Join the Race

By Angela Iovino

It may seem odd to you that as a senior I find exquisite company in a 12 year old just discovering the world he inhabits. In fact, this child inhabits two worlds: Ward 8’s Anacostia and Ward 2’s Burleith. He refers to our neighborhood as a “kool” sanctuary from the uncertainty of daily life.

photos from ID Tech Camp at AU, 2017.

photos from ID Tech Camp at AU, 2017.

Through tutoring at Garfield Elementary School in SE, numerous relationships between seniors and children spark into satisfying human partnerships. The weekly contact over the academic year may seem meager for any deep meaning. However, assuredly, both adult and child are transformed because the children count on seeing the tutors every week. If you miss a week, they don’t excuse your absence!

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These partnerships inspired me to raise funds for bright children to attend technology overnight camp for a week at Georgetown and American universities. Donations of $50 to $500 from 60 kind-hearted folks allowed four children to attend this past summer. Staying overnight was thrilling for them, and having just one roommate in a large bedroom with desks was an incredible treat. In each case, the child gained visible confidence in themselves, their social behavior improved with peers, and their in-class focus has improved. But we are hardly winning the battle.

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In 2011 the National Education Association published an article entitled “Race Against Time: Educating Black Boys” in which it argued that school systems nation-wide are too quick to dismiss boys as inherently bad and punishments, suspensions, and other punitive actions deter the child from ever wanting to learn. It noted, “In 2008, 4.6 million Black males had attended college, but only half graduated. Nationally, only 11 percent of Black males complete a bachelor’s degree.”

A 10-year-old girl holds a 3-D printed flying elephant sculpture she designed on the computer.  

A 10-year-old girl holds a 3-D printed flying elephant sculpture she designed on the computer.

 

In my small experience, tutors believing in children boost their confidence enormously. By helping students stay in school and succeed in life, we are building a stronger America, where every person is capable of reaching his or her greatest potential. After all, each child is our child and our collective future. Sowing the seeds of loving to learn because you love yourself is essential. For this reason, I am establishing a nonprofit foundation to secure funds for more children to attend summer technology programs, athletic camps, and science projects. Our metropolitan area has numerous, expensive programs for children, and our Ward 8 children should have the benefit of summer study as well.

The Joe and Laura Iovino Foundation, 501(c)(3) will start fundraising this month with 100% targeted to children at risk in Ward 8 with a particular sensitivity to boys. For more information, please contact me at amiovino@me.com.

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