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Community Spotlight: Amy Jacques Garvey Institute

The Amy Jacques Garvey Institute – named after a Jamaican-born writer, civil rights activist, and feminist – serves at-risk youth ages 14 to 24 who live in Washington, DC, wards 5, 7, and 8. Since 1985, the nonprofit has focused on helping underserved youth graduate from high school and continue their education by offering them tutoring and training, and support from caring, consistent adults.

The Institute provides 45 high schoolers with year-round, daily tutoring, life skills, leadership development, and career development, as well as school and family support services. And the nonprofit doesn’t stop serving after the youth in the program graduate: The Institute partners with local businesses and organizations to provide their youth with work experience. They also offer technical training in areas such as telecommunications, office operations, computer technology, and software programming.

This month, we spoke to Executive Director Kendall Bryan to get more details on how this organization serves DC youth.

How do you choose which youth will benefit most from your services?

Youth are chosen from the Department of Employment Services database. We select youth from three criteria based on their interest in:

  • Videography and journalism
  • Law and activism
  • Art and graphic design

Youth can apply for our program through the Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment program in January via the Department of Employment Services website.

Tell us more about your curriculum.

The Amy Jacques Garvey Institute believes in a holistic approach to youth workforce development. We seek to alleviate barriers to youths’ mental, social, and safety needs before academic lessons begin. It is then that youth are more comfortable and open to engage with math and English tutors. We provide workshops on dressing for success, college prep, respect, appropriate workplace, self-empowerment, entrepreneurship, and more. This is consistent with the youth workforce training our staff has received from Thandor Miller, noted youth workforce facilitator.

You provide daily support to certain high schoolers. What does a typical day look like?

Services are provided at Randall Memorial United Methodist Church in Deanwood. The space can accommodate up to 150 youth. For the first hour, we focus on homework and on any subject youth feel they need to improve. During the second hour, a guest facilitator conducts a workshop aimed at enhancing and improving students’ employability skills.

Can you tell us about a recent student who has made you proud?

Kimberlin Moore was a youth in our year-round afterschool program (08-12). Kimberlin is a Ward 7 resident. Through the program, she earned her nursing certificate. Through the program’s encouragement and help to obtain financial aid, Kimberlin is now at Wayne State University Medical School in Michigan.

Tell us more about your namesake – how does the Institute follow in the steps of Amy Jacques Garvey?

Sargent Kingsley Bryan (retired) founded the Amy Jacques Garvey Institute in 1987. As a police officer, Kingsley saw up close the devastation of the drug epidemic in Washington, DC, in the 1980s. Seeing the need to have programs to prevent crime, he sprang into action by founding this organization. Sargent Bryan went on to become Director of Youth Division (90-91). Born into a Jamaican family in the East Helmhurt neighborhood of Queens, New York, Kingsley knew about Marcus Garvey and his philosophies. It was his desire to gain exposure to Amy Jacques Garvey, Marcus' wife and civil rights leader in her own right. Amy preserved all of Marcus Garvey's speeches in a book “The Philosophies and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.” Amy was an advocate for youth and their well-being. It is in our emphasis on youth issues here in Washington, DC, that the Garveys' spirits live on.

Does the Institute engage in other outreach or activism?

For 5 years running, we’ve held a Summer Day Camp at Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church across from Minnesota Ave Metro. Funded by the United Way Summer Strong Initiative, the camp is free for residents in Police Service Area 602. This is a wonderful program for youth ages 5-13 to get quality summer enrichment experience with more than enough academic reinforcement to prevent summer learning lost. We have a social justice component, where youth advocate for youth issues (particularly youth east of the river). The youth testify at city council hearings to raise awareness of youth issues. For more, please view:

2017 summer recap video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gp5BjgvdQvo
2017 Mt. Vernon Day Camp recap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXlube6mXQ0

Who runs the programs at Amy Jacques Garvey Institute?

All programs are run by Executive Director Kendall Bryan, with major contributions from the Executive Secretary Carl McKinley. These titles do not encompass the vast amount of work that these men do daily. They are the Institute’s full-time staff. Also, we have three part-time staff (Michele Panda, videography and freelance journalist; Kim Robinson, English and math tutor; and Dr. Lahland Richard, workshop facilitator and motivational speaker). We have 10 consistent volunteers (Pastor Brian Jackson, Randall UM Church; Pastor Nelson, Mt. Vernon Church; and many others) as well.

How can the community support this non-profit?

Please consider donating to our cause. Any amount is welcomed and appreciated. Contact us at www.amyjacquesgarvey.0catch.com or (202) 332-0919 Thank you – we love our community!