Unique Partnership with Toyota and National Center for Families Learning Benefits Literacy
A national two-generation family learning program that aims to provide a solution to the educational challenges facing low-income and ethnically diverse families was recently unveiled in Plano. The program – funded by a $175,000 grant from Toyota – is led by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL). Plano Independent School District is working hand-in-hand with NCFL to implement Toyota Family Learning.
The program is now up-and-running at Plano Family Literacy School and Sigler Elementary where more than 200 family members have been enrolled since September. Toyota Family Learning 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.
“This is a unique program that is beneficial to our Plano families in so many ways,” said Dr. Brian Binggeli, Plano ISD superintendent of schools. “What is key is that parents and children learn together. Whether it is reading or engaging in skill-building activities, they do them with each other. It strengthens the parent-child bond and improves our community at the same time.”
Plano is the 11th community to become part of Toyota Family Learning. Four other cities will be unveiled this year. In total, Toyota has committed $10 million over a six-year period for this national education initiative.
Parents and their preschool aged children spend 20 hours a week learning together at the two schools in this free program. In addition to gaining skills to help their children succeed in and outside the classroom, parents also build important technology, language literacy, and job skills.
Mireira Escobar, who attends classes with her pre-school daughter, Maggie, said the program is beneficial in many ways.
“My life is better now than it was before. At school, I practice my English; now, when I go to the store or talk to teachers, I am much more comfortable. It has helped my entire life – both at home and out in the community.”
She said her nine-year-old daughter Jackie also benefits. “She comes to homework night. It helps her a lot. Her grades are higher now than ever before. Next year she’s going into honors math! We are very thankful.”
Independent evaluation shows that among families graduating from Toyota Family Learning in 2015:
• 90% of parents increased their engagement in their children’s education.
• 96% of parents became better teachers to their children.
• 75% of parents increased their English language skills.
• 34% of parents got a better job.
“Toyota Family Learning makes an impact that will be seen and felt for decades to come,” said Sharon Darling, president and founder of NCFL. “Parents and children need to learn in real-world context, and this initiative does just that, generating service learning benefits that have major implications for both generations’ learning and employability skills.”
This year, NCFL and Toyota celebrate 25 years of partnership. Since 1991, more than 2 million families 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. These various 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 Latondra Newton, group vice president and chief social innovation officer for Toyota Motor North America, Inc. “It is especially exciting to bring this program to Plano, site of our new headquarters. By offering ways to learn that are innovative 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.