The Fishing School

About Us

What is The Fishing School?

While The Fishing School is not actually a fishing program (we know you were wondering!), in a sense, we do teach our students to fish. We teach students to fish in the rivers of their minds by engaging them in high-quality, research-based programming, encouraging higher academic outcomes, and enhancing the creative thinking skills that will take them further in high school and beyond.

Our programs are multi-year, ensuring that each student continues to receive the support they need in some of the most underserved communities in Washington, DC. Our offerings also place a heavy emphasis on parent engagement, as we believe this is integral to the success of our students.

Since 1990, our programs have reached over 7,000 youth and their families. With more than 29 years of experience, TFS combines a deep understanding of industry research and best practices with an extensive understanding of the communities in which we work. Currently, we serve over 400 students daily at our four partner schools through our innovative two-generational Cohort Model – a unique, multi-year, out-of-school time program delivery model.

So, although we do not offer programming that teaches students to fish in the literal sense, we do provide them with the tools they will need to reel in success and thrive academically, economically, and socially for years to come.


In 1990, Tom Lewis, a former Metropolitan Police Department officer, opened The Fishing School in a renovated, former crack house on Wylie Street in Northeast DC in one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the District.

Despite having dropped out of high school, Mr. Lewis worked to climb out of poverty and earn his GED, eventually earning a degree from American University. As an MPD officer assigned for most of his career to the Officer Friendly program, he came across a number of students whose families had been affected by drug use, poverty, and incarceration. Growing up as one of 16 children in abject poverty himself, Mr. Lewis understood the need for positive role models and parental figures in children’s lives. He promised that once he retired, he would continue to work to bring about positive change for the youth of DC.

He believed then, as we do today, that education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. What began as a program serving five children with an annual budget of $2,100, evolved into a highly effective out-of-school time program that now serves more than 400 youth and their parents.

Click here to learn more about our founder Mr. Tom Lewis.