Goizueta Foundation Awards $5.8 Million Grant to YMCA of the USA
To Expand Early Childhood and After-school Programs for Hispanic and Latino Families
The Goizueta Foundation has awarded a grant for $5.8 million to expand YMCA early learning and after-school programs for Hispanic and Latino families, with a focus on those from underserved communities. The new grant will also help the Y further develop its early learning readiness model to better support Hispanic family members, friends and neighbors who serve as informal caregivers of young children.
The grant, to be awarded over three years, represents a renewed commitment from The Goizueta Foundation to the Y to support child care and early education programs for underserved Hispanic and Latino children and their families.
In 2007 the Foundation awarded YMCA of the USA a grant for $2.6 million to pilot the Welcoming Hispanic Families into YMCA Early Childhood Education and Care outreach program for Hispanic communities at five Y program sites in Georgia, and to conduct national research and program development on early childhood education and care for Hispanic and Latino children.
The learnings from these pilot studies indicated the need for additional supports for families and children throughout the state – beyond the age of five, and outside the walls of traditional center-based programs. Among the key findings:
• Hispanic/Latino families often place a strong importance on family members supporting one another and have a cultural tendency to keep young children at home, rather than place them in a traditional child care setting.
• Often, Hispanic/Latino families distinguish between the role of the parent (to provide moral upbringing) and the role of the teacher (to provide an academic education). As a result, some Hispanic/Latino parents are unaware that children are expected to have so many school-readiness skills upon entering kindergarten and first grade.
• Newer immigrants are less likely to have a trusted person with whom to leave their children and are often limited in their choice of informal home-care providers.
To address these findings, the Y will use the new funding from The Goizueta Foundation to introduce two distinct yet interrelated program models designed to 1) serve even more young children, ages 5-8, in the Y's after-school programs through an expanded Welcoming Hispanic Families program, and 2) extend support to family, friends and neighbors who serve as informal caregivers of young children ages birth to 5, by providing activities and resources that focus on early cognitive development.
According to Audrey Rodriguez, Community Outreach Director for the Coastal Georgia YMCA, the 2007 initiative led to a huge increase in the number of Hispanic families participating in local YMCA activities.
“When we started this program, we had nine Hispanic children participating in YMCA programs,” Rodriguez said. “That number has now expanded to well over 100 kids. We have added multicultural programs to our curriculum and diversity training for Y employees. We now have Spanish language classes for all our kids and we have given ESL instruction (English as a second language) to 87 children who spoke little or no English.”
Last month, Rodriguez led a series of assessment meetings with community leaders and parents to determine ways the YMCA can better serve the Hispanic community. Participants in an August 9th forum agreed that transportation and the language barrier remain the largest obstacles to participation in Y activities.
“One of the things we are most excited about this fall is the chance to partner with local public schools that educate large numbers of Hispanic children to provide afternoon activities at several local schools,” Rodriguez said.
Aldric Dekle, director of the Savannah-Chatham County Public School's 21st Century Community Learning Center Program, said this partnership would provide students at participating schools with hot meals and tutoring as well as exposure to a variety of new activities.
“Our goal is to get past a cultural mindset that doesn't value the after-school experience and expose our kids to activities they may not experience during the school day,” Aldric said. “ We'll also provide enrichment activities like Tai-Kwan-Do, Ballet, Jazz, and Tap dancing.”
For more information about this grant and employment opportunities for bilingual workers, please contact Audrey Rodriguez at (912) 354-5480. For more information about the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, contact Program Director, Aldric Dekle at (912) 395-5686.