The Maya Angelou Schools and See Forever Foundation’s mission is to create learning environments in low income, urban communities where all students, particularly those who have not succeeded in traditional schools, can reach their potential and prepare for college, career and a lifetime of success.
In 1997, a student of what was formerly the See Forever School entered into an essay contest to rename to the school after renowned poet, activist Dr. Maya Angelou. James Forman Jr., co- founder, was very closely connected Dr. Angelou and asked for her blessing. With full support the See Forever School was officially named The Maya Angelou Public Charter School. Dr. Angelou made a commitment to visit the school every year. Pictured to the right is Dr. Angelou at an annual fundraising event.
See Forever grew out of Project Soar, a program for teens that began in 1995. Project Soar was a nonprofit tutoring and job-
training program, run from a small pizza delivery restaurant in D.C. The program integrated after-school tutoring and academic remediation with on-the-job training and paid work in an actual business. Students came to the pizza shop for two hours of tutoring and then staffed the restaurant from 5:00pm until closing during the week and full-time on weekends.
On a daily basis, the program was staffed by Co-founder David Domenici, one social worker, and 5-6 teens, all of whom were recruited from among the juvenile clients represented by the Public Defender Service, where Co-founder James Forman, Jr., was an attorney. Two years later in 1997, Project Soar evolved into an integrated, comprehensive, school-based charter school for court-involved teens. Its name was See Forever and served 20 students, all of whom were committed to the Department of Youth and Rehabilitation Services or on probation.
To meet the needs of our growing student population, particularly in the Ward 7 and Ward 8 areas of the District of Columbia, in September 2004, the See Forever Foundation opened a second campus of the Maya Angelou Public Charter School in partnership with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Our second campus, location in the former DCPS Evans Middle School is located in the 5600 block of East Capitol Street, NE.
We assumed operation of the Maya Angelou Academy (formerly the Oak Hill Academy), serving incarcerated young men during the summer of 2007. That same year, in order to help these young men transition from incarceration, we opened the Transition Center, which has since evolved to become the Maya Angelou Young Adult Learning Center, serving disconnected young adults, ages 17-24, across Washington, DC to help them gain a GED and workforce credentials.
Nearly all of the students are years behind grade level academically, many have special needs, and most have experienced significant trauma at some point in their lives. At the Maya Angelou Academy and the Transition Center, we aim to provide these students with the best education they have ever had.
Today, the See Forever Foundation supports the Maya Angelou Public Charter High School and Young Adult Learning Center, housed in Northeast, DC, along with the Maya Angelou Academy, located in New Beginnings in Laurel, Maryland.
See Forever Board
Reid Weingarten, Emeritus
In 2018, Maya Angelou Schools reached 20 years of service. View our Anniversary video here.
MEET OUR FOUNDERS
David Domenici is the Director of the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. David has been working with at-risk and court-involved youth for 15 years. In 1997, he quit his job as a corporate lawyer, and along with James Forman Jr., started the See Forever Foundation and the Maya Angelou Public Charter School. Over the next 10 years, David served as the organization’s Executive Director, as well as the Principal of its initial campus. In 2007, Maya Angelou was asked to take over the school at Oak Hill, Washington, DC’s long-term juvenile correctional facility. David designed the school program, hired all the staff, and became the founding Principal of the school, called the Maya Angelou Academy. David left the Maya Angelou Academy in the fall of 2011 to start the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings. David is an Ashoka and Echoing Green Fellow and is a graduate of Stanford Law School and the University of Virginia. In March of 2019, FOCUS DC inducted David Domenici along with James Forman Jr. into the Charter School Hall of Fame for their work with See Forever Foundation and Maya Angelou Schools, (video featured to the left.)
James Forman Jr. is the J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Forman is a graduate of Atlanta’s Roosevelt High School, Brown University, and Yale Law School, and was a law clerk for Judge William Norris of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the United States Supreme Court. After clerking, he joined the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C., where for six years he represented both juveniles and adults charged with crimes. During his time as a public defender, Professor Forman became frustrated with the lack of education and job training opportunities for his clients. So in 1997, along with David Domenici, he started the Maya Angelou Public Charter School, an alternative school for school dropouts and youth who had previously been arrested. In 2017, he released his first book, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, that won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for for General non-fiction. In March of 2019, FOCUS DC inducted James Forman Jr. along with David Domenici into the Charter School Hall of Fame for their work with See Forever Foundation and Maya Angelou Schools, (video featured to the left.)