Give the Gift of Literacy for the Holidays!

LearningQuest students, Beverly Hardee, Karla Flores and Beatriz Gonzalez, are all mothers wanting to reach their educational goals in order to support and become role models for their children.

Beatriz Gonzalez & daughter Vannia Jaybeth Barrios - ESL

Beatriz Gonzalez is learning English and also earning her High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma at LearningQuest.  She said, “I decided to focus on my education for my kids because I want to be able to communicate with the teachers at school and also teach my kids how to read and write.  I want my children to know the importance of education.”

Growing up in Mexicali, Mexico, Beatriz worked from 9 am to 9 pm and still did not make enough to financially support her family or even have enough time left in the day to spend with them.  Beatriz said, “In Mexico, you need to have a good job because education is expensive.”  In the U.S., adults with parents without a high school diploma earn a lower income (less than $28,000 a year) than those whose parents have a high school or college diploma.*

Gaining independence as an English speaker and role model for her children, Beatriz said, “My child knows English and I’ll depend on him to translate for me, but he is not always going to be there for me.  I had to learn for myself.”  Now, instead of asking for a Spanish speaker at stores, Beatriz has the confidence to communicate in English.  “I want to set an example for my children.  I want to teach them that if you set goals and you work hard, anything is possible.

Beverly Hardee

Beverly Hardee, smiling brightly under the spotlights, nervously approached the podium at her graduation ceremony this past October to share her story with the audience.  As Valedictorian, she was able to reach her goal of earning a diploma – and then some.  Beverly dropped out of school after 8th grade and it took years for her to get back on track, she said, “I realized after a while that I had chosen the wrong path in life, but thought it was too late for me.”

Her case worker showed her that LearningQuest was a free option for her to earn her diploma.  However, shortly after enrolling, Beverly became homeless.  She and her family lived in their car for most of the scorching Central Valley summer.  Beverly was still determined to go to class, she said, “I wanted more, not only for myself, but for my children.  That was no life for them and I wasn’t setting the example I wanted them to follow.  It was time for me to find my path.

After spending every spare moment studying books that barely made sense to her, focusing hard in class, and learning from instructors, she graduated!  Beverly is enrolled in Administration of Justice classes for the spring at MJC.  With research showing that adults with college educated parents score almost 60 points higher than adults whose parents had no high school experience,* Beverly is doing her part to set her children up for success.

Karla Flores and Tutor, Janette

Karla Flores is learning how to read and write in LearningQuest’s Literacy Tutoring program.  She was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco where access to resources and education is limited.  Karla said, “Life in Mexico is very beautiful, the people are nice, the food is delicious, but the economy is very different than in the United States.”  When she arrived in the U.S., Karla knew that her next chapter would begin when she could confidently read and write in English.

“The need to have a better chance at a better job” is a priority in order to support her family.  Karla said, “To know is power in all aspects.  When a person has more knowledge, it is easier to have a better job opportunity, a better salary, and a better work environment.”  We have seen that adults with high school educated parents are 11% more likely to be employed than an adult with a parent that has had no high school experience.*

She aims to learn more every day from her volunteer tutor, Janette, in order to sharpen her reading and writing skills – all in hopes of finding a better job to provide for her children.

*Literacy data provided by the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) and the American Institutes for Research (AIR).  Learn more about adult literacy competencies at

To learn more about LearningQuest’s Literacy for the Holidays campaign, click the button below or visit

Giving Tree Book Drive Brings Literacy Home for Children of Adult Learners

The first annual Giving Tree Book Drive, hosted by LearningQuest – Stanislaus Literacy Centers, invites community members to visit a Giving Tree site to pick up a tag and donate two to three new books for the child of a LearningQuest student – an adult learner working toward their educational goals.  Over 100 children have been signed up to receive the donated books in order to start or add to their home libraries.  The book drive ends on Dec. 12th, just in time for students to bring the books home for their children during the holidays and continue the foundation of literacy in the family.

Giving Tree - Modesto 1

Giving Tree Sites

LearningQuest Learning Center

1032 11th St., Modesto, CA 95354

Katelynn Library

Stanislaus County Library

1500 I St., Modesto, CA 95354

Giving Tree - Turlock 2

Turlock Learning Center

1570 Fulkerth Rd., Turlock, CA 95380

The Giving Tree Book Drive was inspired by the many parents enrolled in LearningQuest’s free educational services and the growing research showing the impact of a parent’s education level on the literacy and employment of their child as an adult.  Earning a diploma, learning English, or learning how to read and write holds an even greater responsibility when statistics* show:

  • About 50% of young adults will reach the same level of education as their parents.
  • Adults with high school educated parents are 11% more likely to be employed than an adult with a parent that did not graduate from high school.
  • In the U.S., adults with parents without a high school diploma earn a lower income (less than $28,000 a year) than those whose parents have a high school or college diploma.

“The Giving Tree Book Drive is the first phase of the annual Literacy for the Holidays fundraiser where checking “Literacy” off a student’s wish list is made possible due to the contributions of those advocating for education in the community.,”  Karen Williams, Executive Director, said.  “Keeping LearningQuest services free to access removes one large barrier for many hopeful adults and gives them a real gift for the holidays – the ability to do things often taken for granted, such as read a book to their child, ask a question in English, or apply for a better job.“

*Literacy data provided by the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) and the American Institutes for Research (AIR).  Learn more about adult literacy competencies at

To learn more about LearningQuest’s Giving Tree Book Drive, click on the bottom below or visit

LQ is a featured agency for the Bee’s 2019 Book of Dreams Fundraiser!

[Written by Brian Clark, Editor of the Modesto Bee, and Marian Kaanon, CEO of the Stanislaus Community Foundation.  Read original article here:]


Dear Readers,

Today kicks off our annual holiday fundraising drive — A Book of Dreams.

Since 1990, The Bee, along with its generous donors, have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help Modesto-area agencies and individuals in need. Over the last several years, The Bee has partnered with the Stanislaus Community Foundation.

Last year, thanks to you and the Stanislaus Community Foundation, we raised a record $82,000, which was divided among seven agencies whose missions centered largely on offering shelter, food and hope to the homeless.

Among our journalism goals this year has been to focus on coverage of children’s issues, which we have accomplished with our grant-funded reporter, ChrisAnna Mink. It only seemed appropriate that our 2019 Book of Dreams would center on agencies that help children — a population that’s among the most vulnerable in our community.

We received a wonderful early contribution — a $5,000 matching gift from the Porges family. Norm and son Evan Porges, the former owners of Prime Shine Car Wash, are known throughout the area for giving back to the community via the Porges Family Foundation.

Over the next several weeks, we hope you enjoy learning more about the program and this year’s organizations, the important work they do and the people they help. And, of course, we hope you are moved to give to A Book of Dreams. It’s a great way to honor or remember a loved one, or just to help some amazing people with the good work they do.

Each week, we will print the list of contributors — unless you prefer to remain anonymous — and the name of someone in whose honor or memory the gift is given. If you have donated during the past, thank you so very much. If you are new to A Book of Dreams, welcome! And we hope you and your family have a healthy and joyous holiday season.

Brian Clark

Editor, The Modesto Bee

Marian Kaanon

CEO, Stanislaus Community Foundation



Nov. 10: 2018 donations make an impact

Nov. 17: Jessica’s House, Turlock

Nov. 24: Center for Human Services, Stanislaus County

Dec. 1: Cricket’s Hope, Oakdale

Dec. 8: Haven Youth Center, Modesto

Dec. 15: LearningQuest, Modesto

To donate online, go to

LearningQuest offering first youth program, KidsQuest, to help kids with dyslexia

Javana Reading


OCTOBER 10, 2019 12:16 PM, UPDATED OCTOBER 10, 2019 03:56 PM

(Read the full article and see full video here:

Learn more about KidsQuest 

Javana Veras remembers pretending to read chapter books in second grade so she could sit on the beloved reading bench with her friends.

“They were reading chapter books, and I was still reading baby books,” the now-13-year-old said.

She didn’t know dyslexia was the root of her reading challenges, but she knew she wanted to fit in.

Dyslexia is more than a reading difficulty — it’s a brain disorder. Often, children’s struggles go unrecognized. LearningQuest is starting a pilot program, KidsQuest, to identify children with dyslexia and provide prompt help.

“We’re introducing this new program to help kids with dyslexia get some help with tutoring,” said Karen Williams, executive director of LearningQuest, which has an office in downtown Modesto.

She said the program provides individual, intensive tutoring some families couldn’t afford otherwise. The tutoring adds to services provided by schools.

LearningQuest is a nonprofit organization that traditionally has offered literacy programs for adults in Stanislaus County. KidsQuest is its first program specifically for children, and all staff are volunteers.

Starting KidsQuest in October is perfect timing because it’s Dyslexia Awareness Month. Worldwide this month, dyslexia organizations try to promote understanding of the disorder and rally support for affected individuals.

KidsQuest is open to children in second through sixth grades. To enroll, students must undergo screening at LearningQuest using a formal evaluation process to document that they have dyslexia.

The next screening session will be held at LearningQuest’s Modesto office on Saturday.

“Additional support for screening was provided by SLD, Specific Learning Disability, Foundation,” said Denise Nordell, coordinator for KidsQuest.

Nordell said Specific Learning Disability, a local foundation, was underwriting some of the costs of screenings because it felt KidsQuest would be a valuable community resource. The Friends of the Modesto Library also contributed to help defray the costs.

KidsQuest is free to students who qualify with the screening. The tutoring program includes twice-weekly sessions at the Stanislaus County Library in Modesto, a longstanding partner with LearningQuest.



Dyslexia is not a problem of switching letters or a sign of low intelligence. It’s a phonological processing disorder and the cause is not known. Genetics is a factor — Javana’s father and one of her three brothers also have dyslexia.

“A phonological processing disorder means that a child can’t know the way sounds are put together to understand the words,” said Williams.

Differentiating the individual components of sounds is difficult for dyslexics. For example, “cap” and “cab” may sound the same. This makes it hard to tell syllables, sound out words and build words into sentences.

Researchers have learned that people with dyslexia use different parts of their brain to process language, both verbal and written, compared to traditional learners.

Dyslexia affects about 1 in 10 people. No data about rates of dyslexia for Stanislaus County are available; however, two-thirds of county third graders are not reading at grade level, according to from The Lucille Packard Foundation.

“Usually around third grade, if children are having challenges with chapter books, we encourage (parents) to check with the school for testing and to see if they have resources,” said Amber O’Brien-VerHulst, librarian at Stanislaus County Library’s Modesto Branch.

The library offers support for children struggling to read, such as audiobooks paired with physical books and books for beginning readers that emphasize phonics for learning syllable sounds.

“We assess for dyslexia and all other possible learning disabilities,” said Mariza Herroz, school psychologist for Stanislaus County Office of Education. She said comprehensive testing, including phonological skills, can be done as early as kindergarten. However, she said parents should remember that some letter reversal is normal at that age.

Early intervention for dyslexia, as well as other learning disabilities, matter. Students with reading difficulties at third grade are less likely to graduate from high school, according to research from the Annie E Casey Foundation.

But it’s never too late to learn reading.



“The teacher said when it came time for language arts and learning sounds, (Javana) hid under her desk,” said Jennifer Veras, her mother. Otherwise, she described Javana as a curious, bright preschooler, who excelled in math and socializing. She said Javana has always had friends and has not been a victim of bullying, which often happens to kids with learning differences.

During second grade, Javana’s parents paid for her to have private testing. She was diagnosed with dyslexia, but they couldn’t find a place to get help. One expert suggested Veras get training and tutor Javana herself, which she did.

Veras chose training in Barton Reading and Spelling System, which is a structured literacy system with proven success, and it is approved by the California Department of Education. Barton is the system being used in KidsQuest.

Structured literacy programs have specific steps that incorporate the use of phonics, which involves matching sounds with symbols or written letters.

After three months using the program, Javana’s school testing showed that she had gained a full year in reading and language skills. Because of her hard work, she received the second grade class award for perseverance. She completed five years of Barton training.

“I don’t like reading much, but I can read,” said Javana. She is home-schooled and reading at eighth-grade level. Her advice to other kids: “Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to how you were yesterday.”

“For parents, trust your intuition,” said Veras. “If you think something is wrong, look for answers.”

Veras is co-leader of the Central Valley dyslexia parent support group and regional director of Decoding Dyslexia California. She said she is active in these organizations to help other families find resources that were so hard for her to find.

“The structured literacy tutoring fees totaled $10,000 over five years,” said Veras, “The KidsQuest program is a gift to our community. It can be life changing for many dyslexic students in our area, especially for those whose parents can’t afford tutoring.

KidsQuest is still recruiting volunteer tutors — no experience needed, and training will be provided. More information can be found at

This story was produced with financial support from The Stanislaus County Office of Education and the Stanislaus Community Foundation, along with the GroundTruth Project’s Report for America initiative. The Modesto Bee maintains full editorial control of this work.


Consider dyslexia, if a child has problems:

Memorizing their address, the alphabet or multiplication tables

Learning to tie their shoes

Writing some letters or numbers backwards past first grade

Learning to tell time on a clock with hands

Telling left from right.

Confusing letter pairs such as b-d, b-p, p-q, or g-j.

Saying sounds in the right order in multi-syllable words such as animal, spaghetti, hamburger, consonant.

Learn more about KidsQuest 

Modesto program lauds 74 who took a different path with high school

Beverly Hardee Interview

Modesto program lauds 74 who took a different path with high school‌


OCTOBER 19, 2019 03:26 PM, UPDATED OCTOBER 19, 2019 03:27 PM

See the article and watch the full interview video here:


Another 74 people now have High School Equivalency certificates thanks to LearningQuest of Modesto.

They received them at a Friday evening ceremony in the Modesto High School auditorium, borrowed for the occasion by the downtown-based program.

They spent about six months on studies that, for various reasons, they could not complete as teenagers. Three of them were recognized for exceptional work.

Jillian Cody, 37, of Oakdale received the Best Effort award. She was homeless off and on and addicted to methamphetamine before finding LearningQuest.

“It’s been a 20-year process of getting my (certificate),” Cody said before the ceremony. “I’m more on the right path now than I have ever been in my life.”

She plans to enroll next spring at Modesto Junior College and become a drug and alcohol counselor. She has a 10-year-old son, Cameron.

Heddi Jameson, 32, of Modesto won the Most Improved award. She had struggled for years in school, then found through LearningQuest that she has dysgraphia, which affects writing skills.

“I just wasn’t grasping writing and spelling,” Jameson said. She does have a knack for seeing how things work and would like to study mechanical engineering, especially robotics.

“I always loved mechanics, electronics, taking things apart,” she said.

Beverly Hardee, 29, of Modesto got the Greatest Achievement award and was the class valedictorian. She entered LearningQuest soon after becoming homeless with sons Sean, 11, and Ronnie, 8.

Hardee got the OK to nearly double her studies to 22 hours per week so she could finish faster. She now has a home and plans to study administration of justice at MJC. She is thinking of working in corrections.

LearningQuest presented its Extraordinary Volunteer award to John Comer, 87. He has tutored there for 19 years after retiring as a graphic artist at the Crown Zellerbach paper company.

The high school certificate program is one of several at LearningQuest, also known as Stanislaus Literacy Centers. Last year, it provided free or low-cost instruction to nearly 1,200 adults in reading, writing, math and English.

LearningQuest recently launched its first children’s program, for kids with dyslexia.


See the article and watch the interview video here:


Record Breaking Graduation!

2019 grads

We have reached the highest number of graduates at one time thanks to all the hard work of our students, the staff who guided them and those in the community that believed in them.  These adult learners took the tests needed to finally earn their diploma and they got to enjoy the spotlight as they waltzed across the stage in front of ecstatic friends and family in the audience.  Congratulations to the 2019 Spring LearningQuest graduates!  We are all so proud of you and cannot wait to hear about what you accomplish next.


LearningQuest students graduated between August 24, 2018 – May 2, 2019


Grads returned to walk the stage during the ceremony


Friends, family, staff, volunteers shared the moment

These organizations partnered with us to bring together another once-in-a-lifetime event for the graduates and helped us continue to provide free high quality education for our students:

Sutter Health

Valley Farm Supply Stores

Paleteria La Michoacana


F&M Bank

Hilmar Cheese Company

Law Offices of Tom Hogan

Modesto Irrigation District

Oak Valley Community Bank

VBC Bottling Co.

 See graduation photos HERE

Award Winners

Amy Romero

Amy Romero

Awarded “Best Effort” for the extraordinary effort of overcoming challenges and committing to long-term educational goals.

Started with LearningQuest: Oct 2018

Became a graduate: Jan 2019

Favorite subject: Math

Words of wisdom: “Don’t give up, you’re worth it.  Shoot for the stars.”


Erin Boonstra

Awarded “Most Improved” for extraordinary improvement in skills needed for a diploma as the result of hard work, perseverance, commitment, and focus.

Started with LearningQuest: Sep 2016

Became a graduate: May 2019


Destiny Brown

Destiny Brown


Awarded “Greatest Achievement” for the overall extraordinary effort in pursuing education, achieving goals, and inspiring future graduates.

Started with LearningQuest: Jan 2019

Became a graduate: Feb 2019

Favorite subject: Social Studies

Words of wisdom: “Just keep trying! Even though it may be hard we are capable of things we never thought we could do.”

Graduate Speakers

Scotty Clark

Scotty Clark

Started with LearningQuest: Oct 2018

Became a graduate: Jan 2019

Speech excerpt: “I hadn’t been to school since the fifth grade.  I quit going to school in the fifth grade and started doing construction. I heard the voice in the back of my mind and it said, ‘Ric you don’t think too good cause I couldn’t answer not one of those questions.’ So I just put it [book] aside and thought, ‘There’s no way I could do this.'”


Alvaro Martinez

Started with LearningQuest: Sep 2017

Became a graduate: Dec 2018

Favorite subject: Math

Words of wisdom: “Que sigan sus sueños por que ellos tubieron el sueño de tener su diploma asi que tienen que cumplirlo si se puede no importa el tiempo pero si se puede lograr gracias a todo el personal de LearningQuest.” [That they follow their dreams because they had the dream of having their diploma so they have to fulfill it if it can be done no matter the time but it can be achieved thanks to all the LearningQuest staff.]


Bethany Saint-Smith

Started with LearningQuest: Dec 2018

Became a graduate: Jan 2019

Favorite subject: Writing

Words of wisdom: “Choosing to do great with what you have is how you become the best version of yourself, if you take your skills, apply your learning, take time to comprehend and ask for help, you will succeed.  If you want the good life, make it.”

VIP Guests

LQ Staff

Annual Report is Here!

The 2018 Annual Report has arrived!  If you haven’t already received it in the mail, take a look below or download a digital copy here!

All of us at LearningQuest would like to send a heartfelt thank you to those who support the programs necessary to help our students reach their goals and for trusting us to provide high quality education to the adults in our community.

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LearningQuest is a Finalist! Help us cross the finish line…


We survived Round 1 of Eliminations!


Thanks to all your support, we’ve made it through the first round of eliminations and are now Top 7 in the contest! Please continue to vote to help us get to the Top 3!

We need your help to cross the finish line… has chosen LearningQuest as a top-ten finalist for the national ProLiteracy Hero contest focused on organizations doing great things with literacy in the community.


The Top 3 Adult Literacy Orgs get…
  • Over $5,000 in New Readers Press adult education materials to be split between the three top finalists
  • ProLiteracy memberships
  • Conference scholarships to the 2019 ProLiteracy Conference on Adult Education
  • Southwest® Airline travel vouchers
  • Cash for their programs
These prizes will go a LONG way for our students and the free programs we provide our community!

Here is the video we submitted for the contest!

Read about the students whose stories we shared in our submission:

Juan: Changing for Better from English to Diploma

Arowa’s Promise

David’s Path

LearningQuest Staff = LearningQuest Graduates

 Let the voting begin!

Unlimited voting (YES, UNLIMITED) is open only from Oct 29 – Nov 4, 2018.

Each week the finalists will be narrowed down until the first-, second-, and third-place winners are selected on November 16.

You can see our contest video and story submissions HERE

This is a very big deal to have LearningQuest recognized on the national level of literacy service providers and we are going up against other amazing organizations.  We are humbled to be honored for the work we do every day and as representatives of courageous students.  Please take the time to VOTE (as many times as possible) here:

Thank you for helping us change lives, one student at a time!

Questions about the contest?

Contact: Rochele Roura-Foster
Program Manager of Development & Communication
209-672-6642 or

Wrapping Up the Summer ESL Class

Another successful class of adult-learners and families reaching educational milestones. Thanks to the support of Modesto Junior College and California Adult Education for making this class possible…here’s a quick breakdown of how the 2018 Summer ESL Class in Hughson went:

Great job everyone!




Classes from June to September
at Hughson High School

20 adult-learners served
18 children in the Kids Club/Family Literacy program
2 instructors
3-5 kids club staff


All students passed their Objective Test of communicating with their children’s schools


Students received books for perfect attendance, completing reports and making significant gains in their tests

All children received 2 books of their choice plus a certificate


Kids Club Educational Activity Themes:
National Safety Month
Fireman & Policemen
Ocean Animals
Rain forest

This class supported by:

Adult Education Logo New

Enrollment for Fall ESL Classes are ending soon, save your seat ASAP!  Contact Melisa Pena, 209-672-6664

Or click on the link below to find more info about our FREE English-as-a-Second (ESL) Language program

Gifts Doubled on #GivingTuesday!

Giving Tuesday 2018
Giving Tuesday Logo

Learn more about #GivingTuesday and the work being done around the world to change lives here:

So, what’s Giving Tuesday all about?

Giving Tuesday, more popularly known as #GivingTuesday, is a global giving movement that has been built by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities in countries around the world. Millions of people around the world have come together to support and champion the causes they believe in and the communities in which they live.

We have two days for getting deals – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. On #GivingTuesday, we have a day for giving back. Together, people are creating a new ritual for our annual calendar. #GivingTuesday is the opening day of the giving season.

LearningQuest Giving Tuesday

…and here’s the BIG NEWS!

PayPal will be MATCHING $7 million in donations made to organizations, like LearningQuest, through our Facebook page for ONE DAY ONLY:  Nov 27, 2018.  

Facebook is also jumping on board by not charging any transaction fees that day too!

Every act of generosity counts and each means even more when we give together.

Anyone, anywhere can get involved and give back in a way that’s meaningful to them. There’s no minimum or limit to how people can do good.

If you’d like to double the impact of your gift, Nov. 27th would be a great day to do it!  Click on the button below to give back through the “Donate” button found on our Facebook page!

Remember: Only gifts made in Facebook on Nov 27th will be doubled!

But you’d like to give a gift now?  Great!

Your support goes directly toward student test fees, classroom materials, and more.  Thank You!