The name Manners First is derived from the Godly principles of showing “respect for self, for others, and for learning.” Manners First was inspired in the heart of its founder, L. Clayton Washington. These Godly principles were taught to Clayton by his grandmother, his parents, the Rev. Frankie and Lucinda Washington, and others. They instilled in him the principle: "Good manners will take you further in life than money." Clayton began to instill the principles of Manners First in Delaware schools in January 1997. Ever since, God has helped Manners First to grow into and to remain a fruitful blessing to many students, families, and communities.


Our vision is to expose all students to success by using Godly wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and compassion along with our experience and credentials in the field of education.

Our mission is to encourage, support, and create social, academic, and career opportunities for all students including those with disabilities, ESL students, and/or those at-risk. Our main focus is to continually improve the academic achievement level for all students in order for them to gain full economic empowerment, independent living, and to become productive citizens.

His grace is sufficient for us. His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
(2 Corinthians 12:9).  I [we] can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)


Every day in our schools, too many students give up on their dreams and goals. So many have lost the motivation for learning and have given up on learning, causing them to turn to the false hopes of drugs and crimes, which produce self- destruction and damage to the community.

Our purpose at Manners First Education Foundation is to expose all students to a Lively Hope, and to provide them with social, academic, and career support. Our programs and initiatives are designed to encourage, support, and create a nurturing environment for learning and opportunities for all students to demonstrate their God-given gifts, talents, and skills.

Currently, Manners First Education Foundation sees an urgent need for greater works and services for our students and families in the field of education. With the dropout rate at higher than 60% in most urban school districts, a bottom figure graduation rate, and the high cost to the state for dropouts, we as parents, educators, business leaders, and community members, cannot afford to be blind to the elephants in our communities. We must actively challenge all the stakeholders involved, including the students. This sense of urgency and need is what compels us daily to seek effective changes in the state of education.

Manners First Education Foundation is led by a team of compassionate and highly qualified advisors representing families, corporations, businesses, local and state governments, colleges and universities, and faith-based organizations, as well as the fields of education, pediatrics, health, law, and the military.

  • 2003: Received Best Practices in Education Award and Most Innovative Grant Writer Award from MBNA Education Foundation.
  • 2004 and 2005: With assistance from the Delaware National Guard, Team Manners First, an after-school boys’ group for students at-risk and/or with disabilities, was awarded the Leadership Award two years in a row by Delaware’s Secretary of Education.
  • 2005: Vo-tech students set a school record for the number of scholarships and awards received and with the total dollar amount over $2 million.
  • 2007: Received two Respect Awards at William Penn High School for creating innovative initiatives and contests to improve the respect level at the school.
  • 2007: Received the Learning Award for initiating: College/Career Learning that exposes All Students to Success (C.L.A.S.S.), an innovative program to assist high school seniors with college admissions and scholarships, career and job placement (The WILL WORK! initiative!), and financial literacy and economic empowerment. C.L.A.S.S. and On-the-Spot initiatives were instrumental in assisting William Penn’s senior class, who set a school record for the highest number of scholarships and financial aid awards received - with the total dollar amount exceeding $2.6 million.
  • 2008: New book: Manners First G.I.F.T.S.
  • 2008: For the first time in Christiana High School’s history, students were admitted to University of Pennsylvania with the assistance of Attorney Mr. Ralph Sianni.
  • 2008: Initiated and developed a school career center at Christiana High.
  • 2009: Wrote and received a grant for a Community Career Center at Kirk Middle School or parents/guardians and students.
  • 2009: Initiated Mega Care and Cheerful givers at Kirk Middle School where students, staff, and administrators accepted the challenge to become cheerful givers for those that are in need. The project, called Mega Care and Cheerful Givers, resulted in donations of gift cards, cash, and food. Over $1,500 in gift cards were donated, and every one of the 29 homeless students at Kirk received a gift card. Several other families also received $100 gift certificates. Students and teachers brought in three containers of nonperishable goods to donate to the Salvation Army.
  • 2009: Initiated Team Manners First boys group for at-risk students at Kirk. With the assistance of the school's Resource Officer, students were given opportunities to demonstrate leadership skills and respect for self, for others, and for learning.
  • 2009: Introduced Manners First C.L.A.S.S. at the middle school level- focuses on weekly college and career development questions with an emphasis on students demonstrating respect for self, for others, and for learning.

To contact us for additional information on our programs and initiatives:
Please write to us at P.O. Box 871, Bear, De 19701, or you may contact L. Clayton Washington at 1-302-545-8838 or Contact us by email
for additional information on our initiatives. Thanks again for planting seeds of hope in the lives of our students, families, and communities.
Please let us know how we can assist you in meeting the needs of your neighborhood or business.
Thank you for supporting our students and our community. We are making a difference, and we will continue to do Greater works and services.
Manners First Education Foundation is a 501(C) (3) nonprofit organization. Donations and contributions are tax deductible as allowed by law.

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