Never too late to realize the dream of college

Bob tutoring Erica       Bob and student Erica

Love brought Erica Gomez to the U.S. 16 years ago. Her childhood sweetheart had immigrated to California and he missed her terribly. A high school graduate in her hometown of Medallin, Colombia, Erica worked in a bank.  But she believed in her future husband and a more prosperous future so she followed him and they were married. Now 42 and with two children, Erica is a student at LearningQuest’s Adult Literacy program. (Read more link here)…

Erica works with tutor, Robert Dowd,to improve her English so she can enroll in Child Development courses at Modesto Junior College to pursue her goal of becoming a teacher and work with autistic children.

She learned about the literacy program from a friend. “It’s a good program,” she said. “The people – Natalie and the staff  – are very helpful, and my tutor understands and encourages me.” One challenge Erica faces is in practicing her English skills. As often happens with female students, her family – who all are bilingual and speak English well – do not encourage Erica to speak English at home. She enrolled at non-credit ESL classes at MJC where she has more opportunities to practice her English.

“Erica is determined to learn and succeed,” says Dowd, who is also helping Erica to navigate the educational system in her native Colombia in hopes of having her high school diploma transferred and recognized by MJC. However, if that doesn’t work, Erica has the option of attending LearningQuest’s HSE program, which offers High School Equivalency preparation in both English and Spanish.

Love and determination: an unstoppable combination, at least where Erica is concerned.

Student follow her heart and her dreams

 

Bob and student Erica

 

Love brought Erica Gomez to the U.S. 16 years ago. Her childhood sweetheart had immigrated to California and he missed her terribly. A high school graduate in her hometown of Medallin, Colombia, Erica worked in a bank.  But she believed in her future husband and a more prosperous future so she followed him and they were married. Now 42 and with two children, Erica is a student at LearningQuest’s Adult Literacy program. (Read more link here)…

Erica works with tutor, Robert Dowd,to improve her English so she can enroll in Child Development courses at Modesto Junior College to pursue her goal of becoming a teacher and work with autistic children.

 

Bob tutoring Erica

She learned about the literacy program from a friend. “It’s a good program,” she said. “The people – Natalie and the staff  – are very helpful, and my tutor understands and encourages me.” One challenge Erica faces is in practicing her English skills. As often happens with female students, her family – who all are bilingual and speak English well – do not encourage Erica to speak English at home. She enrolled at non-credit ESL classes at MJC where she has more opportunities to practice her English.

“Erica is determined to learn and succeed,” says Dowd, who is also helping Erica to navigate the educational system in her native Colombia in hopes of having her high school diploma transferred and recognized by MJC. However, if that doesn’t work, Erica has the option of attending LearningQuest’s HSE program, which offers High School Equivalency preparation in both English and Spanish.

Erica

Love and determination: an unstoppable combination, at least where Erica is concerned.

LQ college prep program offers a clear path from probation to college

When Veronica Nunez was released from County Jail, she was determined to continue her education. While incarcerated, Nunez had earned her HSE (High School Equivalency) certificated through LearningQuest’s jail program. Her goal was to go to college, but like many students, early placement testing showed she would need remedial work in math before beginning college-level courses. In Nunez’s case, this would have meant up to four semesters of non-credit courses, costing time and money that she did not have.

Fortunately, Nunez was able to benefit from a new college prep program created by LearningQuest to help motivated students who are currently on probation, prepare for the college placement test. LQ Program Director Hallie VanDeventer initiated the program in response to data which showed that many students who enter college begin with remedial classes and take too long to reach their goal; many students grow discouraged and drop out. The goal of LQ’s college prep class is to help students prepare for the college placement test so that they can score higher and begin at college level instead of with remedial classes.

Isela
“The college prep program serves students who are still in probation and are high school graduates, students with a HSE or students about to obtain their HSE and what to go to college,” states Correctional Program Manager Isela Gutierrez, pictured above. Along with Jail Instructor Zachary Lake, Gutierrez provides instruction at Day Reporting Center and inside the jail..

For Nunez and others on probation who will soon be exiting the correctional system, the program offers the chance to continue her education and stay on track for a better life after incarceration. With high recidivism rates a sad reality, the program offers an alternative to highly motivated individuals like Nunez who are eager to move forward and succeed.

 

 

Success stories of students are truly amazing

September 8, International Literacy Day, is celebrated by our agency with a supplement in the Modesto Bee.  Click here to read the amazing stories of our students like Arowa Humadi who ultimately was separated from her children when she chose to get an education.  Also read about Esteban Torres who was not deterred from his goal of a diploma and now has a better job.  How precious an education is to our students is evident as you read these stories.

Leaving a Legacy of Literacy

Over the last few years, many friends of LearningQuest have asked us about including LearningQuest in their wills or other estate planning vehicles in addition to making their annual gifts. We are indeed blessed.

Occasionally, financial advisors will recommend that gifts be made to charitable organizations before year’s end in order to reduce tax obligations. Other good friends want to plan well for how their estates will benefit those charities which they care about deeply.

Time after time, proceeds from an estate will be shared with LearningQuest because of the donors’ passion for helping to improve lives.

Here are a few ways you may want to consider in your estate planning:

· Bequest: One of the most common planned gifts. A nonprofit organization is bequeathed a gift in a donor’s will or trust. The gift may be designated as (a) percentage of the donor’s estate, (b) specific dollar amount or specific property, (c) residual of the donor’s estate or (d) contingent upon a certain event happening. The value of the gift to LearningQuest is not subject to estate taxes.

· Outright Gift: A gift of cash, appreciated securities, real estate, personal property, etc. – the title of which is legally transferred will generate an income tax deduction (for those who itemize deductions), for the full fair market value and capital gains taxes are avoided, reducing the cost of the gift to the donor.

· Life Insurance Policy: A relatively inexpensive way for a donor to leave a significant gift to a nonprofit organization. A new policy may be taken out on the life of a younger donor, and the policy given to LearningQuest to “create” a major, deferred gift to LearningQuest with the cost of the premium being a small fraction of the face value of the policy. Donors may also have existing policies which are no longer needed for their original purposes (such as to assure a child’s education) which can be given. With a change of policy ownership and beneficiary to the nonprofit, the donor can contribute the premium amount to the charity and the policy’s face value can be maintained. If the donor chooses not to continue payments, the cash value or “paid up insurance” value can be significant. Donors’ tax deductions are equal to their cash/replacement value or premiums paid, depending on the type of policy.

· Retirement Income: Retirement plan distribution. Retirement plan distributions can be taxed for both estate and income tax purposes (often 75%-80%) when passed from the decedent to other than the decedent’s spouse. Since 100% of the IRD plan can be gifted to a qualified charity without tax it has become a prime estate planning gift, leaving other estate assets (which are not taxed for income) to loved ones. Gifts of IRD plans should be gifted directly to LearningQuest by designating the charity as the beneficiary
There are other forms of planned gifts. We recommend that you work with your financial advisor and attorney for up-to-date information and regulations. These professionals can help you determine the best way to plan your estate. When doing so, we hope you will consider including LearningQuest in your plans.

Awards Night Award Winners Announced

Awards Night was a tremendously exciting event again as our Award Winners and graduates were honored and celebrated by over 350 family members and friends.

.Class pictureDavid Delgadoaudience

This year’s award winners are as follows:

Tutor of the Year for Literacy
Denise Nordell

Denise has been a volunteer tutor for the past ten years.  She did it at first to honor her father who had tutored in the jail and that was a place where she also tutored for a time.  One of her students earned her GED. Now, Denise has two students she meets with at the Modesto Library and works with one who is improving her English so she can get a better job and eventually go to college and another who is who began at a fourth grade reading level and has improved to a sixth grade level.  She researched on her own the Barton Reading and Spelling System for helping people with dyslexia and uses it to tutor a young girl at her granddaughter’s school as well has her adult student.  She also volunteers her time to help write and edit two newsletters for LearningQuest along with other marketing materials for fundraising and events.

Tutor of the Year for High School Equivalency (HSE) Diploma
Barbara Arney

Barbara began volunteering at the Day Reporting Center for Probation in 2011.  Since she had previously worked with at-risk youth, she was ready to accept this challenging volunteer position.  As a retired school teacher, her extensive teaching experience gave her the skill and knowledge to help students at a more basic reading level up to those preparing for the GED test.  She rarely misses either of her two days of volunteering except for vacations.  Even on vacation, she is thinking of her students and bringing back materials she thinks will make learning more relevant. One of her students recently improved her math and writing skills by four grade levels because of Barbara’s tutoring.  Without her skill and faithfulness, the Day Reporting Center program would have struggled to help students improve.  With her assistance, the program is helping students pass the GED test.

Best effort in Literacy
Mary Mendez

Mary came from Mexico in 1994 — her sophomore year in high school.  She passed all her credits, but did not pass the writing proficiency test she needed for her diploma.  A few months ago, she got her GED, but decided she wanted more fluency in her communication in English and wanted to be able to help her daughters with their homework so they can succeed in school and in life.  She works very hard and her tutor who recommended her for this award said she does extra homework and constantly pushes herself to succeed.  She plans to go to college and pursue a career in IT

Most Improved in Literacy
Laura Rodriguez

Laura attends the literacy program at the Adult Basic Education Center where she started attending classes in December, 2013.  She is working hard to improve her reading so she can eventually pass the GED test and provide a better life for her two daughters.  On her last test, she had improved 10 points on her assessment for reading which is a significant gain.  She is close to transferring into the GED program due to her progress and hard work.  She said she learned from her father that “if you want something, you have to go get it because no one is going to hand it to you.”

Greatest Achievement in Literacy
Joan Jia

Joan came to the United States speaking some English but Mandarin was her native language.  In spite of her limitations in English, she enrolled in college courses right away but wanted to improve her English grammar and vocabulary.  She works with a tutor in our literacy program and her reading ability has improved from a 7th grade level to an 11th grade level.   She plans to become an accountant.

Best Effort in HSE Preparation
Pamela Roberson

Pamela attends classes to work on her high school diploma but is still at the stage of improving her math and reading skills.  Both have gone up over 10 points which is significant. She was at first attending classes as a requirement for probation but now attends because she wants to improve her skills.  She and her son do their homework together and she’s teaching him through her example how important education is.  The obstacles she has faced to get to the life she has now were enormous and her tutors are very proud of all she has overcome and accomplished.

Most Improved in HSE Preparation
Isela Cardenas

Isela moved alot in her life and by middle school, she was behind in her studies and dropped out.  However, she could not find a good job to help her family, so for the sake of her children, she came to LearningQuest to study for the Spanish GED test.  She didn’t know how to divide let alone do Algebra and Geometry.  She has now passed all her tests and has her diploma and a new job at Amazon.

Greatest Achievement in HSE Preparation
Laura Soto

Laura was determined to meet her educational and life goals.  First, to get her diploma which she did by attending Spanish GED classes and the extra tutoring sessions four days a week while also being tutored in English two days a week in another LearningQuest program.  She has passed the test for her diploma, is still working on her English, got her driver’s license, volunteers at her son’s school and recently got a job.

Spotlight on Family LIteracy Program

2011 family lit program 062

Family Literacy Program affects generations

Jose Bautista works in a warehouse where his supervisors and many of his coworkers speak only English. Before enrolling in ESL classes through LearningQuest’s Family Literacy program, he avoided speaking to his coworkers and supervisors so they wouldn’t know how poor his English was. With hard work and dedication—driving 1-1/2 hours to attend classes after a 10-hour workday—Jose improved his communication skills and now supervises 15 employees. He Jose has become a leader at work, with increased confidence and a strong sense of pride in his accomplishments, thanks to LearningQuest.
The Family Literacy program currently serves adult learners in Riverbank and Modesto. Recognizing that parents are a child’s first and best teacher, the program is designed for adults to help them learn or improve their English skills with the focus on learning English so they can help their children succeed in school.“Parents who attend our ESL classes are usually there for one of two reasons,” says program director Kelly Nery. “They want to learn English to better help their children with homework and communicate with their teachers, or to learn English to help them get a job or promotion.”

With poor English skills, parents are unable to help their children with homework, or even with the basic skills to help prepare them to enter school. The program provides childcare, so parents are able to bring their kids along while they attend their ESL classes. “We don’t just babysit their kids while the parents go to class, but we work with the kids and help them be prepared and be successful in the education” says Nery. “A majority of the children in our program are not enrolled in other pre-school programs, such as Head Start. For some we are the only preparation they have before entering kindergarten.”

 

Nery, who has been with LearningQuest since 2008, served as program  manager of the library adult literacy program, matching volunteer tutors with students for individualized instruction and coordinating training sessions for volunteer tutors. “My experience working at LearningQuest has made me realize that if you help adult students meet their goals it improves the quality of life of the whole family,” she says. As director of the Family Literacy program, Nery has been able to use her experiences to develop the program to its full potential. “Our staff members work closely together to change our students’ lives through literacy.”

 

Nery acknowledges that funding is sometimes a challenge. Schools don’t often devote money to adult education, so LearningQuest must secure funding through grants and donations. Uncertain funding sometimes makes it difficult to plan for the future. “At times, we have had to close a site for a time, which makes it hard when we reopen because we have to start all over again with recruitment,” says Nery.

 

The Family Literacy program often utilizes volunteers in the childcare program. At times, up to 100 children ages 3 to 12 have been enrolled and with only three to four staff members, volunteers are especially important to ensure a successful program. Volunteers are also utilized in the classroom to help students who are struggling and need more one-on-one attention.

Family Literacy student Laura Martinez is another individual who has benefited from the program:

When I got to this country I did not think it was necessary to speak English but things happened that made me realize just how important learning English is. For example, communicating with your children’s teachers. When I moved to Riverbank, the first thing I did was ask if there were any English classes. When they told me yes, I gave myself a goal to complete the English classes.  I did not have a car and since the classes start in the fall and go through winter, it was very difficult for me because when I started in 2007, I already had a 5 year old son who was in kindergarten, a 3 year old and a 2 month old baby. There were days when it would rain and I would think about not going to class but I would remember about that goal I had set and the promise I had made. So I would get my children ready and I would walk to class.

 

Martinez completed beginning, intermediate and advanced ESL classes and now volunteers in LearningQuest’s beginning ESL class, helping to teach the alphabet to students and to read and write in English.

“Some of our students have waited years in this country to begin to try and learn the language, not because they are lazy but because of fear,” says Nery. “I have learned through my students’ experiences that it is never too late to work for your dreams and that hard work pays off.”

To learn more about the Family Literacy ESL program or to volunteer, contact Program Director Kelly Nery at (209) 522-0656 ext. 114 or knery@lqslc.com