Aspire!'s low-income, immigrant, and refugee families have limited resources and significant challenges. Almost 80% of children are English Language Learners or have learning or behavioral concerns, and fewer than 40% read at grade level. Aspire! reaches over 1,000 students through school partnerships, and over 80 in grades three to five with an intensive, daily, after-school program and summer camp whose major focus is language and literacy. This is particularly important since reading proficiency in third to fifth grade is a key predictor of high school graduation: children who don't read well are four times less likely to graduate high school. AmeriCorps volunteers work with kids during and after school, and workshops help parents support their children's education. Each year, 90% or more improve their reading levels while families grow stronger. It's a great story.
Nearly 70% of Aspire! families report COVID-related job loss with resulting home and food insecurity – creating additional challenges for children. Providing devices and internet access where needed, and doubling down on direct-service hours, Aspire! is open during the school day (8am-5pm) to ensure that students who need help the most get that help. Staff make sure that students can get online and access their distance learning programs, providing those who need it most with targeted tutoring, and providing important enrichment and social activities throughout the day.