Via Esperanza produces results, gains momentum as it sets the stage for fourth year

Photo Credit: Byron Sebastian

“The mind shift is the most exciting part!” Nubia Padilla’s eye glow as she passionately describes the results she and her team have produced. Funded by Sonoma County First Five, Via Esperanza partners with local institutions including the Santa Rosa School District to prepare, educate, and inspire parents to become their child’s “first teachers”. The program takes a holistic approach by providing classes and enrichment activities ranging from cooking healthier meals and basic literacy to the comprehensive Abriendo Puertas (“Opening Doors” ) 10-class program on raising children from ages 0-5.

While Ms. Padilla cautions that “parents must be ready” to learn, when they are the results can be stunning. Recently one mother of 4 children announced that not only did she now aspire for her children to go to college – something she’d never imagined before first encountering Via Esperanza through the acclaimed Avance program  – she herself now hoped to become a lawyer. As they engage and learn, Padilla says that parents will transform – walk differently, dress differently, and most importantly see the future differently. Xotil, a parent who dutifully attended all the classes on offer, has now become a teacher – assisted by her son!

The potential for the program, provided at Cook Middle School in Santa Rosa, is enormous. When early childhood education is a priority, President Obama said in this 2013 State of the Union, “studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own.  We know this works.”

“Nothing like this happens without partnerships,” Ms. Padilla explains as she talks about the successes of her program’s community school model and plans for the future. She hopes to expand her partnerships to include higher educational institutions for parents to continue learning, and is also rolling out a custom evaluation system that takes unique steps to measure the sustainable impact made on parents.

Congratulations to Via Esperanza at Cook Middle School and to all the successful parents! You can find out more about Via Esperanza by visiting their program page at www.capsonoma.org/via-esperanza/.

A special thank you to CAP Volunteer Byron Sebastian for composing this article.