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A.S.T.R.O. Reading Club
According to studies 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above the fourth grade level. 75% of Americans who are on welfare perform at the lowest two levels of literacy. The data is abundantly clear Reading is not only FUNdamental it is essential to an individual’s development and future success. That is where the A.S.T.R.O. Reading club comes in. The purpose of the A.S.T.R.O. Reading Club is to introduce children and adults to the wonderful world of reading. Participants have the opportunity to gain a wider view of the world around them as they travel through space and time, explore foreign lands, go on thrilling adventures and meet historical figures all without leaving their neighborhood. At the club readers have the ability to read alone, in a group and or receive individual reading assistance.
In the United States 1.3 million high school students dropout. In Kern County the high school dropout rate is 16.2%, most of those who drop out are low income, and 90% end up on welfare. The National Center for Educational Statistics reports that low income students dropout at a rate five times than middle-income families and six times higher than higher-income families. Parents in low income families are often employed in low wage jobs which characteristically have non standard work hours and little schedule flexibility leaving them little control over their schedule. This means they are not often available to ensure that their children complete their homework or receive the help they need. Couple that with classroom overcrowding, which results in less one on one instructional time, and low income students are often left on their own with no one to turn to for help with their homework.
The Homework Club is a safe, supportive educational space where children of all ages can receive help with their homework either from our volunteers or their peers. Providing the Homework Club gives students the knowledge, confidence, and help they need to ensure that their homework gets done and done correctly. It also gives their parents peace of mind to know that their children are receiving the help they need when they cannot be there themselves.
The purpose of the Community Science Institute is to provide children ages 8-17 exposure to science, technology, engineering and math in a fun environment where they don’t even realize that they are learning valuable life lessons. The participants of our programs are often below grade level and additional support is needed to help them be more academically confident. Our programs aim to assist youth in developing self esteem, and a lifelong love of learning. This is accomplished by providing programs and projects that are fun and provide opportunities for academic enrichment and supplement what is being learned in their traditional environment. Because of their financial circumstances youth living in our low income housing developments don’t often have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular and/or enrichment activities. The Housing and Opportunity Foundation seeks to provide participants those opportunities while emphasizing the importance of education. In its third year, the Community Science Institute continues to grow and motivate youth to see themselves in STEM related fields and the hands-on involvement with projects bring STEM to life. Chevron’s support in previous years has had a significant impact on the youth participating in the programs. Specifically, we have youth who did not consider any STEM careers as a possibility who are currently enrolled in college pursuing engineering, math, and computer programming as careers. We have youth who were below grade level who are pushing themselves to improve so that they too can pursue a higher education. While the Community Science Institute has focused on providing youth access to hands on curriculum, the impact has gone beyond the sessions. The instructors have managed to tie the importance of understanding how science, technology, engineering, and math affect everyday life including its impact on financial well being, which for our youth is at the core of changing their lives for the better.
Whether it is for tuition, books or supplies, completing or furthering your education takes money. The Scholarship Program is designed to assist Housing Authority residents and Section 8 participants to continue their education. To qualify for a scholarship, individuals must: reside in a development managed by the Housing Authority of the County of Kern or be a participant of the section 8 program, be accepted for attendance at a college, technical/trade school, submit a written application, with two letters of recommendation and transcripts. Scholarship awards range in amount from $500.00 to 2,000.00