The UPDATE | August 22 | Protecting Our Youth

The UPDATE | August 22 | Protecting Our Youth


DC Makes Some Inroads in Tackling the Youth Mental Health Crisis 

In a new blog from Rachel Metz, DC Action Research and Data Manager, she discusses how our first-hand research from the 80 interviews we conducted with young people as part of our Youth Voices Youth Power Project, which revealed mental health as a top concern, further amplifies District data included in the most recent federal Youth Risk Behavioral Survey (YRBS) which found that more than one in three (36 percent) DC high school students reported depression.


While the reasons for this pattern are undoubtedly complex, the District's longstanding economic disparities and segregation mean that Black students are more likely to live in high-poverty communities, which research shows correlates with higher suicide rates. And District students experiencing housing or food insecurity or neighborhood safety concerns were more likely to report having recently lost an adult or family member they cared about - 60 percent of those experiencing at least two issues reported having lost someone. In addition, multiple studies show that experiencing racial discrimination or microaggressions contributes to depression and suicidal thoughts and behavior - racism has a negative impact regardless of income. Recognizing that our students are struggling, the District has  invested in school-based mental health. As we prepare for Back to School, taking inventory of how we’re doing is helpful.



Speak Out Against Harmful Out-of-School Time Budget Cuts 

We encourage families and residents  to speak out at this week’s Out-of-School Time  Commission Meeting - on Thursday, August 24 from 6-7:30 pm –against harmful budget cuts and changes that threaten to exacerbate issues of inequity in the sector and decrease access for youth and families. 


Recent decisions by the OST Office/Learn24 and OSSE have left the sector facing a funding crisis. This meeting is an opportunity for us to bring our collective concerns and solutions to the forefront and call agency leaders to account. 

Email to share your public comment TODAY.



Meet New DC Action Staff, Kawanza Billy and Mary Katherine West

Kawanza is our passionate Youth Mobilization Manager. She’s a facilitator, social impact expert, and storyteller who lives to ignite the light in others. Hailing from the vibrant streets of Southeast Queens, she’s woven a decade-long tapestry of community-centered impact that stretches to the heart of Washington, DC. Since moving to the District, Kawanza has served in numerous roles at education companies and nonprofits, building coalitions, and strategic partnerships, developing programs, and leading community engagement initiatives.


Mary Katherine brings her background in policy analysis and community programs administration to her role as Home Visiting Program Coordinator.Mary Katherine returns to DC Action after serving as a Diane Berstein Fellow with the Home Visiting team in the Summer of 2022. During her time as a student at the University of Virginia, she worked with several university and community organizations to support community health promotion and the development of young people’s expression and leadership capacity. In these roles, Mary Katherine worked to center and advocate for racial justice and equity for groups that have faced historic and structural discrimination and marginalization.


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About DC Action

DC Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, multi-issue advocacy organization making the District of Columbia a place where all kids grow up safe, resilient, powerful and heard. DC Action uses research, data, and a racial equity lens to break down barriers that stand in the way of all kids reaching their full potential. We are home to DC Kids CountUnder 3 DCDC Out-of-School Time Coalition, the DC Home Visiting Council and the Youth Economic Justice and Housing Coalition. Our collaborative advocacy campaigns bring the power of young people and all residents to raise their voices to create change.

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