Karen and Sheryl have spent years working at Nixon Elementary School and have had the opportunity to work with children in the VTP (Voluntary Transfer Program), a program that provides a small percentage of children from the Ravenswood District (East Palo Alto & Eastern Menlo Park) with the chance to attend schools in the Palo Alto District. They noticed that children in the VTP were starting kindergarten below grade level and playing catch up for years to come. It was disheartening to see these children struggle. As they looked further into the situation, they discovered that a large majority of children at schools in East Palo Alto also fall below grade level.
This experience inspired Karen and Sheryl to ask two questions: 1) Why are these kids behind? and 2) How can we stop this cycle?
Our three programs will together provide collaborative support from infancy through college. As our learners grow, we hope to see them return as inspirational mentors for younger generations. Our programs and their effect on the community will bring about change and reduce the existing achievement gap.
Inspiration Behind RISE
RISE is a not-for-profit organization that works closely with families and educators to provide children in East Palo Alto with a strong academic foundation and the self-confidence necessary to excel in life. We are committed to offering ongoing and collaborative support from infancy through college to ensure that students begin school at grade level and succeed throughout their education and beyond. We encourage children from our program to take pride in their community and understand their limitless potentials as they pursue educational and extracurricular goals. It is our desire that students will leave us feeling proud of their accomplishments and eager to inspire future generations to make a lasting impact on the community.
After learning about the 30-million word gap and its effect on long-term success, we realize that starting young is a key element for change and will help ensure that students begin kindergarten at or above grade level. Because East Palo Alto is currently a low socio-economic community, offering free continual support throughout a student's education will provide access to resources that help students excel in school and beyond. As families and teachers have a strong influence on a child's success, we understand that a collaborative effort involving parents and teachers plays an important role for the difference we can make. Lastly, encouraging our students at RISE to inspire future generations will help us make a long-term impact and open doors for a community whose children have been historically underserved.
With these key elements in mind, we developed a plan for RISE that consists of an Early Risers Program, an After-School Learning and Enrichment Program, and a High School Mentorship Program.
• During the first 4 years of life, a child from a low socio-economic community hears up to 30 million fewer words than children from more affluent areas. This disparity has been shown to have a negative effect on vocabulary size, school readiness, and long-term educational outcomes. (Findings from an extensive study conducted by RICE University)
• Over 50% of students from the Ravenswood District perform below grade level. (Star Test results)