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D.C. Public Schools Launch Empowerment Program for Young Women

By Kai Sinclair, Staff Writer
Posted 12:30 AM EST, Sun., Apr. 9, 2017`

On Monday, March 27, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson announced the launch of ‘Reign: Empowering Young Women as Leaders,’ an initiative that will support DCPS’s young women of color.

Through a citywide conference for girls of color and a series of Saturday workshops, ‘Reign’ aims to improve young women’s academic performances by offering them emotional and social support. It will be implemented for the first time during the 2017-2018 school year.

“DCPS launched Reign because our data shows us that young women of color have different needs than our young men”, said Janae Hinson, DCPS Deputy Press Secretary. “Over the past year, we have held focus groups and listening sessions with more than 100 women in DCPS to hear what they want and need to be successful.”

With its $1 million budget, Reign will also offer gender and racial equity training to DCPS teachers and staff to ensure that they are properly equipped to teach the school district’s unique student population.

DCPS’s student body is comprised of 87 percent non-white students, according to the district’s website. Jana Washington, a 16-year-old senior who attends Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, believes that the race equity training proposed by Reign is essential to understanding the needs of minority girls.

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“A lot of our teachers are not minorities and a lot of DCPS is,” said Washington. “They don’t really know how to deal with minorities and they always try to tiptoe around our feelings, not understanding that we’re just people.”

In addition to bridging the cultural gap between educators and students, Washington believes that Reign will also close the gap that exists in DCPS’s offering of gender-specific programming.

‘Empowering Males of Color,’ an initiative geared towards DCPS young men of color, was launched more than two years ago and culminated in the opening of the all-boys Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in August 2016.

Since then, advocates pushed for equal opportunities for DCPS girls. With the creation of Reign, members of the D.C. community who serve girls out of school are excited for the district-sanctioned initiative.

Alexis Tucker, 22, program facilitator of Girls Inc. of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area, said that she looks forward to what’s to come and shared her positive anticipation for ‘Reign’.

“I’m very happy that whoever in DCPS was responsible and responsive enough to develop a program that’s going to serve these DCPS girls of minority background,” said Tucker.

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