National Literacy Program Unveiled At Three Las Cruces Schools

February 19, 2009

A national family literacy program was unveiled today at three Las Cruces elementary schools. The program – funded by a $600,000 grant from Toyota – is coordinated by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL). It is the only initiative of its kind to focus on the needs of Hispanic and other immigrant families on a nationwide basis.

The Toyota Family Literacy Program (TFLP) is now up-and-running at Cesar Chavez Elementary, Columbia Elementary and Tombaugh Elementary in Las Cruces. The three schools average 82 percent Hispanic enrollment.

In addition to launching the program at these three schools, the funding will allow NCFL to provide comprehensive support for training, educational materials and technical assistance at each site. Las Cruces Public Schools is working hand-in-hand with NCFL to implement the family literacy program.

“This grant is very important to Las Cruces Public Schools because it will help us improve childhood education (kindergarten through 3rd grade), which is so vital to every child’s future in school and eventually in the work force and in society,” said Stan Rounds, superintendent, Las Cruces Public Schools.

Parents, too, will benefit.

“It will help us get more parents involved in their children’s educations, particularly in an area where we have many families who speak only Spanish in the home,” Rounds said. “Parental involvement is a critical part of every child’s education, and anything that will help the school district bring more parents into the classroom is a win-win situation for everyone.”

Along with Las Cruces, four other cities are part of the latest $3 million expansion of the Toyota Family Literacy Program: Springdale, Ark.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Long Beach, Calif. A total of 191 school districts submitted applications for the five spots.

Created by NCFL, which is the country’s leader in the practice of raising the literacy level of parents and children simultaneously, the Toyota Family Literacy Program is NCFL’s signature initiative. TFLP – which got its start in 2003 and now operates in 25 cities across the U.S. –

increases basic language and literacy skills among Hispanic and other immigrant families, and provides parents with the skills they need to help their children succeed in school. It specifically serves children in kindergarten to third grade and their parents.

The program is unique not only because it brings parents and children together in the classroom, but it also incorporates NCFL’s multicultural family literacy model, which is programming that is culturally relevant to the populations served. Since 1991, Toyota’s commitment to NCFL programming has exceeded $36 million.

Rossy Reza, one of the first Las Cruces participants along with her daughter, Roxana Tena, a kindergarten student at Cesar Chavez, is excited about the program.

“It has meant a lot to me and my classmates because our self-esteem has improved. Having day-care service gives us the opportunity to attend GED, ESL and parenting classes. Learning English will help us to communicate better with teachers, help our children with their homework and get better jobs.”

Results from the TFLP programs already implemented include:

 

- Significant literacy gains by adults with 54 percent improving literacy scores by at least one level. This has contributed to an improved understanding of basic oral and written instructions in English, reading a note from a teacher, setting up a doctor’s appointment, and displaying basic computer literacy skills (word processing and sending e-mail);

 

- Children in the program exceeded peers in such areas as academic performance (79 percent), motivation to learn (86 percent), attendance (96 percent), classroom behavior (91 percent), and involvement in classroom activities (88 percent);

 

- 92 percent of parents stating they are better able to help their child with homework; and

 

- 91 percent of parents stating their child’s grades have improved.

 

“By partnering with Toyota, NCFL has nurtured a proven formula of research and delivery of family literacy services that not only works for the participants, but 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 Las Cruces has been set by the impressive gains made by thousands of TFLP participants in family literacy programs nationwide.”

Toyota is proud of its partnership with NCFL.

“Through the efforts of NCFL, the Toyota Family Literacy Program has already proven successful in reaching thousands of families in diverse communities across the country,” said Patricia Pineda, group vice president, philanthropy, Toyota Motor North America, Inc. “We’re thrilled to bring the program to Las Cruces and we look forward to making even more positive and lasting contributions to students and families.”

ABOUT NCFL

The National Center for Family Literacy, founded in 1989 and based in Louisville, Ky., is the worldwide leader in family literacy. More than 1 million families have made positive educational and economic gains as a result of NCFL’s work, which includes training more than 150,000 teachers and thousands of volunteers. For more information, contact 1-877-FAMLIT-1 or visit http://www.famlit.org/.

ABOUT TOYOTA

Since 1991, Toyota and NCFL have forged successful programs to promote family literacy in the United States. Today, the Toyota/NCFL partnership accounts for 241 family literacy sites in 47 cities and 29 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/our_commitment/philanthropy/education.

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