ScholarCHIPS_DeRonteCraigYesterday, I told you about our newest grantee, Healthy Babies Project–an organization who wants to stop poverty right from the start. Today, I’d like you to meet an organization who is committed to to helping families heal from the crippling force of mass incarceration. For children of parents who are incarcerated, their world is a tough place. Studies show that children of incarcerated parents struggle more to achieve than parents who are divorced or even dead. The stigma of having a parent who is in jail can be heartbreaking.

“I understand and have witnessed the emotional, mental, and financial strain that having an incarcerated parent has on a child and the family unit,” says Yasmine Arrington, co-founder of ScholarCHIPS, whose father is incarcerated.

Yasmine’s experience growing up with a father who was in and out of prison is sadly not unique. More  than 2,000,000 children whose parents are in jail face a world of challenges, but the problem of mass incarceration is particularly acute in the District. Our city has the highest incarceration rate in the country. Many of those involved in the criminal justice system are mothers, with an overwhelming 19 percent increase in the number of women arrested in D.C since 2001.  That’s why it was so important for us to support Yasmine and the growth of ScholarCHIPS. The CHIPS stands for Children of Incarcerated Parents (CHIPS) and the organization was started in 2010 by Yasmine after she struggled to find scholarships to attend college. ScholarCHIPS  provides college scholarships to children of incarcerated parents but it does more than that: It tackles the stigma of those who suffer the most by creating a support network for children of incarcerated parents, inspiring them to complete their college education and, most importantly, helping them heal by erasing the stigma and taboos.

ScholarCHIPS came to us, because they are interested in expanding their model to reach even more children by developing a conference that can create a multiplier effect in the District. After they applied to us, ScholarCHIPS was selected as a finalist for the 2015 Social Innovation Prize, a national competition run by the J.M. Kaplan Fund. So, can we pick ’em or can we pick ’em?

We believe that ideas matter and are the building blocks of social change. Each grantee we support is a brick on the pathway toward transformative change for communities that struggle daily with limited access to quality care and opportunity. We are excited to continue to support innovative ideas with our new grantees and look forward to sharing our discoveries with you!

Jalisa Whitley is DC Social Innovation Project’s Strategic Engagement Fellow.

p.s. Help us give more grants of hope and transformation by signing up today as a Community Investor. Your small, monthly donation can make a world of difference to DC residents!