DC-CAP Talent Show Wows Crowd

4/3/2013, 10 a.m.

Of the finalists, five were vocalists, three were instrumentalists and two danced. The high energy Tango, Salsa and Flamenco numbers, the congas and marachas, coupled with the driving music of Richie Valens, Carlos Santana, Gloria Estefan and Marc Anthony defined the show's Latin theme. The semifinalists, adorned in costumes bearing a fluorescent rainbow of colors, danced and sang before and after the 10 finalists performed.

At a reception following the gala, former Washington Redskins great Ken Harvey shook his head in amazement and laughed.

"It was outstanding. It's one of the things you want to invite all your friends to," he said. "The level of talent of the kids was amazing. Every year, it seems to get better. The criticisms of the judges [had] very few words of correction. That tells you about the level of talent of these young people."

Amneris Rodriguez agreed.

"I've been here before and the caliber has come up, definitely," said the D.C. resident. "It's more competitive and the talent has skyrocketed. It was one of those competitions where you didn't know who'd win."

The talent show and the reception were underwritten by His Excellency Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba of the United Arab Emirates who said he was honored to be supporting such a worthwhile cause.

"DC-CAP is an important and essential community organization [in Northwest] that has had a direct impact on the lives of thousands of students in Washington, D.C. in a very short time," the ambassador said. "By providing talented and driven area students with needed resources to pursue their higher education, DC-CAP has attracted a broad base of support from sponsors and contributors who see the value of the work that the organization is doing."

"There is no reason why every child in Washington, D.C. should not have the ability and opportunity to pursue higher education, and I commend DC-CAP's pursuit of this goal."

Each time he attends this special event, Al Otaiba said, he's "simply blown away by the talent, dedication and skill of all of the student performers."

"This year's show was no different. In fact, it might have been the best one yet. All 10 finalists who performed should be proud of themselves for performing and displaying their artistic abilities in front of such a crowd."

Former Virginia Congressman Tom Davis (R), chief sponsor of the bill that created DC-CAP, said what he saw during the program was proof of the program's effectiveness.

"It allows D.C. kids to pay in-state tuition and makes college an affordable dream. And, DC-CAP has made that even better in terms of opportunity," he said.

DC-CAP is a privately funded non-profit organization established in 1998 with the expressed purpose of encouraging and enabling all students attending the District's public and public charter high school to enroll in and graduate from college. Over the past 13 years, it has helped almost 18,000 students enroll in college, awarded $26,000,000 in college scholarships and supported the success of 3,800 college graduates.

Argelia Rodriguez, who has headed DC-CAP since 1999, said she's gratified to see young people succeed.

When the program started, she said, between 25-30 percent of high school graduates were going on to college. Now, that figure stands at 52 percent. In addition, the average college graduation rate is now 40 percent, up from 15 percent over the past 10 years.

"A lot of our kids get beat down and often don't have resources. Seeing them reach their potential is great. We get to see kids flourish possibly in ways they might not have otherwise.Tuition assistance grants have made the difference," she said.