68 families graduate from Toyota Family Learning program

July 6th, 2015
68 families graduated from the Toyota Family Learning / English Language Learners Program in southwest Detroit. Major funding from Toyota, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, and the J. Ferrantino Charitable Foundation enabled Southwest Solutions to offer the program to families in four schools during 2014-15.

As the name of each graduate was announced, the entire family took the stage and accepted a special certificate for completing our Toyota Family Learning / English Language Learners Program. In all, 68 families participated in the graduation ceremony on June 18 in southwest Detroit. The families have children in one of four elementary schools that offers the Toyota Family Learning / English Language Learners Program: Harms, Lighthouse Charter Academy, Maybury, and Munger.

Southwest Solutions is one of nine organizations in the country providing the Toyota Family Learning program, which was launched last fall with a three-year grant from National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) and Toyota. The Toyota Family Learning program is designed to help families – particularly those who are first-generation, Spanish-speaking immigrants – create a family culture that promotes learning and uses digital technologies for educational purposes. The program enhances our English Language Learners Program (ELLP), which serves families with children in pre-kindergarten through third grade. ELLP not only teaches parents English, it allows parents to spend time in their children’s classroom to help them with schoolwork. Parents both learn with their children and learn to support their children’s learning.

At the graduation ceremony, Sharon Darling, President of NCFL, and Bruce Brownlee, Senior Executive Administrator for External Affairs at Toyota Technical Center, spoke about the importance of the Toyota Family Learning / English Language Learners Program to promote both education and involvement in creating a better community and environment. Sharon and Bruce also personally congratulated each of the families as they received their certificates on stage.

Donna Cielma, Director of Early Childhood and School-Based Services at Southwest Solutions, and Lynn McGregor, Manager of Early Childhood & Family Literacy at Southwest Solutions, also spoke. In addition, two programs graduates, Ana Perez and Berta Vivanco, spoke about how the program benefited their families. Ana’s and Berta’s speeches are reprinted in the caption of their photos.

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