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«An introduction to the Valley Settlement Project dual generation model for improving the lives of children and adults living in poverty. July 2014 Elaine ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

An introduction to the Valley Settlement Project

dual generation model for improving the lives

of children and adults living in poverty.

July 2014 Elaine Grossman, Elaine@manausfund.org 970-306-2484

Legal Name: The Manaus Fund

Mailing Address: PO Box 2026 Carbondale, CO 81623

Physical Address: 520 South Third Street, Ste 26, Carbondale, CO 81623

Phone: 970-963-0851 Fax: 970-510-3005

Website: www.manausfund.org

Organization Email: info@manausfund.org Chairman of the Board: Robert C Pew, III Executive Director: Jon Fox-Rubin Phone: 970-963-0851 Email: Jon@manausfund.org Application Contact: Elaine Grossman, Foundation Liaison / Strategic Partnerships Phone: 970-306-2484 (cell) Email: Elaine@manusfund.org Year Founded: 2005 Tax Exemption Status: 501(c)(3) EIN: 20-2710588 Number of Employees: Full-time: 11 Part-time: 5 Organization Budget $1,105,641 2013 Valley Settlement Project $920,834 5/1/13-4/30/14 $1,077,386 5/1/14-4/30/15 Adult Education $168,373 16% 22% PowerTime-After School ($0 Ending May 2014) Early Childhood Education: $537,882 (El Busesito, Kinder-Connect, Family, Friends & 12% Neighbors, Learning With Love) Neighborhood Navigator $127,673 50% Parent Mentor $243,458 To watch a brief video of Valley Settlement Project go to: www.vimeo.com/manausfund/vsp /cb July 2, 2014 The Manaus Fund Page 2

COMMUNITY BACKGROUND

More than 80% of the 70,000 people within a 50 mile radius of the Central Colorado community of Glenwood Springs are clustered in small towns situated in two narrow river valleys along an 85 mile long corridor. At the far end of one valley, the resort town of Aspen is located at the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River.

The resort workforce lives in the downstream towns of Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs at the confluence with the Colorado River. At 10,000 residents, Glenwood is the area’s largest town, located a 40 mile one way commute from Aspen. Continuing to the west, the small towns of New Castle, Silt, Rifle and Parachute are home to more resort staff along with many construction and oil and gas industry employees.

The Hispanic immigrant population has more than doubled in the area over the past 10 years to 29%, about 18,000 residents—higher than the state average of 21% in 2012. The state demographer projects the population of Hispanic children in Colorado to be over 50% by 2021.

Wide gaps exist in the well-being of Colorado’s children in immigrant families and their counterparts in U.S. born families, according to a 2013 report by the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Children in immigrant families in Colorado are nearly twice as likely to live in poverty as children in U.S. born families, 27% versus 16%. More than half of all Colorado children in immigrant families live in poverty, compared to about a third of children in U.S. born families.

Inspired by the success of the Settlement Houses in Chicago over a century ago, the Manaus Fund believes its responsibility is to reach out and help low income, mostly immigrant families become better settled in their communities. Low income families need access to quality early childhood education and a connection to their children’s schools. Parents need the tools to help their families improve their economic stability and educational attainment. Overcoming language barriers, cultural isolation, depression and fear, the Valley Settlement Project is a model developed to empower families within the Roaring Fork School District with tools to help themselves become integrated as empowered and engaged members of the community.

Forty-six percent of all students in the Roaring Fork Valley School District (RE-1) qualify for the Free & Reduced Lunch program, although for Hispanic children that figures rises to 57 percent. In the nearby mid and down-valley communities that Valley Settlement Project is not yet serving, (New Castle to Parachute) poverty is even greater, with over 55% of all students enrolled in the Free & Reduced lunch program. Colorado has seen the number of children living in poverty grow at a faster rate than all but two other states in the nation, according to Colorado Children’s Campaign 2014 Kid’s Count in Colorado report. Many of these are the U.S. born children of immigrants.

About 30% of all residents need food bank support to feed their families. In 2013, 23,389 people (over 5,500 families) were served by Lift Up, the local food bank, a 300% increase since late 2008.

Many immigrant families with U.S. born children identified by door to door interviews, have desperate needs, yet are so isolated they are not connected to the food bank or other agencies that can help them with food emergencies or other basic services. Eighty-one percent are originally from Mexico and almost all intend to stay in the Valley.

The Manaus Fund Page 3 Tourism, construction and the oil & gas industry are the primary employers in the region; all three sectors have been hit hard by the recent downturn in the economy. Fifty- six percent of the 270 families interviewed by the Manaus Fund in 2011 make less $35,000 which is less than 150% of the 2013 Federal Poverty Level for a family of four. Yet, a family of four needs a minimum of $44,012 to subsist on a “Living Wage” in Garfield County. (Living Wage.MIT.edu) Colorado is the fifth most expensive state in the country for childcare with the average cost of infant childcare in Colorado at $12,736 per year. (NACCRRA, 2013) A two parent family earning minimum wage doesn’t even qualify for child care assistance, making traditional preschool completely unaffordable for most families. Of those interviewed, only 1% had children enrolled in preschool.





Sadly, the achievement gap for children entering kindergarten without preschool compared to those with preschool doesn’t disappear once children enter school. In fact, the achievement gap slowly grows wider: only 58% of Hispanics complete high school on time, compared to 96% of their white peers at Basalt High School in the Roaring Fork School District. The Roaring Fork School District has wide achievement gaps between whites and Hispanics--worse than the state average in every category.

This gap in education attainment continues the cycle of poverty. The Manaus Fund’s Valley Settlement Project addresses the root cause of this cycle of disparity with a dual generation approach to education and empowerment, ensuring lasting results.

–  –  –

The Manaus Fund Page 4

ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND

The Manaus Fund began in 2005 as a way to create a cultural shift in the nonprofit community:

from resource scarcity and dependency to that of venture philanthropy and social entrepreneurship.

The Manaus Fund started making strategic loans to local nonprofit organizations whose leaders envisioned the potential to create an earned income revenue stream. Focusing broadly on social justice and community building efforts, the Manaus Fund measured success through repaid loans and expanded nonprofit capacity.

The focus of the Manaus Fund board evolved as they implemented their mission to build the capacity of nonprofits and communities to achieve a more just society through investments and partnerships. A planning grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation enabled the Manaus Fund to actively reach out to understand the needs of the valley's most vulnerable families. The pivot point for The Manaus Fund came after they began to directly interview low income, mostly immigrant residents, asking them to talk about their lives. Using a community organizing approach, families were invited to talk privately to share their stories with bilingual organizers.

One on one interviews of 270 families in 2011 found that Hispanic immigrants had multiple barriers to settling and connecting to the Roaring Fork Valley community. Low income immigrants were unconnected to schools, services, jobs and opportunities. Fear, poor public transportation, a lack of understanding or warm welcome from schools increased their sense of isolation. It became evident that no one in the community was systematically reaching out to welcome and engage young families.

A key decision at the Manaus Fund, in partnership with the Kellogg Foundation, was to respond in full to meet the needs of the whole family by taking a dual generation approach to address root causes of the multiple problems that were identified. Early childhood and adult education program elements were conceived in direct response to the needs of those interviewed. A key strategy was to build the basic infrastructure necessary to implement all seven programs simultaneously in twelve targeted neighborhoods surrounding two elementary schools. This was made possible by a three year grant of $1.2 million by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The dual generation, community organizing model of the Valley Settlement Project is transforming lives through elements that improve school readiness, elementary school achievement, economic stability and community engagement. By using community organizers, the Manaus Fund’s Valley Settlement Project has developed a multifaceted strategy that is showing remarkable results in the first two years.

The Manaus Fund Page 5 GOALS

The Manaus Fund’s two main goals for The Valley Settlement Project are:

1. Cultivate child school readiness and improve elementary achievement.

2. Increase parent economic stability through educational/skill building.

The key objectives of The Manaus Fund through 2018 are to raise approximately $3 Million to ensure sustainable funding for each program element through 2018 and to collect, analyze and share the initial Program Evaluation Outcomes with community stakeholders as they become available.

Through implementation of Valley Settlement Project’s duel generation programs, low income families (living 200% below the federal poverty level) are empowered to better able to advocate for themselves and their children. Simultaneously, the Manaus Fund is building the community’s capacity to organize through its affiliation with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) and Community Organizing Around Family Issues (COFI) to ensure systemic change among low income immigrant families.

With powerful personal testimonies providing anecdotal evidence of success, there is much anticipation and enthusiasm around expansion of Valley Settlement Project. Without additional short and long term funding and validated measurable outcomes in place, Manaus Fund cautions such rapid expansion is not a good business practice. Addressing these funding and evaluation objectives will enable the methodical expansion of each Valley Settlement Project program to meet the demand from additional neighborhoods and schools from 2014 to 2016 and beyond.

The Manaus Fund Page 6

CURRENT PROGRAMS

1) Community Organizers and Neighborhood Navigators Community organizing is the backbone of the Valley Settlement Project’s strategy of listening to families throughout targeted low income neighborhoods. “Community Organizer” is the role of staff people who coordinate outreach to provide a foundation of understanding of Valley Settlement Project objectives. Building trusting relationships with churches and other institutions, the “Organizer” begins to work in each neighborhood, indentifying and empowering leaders.

“Neighborhood Navigator” is the role of the staff people who spend their time interacting with families on a very personal level. Often over coffee at the kitchen table, “Neighborhood Navigators” take the time to build trust and listen to the challenges, needs and aspirations of the children and adults in families throughout the neighborhood. They provide the foundation of the dual generation approach to community building by linking adults to adult education, children to early childhood education and families to the other community services they need. The Navigator works with about 15 to 20 families every week in the twelve target neighborhoods that feed into five elementary schools served. The funding for additional Community Organizers and Neighborhood Navigator staff is a core limiting factor for expansion of the Valley Settlement Programs.

Developing a culture of community organizing focused on both generations is what sets this successful program apart from other efforts to reach the low income community.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

2) El Busesito/The Little Bus – Mobile Preschool Less than 1% of the children of immigrant families interviewed had children enrolled in preschool compared to 30% in Garfield County overall. El Busesito/The Little Bus addresses the need to improve school readiness by providing quality preschool experiences for low income children, ages three to five that otherwise lack access to any early childhood education before entering kindergarten. Eight students at a time attend school on the bus for 1 ½ hours, twice per week year-round with highly educated bib-cultural early childhood education staff. A second small bus was donated by the School District which enabled enrollment to grow to 96 children in June 2013.

Parents meet monthly as a group and receive coaching and encouragement on ways to continue the learning process through developmentally appropriate activities at home. El Busesito provides the parents with books and enrichment activities they learn to use at home with their children. The parents learn why their commitment to their child’s required attendance on El Busesito is critical to their progress. Raising-A-Reader and Bright Beginnings materials increase the access and use of early literacy materials in each home.

The Manaus Fund Page 7

3) Kinder-Connect Kinder-Connect is an evolution and expansion of El Busesito program for entering Kindergartners and their parents to ensure a positive transition from preschool on the bus to kindergarten. Forty pre-K students will attend a five week summer program in July for 90 minutes each morning, four days per week. On one day per week, parents will also attend class in a separate classroom to help them learn the expectations of the school, how to talk with their child's teacher, how to establish healthy evening and morning routines, the importance of regular, on-time daily attendance for kindergarteners and a myriad other factors that contribute to their child's success in school.

Relationships between Valley Settlement Staff and parents will continue throughout the school year as well.

4) Learning With Love, (Birth-3 Years Old) “Learning With Love” is a bi-lingual child development program for parents and their very young children that recognizes that education begins at home from birth. Thirty parent:child pairs participated in the early learning programs (formerly known as Mommy and Me) for one hour each week during 2012-13. The program transitioned in spring 2014 and is piloting a new approach in two neighborhoods in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. This model includes the social, emotional, and physical well being for both generations. Parents and children come together with a leader twice a week to learn strategies that promote the healthy development of their child well before preschool. This foundation for the dual generation approach empowers parents with the skills and confidence to become their child’s first and most important teacher.

5) Family Friends And Neighbors (Home Based Informal Care) Low income young parents rely on an informal network of convenient and affordable caregivers to care for their children while they work. While unregulated, this is an important network of caregivers who often lack training and proper skills. The “Family Friends & Neighbors” program provides three hour intensive adult education in Spanish one Saturday every month to enhance the quality of informal childcare available. Topics include safety, first aid and CPR. Twenty one caregivers, (average age of 32) enrolled and committed to attending the training for nine months.

6) PowerTime - Elementary After School Program PowerTime gives low achieving students in first through fifth grade the extra time they need to become proficient in reading and other academics while in elementary school. Valley Settlement Project partners with Access Roaring Fork, a local nonprofit provider of afterschool enrichment programs, to provide approximately 20,000 contact hours of academic enrichment time to students.



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