75°Partly Cloudy

by Heather Mongilio — August 4, 2015 at 12:15 pm 1,400 0

secret-chopsticksSecret Chopsticks, a contemporary Chinese restaurant in Rosslyn, may open its doors by the end of September.

The new restaurant, which sits along N. Fort Myer Drive on the lower ground floor of the Turnberry Towers building, is currently under construction, according to general manager Robin Li.

Construction and permit issues caused the restaurant to delay its opening, he said. It was originally planned to open last summer.

Once opened, the restaurant will have 120 seats inside along with outdoor seating. Li said the restaurant is still waiting to get the permit for outdoor seating.

The restaurant will be different than a typical Chinese restaurant that serves “Americanized” Chinese food, Li said. Instead, the restaurant will feature contemporary Chinese cooking.

“Whatever they are cooking in China now, we are going to cook,” he said.

The restaurant will also focus on high quality service, making the restaurant more of a sit down restaurant than a takeout place. It will also have its own wine list, Li said.

“There are a lot of differences between this restaurant and other Chinese restaurants,” he said.

by Heather Mongilio — July 31, 2015 at 3:15 pm 4,988 0

(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) District Taco is working with an unlikely contractor for the construction of its new Rosslyn location: a company that once laid the restaurant’s founder off.

In 2008, Osiris Hoil was working as a superintendent for Patriot Contracting, the construction company that is building the new District Taco in Rosslyn and has built locations in Alexandria and Dunn Loring — which is celebrating its grand opening today.

The company originally hired Hoil despite his lack of construction experience because of his “can do” attitude and work ethic, said Jeff McGee, the co-owner of Patriot Contracting. The company struggled during the 2008 financial crisis, however, and Hoil was laid off.

“When I got laid off, I was very sad and I asked if I could stay on payroll, sweeping floors,” Hoil said. His wife was pregnant at the time and he needed the health insurance.

Laying off Hoil was one of the toughest days McGee has experienced on the job.

“I walked away crying,” he said.

Laying Hoil and the other employees left its mark on the company. McGee vowed that the company will stay small in order to avoid ever laying someone off again.

Undaunted by the adversity of losing a job during a major economic downturn, Hoil went on to start his original District Taco cart in 2009. He had a passion for cooking and his family’s recipes — and they turned out to be a hit.

That first cart eventually spawned a second, and then a brick and mortar restaurant followed on Lee Highway. That in turn led to what is now a growing regional chain. And when Hoil started building additional restaurants, he ultimately returned to Patriot Contracting, this time as a client.

“Instead of being angry about what they did, I’m right next to them saying let’s try this again,” Hoil said. He says he signed a multimillion dollar contract with Patriot because the company has good people and the owners get involved in the project.

The construction company has built two new stores and remodeled one of the existing locations, McGee said. It is currently working on the Rosslyn location.

“We really enjoy working with him [Hoil], and we’re proud of what he’s done,” McGee said.

Hoil is also eying Bailey’s Crossroads in Virginia and the Tenleytown neighborhood in D.C. for two more restaurants, he said. Hoil says he also wants to expand into Maryland, possibly in College Park. The company currently has 270 employees.

The new District Taco in Rosslyn will be located at 1500 Wilson Blvd, next to the future TargetExpress store. Both are expected to open this fall.

by Mariah Joyce — July 29, 2015 at 3:50 pm 4,347 0

DCBWD.C. Beer Week is less than two weeks away and one of its most popular events will take place in Arlington.

Local brewery DC Brau and Quarterdeck Restaurant (1200 Fort Myer Drive) are partnering to put on the “Fourth Annual D.C. Beer Week Crab Fest” on Monday, Aug. 10 from 5-10 p.m.

The fest is being billed as “the event of D.C. Beer Week,” and promises all-you-can-eat Mid-Atlantic crab, $1 DC Brau on draft and pitchers of DC Brau for $5.

Tickets cost $45, and are available online.

“$1 Drafts? $5 Pitchers? They must be insane!!!” says the festival web page. “Yes, they are! Insane with our craving for these colorful crustaceans!!! Eat til your [sic] full.”

Although the crab fest is the only event in Arlington, Beer Week has events planned for the D.C. Metro area from Aug. 9-16. The schedule kicks off with a beer tasting in Northeast on Sunday, Aug. 9. Next comes the crab fest in Arlington on Monday, followed by a beach party at the National Building Museum on Tuesday, Aug. 11.

The schedule of events continues with three consecutive tap-takeovers featuring locally brewed beers at RFD on Wednesday, ChurchKey on Thursday and High Velocity on Friday.

Finally, the week-long celebration of beer rounds out with two weekend events in Dupont: a beer-tasting hosted by Devil’s Backbone Brewery on Saturday, Aug. 15 and a “beer scavenger hunt” on Sunday, Aug. 16.

by Heather Mongilio — July 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm 1,233 0

Potbelly Sandwich Works logoSandwich shop Potbelly is coming to Rosslyn’s International Place building at 1735 N. Lynn Street.

Potbelly has leased a 2,525 square foot space, according to Liz Wainger, a spokeswoman for real estate firm CBRE. An opening date has not been decided, she said.

There’s no word yet on which storefront Potbelly will occupy. There are at least three vacant or soon-to-be-vacant ground floor retail locations in the building:

  • The former FroZenYo frozen yogurt shop, which recently closed
  • The Wilson Florist shop, which had a moving sale sign outside today
  • A retail bay between Chop’t and the building lobby

The new store will be the third Potbelly in Arlington. The company also has a location by the Ballston Metro and in Crystal City.

CBRE’s D.C.-based retail leasing team tweeted out the news about Potbelly’s lease on behalf of Beacon Capitol Partners, a real-estate firm in Arlington.

by Heather Mongilio — July 27, 2015 at 11:00 am 3,247 0

(Updated on July 28 at noon)A group of protesters, including students, teachers and members of advocacy group Higher Ed, Not Debt, chanted and waved signs outside of the Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn this morning.

The demonstration was held while for-profit college ITT Technical Institute held its annual shareholders meeting inside. The approximately 20-person protest group received honks from passing cars as they shouted complaints about how ITT Tech handles its marketing, course credit, loans and executive compensation.

“ITT what the Hell? Your CEOs should go to jail,” protesters chanted at the cars driving into Arlington from Key Bridge.

ITT Tech’s marketing promises students a sought-after degree and transferable course credits, but this is not always the case, said former ITT Tech student Anthony Byrd. Byrd attended ITT Tech in 2011 in order to get course credits he needed to attend Drexel University. However, when he called Drexel, he found out that his credits did not transfer.

Other students often leave ITT Tech only to find their degrees don’t count for much or that their credits are only transferable to another for-profit college, Byrd said. ITT Tech does say that the transferability of credits is at the sole discretion of the institution receiving the credits.

“I think a lot of students who attend ITT have no idea what’s going on until after they graduate,” Byrd said. He ended up leaving ITT Tech, but he still has debt for his time there, he said.

ITT Tech has a problem with students defaulting on student loans, with more students defaulting on loans than graduating at many of the ITT campuses, said Maggie Thompson, the campaign manager for Higher Ed, Not Debt.

ITT Tech CEO Kevin Modany spoke with Bryd at the protest, but Thompson said it is important that the shareholders pay attention. Shareholders are able to pressure the school into giving more support to students, reducing executive pay and focusing less on advertising.

“We really feel the schools needs to stop investing in executive compensation and more in students and teaching,” she said.

ITT Tech is not the only for-profit school where there are problems with loans and transferring credits, said Dahn Shaulis, an adjunct teacher at Burlington County College. Shaulis researches for-profit colleges and has found there are multiple instances where students end up defaulting on loans or cannot use the degrees they earned.

“These students have been defrauded,” he said. “They were lied to.”

This morning’s protest was also supported by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the group Student Debt Action and the Center for American Progress.

ITT Tech Vice President of Government Affairs Nicole Elam said that the protests are often staged with recruited protesters. ITT Tech has lowered its tuition and increased scholarships to help address debt problems, she said.

“We believe these protests are staged and have nothing to do with providing accurate information to students or shareholders about the debt or success of our students,” Elam said.

ITT, Modany and another executive were charged with fraud in May, with federal regulators alleging that the company hid the poor performance of student loan programs from shareholders.

by Heather Mongilio — July 23, 2015 at 4:30 pm 3,110 0

The Rosslyn of the future is envisioned to be more walkable, more dynamic and more green with the County Board’s approval of the Rosslyn Sector Plan and Western Rosslyn Area Plan (WRAP). However, with the approval comes the loss of open space from Rosslyn Highlands Park, which left some residents frustrated with the County Board’s process.

The County Board unanimously approved both plans after hearing resident and staff concerns. Residents generally supported the new sector plan, focused primarily on areas around the Rosslyn Metro station. The Western Rosslyn plan focused on the area around Fire Station #10, up the hill on Wilson Blvd.

It was the Western Rosslyn plan — which calls for a new fire station to be built by a developer, which is in turn building a mixed-use office and residential complex next to it — that attracted the most opposition.

“It is a shame that we felt we needed to pay for the fire station with public land, such an irreplaceable asset, especially here,” said resident Stuart Stein, who was involved with the WRAP study. “This has been an unfortunate process, but it is time to pass this plan.”

The lack of energy from the previously vocal WRAP opponents was reflected in the County Board’s responses. Although they all voted to approve the plan, Vice Chair Walter Tejada said that he came out of the vote “with a sense of resignation, almost, about the open space angle particularly.”

“We do need to move forward, but it really is a good lesson learned,” he said. “We just can’t let this happen again.”

With the Rosslyn Sector Plan, Board members were more enthusiastic.

“It’s been a bit of a marathon, but I think it was a good conversation and I think we have a plan that will work for all of us,” Chair Mary Hynes said.

Under the Rosslyn Sector Plan, the neighborhood will get a new open-air Metro entrance, Fort Myer Drive, Lynn Street and Wilson Boulevard will become two-way streets and the county will create a new esplanade that runs along Rosslyn’s eastern edge, connected to the Mt. Vernon Trail via a new pedestrian bridge. It also calls for a corridor along an extended 18th Street, which is envisioned as “a new central spine for Rosslyn.”

Green space has been a big concern for residents under both plans. The Rosslyn Sector Plan calls for a new park and redesign of existing parks, but residents fear that these are empty promises.

“Whether that green space really is developed in the amount that is projected is a question,” Rosslyn resident Diane Gorman said during public comment at yesterday’s recessed County Board meeting.

Parks and Recreation commission member Caroline Haynes urged the County Board members to make sure that plans for open space in Rosslyn were followed, adding that there are limited parks in the neighborhood.

“If we overbuild Rosslyn to the detriment of open space, views and daylight, the built environment will never reestablish those features,” Haynes said. “This plan represents the long-term view for Rosslyn, and should look to achieve long term value for the entire sector, not just for individual land owners and their interests.”

While the Rosslyn Sector Plan looks to create more open space and redesign existing Freedom and Gateway Parks, the Western Rosslyn plan will shrink Rosslyn Highlands Park to rebuild the fire station, a move that prompted residents to rally in protest, pleading with the County Board to save the park.

Under the plan, the county would take away 3,000 to 7,000 square feet of land from the park to allow for the fire station expansion and the Wilson School will be replaced with a larger, 775-seat secondary school building. However, the plan also calls for a 9,000 square foot park to be built across the street at the Queens Court affordable housing complex, which is slated for redevelopment.

(more…)

by Mariah Joyce — July 21, 2015 at 4:25 pm 1,739 0

Food Truck Zones (Copy)Arlington County will implement a new food truck zoning pilot program in Rosslyn starting Aug. 10.

The six-month pilot program may prove to be an answer to the ongoing conflict between food trucks and restaurants about where the trucks choose to park.

Restaurant owners in the county’s Metro corridors have claimed that the food trucks’ practice of parking in front of their restaurants has seriously impacted their business, and a group of restaurant owners in Courthouse recently even formed a coalition to lobby for food truck parking restrictions.

The Arlington Economic Development office spearheaded the project in consultation with the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, local restaurants, food trucks, residents and other stakeholders. For now, the pilot will be limited to Rosslyn, with the possibility of extending the project to other areas of the county once its success has been evaluated.

The pilot will set aside 19 parking spaces in Rosslyn for food trucks, for four hours during the day. Between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m on weekdays, only food trucks will be allowed to park in these spaces. Currently, food trucks are not permitted to stay in a parking space for more than two hours, and some have said that they struggle to set up and do business within that time frame, especially given the competition for such prime parking.

The reserved parking spaces are spread among four zones in Rosslyn, which were decided by AED: on 19th Street below Lynn Street, along Wilson Blvd above N. Kent Street, at the intersection of N. Nash Street and Wilson Blvd and on N. Pierce Street along Wilson Blvd. Notably, there is no reserved food truck parking on N. Lynn Street, Rosslyn’s main drag, which is where most food trucks currently park.

BID President Mary-Claire Burick says she hopes these reserved parking zones with extended time limits will give the trucks increased flexibility, but emphasized that trucks will still be free to park in other spaces.

“This is not a limiting project,” said Burick.”This is to expand and make it easier for them to be successful in these other areas.”

At the County Board meeting on Saturday, July 18, AED’s Jill Griffin told the Board that the success of the project would be evaluated over time, but the outcome is likely to be clear within three months of the pilot’s launch.

“We think we’ll be seeing if it works or doesn’t work very quickly,” said Griffin.

The BID will also be involved in evaluating the pilot. Burick said they were very interested in incorporating feedback, and while reports from the food trucks would be their “first barometer” as to the project’s success, BID members also planned to reach out and hear feedback from consumers.

“We’ll be out and we’ll be listening, and we’ll be incorporating that feedback with the County,” said Burick.

Burick said the BID has plans in the works for a week of kick-off celebrations once the pilot launches, including musical performances, contests and other promotions.

Photo courtesy Rosslyn BID

by ARLnow.com — July 17, 2015 at 9:55 am 2,260 0

Air Force Memorial and a bus stop along Columbia Pike (Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi)

More on Texas Jack’s BBQ — Texas Jack’s Barbecue, which is replacing the former Tallula and EatBar in Lyon Park, will be helmed by a pair of Hill Country BBQ vets. The 145-seat restaurant will also have a 26-seat patio. It will serve meats that are smoked on site and plans to remain open until 2 a.m. seven days a week. [Washingtonian]

CEO’s $3.7 Million Rosslyn Condo — Gracia Martore, the former CEO of Gannett and current CEO of the newspaper company’s broadcast and digital spinoff, Tegna, has purchased a condo in Rosslyn for $3.65 million. The 4,447 square foot condo in Turnberry Tower (1881 N. Nash Street) features a 900 square foot outdoor balcony with sweeping views of D.C. [Washington Business Journal]

Police Chief Prioritizes Community Engagement — New Arlington Police Chief Jay Farr says he will make community engagement one of his top priorities. Farr plans to “realign how we do business a little bit,” adding more interaction with residents, he told the local Kiwanis Club. [InsideNova]

Arlington Arts Center Director Departs — Stefanie Fedor, executive director of the Arlington Arts Center, is leaving her position next month to head the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. AAC’s Director of Exhibitions will take over as Acting Executive Director while the organization’s board searches for Fedor’s permanent replacement. [Patch]

Rosslyn Employer Leaving for D.C. — The American Psychiatric Association, currently based at 1000 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, has signed a lease at The Wharf project on the Southwest D.C. waterfront. The association has about 250 employees. It is expected to move in 2017. [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi

by ARLnow.com — July 14, 2015 at 9:20 am 1,668 0

Cycling on the Mt. Vernon Trail (Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk)

Rep. Beyer Holding Taylor Swift Fundraiser — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is holding a fundraiser with 15-20 guests at tonight’s Taylor Swift concert in D.C. The National Journal says Beyer is “Congress’ biggest Taylor Swift fan.” The Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans pounced on that headline for a punny press release. “When it comes to the national debt and big government regulations, Millennials want to ‘shake it off,'” the AFCYRs wrote. [National Journal, AFCYR]

Arlington Appoints DHS Director — Arlington County Dept. of Human Services deputy director Anita Friedman is getting a promotion. Friedman has been appointed as head of the department by Acting County Manager Mark Schwartz, less than two weeks after Schwartz took over for now-retired County Manager Barbara Donnellan. [Arlington County]

Rosslyn Metro Center Building Sold — The 22-story office building atop the Rosslyn Metro station has sold for $180 million. Rosslyn Metro Center, located at 1700 N. Moore Street, may be due for renovations following the sale. [Washington Business Journal]

Washingtonian Lauds ARLnow — ARLnow.com, along with its sister sites Borderstan, Hill Now and Reston Now, have been honored as the “Best News Blogs” in the D.C. area by Washingtonian. “Obsessive (but not mind-numbing) reporting on communities paid off,” the magazine said of our company’s expansion. Thank you to the staff of Washingtonian for this honor. [Washingtonian]

Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk

by ARLnow.com — July 9, 2015 at 6:00 pm 810 0

Arlington County has started running a new video series on its local cable TV and YouTube channels.

As the county works to shrink its high office vacancy rate — it was recently reported to be 21 percent — Arlington TV has started featuring “awesome offices.”

In a video released last week, Jessica Miller, co-chair of Arlington Economic Development’s Arlington Real Estate Group, leads viewers on a tour of LMO Advertising, which is based at 1776 Wilson Blvd, between the Rosslyn and Courthouse Metro stations.

LMO, the largest advertising agency in the D.C. area and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Business of the Year, has the kind of light, airy and amenity-filled office one might expect of a creative agency or a tech company.

Among the notable features:

  • Game room with Xboxes and ping pong tables
  • In-house, sound-proof studio
  • 3-D printer
  • Standing desks
  • Star Trek-themed conference rooms
  • Green roof and rooftop patio with Wi-fi

Scott Laughlin, co-founder of the agency, said that there’s an economic argument for putting ping pong tables, autographed guitars and video game consoles in a work environment. It comes down to building a collaborative, team environment.

“You don’t need an office to do the work we do anymore,” he said. “What you do need is a home, a place where people want to come and be and spend time with others.”

by Mariah Joyce — July 7, 2015 at 11:00 am 1,155 0

Barre in the Park cropped (Copy)The remaining Barre in the Park classes in Rosslyn have been rescheduled from Wednesday to Thursday evenings, starting this week.

Barre in the Park, which is in its second season, is a series of free outdoor classes offered weekly in Rosslyn’s Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) by exercise studio Lava Barre, in partnership with the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

(Barre is a type of trendy exercise class that combines elements of ballet with yoga and Pilates.)

Lava Barre is offering this free series in part to promote their new studio in Rosslyn (1528 Clarendon Blvd), which opened this summer. The Rosslyn studio replaced a Lava Barre studio previously located in Clarendon.

The series started in May and is slated to continue into the early fall. Although the classes are free, registration is required. According to Lava Barre, all registered participants need to bring is themselves, a towel or mat and some water.

Absent cancellation due to inclement weather, the remaining Barre in the Park classes will be offered Thursday evenings in Gateway Park from 6-7 p.m. Should a class be cancelled due to weather, the BID says a notification will be sent to those registered for the class via email.

Currently, classes are planned to continue from now until the end of September.

Photo courtesy Lava Barre

by Mariah Joyce — July 6, 2015 at 10:30 am 1,012 0

Dee Dee Bridgewater at Rosslyn Jazz Festival 2011 (photo by Runneralan2004)The Rosslyn Business Improvement District has announced the lineup for its annual jazz festival.

The event, which BID president Mary-Claire Burick says will be “exciting, bold and fun,” is celebrating its 25th anniversary this summer. In addition to performances covering everything from classic soul to international funk, the festival will feature a selection of food and fashion trucks and an expanded beer and wine garden.

The BID has organized a lineup of  both locally and nationally known artists. Several headliners have already gained national acclaim, including Debo Band, whose EP “Debo Band” (2011) appeared on NPR Music’s 50 Favorite Albums of 2012, and New Orleans group The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, whose music has been featured on the HBO series Treme.

The festival will run from 1-7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12 in Gateway Park (1300 Lee Hwy, near the Key Bridge). All performances are free and open to the public, and the full concert lineup is below.

File photo by Runneralan2004

by Heather Mongilio — June 30, 2015 at 1:45 pm 2,174 0

The Kona Grill, a sushi restaurant that combines American and Hawaiian flavors, opened its doors in Rosslyn on Monday.

The new restaurant, located at 1776 Wilson Blvd, is one of the company’s more than 30 restaurants in 19 states. But the Arlington location gave Kona Grill the ideal demographics it was looking for, said Joesph Ortega, the general manager for the Arlington location.

“It’s a growing area, young and upcoming,” he said. “If you visit our restaurant, it’s a very hip or retro feeling.”

The restaurant has an inside and outside bar, a large dining room set to seat about 250 guests and a patio. It also offers two happy hours — one from 2-7 p.m. and a reverse happy hour during the last two hours of business, where food prices are reduced.

Although the restaurant opened its doors yesterday, Ortega said it had already attracted a crowd. As of 12:30 p.m. today, there were about 20 people eating lunch.

The restaurant brings a different style of dining to Arlington, he said. The restaurant is two in one, with a full lunch and dinner menu in addition to the sushi bar.

“A lot of the other restaurants [in Arlington] are just sushi bars or one type of sushi bar,” Ortega said.

Ortega’s favorites on the menu are the pork tenderloin, which is almond crusted and served with mashed potatoes, and the picasso roll, a spicy yellowtail with avocado, a jalapeño cilantro relish and sriracha. But he also recommends that people try a little bit of everything.

“I don’t think anyone’s seen or tasted what we offer,” he said.

The restaurant plans to get involved with the Arlington community by participating in local events.

“Our goal is to be everyone’s favorite place to eat and relax with friends,” Ortega said.

by Mariah Joyce — June 26, 2015 at 1:25 pm 889 0

Freedom Four (Copy)This Sunday marks the second annual “Freedom Four” race, which will result in some road closures in the Rosslyn and Courthouse areas.

To accommodate the four-mile course, the Arlington County Police Department will be closing roads sections of Wilson Boulevard, Clarendon Boulevard and Route 110 on June 28 (below). All roads are expected to be open to traffic after 10:30 a.m.

Between 6:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Wilson Boulevard will be closed from N. Courthouse Road to N. Rhodes Street.

Between 7:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Wilson Boulevard will be closed from from Route 110 to N. Courthouse Road. Courthouse road will remain open. Again from 7:45 to 10:30 a.m., Route 110 Northbound will be closed from I-395 to I-66.

Parking in the area will be also be restricted during the race, and drivers should be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs. According to the ACPD, illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed.

The U.S. Track & Field-certified course will start and finish on Wilson Boulevard, near the restaurant Ireland’s Four Courts. The race begins promptly at 8 a.m., and participants are advised to arrive early.

Freedom Four was started last year by Pacers Running to replace their previously offered Fourth of July race, the Let Freedom Run 5K. For $40, residents can register for the race online.

Photo via Pacers Running.

by Mariah Joyce — June 25, 2015 at 4:30 pm 1,779 0

Last week, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, announced a $5 million donation to a non-profit right here in Arlington.

The announcement came via a Facebook post to Zuckerberg’s 32.7 million followers which has reached 153,072 likes and counting.

The organization in question, TheDream.US, is a scholarship fund designed to help undocumented immigrants realize their dreams of going to college in the United States. The brainchild of Don Graham, CEO of Graham Holdings Company and former publisher of the Washington Post, the non-profit has made its home in Graham’s Rosslyn offices for the past two years.

Through his work with other education-based charities in the area, Graham says he learned that there were many such undocumented students in the D.C. metro area, particularly in Northern Virginia.

These students are commonly called DREAMers after the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act that has been proposed several times since 2001 but has yet to pass in Congress. DREAMers are unable to receive federal aid to continue their education. In most states they are also not eligible for in-state tuition, which can make going to college prohibitively expensive.

“Certainly in Arlington County, almost every high school student has classmates who are DREAMers, and they quickly come to understand the unique cruelty of the situation of these students,” Graham told ARLnow.com. “They can be the valedictorian, they can be the president of the class. All the other low-income students in the class get U.S. government assistance in going on to higher education, and these students cannot.”

Graham says his organization was empowered to tackle this issue head-on after President Barack Obama announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in 2012. DACA allowed undocumented immigrants who had come to the United States when they were children to obtain a Social Security number, a driver’s license and temporary legal status, renewable after two years.

In the summer of 2013, Graham, program director Gaby Pacheco and Henry Muñoz III gathered people together and proposed the idea of a scholarship program to enable those who had obtained DACA status to go to college. Amanda Bennett and Carlos Gutierrez joined Graham and Muñoz in founding TheDream.US, which officially launched on Feb. 4, 2014.

TheDream.US currently partners with about 60 colleges across the U.S. Pacheco says they look for schools located in areas with high concentrations of undocumented students, where you can get a good education for around $25,000 (the scholarship amount offered by the non-profit). In Virginia, TheDream.US partners with Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University.

The fund currently has $81 million, including donations in the millions from Graham, Zuckerberg, Bill Ackman and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. TheDream.US also allows donors to specify where they want their money to go: for example, Zuckerberg’s $5 million donation was earmarked for students in the San Francisco Bay Area. Pacheco believes this ability to ask that their money be set aside for their own region attracts donors to the organization.

“People love to be able to help out in their own community,” she said. “Many affluent people have foundations in their names or their family names, so we target them and say, ‘look, we can bring a scholarship program to your area.'”

Graham says that as of now, the organization expects to see at least 3,000 students graduate college, but that he “would like to raise more money and make it at least 5,000, and possibly go from there.”

Another part of the organization’s mission is to tell these students’ stories. TheDream.US is doing this through their stories project, which spotlights the lives of notable DREAM scholars. Interns Julia Leibowitz and Sadhana Singh (a current DREAMer) are working on the project this summer in the Rosslyn office.

“For us, it’s really about leveling the field for these young people to go to college,” said Pacheco. “We’re going to allow our numbers to speak for themselves, and show that we are helping meet the gap for people needed in various fields.”

Students who wish to apply for a scholarship can do so starting on Sept. 14, when the third national scholarship round opens. Those wishing to donate can do so through the organization’s website.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list