After multi-racial students, Latino and Hispanic students are Oregon public schools' fastest growing demographic. In 2014, 22.4% of students enrolling in Oregon schools identified as Hispanic/Latino, compared to 17.25% in 2008. With many of these students coming from Spanish-speaking households, additional support is integral to the academic success of these students.
While Oregon has taken big steps toward helping these kids with recent English Language Learner (ELL) legislation and efforts to increase the number of bilingual educators in schools, some nonprofits are stepping in before kids even start school. One of these is Latino Network.
Spanish-speaking children, ages three to five, in Latino Network's Juntos Aprendemos (Together We Learn) program learn early numeracy and literacy skills, how to behave in a classroom setting, how to interact with peers, and Latino culture and heritage. Spanish-speaking guardians learn how to teach numeracy and literacy, positive communication skills, how to navigate the U.S. educational system, and how to be an advocate for their child in and out of school.
Juntos Aprendemos graduates are better at learning reading and engage more positively with their peers when they start school. In addition, the guardians of these students are more involved in their children's schooling, where before they might be unsure how to show up for their children in a majority English-speaking school system.
This year Latino Network is celebrating Juntos Aprendemos' 15th year! "Juntos Aprendemos was created in 2000 by a group of Latino parents and community members who wanted to ensure Latino children were entering kindergarten prepared to succeed." Even more exciting, Juntos Aprendemos is expanding into a fourth school district this fall and is now operating in seven schools.
Juntos Aprendemos is funded in part by the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund at Northwest Health Foundation.