Tag Archives: education

29th December 2015        Holiday Giving     ,     No comments yet

The Conover + Gould team will be donating to ten causes in the spirit of giving back during the holiday season. During December and January, each team member will be blogging about their chosen nonprofit. For her gift, Minna chose Playworks.

I spent a lot of time outside as a kid, and I loved playing outdoors. I still do! In Finland, school children spend at least an hour a day on recess – always outside, come rain or shine or snow. The end of every class is punctuated with a 15-minute break. All this play pays off as Finland consistently scores high on the international PISA tests that assess and compare student performance around the world. It’s hard to say why Finland does so well, but research shows that play is powerful.

How does play work? Besides redirecting pent up energy, play also promotes learning. Kids learn important social competencies: how to communicate, resolve conflict, collaborate, compromise. They return to class refreshed, focused and better behaved. Our brains need a break!

In the U.S., almost a third of schools with children at the highest poverty levels have no recess at all. Those that do have recess often report it to be uncontrollable chaos - more destructive than refreshing. This is where Playworks comes in. They partner with schools, districts, and after-school programs to support recess and healthy play during recess. This ranges from providing on-site recess coaches that float on the schoolyard to keep everyone engaged and included; a school coordinator to teach, model and empower a sustainable recess program; or a trainer to help staff create and maintain a play environment throughout the school year.

Playworks serves more than 900 schools in 23 cities, and reaches more than half a million students directly and through training. In the District of Columbia, Playworks places coaches at 18 low-income area schools to organize games and activities, and show teachers how to incorporate more physical activity into the day. Coaches don’t stand on the sidelines and bark orders. They get messy, they play along with the students, and chaos is organically transformed into safe, active recess. Teachers at participating schools report both a decrease in bullying and an increase in academic engagement. Play works!

Play theorist Brian Sutton-Smith said it best: “The opposite of play is not work – the opposite of play is depression.” So remember to make some time for play for yourself, for your children and the children in your community. You can donate to Playworks by clicking here. $100 will fund balls, cones, and jump ropes for three schools!


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.