David Domenici

Ashoka Fellow
United States, North America
Fellow Since 2002
My work: Creating learning communities in lower income urban areas where all students can grow academically & socially.

Check out this video of David's work:

 

Related TopicsEducation / Learning, Youth development, Children & Youth, Social Entrepreneurship

Citation

This profile was prepared when David Domenici was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
David is fashioning a new approach to improve opportunities for the most at-risk minority youth in the U.S.–young people who are in jail or have dropped out of school or both. In 1997, he founded the See Forever Foundation and launched the Maya Angelou Charter School–arguably the first charter school to recruit kids from jails, drop-out programs, foster care, and other institutions and venues at the bottom of the social ladder. The three major institutions in society today–the educational system, the juvenile corrections system, and the job market–consistently fail these young people. The Maya Angelou Charter School provides a comprehensive approach that includes academics, job training, and counseling in an attempt to fill the cracks left by institutional failure. Students at Maya Angelou must adhere to a rigorous academic schedule focused on mastery of basic skills and technology, attend group and individual counseling sessions with the school social worker or psychologist, and work four to six hours a week at one of the schools' two businesses.

Beyond providing excellent education to young people society has already labeled failures, David's program aims to change the perception that formerly incarcerated youth or school dropouts are "lost" and therefore incapable of success. First, he demonstrates success by educating, graduating, and sending to college the very youth who are deemed unlikely to succeed. Second, he advocates for the spread of his educational model by negotiating with both the D.C. Public Charter School Board and government agencies to expand the program to five schools within the D.C. metro area. Finally, See Forever is launching a new outreach and advocacy campaign using the media and major public and private institutions to broadcast messages about alternative educational models.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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