$175,000 grant to boost literacy skills, strengthen families, improve communities
Louisville, Ky., – The National Center for Families Learning, in partnership with Toyota, the Louisville Free Public Library (LFPL) and Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) on Thursday unveiled a unique family learning program. Called Toyota Family Learning, this innovative, two-generation model addresses the educational challenges facing low-income and ethnically diverse families. LFPL received a three-year, $175,000 grant from Toyota and NCFL to launch the program.
Forty-five Louisville families – more than 140 people – are enrolled in Toyota Family Learning at the Main Library downtown and Okolona Elementary. The program empowers parents and caregivers, as well as their children, to become engaged in their schools and communities. It also leverages technology as parents and children learn together and serve their communities through NCFL’s Family Service Learning approach, Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®, and family-to-family mentoring.
Sara Aguirre joined Toyota Family Learning with the hope that it will start her on a path to find a better job and improve her family’s quality of life by helping her get her GED® certificate and apply to college. She is learning more English and is relying less on her children to translate.
“My three children and I love PACT Time®,” Aguirre said. “Spending that time together is priceless. I know I am learning how to better help them with their homework. We have fun with it and are a stronger family because of it.”
Independent evaluations show that among families graduating from Toyota Family Learning in 2015:
- 90 percent of parents increased their engagement in their children’s education;
- 96 percent became better teachers to their children;
- 75 percent increased their English language skills;
- 34 percent parents got a better job.
“Toyota Family Learning is giving our citizens the tools they need to become contributing members of our community – by being involved in their children’s school, getting better jobs, and being more engaged in their own neighborhood,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “And in keeping with our core value of compassion, these families are not just learning the skills they need to flourish; they’re giving back to the community through Family Service Learning projects.”
The projects include making cards and drawings and delivering them to patients at Kosair Children’s Hospital. They are also beginning a project collecting toiletries to be delivered to Wayside Christian Mission, and are planning a food drive. Additionally, the Toyota Family Learning families will organize a cleanup effort with Operation Brightside later this spring.
“Toyota Family Learning is a dynamic initiative that directly aligns with our district’s vision that all students graduate prepared, empowered and inspired to reach their full potential and contribute as thoughtful, responsible citizens,” said Dr. Donna Hargens, JCPS superintendent. “By encouraging family learning and providing academic support for both children and parents, we can ensure greater successes in our classrooms and our community.”
“Libraries are uniquely positioned to impact people at all stages of learning—from early childhood, to students in formal learning settings, to those who simply want to better themselves and broaden their horizons,” said Louisville Free Public Library Director Jim Blanton. “That is why we are so thrilled to be selected as one of only a few library systems in the nation to participate in the Toyota Family Learning program.”
Louisville is the 13th community to become part of the Toyota Family Learning program. Two other cities will be unveiled this year. In total, Toyota has committed $10 million over a six-year period for this national education initiative.
“Toyota Family Learning makes an impact that will be seen and felt for decades to come,” said Sharon Darling, president and founder of NCFL. “As parents and children are elevated through education and technology training, they realize they can make a difference in their own lives, as well as the community.”
This year, NCFL and Toyota celebrate 25 years of partnership. Since 1991, more than 2 million parents and children across the country have been impacted by programs developed by NCFL – a pioneer in the concept of families learning and serving together to raise literacy levels and improve communities. NCFL-Toyota site-based programs have been brought to life in nearly 60 cities across the U.S.
“We are proud to stand with NCFL to make a real difference in the lives of families across the country,” said Mike Goss, vice president of external affairs, Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, Inc. “By offering ways to learn that are relevant and engaging, we are able to bridge the gap between classroom and lifelong learning so that people can find success on the road of life.”
The Toyota Family Learning initiative also includes two online learning communities: Family Time Machine, which encourages grantee site families to learn and thrive together, and Toyota Family Trails, a website that inspires families nationwide to learn through family exploration and adventure.