H Street Community Development Corporation (HSCDC) has employed teenagers for more than 20 years during the summer to empower them through honest work. From this engagement with local youth, various programs have emerged into what is now a global language and educational enrichment opportunity in a year-round program. Since 2006, up to 15 students annually have been enriched through H Street’s China Challenge Program—A Global Experience, now known as the Community Global Initiative (CGI).
The CGI program was initiated to increase the ability of urban students to communicate and compete globally by learning languages and cultures of other countries. The initial goal of the program was to expose teens from D.C. public and public charter schools to the Chinese culture through learning basic oral and written Mandarin language and an increased knowledge of the Chinese culture through studying current events and historic research. This two-prong approach encourages students to appreciate differences and more readily accept diversity. CGI continues to foster the original concept, and expands the program to include additional global competency skills; basic financial literacy, particularly in areas of saving, banking, budgeting and investing; preparation for college through research of college requirements, student qualifications, financial assistance, and visits to local colleges; study tours to Chinatowns in the United States and to mainland China.