February 1, 2007 – San Anotnio, Texas – Toyota's investment in the San Antonio community continues to grow, as three area elementary schools are now up-and-running with a new family literacy program by way of a $600,000 grant from the automaker.
The Toyota Family Literacy Program (TFLP) – the first of its kind to focus on the needs of Hispanic and other immigrant families on a national level – will be featured in three area schools: Bob Hope Elementary, Sky Harbour Elementary, and Sun Valley Elementary. All three schools are located in the Southwest Independent School District, where the student population is 88 percent Hispanic and 90 percent of third grade children are considered to be economically disadvantaged.
TFLP -- which got its start in 2003 and is now functioning in 10 cities across the U.S. -- aims to increase basic language and literacy skills among Hispanic and immigrant families, and provide parents with the skills they need to help their children succeed in school. The program specifically serves children in kindergarten to third grade and their parents. TFLP is unique in that it incorporates NCFL's multicultural family literacy model, which combines key components including: ESL courses, early childhood education, parenting education, Parent and Child Together (PACT) activities, and computer-literacy instruction. Toyota has donated $26 million to the program since its inception.
TFLP is coordinated by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL), the country's leading advocate for family literacy. In addition to the launch at these three schools, the funding will allow NCFL to provide comprehensive support for training, educational materials and assistance at each site. Southwest Independent School District is working hand-in-hand with NCFL to implement the family literacy program.
In addition to San Antonio, four other cities are part of the latest expansion of the family literacy program: Chula Vista, Calif., Orlando, Fla., Wichita, Kan., and Winston-Salem, N.C. A total of 155 school districts submitted applications for the five spots, all vying for part of the overall $3 million grant from Toyota.
"The Southwest District is honored to have been chosen for this prestigious grant that will add a new dimension to our growing district," said Dr. Velma Villegas, Superintendent of Schools, Southwest Independent School District. "Through the generosity of the Toyota Family Literacy Program, we can offer enrichment to the families of the community that will enhance their lives for generations to come."
Early results from the TFLP programs already implemented include:
• Significant literacy gains by adults, the majority of which improved their literacy scores by one or more levels
• Ratings for children in the program that exceeded peers in areas including academic performance, motivation to learn, attendance, classroom behavior, involvement in classroom activities, and other areas
• 70% of participating families holding a library card by the end of the first year
• Waiting lists at the majority of program sites due to high demand
Other area contributors to TFLP include Education Service Center Region 20, which will provide parent instructors and an aide for the Parent Education component of the program. In addition, Texas A&M University students majoring in education have volunteered to work with parents on-site. Also, Palo Alto College – a part of the Alamo Area Community College District -- will be a collaborating partner.
"Partnering with Toyota, NCFL has nurtured a proven formula of research and delivery of family literacy services that not only works for the participants, it works for the betterment of the communities," said Sharon Darling, president and founder of NCFL. "And, we're proud to say our path to success here in San Antonio has been set by the impressive gains made by Toyota Family Literacy Program participants and children and families in family literacy programs in the hundreds of other cities we work in."
"San Antonio has truly embraced Toyota and we are tremendously grateful for their support," said Pat Pineda, group vice president, legal, philanthropy and administration at Toyota Motor North America. "We thank NCFL and the Southwest Independent School District and look forward to working together to make a positive, lasting contribution to students and families throughout this community."
The National Center for Family Literacy was established by Sharon Darling in 1989 with a grant from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust. For the past 17 years, NCFL has pioneered educational initiatives that open pathways to continuous life improvement for the nation's most at-risk children and families. The organization has supported more than 150,000 teachers and thousands of volunteers, leading to positive gains for more than 1 million families. To learn more, call 1-877-FAMLIT1 or visit www.famlit.org.
Since 1991, Toyota and NCFL have forged successful programs to promote family literacy in the United States. Toyota has contributed $26 million to help NCFL establish family literacy model programs throughout the country. Today, the Toyota/NCFL partnership accounts for nearly 211 family literacy sites in 38 cities and 26 states. As part of this partnership, the Toyota Family Literacy Teacher of the Year award has been presented annually since 1997 and recognizes individual teachers' contributions to improving literacy among youth and adults. Additional information on Toyota's commitment to improving education nationwide is available at www.toyota.com/about/community/education/.
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