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CONTACT: Bruce Smith
Public Information
(310) 434-4209
DATE: Dec. 9, 2003

Funds to Be Used to Help Low-Income Parents & Children

For the first time in its history, Santa Monica College has received a $1.02 million federal family literacy grant that will be used to improve literacy and bolster the education of low-income parents and their young children.

SMC is one of only four community college in California to be awarded the four-year, nationally recognized William F. Goodling Even Start Family Literacy Program grant.

“This grant will allow Santa Monica College – working with local schools, the city of Santa Monica and several community education and literacy organizations – to open doors to the magic world of literature to low-income families and to offer them new educational opportunities,” said SMC President Dr. Piedad F. Robertson.

SMC – working with several partner agencies – is currently recruiting parents of children from infancy through 7 years old for a unique program that combines adult education with parent-child literacy activities. The program will target parents who have not completed high school or who are enrolled – or willing to enroll – in at least 20 hours a month in an educational program, including community college, vocational training, English-as-a-Second-Language, adult school or high school diploma program. Children are enrolled – or will enroll – in a childcare or school program at least 60 hours a month.

In addition, the parents and their children will be required to:

• Attend a monthly parent support workshop.
• Attend a monthly “Read Aloud” workshop, which will include instruction on reading books aloud to children, selecting books, and doing book-related activities at home.
• Attend a monthly in-home visit by an Even Start staff person or the child’s teacher that will include information on a child’s physical, emotional, social, and mental development and suggestions for activities to do with the children to support their school readiness. Parents will also be counseled on their academic, family and career goals.

“This is the first time this particular kind of federal funding has been awarded to an agency in Santa Monica,” said Joe Ryan, SMC’s Even Start project manager. “So often we’re fighting the image that Santa Monica doesn’t have educational needs, but in fact there’s a belt of low-income, limited-English-speaking residents in Santa Monica, primarily in the Pico neighborhood just north of the college.”

The college will be operating the program in partnership with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, City of Santa Monica’s Children’s Services, Easter Seals, WISE American Reads, and Connections for Children.
The $250 million federally funded William F. Goodling Even Start Family Literacy Program – which seeks to break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy – is the nation’s largest family literacy initiative, with 1,400 programs that serve approximately 50,000 families. Evaluations have shown that adults in the program have substantially higher educational completion rates than their counterparts who are not in the program and that children develop school readiness skills faster than expected.

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