An Early Learning Movement to Advance Hispanic School Readiness
The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is engaged with the gatekeepers of 40,000+ Hispanic Evangelical churches in America. Education is a core initiative for the NHCLC and is a priority for Hispanics in America. Pew Research identified “Education” as one of the top three priorities for the Hispanic community in a report in February 2017.
The last ten years have seen major success in the NHCLC’s program to thwart the high school drop-out rate. The Education Sunday program was launched to help Hispanic churches discover their role in support of students in their communities and their churches. K-12 education, high school graduation, and transition to college were elements included in the Education Sunday program. The successful program linked pastors, parents, students, church members and school districts together for academic progress. Resources were provided in English and Spanish. Thousands of Hispanic churches signed-up for the program and impacted their communities.
One of the most significant findings of the program included a gap with respect to young children. The NHCLC Education program lacked attention to this segment of the church. While concern is consistently raised with regards to this gap for pre-k students, recent developments surfaced new partners and English/Spanish resources that can make a difference for the Hispanic community.
On April 23rd, 2019 UnidosUS reported that by 2027, 30% of public schools will be filled with Latino students. At the same time, another report suggests that 65% of Latino kids do not attend preschool or kindergarten. Another gap regarding learning states that in general, a 15-25 percentage point gap exists for Latino children relative to their white peers. (Salud America research review on building support for Latino Families). While these statistics are alarming, the NHCLC has a track record of bringing about change in its’ national church network. For this we are thankful and we are confident there is hope for our young children.
A significant strategy involves the NHCLC working with parents, caregivers, pastors, church leaders, and community leaders to equip young children with the tools and knowledge needed to be successful in their schooling years. As an initial phase to move the needle on this data point, the NHCLC, in partnership with providers of a resource called Vroom, is positioned to create a movement to benefit all young children in our community. With an initial education on brain development for NHCLC leadership, the Vroom tool can be implemented with key resources accessed for various levels of our membership. Parents, caregivers, pastors, and church leaders receive daily, weekly tips to help prepare young learners for school and support understanding of brain development. The Vroom solution is ideal for our community because it is available in English and Spanish, at no cost to families, and accessible through web and mobile options.
We have an opportunity to change the narrative as we did with the drop-out crisis we faced in the past. A significant finding is that church leaders can make a difference in their churches and that difference crosses over into the community for benefit of all. Vroom has the potential to be the ignition we need to form the basis of support for Latino churches and their communities and begin to see progress on school readiness for our children.
PATHWAY 2 TOMORROW
Pathway 2 Tomorrow: Local Visions for America’s Future (P2T) matches responsive and agile education policy solutions with the needs of states and local communities.
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