade students struggle to transition to the school when not prepared by their middle school experiences. We want to help those TMA students stay and thrive while ensuring that Savoy’s students make the gains necessary for long-term success.

We are thrilled to be partnering with both schools, and we look forward to begin our work together this fall.

Growth Goal: Reach currently serves 250 participants at 5 DC sites in Wards 5, 6, and 8. During the 2016 – 2017 academic year, Reach expects to serve approximately 360 participants – 180 teen tutors and 180 elementary school students – at 8 sites in DC’s Wards 4 – 8.

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Great Week. Seriously.

Is our work impactful? It’s a question we ask regularly. And, this week, we got some good evidence that the answer is year:

1) This year, our friends at Shout Mouse Press submitted two of our books for the IndieFab Book of the Year Awards. This week, we learned that both the books – The Blue Spark and A Little Girl in a Big, Big World – were named finalists in the Child Author category.

2) In the last week, seven – yes, SEVEN! – of our teens earned the DC Achievers Scholarship. Each of our seven youth are eligible for up to $60,000 in scholarship money to support their college dreams:

  • Anacostia Senior High: Jaleel, Jewel & Zaniquar
  • Ballou Senior High: Darne’sha, Herbert & Litzi
  • Thurgood Marshall Academy PCS: Tavian

3) Rashaan, a 2015 Eastern Senior High graduate, completed boot camp this week and is now officially a US Marine.

4) Kyare, another 2015 Eastern Senior High graduate, came back to visit during spring break. In his first year at Morehouse College, Kyare is doing really well. This week, he joined us when Reach was visited by a group of local philanthropists. He represented us well as we discussed the ways Reach had played a role in his life. When Kyare finished talking, I asked our visitors whether they had any additional questions. There response: “Wow. No.”

Is our work impactful? Yes.

Posted in Meet Our Tutors, Updates |Comments closed |

2016 Book Grants

Nonprofit organizations spend a lot of time raising money. At Reach, we’ve always thought it important to be generous with our resources as well. During our summer program, our teens have given away more than $7,500 through our Teen Philanthropy Challenge. And, to date, we have given away more than 4,000 of our teen-authored children’s books.

This year, we launched a new process, allowing any DC schools or organizations to apply for book grants. This week, we announced grants of over 2,000 books to 19 local recipient organizations. We’re so excited to announce our first round of grants:

Center City Public Charter School – Capitol Hill. 100 Books.
Books will be given to 2nd and 3rd grade students for use during silent sustained reading each morning.

Center City Public Charter School. 50 Books.
Books may be checked out by students interested in reading them during morning and afternoon reading time.

DC Public Schools Libraries. 324 Books.
Sets of all four 2015 books will be granted to all 81 DC Public Schools libraries serving elementary school readers.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. 40 Books.
As part of a community service project, this group is assisting 20 children during their transition into foster care through The Pajama Program.

The Fishing School. 65 Books.
Books will be used as read aloud selections during the organization’s summer program and performed as plays during an annual family literacy night.

Garrison Elementary School. 100 Books.
Students from Howard University are beginning an after-school program and will use these books in their work with elementary school students.

Generation Hope. 50 Books.
Books will be provided to the children of Generation Hope scholars, all teen mothers pursuing a college degree in the DC region.

Inner City Inner Child. 60 Books.
Books will be given to 60 pre-k students enrolled in the organization’s Dancing with Books program.

Jubilee JumpStart. 50 Books.
Books will be used to encourage parents to read at home to their kids, as gifts for pre-k graduates, and as incentives for attendance at parent meetings

King Elementary School. 75 Books.
Books will be used in a burgeoning literacy club that will turn these books into readers theater scripts.

Marie Reed Elementary. 140 Books.
Books will be distributed at a teen author event or at the school’s annual career day.

Nobel Learning Communities. 50 Books.
Books will be distributed to children in various day care classrooms.

Payne Elementary School. 160 Books.
Books will be used as part of the school’s initiative to increase the amount of time students spend reading.

Reading Partners DC. 120 Books.
Books will be used to stock the Take Reading Home Libraries at each of the organization’s reading centers.

Savoy Elementary. 180 Books.
Books will be used to encourage students to think of themselves as authors and to prepare for upcoming reading and writing assessments.

Tubman Elementary. 100 Books.
Books will be distributed to classroom libraries and given to students to build their classroom libraries.

Turning The Page. 180 Books.
Books will be distributed at community nights so that participating families can build their at home libraries and encourage positive literacy practices.

Young Playwrights Theater. 26 Books.
Two sets of our books will be auctioned off at an upcoming event to raise funds to support continued programming in DC schools.

Walker Jones Education Campus. 180 Books.
Books would be distributed at a Family Fun Night during which the school engages students and their families.

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Major Gift Announcement


Washington DC – January 28, 2016 – Reach Incorporated, a DC program that trains high school students to be elementary school reading tutors and children’s book authors, announces a $200,000 investment from The Bethesda Foundation, Inc.

Reach’s unique model trains struggling teen readers to support elementary school students in need of additional support to achieve proficiency by the end of 3rd grade. Through this unique relationship, both the teen tutors and their elementary school students experience significant reading growth. Young readers receive individualized support while teen tutors solidify foundational literacy skills in an engaging and empowering way.

The organization was recently honored with the National Book Foundation’s 2015 Innovations in Reading Prize.

Mark Hecker, Executive Director of Reach Incorporated, reported, “This gift from The Bethesda Foundation will contribute significantly to our effort to double in size by fall 2017. With these funds, we will deepen our commitment to addressing DC’s literacy crisis through innovative programs that leverage the potential of teens.”

Since 2010, Reach Incorporated has operated after-school programs in DC public schools, public charter schools, and community-based settings. Elementary school participants average one-and-a-half grade levels of reading growth per year of participation while their teen tutors average more than two grade levels of growth per year. Additionally, the program cultivates high-level leadership skills and graduates 90% of its tutors on time, though it recruits tutors with significant academic and social needs. Teen tutors also write, publish, and distribute children’s books aimed at engaging young readers like the ones they tutor.

Rachel Kronstadt Mann of The Bethesda Foundation said, “[We are] proud to support this innovative program because reading is so important. It is the key to learning, living and working in the modern world. The lifelong benefits are incalculable, both for the kids and society as a whole.”

This investment will allow Reach to build the capacity necessary to serve additional schools and students. Through this work, Reach will address the needs of adolescent learners while ensuring that younger readers never fall behind.

Media Inquiries: Please contact Selamawit “Sully” Mulugeta at or (202) 445 – 4263, or visit the website at

Posted in Funding, Updates |Comments closed |

Welcome Kim!

IMG_0950In the last couple weeks, we have had the opportunity to celebrate the addition of our newest, full-time employee. Kim Davis (we hear rumors that her name is already trending on Twitter!), is a new Program Associate, part of a reorganization to better support each of our program sites. She will be overseeing programming at Anacostia, Beacon House, and Dunbar.

A native of New York and the daughter of a teacher, Kim has been working in DC since 2011. Following her graduation from George Washington University, Kim served two years as a Corps Member and Senior Corps Member for City Year at Kramer Middle School in DC’s Anacostia neighborhood.

After completing her service with City Year, Kim joined For Love of Children (FLOC), a neighborhood tutoring program that provides support around academics and college access. During her second year at FLOC, Kim was the organization’s Employee of the Year.

In the last couple weeks, Kim has had the opportunity to meet the Program Instructors and tutors that will become her colleagues during this school year. When she visited our Anacostia tutors at Ketcham Elementary for the first time, she was greeted by shouts of “Ms. Kim!” as they recognized her from their middle school days at Kramer. The excitement of those tutors showed us that we made a good decision bringing Kim onto our team.

We’re excited about the work she will do and the relationships she will build. By bringing exceptional talent onto our growing team, we know we will be able to make Reach both bigger and better in the years to come.

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