Nonprofit of the Month

This month, we highlight the Academy of Hope, a local nonprofit organization, which focuses on providing basic education to the marginalized adult populations of the Washington, D.C. area.

Academy of HopeThe educational inequality between marginalized adults and the rest of the adult population is no starker than in Washington, DC, where one-third of adults are considered illiterate and one-in-five lack a high school diploma. Thirty years ago, two teachers, Maria Hilfiker and Gayle Boss, set out to take the first steps toward breaking the cycle of poverty that has flourished in the Washington, DC region in large part due to the lack of access to education and opportunity to learn basic life skills. The teachers founded the Academy of Hope with a vision to change lives and improve communities by providing high-quality basic education to adult learners.

The academy provides a continuum of services ranging from adult basic education to workplace skills and literacy training programs. Academy of Hope programs are accessible to adults with limited financial resources. Students can volunteer in exchange for enrollment or pay a $30 fee per semester.

AOH students are empowered to continue their education after completing these programs, with some 60% of graduates attending college, vocational training or other higher education. Since its founding in 1985, AOH has helped 6,000 adults improve basic reading, writing, math and computer skills.

AOH has made significant progress toward improving the educational opportunities available to adults, who in turn are more likely to become invested in their children’s education and future. 53% of parents who participated in AOH’s programs say that they are more involved in their children’s education.  AOH believes that parental involvement in their children’s education is a crucial first step towards breaking the cycle of poverty.  The need for adult education programs is still as important today as it was 30 years ago.

To learn more about the about the important programs offered by Academy of Hope, visit their website.

30th June 2014        Nonprofit of the Month, Nonprofits     No comments yet

This month we turn our non-profit spotlight on Franklin, Massachusetts-based Horace Mann Education Associates (HMEA).hmea

HMEA’s highly skilled and caring staff provide a wide array of services for people with disabilities; from educational programs for toddlers to young adults, housing and everyday living support, to employment and habilitation programs.

HMEA provides services to nearly 4,000 people in 110 communities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. These services help meet the range of needs for people with disabilities that they may not otherwise receive. They work to promote the values, dreams, and potential of people with disabilities through education, support and life experience.

While their services are truly impressive, their accomplishments demonstrate how they are fulfilling their mission. HMEA’s Early Intervention program works with children newly diagnosed with Autism, Pervasive Development Disorder or other Autism Spectrum Disorders to provide intensive educational services in home and in the community. This also helps families understand the needs of the children. Their Day Habilitation programs provide services that promote individuality, self-reliance, and self-support by helping people determine their interested skill areas and becoming more involved with the community. Day Habilitation programs provide on-site nursing, speech language therapy, and physical or occupational therapy.

They also put the people they serve to work, helping them learn valuable job and life skills. HMEA operates several redemption and recycling centers and operates a landscaping service. They also partner with companies large and small to provide a wide range of employment opportunities in the community for individuals with disabilities.

In addition, HMEA has started its own consulting service, Cloud For Causes, which provides cost-effective IT services to other area non-profits as a way to defray overhead expenses and maximize the amount of funding available for direct services.

To learn more about all the great things HMEA is doing for people of all ages with developmental disabilities, visit their website or, better yet, check out their new video.