Apr 29, 2010 8:07 PM by David Ortiviz

Literacy grant helps Hispanic families in Pueblo

Pueblo City schools has received a $600,000 grant to help Hispanic families improve their English skills. Some students have struggled with classwork, because their parents only speak Spanish, but now changing.

At Bradford Elementary School, 7 year-old Bryan Moreno is learning how to read English. "Hey dad this is great," said Bryan while reading from a book. His mother Erika, who was born in Mexico and mostly speaks Spanish is also learning the English language. (Moreno spoke to to us in Spanish and we translated her comments) "I want to learn so I can be with (my two children) and help them," said Moreno.

She's on the right path thanks to a literacy grant from Toyota--coordinated by the National Center for Family Literacy. This innovative program lets Spanish-speaking parents like Moreno go into the classroom to learn English, at no cost.

"So parents come to school with their children everyday, they go to their own class and learn English and improve their basic skills, and then they spend part of the day in the classroom with their child," said Sharon Darling, President and Founder of the National Center for Family Literacy.

Over the next three years, the program will run at Bradford, Baca and Irving Elementary schools, where about 81% of students are Hispanic. The school district says students with parent's who don't speak English, are often at a disadvantage.

"I think that's a huge barrier, if you can't access a language obviously you can't assist you're child with the homework that's coming home," said Charlotte Macaluso, with Pueblo City Schools. So by helping parents, they hope students will also excel. "We expect to see the achievement scores of these students go up," said Darling.

For the Moreno family it's already making a difference. "I can help my child better with homework because I've learned English," said Moreno.

Pueblo was only one of five school districts in the nation to receive this grant money, out of more than a hundred that applied.

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