Aisha O'Brien's Blog

IMPACT: Early Care and Education Forum

Investing in early care and education is an investment in our community’s future.  ACT, the Alexandria Children, Youth and Families Collaborative Commission, and the Bruhn-Morris Family Foundation are partnering to educate and engage the community about the importance of early childhood services for children 0-5.  This group is pleased to convene a panel of experts from Virginia and around the country for IMPACT: Early Care & Education - a stimulating and thought-provoking discussion around innovative, systems-based approaches to improving the access to and the quality of early care and education services in our City.  Joan Lombardi, Senior Advisor of the Buffet Early Childhood Fund will moderate the discussion featuring distinguished speakers from the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, National League of Cities Institute for Youth Education and Families, and Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County.

If you are interested in participating in this conversation, please join us on Tuesday, June 25th from 10am to 2pm at First Baptist Church in Alexandria. Registration is free (Iunch is provided), please register online at


Education act for alexandria, Alexandria, early care and education, impact, youth master plan

Music to Our Ears: Children Involved in the Arts More Civically Engaged

We all "know" that the arts benefits children - but just what are some of those benefits? According to a National Endowment of the Arts study done last year, it has a broad spectrum of benefits, especially for children in low-income families. 

From the study (SES means socioeconomic status): 

  • High-arts, low-SES students were 15 percent more likely to enroll in a highly or moderately selective four-year college than low-arts, low-SES students (41 percent versus 26 percent).
  • Students with access to the arts in high school were three times more likely than students who lacked those experiences to earn a bachelor's degree (17 percent versus five percent).
  • High-arts, low-SES college students had the highest rates of choosing a major that aligns with a professional career, such as accounting, education, nursing, or social sciences (30 percent), compared to low-arts, low-SES students (14 percent) and the overall SES sample (22 percent)

And music to our ears: 

More civically engaged - Young adults who had intensive arts experiences in high school are more likely to show civic-minded behavior than young adults who did not, with comparatively high levels of volunteering, voting, and engagement with local or school politics. In many cases, this difference appears in both low-and high-SES groups.

Do you have a nonprofit or know of one that helps Alexandria’s at-risk kids with learning, health and well-being, and preparing for a better future? Then apply to our Caring for Kids Grant Challenge by July 1st! 

With that mind, please think about enrolling your children and/or supporting these organizations that enhance childrens' lives with the arts: 

Arts & Culture Alexandria, arts, arts and culture, youth classes, youth programs

Father's Day Special Events!

It's that time of year to treat your dad - why not take him out on the town right here in Alexandria?

Alexandria, Events, fathers day, holiday

Extra! Extra! Learning After School

Science Club, Math Honor Society, Football, Theater...there are a number of way students can learn outside of the textbook. In fact, colleges and even employers are looking more at the skills students in their after-school activities. 

Education Alexandria, alexandria city public schools, clubs and organizations, extracurricular activities, high school students, middle school students

What's Next Alexandria Community Dialogue June 24!

what's_next_logoWe've made it to the finish line! What's Next - the City's initiative collaborate with the community on improving and expanding public participation in City decision-making processes - has been a rewarding experience for us. We hope it has been for you, too! Since September 2012, What's Next has involved more than 2000 participants in 3 Community Dialogues and 3 online activities. 

Come join us on June 24th for the final Community Dialogue before to kick-off the City's implementation. You will have an opportunity to: 

1) review the draft elements of the Civic Engagement handbook 

2) work collaboratively to develop a communications and outreach infrastructure to ensure that more residents can be meaningfully engaged in public decision-making in the City. 

Neighborhoods Alexandria, city of alexandria, community dialogue, what's next

Food Deserts: Do You Live in One?

Can you walk down to the grocery store and back? Are you less than a mile away from the closest grocery store that sells whole foods? If not, then you're living in a food desert. 

Food & Shelter caring for kids grant challenge, Children's Health, food desert, healthy food, USDA

Let Loose: Benefits of Unstructured Play

In an ever-increasing competitive world, it's understandable that parents feel they need to give their children an edge when it comes to their future and when it comes to the here and now of playtime. 

But more doctors and psychologists say that children need to let their imaginations run wild; or, to put it dully: they need unstructured play. 

caring for kids grant challenge, play, unstructured play

Announcing the Caring for Kids Grant Challenge!


The RunningBrooke Fund of ACT for Alexandria and ACTion Alexandria are joining forces to launch the Caring for Kids Grant Challenge. We will be awarding $20,000 in grants to programs that help Alexandria’s at-risk kids with learning, health and well-being, and preparing for a better future.

Does your Alexandria nonprofit have a great program that could use some extra funding? Apply now! 

July 1, 2013 is the last day to submit your application!

At-Risk Youth, brooke sydnor curran, grants, grants challenge, idea challenge, RunningBrooke fund

Just what IS a pocket park?

The Del Ray Citizens Association just got a matching fund to help put the finishing touches on a pocket park on E. Del Ray Ave. and Commonwealth Ave. It's been over five years in the making and they're in the home stretch. 

But what is a pocket park and is it that important? 

Environment, Neighborhoods Alexandria, alexandria recreation and parks, Del Ray Citizens Association, Open Spaces, pocket park, urban development
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