Helios Education Foundation Helps Improve Literacy and Language Skills with Literacy Connects

Posted on: January 15, 2014

Helios Education Foundation recently partnered with Literacy Connects to improve literacy and language skills among infants, children, adults and families in neighborhoods around schools in the Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson, Arizona.  Literacy Connects is the largest nonprofit literacy provider in Arizona and promotes literacy through educational opportunities from birth through adulthood.   

Over the next three years, the project, funded by Helios Education Foundation, is expected to serve more than 5,800 children and adults directly, and another 3,400 indirectly. The goal is to increase families’ literacy levels and educational expectations. Key strategies to achieve that goal include:  focus on improving reading skills and scores among students at targeted elementary schools, encouraging greater involvement of parents in their children’s and their own education, and developing closer links between the schools and community organizations that provide birth-through-adult educational programming.

Helios Education Foundation is committed to investing in the success of young children as it lays the foundation for success in school and beyond.  By strengthening early childhood systems to promote language acquisition and emergent literacy for children, birth through age eight, more Arizona and Florida children will enter kindergarten ready to succeed and be reading at grade level by the end of third grade.  

The Literacy Connects Infusion Project  model, which was piloted in August 2013 at Mission Manor Elementary School, provides research-based literacy programming for children birth through age eight in the surrounding community.  The project addresses critical needs such as kindergarten readiness, reading at grade level by third grade, English language reading and writing, one-on-one literacy support, and opportunities for learning through creative expression and arts integration such as painting, drawing, dance and drama.

The grant will allow the project to provide remedial and enrichment services, such as tutoring and afterschool activities to learners of all ages around schools in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

Literacy Connects and project partners, including United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, Pima Community College Adult Education, Sunnyside Parents as Teachers, and Pima County Public Libraries, will:

  • support area early childhood centers  with professional development, including student advocacy and helping families successfully bridge between early childhood programs and kindergarten
  • offer tutoring, and educational workshops to help adults build skills in basic literacy, English language reading and writing, and college and career readiness
  • offer elementary school children reading coaches, opportunities for creative expression, and whole-family learning events
  • support teachers with programs and professional development

The pilot program was created with input from Tucson Unified and Sunnyside Unified school districts, state education officials and staff from the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, who reviewed existing program outcomes, assessed needs and agreed a more collaborative, systems-based approach was needed to boost literacy.  In the Sunnyside Unified School District, 22 percent of students are classified English Language Learners while another 11 percent are recently reclassified former English Language Learners. The graduation rate was 67 percent in 2009. In the Sunnyside neighborhood, 47 percent of people over age 25 do not have a high school diploma.

With the assistance of more than 1,700 well-trained volunteers, Literacy Connects’ programs touched more than 47,000 people last year. Click here for more information about Literacy Connects.  


Category: Early Grade Success

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