Briya staff featured in NPR story on immigrant voters

Briya staff members from Bangladesh, Syria, and Cameroon were interviewed by NPR reporter Armando Trull for a story on the views of immigrant voters in advance of the presidential election.

“‘When I watch the TV news, I am thinking who will be president, because we are Asian and I came from Bangladesh, so I am thinking about my future, my kids,'” Briya staff member Zannatul Ferdous says in the article. “‘Especially immigration because I want to apply for my mom and dad and brother and sister.'”

Read and listen to the full story below.

Immigrant Voters Weigh Election Choices with an Eye on How U.S. Views Them

Briya inaugurates new Fort Totten campus

Briya Public Charter School, along with Bridges Public Charter School and Mary’s Center, celebrated the opening of their joint Fort Totten campus with an Open House this October. Together, the three organizations will offer education, health care, and social services to the Fort Totten community.

Approximately 1,600 people—neighborhood residents, funders, political leaders, school families, staff, board members and others—attended the event, which included tours of the 81,000-square-foot facilities, activities for children of all ages, health screenings, food, and a short program and ribbon cutting ceremony.

Jennie Niles, Deputy Mayor for Education, speaking to the attendees during the program portion of the event.Jennie Niles, Deputy Mayor for Education, spoke to the attendees during the program portion of the event.

“This really is a quintessential project of having disparate groups of people come together for the better of all,” Niles said. “This group of three organizations is doing something that we don’t see in other cities. It’s actually working from birth all the way through adulthood and everything in between to make sure that our citizens have what they need. I could not be more pleased to be here.”

Joe Bruno, President of Building Hope, and Don Soifer, Vice President of the DC Public Charter School Board, also addressed the crowd.

“If you look at the excellence that Briya represents, if you look at the excellence that Bridges represents, and if you look at the excellence that the Mary’s Center partnership has delivered for our community … you can see the way that this represents the very best of what public charter schools deliver to our city,” Soifer said.

To conclude the program, a group of organization leaders, board members, supporters, and students came together for a ribbon cutting to officially inaugurate the new building, which is Briya’s fourth location in D.C.

“It’s time to turn a page to a new chapter in Briya’s history book,” said Christie McKay, Executive Director. “I’m sure I am among many who are excited to see where our students lead us next.”

Briya student wins essay contest for Adult Education and Family Literacy Week

Briya student Maria Elena Van Maren came in first place in the ESL category of the DC Adult Education and Family Literacy Week essay contest. Another Briya student, Mayra Chavez, came in second in the category.

In their essays, the students responded to a prompt about barriers they face and overcome as adult learners.

As Van Maren wrote, barriers to getting her education started early: at age 11, she left school in her native Colombia to help her single mother provide for their family by cleaning houses. In her essay, she explained that she still faces many obstacles today, including balancing working, caring for her children and studying at Briya.

Briya teachers with award winning student and her daughter

“We are so proud of Maria Elena and Mayra for their participation and success in the AEFL essay contest,” said Elise Gorman and Judy Kittleson, the students’ instructors.

“Their positivity in the face of challenges is inspirational for all our adult learners, and it highlights the need for more funding for high-quality adult education programs like Briya across the city.”

Van Maren was recognized for her winning essay at an event organized by the DC Adult Education and Family Literacy Coalition, where she received a prize. Van Maren and adult learners from other DC programs also participated in a panel about the issues they face.

As part of the panel, Van Maren shared her dreams for the future.

“I have many, many goals,” she said. “I want my kids to be proud of me. I want to become a leader in my community. I want to work in international relations so I can help my country, Colombia.”

“I love to help people, and how to be able to help people is with my education,” she said.