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Ward 4 Dispatch: Budget Ups and Downs, Kennedy Street Library, and Celebrating Zenith Gallery

Dear Neighbors,

Happy first week of April! With spring here, there are a number of exciting community events coming up that I hope you can get outside and enjoy with friends and neighbors.

The annual DC Government budget was released to the public this week, so it was a busy couple of days on the Council. My Committee on Facilities and Family Services also held its first hearing on the budget today. There’s a lot to report, so let’s get right into it.

FY25 Budget Release & Funding for Whittier

On Tuesday afternoon my office received the amazing news that Whittier Elementary has officially secured funding for neighborhood swing space while the school building is modernized over the coming years. Our Ward 4 community has been waiting for this news for months and can finally rest easy knowing that our students will have a suitable place to learn while their over 100-year-old building undergoes much-needed renovations. This funding will also make sure we maintain enrollment and teacher retention, and limit overcrowding in Ida B. Wells Middle School and Coolidge Senior High School. While the “learning cottages” are being built in the neighborhood, I will continue to work with the Department of General Services to support Whittier’s maintenance needs. We have already secured $125,000 for the school’s HVAC system, and I look forward to securing the remaining funds needed for these repairs.

On Tuesday night, Mayor Bowser publicly released her proposed FY25 budget to the Council for review. My team immediately jumped into the over 2,000-page document to determine what would be funded, and what would need to be negotiated in the coming months. Ultimately, the proposed budget includes wins for Ward 4, but also raises serious concerns that must be addressed. To start with the good news, in addition to funding modular space for Whittier Elementary School, the budget allocates $36 million to modernize the Upshur Recreation Center, $31 million for a new pool at The Parks at Walter Reed, $13 million to modernize the Emery Heights Community Center, and funds the Lafayette-Pointer erosion and field project. These are hard-fought wins that will strengthen our Ward 4 community in the coming years. 

However, much of the remainder of the budget misses the mark for DC families, and Ward 4 specifically. The budget makes harmful cuts to human services, cutting $22 million for rental assistance and $18 million for Permanent Supportive Housing. It repeals increases to the Earned Income Tax Credit, raises DC’s regressive sales tax, and cuts vital public safety programs like violence interruption and victim services. As the Chair of the Facilities and Family Services Committee, I was disappointed to see the elimination of the Office of the Ombudsperson for Families and Children, which helps improve outcomes for children involved with the Child and Family Services Agency. I’m also concerned about the Mayor choosing to defund the Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund. This is a pioneering program I worked hard to develop and that helps DC’s childcare workers earn the wages they deserve. The Mayor’s decision is unacceptable, and I will work hard to ensure every penny designated for this program is restored.

Looking ahead, there will be many more conversations to come about what will and won’t be included in the final budget plan. Committee oversight hearings began this week, meaning the Council will be able to dive into the details, make changes, and most importantly, hear the public testimony of the people of DC. There’s a lot of work to be done in the months ahead, but I remain hopeful about addressing the budget’s shortfalls.

Kennedy Street Library 

As you may have seen, we were disappointed to find out that the Mayor’s budget would also eliminate funds to buy land for a public library on Kennedy Street. The proposed budget also repeals my law requiring the Juanita E. Thornton-Shepherd Park Library stay at its existing location. I have heard concerns from the community about both of these matters and share many of your worries about what this could mean for the progress we have made on this important project.

As our Brightwood Park and Manor Park neighbors know well, the area around Kennedy Street is in desperate need of a library. Nobody should have to travel more than a mile to check out a book, print documents, or even access reliable Wi-Fi. Our community also deserves a space that can serve other important neighborhood functions, like a jobs center, affordable housing, and a community meeting space. Bringing these important resources to Brightwood Park and Manor Park is a necessity for Ward 4, and the urgency of achieving these goals will not be diminished. I will continue to work within the community and will keep you all updated as we push for policies to meet this need.

The Living Donor Protection Act

April 3rd was Donate Life Living Donor Day, a day that celebrates the thousands of people nationwide who have donated organs to those who need them most. There are more than 500 people in DC who have made this selfless decision. However, insurance companies can and often do discriminate against living donors with higher insurance rates solely due to their donor status. On Wednesday, I co-introduced legislation that would protect living organ donors in DC from facing this type of discrimination. 

This bill is of special importance to me and my family. Recently, my husband, Kyle, made the decision to become an organ donor and donate his kidney to his father. It was a deeply personal and brave choice that many others have made in our community. I’m proud that DC will take this step to make sure that people like Kyle will not be unjustifiably punished for a choice they made to help others in need.

Recognizing Zenith Gallery

At Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, the Council unanimously voted to recognize Ward 4’s Zenith Gallery for its 46 years of contribution to the DC community. Zenith was founded by Ward 4’s Margery Goldberg in 1978 when she was just 27 years old and has since become one of the foremost and longest-running art galleries in the city, sharing local, national, and international artists’ works with the community. 

Margery herself has broken many barriers. She was one of the first women in America to have her own woodworking studio and has displayed over 300 works of art in galleries throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. She has also appeared in ten one-woman shows and more than 40 group shows in 13 U.S. cities. Congratulations to Margery and Zenith Gallery on this well-deserved honor!

Community Resources

Flag Football Registration

Registration for flag football is open until April 12th! The DPR program is designed to teach players the fundamentals of flag football and promote exercise and competition for boys and girls ages 8-14. DPR flag football is non-contact, costs $25 per participant for DC residents, and runs from April 20 to May 25. Visit for more information.

Thornton Library Used Book Sale

On Saturday, April 13th from 10am to 4pm and on Sunday, April 14th from 1pm to 4pm, the Friends of Juanita E. Thornton-Shepherd Park Library will be hosting a used book sale at the library. The event will feature over two thousand books, CDs, and DVDs, with no item costing more than a dollar. Plus, kids books will cost just 50 cents each, and bulk purchases will be discounted!

DDOT E-Bike Subsidies for Eligible Residents

Until April 15th, DDOT will be accepting applications for the District E-Bike Incentive Program, which provides up to $2,000 for DC residents to buy electric bicycles (e-bikes) and supports bicycle businesses in the District. The first phase of the program is limited to DC residents on SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, or DC Healthcare Alliance. In the unlikely event funds are still available after this initial phase prioritizing lower-income residents, a second application window will open that any DC resident can apply for. Learn more about the program, application process, and pop-up events on DDOT’s website.

Apply for Tuition Support from DC

Applications opened last month for DC Futures, DC Tuition Assistance Grant (DC TAG), and the Mayor’s Scholars Undergraduate Program. These are three popular tuition support programs for DC residents pursuing higher education. Applications will close on Friday, September 6th. Learn more and apply!

DC Water Rate Adjustment Town Halls

After holding its first virtual town hall on Thursday, DC Water will be holding its final event on April 30th at 6pm to give community members more information about DC Water’s budget and proposed rate adjustment for next year. The meeting will take place on Microsoft Teams. Learn more about the town hall and sign up here.

DPW Community Conversation

The Department of Public Works will be holding its second 2024 quarterly Community Conversation on April 24th at 6:30pm. The conversation will be a chance for residents to learn about what DPW has been doing in their communities and hear directly from DPW leaders about the services they provide. Sign up here!

Roosevelt High Host Families

From May 28th – June 1st, Roosevelt High School will host 16 students and 3 chaperones from Homburg, Germany. Roosevelt High is looking for families who would be interested in hosting students in their homes for the duration of their stay. Responsibilities would include providing dinner during the week and meals on the weekends, taking part in activities on the weekends, and answering questions about DC and the United States in general. For families who are interested, sign up here!

Neighborhood Events

Summer at the City

On Saturday, April 6th from 11am to 2pm, the Office of the Mayor and the Office of Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes will be holding the second annual “Summer in the City,” at Raymond Elementary School. Parents and families of school aged kids are invited to connect with government agencies, nonprofits, and community organizations and learn about the summer programs available to their students for the upcoming months. 

Rock Creek Conservancy Extreme Cleanup

On Saturday, April 6th, the Rock Creek Conservancy will be leading its 14th annual Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup, bringing volunteers together the support the Conservancy’s restoration efforts in the park. The 2024 Extreme Cleanup will kick with numerous events Saturday morning, followed by a celebration at Fort Slocum at noon. Learn more here!

Grant Circle Clean-Up

On Sunday, April 14th from 10am to 12pm, ANC 4C will be teaming up with Petworth Blooms to lead a community clean-up on the north side of Grant Circle. In addition to picking up trash, volunteers will be able to plant flowers and plants in the large pots in the Grant Circle playground. Kids are encouraged to join, and all supplies will be provided. Sign up here!

DC Emancipation Day!

April 16th is DC Emancipation Day, the anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln signing a bill abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia. On Sunday, April 14th, the city will be holding an Emancipation Day celebration in Freedom Plaza, featuring a parade, concert, and fireworks. RSVP and learn more here!

Thornton Library Teen Game Space

On Friday, April 19th from 3pm to 5pm, the Juanita E. Thornton-Shepherd Park Library will be hosting an after-school program for teens to play Nintendo Switch, socialize, and have fun. Participants ages 13-19 are encouraged to attend!

For more local events, check out DPR, DC Public Library, and NPS.

Ward 4 in the News

Petworth News: National poetry month is here, and so is DCPL’s annual Haiku Contest!

DC News Now: ‘He was family’: DC rapper mourned after he was killed in robbery

DC News Now: WMATA shares details on summer Red Line construction plan

Petworth News: Check out the Petworth PorchFest schedule, map & more!

The beginning of budget season is always an action-packed time on the Council, and this week was no different. In addition to joining hearings of the Committee of the Whole, I was particularly excited to hold my first oversight hearing of the season for the Committee on Facilities and Family Services, where we heard from members of the public on the FY25 budget.

Speaking of which, you can still sign up to testify in-person or virtually at an upcoming public hearing. To do so, visit

But even with all of the hearings and policy conversations dominating the week, I was grateful to be able to spend time in the community. On Monday, my team got to attend opening day at Nationals Park and kick off the new baseball season together. And on Thursday, I joined for a Commanders Walk at The Parks at Walter Reed, where we discussed ways to improve public safety concerns in the area with ANC 4A Commissioners Hara and Edwards, and 4th District Commander Lavenhouse.

We have a number of exciting community events coming up in Ward 4, and I’ll be sharing them here and on my social media as they approach. I encourage all of you to check the list of events and sign up to attend!

Have a great weekend, Ward 4!

Yours in Community,