• Empower DC Says

    Save DC Schools

    Join our campaign to save DC public schools and protect public education. read more

  • In Barry Farm and the world

    Housing is a Human Right

    Empower DC is helping lead the fight against the demolition of public housing in DC. read more

  • Communities fight for their schools

    You Cannot Have My School

    As the DC government plans to close down community public schools to convert them into charters or condos, parents are fighting back. read more

  • Empower DC fights to preserve public housing

    DC Needs Public Housing

    Empower DC is organizing public housing residents in Barry Farm and Greenleaf Gardens to fight against the Choice/New Communities gentrification projects which will reduce the public housing stock. read more

The Latest Empower DC News


Feb 27, 2014
Posted by: parisa


Feeling lost when it comes to the DC budget? Don't know how to make sure that important  programs get funded? Who's in charge of the budget, anyway? Come to Empower DC's monthly Empowerment Circle to find out how the DC government creates our budget and how you can influence it. DC's revenues are growing, and we need to be sure that the Mayor and City Council are fully funding our neighborhood public schools, traditional public housing, and all the programs that serve as a safety net and uplift our community. The Mayor's proposed budget will be released by April 3 -- let's get ready!


Saturday, March 15, 2014, 2:00 - 4:00

Watha T. Daniel (Shaw) Library, 1630 7th Street, NW

Questions or to RSVP for childcare, contact Jennifer (202-234-9119, jennifer@empowerdc.org)



Feb 10, 2014
Posted by: parisa


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, February 10, 2014

CONTACT: Parisa Norouzi, Empower DC (202) 234-9119 x 100



Chancellor among key government witnesses to be deposed, public invited to submit questions


Depositions of key government officials have begun in the case against the closure of DC public schools. 


The case of Shannon Smith et al Vs Kaya Henderson et al was filed last March by members of Empower DC as part of an effort to stop the closure of 15 DC Public Schools in low income communities of color.  After a hearing on May10th, Federal court Judge Boasberg did not grant a temporary injunction and the closure of 13 DC Public Schools was allowed to go forward last fall, however the court has yet to issue a final ruling on the merits of the case and litigation on the issue continues.  The Judge upheld the plaintiff’s core complaints, saying in his opinion “..the parents and guardians have alleged sufficient facts to state claims of discrimination under the three civil-rights provisions at the heart of their case: the Equal Protection Clause, Title VI, and the D.C. Human Rights Act.”


Today, as civil rights attorney Johnny Barnes prepares to depose Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson under oath on February 21st, Empower DC launched a call for the public to submit “Questions for Kaya.”  People impacted by the closures or others with information pertaining to the inner workings of DCPS are invited send in questions via twitter (to @empowerdc), email (to Daniel@empowerdc.org) or by calling an anonymous phone hotline (202-234-9119 x 106).


[Read the full text of our press release here.]


Read the Washington Informer article here.



Feb 10, 2014
Posted by: parisa


All across the district, DC government is pushing unwanted development on public property without community support. Come hear how a number of communities have used the zoning process, historic preservation, legal action, and other strategies to fight back. Panelists will include representatives from organizations that are fighting against the streetcar barn at Spingarn High School and the condo-ization of McMillan Park, and fighting for renovations and the preservation of public housing. Join us to hear their stories, discuss lessons learned, and get involved.


Saturday, February 15, 2014; 2:00 - 4:00 pm
Anacostia Library, 1800 Good Hope Road, SE
Questions or to RSVP for childcare, contact Jennifer (202-234-9119, jennifer@empowerdc.org)


Click here for fliers to put up in your neighborhood.


See the article in Street Sense about this Empowerment Circle!



Feb 10, 2014
Posted by: parisa


If you haven't noticed, it's an election year. DC residents will be choosing a mayor and councilmembers for Wards 1, 3, 5, and 6, as well as an at-large councilmember and the chairman of the council. The primaries are quickly approaching on April 1, with the general election scheduled for November 4. To help ensure that all DC residents are involved in the elections and to make sure that candidates hear from public housing residents and those impacted by top-down education reforms, Empower DC is co-sponsoring a number of candidate forums. 


The People's Platform Mayoral Forum
Saturday, March 8, 2014; 4:00 - 7:00 pm
THE ARC, 1901 Mississippi Ave, SE
Questions or to RSVP, contact Schyla (202-234-9119, housing@empowerdc.org)
Event updates here.
Co-sponsored with ONE DC, Barry Farm Study Circle, Our DC, and the Working Families Party of DC


Click here for fliers to put up in your neighborhood.


Ward 6 Council Election Forums
Friday, February 28, 2014 7:00 - 9:00 pm
The Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

Tuesday, March 4, 7:00 - 9:00 pm
Westminster Presbyterian Church, 400 I Street, SW

Tuesday, March 11, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Watha T. Daniel (Shaw) Library, 1630 7th Street, NW

All forums co-sponsored with The Hill Rag, MidCity DC, The Ward 6 Democrats, The Hill Center, Westminster Presbyterian Church, ANC 6E, The Near SE/SW CBBC, The Capitol Hill Restoration Society, and The Southwest Neighborhood Assembly
Questions or to RSVP, contact Parisa (202-234-9119, parisa@empowerdc.org)


Click here for fliers to put up in your neighborhood.


There are many more candidate forums happening throughout the city - check out this calendar compiled by CNHED.

Are YOU registered to vote? Sign up now.



Feb 5, 2014
Posted by: parisa


Truthout, January 31, 2014

By Rania Khalek,


[Read full article here.]


Barry Farm, a public housing complex in southeast Washington, 'is the line in the sand,' says Schyla Pondexter-Moore, a community organizer [with Empower DC].  'If you take away Barry Farm, you're basically just giving away the whole Ward 8."


Barry Farm is the latest battleground for grass-roots housing advocates in the nation's capital, where intense gentrification has altered the city's demographic landscape dramatically. Because Washington was America's first city to have a black majority, it came as a shock to many in 2011 when DC's black population dropped below 50 percent for the first time in more than 50 years. In the past decade, the district lost nearly 40,000 black residents, many driven out by skyrocketing rents fueled by an influx of mostly white professionals flocking to increasingly gentrified neighborhoods.


[Read the full article here.]



Jan 31, 2014
Posted by: parisa


Very rarely does the media accurately cover how gentrification and development in the District of Columbia are displacing communities of color and low-income residents, as well as leading to the closure of long-standing community institutions -- like our public schools. Tune in to WPFW 89.3 every Thursday morning at 7:30 to hear Empower DC's Executive Director Parisa Norouzi set the record straight through interviews, news, and commentary. 


Segments available below.

March 20, 2014: Parisa's guest was homeless advocate Eric  Sheptock. He tells his pesonal story of becoming an advocate and talks about the effort to secure the future of the Community for Creative Non-Violence. CCNV's building at 2nd and D Streets NW was deeded for homeless services 30 years ago, however, that deed expires in 2016. Eric is a leading member of a task force determining its future. He also shares his views on the Gray administration's failure to serve the homeless and lets people know how they can help.


February 27, 2014: Hosted by Empower DC's Education Organizer, a discussion with Washington Teachers' Union President, Elizabeth Davis, on the planned closings of Sharpe Health and Mamie D. Lee Schools -- the only two public schools in DC designed to serve children with special needs.


February 20, 2014 (not archived): A one-hour episode on topics related to land use, gentrification and organizing for community control of land with guests Max Rameau author of Take Back the Land: Land, Gentrification and The Umoja Village Shantytown, Dr. Sabiyha Prince (see Jan. 30), and Debra Frazier, a resident leader of the Arthur Capper public housing community


January 30, 2014: A Conversation with Dr. Sabiyha Prince about her new book, African Americans and Gentrification in Washington, DC: Race, Class and Social Justice in the Nation's Capital


We'd love to hear what you think. Comments can be sent to parisa@empowerdc.org.



Nov 25, 2013
Posted by: parisa


Dear Friends,


WOW!  Time flies, right?  Can you believe that Empower DC has been winning real improvements for low and moderate income DC residents for 10 years!  A big thank you to EVERYONE who has made our work possible – those of you who have been with us from the start and our many new members and supporters.  Empower DC has established itself as the most effective community organizing group in DC – and we’ve done that while being “unbought and unbossed,” which means not relying on government or corporate money, and never giving up! 


[Read the full text of Parisa's letter here.]



Oct 11, 2013
Posted by: parisa


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, October 11, 2013

Contact: Parisa Norouzi, (202) 234-9119 x 100; Daniel del Pielago, (202) 234-9119 x 104


Key Elements of School Closure Lawsuit Move Forward

Case Brought by Empower DC Alleges Discriminatory Impact of School Closures, Group Granted Discovery as Litigation Continues


Yesterday, Federal Court Judge James Boasberg found that plaintiffs have established sufficient facts to allow the bulk of their case alleging discrimination in the city’s pattern of public school closures to move forward. 


The case of Shannon Smith et al Vs Kaya Henderson et al was filed last March by members of Empower DC as part of an effort to stop the closure of 15 DC Public Schools in low income communities of color.  After a hearing on May10th, Judge Boasberg did not grant a temporary injunction and the closure of 13 DC Public Schools was allowed to go forward this fall, however the court has yet to issue a final ruling on the merits of the case, which has now survived the city’s motion to dismiss and will be litigated further. 


[Read the full text of our press release here.]


The Judge’s ruling is available here.



Aug 26, 2013
Posted by: admin


Washington Post August 25, 2013

By Courtland Milloy


[ Read Full Article Here ]


When civil rights activists become elected officials, as often has been the case in the District, they sometimes encounter younger versions of their former selves. And the protests against them by this new generation can be as withering as any leveled by activists in the 1960s.


“What I see from elected officials in this city is contempt for the poor,” said Parisa Norouzi, 36, executive director of Empower DC, a group that promotes self-advocacy among low-income residents — through confrontation if necessary. “I see them coming out only for photo opportunities, trotting out kids for ribbon cuttings, while at the same time systematically trying to eliminate public housing and closing neighborhood schools.”


Read Full Article Here ]





Upcoming Events and Actions

30 2014 Apr

Rally & Testify to Save Public Housing!

Demand that DC renovate and maintain traditional public housing!

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Campaign Spotlight


Affordable Housing

Empower DC works to preserve and protect affordable housing, ensure the creation of more affordable housing, and heighten tenants’ knowledge of their housing rights. We do this through developing the leadership and collective power of tenants directly impacted by the need for affordable housing In 2012, our focus is working with residents of Public Housing to ensure they are informed about their rights and are able to collectively...
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Public Education Campaign

Empower DC’s Public Education Campaign is campaign is building an organized and empowered group of parents and community members concerned about DC Public Schools, who through collective action are becoming a political force and holding officials accountable to their needs. The campaign is currently focused on informing the public about potential school closures and organizing residents to demand investment in, not closure of, DC Public Schools...
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Ivy City

Ivy City Campaign for Crummel School

Empower DC is assisting the historic Ivy City community with re-establishing a strong and sustainable Civic Association, and developing neighborhood leadership and strategic campaigns around several issues including the restoration of the Alexander Crummell School for use as a workforce development and community center..
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