Educate. Engage. Empower.


“When I first came to Chavez, math was one of my top struggles. I wasn’t quite sure if I’d ever make it to the next grade level when it came to math. However, RISE-DC tutors helped me to understand math on a broader level, and I will be graduating in June and attending my dream college.”

Brianne, a Chavez student who graduated in 2011

Latest News from RISE-DC

Anacostia's James Drummond Wins Award from Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation

Monumental Award

When we made the move from Anacostia High School to Ballou High School three years ago, we made the conscious decision to keep in touch with approximately 100 students we'd been working with.

One of these students is James Drummond, a great exemplar of perseverance and dedication who was recently awarded by the Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation for his dedication to both academics and athletics. James was a MATHlete in 2013-14 and joined our College Prep program two years later. He plans to attend North Carolina A&T in the Fall.


RISE Plans Partnership with DCPS, Including Targeting the Class of 2021

Thanks to your support of our summer programs, the District of Columbia Public Schools and RISE have begun discussions to provide summer enrichment programs for every high school in Wards 5, 7, and 8. After six years of working in the neighborhood schools, this would be the first time DCPS and RISE will partner on a program. You can feel good that your early support of our summer programming has resulted in this partnership.

Our summer math programs have often served as non-credit enrichment classes, but since 2014 we have provided students with an opportunity to take algebra II during the summer for credit. By taking these accredited summer algebra II classes, our students can eventually take Advanced Placement calculus during senior year.

To read our entire December 2016/January 2017 Newsletter, click here.


RISE Launches Podcast, "Keeping it 84"

RISE-DC's Executive Director, Paul Penniman, and Anacostia grad Brian Walker have started a podcast, available at The show explores cultural issues through the prism of race, class, and status.

Brian and Paul come from completely different backgrounds. They like to talk about how "their people" handle certain cultural issues. The topic of the first show was guns and violence. Brian is a stand-up comedian, however, so the discussion is leavened with good humor.

RISE Launches AP Scholars Program for Ballou's Class of 2018

As previously noted in our blog, , Ward 7 and 8's graduating classes of 2018, current high school juniors, are the first group since 2007 not to benefit from the DC College Success Foundation's Achievers program, which provided an average of $10,000 in annual scholarships per student for, all told, approximately 3,000 students.

Compounding this financial issue is the need for our students to prepare for college academically. Mary Lincer, a teacher for forty years and a RISE tutor for five years, has the enviable role this year of tutoring students in Ballou's Advanced Placement (AP) English Language and AP United States History classes as part of RISE's new AP Scholars program. Mary says,"These motivated juniors think and work hard; I always appreciate the opportunity to work with students who know how to grow."

Sponsors are being lined up to reward Ballou's juniors with $3000 college scholarships for a 3 on either of these two AP exams, $4000 for a 4, or $5000 for a 5. If you are interested in being a sponsor for this new "AP Scholars" program, please email Paul Penniman at .

Hopefully we will be to help prepare Ballou's students for college, both financially and pedagogically!


College Prep Program Working with Four Cohorts at Once

RISE started the College Prep program in 2013 for members of the class of 2014. The original impetus for the program was our belief that our students were not making the most educated college choices. We have provided them with mentors and college visits to help them make informed choices, and we have also offered SAT prep, which may become less necessary now that the SAT is a more straightforward test.

We think the mentoring program, college visits, and SAT prep have all played a role in helping our students become as prepared for college as possible. We also found our students need logistical help and a little financial help with the enrollment process so that the cost of books or a room deposit do not get in the way of their success. We have even have delivered students to their campuses and made numerous trips to get our kids home and back for school breaks. After observing best practices of programs like POSSE and I Have a Dream, we decided to visit our students each semester during freshman and sophomore year.

When we recruited our first cohort of students, in the winter of 2013, we drew mainly from our MATHletes program. These students tended to have some of the higher GPA’s in their class. But we also decided to recruit one or two students each year who showed great potential even if their GPA was not high. These students had one foot in the streets and one foot out.

Our first cohort of eleven students is now in their sophomore year. Two of those students opted out of college soon after matriculating and began apprenticeships for plumber and electrician, respectively. I expect each student to be very successful in those careers. Three students lost their college funding standing after earning poor grades, so they are attending community college in an effort to get their GPA’s up. Others have had some brief interruptions in school, but we still fully expect most students to have their degree within six years.

I cannot understate the personal, emotional, and logistical challenges many of these students have faced. Three of our students were homeless for part of their senior year. One student became withdrawn from half of his classes in a mistake by a college professor. The financial aid office withdrew the student’s aid, resulting in a huge bill. The financial aid office wouldn’t even talk to him anymore since he wasn’t a full-time student. When he tried to talk to the registrar about his courses, they wouldn’t talk to him either because he had a large bill to pay. The situation was never satisfactorily resolved.

RISE’s second College Prep cohort, high school graduates of the class of 2015, was probably Anacostia’s most proficient group of students in the four years RISE worked at Anacostia High School. We are especially proud of our students who have intrepidly made unusual choices for colleges, like the University of Arizonaand Stevenson College outside Baltimore.

Our third cohort, graduating soon in June, has more modest academic accomplishments but is as perseverant as any group we have worked with. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, violence is common in these students’ lives, and they are eager to get out of Southeast Washington.

Many of our fourth cohort of Anacostia students have higher GPA’s and SAT’s than any previous group, and they are looking at schools previous cohorts did not consider, like Guilford College and Campbell University, both in North Carolina. Both colleges have excellent demographic diversity and could very well offer substantial financial aid to any of our students with GPA’s of 3.5 or higher.

How we design the College Prep program for the class of 2018 will depend on outside funding. We do not want to be in the position of championing college for any students for whom the financial obstacles are too numerous.