Community Partner Spotlight: GW SMARTDC

For nearly ten years, 826DC has partnered with Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement & Public Service at The George Washington University to provide students at the university with opportunities to work in the community, gaining skills and experiences that will serve them in the future. To date, nearly 150 GWU volunteers have served DC students with us!

SMARTDC, one of the center’s initiatives, gives GW volunteers the chance to connect what they are learning in the classroom with their tutoring and mentoring at 826DC.

Volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and degree programs at GW. Some enter SMARTDC hoping to get experience in their future career field; others serve primarily to connect with the community. No matter why a volunteer chooses to work with 826DC through SMARTDC, they all learn how to foster literacy and creativity in young people.

“GW SMARTDC loves working with the exciting and creative students at 826DC and we love supporting the programs,” said Morgan Rawlings, Program Manager for Co-Curricular Service at the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement & Public Service.

Along with new volunteers, some returning volunteers act as SMARTDC Site Leaders. Emma Veon (pictured, right) and Kasumi Quinlan (pictured, left) are two SMARTDC Site Leaders at 826DC this year.

Emma has worked with SMARTDC for one year this October, while Kasumi is entering her second semester. Emma and Kasumi both come from backgrounds of service and chose to work with 826DC because of work supporting young learners as they build their writing skills and explore their creativity.

Emma says that “as an English major who writes poems and other creative compositions in her free time, I thought that I would be a good fit at 826DC. Since joining I’ve realized that, while my interest in reading and writing have certainly enhanced my experience, 826DC is an amazing organization for volunteers of any academic background.”

Kasumi says she chose 826DC “because I have an interest in education from an academic and professional perspective, and I also love working with kids. My sister is nine years younger than me, and I have so many memories of helping her through homework. I want to be able to provide that support to kids while I’m away from my own sister, and to kids that might not have older family members able to help them with homework.”

“I also love 826DC’s emphasis on creativity and writing,” Kasumi added. “I loved writing when I was younger, and I love that 826DC finds so many ways to make education fun.”

Emma and Kasumi have supported students through several 826DC programs, including After-School Writing Lab, Teen Writing Lab, and Workshops. Along the way, they’ve each learned a lot from the students they’ve worked with.

“I’ve learned that kids have a lot of initiative and are truly empowered thinkers,” said Kasumi. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how eager the kids are to do their homework…the kids have taught me several interesting math strategies they learned in school, and I’m pretty sure I don’t know what math is anymore.”

“I’ve learned a little about WWE wrestling, some about superhero comics, a lot about the Columbia Heights neighborhood, and more than I ever thought I would need to know about fractions!” said Emma. “I’ve also learned that young students can—and will—accomplish anything.”

826DC is excited to continue working with GW and SMARTDC for another year. To learn more about SMARTDC, you can visit their website here.