Toyota Family Learning Program Begins at Four Elementary Schools in Southwest Detroit

November 13th, 2014
Maria Ramirez (left) and Nancy Jimenez (right) participate in the Toyota Family Literacy / Parent Immersion Training at Maybury Elementary in southwest Detroit.

[Detroit — November 13, 2014] Southwest Solutions has begun implementing a model intergenerational learning program  for families in the community with a three-year, $175,000 grant from Toyota and the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL).

The program will be at four elementary schools in southwest Detroit: Munger, Harms, Maybury and Lighthouse Charter Academy.

“The Toyota Family Learning grant is an important enhancement to our family literacy program,” said Donna Cielma, who directs Early Childhood and School-Based programs at Southwest Solutions. “The mentoring and family service learning components expand the program’s reach by providing families the opportunity to create change in their school and home communities. This multi-generational approach works to address the social challenges and barriers faced by vulnerable children and families to support and improve the health of individuals, families and the community.”

Independent evaluations show Toyota Family Learning has yielded impressive results.

“Following year one, we are finding that participating families are interacting more often with their child’s school and using technology with their children for educational purposes,” said Emily Kirkpatrick, vice president of NCFL. “Fathers and siblings are more involved in family learning. We’re seeing gains in parents’ organizational and leadership skills and involvement in their community.”

Families across the country, often first-generation immigrants, are already benefiting from the first year of Toyota Family Learning. The total NCFL and Toyota grants amount to $1.75 million for programs in 10 schools, libraries and community-based organizations across the country.

“Toyota Family Learning helps bridge the gap between classroom and lifelong learning,” said Mike Goss, vice president of external affairs for Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, Inc. “We build on the success of intergenerational literacy programs that enable parents and children to learn alongside each other, by taking that learning outside the classroom in ways that are engaging and relevant to real life situations.”

Area families participating in the Toyota Family Learning program will:

  • Attend Parent Time and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®: Participating parents engage in guided learning with a focus on leadership. During PACT time, families learn together while engaging in activities including mentoring and service learning, using technology together, reading together, and taking family trips.
  • Join in service learning activities: Reflecting Toyota Family Learning’s guiding philosophy, which is rooted in community service, families participate in at least three service projects.
  • Engage in family-to-family mentoring: Building community networks is integral to experiencing life success following graduation from the Toyota Family Learning program, and the mentoring element teaches families how to share information with each other in an effort to foster self-sufficiency.

The community grants are just one facet of Toyota Family Learning – a six-year, nationwide initiative that also offers an online learning community called Family Time Machine, which helps parents and kids make better use of every moment in the day, and engages families in mobile learning adventures. Toyota Family Learning resources and information are available at

Southwest Solutions joins five other organizations nationwide receiving Toyota Family Learning program grants in the second year of the program.


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