About The Next Step

Who We Are

Our mission is to provide students who face extraordinary challenges and who are not supported in traditional high schools with the opportunity to continue their education. Originally chartered in 1996 by the Board of Education and unanimously granted a renewed charter in April 2011 by the DC Public Charter School Board of Trustees, we are the oldest public charter school in DC.

What We Do

We offer a bilingual ABE (adult basic education), GED, and ESL program open to all youth between the ages 16-30.

Class sizes are small and the student support services department staff includes social workers, case managers, attendance and transportation coordinators, and college and career counselors. Three free, healthy meals per day are available to students and free childcare is offered on-site.

The program is offered year-round, with a minimum of 195 instructional days and has developed a curriculum aligned with the national common core standards and the GED examination. We use differentiated instruction, instructional technology, restorative practices and tutors to accommodate a diverse student body. Students receive guidance in order to continue their education beyond the GED at community college, vocational education programs and/or further English proficiency courses.


Who We Serve

With a full-time day program and part-time evening program, we serve approximately 500 students per year who are some of the most at-risk youth in our city. Over 70% of our students are English language learners; about 20% are parents themselves. Incoming students test at an average of fourth to fifth grade-level in their native language. We offer these students a full academic program in English and Spanish with flexible placement and pacing, extensive and wraparound case management and life skills instruction.

Our History


The Next Step originated in a program for young parents developed by The Latin American Youth Center (LAYC). As the Teen Parent Program, we 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 The Next Step is an independent educational institution, our students continue to benefit from our close relationship with LAYC, and take advantage of the Youth Center's many excellent programs.

Since our early days, we have expanded our enrollment and have opened its doors to all out-of-school youth in the city. Today, The Next Step serves approximately 500 youth between the ages of 16 and 30 who are working to pass the GED, learn English, go to college or trade school, and prepare for a career.

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).

Since 2004, The Next Step has been accredited three times by The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (2004, 2009, 2014).