In the Potomac Gardens, Hopkins, and Benning Terrace public housing complexes of Southeast DC, families of four struggle to survive on annual incomes that average $12-14,000. Most children live in one-parent households, attend under-resourced schools, and are at least one grade level behind in reading and math. So Little Lights intervenes: through one-on-one mentoring, tutoring, and enrichment programs, caring adults work with children to build a strong academic foundation. They’re in it for the long haul – helping children gain leadership skills, avoid teen pregnancy and incarceration, graduate from high school, and move on to college or trade school. Parents are supported too, through basic services (like free diapers), computer access, and job readiness training that encourages economic mobility: in fact, half of Little Lights’ employees are public housing residents. Your support makes so many futures brighter.

COVID-19 Update: In coordination with Capital Area Food Bank and dedicated supporters, Little Lights has been working to fight the digital divide while also distributing food, checking in with families to assess their critical needs, and creating learning packets and educational resources for students. Each Little Lights site has been converted into a “learning hub” where students who cannot study at home (they lack an appropriate space, parental supervision, or Wi-Fi access) can study safely. All children are appropriately spaced, given their own box of materials, and provided with masks, shields and sanitizer. Supervised learning in a safe space makes all the difference.

Headquarters: DC-Ward 6

Where They Operate: DC-Ward 6; Potomac Gardens and Hopkins public housing in Capitol Hill

Age Groups Served: Pre-K (3-4); Youth (5-11); Pre-teen/teen (12-17); Young adult (18-24); Adult (25-49)

Ethnic Groups Served: African American

Population(s) Served: Low- to Moderate-Income Community Members; Men/Boys; Women/Girls; Students; Low- to Moderate-Income Community Members

Awards & Recognition

Capitol Hill Community Foundation's 2009 Arnold Keller Jr. Award for non-profit excellence, 2010 Excel Award for Executive Leadership, ABC 7 Harris' Heroes in 2013, Recognized in Channel 8 Pay It Forward


  • All-black landscaping crew turns 'the look' into job opportunities
    Tue Nov 3 2015, The Washington Post  
    "It's a small-scale operation, but people need to see that there are practical ways to create job opportunities," said Steve Park

Budget (FY2014)

  • $3 million or higher
  • $1 million to $3 million
  • The current budget for Little Lights Urban Ministries is: $500k to $1 million
  • Less than $500k

Catalogue charities range in size from $100,000 to $3 million. This graphic indicates the budget range of the organization featured here. If you see an organizational budget above the $3 million mark, that is because the featured charity has grown in size since it first appeared in the Catalogue. We proudly present on our website the work of these "growth" charities.

About the Catalogue for Philanthropy

Each year 120 expert reviewers evaluate applicants for distinction, merit, and impact. Each featured charity has been successfully site visited and its financials given the thumbs up. The Catalogue for Philanthropy charges no fees and raises funds separately to support its work. Since 2003, it has raised over $40 million for charities across the Greater Washington region.

The Catalogue for Philanthropy looks to friends like you to keep our services independent and entirely free of charge. Consider a small contribution to the Catalogue to cap off your gift and help the causes you care about get the full support they deserve!

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