AFTER SCHOOL TUTORING PROGRAM
Centro Latino offers an After School Tutoring Program and a Summer Program free of charge to help local children gain an academic advantage. Centro Latino’s After School Program currently serves 25 students attending Columbia Public elementary and middle schools. The program was established in September 2002 under the initiative of two University of Missouri-Columbia students: Steffanie Sing, Office of Service Learning, and Linda Manning. Linda created these programs to balance the disparities in the classroom between native English speakers and students who have learned English as a second language. In addition, a strong emphasis is placed on the promotion of literacy.
Funding for the After School Program was provided by the City of Columbia for 5 years and the programs continues now through the support of community members and donations from the general public. The program provides transportation to Centro Latino, daily snacks, and tutoring in reading, writing, and mathematics. Several times each semester, the students have the opportunity to participate in field trips in the community. Past trips have included the Daniel Boone Regional Library, the Activities and Recreation Center, and local parks.
The need for Centro Latino’s After School Program. According to the Nation Center for Education Statistics, Hispanic students have a status dropout rate of 27.8%, compared with Whites at 6.9%, Blacks at 13.1%, and Asians/Pacific Islanders at 3.8%. (www.nces.ed.gov). The children that come to Centro Latino struggle against these odds, and the prejudices they induce, everyday. Most of these students come from homes in which Spanish is the first language. In such a home, parents find it frustrating and difficult to help their child finish his or her homework when it is written in a foreign language. At Centro Latino, students find knowledgeable volunteers who can help the students complete homework while encouraging academic growth. Centro Latino also provides a safe place for the students, keeping them out of the reach of drugs, alcohol, and violence. At Centro Latino they are ensured positive role models, a clean and warm environment, and an understanding of their cultural heritage.
The long-term goal of the After School is in accordance with a major component of Centro Latino’s mission: to empower Latino people. Tutors support and encourage the students, helping them help themselves. Centro Latino provides an environment in which Latino students are expected to succeed, urged to do their best, and heartily rewarded for success. In doing so, Centro Latino hopes to instill in these children the love of learning, belief in oneself, and hope for the future. Students enrolled in the After School Program are referred to the MU Extension’s Latino Youth Futures Program for students entering high school, 12 years and up. In the future, the staff and volunteers of Centro Latino hope to hear of these students graduating from high school, attending college, obtaining skilled job positions, and becoming active community members.