There is shocking news this morning that the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation is closing its doors. This is the same organization that former D.C. Councilman Harry Thomas, Jr. had utilized beginning in 2007 to steal over $350,000 in money targeted to helping low income youth. He instead funneled the cash to himself for the purchase of items like a car and boat and to payback personal loans.
The Washington Post’s Aaron Davis reveals today that after receiving a clean financial audit only a year ago, “in a series of revelations that began in January, the [DC Trust] board learned that former executive director Ed Davies and senior financial officer Earl Hamilton had used taxpayer funds to pay tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of credit-card charges, including some for personal use. Some of the expenses charged by Davies included meals and travel costs for his family members.” The board’s current members have determined that the group is insolvent and will shut it down. Eighteen employees will lose their jobs as a result of the fiscal mismanagement.
In 2015, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who the Post states controls the selection of four board members, injected $700,000 into the Trust for youth violence prevention programs as a result of a jump in murders of over 50 percent.
The reason this development is so significant is that up until last September the DC Trust administered the Opportunity Scholarship Program, the private school voucher plan for low income children. The Trust had taken over the OSP from Joe Robert’s Washington Scholarship Fund in 2010. Mr. Robert closed the WSF, which had run the Opportunity Scholarship Program since its legislative inception by Congress in 2004, rather than battle with the U.S. Department of Education’s efforts to kill it.
In a fierce behind-the-scenes struggle last summer the contract for managing the OSP was won by Serving Our Children, a non-profit headed by board member Kevin Chavous and whose staff is led by Rachel Sotsky, the deputy legislative director for former Senator Joseph Lieberman when the SOAR Act was created. The SOAR Act contains within it the three sector federal dollars that provides money for DCPS, D.C. charter schools, and the private school vouchers.
All I can say is that due to the efforts of many local heroes the OSP now has a home where the effort to improve the academic achievement of low income kids can be expanded and strengthened. Despite all of the numerous political twists and turns the future looks exceedingly bright for this educational life-preserver.