Tag Archives: Washington D.C.

Life Pieces to Masterpieces

Life Pieces to Masterpieces

According to the 2012 United States Census, individuals who graduate from high school earn an average of $10,000 more annually than those who do not.  Average annual income raises almost $10,000 more with an associate’s degree and jumps even higher with a bachelor’s degree.  Yet, in the United States as of 2011, only 32% of people age 25 to 29 have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher according to the US Department of Education.  Today’s organization has focused in on one population in an attempt to increase their education rates.

The mission of Life Pieces To Masterpieces is to provide opportunities for African American boys and young men in Greater Washington, DC by developing character, unlocking their potential, and empowering them to transform their lives and communities.  Their goal is to nurture, embrace, encourage and elevate African-American boys and young men so they can grow into mature men who demonstrate social responsibility and create positive change in their communities.  Their do this by focusing on arts and education while supporting young men and boys in disadvantaged communities in Washington, D.C.

Over 90% of the young males age 3 to 25 in the Life Pieces to Masterpieces program live in Wards 7 and 8 of Washington D.C.  They call their program participants Apprentices.  These participants come from communities with a variety of challenges including social, physical, and mental health problems and gang activity.  Over 70% of the households in these wards are headed by single females which causes a lack of positive male role models for many of the Apprentices.  These conditions cause the boys and young men in the community to stray from academic development and other positive development opportunities.

So, what is Life Pieces To Masterpieces doing to make a difference for these boys and young men?  They utilize their “4 Cs” as part of their curriculum:

  • Students connect to themselves and to their classmates.
  • They create — homework, artwork, and poems.
  • They contribute — sharing their work and their thinking with a greater community.
  • And they celebrate their successes.
America What About the Children

America What About the Children
(available for purchase at

I think this is best brought to life through the stories of their program participants.

Lorenzo was 13 years old and had a lot of responsibilities when he was first introduced to the Life Pieces to Masterpieces program.  His parents had split up and his mother was battling addiction.  Lorenzo was left to help his eight brothers and sisters by ensuring they were fed and did their schoolwork.  He found Life Pieces to Masterpieces as his home away from home.  He is now 20 and is pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism while serving as a mentor and teacher at Life Pieces to Masterpieces.  He credits the program for “aggressively pursuing education” and for the importance it places on getting the best grades possible.

You can find additional stories of the difference that the program has made on their website.

Their program results are impressive.  They have served over 1500 young men and boys over the last 17 years with 100% of their young men graduating from high school and gone on to pursue a post-secondary education.  Many of their alumni return to serve as mentors and teachers in the after school program.  In addition, 100% the participant’s parents show satisfaction with the program and state that their young men and boys are more confident, make better decisions, and speak in a positive manner about their future.

Expressing Love (available for purchase at

Expressing Love
(available for purchase at

How can you help?

  • If you live near Washington D.C., you can help serve as an after-school program mentor.  Individuals serve as a positive role model and support the lead classroom teacher.  They are also working on a corporate art leasing program to share their Apprentices art with local corporations and provide additional revenue for their program.  Other volunteer opportunities include social media, fundraising, and volunteer recruitment.  You can learn more and contact them about these and other volunteer opportunities on their website.
  • You can show your support by shopping their store of logo merchandise or by making a donation on their website.
  • In kind donations are also appreciated.  Their current wish list includes art easels, healthy food for their summer program, a 14 seat a minivan, and boxes of white printing paper for their office.

You can learn more about Life Pieces to Masterpieces on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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Dreams for Kids

There are 1.7 million homeless children in the United States and 8 million children with disabilities.  Some of these children don’t have the opportunity to achieve their dreams or don’t feel as though they have dreams to achieve.  Today’s organization, Dreams for Kids, has been helping kids achieve their dreams since 1989. 

Dreams for Kids is a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit organization that was founded by Tom Tuohy, in Chicago.  On Christmas Eve, 1989, a dozen volunteers, including Santa, visited 54 children living in a Chicago area homeless shelter. When the volunteers were told that the kids would never have even known it was Christmas, a commitment was made to reach out further each and every year.  This event grew into the Dream for Kids Holiday for Hope that has become the largest holiday event of its kind in the world – holding events in over 30 countries.  Homeless and severely underprivileged youth enjoy a spectacular day of food, music, games, and activities.  Each child also receives a shopping bag full of gifts.  In each event, those who are given the gift of hope are encouraged to pay it forward by serving their community in the following days.

In 1996, Dreams for Kids was introduced to another group of isolated children—those with developmental and physical disabilities.  When the organization found that these kids had no organized sports or social activities available to them, they created Extreme Recess, the first adaptive sports program of its kind for kids with disabilities.  Extreme Recess gives children with developmental and physical challenges the opportunity to participate in sports.  Many of these children have never participated in sports and enjoy a life changing experience when they realize they can.  Adaptive sporting events from snow and water-skiing, to martial arts and baseball, allow youth to realize a physical potential they never knew they had.

In 2007, the international Dream Leaders program was launched.  This program unites an entire generation of youth of all abilities, and from every race, religion, gender, and socio-economic background, to each other, and to service in their local and world communities.  Instead of receiving a charitable handout, isolated youth are reminded they have something to give and are empowered by the opportunity to serve others.  The program helps these youth become the solution and help change world.  This program builds self-esteem, enhances leadership skills, breaks down stereotypes, and so much more. 

In 2009, Dreams for Kids expanded to the nation’s capital to serve the Washington DC Metro area.  The DC group recently partnered with the Washington Nationals baseball team and the Washington Capitals hockey team for Extreme Recess events.  They were able to partner with both teams to raise awareness for adaptive athletics and children living with disabilities while giving over 100 kids an amazing opportunity.  Here are videos from the event with the Capitals and a video from the event with the Nationals.

How can you help?

  • If you live near Chicago or Washington, DC, volunteer for one of the Dreams for Kids events. 
  • Make a monetary donation to Dreams for Kids or one of their specific programs. 
  • Spread the word about Dreams for Kids on Facebook or Twitter. 
  • Share this post to spread the word about this organization.

Learn more on the Dream for Kids website,  You can also follow the Washington DC chapter on Facebook and Twitter or follow the Illinois chapter on Facebook and Twitter.

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Posted by on March 10, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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