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San Bernardino Public Library Supports Footsteps2Brilliance Early Literacy Program

SAN BERNARDINO, CA- The San Bernardino Public Library (SBPL) has joined in supporting a new countywide early literacy program called Footsteps2Brilliance which is part of the San Bernardino Countywide Vision2Read literacy campaign, a collective impact initiative involving multiple agencies working collaboratively to increase literacy rates among children and families in the county.

The library has posted a link to the program on its library website at www.sbpl.org. Parents interested in signing up for the app for their children can go to www.myf2b.com/register/sanbernardinocounty.

“On behalf of our Library Board of Trustees, we’re very pleased in promoting this wonderful effort to promote early childhood education and early literacy in our city” said SBPL Library Director Ed Erjavek.

The San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, County Preschool Services, Children’s Fund and First 5 San Bernardino are partnering to deliver the new literacy program.

Footsteps2Brilliance is an innovative early learning mobile technology platform that provides free access to early literacy activities to all families with children, birth through Pre-K, who reside in San Bernardino County. The program provides a comprehensive curriculum of more than 1,000 English and Spanish books, songs and games that are fun for children and address the vocabulary gap, according to the following press release from the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools.

“Literacy is a priority in our county. Early literacy skills lay the foundation for a child’s success from cradle to career,” County Superintendent Ted Alejandre said. “Children who are not proficient readers by the end of third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers.”

In January 2017, a cohort of 1,500 students in county preschool programs were selected to use Footsteps2Brilliance and measure their literacy growth. To date, participating preschoolers have read 22,240 books and more than 5.1 million words. As part of the launch, Alejandre and program partners are encouraging all families with birth through pre-K children in the county to join a challenge to read an additional 3 million words by Sept. 1, 2017.

“Footsteps2Brilliance enables us to cross the divide between children who have a seat in a preschool and those who do not,” said Diana Alexander, director of Preschool Services for the county. “We get to provide all birth through pre-K children with an amazing literacy software program that will bring several modes of learning right into their home. This is an exciting time for San Bernardino County!”

Among the benefits of Footsteps2Brilliance is that the platform’s educational resources can be accessed from any smartphone, tablet or computer with or without an Internet connection. Research shows that more than 80 percent of parents own smartphones or mobile devices.

“Through the Footsteps2Brilliance platform, families, schools and the community have access to high-quality educational tools to accelerate vocabulary and literacy skills using the devices they already own,” noted Karen Scott, executive director of First 5 San Bernardino.

According to Stacy Iverson – president and CEO of Children’s Fund – every dollar spent on quality early childhood interventions produces a $14-$17 return.

“No single strategy offers a greater return on investment than providing children with the tools they need to read proficiently by third grade,” she said.

Research shows the greatest disparity of knowledge among children is the vocabulary gap – the number of words a child knows from birth through third grade. Children from low-income families hear 30 million fewer words before the age of four than their more affluent peers. This is compounded by the fact that 61 percent of low-income children have no books in their homes.

Approximately 20 percent of families in San Bernardino County live in poverty and 34 percent speak Spanish in the home (according to census data). Based on data from the California Department of Education, nearly 19 percent of school-aged students are classified as English Learners and more than 72 percent qualify for free and reduced lunch.

The San Bernardino County literacy partnership is unique and will serve as a blueprint around the nation to achieve early literacy success in dual language communities on a countywide basis.

“We are honored to partner with the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools to give all children equal access to high-quality bilingual English and Spanish literacy instruction. Already, we have seen this unique countywide collaboration bring the community together with a strong commitment and a plan to support all early learners. We believe this will be a powerful model for other districts across the nation to follow,” said Ilene Rosenthal, CEO of Footsteps2Brilliance.

Ronald McDonald House of Charities Awards $233,000 in Scholarships to 85 Southern California Students

LOS ANGELES, CA- Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California (RMHCSC), in partnership with Southern California McDonald’s operators, is helping 85 of the Southland’s brightest and most deserving high school seniors make their college dreams a reality this fall by awarding more than $233,000 in scholarships. Since 1990, RMHCSC has helped pave the way toward higher education for more than 3,400 exceptional Southern California students, providing more than $5.7 million in funds to help ease the financial burden of college tuition, fees and educational expenses. Selected from a pool of more than 1,400 applicants, the 2016-17 RMHCSC Scholarship Program recipients were recently recognized at a celebratory luncheon that took place at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Poornima Vijayashanker, engineer and founder of education company Femgineer, delivered the keynote address and Univision network’s Fernanda Kelly served as master of ceremonies.

“This year’s group of young scholars has truly inspired us with their extraordinary accomplishments and commitment to their community,” said Vince Bryson, CEO, RMHCSC. “We’re excited to see them achieve their educational dreams and are confident that their successes will motivate the next generation.”

Every year, RMHCSC supports outstanding college-bound students across Southern California through four competitive RMHC scholarships: RMHC/Hispanic American Commitment to Educational Resources, RMHC/African American Future Achievers, RMHC/Asian Pacific American Students Increasing Achievement, and RMHC/Scholars. Award recipients are selected through a rigorous application process based on a number of criteria including academic achievement, community involvement, leadership skills, letters of recommendation and financial need.

Funding is made possible through the fundraising efforts of more than 120 local McDonald’s operators in Southern California, McDonald’s corporate staff and the global and Southern California chapters of RMHC. Additionally, the McDonald’s Operators’ Association of Southern California (MOASC) pays for all administrative costs for managing the scholarship program.

Interested students can begin the 2018-19 application process in October 2017. For more information, please visit www.rmhcsc.org/scholarships.

The Mochacademy Enrichment Program end of the year Fashion Show and Awards Ceremony

MocacademyBy Marla A. Matime

On Sunday, June 4, Mochacademy, hosted their first ever awards ceremony and fashion show at the Mt. Rubidoux SDA church in Riverside, where girls from grades 6th to 10th took the stage to showcase their gifts and talents through song, sewing, painting and other exciting and engaging activities that they had the opportunity to learn throughout the first year of the programs conception.  

I had the privilege of talking with Toni Collins-Percivale, whose two daughters were mentees in the first ever program.  I asked her how did she hear about Mochacademy and she lovingly expressed that she heard about it through co-founder Marjean (MJ) Sterling.  Her main reason for allowing her daughters to partake in the program was because she shared and understood the same philosophy as MJ, in that it takes a village to raise our children. 

Since the beginning of this recent school year, Toni noticed that because of Mochacademy her daughters began to take pride in their grooming habits, their promptness to engagement, and the willingness to speak positively over their selves without pressure from their mother.  A few things that Toni would like to see more of for Mochacademy in the future would be the continuation of mentorship and self-awareness and additional funding, fundraisers to help assist with more cultural and engaging events to expose the girls to more positive things going on in our world today. 

I also had the opportunity to speak with a first-time visitor who was invited by a presenter throughout the year by the name of Sharmaine Campbell.  She brought her daughter to the event to check it out and is considering signing her up for the program to help her break out of her shell of shyness.  She believes that a program like Mocacademy is much needed in our community.

I had the honor of asking Shayla Moore and Marjean (MJ) Sterling, founders of Mochacademy, a few questions, for them to share the thought process behind starting the organization and what they could take away from their first full year.

If I remember correctly, conversations regarding starting this program began in April of last year.  What was the initial thought process of why you wanted to put this program together?

MJ- I’d have to say that conversations about starting this program actually ended in April of 2016. It was at that time that we realized that we could either talk about it or be about it, and we chose the latter. From that night on, we no longer talked about starting this program, we started it and all conversations shifted focus to what we would do within our program. We knew what we wanted to accomplish, and from there we birthed our “why”, after that it was only a matter of “how”.

Shayla – I believe it is necessary to pour into the woman of our future. It is important to provide positive images for our young community and let them know they can become anything they put their mind to. With so many negative images of African American woman we want to remind them that they are a child a God, heirs to the kingdom and should not settle for anything less.

Also, the decision was made to start the program last April but we have been speaking about this for years. We finally said we need to do it and ever since things have come together. This is how we knew it was meant to be.

What did the first year teach you about mentorship?

MJ – My first year with Mochacademy taught me that in order to be successful, I must be open-minded. Sometimes the “perfect” plan or idea still needs a few tweaks and adjustments from a second or third source. And just like all things in life I had to expect the unexpected! If we hadn’t been able to take things in stride, we would have felt defeated from the very beginning. Nothing went exactly as planned, but everything always worked out every single time.

Shayla – There is no guideline to follow. You must follow your heart and take the time to build bonds. Once a bond is made is when you can start to leave lasting impressions. These girls have made me a better person while I want to make an impression on them they have changed my life for the better as well. Mentoring is enriching to the mentor as well the mentee.

Did this first year end up looking how you envisioned?

MJ – Our vision was a sketch, and first year filled in the colors. The sketch was beautiful, admirable, and ambitious; but it paled in comparison to what was unveiled as we started adding the colors. The colors were the individual girls, their personalities, the bonds that were created, the lessons they learned, the conversations that were held, the songs that were made up on long trips, the smiles, the laughter, and even a few tears. Our first year exceeded our vision.

Shayla – No, it exceeded every expectation we had. God has truly blessed us with amazing people that made our dream a reality.

Have you done anything like this in past time?  Any mentorship programs or volunteer programs geared towards a similar purpose?

MJ – I’ve never been involved in or seen a program like ours, but in my youth I was a part of a mentoring program and I always knew that it was imperative that as I came into my own, I paid it forward and poured into the next generation.

Shayla – No, not formally. I have had mentors growing up that have made lasting impressions and I think it is necessary to do it for others.

What are you MOST proud of?

MJ – I’m most proud of the mentors. These ladies have given of themselves wanting nothing in return. Time is precious, and once you give it away there’s no getting it back. These ladies have been selfless with their time, skills, and resources. I’m most proud of the fact that they’re in my life and I can call them Friend. If I had to leave the program today, I know the girls would still be in excellent hands.

Shayla – That I have made an everlasting impression on eight amazing young ladies. I pray that I can continue to lead them to Christ and to a successful future.

For more information, please be sure to contact Mocacademy at Mochacademy.comMochacademy@gmail.com, or (951)777-9246.

You can also, find them on social media Facebook: Mochacademy Mentoring Program Instagram: Mochacademy

The meeting times will be held from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. every third Sunday, beginning in September 2017 through May 2018

We accept applicants 6th grade to 10th grade the program goes up to 12th grade and are currently accepting mentor applications. Mentees should take advantage of the early bird registration as space is limited.  If you are currently unable to give of your time, but would like to know the areas in which we need donations, please contact them.