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eNewsletter - Issue 40 - March 2016
A Message From Luis Santana

When I heard from our Family Navigators about Mr. Apolonio Avila’s story, it reinforced my conviction that most low-income families will actively respond when we provide them with clear opportunities and tools to succeed. I am seeing this happen more as we implement our Family Success Zone program in the 93701 zip code. In Mr. Avila’s case, the Financial Literacy Workshops offered by our Family Navigators was a tool that not only has impacted his life, but also his children’s lives. What he has learned has positively changed his family’s situation now and in the future. You can read more about Mr. Avila and his story in this edition of our eNewsletter.

We are grateful to Citibank for providing a grant to support the Financial Literacy Workshops and staff training for the workshops. Without the grant, we would not be able to help people like Mr. Avila. I believe stories like this one show that investing in programs with measurable outcomes can produce major Return of Investment (ROI) to tax payers as well as change lives.
Let us know your questions and thoughts.



Welcome our newest board member

Richard Shaymus Bakman

Richard Shaymus Bakman is Vice President of Bakman Enterprises.

Financial Literacy Workshops leave lasting impressions

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About five months after Apolonio Avila joined our Family Success Zone (FSZ), the widowed father of two attended a Financial Literacy Workshop organized by the program’s Family Navigators at Reading and Beyond’s Van Ness building.
During the workshop, Avila learned the importance of money management and opening a savings account. A few days later, he was one of eight of the workshop participants to successfully open up a bank account.
Not only that, Avila, whose two daughters participate in FSZ’s Literacy Intervention program at Jefferson Elementary School and Tehipite Middle School, has applied for Section 8 and low-income housing.
While Avila works on getting his driver’s license, he plans to keep attending the ongoing Financial Literacy Workshops until the end of the year.
“He always stays positive, even in times of great need,” said Family Navigator Silvia Gonzalez. “His girls are his priority, and he will do whatever it takes to keep them safe, have shelter and have food at all times.”

Enriching afterschool clubs

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Reading and Beyond’s After-School Programs (ASP) are not only places where children can get literacy-intervention tutoring and homework help, but they also are where students have opportunities to explore enriching activities through numerous clubs.
Typically held on Fridays, the clubs are led by reading tutors and literacy instructors who bring their personal talents and skills to share with students. Some of the available clubs, which are suggested by students, include debate, sports, drama, cheerleading, student council, dance, leadership and nutrition.
“These clubs are beneficial to students,” said Mai Lia Yang, the K-12 staff development coordinator and ASP site coordinator at Heaton Elementary School in Fresno. “They help students learn to work in teams and encourage them to step outside their boxes to explore new things.”
Not only that, clubs also have many positive effects on students’ education, she said. “By participating in enrichment clubs, students learn lessons in leadership, teamwork, organization, analytical thinking, problem solving, and time management,” Yang said.
Mai Xiong, ASP site coordinator at Storey Elementary School in Fresno, agrees.
“Being in these clubs help students improve their social skills as well as their self-confidence,” said Xiong, who also is the K-12 program coordinator.
For example, through the Arts and Crafts and Paper Crafts clubs at Storey, students experiment with different art mediums, improve their fine motor skills and explore their creativity. In the Nutrition Club, students learn about the food they eat, proper food preparation, and tasty, healthy recipes.
“All of our clubs benefit our students by teaching them life skills,” Xiong said.

GED student's hard work pays off

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Pathways to Success student Stephanie Cortez’s newly minted GED certificate is a testament to her perseverance.
To earn the GED, students have to pass four subject tests. Since beginning the program about a year ago, Cortez has taken the language arts portion four times.
The first time she took the language arts test, “I was shocked,” she said. “I didn’t expect (the test) to go by so fast. I was rushing through it. … It really made you think.”
Despite having to retake the test several times, she never gave up. The Pathways to Success “classes encouraged me to keep trying and taking tests to pass them,” said 30-year-old Cortez of Fresno. The classes made it easy for her to learn new concepts and refresh old ones, said the former Bullard High School student.
Not only that, Cortez also made some changes on her own.  For example, after not passing a test taken in the morning, she tried one in the afternoon and did better. From that point on, she only took afternoon tests.
The day before and the morning of a test, Cortez and her Education Navigator Pam Ripley also would review subject materials.
“That helped a lot,” said Cortez, who passed the social studies test on her second try and the math and science tests on the first tries.
Cortez now heads to Fresno City College,where she plans to attend the office assistance certificate program.


Employee Spotlight: Erica Ocegueda

IMG_2407 horizontal 2Erica Ocegueda started at Reading and Beyond (RAB) as a part-time, literacy-intervention instructor with the K-12 programs in 2009. Ocegueda, who has been a case manager with the Fresno Bridge Academy, is currently the Community Connections Coordinator for the Family Success Zone (FSZ).
What do you like most about your job?
I like helping the community and making a difference in the lives of children and their families.
What’s been the hardest aspect of your job?
The hardest part is building trusting relationships with the families and clients we serve.
What would you tell others about the FSZ program or RAB who might know about either one?
Both the FSZ program and RAB are here to help with student success and family stability. Through the partnership we have with the Fresno Unified School District in the FSZ, we help children at the school sites providing literacy intervention and homework assistance. Meanwhile, FSZ’s Family Navigators conduct home visitations, working with the families to provide them with community resources to eliminate barriers they may have that are preventing them from self-reliant lives. RAB understands that in order for students to be successful parents and families must maintain a stable life.
Anything else you would like to say about working at RAB?
RAB has given me the opportunity to learn new things and to fall in love with the nonprofit world. Working here has made me realize my passion for working with the community and helping those in need. It has given me the opportunity to grow professionally within the organization. 

Donation Request

Do you have a spare refrigerator in good, working condition you no longer use? Reading and Beyond is in need of two energy-efficient, full-size refrigerators. If you have one you’d like to donate, please contact Office Manager Vang Kue at (559) 600-6191 or Reading and Beyond is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and your donation is tax deductible.


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Reading and Beyond
4670 E. Butler Avenue
Fresno, CA 93702
559/600-6191 Ph.
559/600-7639 Fax

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