2020 Literacy for the Holidays Results!

Literacy for the Holidays LOGO

Checking “Literacy” off a student’s wish list!

2020 Fundraising Results

Giving the Gift of “Literacy”

Every holiday season, many of us think of ways to give to the those who matter to us and those who need it most.  We believe that the greatest gift is the chance to change a life. At LearningQuest, we’ve found that being able to impact someone’s life by helping them reach their literacy goals is a gift that last far beyond the holidays.

What “literacy” really means to someone

Literacy for our students means more than just reading and writing. It means that they’re able to engage in their world like they never were capable of before. You’ve helped to make these things possible:

  • Reading medicine labels
  • Helping their child with homework
  • Getting their drivers license
  • Signing up for a library card
  • Reading a newspaper
  • Earn their diploma and more!

Impacting real students

Laura’s List of Literacy Goals

Laura Mendoza, an Adult Literacy student, relies on the tutoring to help her reading and writing as well as create a better life for her son… (Read the rest of Laura’s story HERE)

“Someone told me that if you don’t try, you will never learn.
You have to try, maybe you are going to make mistakes, but you are going to learn.”

-Laura Mendoza
LQ Library Tutoring Student

$27,129 Raised

With your help, we were able to just surpass our $25,000 fundraising goal.  $27,129 will provide necessary funding for classroom materials, instruction, course books, student supplies, and more.  

You also helped meet the LQ Board MATCH of $3,050!

Message from the Director

Karen Williams

It is so heartwarming to have you, our donors, respond so generously to provide the support we need for our literacy program and to give the gift of reading.  I know many of you enjoy reading for enrichment of your mind and your soul, and you have now given that opportunity to our students.  While this Covid19 world we live in tends to make us feel more alone, your generosity showed we are not.  We have people like you who care deeply about this work and want others to have the educational foundation that has made your life richer.  You are partners with us in the work of bringing hope through education and we value and appreciate your friendship.  Thank you so much and happy new year!

– Karen Williams
Executive Director
LearningQuest – Stanislaus Literacy Centers

Thank you for your support!

For questions or more info, contact:

Rochele Roura-Foster, Program Director of Development & Communication

209-672-6642, rrfoster@lqslc.com

Laura’s List of Literacy Goals

Laura’s List of Literacy Goals

Laura Mendoza moved to the U.S. when she was 25 to escape the dangers of living in Mexico in hope of finding a better life. When she arrived in California she realized that many people already spoke Spanish, but she says, “I like to learn and since I came here, I felt I had to learn the language.  I also have my son who is four years old.  I want to help prepare him for school and I want to be a part of his education, but how can I help him if I am not good at reading or writing in English?”

Laura enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes with us and completed the program when she was able to comfortably and confidently speak English.  She was finally ready to work on the next items on her list: reading and writing!

She was having trouble getting help at home, “My mom and my partner do not speak English so it is hard for me to learn.  I can understand a lot, but I don’t have someone there to practice.”  This brought Laura to our Adult Literacy program where she is now able to have one-on-one reading and writing tutoring after completing goals in her ESL classes, “I think to me it is easier to learn to read because of learning to speak English. They taught us to learn the alphabet first and that has helped me to learn to read.”

“Someone told me that if you don’t try, you will never learn…maybe you are going to make mistakes, but you are going to learn.”

– Laura Mendoza

Laura Mendoza

Laura explained why reading in English is so important to her, “I can go to anyplace and maybe you can talk in English, but what if you have to read something or sign something?  It is important to know what you are signing or what you are reading.  When my son goes to school, sometimes I have to sign forms for the school.  Whenever I go to my doctor or apply for a job, it has to be done in English.  Whenever I fill out a form, I always ask for English so I can practice more at reading and writing.”

Laura knows that life will be a bit different for her son, “He’s growing up and he is going to learn and speak in English and I want to help him when he goes to school.  A lot of people in my area have kids who don’t want to speak Spanish when their parents don’t know English.  It’s sad because how are parents going to be involved in their child’s lives?  How can they understand or help them if they need help?  I want to be there for my son.  If he needs me, I will be there.”

As she works on her literacy journey Laura says, “I hope that by continuing the tutoring I can improve more and get an even better job.  I have become more confident in asking for help if I ever don’t understand anything.  At first, when I tried to speak, I felt ashamed because I thought that people were making fun of me, but someone told me that if you don’t try, you will never learn…maybe you are going to make mistakes, but you are going to learn.”

Support students like Laura through the Literacy for the Holidays fundraiser, click below!

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2020 Fall Graduation – A Drive Thru Success!

          Roxanne Quinones, a grandmother caring for her family, graduated earlier this year before the pandemic took over the world.  LearningQuest wanted to make sure that Roxanne and the other 87 adults who earned their High School Equivalency diploma since last Fall were still able to experience the once-in-a-lifetime moment of a graduation celebration.  Their accomplishments were acknowledged at LearningQuest’s first drive-thru graduation on Thursday, October 1st, in the CrossPoint Church parking lot.

          LearningQuest staff welcomed graduates with posters, pompoms, music, and balloons as they arrived to receive their certificates.  Families followed in their cars with screams and honking horns as they cheered on their graduate.  Community-focused organizations and individuals, like MID, VBC Bottling Co., and state representatives, also supported this moment for the LearningQuest graduates.  This celebration was a success as adults, like Roxanne, who’ve worked hard on their goals saw that there is a community of people applauding their commitment to changing their lives.


“When you have a goal set in mind, GO FOR IT, regardless of your finances and home life. There are so many programs out there and LearningQuest has made ways for us to complete our goals and to do so within ways that meet our means. We allow ourselves to let things we are struggling with get in the way of our goals and you have to use your determination to get through it. It is hard, but it can be done.”  – Roxanne Quinones

Check out all the photos from the LearningQuest’s first drive thru Graduation in the Facebook photo album below!

2019-2020 LearningQuest Graduates

Juan C. Albor

Augustine Alonso*

Abelino Alvarez

Sergio Alvarez*

Jaklin Amiri

Rosario Banuelos

Claudio Barron

Sibei Becerril

Juana  Cabrera

Juan M.  Calixto*

Mallory Cantu

Rosalia Cardenas Gonzalez

Maria Cervantes

Richard Chavez

Michelle Cimino

Elizabeth Dehart

Celia Diaz

Juan M.  Dimas

Trina M. Duenas

Shawn Elliott

Libier Escamilla*

Diana Isela Estrada

Vincent Fernando

Tyler J. Fite-Parks

Maria Del Carmen Flores

Idania Fuentes

Juan  Garcia

Rigoberto Garcia Medina*

Tonatee Gentry*

Johnny Gonzales

Maria  Gonzales

Abigail Gonzalez

Beatriz  Gonzalez*

Guadalupe Guerrero

Laniza Guiang

Monica Gutierrez

Xane Z. Hernandez

Larry Hinkston

Jason House*

Delilah Hurtado

Yessenia Jimenez

Chethan Kommu

Vanessa Laccetti

Michael Lane

Miguel Lopez

Rigoberto Lopez

Jose Lopez

Anthony Mancilla

Jordan Masangcay

Jazmin  Melgarejo Luna

Virginia Melius*

Hayry  Mineo Sauceda

Michael Modaresi

Christopher Morales

Heidy Moscoso Monroy

Theresia Ngefor

Benjamin Nunez

Rosalba Ochoa*

Estella Ortiz

Aida Pablo

Jerymia  Parker*

Karina Pineda

Roxanne Quinones

John Rainey*

Ana Karen Ramirez

David Ramos*

Alice Razo

Jennifer Rocca*

Jennifer Rogers

Moises Rosas Diaz

Yajaira Salinas

Alberto Sanchez

Jonathan Sangster

Paul Segovia*

Tyrone Smith

Melissa Soto*

Emily Souza*

Jose Toledo

Bethany Tyler

Guadalupe Valverde

Tatiana Vargas

Adela  Vera

Luz del Carmen Vilchis

Michael White

William Williams

Nathan Willis

Brian R.D. Woody

Ramon Zavala

* Graduated with Honors

Domonique’s New Journey

          Sometimes even the most unexpected opportunities can inspire us.  For Domonique Johnson, that inspiration came long before she began volunteer tutoring with LearningQuest in 2019.  Domonique has been a devoted helper in the community for years having volunteered at the Great Valley Museum since 2016.  She previously worked for a local restaurant where many of her coworkers did not speak English as their first language and did not have the time or funds to learn.  Domonique saw that they greatly wanted to be able to communicate with their peers, supervisors, and even their child’s school.  Her 12 years there made her realize that her path was going to take a new turn, she said, “When I stopped working in restaurants, I wanted to be part of an organization that supported people like my coworkers.”

          One of her friends, a past tutoring student, mentioned LearningQuest the day before Domonique coincidentally met an LQ team member at an outreach event.  She signed up to be a volunteer tutor for LearningQuest’s Adult Literacy program the next day.  Domonique said, “Everyone at LearningQuest is so enthusiastic, compassionate, and kind.  It feels like a really special community and I wanted to be a part of it.”  Little did she know this opportunity would set her on the path to gaining new experiences.

          It didn’t take long for Domonique to feel right at home.  She was helping students learn to read at the library and then helping adults practice their English speaking skills at LQ’s English Cafe.


“I love helping students!  Tutoring feels truly collaborative.  Building that relationship and seeing students clearly stating their goals and continually working towards them keeps me committed.”  – Domonique Johnson


          Domonique continues to help her tutoring students reach goals and has since also become an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor in LearningQuest’s Family Literacy program.  She has grown to love helping others learn that she’s started a new journey of her own, Domonique says, “I have enjoyed my experiences tutoring and teaching so much that I have decided to become a teacher! I am currently in a teacher credential program at Stan State.”

          Domonique has some words of inspiration for adults in the community uncertain about restarting their literacy journey, “It’s so easy to feel self-doubt when learning something new, especially something as challenging as language and literacy.  Acknowledging that you need help and making that call are the hardest steps.  Everyone at LearningQuest wants you to succeed and will work hard to help you reach your goals.”

Domonique Johnson
Domonique with her student, Phebe, and Adult Literacy coordinator, Rose, at the 2019 Literacy Network's Celebrate Literacy Awards

Domonique with her student, Phebe, and Adult Literacy coordinator, Rose, at the 2019 Literacy Network’s Celebrate Literacy Awards

Roles Reverse for Tanisha

KidsQuest Parent & Tutor, Tanisha Smith

KidsQuest Parent & Tutor, Tanisha Smith

Laverne reading to his mom, Tanisha

Laverne reading to his mom, Tanisha

As a child, Tanisha Smith had many obstacles to overcome on her educational journey.  Her timid and shy personality prevented her from asking for help and led to struggling in all of her classes.  Despite Tanisha’s desire to succeed, she felt lost.  Many years later, she found her voice and stayed determined enough to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting at CSU, Stanislaus.

That feeling of struggle and achievement motivated Tanisha when roles reversed and she went from student to teacher while homeschooling her two sons for eight years.  Wanting to forge a better start for them, she encouraged them to always seek help and ask her questions.  Since she had that personal teaching time with them, Tanisha began to notice that her eldest son was struggling with reading and he was soon diagnosed with a language disorder.  She tried many programs and school resources, but her son just wasn’t progressing as expected.

Tanisha found KidsQuest, LearningQuest’s one-on-one tutoring for children with dyslexia and other language disorders, and began to quickly see her son’s reading levels improve using the Barton Reading and Spelling program.  With how the program approaches learning, she also found a new understanding of reading and writing herself.  When her son had questions, Tanisha was relieved to no longer have to tell him, “Oh, that’s just our crazy English language.”  She was so moved by her son’s improvement and learning she experienced as a parent that she became a tutor.  Now, Tanisha is able to find even better ways to support her son’s learning and help many other KidsQuest students reach their own milestones of reading success.

I am motivated, focused, and determine to watch each of my students grow confident in their abilities.  I want to make a difference, hoping to make learning fun, so they will have a passion to learn.”   – Tanisha Smith

         Tanisha stays dedicated to creating a space for students to  reach new levels of learning and find their own voice while she tutors.  To those who support LearningQuest programs, like KidsQuest, Tanisha says, “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your dedication and compassion to help increase the confidence in our children, so they can shine when they are ready to enter the world and stand independently as proud individuals.”

2020 Fall – Winter LQ Connect

  • LQ Connect - October 2020 (Adult Lit edition)
  • LQ Connect - October 2020 (Adult Lit edition) (1)
  • LQ Connect - October 2020 (Adult Lit edition) (2)
  • LQ Connect - October 2020 (Adult Lit edition) (3)

Leaping Grades and Building Confidence

Meet Heather & Miranda…

Heather Sevo struggled with dyslexia since childhood, but essential school resources helped her start junior high at the same reading level as her peers and maintain top grades through college.  It was an accomplishment that required hard work and dedication from herself and those who helped her.  Heather said, “So, when my child, Miranda, wasn’t able to keep up with the rest of her class in reading and spelling, I knew something was wrong.”

It turns out that Miranda, only being in third grade, indeed had dyslexia like her mother and quickly joined the school’s resource program.  She said, “Although she was learning how to spell and read, it wasn’t the one on one she needed.  It was a small group of kids that met for 15 minutes only two times a week.  She wasn’t learning what she needed as quickly as she was needing it.  By the time she got into fourth grade, she was only reading at a second grade level and spelling was at first grade level at best.  Her self esteem and self confidence was starting to suffer and she was quickly being left behind in her learning.  She was able to piece together and memorize enough to keep her afloat, but not enough to succeed.”

“You only fail if you give up!

If you are doing your best, that is what counts.”

– Sevo Family motto

Heather learned about LearningQuest’s free one-on-one tutoring for dyslexic children using the Barton System through the KidsQuest program held at the Stanislaus County Library.  She said, “I was doing everything I could at home to help her.  I was tutoring her in reading and spelling, but could not afford the Barton System at $350 per level, so I did what I could do.” After enrolling Miranda into KidsQuest and witnessing the commitment from her tutor, Tim Smart, Heather saw a significant improvement in her daughter’s academic success and confidence.  Heather said, “This has been a blessing from God!  We could not afford the Barton System on our own.  This program enabled [Miranda] to get the help she needs with an excellently trained tutor…that has the patience and time to help her.  She has gone from reading at a second grade level to a fifth grade reading level in just one year!  It has given my daughter the confidence to enter into sixth grade knowing that she can read what she needs to read without feeling anxious or defeated.”

Miranda has regained her self confidence and no longer feels pressured to play “catch up” in school.  Miranda said, “My mom keeps me motivated and determined to do my best because she is always there for me.  We talk about what it is I’m learning and she teaches me and takes me deeper into the subject.  She doesn’t just give me the answers, she helps me figure it out for myself.  She encourages me by telling me of her struggles and how she overcame them.  She also tells me about others that are dyslexic and how they have gone on to accomplish great things in their lives.”

“Through KidsQuest, my daughter was given the necessary tools she needed to learn how to read.  Schools are overwhelmed and underfunded.  They do not have the ability to work one on one with a student that needs the extra help.  Without Tim Smart and KidsQuest, my daughter would be entering middle school unable to read,” said Heather.  For other parents struggling to help their child find the resources they need, she says, “Seek help.  Ask for a parent teacher conference with your child’s teacher.  Be strong!  Be your child’s advocate.”

Did you know that many parents in your community don’t know that they can access free educational and support resources?

Bridge the gap for families, like Heather and Miranda’s, by making sure support programs stay available for parents searching for resources.

Learning Brings Mother and Daughter Closer

Meet Hayry & Keylin…

Starting over in a new country was just one more box to check on Hayry Sauceda’s ambitious list of what she needed to accomplish for herself and for her family.  Hayry (pronounced hi-ree) grew up in a loving home with a close-knit family in Estacion Rosales, Sinaloa, Mexico.  “I felt that I was a fortunate girl to have my family.  My life as a child was full of joy and beauty,” she said.  Her family supported her educational goals as she graduated from high school and attended university with hopes of one day becoming a nurse.  However, as she approached the end of the last year at university, Hayry and her husband decided it was time to search for better opportunities that would lead to a brighter future for their daughter.

Once they moved to California, Hayry wanted to get back on track with building a secure life for her family, but realized that “the new language was the main culture shock” when she arrived.  Refusing to be left out of the conversation, Hayry set off on a journey to learn English and started classes with LearningQuest.  Hayry said, “I want to focus on learning English and then pursue a career in the medical field as a medical assistant.”

“My daughter is my main motivation to continue studying and I want to give her the best example…so [she can] also strive to achieve [her] hopes and dreams.”

– Hayry Saucedo

She has improved her English so much through the English as a Second Language and Family Literacy programs that even her daughter gets involved with literacy.  They enjoy hands-on educational projects through the Parent and Child Together (PACT) classes and, thanks to Kids Club, her daughter gets supervised homework help and fun literacy activities while Hayry is in class learning English.  They received brand new books to practice reading together during the Giving Tree Book Drive and in October of 2019, Hayry signed up for the High School Equivalency (HSE) program and graduated in July!

Hayry has come such a long way over the past two years that she has been able to apply her new skills to parenting, she says, “In the class, I learned many new things that make it easier to help my daughter with math and science homework.  My daughter is my main motivation to continue studying and I want to give her the best example…so [she can]also strive to achieve [her]hopes and dreams.”

For those ready to change their lives, Hayry says, “Fight to get ahead.  It is never too late to study since it is your education that will be the best weapon for life.  It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either.  Having an education is important for us and our community.”

“Fight to get ahead.  It is never too late to study since it is your education that will be the best weapon for life.”

– Hayry Saucedo

Did you know that many parents in your community don’t know that they can access free educational and support resources?

Bridge the gap for families, like Hayry and Keylin’s, by making sure support programs stay available for parents searching for resources.

Q & A with Mallory Cantu

Mallory Cantu & Family

Mallory Cantu [far right], a LearningQuest Welfare to Work HSE 2020 Graduate, with her daughters

“Be a better role model for my kids” – Mallory Cantu

Mallory Cantu started her journey at LearningQuest in January of 2020 as a Welfare to Work student.  After only five short months and dedication to studying, she finally earned her High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma, removing one more barrier on her journey.  Meet Mallory:

LearningQuest (LQ): Where did you grow up and what was life like?

Mallory (M): I grew up in El Centro, a small town where everyone knew everyone.  Life was good and I had a good childhood.


LQ: What stopped you from finishing High School?

M: I got pregnant toward the end of ninth grade and never went back.


LQ: Why did you decide to earn your diploma?

M: Be a better role model for my kids.


LQ: Did you have any struggles in the classroom? If so, what were they?

M: No, everything was amazing.


LQ: Were there things (like family, work, etc.) outside of the classroom that made focusing on or completing classwork difficult? If so, what were they?

M: No, I always made time for my schoolwork.


LQ: What are some things that helped you stay motivated, focused and determined?

M: My kids and my goals.


LQ: How do you use what you’ve learned in the classroom in your everyday life or at work?

M: When I cook, my measuring skills kick in, or even when I’m going shopping and I see a shirt that’s 35% off – I start calculating.


LQ: What are your educational goals?

M: To study a little of kinesiology until I can actually get the classes I need to be a physical therapy assistant.


LQ: How would reaching your educational goals impact your family/children?

M: My kids would be so excited.


LQ: What are your career goals?

M: To become a physical therapy assistant. 


LQ: What advice do you have for your fellow students?

M: Keep pushing.


LQ: What advice do you have for people who haven’t started working on their educational goals?

M: It’s a great experience and well worth it.


LQ: Would you like to thank anyone important to your success at LearningQuest?

M: My teacher (Mrs. Josephine Alexander-Hutchins) for sure for giving me the help I needed!


LQ: Thank you so much for choosing to reach your goals with us at LearningQuest, your presence here has been greatly appreciated. Anything else you’d like to share?

M: Thank you LearningQuest team!  You guys are amazing!

Spring-Summer 2020 LQ Connect

  • LQ Connect Spring Summer Pg 1
  • LQ Connect Spring Summer Pg 2
  • LQ Connect Spring Summer Pg 3
  • LQ Connect Spring Summer Pg 4