Students from Coachella Valley and Palm Springs Unified School Districts, as well as the Riverside County Migrant Education Program participate in the Expanded Digital Learning Summer Program
RIVERSIDE – After almost 15 months of adapting to distance learning due to the pandemic, 500 Riverside County students are preparing to transition back to the classroom by focusing on literacy skills and their social-emotional health. Through a new partnership between the Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) and the Cesar Chavez Foundation, students will become better readers, and be emotionally prepared for the start of the 2021-22 school year.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with the Cesar Chavez foundation on this powerful digital learning program that enhances literacy,” commented Dr. Edwin Gomez, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools. “One of my four initiatives is, Literacy by Fifth Grade, and I know we have students whose learning was deeply impacted by the pandemic. This program will help ensure students are better prepared for the start of the school year, through this engaging curriculum developed by the Cesar Chavez Foundation.”
The two-week program, designed by the Cesar Chavez Foundation is focused on helping 500 students become better readers by having access to personalized and adaptive reading digital instruction through i-Ready. In addition, the Expanded Digital Learning Summer Program takes a holistic approach to students’ growth by implementing social emotional strategies that align to Cesar Chavez’ core values such as, Si Se Puede! Culturally competent teachers teach these lessons using culturally relevant books and program supplies, that have also been provided to all students through a literacy backpack.
“Our work is anchored in Cesar Chavez’s deep belief that, ’You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride,’” said Dr. Celia Garcia Alvarado, Executive Vice President of Education for the Cesar Chavez Foundation. “Now more than ever, students living in working communities need culturally responsive programs that educate both their hearts and minds, and we are very grateful for the opportunity to pilot our program with the Riverside County of Education to support their Literacy by Fifth Grade Initiative.”
A smaller cohort session of 80 students began the program on June 16th, with the first session concluding on June 29th. In this initial group, students participated from across the county as far away as Palo Verde to Perris Elementary School District. Angelica Cazares, Director of Education for the Cesar Chavez Foundation said, “We have seen students engaged and enthusiastic with the program, due to the curriculum content being culturally relevant.” In addition, students and teachers have formed strong bonds resulting in a high attendance rate.
A second session of 420 students will participate from July 7th – 20th in the program. All students are attending the program free of charge. Students’ outcomes and reading data will be shared with participating districts at the conclusion of the program. With the success of the Expanded Digital Learning Summer Program, both organizations hope to continue and expand on these efforts to support literacy in Riverside County.
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The Riverside County Office of Education is a service agency supporting the county’s 23 school districts that serve 430,000 students—more than the student population of 17 states. RCOE services include administrative support to districts, programs for preschool, special education, pregnant minor, correctional, migrant, and vocational students. In addition, the organization provides professional training, support, and resources for more than 18,000 teachers, administrators, and staff throughout the 7,000 square miles of Riverside County.
The Cesar Chavez Foundation is a social enterprise that inspires and transforms communities by providing critical services that address the needs of Latinos and working families: it has built or renovated and manages more than 5,000 units of high-quality affordable housing with amenities including afterschool programs for children and senior services; operates an eight-station Spanish and English-language radio network with 1.5 million daily listeners; develops and provides culturally responsive, diverse products and services to students in under-resourced communities, and operates the National Chavez Center which preserves and promotes the legacy of Cesar Chavez.