Civic Leadership Certificate Program

Practical civic transformation, one community at a time


The Civic Leadership Certificate Program is intended to help you develop the skills you need to make a positive impact in your career and in your life AND to help us build the team of thoughtful, emotionally intelligent, and effective leaders we need to accomplish the mission of the DC Tutoring & Mentoring Initiative (DCTMI).

Team of four at NoMa Movie Night, Summer 2016

We meet three times over the spring for breakfast and thought-provoking exercises and discussions. No homework is required but we expect active participation from all. After the workshops, participants will split into groups and put their knowledge into practice — typically talking to community members at farmers markets or other open-air events about the work we are doing and how they can get involved to make a better world.

The goals of the DC Tutoring & Mentoring Initiative are simple: We are recruiting a tutor or mentor for the 2 out of 3 students reading below grade level or who need extra academic or non-academic support in the District of Columbia and then connecting them to our 40 partner tutoring & mentoring organizations and schools around the city.

We are working to transform both education AND the civic life of the city by strengthening our “civic muscles” — our resolve, our habits and our ability to work together with love and wisdom to solve our shared problems — and serve as a model for our divided nation. We hope that you will join us!

Discussion Sessions

Session 1: Civic Canvassing and Leadership
Session 2: Lessons from Psychology
Session 3: Lessons from the Civil Rights and Gay Marriage Equality Movements


The program is free and we can provide a limited number of travel stipends. Your contribution to cover the costs of meals or coffee is appreciated but not required.


The next sessions will start Saturday, March 16th and 23rd, and run through the end of March. On the 16th, the session will be at the historic Josephine Butler Parks Center in Columbia Heights (2437 15th St. NW) and on the 23rd, it will be at the Emergence Community Arts Collective (ECAC) at 733 Eucld


The DC Tutoring & Mentoring Initiative is a program of the Civic Leadership Project, a 501(c)(3) public charity.
The program will be led by Tom Pollak, founder and director of CLP/DCTMI and Laurette Bennhold-Samaan. Tom has spent his 30-year career deeply immersed in nonprofit and community-building practice and research at a number of organizations, including the Urban Institute, Independent Sector, and Citizens Fund. He also has his law degree from Georgetown University and is a member of the Maryland and DC bars (inactive status). Laurette has spent her career in the cross-cultural training and leadership development field, including seven years spearheading training at the Peace Corps.

How to Participate

Interested in participating? Sound interesting? Please fill out the form below. (Group size will be limited to 12 people.)
Questions? You can email us at, text or call us at 202-688-1261.

Our Guiding Principles and Core Beliefs

The following quotes capture the spirit of our work:

Make a career of humanity… You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. – Albert Einstein

The adaptive demands of our societies require leadership that takes responsibility without waiting for revelation or request. One may lead perhaps with no more than a question in hand. – Ronald Heifetz, Leadership Without Easy Answers

There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. – Nelson Mandela

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have. – Margaret Mead
When we are really honest with ourselves we must admit that our lives are all that really belong to us. So, it is how we use our lives that determines what kind of [people] we are. It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life… When you have people together who believe in something very strongly – whether it’s religion or politics or unions – things happen.—Cesar Chavez

Only through the bringing together of head and heart— intelligence and goodness — shall man rise to a fulfillment of his true nature. – Martin Luther King, Jr.