rsz_rsz_shirley_higucchi“To me, UPO means an opportunity and change for our community, and to move forward for a better community. It also means uniting people together, from all sectors of our community, regardless of race, ethnic origin or religion—to unite us all for a better D.C.” Shirley is a DC attorney, advocate and former UPO board member who understands the bigger mission of UPO. She, like so many professionals, are working to create opportunities to ensure that all D.C. residents, particularly low income Washingtonians, are given a chance to purse the path to self-sufficiency. She envisions a unified DC. She is dedicated to the people of D.C. She is UPO. This is her story.

To learn more about the mission of UPO, visit


“Two Words: My Life”

That’s what graduating from UPO’s Culinary Arts Training program means to Winston! With UPO, he was able to learn skills that aren’t only valuable in professional aspect, but allows him the opportunity to better provide for his three sons. Winston and his family are forever part of UPO’s testament to inspiring and educating the residents of D.C.
He is a father. He is a professional. He is UPO.

To learn more about UPO’s adult education and training programs, visit


“What has UPO done for me? Or rather, what have I done for UPO? Just to be a part of the organization to help these kids…that’s where we are mostly needed.  As part of UPO’s Foster Grandparent program, I’m a volunteer at Malcom X Elementary School. I help classroom teachers with the daily lessons and I read to the children. I haven’t missed a day since I started years ago.  I love going every day to hear the children say “Mama Meechum, help me with my work.” It’s overwhelming. Sometimes I get so full I wanna cry. But I’m just happy that I’m able to do something and give something back to our children.” Mama Meechum’s commitment to being a positive role and nurturing foster grandparent to D.C.’s children is a testament to the effort to enrich and educate residents in our communities.

She is a compassionate volunteer and a family-like figure for students. She is part of UPO’s expansive Foster Grandparent program. She is dedicated to her community and children. She is UPO.

To learn more about UPO’s Foster Grandparent Program, visit


“Being a part of UPO’s Youth Services Division means that every day I get to create opportunities for young people. At the end of the day, it’s not about me it’s about what we as the Youth Services division of UPO, can do to promote opportunities and bring about new opportunities to expose young people to experiences beyond their traditional or daily realm. As the Youth Services Division Director, allows me to give D.C.’s youth the opportunity to see that there is so much more to the world.”

Our Freedom Schools program, an educational enrichment program for grades one through five, in partnership with the Children’s Defense Fund, is an example of the type of opportunities and experiences that we expose the children to. We strongly believe in this program’s ideas and philosophies—and seeing it come to fruition and manifestation every day, is what I love about my job with UPO.”

This is Deangelo, UPO’s Youth Services Division Director. He is an advocate for children. He is compassionate, encouraging and committed. He is helping students to actualize their opportunities. He is UPO.

To learn about Youth Services offered by UPO, visit


“It means a lot to me to be a part of this program (UPO’s Building Careers Academy—BCA). I have received a lot of hands on training in how to frame a house, install dry wall, operate professional construction tools like a saw. It (BCA) has helped me improve my math skills because we’re taught how to measure in our classroom sessions. UPO’s Workforce Development program also teaches us how to manage our money with the financial literacy class. I’ve learned a little bit more about saving and preparing for the future.  (UPO’s) Job readiness program prepares us for interviews. They teach us the rules and appropriate things to say and when. (UPO‘s BCA program) means a lot. It has been the change in my life that I needed. I’ve only been in the program for two months but it’s made a big impact on me and my family.”

She is learning real skills to get a real job in the construction trade industry. She is on the path to becoming self-sufficient. She is UPO. This is her story.

To learn more about UPO’s Building Careers Academy, visit


“What this means to me? (UPO’s Culinary Arts training program) means a whole lot. It means that I can start over with my career. And, I appreciate that it only cost me time, commitment and dedication. My hope is that I find myself a nice food services job in a hospital or even a high school!” With her hard work and dedication, she was able to open the door to new opportunities in her life with UPO!

This is Annette. Her life is now filled with new, enriching opportunities. She has a bright future ahead of her in the food services industry. She is ambitious. She is UPO.

To learn more about UPO’s adult education and training programs, visit


“It’s just like I said in my speech when I was awarded the $10,000 UPO’s Joseph A. Beavers scholarship back in June of this year–this scholarship was tailor made for me. I knew it when I first saw it at posted my school. Why? Because it said that it was made for students who wanted to give back to the community. See, I knew from a young age that is really what I wanted to do when I grow up–to give back. And to be one of the five 2015 scholarship recipients meant everything to me. Because it meant that what I was doing, was right.”

This is Ramella, a 2015 Joseph A. Beavers scholarship recipient. Annually, we award 5 ambitious, deserving D.C. high school students, $10,000 each to be applied towards their collegiate aspirational pursuits. Named in honor of former UPO advocate and famed laborer, we’ve awarded over $1 million dollars to academic achievers from D.C.’s low income communities since the early 2000s. Ramella is now prepared for her future. She is committed. She is UPO.

Learn about the Joseph A. Beavers Scholarship, visit


“Being a part of UPO’s Office of Early Learning (OEL) Division means a lot. We’re a team of dedicated, compassionate workers with a sincere heart for our babies. Besides being an early childhood learning classroom assistant at UPO’s Frederick Douglas Center, UPO offers a lot of educational programs and services to help us improve our early leaning curriculum and enhance the way we provide educational services to D.C.’s youngest residents. I love it here. We’re like a big family. We just have a wonderful time working with the children and being part of UPO.

She is an early childhood learning assistant. She sees the bigger picture for tomorrow’s leader. She is an advocate for education. She is UPO.

Learn about our Early Childhood Learning programs and services, visit