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Maya Angelou Schools & See Forever Foundation Continue Expansion of New Academies in Correctional Settings 

The DC-based charter school network is a nationally recognized, top-ranked model of juvenile justice education services that continues the mission to offer its acclaimed 9-12 and CTE-centered GED curriculum to detained youth and young adults.

(For release Jan. 2023)

Early into School Year 2021-2022 two new secure settings-based learning centers joined the Maya Angelou Schools roster. The Maya Angelou Academy at D.C. Jail (D St SE, Washington, DC 20003) and the Maya Angelou Academy at Youth Services Center (1000 Mt Olivet Rd NE, Washington, DC 20002) expand the MAS network to five campuses throughout the District of Columbia and the nearby city of Laurel, MD – where Maya Angelou Academy at New Beginnings resides. The goal of the Maya Angelou Academies is to educate youth who are incarcerated or awaiting adjudication.

On October 1, 2021, Maya Angelou Academy at DC Jail (MAA@DCJ) started what would be a challenging, yet successful and rewarding school year. Navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic, while learning the layout of DC Jail, Maya staff and faculty were able to do what they do best; teach and support students. The MAA@DCJ started with 31 students in October 2021 and ultimately served 72 students. Ninety percent of students were able to gain credits towards a high school diploma while receiving special education services. We celebrated our first graduation in June of 2022, with fourteen scholars.

In October 2021 as well, the Maya Angelou Academy at the Youth Services Center (MAA@YSC) was established–providing educational services to youth who were ordered detained by the DC Superior Court Family Court Division. MAA@YSC works in partnership with the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services to ensure that scholars are able to fully take advantage of the services provided to them. Early in the first year at MAA@YSC critical short and long-term goals were set and measured regularly. Early on the scholars provided positive feedback regarding the changes in their educational offerings. The Maya staff held an award ceremony to recognize student performance and growth realized since the previous academic session. The staff also work to engage students’ caregivers in their education by welcoming them to events like the award ceremony, providing holiday food baskets, and establishing the school as a community that cares for the entire family’s well-being. In June of 2022, MAA@YSC proudly graduated seven scholars–the most in YSC history.

Fifteen years ago during the summer of 2007, the See Forever Foundation also assumed management of the educational program at New Beginnings Youth Development Center, formerly Oak Hill Detention Center. The Transition Center followed, which would become the Maya Angelou Young Adult Learning Center (YALC) at the flagship MALC location. Maya staff and faculty do all that they can to support young men and women transitioning back into the community with Academy transfers into the YALC CTE and GED programs. The YALC serves a wider population of disconnected 17- to 30+-year-olds across Washington, D.C., and helps them earn their GEDs and workforce credentials. Supporting our Academy transfers who continue their academic journey to and through the YALC is one of the key steps in rehabilitation and reducing recidivism.

Attending a Maya Academy includes extended day, exploratory visual arts classes, clinical support and special education assistance. The academies are committed to building a high-achieving school community within a secure setting, answering the unique needs of a justice involved scholar. Detained students have barriers to learning, both documented and undocumented, such as psychological strain, physical injuries, antisocial behavior, suspension or expulsion from previous schools and familial economic hardship. Nearly all of the students at the Academy are years behind their age-appropriate grade level academically – many have special needs – and most have experienced significant trauma at some point in their lives. At the Maya Angelou Academy the goal is to provide these students with the best educational resources and opportunities that are available to help them succeed in life and make a positive contribution to their communities. We address the unconscious bias students may have had with teachers or authority figures, by actively building trust with every scholar. School Leaders and instructors counter feelings of mistrust and hypervigilance with progressive, restorative justice-based conduct policies that are designed by the Student Support teams to mend emotional trauma and harm while renewing healthy development.

Maya Angelou Academy students will be positioned to thrive for years to come at our New Beginnings, DC Jail and Youth Services Center campuses. Our youth have the opportunity to participate in a number of unique classes, clubs and learning concepts, including seminar-style small classes covering math and literacy curricula that will prepare them for their next elevation in life – graduation. The Maya Way values social-emotional learning, identity studies, health and wellness enrichment and civic engagement to help empower young voices for self-advocacy. We are confident that our holistic student-centered academies will offer strong supports to justice-involved families and caretakers knowing that their children are being prepared to be successful scholars and free thinkers beyond these temporary walls.

About the Maya Schools

The Maya Angelou Schools and See Forever Foundation is among the best and most progressive,alternative education charter networks in Washington, DC. We are the first and largest LEA to commit to serving opportunity youth in both nontraditional or correctional settings as they earn high school or GED diplomas and CTE certifications. Our passionate and knowledgeable Subject Expert Teachers are the heart of Our acclaimed program. Our instructors and School Leaders prepare Maya Scholars to be participants in the 21st century civic landscape through college prep and career assistance which also include business mentorships, trade apprenticeships and job placement. Starting in Spring 2023, the Maya will celebrate our 25th academic year of serving more than 500 students across Washington, DC with primary representation from Wards 7 and 8.