National literacy program unveiled at three Long Beach schools

March 11, 2009

LONG BEACH, Calif.  – A national family literacy program was unveiled today at three Long Beach 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 César Chávez Elementary, King Elementary and McKinley Elementary in Long Beach. The three schools average 75 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. Long Beach Unified School District is working hand-in-hand with NCFL to implement the family literacy program.

“We deeply appreciate this generous grant from Toyota, and we commend the work of the National Center for Family Literacy,” said Christopher J. Steinhauser, superintendent, Long Beach Unified School District.

Parents and their children will benefit.

“This grant will help us to increase student achievement in the crucial early grades while getting more parents involved in school,” Steinhauser said. “Many of our parents speak only Spanish at home, and for them, this program provides a vital connection between school and home. This is a well-planned use of resources that will benefit our schools and students greatly.”

Along with Long Beach, 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 Las Cruces, N.M. 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.

Claudia Ramírez, one of the first Long Beach participants along with her son, Jorge, a kindergarten student at King Elementary, said the program has already had an impact.

“It has been wonderful for us. I was afraid to speak English before we enrolled, and Jorge was so afraid to participate in his class – he wouldn’t raise his hand or answer questions. Now, I am a confident English speaker and Jorge is much more comfortable in his kindergarten classroom. He now raises his hand and participates; that is due mainly to the PACT (Parent and Child Together) time in the classroom.”

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 Long Beach 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 Long Beach and we look forward to making even more positive and lasting contributions to students and families.”


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


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

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