Learning Life seeks individuals and organizations interested in helping to build a “World Affairs Pipeline” connecting lower-income DC children to opportunities and careers in international relations.

The Challenges

Washington DC is a world city divided.  On one hand, DC is home to thousands of individuals and organizations daily engaged in international affairs.  On the other hand, DC is also home to thousands of lower-income youth that have traveled little if at all outside DC, and are largely disconnected from the wider world as well as their own community.  These two groups are in some ways worlds apart, yet often live just blocks apart, and may cross paths daily, strangers to each other.  Nonetheless, both groups are inescapably part of a wider world increasingly connected in at once exciting and frightful ways.  Those disengaged from an early age may not only be left farther and farther behind, but become the resigned and resentful rather than caring and connected global citizens we need in our heterogeneous world.

Metro DC is blessed with a wide array of international government agencies, businesses and nonprofits.  These entities often collaborate professionally, but less often civically, let alone build an enduring pipeline of opportunities that can change young lives for the better, widen participation in world affairs, and help bridge DC’s deep divides.  Too often, despite the commonly expressed desire to cooperate, and countless first meetings, deep, lasting, widely beneficial collaborations do not materialize as organizations are pressed to meet internal deadlines, chase fleeting funding, or speak to passing popular issues.  Amidst the constant flurry of activity, there is a crying need to gather regularly, strategize broadly and deeply, and coordinate frequently to build that enduring pipeline.          

World Affairs PipelineThe Proposed Pipeline

There is much that caring individuals and organizations in metro DC can do to institutionalize the cooperation that can change lives, widen participation in world affairs, and help bridge DC’s deep divides.  Toward this end, it is fruitful to think in terms of a pipeline.  Committed groups already build steel and plastic pipelines to deliver oil and gas to homes and businesses across the world.  So can committed people in regions like metro DC build World Affairs Pipelines that nurture, in regularly coordinated ways, caring global citizens from kindergarten to after-school, weekend and summer youth and family programs, to internships and volunteer opportunities, to higher education programs and apprenticeships, to jobs and careers in world affairs.

This is what we propose.  We are Learning Life, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit devoted to innovating education, democracy and diplomacy by spreading learning in everyday life beyond school walls.  In our increasingly interconnected yet divided world, we develop innovative learning communities in order to widen and deepen participation in democracy and diplomacy.  We are small but innovative.  We know we can achieve more in partnership with like-minded metro DC organizations.  We also know that transforming the lives of lower-income youth is not easy, but committed groups working together in the long-term can transform people, cities and the world.

The World Affairs Pipeline we propose will take time to build out fully.  One key tool to start building the Pipeline is regular (e.g., bi-weekly or monthly) meetings of interested organizations Learning Life is currently in a preliminary phase talking with relevant metro DC organizations to learn about each other, assess fit, and when there is fit, test ways we can collaborate to start building the Pipeline.  Possible Pipeline components — and ways individuals and organizations can contribute — include, but are not limited to:

  1. Community visits: Visits to classrooms, community groups, and families to present an international issue with local impacts, and explain how one or more DC area organizations address that issue.
  2. Family outings: Matching motivated families across socio-economic divides to get to know each other, and participate together periodically in fun weekend outings to museums, cultural festivals, foreign restaurants, etc.
  3. Mentoring: One-on-one mentoring focused on engaging youth with the world through visits to metro DC museums, embassies, cultural festivals, foreign restaurants, etc.
  4. World food visits and tours: Food tastings and culture discussions at foreign restaurants offering periodic, focused, one-restaurant visits, and/or an annual tour of participating foreign restaurants.
  5. Cook-eat-learn sessions: Foreign food cooking, eating and learning with small groups of families or teachers and students at the homes of participating volunteers and families.
  6. Office tours: Tours of offices to network and show DC area students the types of work, work environments, and learning opportunities world affairs organizations provide.
  7. Issue simulations: International issue simulations engaging DC schools and volunteers from world affairs organizations, with preparatory meetings online and culminating simulation and celebration in-person.
  8. Virtual exchanges: Online dialogues, projects and communities connecting DC area youth to peers, families, mentors and other caring people worldwide.
  9. After-school and summer contests: World issue and/or storytelling challenges involving student teams within and across schools, with special access to certain Pipeline opportunities for the winners.
  10. World festivals: An annual world festival for youth and families offering international arts, food and discussions as well as connections to an array of low-cost to free international opportunities.
  11. Bridging discussions: A regular series of moderated small and large-group international issue discussions engaging youth from diverse area schools online.
  12. Travel abroad: Sponsored low-cost or free learning and volunteering opportunities abroad.
  13. Internships: Spring, summer and fall internships with world affairs organizations.
  14. Apprenticeships: Stipended or fully-paid job trainings for eligible, motivated youth.

If interested in helping to build a DC World Affairs Pipeline, please contact us at