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Parent Mentors graduates largest class in its history

Mon, Jun 30, 2014

14393469564_5651ddac70_bThe 582 Parent Mentors who tutored children daily in 67 schools around the state received diplomas June 10 at Darwin School, 3116 W. Belden. This is the largest class in the 19-year history of the Parent Mentor program, thanks largely to funds from the Illinois State Board of Education, which allowed the program to expand from its home at the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) and the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP) two years ago. The program also celebrated another victory: a $1.5 million appropriation by the state legislature in the FY15 budget, an increase from $1 million.

14370660926_844cdd14be_bThe Parent Mentor Program is a partnership between schools and community organizations in low-income neighborhoods. The groups recruit, train and place parents (mostly Latina moms but increasingly African-American parents) in early-grade classrooms to help students who are furthest behind. Parents volunteer daily throughout the year in a structured program. They receive a stipend of $500 per semester and attend workshops weekly. Most parent mentors continue with education or work. Some have become teachers.

LSNA founded the Parent Mentor program in 1995 at Funston Elementary School, and it spread by parent and principal demand to other Logan Square schools and then in 2005 to SWOP’s schools on the southwest side.

14393972315_0346c97a4f_bWhen the program was featured on the Today Show during the Education Nation summit in 2012, the Equal Voice for Families website of the Marguerite Casey Foundation noted that the Parent Mentor program was key to building parent-teacher relationships, to involving parents in the school improvement process and to running LSNA’s after-school community learning centers.

Two books have been published on LSNA’s education work: A Cord of Three Strands, A New Approach to Parent Engagement in Schools by Prof. Soo Hong (Harvard Education Press 2011); and Grow Your Own Teachers, ed. Skinner, Garreton and Schultz (Teachers College Press, 2011).

Suzanne Hanney
StreetWise Editor-In-Chief

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