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$25M Grant Helps Ward 7 Neighborhood

2/13/2013, 4:16 p.m.

"Data shows that by helping the moms, the entire family will succeed as she'll advocate for the children," said Sharita Slayton, 48, DCPNI director of resident engagement for the last two years and a three-term elected advisory neighborhood commissioner. The growing body of evidence shows that interventions must address the needs of both vulnerable children and their parents, particularly mothers.

Scales said the two-model approach was personal.

"I'm coming at this position from a very personal place," said Scales, a single mother of a teenager. Scales' parents divorced by the time she was seven. "My mom decided she wanted to go to college when I was four. She wanted to improve the quality of life for me and my brothers."

She saw her mother every night, after taking care of her family, pulling out the books to study.

"What a powerful image that is for a child," said Scales, adding that her mother became the first in the family to attend college. "Things were going on around us, and she was focused. She was a role model."

Scales earned a bachelor's degree from Kent State University in Ohio and is an alum of the National Urban Fellows Program where she earned a master's from Baruch College in New York. Before heading up DCPNI, Scales served as an interim executive director for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, a public grant-making agency that supports cultural development in the city, and was a project manager at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

"Our goal is to increase the number of children in our community who have access to a quality education, graduate from high school, obtain college or vocational degrees and become successful in their careers and communities," Scales added. "We're thrilled to receive this pivotal funding."