An intergenerational community of learners
In Spanish, the noun poder means "power" or " strength." As a verb it means "to be able to". In our program it is also a Spanish acronym for Padres Orgullosos De Estudios y Retos, acknowledging parents' pride in education and the challenges of moving their families ahead. All these meanings inform the group's choice and reflect their empowerment and commitment.
In our community we frequently found that many adults trying to learn English could not access available programs due to lack of childcare, transportation, and other economic considerations. We established Gateway Family Literacy in late 1992 within the framework of the Portland Community College Literacy Center in Hillsboro, Oregon to provide intergenerational educational tools for low-income Spanish-speaking families.
We completed our tenth season in the spring of 2002 with a decision by the participating families to officially change the program name to PODER.
In the fall of 2002 we began an exciting new collaboration, The West Washington County Family Literacy Collaborative, with our partners, Adelante Mujeres and the Home Instruction for Parents and Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program. Under Even Start, PODER and Adelante Mujeres each serve 20 to 25 families annually in the Hillsboro and Forest Grove School Districts. As part of this new collaboration, we moved our administration to the Oregon Child Development Coalition (OCDC), an Oregon non-profit agency which has been serving low-income families with quality programs for over thirty years. http://www.ocdc.net/Service%20Areas/Education/index.asp
Our Goals Back to top
To increase English communication skills of Latino families, both parents and children, who are settled in this area.
To increase accessibility to community resources and participation in community life.
To improve the academic and social skills of the children and broaden their educational horizons.
Prepare young children to enter kindergarten with the cognitive and social skills necessary to succeed in the public schools.
The program has been awarded the 1994 National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) National Award of Merit and the National Association of Counties 1995 Award of Excellence. A video portrait of the program was produced by the coordinator in 1995.
Program Components Back to Top
The entire family comes to our center on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings for three hours. Adults study English, computer literacy, and parenting skills support, including instruction and practice in understanding how to be their children's first teacher. Children six to twelve years old meet with staff and volunteers for school-related tutoring, reading time in both English and Spanish, computer learning, and supervised enrichment activities. In two separate classrooms, infant/toddler and preschool children are taught by highly qualified early education teachers and volunteers. Interactive Literacy Activities Time brings children and parents together, allowing parents to practice their new skills. Resource education ranges from many topics, such as parents' practical concerns, health, housing, immigration matters, community resources, and discussion of social/political issues. Other educational, cultural, and arts activities help further families' own self-expression.
Family History Project Back to top
We have an on-going project of compiling family histories. Part of the concept behind this activity is to give the children, many of whom were born or have spent most of their lives in the United States, some understanding of their parents' and grandparents' past and of their own cultural heritage. Parents write about their lives and relatives either in English or Spanish, depending on skill level, and their children make illustrations and family trees. Our computer literacy students enter these stories on computer disk for us. These expandable "books" can grow each year as the families write and illustrate new topics and gain sophistication in their writing.
Volunteer Training Back to Top
In addition to our staff Community and Family ESL teacher, some of the classes are facilitated by volunteer tutors, trained through the TELT (Training Effective Literacy Tutors), a program of workshops sponsored by the state of Oregon. The lead teacher and trainer do orientation with these volunteers, provide ongoing training, materials, and models for creating their own materials, and encouragement for developing their innate skills. We provide in-service work sessions with the tutors to help with specific problem solving, as well as on-going assistance to all tutors during the year. We have been extremely fortunate because a great majority of our tutors have become quite skilled and find the work rewarding as much for their students' improvement as for personal satisfaction. They also become resources for each other and for new tutors coming into the program. The average time tutors stay in the program is two years. Several of our tutors each year for both adults and children are Pacific University work/study students.
PODER offers its program at the United Methodist Church in Cornelius, OR. Critical to our continuation has been the financial support of Washington County Housing Services, which has sponsored the program from the very beginning.
Volunteer Opportunities Back to top
Work with school age children: help with homework and other activities.
Tutor adults who are learning English as a Second Language.
To learn more about us contact Carol Mazer
P.O. Box 490, Cornelius, OR 97113