H Street Community Development Corporation (HSCDC) has employed teenagers for more than a quarter century 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.
Beginning in 2006, 15 students participated in the inaugural language and cultural enrichment program known then as H Street’s China Challenge Program—A Global Experience. The China Challenge Program was initiated to increase communication and global competency skills of DC teens by exposing them to 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 encouraged students to appreciate differences and more readily accept diversity. From 2006-2011, three cohorts studied Mandarin and Chinese culture and visited several Chinese cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Xi’an).
In 2010, under new leadership, a new name, the Community Global Initiative (CGI) replaced the China Challenge to more closely align with the focus of learning about more international communities. The CGI continued to foster the original concept and expanded 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 other cities in the United States and to countries abroad. In 2013, the CGI cohort studied Portuguese and visited Brazil (Rio and Salvador de Bahia) and South Africa (Cape Town, Soweto, and Johannesburg). In 2014, the program changed its name and logo again in a rebranding process, becoming the Global Scholars Foundation (GSF), still keeping its original focus at the forefront. The GSF cohort studied Spanish and visited Spain (Granada, Toledo, Sevilla Costa del Sol, Madrid and Ronda) and Morocco in summer 2015.