Imagine learning English for the first time, becoming the sole caregiver for a child, or holding a service job with unpredictable hours. Now imagine doing that while still in school. For many of our young students, this is simply their reality, and traditional high schools have not been able to offer the support they need.
Next Step Public Charter School is not a traditional school. Founded to provide at-risk youth with the tools and services they need to finish high school, complete the GED exam, and move onward to college or a vocational program, NSPCS pairs a comprehensive academic program with life skills education, workshops in parenting, and programs in career readiness and financial literacy. For students with limited English skills, or learning English as a Second Language, we do not take the traditional high school approach of english immersion, instead we help students boost their academics in Spanish and then transfer their knowledge into English which proves far more successful. For students who face extraordinary challenges, Next Step is truly the first step towards a new life.
The Next Step originated in a program for young parents developed by The Latin American Youth Center. The Teen Parent Program provided pregnant and parenting teens with an alternative educational option that would enable them to increase their academic level, prevent future pregnancies, improve parenting skills, and increase self-esteem. When the District of Columbia began permitting charter schools in 1996, The Next Step became one of the first schools to earn a charter from the Board of Education. From 1996-2012 the school occupied the second floor of the Latin American Youth Center.
Although an independent agency, Next Step students benefit from the school's close relationship with LAYC, and take advantage of the Youth Center's many excellent programs. Since its early days, The Next Step has expanded its enrollment and opened its doors to all out-of-school youth in the city. Today the school serves over 300 youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are working to pass the GED, learn English, go to college or trade school, and prepare for a career.
The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools accredited The Next Step in 2004 and reaccredited the school in 2009. In 2010, The Public Charter School Board reauthorized The Next Step to operate for 15 more years, the first charter in D.C. to successfully complete this review process. The Next Step continues to grow, although it intentionally commits to maintaining a small, family atmosphere where every student is known personally. In August 2012, The Next Step relocated from its long-time location on Columbia Road to a larger space at 3047 15th St., NW (former site of the Capital City Charter School).