Celebrating 2 Years of Right to Dream Through The Eyes of Survivors

Celebrating 2 Years of Right to Dream Through the Eyes of Survivors 

On the 2nd Anniversary of DASH’s innovative Right to Dream program, the first two-year safe housing program for transitioning youth survivors (ages 18-24) in DC, we would like to share just some of the stories our survivors have shared with us. What they’ve overcome, how the program has helped them, and where they are today. 


“Erica” entered the Right to Dream Program in October 2020. She is very proactive in her housing process, finding employment training and employment opportunities. She has completed a recent training program and is gainfully employed and states she is super excited for the opportunity. She’s grateful to DASH, and DHS, for helping her regain her independence. 


“Letitia” was one of the first Right to Dream participants. Prior to entering the program, she was homeless and found herself couch surfing, staying with friends/family, and when she could afford it, hotel stays, where she often faced unsafe situations.  

Despite her housing circumstances, her resilience allowed her to continue working her full-time job. She signed her first lease within a month of entering the program and had a smooth transition into her new home. For “Letitia”, having her own safe space, means she can focus on her overall well-being and no longer deal with toxic individuals from her past.  

Letitia will continue working on her goals and prioritizing her mental health and she hopes that her remaining time in the program will help her heal from the trauma she has endured.  


“Alexis” was the very first participant to enter the RTD program in October 2020. Prior to entering the program she was couch-surfing staying with friends and family. She moved into her new home and immediately established goals she wanted to accomplish. While she did face setbacks due to the pandemic because employers were taking longer to hire, despite her many attempts and rejections, she persisted. Now she is working towards her goals of starting a savings account and enrolling in a nursing program. 

To learn more about our Right to Program, send an email to righttodream@dashdc.org.  

Donovan Trott, Manager, Development & Communications

Resources for Minority Mental Health Awareness

Addressing the Lack of Black Mental Health Professionals | INSIGHT Into  Diversity

Do racial minorities in the United States suffer from more mental illness than white Americans? There isn’t enough available research to give this question an informed answer (though some of what we do have suggests the answer is no). But what has been thoroughly researched and proven is that racial minorities receive much less support when they do suffer from mental health issues, as the majority of Americans will at some point in their lives. These disparities in treatment only grow when further minority identities are acknowledged.  

There can be cultural reasons for such disparities. While a general feeling of mistrust towards the medical community has historic origins rooted in the abuse of minorities, specifically Black and Native Americans, recent studies have observed that even when Black Americans are just as likely to believe mental health professionals can help with major mental health crisis like schizophrenia and depression, there is a tendency to believe these issues can also self-resolve. These beliefs may stem from cultural practices, religious dogma, or even online disinformation.

But regardless of the reason why some minorities will occasionally limit their exposure to the medical community, when they do reach out for mental health help, the largest barrier to getting it is a systemic lack of resources.

To help you navigate the often frustrating landscape of resources available, below you can find a list of resources for BIPOC communities, LGBTQ+ communities, and all those who intersect between the two.

BIPOC Mental Health Provider Directories

Virtual Resources for BIPOC communities


  • The Safe Place: Free smartphone app focused on psychoeducation and self-care for minority mental health, geared towards the Black community
  • Liberate: Smartphone app for daily meditation designed for the BIPOC community and led by BIPOC teachers (free trial followed by monthly or annual subscription)

Resource Libraries

Resource Lists

Further Reads

Resources for Specific Groups


  • The Steve Fund: Library of resources to support mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color
  • Young People of Color Support Guide: Online guide to mental health concerns that young people of color may face during transitions from home to college, and from college to early adulthood
  • We R Native: Library of resources for Native and indigenous youth with practical strategies for building resilience, coping with diverse mental health challenges, and seeking help and support


  • QTPoC Mental Health Practitioner Directory: Virtual directory of mental health practitioners across the country for queer and trans people of color, provided by the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
    • Curated resources such as hotlines, online support groups, and organizations for queer and trans people of color also available
  • Resources for Members of the LGBTQ+ Community: Virtual directory of psychiatrists, therapists, text and chat services, and online communities specifically geared towards the LGBTQ+ community, provided by NAMI Massachusetts
  • Asylum Connect Catalog: Free virtual platform that matches LGBTQ+ asylum seekers with vetted legal, medical, mental health and social services

Give Us The Floor: Nation-wide support groups for LGBTQ+ youth to build healthy connections, practice self-expression, and enhance psychological wellness

Donovan Trott, Manager, Development & Communications

The Silent Epidemic of Intimate Partner Violence in the Queer Community 

Almost Half of Gay Men Experience Intimate Partner Violence

During the month of June, you’re a bit more likely to see and hear, the voices of the Queer community proclaiming pride and resilience in the wake of ongoing attempts to undercut their basic human rights. But what is often unseen, both within the LGBTQ+ community and outside of it, is an epidemic of domestic violence in intimate partner relationships.  

Recent studies have found that those who identify as either lesbian or gay reported domestic violence and sexual violence rates which were equal to or higher than those who identify as heterosexual. Not to mention, trans people are victimized over four times more often than cisgender people, up to half of that being violence from a current or former intimate partner. The intersection of race only exacerbates the problem, as in just one study, over 60 percent of LGBTQ victims of IPV-related homicides were people of color.  

And for Queer survivors of intimate partner violence, barriers to help, such as shelters and mental health services, are often insurmountable. That is why innovative, low barrier to entry programs, like DASH, are so crucial.  

“Being homeless for 4 months last year, was nothing new for me, as a Trans Brown Immigrant woman, I have faced homelessness in the past.” Says *Martina, a former DASH resident. “Being able to access the DASH program helped me to continue working and helping my own community. “  

Everyone deserves and is worth a life free from fear – no matter who they are or who they love. This simple statement rests at the heart of our mission here at DASH, and we will continue to guide us as we support the LGBTQIA+ community.  

*Name changed to protect the identity of the survivor.  

Donovan Trott, Manager, Development & Communications

The Dream of a Diploma is Still Within Reach for Survivors

Picture of young woman in cap and gown

It’s graduation season, a time to reflect on hard work, celebrate achievement, and look forward to the future. But for many who were unable to make it across that stage, domestic violence was one of the determining factors holding them back from their dreams.

According to research published in the journal: Review of Behavioral Economics, 1 in 5 Americans will drop out of high school, and of those millions, 34 percent of girls, and 29 percent of boys reported being a survivor of domestic violence before the age of 16. When it comes to sexual abuse, 21 percent of girls, and 6 percent of boys reported being survivors. And the abuse potential graduates endure does not have to be physical for it to keep them from their full academic potential.

Over 66 percent of survivors have reported verbal abuse disrupting their studying and ability to do schoolwork. Abusers can also disrupt their ability to complete school by not allowing them access to money to pay for classes or transportation, socially isolating the survivor, and damaging or destroying their personal property. And while the loss of a degree can be measured in dollars and cents ($427,000 less earned over a lifetime for a 2-year degree, and $822,000 for a 4-year degree), the loss of a survivor’s safety and health can cause damage that is unable to be measured.  

With our innovative, low barrier to entry programs, DASH has seen firsthand how providing safety and security to survivors can reverse the negative effects of abuse and foster healthy habits which lead to accomplishments as small as earning their degree, and as big as restoring their sense of self.  

We proudly congratulate all the participants in DASH’s programs who will be graduating this year.  

This is only the beginning of your story!  

Donovan Trott, Manager, Development & Communications

Volunteer Appreciation Week


Volunteers are essential and play a major role in fulfilling our mission.

With support from our volunteers new skills are learned, spaces are transformed, and basic needs are met for survivors and families. 

Thank you for choosing to spend your extra time with DASH. 

We appreciate each and every one of you!

With Gratitude,

The DASH Family

Click here to learn more about volunteering with DASH.

5 Things Netflix’s MAID Gets Right

IMDb on the Scene - Interviews" Maid (TV Episode 2021) - IMDb

We know that @Netflix’s hit series #MAID struck a chord with many of you. We’ve heard from volunteers, donors, and victims, about how the show inspired you to act and give back. We also wanted to illustrate that while the show is loosely based on one woman’s story, Author @stepville, its themes and situations are all to real for the millions who will find themselves in need of transitional housing this year alone.

Here’s our list of the top 5 things MAID got right about transitional housing and domestic abuse.   

5 – The family court system’s bias against mother’s claiming abuse  

In Maid we see the character of Alex temporarily lose custody of her daughter after claiming abuse in family court. While every case is unique, several studies have shown that mothers who report abuse – particularly child abuse – are losing custody of their children at staggering rates. Such studies highlight a “lack of education and training on domestic violence and child abuse in family courts.”   

4 – Stereotypes and inaccurate perceptions of people on welfare  

Maid frequently illustrates the shame Alex experiences while receiving SNAP, a form of government assistance, and the judgement she receives while using it. But like Alex, most recipients of welfare programs are only on it for a short time, 1-12 months on average before they are able to obtain jobs and exit the program.  

3 – Getting out is not easy  

One of the things Maid does best is showing the viewer why it is so hard to detangle yourself from an abusive relationship. We often hear it takes seven times before someone can permanently leave an abuser but this isn’t purely due to emotional manipulation or coercive control. Kids, isolation, lack of resources, the threat of worse violence, cultural beliefs and institutional responses all play a role in making it difficult to leave an abusive situation permanently.  

2 – Transitional housing is more than just shelter 

A common misconception is that emergency shelters provide just a roof and a meal. This is far from the truth. Most transitional housing programs, including DASH, provide a variety of services which can include counseling and support groups like the one Alex participates in and eventually leads, childcare, transportation, life skills, education and or job training, if needed. It takes a lot to make someone whole again after leaving an abusive situation.  

1 – Emotional Abuse is abuse  

Probably the compelling, and desperately needed, part of Maid’s depiction of abuse is that it does not involve physical violence. Thanks in large part to historical media depictions of violence against women, most people still have a hard time grappling with the variety of ways in which abusers inflict abuse. Even Alex herself does not initially think she has been abused. She is never beaten by her boyfriend, but she is physically and sexually intimidated. He steals her only mode of transportation, effectively isolating her and her child, cuts her off financially, screams and breaks things around the home. These acts can often be excused as “letting off steam” or being “a little controlling” but they are in fact abuse.  

Donovan Trott, Manager, Development & Communications

Black History Month

Black History Month is celebrated every February to honor and recognize the achievements of Black leaders.

At DASH, we pay tribute to the legacy and ongoing contributions of Black leaders in our community past and present.

“Differences of race, nationality or religion should not be used to deny any human being citizenship rights or privileges.” – Rosa Parks

Our mission is to break barriers that prevent marginalized survivors from accessing housing and supports. We believe safe housing is basic human right for all.

Follow along as we honor Black trailblazers who led anti-violence activism and broke barriers for the Black community.


Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Dating violence is more common than people think, especially among teens & young adults.

That’s why we’re participating in #TDVAM, an annual month-long push focused on advocacy & education to stop dating abuse before it starts.

Join us in promoting self-empowerment & healthy relationships. Everyone is deserving of a healthy, loving relationship!

Follow along all month using the tag #TalkAboutIt

Human Trafficking Prevention Month

It’s estimated that as many as 24.9 million adults and children are trapped in some form of human trafficking around the world, including in the United States.

Victims of domestic violence are highly vulnerable to exploitation.

Their abusers use tactics to exert power and control in different ways. These include false promises of security, respect and love.

When fleeing human trafficking, access to safe and confidential shelter or housing is key. DASH’s safe housing programs welcomes survivors of human trafficking. We can provide survivor-centered resources and systems navigation as they rebuild their lives on their own terms.

If you are a victim of human trafficking and need help, or believe you know someone who is being trafficked, you can contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at ☎️ (888) 373-7888.


EXCEL Award Announcement

We are honored to share BIG news!

The Center for Nonprofit Advancement announced that DASH’s President & CEO, Koube Ngaaje, was selected for this year’s Excellence in Chief Executive Leadership Award.

After an extensive application and interview process with staff and board members, Koube was named this year’s EXCEL award winner. The Center is recognizing Koube’s impact of leading a new phase of growth and innovation marked by increased revenue, expanded programming, a focus on monitoring and evaluation, and several awards and honors.

About the Award:

Awarded by the Center since 2005, the EXCEL Award honors exceptional nonprofit chief executives in our region. The competition recognizes achievement in the areas of innovation, motivation, community building, ethical integrity and strategic leadership.

Please join us in congratulating Koube and celebrating her bold leadership!