Newsletter: Celebrate the Holidays with Me on Sunday!

Dear Resident,Compass_Coffee_Holiday_Gathering.png

What better way to enjoy the holiday spirit than with warm treats and delicious drinks to support a great cause? I hope you’ll join me and my staff this Sunday, December 10, from 3:00-5:00 p.m. at Compass Coffee Chinatown (650 F Street NW) to celebrate the holidays and give donations to Toys for Tots!

I’m thrilled to be partnering for our third year with Compass Coffee founders Harrison Suarez and Michael Haft, both former Marines, to give District families a helping hand with toys for the holidays. Stop by anytime for treats and hot drinks! If you are able, please bring an unwrapped child’s gift for our donation box too. You can find more details and let us know that you can make it with an RSVP here.


Strengthening the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP):On_Ramps_Internship_Program.jpg
DC’s Summer Youth Employment Program has been the first job for generations of Washingtonians. This summer I spent two months visiting nearly two dozen MBSYEP sites to talk with participants, employers, and site administrators about what works well and what can be improved. These conversation have continued into the fall, and I’ve also spent time reviewing an extensive report by the DC Auditor that took an in-depth look at the 2015 program year. There were a few common themes: strong soft skills are one of our jobseekers’ biggest challenges, youth need hands-on job experiences that can be transferred to living wage jobs, and we need better data to make more informed program decisions.

Mayor Barry had a vision for DC youth to have early access to promising opportunities that would put them on a path to successful careers. As Chair of the GRID_Site_Visit2.jpgLabor and Workforce Committee, one of my goals is to help bring this vision to its full potential which is why I introduced the Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program Enhancement Amendment Act of 2017 on Tuesday. The bill proposes strengthening the program in soft skills training, age-appropriate site placements, enrollment, and program evaluation.

What does the bill do specifically?

  • Prioritizes soft skills (things like showing up on time, dressing appropriately, knowing how to communicate effectively with colleagues, and being resilient) as a foundation of the program and requires assessments for these skills at the program’s beginning and end to determine overall gains;
  • Standardizes which jobs are age-appropriate for participants with a new classification system;
  • Ensures that participants 16 years of age and older attend sites with hands-on work experience, and that participants 22 to 24 years old disconnected from school and work and holding less than an associate’s degree are prioritized for placement;
  • Simplifies enrollment for the 12,000-13,000 annual participants by requiring the Department of Employment Services (DOES) to automatically certify the age and residency of as many residents as possible; and
  • Requires DOES to provide comprehensive data on how participants apply their skills and their MBSYEP experience after the summer ends so that the Mayor can produce an annual report and contract for an independent evaluation of the program.

I want to give a special thanks to my Committee staff members Daniel Savery and Liz Weiss for their hard work on this bill, which was supported by eleven on my colleagues. I plan to schedule a hearing for January, so there will be an opportunity to weigh in soon!

Keeping Vulnerable Residents Driving Lawfully: On Tuesday, I also introduced a bill to help residents with lower incomes stay on track to live and work in the District by preventing those earning less than $39,000 annually or participating in a subsidy program from having their driver’s licenses suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Currently the DMV can suspend a person’s driver’s license for any unpaid government-issued ticket over $100. Individuals who have their driver’s licenses revoked run the high risk of losing their job or—arguably worse—getting a felony charge for driving without a license. The bill would make residents who have previously been convicted of driving with a suspended license eligible to have their license reinstated under qualifying circumstances, and makes an effort to keep insurance companies from using license suspensions as a way to collect payments for court judgments.

In crafting this bill, Michael Ambinder on my staff partnered with Tzedek DC, a new legal services organization focused on helping District residents in debt. You can follow the bill here and watch for movement in the Committee on Transportation and the Environment soon!


After touring the city for Small Business Saturday, I’d say the holiday season is in full swing! Last Council_Holiday_Kickoff_2017.pngweek the Council kicked things off with our annual celebration highlighting the Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa traditions, so it’s a good time to come by the Wilson Building to see decorations! I also attended the Capitol Hill Holiday Tree Lighting, one of my favorite neighborhood holiday events.

Congratulations to this year’s Ward 6 Brickie Award winners! I was at a convening of state leaders to discuss paid family leave implementation, but my staff went in my place this year. I did have the privilege last weekend of presenting a ceremonial resolution, along with my Ward 6 colleague Charles Allen, to the Genderson family, who owns Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. Thank you to Rick, Jon, Josh, Staci, Max and the entire family for being wonderful community partners on so many things.

And for those that attended my community night with Studio Theatre, I hope you enjoyed the show! We’ll be doing more theater nights in the spring, so there will be more opportunities to see our fantastic theater scene in action. If you weren’t able to see Curve of Departure, go! It is a superb show.

Make Sure You’re Covered: Open enrollment officially runs until January 31, 2018, but make sure you’re covered by December 15 to have your health insurance take effect by New Year's Day. You can find more information and enrollment center locations online here.

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See you on Sunday at Compass Coffee!