It’s Tuesday at the Mission Graduates Tutoring Center and fourth grader Grecia Ramos is writing a letter to her college pen pal asking about life on campus at San Francisco State University. Last week, Grecia learned the word campus during Circle Time after school. “How many books do you have?” she asks in her letter. “Can you have dogs in your room?” Grecia and her pen pal will exchange a series of letters over the course of this school year and then meet in person on the college campus next May when Grecia and her Tutoring Center classmates will tour the campus and visit their pen pals’ dorm rooms. The pen pal project is designed to build a college-going mindset early in the academic careers of our young people while building literacy, vocabulary and self-reflection skills.
Early college awareness helps to increase the likelihood of college attendance later in life.
Later this Tuesday evening, Grecia’s mother, Luz, attends a training facilitated by Mission Graduates’ Parent Partner Program. Luz learns about school governance structures and is invited to play an active role in the school’s committee for families of English language learners. She is also trained to use the school district’s new School Loop program, which allows parents to monitor their children’s academic progress through weekly reports online. Luz is encouraged to make a list of things that are important to her to present at next week’s larger School Site Council meeting. It will be the first time that she speaks publicly about Grecia’s academic needs.
Reflecting on her family’s participation in Mission Graduates programs, Luz says, “The Tutoring Center has been key to the healthy development of my children. My children learn so many socializing skills, participate in a lot of enrichment activities, become very smart, and educate us parents about nutrition, civil rights, and homelessness. I love the fact that even at our humble elementary school, kids are talking to us parents about going to college!”
When parents are engaged in their children’s education, academic success increases.
As Grecia grows older, she and her family will have many opportunities to remain engaged in Mission Graduates programs. In high school, Grecia might be a Peer Educator with Talking Circles, facilitating workshops for her peers about goal-setting and delaying pregnancy. Through College Connect, she can receive support with her college applications while her mother learns about the financial aid system. Maybe Grecia will return to the Tutoring Center – where her journey with Mission Graduates first began – as a volunteer tutor and mentor with College Bound Ambassadors. When Grecia goes to college, she will be a role model in her neighborhood.
Youth in Mission Graduates programs develop the personal, academic and social skills needed to be successful in college.
You can help this story unfold. Please donate today and help to support kids like Grecia, who are struggling academically in San Francisco public schools, have no family history of college, and need access to the kind of services that Mission Graduates provides to over 1000 children and youth each year.