Summer Youth Employment Program
Programs at THEARC
Rejuvenating Oxon Run Park
Supporting Housing Opportunities
WC Smith is in the business of creating housing opportunities across a range of affordability and lifestyle options. But we know that, for too many Washington residents, finding and keeping a home can be a challenge. We have a long history of supporting organizations that work to combat homelessness in the city. And in 2018, in response to a direct request from the city, we created Building Bridges to a Better Life (BBBL). BBBL is a WC Smith-funded program that finds housing in our properties for 90 families that were living in homeless shelters and hotels, provides them with furnishings and supplies, and connects them to the critical wrap-around social services they need to make the successful transition out of homelessness.
The road to success in life begins with a quality education. WC Smith is a long-time partner with public and private schools in Washington, offering financial and hands-on assistance to create educational institutions where students want to attend and achieve. Over the years we’ve adopted or supported more than a dozen schools, performing infrastructure repairs and beautification work, sponsoring bands and clubs, and providing space for instruction or expansion.
- Ballou High School
- Garfield Elementary School
- Green Elementary School
- Leckie Elementary School
- Patricia Harris Elementary School
- Patterson Elementary School
- Johnson Junior High School
- St. Thomas More School
- Stanton Elementary School
- Washington Middle School for Girls
Supporting Employment Opportunities
Meaningful early job experiences can be a powerful complement to educational experiences for young people. Since 1992, WC Smith has employed more than 1,300 teens through our Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). SYEP has proven to be a very successful job training model that benefits the youth, our company and the communities where we do business.
SYEP offers youth ages 14-17 a 6-week paid job working at a WC Smith property or the iCan Theater at THEARC. The teens also participate in workshops and outings, which can include sessions on financial literacy and wellness, visits to local colleges and museums, and outdoor activities. To qualify for the program, the teens must live in a WC Smith property or be the dependent of a WC Smith employee.
Many WC Smith employees are involved with SYEP: screening applications, interviewing applicants, organizing events and chaperoning field trips, not to mention supervising the teens in their jobs.
SYEP is more than a means to a paycheck. We design the program to be a learning experience for the participants, in which they receive real supervision and mentoring, are given and expected to fulfill real responsibilities and, in the end, come away with a feeling of accomplishment and new self-esteem.
Supporting Community Centers
One way a neighborhood thrives is when its residents have access to robust and safe recreational, health and cultural programs. For too long this was lacking in Washington’s Ward 8. Recognizing that need, WC Smith CEO Chris Smith co-founded Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR), a nonprofit that would manage a state-of-the-art community center for Southeast DC. This center became Town Hall Education Arts & Recreation Campus (THEARC).
Situated on 16 acres along Oxon Run and Mississippi Ave. SE, the 203,000 square foot campus houses 14 nonprofit organizations and includes a 365-seat community theater, black box theater, urban farm, regulation-size gymnasium, libraries, computer labs, classrooms, studios for dance, music and visual arts studios, an art gallery, public playgrounds, and more.
THEARC offers neighborhood adults and children an array of programs and services, including dance classes, music, fine arts, academics, continuing education, mentoring, tutoring, recreation, medical and dental care, and other services at a substantially reduced cost or no cost at all.
Opened in 2005, THEARC now serves more than 85,000 people annually.
- Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington
- Covenant House Washington
- Children’s National Medical Center
- Levine School of Music
- Washington Ballet
- Washington Middle School for Girls
- Bishop Walker School for Boys
- The Phillips Collection
- DC Central Kitchen
- Appletree Learning
- Trinity Washington University
- The David Lynch Foundation
Skyland Workforce Center
WC Smith’s commitment to providing job training and skills is not limited to youth. Through our partnership with Building Bridges Across the River, WC Smith is a supporter of the Skyland Workforce Center, a collaborative of nonprofit organizations providing employment-related services for many unemployed and underemployed residents of Wards 7 and 8 in Washington, DC. Skyland’s program providers include Byte Back, Calvary Women’s Services, Life Asset, Southeast Ministry, and Samaritan Ministry.
The Skyland Workforce Center also works closely with the development and construction teams building the adjacent Skyland Town Center and other projects to connect DC residents with construction jobs. WC Smith is one of the developers of Skyland Town Center.
Supporting the Environment
Because residents live beyond the confines of the building, WC Smith has dedicated considerable resources to the improvement and upkeep the of Oxon Run Park, an underutilized and forgotten asset located in Southeast DC. For many years Oxon Run has been the site for our Community Service Day; through multiple events, hundreds of employees participated to build playgrounds and a ballfield, and we have joined a city-wide committee to shepherd ongoing maintenance and upgrades to the park. Many other corporations, nonprofits, and community residents have joined in the ongoing effort to make Oxon Run on a leading example of how public natural resources can be developed and maintained for the enjoyment of all.
- Rebuilt the amphitheater and wired it for electricity
- Built three new regulation-sized horseshoe pits
- Rebuilt two picnic pavilions and added benches throughout the park
- Refurbished the basketball courts
- Removed 600′ of unsightly chain link fence
- Built a nature path and installed mosaic stepping stones
- Raked and seeded five acres of woodland
- Removed debris of vegetation from the culvert
- Planted four fern gardens, 55 flowering trees, black-eyed susans, and liriope
- Built a state-of-the-art, ADA compliant playground