Launched in 2009, The UPO P.O.W.E.R. program (Providing Opportunities with Educational Readiness) is designed to nurture and prepare youth for the academic rigors of higher education. Through our six-year college readiness initiative, UPO works intensely with youth living in Ward 8 to help them matriculate through middle and high school and ensure their successful entry into college upon high school graduation.

P.O.W.E.R. ranks as the agency’s longest investment in a single program cohort. The inaugural group of P.O.W.E.R. students prepare to graduate from high school in June 2015.

Since its inception, the P.O.W.E.R. program has successfully retained 85% of its cohort of students from 24 months or more. 40% of the cohort has been with P.O.W.E.R. for all five years of the program. 70% of our youth perform at or above a 2.5 GPA, and 47% of our youth have taken at least one year of an honor or AP level class.

Our P.O.W.E.R. youth get college ready by participating in the Saturday and Summer Academies, through the creation of a parent-lead advisory board and consistent parent meetings and consultations offered through our Family Alliance and Parent Resource Workshops; and through the development of a peer council that allows for formal and informal student buy-in of the various programs afforded.

P.O.W.E.R. Saturday Academy

P.O.W.E.R. Saturday Academy is an out of school time component of our college/career readiness program that focuses on academic preparation, college readiness, career exploration, social emotional development and community service.To ensure that our students are academically and emotionally prepared for post-secondary opportunities, UPO partners with organizations such as the Smithsonian Institute, Bowie State University, Joint Educational Facilities, Metro Teen AIDS, Ward 7/8 Drug Prevention,DC College Access Program, ADC Tutor, Promising Futures, and other volunteers to provide workshops.

The Saturday Academy is held October through June each Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at The UPO Anacostia Community Service Center. Students receive tutoring, STEM programming, college readiness and social emotional development and go on field trips, and college tours and fairs.

P.O.W.E.R. Summer Academy

P.O.W.E.R. Summer Academy provides a more intense and sustained opportunity to ensure that all members of our cohort are academically and emotionally prepared for post-secondary opportunities. Again, the five areas of focus are academic preparation, college readiness, career exploration, social emotional development and community service. We typically work with the same partners in an expanded time frame.

The Summer Academy is a six-week program offered from July through August from 9:00am – 3:00 p.m. Students receive intensive hands on STEM experiences, along with college prep classes, and social emotional development. The Summer Academy is conducted in partnership with Bowie State University and is held on its campus.

Parent Resource Workshops/Family Alliance

The Parent Resource Workshops are held quarterly and are based on parent need and cover topics such as communicating with youth, resume and job readiness skills for parents, financial aid (FAFSA) information, and helping families transition into post-secondary opportunities.

The Family Alliance program is rooted in a two-generational practice approach with our youth and families. Parents have the opportunity to attend individual meetings, complete a family in-take process, and work closely with P.O.W.E.R. staff to address their children’s needs and goals, but also their own personal or educational goals. We provide these families with resources to assist them in achieving these goals through internal referrals to other UPO programs as well as external referrals to other agencies. Our goal is to not only empower youth to achieve post-secondary success, but to also ensure the success and fulfillment of their families.

For more information contact the UPO Youth Services Center in Ward 8 at:

1649-B Good Hope Road, S.E.

Washington, DC 20020

202-610-0466; 202-610-2666 fax

The UPO Effect

2014 brought a flurry of success for our P.O.W.E.R. students.

  • David McIntyre, III, a five-year P.O.W.E.R. member and a junior at Ballou High School received a D.C. Achievers Scholarship towards his college education. He will major in engineering after high school graduation.
  • Anthonya James, a senior at Thurgood Marshall Academy, received a scholarship to attend the Stanford University summer college prep program. She also previously received a D.C. Achievers Scholarship towards her college education.
  • Ten P.O.W.E.R. students competed in the University of the District of Columbia’s and 4-H’s Life Smarts State Competition. Students showcased their knowledge of real-world issues including personal finance, technology, health and safety, the environment, and consumer rights and responsibilities.
  • Fifteen P.O.W.E.R. students participated in the USA Science and Engineering Festival to learn more about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). As Lockheed Martin volunteers, the students assisted with the set-up and demonstration preparations and heard lectures from Nobel Prize-winning geneticists, NASA astronauts and STEM educators.
  • Jamirah Jackson received a scholarship to participate in the College Success Foundation’s Achievers Scholarship Program sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Through the program Jamirah went on a college tour of Cheney State, Temple, Drexel, Penn State, Rutgers and Princeton Universities.
  • Derrick McGhee was selected as a Showoff Ambassador in the “Show Off DC” campaign promoting teens as leaders, problem solvers and positive change agents in Washington, D.C.Derrick is called upon to speak throughout the city to his peers about envisioning a positive future.
  • Jason Goolsby AKA Kid Kwesi was selected to record the #ShowOff song and video for the “ShowOff DC” campaign. Jason is also Richard Wright’s Public Charter School’s ambassador.
  • Ten P.O.W.E.R. students placed first and second place in the Maryland State finals of the Destination Imagination program’s service learning challenge. These students presented an anti-drug campaign on synthetic marijuana/K2Spice and on advocating for the health of the Anacostia Watershed. Placing at this competition enabled the students to present at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus in April 2014.
  • Fifteen P.O.W.E.R. students participated in the Patriots Technology Training Center’s 17th annual Youth Summit on Technology held at Bowie State University. Students competed in social media jeopardy and in flight simulation competitions.
  • Four P.O.W.E.R. students were invited to participated in the 2014 National IT Showcase held in Indianapolis, IN where they presented research on computer networking, social media, and computer gaming. Each student received awards and scholarships for their efforts.