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About Us


Our founder, Tom Lewis, was inspired by a grand vision to bring about change in the youth of Washington, DC.  Change, however, did not come about overnight.

Raised in poverty in North Carolina, Mr. Lewis was one of 15 children in his household.  After dropping out of high school in tenth grade - as many around him had done, Mr. Lewis began working as a migrant farm hand on the eastern seaboard.  In 1959, after landing in New York and being drafted to the Army, he was able to earn his GED. Upon being discharged from the Army, he continued to work odd jobs while providing support to his family back home in North Carolina.  In 1965, Mr. Lewis became a D.C. Metropolitan police officer and would go on to spend over 20 years on the force.  During his time on the force Mr. Lewis had truly seen it all; from witnessing the riots that occurred following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to repeatedly watching the city succumb to crime and violence. When Mr. Lewis signed on to become part of MPD’s Officer Friendly program he witnessed firsthand the needs of the city’s youth as he would go from classroom-to-classroom in D.C. teaching students about how to become upstanding citizens.  Many would run up to him afterward and ask him if he could be their father, since some were missing a positive adult male influence at home.

After years of hard work, in 1975 Mr. Lewis earned his degree from American University and went on to become a licensed social worker in 1984. Recognizing that education can unlock the door to knowledge and opportunity as well as break the cycle of poverty, Mr. Lewis renovated a former crack house on what was once deemed “the worst street in America” and after retirement from MPD transformed it into The Fishing School in 1990. Armed with the support of his family, a few early donors and his unwavering faith, Tom Lewis proved it possible for one man to stand up and make a difference.  He started the work of The Fishing School by providing afterschool tutoring and life skills training for five students from the Wylie St. N.E. community.

Today, under the leadership of Executive Director, Leo Givs, the award winning organization continues to thrive and carry out its mission to offer every child a brighter future.

Executive Director, Leo Givs & Founder, Tom Lewis




Elementary After School Program:

The Fishing School’s elementary after school program builds academic and life skills to develop participants’ ability to attain their personal goals. Program operational elements include:

  • Operation at least three hours, five days per week, from September to June.
  • Academics supported through: Online tutorial, homework help, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math)-based curriculum, clubs, and additional reading support activities.
  • Life skills reinforced through hands-on curriculum and behavior reinforcement.
  • Special events that help highlight student learning and engage parents.

Middle School Program:

An innovative program design supports the critical needs of 6th to 8th grade youth, who have been Fishing School participants ideally since 1st grade, helping youth successfully transition to high school.  Key program elements include:

  • Weekly Saturday and holiday session, providing academic tutoring and life skills groups.
  • Virtual learning through social media platforms, web-based programs and email.
  • Volunteer success coaches providing encouragement and guidance.
  • Monthly field experiences to develop career focus.
  • Large-scale yearly events (e.g. camping, theme-parks, college tours).

Summer Bridge Camp:

Elementary and middle school Fishing School participants will receive continuous support to not only build, but maintain academic and social skills through the summer months, to prevent summer learning loss. Summer program activities include:

  • Full day, five days a week for six weeks.
  • Rigorous academic skills reinforcement through online tutorial.
  • STEAM projects.
  • Field experiences to reinforce basic skills and further develop social/emotional skills.
  • Special events and projects.

Parent Engagement and Support Program:

Once a child is enrolled in Fishing School Programs as a 1st grader, his or her parent(s) or primary guardian(s) also becomes part of the Fishing School family. Parents and families are part of an extensive and varied array of activities to promote networking, skill building and awareness about ways they can support the academic achievement of their son or daughter.

We developed our parent engagement and support programs based on notable research about what works best.

Technology Infusion

To prepare our participants for competition in the 21st century workforce, we infuse all our activities and curricula with technology. Some specific uses of technology in our programs include:

  • Augmenting learning - Daily laptop or computers used for online math and reading tutorial conduct research or use web-based software.
  • Support from staff and volunteers - Instructors use Smartboards and virtual instruction technology to expand learning concepts and track student progress.
  • Connection with leaders - We use Skype, YouTube, Facebook and other applications to expose our children and youth to leaders in various career fields and new ideas.
  • Data collection - We use our proprietary database to collect data and analyze outcomes.

What is STEAM?

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) is a growing movement toward the future in education. It encompasses creativity, critical thinking and technology to propel youth into promising careers – fulfilling the nation’s need for innovative and skilled leaders.