July 5, 2006
For immediate release
Ten partners, led by the Gevirtz Research Center’s Family Literacy/ESL Program, have helped bring together UC Santa Barbara, the greater community, and local school districts in a unique effort to improve the academic achievement and school-age readiness of children and the English fluency, leadership, and advocacy and teaching skills of parents. The program, called Verizon Project SUCCESS (Sustaining University and Community Collaboration to Promote Educational Success in Schools), has helped over 500 children and parents since 2003. The United Kingdom’s government-funded National Research and Development Centre selected the Verizon Options Initiative as one of two projects from the North American continent to be included in qualitative review of effective worldwide practices in family literacy, numeracy, and language.
Vishna Herrity, Executive Director of the Gevirtz Research Center, asserts, “By working together we leverage dollars, support, personnel, and resources,” and thereby achieve even more. The major components of Verizon Project SUCCESS include the Gevirtz Family Literacy Program; Isla Vista Youth Project’s School Readiness Program; ENLACE y Avance/Padres Adelante; the Parents, Children, and Computers Project; and the Community Affairs Board Corps Family Literacy.
The Gevirtz Family Literacy Program focuses on the “golden triangle” of life skills and communication skills, helping parents work with their children to help them succeed in school and to strengthen the school-home connection. Lead instructor Rebecca Simon runs a multi-language class for 25-30 students three days a week for three hours in an adult English language development program called Community-Based English Tutoring.
Isla Vista Youth Project’s School Readiness Program works with the children of parents in the Gevirtz Family Literacy Program. Fifteen children ages 2-5 take part in a wide-ranging curriculum that prepares them cognitively in mathematics, science and literacy.
ENLACE y Avance/Padres Adelante, aimed especially at parents who never attended college, helps develop parental leadership, teaching them a wide-range of tangible skills like how to take part in a parent-teacher conference. The program has been so successful it has expanded from Isla Vista Elementary to the César Chávez Charter School in Santa Barbara. Martha Ruiz, a parent in the program, says, “I learned to speak in public and I’m not afraid anymore to ask questions of teachers and administrators. I learned how to motivate my children to keep their interest in school.”
The Parents, Children, and Computers Project keeps both generations prepared for computer use. Parents first develop basic skills like word processing but then move on to collaborative projects – often with help from their children – such as a bilingual newsletter focusing on key educational issues. The children in the program get help with their homework and participate in other enrichment activities.
The Community Affairs Board (CAB) Corps Family Literacy is part of UCSB’s student volunteer action center. Through the CAB, college students volunteer in classrooms and in homes to tutor youth in Isla Vista.
In addition to these programs, Verizon Project SUCCES also includes the Isla Vista Elementary School, the Goleta Union School District, Santa Barbara School Districts, UCSB’s Davidson Library, and the YMCA Isla Vista Teen Center as partners.The program first came together in 2003 when the Verizon Foundation made a call for grant applications. UCSB could submit only one proposal, so the core partners, led by the Gevirtz Research Center, proposed the Options Initiative, a comprehensive program that allowed parents to choose from a variety of family literacy services. Verizon funded the project with $160,000 that year. The next year the program expanded – as was required to get continued funding from Verizon - and was renamed Project SUCCESS. Herrity claims, “The expansion meant we involved more public agencies, offered more services, and were now intergenerational, as we served everyone from babies to grandparents. It’s quite an exciting program.” Although the second year funding of $127,000 has been used, Herrity says, “We continue the services because we see the value in it.”
[Facilitators and researchers that are part of this program are available for interviews; contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789.]