One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: Pico/Lowell Neighborhood Education Project, Santa Ana, CA
Contact(s): Judith Magsaysay, Principal-Pío Pico Elementary (714) 558-5608; Eleanor Rodriguez, Principal-Lowell Elementary (714) 558-5841; John Brewster, Executive Director-Santa Ana Boys and Girls Club (714) 543-7212
Purpose: To promote cross-cultural dialogue as well as raise family, school and community participation in the Pico and Lowell school neighborhoods through literacy training and ESL classes

Background Program Operations Outcomes


Pío Pico and Lowell schools are located in the second most youth dense neighborhood in the United States with some 26,000 children. The community is 96 percent Hispanic, with Spanish being the home language for 95 percent of the school families. Most parents did not have the opportunity to complete elementary or secondary education in their home country. As a result of a shortage in space, the two schools entered into a partnership with the Santa Ana Boys and Girls Club (Club) and Santa Ana College (SAC) to provide literacy training and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for parents. Additionally, the Pico/Lowell Neighborhood Association works to promote cross-cultural dialogue.

Program Operations

During the school day, the Club provides spaces for three levels of ESL classes. SAC provides the instructors and the two schools provide childcare for preschool aged children while their parents are in class. Over 100 parents attend classes four mornings each week. Parents also select topics for speakers who are invited to provide information related to health, discipline and consumer protection. Introductory computer courses are available immediately following the ESL classes. The Pico/Lowell Neighborhood Association (Association), comprised of home and apartment renters, housing managers and home owners, meets monthly with local businesses, schools, police and city representatives to assess problems within the neighborhood and determine which ones can be solved collaboratively. Currently, the Association is working to increase educational and recreational after-school and evening programs for families. The Association has sponsored several cultural dialogues facilitated by the Orange County Human Relations Council. Approximately one-third of the local businesses are owned and operated by Korean-Americans. In response, the Association has partnered with the Korean-American Federation of Orange County and created a rich cross-cultural exchange. The partnership provides 15-week Spanish language classes for the local businesspeople to better serve their clients. As part of the final exam, local fifth graders conduct oral interviews in Spanish. The classes end with a Korean dinner for all the participants. As a result of this partnership, free Tae-kwon-do martial arts classes are offered at the Club.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

The partnership has served to increase parent involvement in the schools, the Club and in the neighborhood. Both schools have documented an increase of more than 100 percent parental participation in P.T.A. and School Site Council meetings. The Pico/Lowell Neighborhood Association has been one of the cities most active community organizations.

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