AppleTree & LIFT-DC: Partnering For Families

By LIFT on November 20, 2018

Categories: Our Work, Real Stories


The power of relationships is a principle that has guided LIFT’s work since day one. LIFT coaches build trusted relationships with the parents we serve. Just as our coaches build relationships with families, our organization builds relationships with trusted community partners.

One such partner, AppleTree, has been critical in the success of LIFT-DC’s program. AppleTree’s mission is to close the achievement gap before children reach elementary school. With a reach of over 2,000 children in The District, AppleTree has played an important role in connecting parents with LIFT’s services to access the opportunities and resources they need to build stable lives and brighter futures for their children.

Since 2013, Juanita White has been a key player at AppleTree. As director of family and community engagement, Juanita spends a good deal of her time on enrollment sustainability. In other words, she makes sure that families have the support they need to see their child successfully graduate from AppleTree’s program. That’s where LIFT comes in.

After meeting with LIFT-DC Executive Director Kristy Arnold, Juanita learned about LIFT-DC’s capabilities and the difference we could make in the lives of AppleTree parents. With an initiative to keep parents as engaged as their children are, it made perfect sense for AppleTree and LIFT-DC to join forces for the betterment of the community. While AppleTree focuses on little ones, LIFT focuses on the parents. Juanita tells us that it was LIFT’s “basic fundamental desire to help families get ahead and come out of poverty” that made her say “Yes!” to this partnership.

On the very first day of LIFT-DC’s tabling at AppleTree, six families joined the program.

Juanita brings her passion for families to work with her every day at AppleTree, and that passion is what has made this partnership a resounding success. In her own words:

“We’re showing our parents that they are valuable and we need them. And with guidance, by supporting their goals and desires, we hope they will be able to demonstrate these same qualities to their children. With partners like LIFT, our parents are learning new strategies and techniques on how to maneuver through life.

Children look up to their parents, especially, and when they see their parents  lives changing for the better and hope restored in their eyes, then they want to be like mommy and daddy. So, LIFT has an impact on the entire family. If our families have some place to go and they know that they have these goals to meet, then they’re going to model commitment and stick-to-itiveness to their children.  Everything LIFT is teaching/coaching our parents they can teach to their children and it helps everyone grow and have a better expectation for their future. Parents are sharing their LIFT experience with me, so I see this working for generations.”

LIFT’s partnership with AppleTree was also spurred by the continuous evolution of our program model, and Constituent Voice – our feedback loop that captures real-time input from the communities we serve. Our parents told us they wanted more LIFT, but were facing the obstacle of needing to come in to our office. Which is why we came to them.

Nationwide, LIFT is now embedded in hundreds of community partners, such as AppleTree. Early childcare organizations, community colleges and even more community institutions in the upcoming year. Our parents spoke, and we listened.

In just the past year, an outstanding 1,400 families have accessed AppleTree’s services. It’s not hard to imagine what a difference this partnership can make for the families of our nation’s capital.

And the next chapter of LIFT’s partnership with AppleTree?

“I hope that every last one of our families get an opportunity to succeed in whatever way success means for them. I want them to define the value of an education for themselves and their children.  And whatever those values are, take ownership of it and do what they have to do to make sure that those values are realized.

I want my families to not rely on a ‘system’ to support them, but to be able to use the system to get what they need so they can support themselves and their families. That’s my dream: for my families to know that knowledge is powerful and being able to take that knowledge and apply it to everyday life is what will bring varieties of success. Having opportunities to succeed in their own lives is life changing. It’s what we need as a community and I want them to understand that.”

Thank you Juanita, and AppleTree, for your continued partnership with LIFT-DC and your commitment to giving families the opportunities they deserve.