The Fishing School

The Fishing School

Maintain and Sustain

TFS was founded in 1990 and initially served five students.  It now serves over 400 youth daily, operates embedded programs at four schools, runs in-depth summer and school year programs, and is building out its Middle School and Parent Engagement Programs to extend its impact.  Since 2008, the annual operating budget has grown from $838,784 to $1.7 million, and internal support systems have been expanded to create a more stable administrative and development structure.  TFS has grown from a small, grassroots nonprofit to a vibrant and expanding leader in the out-of-school time (OST) community, with a model that can be replicated across the region, or even nation.

In 2012, TFS underwent an extensive organizational assessment and developed an implementation plan to ensure long-term stability.  This process identified five strategic imperatives for the following years: (1) designing and implementing a refined program model; (2) developing sustainability, growth, replication plans, and support systems; (3) expanding TFS’ revenue streams, networks, and visibility; (4) strengthening and energizing the Board of Directors; and (5) creating a strong communications and engagement plan.  Significant progress has been made on each imperative, resulting in TFS’ strong current financial and strategic position.

Organizational success has led to new opportunities for capacity-scaling, community partnerships, higher visibility, an expanded funding network, and enhanced programming.  TFS works tirelessly to create its current climate of opportunity and is on the threshold of becoming a large-scale, transformative force within the community.  Ongoing progress will allow for this continued expansion, organizational solidification, and success.

To better position TFS for expansion and growth opportunities, in 2015, we secured two multi-year grants for rebranding and technology enhancement efforts.  A rebranding grant from the Meyer Foundation made it possible for TFS to update communication and branding tools.  A part of this effort seeks to increase TFS’ web presence, ultimately increasing the organization’s profile in the region and helping to leverage support for ongoing and expanding programs.  Similarly, a multi-year City Fund grant from the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region is helping to further infuse technology in programming and improve TFS’ organization capacity through an improved data and evaluation system, cost-effective operation, and strengthened management capacity.

In order to promote stable and sustained operations, TFS implements a fundraising plan on an annual basis, setting goals correlated with the operating budget.  We have also established a formal reserve fund for the first time in the history of TFS and developed the requisite policies and guidelines for proper fund management and investment policies for fund growth.  These long-term financial planning strategies will help TFS achieve the targeted outcomes and long-term goals of helping students break the cycle of poverty.

For more information about The Fishing School and to get involved, please visit, or call (202) 399-3618.

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