Ranked Choice Voting Faces Hurdles — “The biggest current challenge? Election software used by the county allows for ranked-choice voting, but only in elections with three or fewer candidates. A pending software upgrade would bring that to five candidates, but ‘I don’t think legally we can limit the number of candidates that can run,’ Reinemeyer said.” [InsideNova]
Levine Running for Lt. Gov. — “Virginia Del. Mark Levine on Monday announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor, joining a roster of nearly a dozen candidates vying for the position. Levine, a 54-year-old Democrat from Alexandria, has served in the state’s House of Delegates since 2016 and represents parts of Arlington County, Fairfax County, and the city of Alexandria.” [DCist]
Credit Union Announces Donations — The staff of Arlington Community Federal Credit Union selected four local nonprofits for the credit union to support with year-end donations: Culmore Clinic, Edu-Futuro, Arlington Department of Human Services’ Secret Santa program and Bridges to Independence. [ACFCU]
Scholarship Applications Open — “The Arlington Community Foundation has a well-established Annual Scholarship Program that in 2020 awarded over $400,000 in college scholarships to 80 new students and 100 renewal students… The scholarship application for the 2021-2022 school year will be available from December 18, 2020, to February 1, 2021.” [Arlington Community Foundation]
Holiday Closures Start Tomorrow — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Friday, July 3, 2020, for observation of Independence Day… Metered parking [will not be] enforced July 3-4.” [Arlington County]
Affordable Housing Provider Celebrates Scholarships — “Celebrating graduation may have looked a little different this year, but we could not be any prouder of the students from our College and Career Readiness (CCR) program who graduated from high school in 2020. All 31 of the amazing young people who participated in the program this year are off to college in the fall. In total, they were accepted into 135 schools and received an estimated $1.24 million in scholarships and aid.” [AHC Inc.]
Animal Welfare League Not Reopening Yet — “For the health and safety our staff, volunteers, and the public, we have decided to remain closed for the public, but we expect to introduce in-person adoption by appointment on a very limited basis in the coming days. We also hope to begin selling spay and neuter vouchers online very soon.” [Facebook]
New Pedestrian Law Now in Effect — “Drivers must now fully stop, not just yield, for pedestrians in all crosswalks in Virginia or they could be slapped with a $500 fine. The law that went into effect Wednesday, July 1 requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in any marked or unmarked crosswalk… Last year there were 166 crashes in Arlington involving pedestrians. Four people were killed.” [NBC 4]
Another I-395 Daredevil Caught on Camera — It keeps happening: this time, a commercial vehicle was caught on video backing up and crossing all lanes of northbound I-395 to reach the HOV bridge into D.C. [Twitter]
Arlington County is planning to partner with Nestlé and the Arlington Community Foundation to create a child care scholarship program.
The Shared Prosperity Child Care Scholarship Program is paid for by a $200,000 donation from Nestlé, the multinational food and drink company that recently expanded its U.S. headquarters in Rosslyn. Nestlé’s baby food subsidiary Gerber is also located in Rosslyn.
The aim of the scholarship would be to help low-income families in Arlington get access to child care. A staff report laid out the qualifications for families:
- Participating households’ gross income must be at or below 30% of the Area Median Income at the time of application to the program.
- Participating households must be ineligible for child care assistance through the Virginia Department of Social Services Child Care Subsidy Program.
- All parents or guardians present in participating households must be involved in a work activity, attending school or training, or actively searching for employment.
- Participating households must be willing and able to contribute 5% of their gross income toward the cost of care.
Acceptance of the funding is tricky because technically the County Board cannot direct money to individuals.
“The County Board has limited authority to grant monies directly to private individuals,” the staff report noted. “However, the Board is permitted under Section 63.2-314 of the Code of Virginia to grant monies to the local board of social services, and the local board of social services is authorized to make grants to aid needy persons within Arlington”
The staff report estimated that the scholarship will be able to serve up to seven children for a maximum of two years.
“This will enable parents or guardians in participating households to search for employment, attend school or training, or participate in a work activity, and it will ensure that their children are afforded consistent access to high-quality early childhood programs.”
Marymount University has launched a new scholarship program for its Dreamer students, starting in the 2020-21 school year.
The school officially announced its Dreamers Scholarship Program last night at a kick-off party in the university’s Main House, where Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va) and university president Irma Becerra gave remarks.
“Marymount is a special place, it is a recognized as one of the most diverse universities in the south,” Kaine said. “Diversity is a value here, and the support for Dreamers is very, very admirable.”
The university on N. Glebe Road is home to over 50 Dreamers — young immigrant students protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. These students are unable to apply for federal financial aid, which creates an obstacle for paying for higher education.
New for this school year, Marymount became one of 25 colleges in the country to offer grants for students through TheDream.US, a scholarship program that assists Dreamer students. Five students at Marymount are currently receiving the grants.
“Students have enough stress in their lives, and the lack of financial support creates another level of stress — these are incredible students, and we want them to be successful,” Becerra said. “We would love to support them all. That’s what this new scholarship is all about.”
Last night’s announcement kicked off the search for scholarship funding for the remaining students.
“We are looking for any and all sorts of support,” Becerra said.
During the event, Marymount freshman and Dream.US recipient Ashly Trejo Mejia introduced Sen. Kaine during a speech in which she shared the struggles of immigrating to Virginia from Honduras as a young girl, and the fear of not knowing whether she could attend college.
“Marymount was one of those hidden treasures that I, and the rest of us, did not know we had here waiting for us,” Mejia said. “The day of my high school graduation was the most emotional day of my life — I was achieving something that our family members longed for. Coming to Marymount has been a blessing.”
Police Operation in Ballston — Arlington County Police say they arrested a wanted individual in Ballston Wednesday evening, in front of the DARPA building on N. Randolph Street. Officers used a “diversionary device” — witnesses described it as a flashbang grenade — during the operation, a police spokeswoman told ARLnow. “One suspect was taken into custody without incident,” ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark said. Additional details were not immediately available. [Twitter]
‘Perfect Friday Night Date in Rosslyn’ — “A round of miniature golf is one of summer’s pleasures, whether putt-putting past pirate statues at a course by the beach or playing in a regional park closer to home. It works equally well as part of a date night or a group outing with friends. And it’s definitely not the kind of thing you’d expect to find popping up in the plaza outside a Rosslyn office building.” [Washington Post]
Beer Hall Nears Opening in Ballston — The opening of Bronson Bier Hall in Ballston, the successor to A-Town Bar and Grill, is about a month away. Most of the major interior construction appears to have been completed. [Instagram]
Amazon Hosts LGBT Reception — “A special reception [was] hosted by Amazon at a location in the heart of its massive planned expansion was held at Freddie’s Beach [Bar in Crystal City] to greet the area’s LGBT community.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Subsidies for Late Night Commuters — “The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has kicked off an effort to support late-night workers who travel when transit service is not available. Since July 1, qualified workers – such as those in the hospitality or health-care industries – have been eligible to receive a $3 subsidy toward travel on Lyft for trips taken between their home and workplace between midnight and 4 a.m.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Community Foundation Awards Scholarships — “The Arlington Community Foundation awarded new college scholarships totaling more than $540,000 to 72 students who will attend college next year. An additional 105 scholarships totaling $281,000 were renewed for returning college students, for a total of 177 recipients.” [Press Release]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Arlington Diocese Releases List of Accused Priests — “Virginia’s two Catholic dioceses on Wednesday released lists of clergy who officials say were deemed ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing youth… The Diocese of Arlington, which covers the northeastern corner of Virginia, released a list of 16 names.” [Washington Post, Diocese of Arlington]
ACPD Restaurant Initiative Deemed a Success — “Arlington County, Virginia, is trying to fight drunken driving, and its method may prove to be a model for the nation.” [WTOP]
Cristol Quoted in the New Yorker — “‘We have an agenda that is about equity and anti-racist goals, and I don’t think he can effectively lead on it,’ [Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol] said, referring to the governor. As for Fairfax, she said, she had thought, after the first allegation, that ‘there might be a way forward for him to recognize harm done’ and stay in office. After the second, it seemed clear to her that there was an indefensible pattern of behavior.” [The New Yorker]
Arlington Man Arrested for 2016 Rape — “Alexandria Police have arrested a man who they say abducted and raped a lifeguard in broad daylight from a pool on South Pickett Street in 2016.” [Fox 5]
Hope’s Assisted-Living Bill Passes — “The derecho that came through Arlington several years ago inspired me to bring this bill and work to make sure, at a minimum, prospective residents knew whether their assisted living facility had a generator in case of loss of power.” [InsideNova, Twitter]
Sheriff’s Office Helping With Scholarships — “The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office is helping the Virginia Sheriffs’ Institute raise college scholarship funds for Virginia residents majoring in criminal justice.” [Arlington County]
‘Meeting Bowls’ Coming to Courthouse — A new, temporary public art installation is coming to Courthouse. Workers will be building 5-foot high “meeting bowls,” designed by the Spanish art collective “mmmm….,” and featuring an 8-foot long circular bench inside. The bowls, which are meant to be used by passersby, are expected to be completed by Monday, July 17 and will remain in place until November. [Washingtonian]
Pentagon City Residents Peeved by Shopping Carts — Legions of stray shopping carts are getting on the nerves of Pentagon City residents, NBC 4’s Julie Carey reported during a news broadcast last night. [NBC Washington, Twitter]
Scholarships Awarded to Wakefield Students — “The Wakefield High School Education Foundation recently awarded 27 scholarships totaling $201,000, bringing the total number of scholarships presented over the history of the foundation to 400 and the total dollar amount of scholarships and teacher grants to more than $2.25 million.” [InsideNova]
Local Author Pens New Thriller — Arlington resident Bill Schweigart, author of the Beast of Barcroft, a supernatural thriller set in Arlington, has penned another book of local interest: The Devil’s Colony, which features a fictional Arlington resident as its main character. [Penguin Random House]
Nearby: Montgomery Co. Consider Plane Noise Suit — Montgomery County, Maryland has hired a law firm to explore legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration in response to new flight paths that have produced a dramatic increase in aircraft noise complaints. The flight paths were implemented in 2015 as part of the FAA’s NextGen system and have prompted some complaints in Arlington and D.C. as well. [Bethesda Beat]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
All 15 high school graduates from the pilot year of AHC Inc.’s new college guidance program will progress into higher education.
This year, the seniors applied to 71 schools and were accepted into 54. Together, they received nearly $500,000 in scholarship money, including full rides to Georgetown University and the University of Pennsylvania. Many of the students are the first members of their family to attend college.
AHC, an Arlington-based affordable housing provider, hosted a celebration Monday night at the Lyon Park Community Center for the graduates, their families and mentors.
The free mentoring program is part of AHC’s resident services program, which began in 1993. The initiative is designed to provide students of all ages with something productive to do in their afternoons.
The program includes after-school activities for elementary school students, tutoring for middle and high school students and now a mentoring program to help high school seniors with the college process.
Each senior is paired with an adult for an entire year. The mentors aid their students with the college process, including financial aid, essays and scholarship applications.
Jasmine Connor began working with her mentor, Marjorie Macieria, in the fall.
“Working with Marjorie was the best. We clicked,” Connor said.
The two met weekly, primarily focusing on scholarship applications, of which Connor has received two: the “We Are the Dream” oratorical scholarship and the Arlington School Administrators Spirit Award. The scholarships will help fund Connor’s ambition to graduate debt-free from Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University.
Connor plans to pursue a major in Early Childhood Development with a minor in Special Education. She has been inspired by her own teachers to help students with learning disabilities.
“Just because you have a learning disability, that doesn’t mean anything,” she said. ”I have one and I got two scholarships and I’m going to college.”
Kyle Yapching-Galang began working with his mentor, Carter Vaden, in the seventh grade. Initially, she tutored him in French and then branched out to help him with English. While Vaden did not help Yapching-Galang with his college applications, she has been a part of his school career for six years.
“She’s a really good friend who helps me when I’m struggling or when I’m angsty,” Yapching-Galang said.
Vaden said she has seen Yapching-Galang grown from a shy middle-schooler into a confident adult. Yapching-Galang plans to attend Northern Virginia Community College in the fall.
Zanab Farooq has been attending AHC’s programs since pre-school. Yet, she credits her mentor of the past year, Joseph Maltby, for helping her get into college.
“I don’t think I would’ve gotten into college without him,” Farooq said. “He knew what to do, what not to do and how to stay on top of things.”
Farooq will be attending the University of Mary Washington in the fall, where she hopes to major in Marketing. With various scholarships secured, all she has to pay for is textbooks and a meal plan.
During the celebratory dinner, guest speaker and local Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) said he was proud of the graduates’ achievements.
“You are what we need. You are medicine,” he said. “You are the source of pleasure and accomplishment and hope for everything that ails every community. Your thirst for education and knowledge and the fact that you’ve done it, says so much about you.”
Firings at Peter Chang After Receipt Incident — Three employees have reportedly been fired and the chef’s own daughter is also on the chopping block at Peter Chang restaurant along Lee Highway. The firings come after a server included the insults “i have a small penis” and “im a plad [sic] a**hole” on a customer receipt. Chang has promised to improve service at his restaurant. [Washington Post]
Arlington Restaurants on Cheap Eats List — More than a dozen Arlington eateries have been included in Washingtonian magazine’s list of the top 100 inexpensive restaurants in the D.C. area. Among them: Bayou Bakery, Cheesetique, Pupatella, Ray’s Hell Burger, Yona and Peter Chang. [Washingtonian]
Video of Track Issue at Court House Station — A video taken inside the Court House Metro station shows sparks and smoldering from the track area. The video comes after a number of well-publicized electrical issues at Metro. “It was kind of weird watching infrastructure fail before my very eyes,” said the man who took the video. [Washington Post]
Tech Company Saves the Day for Theft Victims — Course Hero, a Silicon Valley-based company that provides study materials, has paid for a scholarship for the Penn State student whose mom left her purse, with $10,000 in tuition money inside, in an
Arlington Falls Church Dunkin Donuts. Police still have not found the woman who stole the purse. [NBC Washington]
Most of Crystal City Could Change Hands — Vornado, the property owner that owns more than half of the square footage in Crystal City, is considering spinning off its D.C. properties from those it owns in New York. [Washington Post]
D.C. Complaining About DCA Flights — D.C.’s attorney general has sent an email to the FAA asking that flights to and from Reagan National Airport be shifted away from the District. In 2015 the FAA received 8,670 noise complaints from those in the District, 6,500 of them from the same person. [Washington Post]
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.”
Brian McGrail and Emma Pierson will receive funding to study at Oxford University in the United Kingdom for two to three years starting in October 2014. They were selected among a pool of more than 1,000 applicants.
McGrail lives in Arlington Forest, while Pierson’s home is in the Williamsburg neighborhood.
The Rhodes Scholarships were were created in 1902 to be given to students who meet the criteria of “high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership, and physical vigor.” McGrail and Pierson are now among 3,324 Americans who have ever been named Rhodes Scholars. From the Rhodes Trust’s announcement, here are brief biographies of Arlington’s two winners:
Brian W. McGrail, Arlington, is a senior at Williams College where he majors in political economy and history. A Truman Scholar and elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior, Brian is doing research on the effect of tax rates on income inequality, and on behavioral responses to taxation. Politically active, he is president of the Williams College Democrats, and interned on the Elizabeth Warren Senate campaign. He also serves on several college councils and committees. He has volunteered to help those with low income prepare their taxes, is a teaching assistant and peer tutor, and is a four-year member of the Williams varsity cross country team. At Oxford, he plans to do the M.Sc. in comparative social policy.
Emma Pierson, Arlington, graduated from Stanford in June with a B.S. in physics and an M.S. in computer science. Her classroom work was augmented by research in cognitive psychology and biocomputation. Emma is now working for Coursera, which provides free online education. She was president of the Stanford Debate Society, and won second place in the U.S. national debate championships. She also has done statistical analyses of sexism in sports and in responses to sexual assault trials, and has volunteered as a tutor. Emma intends to do a D.Phil. in computational biology at Oxford.