The DC program provides support for high school graduates throughout their college journey

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On Wednesday, hundreds of students flocked to Bancroft Elementary School in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood for free loot, lunch, treats and other items in the first DCPS Persists drop.

DCPS Persists began in 2020 and is modeled after smaller programs elsewhere in the country that aim to help graduate students going on to college earn enough time to graduate and graduate.

OMCP/John Domen

On Wednesday, hundreds of students flocked to Bancroft Elementary School in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood for free loot, lunch and treats, and other items in the first DCPS Persists drop.

OMCP/John Domen

A program that has been helping DC public school high school graduates since 2020 navigate the college application process, as well as the college experience, has finally been able to “send” its students in person.

OMCP/John Domen

A program that has been helping DC public school high school graduates navigate the college application process since 2020, as well as the college experience, has finally been able to “send” its students in person.

On Wednesday, hundreds of students flocked to Bancroft Elementary School in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood for free loot, lunch, treats and other items in the first DCPS Persists drop.

DCPS Persists began in 2020 and is inspired by smaller programs that aim to help graduate students entering college get to another graduation day.



Currently, only about 36% of DCPS students who go to college eventually graduate.

“We are the first urban school district in the nation to have an alumni retention program that supports students during their time in college, all the way through to graduation,” said DCPS Persists Director, Karime Naime. “We support them by providing them with academic, financial, emotional and social support.”

Some 750 senior graduates are part of the program this year. They will meet once a month, in person or virtually, with DCPS Persists representatives.

Naime said the feedback she’s received from other involved students over the past few years clearly shows “how helpful it is to have someone in their corner, standing up for them and letting them know that there was nothing wrong with facing difficulties”.

For many students, it would be difficult to find someone else who could understand what they are going through.

“A lot of our students are first-generation students,” who are the first in their families to go to college, Naime said. “A lot of times they don’t know how to have these conversations at home or maybe they don’t have someone they can have conversations with about what college is about.”

This is what makes the program another support for students who might otherwise be away from home.

“Persist is like the buddy you need,” said Khamal Robinson, a graduate of Northeast’s Duke Ellington School for the Arts, who is heading to Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. “Everyone needs someone who can help them along the way.”

That’s what DC Persists did for another DC student.

“They helped me a lot with the scholarship process, the application process, everything I need to understand about my new stage at college,” said Darlin Rivera, a Brightwood resident who graduated from Jackson-Reed High. School. She is the first in her family to go to university.

She said DCPS Persists helped her navigate her way through all the necessary paperwork just to get into school.

“It was a little overwhelming because I had no idea some of the things they were asking for, and it was a little hard for me to figure it out. And the fact that no one explained it to me, I would be really stressed out sometimes,” Rivera said.

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