Fishing for Hope in A Time of Uncertainty

May 01, 2020

With the region experiencing shortages across major resources in light of COVID-19, nonprofit organizations are finding ways to add capacity to the work they’re doing on the frontlines for their communities. It is in times of crisis that United Way of the National Capital Area’s (United Way NCA) Do More 24 – a social movement that brings together charities, private companies and donors who are committed to making a difference in our community is most relevant.

On May 5, United Way NCA is syncing up its Do More 24 efforts with #GivingTuesdayNow – a global movement of generosity in this unprecedented time. By syncing it’s Do More 24 efforts with #GivingTuesdayNow, United Way NCA can leverage the global attention and awareness around the day to help those most impacted in the aftermath of the pandemic.

During the day of giving, members of our community are encouraged to think about what they care most about; learn what others are doing to solve our region’s most pressing social problems, like food insecurity, lost wages or the current health crisis; and feel like they are part of the movement to mobilize the giving spirit of the DMV. As a convener of nearly 500 nonprofits in the National Capital Area, United Way NCA sits at the intersection of helping local nonprofits expand their ability respond to the growing needs across our region.

One of the nonprofits partnering with United Way NCA for Do More 24, The Fishing School, sees the day of giving as a pivotal opportunity to get students’ education back on track in the wake of the crisis. The Fishing School draws on multi-year, research based out of school time programming to prepare middle and elementary school students for success in high school. The mission of the organization is born out of the philosophy that if you give someone a fish they’ll eat for a day, if you teach someone to fish they’ll eat for life; empowering students with the tools to succeed in their education.

In the immediate moment, summer learning loss is a challenge The Fishing School wants to address through Do More 24 funding.

“A lot of our students’ routines have been disrupted right now and that can actually be mentally and emotionally draining,” shares Christopher Anuzis, Executive Director at The Fishing School. “We’re seeing that an extended break from school could actually, potentially increase the achievement gap that we see in Washington D.C.”

An achievement gap refers to a significant and persistent disparity in academic performance or education success between different groups of students. Often these gaps can be measured via students with varying socio-economic conditions and the resources provided to their academic institutions. In the case of COVID-19, access to technology and internet is defined as consistent and persistent barriers encountered by students from lower income communities. These students in turn fall behind on their classes and any special needs they may require attaining a proper education are not present.

Yet, there’s hope. The Fishing School has a goal of raising $10,000 for Do More 24 this year to help close those gaps in Ward 7 and 8 by instituting a variety of different tools such as an online after school learning platform accessible to all students in school or through the internet. 

“We recognize that education is one of the greatest determining factors in the success of a child’s life,” shares Crystal Iwuhoa. “With everyone’s support we can successfully provide free academic support, life skill enrichment and parent engagement.”

The Fishing School is just one of the nearly 500 nonprofits joining United Way NCA for its 8th annual Do More 24 on May 5th. Proceeds from the regional day of giving come at a crucial time for nonprofits as they seek to expand services to vulnerable members of our community for the foreseeable future.

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