English Literacy is a Family Affair

Posted on October 30, 2019

CFCC grant helps provides English Literacy classes to parents — while their children are being cared for

Some non-profits might look at toddlers of parents seeking English literacy skills as a problem: How can we afford to provide babysitting while parents attend classes?

But the Literacy Volunteers of Collier County (LVCC) regards the situation as an opportunity – to teach youngsters ages 1 to 4 about letters, numbers, reading, and even writing their names, which gives the children a better chance at success in pre-kindergarten and beyond.

The resulting initiative, aptly named Families Learning English (FLE), amounts to a powerful combination of adult and early childhood literacy, with an accent on parents reinforcing the lessons at home, thanks to books purchased with the help of a $15,000 Angel Fund for Nonprofits Giving Circle grant.

That grant is leveraged with LVCC members trained as tutors and classroom space provided by Collier County Public Schools. Literacy Volunteers plans even more partnering to expand the $70,000 initial annual FLE budget (from a total $300,0000 LVCC organizational budget) to grow the client base of 160 children and 70 adults at five schools – up from 85 children and 41 parents at four schools in only one year.

Classes are offered when parents come to drop off or pick up school-age children. Success for adults and toddlers is continuously monitored.

FLE is a good fit with the Community Foundation’s ongoing commitment to education, innovation, volunteerism, literacy, and affordable, high-quality childcare, which the grant application says none of FLE’s clients – all from non-English-speaking households — can afford.

Thus, the Angel Fund grant touches on many and varied solutions for long-term quality of life upgrades. LVCC leaders say they know of no other local program offering simultaneous literacy instruction for parents and youngsters.

And yes, the clients – all eager to succeed, which the 250-member Literacy Volunteers said drives high expectations for success – get to keep those books.

“Continued funding for Families Learning English is crucial to continue and expand the program,” explained Cindy Denhart, director of family programs for the LVCC. “The money is needed to purchase curriculum materials for the adult students; educational games, toys, and books for the children; and fiction and non-fiction books to give to the families to enhance and encourage English literacy in their homes.’’      

Submitted by Jeff Lytle