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Winner of the 27th Annual DC Mayor's Arts Award for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education

Winner of the 27th Annual DC Mayor's Arts Award for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education

Proud Member of the United Way

United Way of the National Capital Area (UWNCA) #9633

Catalogue for Philanthropy

We are proud to have been named as "One of Washington DC's 100 Best Small Charities" by the Catalogue for Philanthropy.

Decario’s Story: A Success in the Making!

“Because of books, I have a totally different understanding of my life
and of the world around me.”

Decario joined Free Minds at barely 16 years old when he was arrested and charged as an adult with armed robbery. The child of a crack-addicted mother, Decario had always struggled with reading and writing and was behind several grade levels in school where he was placed in special education classes. Decario had never read an entire book before he arrived at the DC Jail, but he came to the book club anyway. When he completed his first book, Dark, by Kenji Jasper, Decario was extremely thrilled and proud. He began to request more books and write

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Free Minds Branches Out!


In April, Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop assumed programming duties for The Beat Within writing workshop at New Beginnings Youth Development Center, DC’s Juvenile Detention Facility. The Beat Within also publishes a weekly magazine of youth writing; Free Minds members have been regular contributors for years. Now, Free Minds is building on this longstanding partnership by co-facilitating weekly writing workshops with The Beat Within and DC Youth Slam Team.

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“On the Same Page” Reaches Many Audiences

By Free Minds Intern Abby Taskier

Free Minds Poet Ambassadors outside Center City Public Charter School.

Free Minds’ “On the Same Page” outreach program visited both Cesar Chavez Public Policy High School and Center City Public Charter School in Spring 2013. At Cesar Chavez, Poet Ambassadors Gary, Andre, Latrae and Michael came to speak individually about their experiences during incarceration, the stigma a formerly incarcerated person might feel, and the harsh nature of reentry. Joining the Free Minds team at Cesar Chavez were two women from the Ronald McDonald House Charities, important and long lasting supporters of Free Minds.

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Guest Authors Visit the Book Club

Author Walter Dean Myers with Free Minds Founders Tara and Kelli outside the DC Jail.

In 2012, Free Minds was honored to host several guest authors at the DC Jail! Many of the 16- and 17-year-old members of the Book Club have never read a book before coming to the jail. It is incredibly powerful not only to be able to connect with a book for the first time, but to meet the author as well! We are grateful to the authors who demonstrate their dedication and generosity of spirit by joining us for one of our weekly Book Club meetings.

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