Black Swan Academy

The programs


Black Swan Academy operates both an after-school program for middle school students and a youth civic leadership program for high school students in the Southeast area of DC. The middle school students are taught a curriculum that emphasizes community engagement and leadership, as well as the value of their own potential and ability to make an impact.

Students are brought together in groups and asked to identify a problem they see in their school and neighborhoods and work to address it through community service. This year, middle school students chose to focus on homelessness. They hosted a Winter Clothing Drive to collect clothing to give to those in need.

 Currently, 20 juniors and seniors from Southeast DC high schools are involved in the youth civic leadership program, which involves professional and personal development workshops and volunteering as mentors for the middle-school students twice a week.

The BSA website states: “Civic engagement has the power to change not only an individual’s life outcomes but also the communities in which they live. The level of civic knowledge and engagement obtained by one person has been linked to economic growth within the community and an increase of positive life outcomes for civic individuals.”


 In the short-term, Black Swan Academy’s main goal is to build a deeper and longer-lasting relationship with its current students.

“We want to increase their cumulative GPA’s, get them to attend school more often, and better their social and emotional development,” said founder Samantha Davis. Looking past the middle school years, Davis wants to see an increase in the number of students who graduate high school and go to college.

“I would love to see an increase in black civic leaders in every sector, who can come back and lead others in the community to have a civic mindset as well.”

About the Author: Marisa Weidner is a graduate of The College of William and Mary. She has volunteered as a teacher in Belize, and in homeless shelters in the United States. Marisa chronicles her explorations of DC on her blog, The Curated City