Hillary Clinton is scheduled to headline a fundraiser in the District next month commemorating the 20th anniversary of Maya Angelou Schools, a group of alternative charter schools for disadvantaged teenagers, many of whom have juvenile records.
The schools and their foundation, See Forever, operate a public charter high school, a workforce development and learning center, and a school inside a D.C. juvenile justice facility.
The May 23 event at Union Market will raise money to expand job training, residential facilities and social service offerings at the schools.
“This is the heart of a lot of what [Clinton] believes and the work that she believes in,” said Heather Wathington, chief executive of the Maya Angelou Schools and the See Forever Foundation. “We thought it was a great opportunity and great time to have her come back and talk about what else D.C. and other cities can do to support youth who are off track.”
Maya Angelou Schools is a fundraising powerhouse that has long attracted big names to its events. Between fiscal year 2014 and 2016, the school raised an average of $3.2 million a year, most of it through a multiyear capital campaign to renovate one of its campuses, according to financial data from the D.C. Public Charter School Board.
The Clintons and the school’s namesake, Maya Angelou, have been among the most prominent visitors.
The students at the first campus voted to name it after Angelou, who later developed a relationship with the students and made annual visits to the campus. Angelou read a poem at President Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration, and she reportedly had a close relationship with the political couple.
Bill Clinton delivered remarks at a 2012 fundraiser for the school at the Kuwaiti Embassy. Angelou, who died in 2014, attended, along with ambassadors and other political luminaries, including former Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan and Arne Duncan, who was U.S. education secretary at the time.
The school was founded by lawyers David Domenici and James Forman Jr., who won the Pulitzer Prize this week for his book, “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.”
Individual tickets for the event cost $150. Sponsorships run between $150 and $50,000. Students from Maya Angelou Schools will perform, and students who are enrolled in the group’s hospitality program will help with serving food.
A spokesman for Hillary Clinton did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Clinton is volunteering her time.
Wathington said the school plays a critical role in the city because it serves youths who have languished in the traditional school system and need alternative schooling. According to the See Forever Foundation, many of the students who attend the academy in the correctional facility enroll in college a few months after their release — a rare occurrence in the juvenile justice system.
“We have tried to pay attention to the needs of our youth and stay on mission to help them be successful,” Wathington said.
During Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, the Democratic Party nominee called for “an end to the era of mass incarceration” and said the disproportionately high arrest rates of African Americans were a critical national issue. But critics said she bears some responsibilities for her husband’s 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, for which she was an advocate at the time. The bill created longer mandatory sentences, reclassified less-
serious crimes as felonies and put tens of thousands of additional police officers on the streets across the country.
On the 2016 campaign trail, Clinton denounced some of the tough-on-crime laws and called for sweeping criminal justice reform.