The artists and affiliates at the nonprofit organization The Bead Studio get the creative gears turning in children's brains with bead-related classes and events that emphasize improving art education for the DC-area youth. The Bead Studio hosts seasonal festivals spotlighting a slew of artisan-bead vendors to raise money for their mission and benefit other philanthropic, bead-related foundations such as Beads of Courage and BeadforLife. More than a dozen types of workshops led by instructors with impressive portfolios also benefit these causes, covering kid-centric beading techniques and business-related tips for adults wishing to start their own bead shop or kids looking to barter with the local ice-cream man.
Pyramid Atlantic is a non-profit contemporary arts center that promotes artistic excellence in the fields of hand-papermaking, printmaking, digital media, and bookmaking. Among impressive facilities and tools are an antique letterpress, materials for hand-binding books, and the art gallery, which has a new solo show each month and is DC’s source for fine art prints and artistic activities. Members enjoy once-a-month, hands-on tutorials (such as screen-printing, bookmaking, and paper UFO folding), once-a-month tours of the new exhibits with the director of the Washington Printmaker’s Gallery (which curates Pyramid Atlantic’s exhibits), 10% off at the community arts store in Silver Spring, and 10% off live music and theater events.
Our Military Kids, Inc. provides grants of up to $500 for children of deployed National Guard and Reserve service members and Wounded Warriors. These grants pay for participation in sports, fine-arts, or academic programs to help reduce the children's stress within limited family budgets. Since its inception eight years ago, Our Military Kids has funded more than 34,000 grants for children's activities, totaling nearly $14 million, helping alleviate stress and anxiety for children in one of the most volatile periods of their lives.
When she was a tutor to children from low-income families in Washington, DC, Kyle Zimmer was amazed by how excited students would get whenever given their own books. As she relayed in a 2011 New York Times story, this work inspired Zimmer to start First Book, an organization dedicated to making reading materials accessible to children in need.
Today, nearly 20 years after Zimmer's eureka moment, First Book works toward this goal through two channels: the First Book Marketplace, an online store with quality books—including Caldecott and Newbery award-winners—available at up to 90% below the retail price, and the First Book National Book Bank, a clearinghouse for publishers’ excess inventory. To date, the organization has distributed more than 100 million books and educational resources to 50,000 schools and programs throughout the United States and Canada—with more added each month.
The impact has been inspiring. An internal study found that 70% of children reported reading more at home after receiving books from First Book. In recognition of this and other accomplishments, the organization has received numerous awards and honors, including the 2005 Nonprofit Innovation Award and a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.
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In 1989, Karin Walser was leaving her job on the Hill when she stopped at a gas station. Several young children offered to pump her gas in exchange for change. Moved by their stories, she organized a trip to the zoo to help them experience the city in a new way. She soon founded Horton’s Kids to address the needs of children living in poverty around the city. The organization’s volunteers provide a wide range of services for participating children, including regular tutoring in reading and math and activities such as swimming lessons in local pools. In 2011, Horton’s Kids was awarded the Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management due to its long service educating and empowering the youth in Ward 8 with academic and social programs.
As their motto goes, "It's all about the music." Eschewing props, costumes, and staging for a focus on the sounds of voices and instruments, the Washington Concert Opera seeks to thrill audiences with performances by some of the profession's leading lights. Their stripped-down approach allows the company to focus on rarely produced works, from little-known Rossinis to classic Puccini B-sides.