Boosting Confidence through Language Training

As is the case in many impoverished areas, level of academic achievements mirrors the disadvantages of the resident. Local elementary schools have one of the lowest state-wide Academic Performance Index (API). About ninety percent of the students qualify for the free/reduced price school lunch program and almost 80% are designated as English learners (not proficient in English language).

These statistics reflect the economic disparity, linguistic challenges, immigration status and lack of opportunities facing young people and their families in the area served by the Guadalupe Community Center, a program of Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, Inc. This scenario poses an immediate risk for local youth who may be recruited by gangs at school, in parks and other public gathering places.

The Los Angeles Police department reports that the main motivators for young people to join gangs are the desire for recognition, protection, fellowship, and perceived power. In this extremely low income community, risk factors common to youth who are susceptible to gang membership are widespread - poverty; domestic violence, including physical and sexual abuse; and a predominance of single female heads of households are some of the factors for low scholastic achievement.

The funding is provided to establish a NEIGHBORHOOD LEARNING CENTER:

  • Design and develope after-school tutorial/remedial program with clear objectives and outcome measurements.
  • Provide after-school tutorial/remedial program, Monday through Thursday, serving 50-60 children (girls and boys) between the ages of 6 and 12 during a school year.

Eleven Alcatel-Lucent employees and three of their family members volunteered a total of 358 hours at the center in 2013.

Region: U.S.A, Americas
Focus Area: Remedial/Tutorial help to 6 and 12 years old children
Program Name: Neighbourhood Learning Center
Partner: Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, Inc.
Alcatel-Lucent Contact: Tracy Dupree

Benefits and Expectations

Overwhelming majority of children seeking help at the Neighbourhood Learning Center are struggling academically because English is not their first language. Most parents and adult caretakers of these children are mono-lingual (Spanish) and often without any formative education. Hence, language barrier impedes their ability to learn and progress academically. The main focus of the program is to help the children (6 to 12 years old) acquire basic and grade level skills in Reading and Arithmetic.

  • In Reading the focus is on vocabulary enhancement, phonics, comprehension (understanding the material they are reading, comprehend what is being taught, and how to read and understand instructions etc.), and sentence and paragraph structure.
  • In Arithmetic the focus is to help students understand number concepts including time tables, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, decimal, and word problems.

By providing homework assistance and tutorial/remedial assistance the program attempts to help children succeed academically. The program strives to achieve a measurable goal that sixty percent (60%) of children who fully participate in the program will show a minimum of .5 grade level improvement by the end of an academic year.

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