Literacy Program Receives $45,250 Grant From The Audre & Bernard Rapoport Foundation

News Photo 2419
(L to R) Dr. Deb Johnston, acting dean of the Baylor School of Education; Dr. Randy Wood, professor of education; Alfredo Loredo, principal of Cesar Chavez Middle School; Maggie McCarthy, executive director of the Rapoport Foundation; Gloria Guardiola, executive director of AVANCE Waco; Dr. Diana Garland, dean of the Baylor School of Social Work; and Dr. Rob Rogers, professor of social work.
Dec. 13, 2004

The Audre and Bernard Rapoport Foundation has granted the community-based literacy program LEAF (Learning English Among Friends) a $45,250 grant to continue its efforts to strengthen families and build the community of South Waco. A check presentation ceremony was held Dec. 13 in the library at César Chávez.

LEAF is a collaboration between César Chávez Middle School, Baylor University's Schools of Education and Social Work, GEAR UP of Waco, and McLennan County Youth Collaboration (MCYC). Since the fall of 2003, LEAF has been welcoming parents and community members to the César Chávez Middle School campus on Thursday evenings for adult literacy classes, presentations by community leaders, and family dinners.

"LEAF developed over a two-year period from parents expressing the need to learn English in order to meet the needs of their children, obtain better jobs, and become more aware of the services of the community," says Dr. Randy M. Wood, professor of education at Baylor and LEAF director.

The program has grown from 30 to more than 100 participants. The classes are taught by Baylor students in small groups throughout the Chávez campus. LEAF is also providing computer literacy and GED classes.

The program is free and includes child care as well as an age 4-grade 8 reading component.

"They (the parents) come to learn," said Dr. Rob Rogers, an associate professor of social work at Baylor and LEAF administrator. "We regularly have complaints that we have to stop after only an hour, and that's a good sign in education."

Hoping to improve overall student achievement by providing instruction for parents, César Chávez Middle School principal Alfredo Loredo was pleased to open the school building for this program.

"Schools can no longer be separate entities, they have to be collaborative," Loredo says. "LEAF has become the fruits of so many laborers. For the benefits that we are getting out of it, the cost to keep the school open is nothing."

The $45,240 grant will be used to strengthen the LEAF/AVANCE Waco collaboration. AVANCE Waco, already a grant recipient from the Rapoport Foundation, is growing deep roots in family and community life in South Waco through its successful Parent-Child Education program. The children of these families will enter school with the requisite skills for success, and their parents will be more equipped to be their most influential teachers.

AVANCE and LEAF are helping the graduates of this program obtain the education they need to compete successfully in the marketplace and improve their family's standard of living. In addition to co-enrolling their families in LEAF, AVANCE will contribute to the program by introducing families to LEAF through its community outreach efforts, providing transportation and educationally enriched child care on Thursday evenings, and expanding its Incentive Store to include LEAF participants. In addition, AVANCE and LEAF will co-sponsor a family-centered educational field trip once each quarter to places such as the Harry and Anna Jeanes Discovery Center, the centerpiece of Baylor's Mayborn Museum Complex, and the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco.

Attending the presentation were LEAF participants Maggie McCarthy, executive director of the Rapoport Foundation; Dr. Deborah Johnston, acting dean of Baylor's School of Education and Dr. Diana Garland, chair of Baylor's School of Social Work; Gloria Guardiola, director of AVANCE Waco; LEAF administrators; and WISD administrators.

For more information, please contact Dr. Randy Wood, 710-2410 or Alfredo M. Loredo, 750-3736.

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