Rocketship DC Partners With “Man the Block” To Ensure Safe Passage To School
by Jacque Patterson, Regional Director, Washington DC
All children have the right to an excellent education. They also have the right to get to and from school each day safely.
On May 16th, Rocketship rallied with school leaders, students, parents and teachers at Freedom Plaza, advocating for funding and calling for volunteers for the Man the Block Safe Passage program. The program was founded in 2011 by Marco Clark, CEO of Richard Wright Public Charter School, with the goal to reduce the number of safety related incidents involving students during their passage to and from school.
Smiling faces work wonders. Parents, grandparents, caregivers, volunteers, and public safety experts have come together.
We are helping to station community volunteers at metro stops frequented by students, in areas known for conflict, and outside of schools in the morning and after dismissal, a protective presence is created and a powerful message is sent: The safety and future of our students is of utmost importance. We will accept nothing less than the best for our kids.
Since its inception five years ago, Man the Block has seen more than 300 volunteers work together with 22 public charter schools.
We can help. Man the Block is focusing on increasing funding and volunteer participation, which we proudly embrace as opportunities for community advocacy and parent engagement.
When parents volunteer, they become partners invested in improving our neighborhoods. Our rally on May 16th got the attention of DC Councilmember LaRuby May, who is now considering legislation that would provide greater resources to programs like Man the Block.
Man the Block, Rocketship DC and the Metropolitan Police Department are working together, increasing coordination and creating a visible police presence in the area surrounding our school. We believe this is an important piece of an overall strategy to provide a world-class educational environment for our students.
Recently, we hosted a meet-and-greet breakfast with the police officers of the 7th District, engaging parents and school leaders in a dialogue about how we can work together to advocate for our students and the families in our communities, and fostering a sense of trust and communication.
As a member of the Mayor’s Action Team, I’ve seen firsthand the result of partnerships like this. When schools and communities join forces, everyone benefits. It is our goal at Rocketship to make sure every student in DC, not just those attending Rocketship schools, gets to and from school safely. Our work with Man the Block is just the beginning of what will be a legacy of leadership and advocacy. I look forward to watching Rocketship DC be a catalyst for positive change in our district.
Jacque moved to Washington, DC in 1995 while serving his country in the United States Air Force. He immediately became involved in the communities of Ward 8 where he decided to reside. In 2000, he was elected as an ANC Commissioner representing Single Member District 8B07, serving for 4 terms until 2008. During this time he also was selected as a Capital City Fellow by former DC Mayor Anthony A. Williams, eventually becoming his Community Affairs Coordinator.
He has a long history working with both traditional and public charter schools. He believes, “If you improve the education of a community, you will see a decrease in unemployment, in crime and many of the other social issues that may confront urban neighborhoods. Either you’re proactive in providing a great education for residents, or you will be reacting to the negative effects of not doing so later…it’s that simple.”
Published on June 8, 2016