East Side Learning Center
East Side Learning Center (ESLC) is a highly regarded nonprofit offering a year-round, non-sectarian, free one-on-one tutoring program in reading for St. Paul children in grades K-4 who are below level in reading and who do not have the resources to get help elsewhere. Each child receives 30-45 minutes of tutoring daily, four days a week, using personalized lesson plans written by licensed elementary educators.
In 1998, as part of a long-range effort to revitalize the East Side of St. Paul, the East Side Neighborhood Development Company approached the School Sisters of Notre Dame about addressing unmet educational needs of the area. Recognizing that most parents could not afford tutoring for their children, the Sisters established the East Side Learning Center in 2001 as a community partnership for addressing gaps in school success.
The ESLC is located in and primarily serves St. Paul neighborhoods that are home to large refugee, immigrant, and minority populations. Without adequate reading skills these children frequently struggle in school and society. According to Greater Twin Cities United Way: â€œIn Minneapolis and St. Paul, less than 50 percent of low-income children are reading at grade level in third grade. By third grade, a childâ€™s grades and absenteeism rates can predict whether he or she will complete high school; nationally, each graduate saves the public $209,000. If a child is behind at this pivotal point, the achievement gap can increase, causing additional academic, social and emotional problems. Ensuring educational success in the early years is one of the most important pathways out of poverty.â€ (https://www.unitedwaytwincities.org/our_impact/education/early_grade_literacy, 02/04/13)
ESLC program goals include: (1) helping children reach their appropriate reading level by fourth grade, (2) empowering students to be successful in school and society, and (3) providing opportunities for parents to participate in the reading progress of their children at home.
During FY 2011-12 (July 1 â€“ June 30) 334 children received one-on-one tutoring in reading three or four times weekly with the assistance of over 230 volunteers. Of these children, 75% in grades 1-4 and 62% in our kindergarten pilot reached their ESLC reading goals. First grade readiness among kindergarteners rose to 82% after additional instruction during our summer literacy program. This year we expanded the Kindergarten program.
Presently we are located at two public elementary schools and two charter schools, with a goal to add up to two more sites. Based on research for the ESLC strategic plan, public school leaders estimate that at our present public school sites, our program is serving only about 45% of the children who could benefit from it. Since its inception, ESLC has provided over 86,000 hours of free reading tutoring assistance for more than 1,300 children.
What new functionality we are looking for
East Side Learning Center has a strong commitment to the children we serve and our desire is not just that they learn to read or that they reach a certain expected reading level, but that they enjoy reading and feel a sense of pride, knowing â€œI am a reader!â€ Weâ€™d like our website to reflect this positive spirit by being more â€œwarmâ€ and inviting. This means a homepage with a simpler, cleaner look: more engaging, more colorful and incorporating pictures and videos. We need to incorporate elements from our current website, like site calendars, but in a better format. We need to be able to easily update content, pictures and videos and add, change, or remove pages.
Itâ€™s also important that volunteer and professional tutors, parents, staff and board, donors, funders and anyone else can access the site and easily navigate to information that matters to them. Static placement of navigation links (meaning they donâ€™t scroll off the page as content is viewed) would be helpful. We see simple, unobtrusive social media button links as an easy way for people to share their stories and stay connected with us. An ever present Donate button links to our GiveMN page. Weâ€™d also like to offer web forms to sign up for email and newsletter lists, and/or to volunteer. We currently use a Google form for volunteer applications, which is not a perfect solution. A blog is important, as is the ability to post PowerPoint-like presentations on the site.
Looking toward the future, we would LOVE to be able to develop: More interactive content like a childrenâ€™s page with links to learning games and activities, a way for parents to register their children for tutoring online, password protected pages for board, staff and volunteers to connect with each other (maybe even a forum) and to find resources, meeting agendas, announcements and other pertinent information. Weâ€™d also love to have the capacity to add online volunteer tracking software (like Volgistics). A feature story page to highlight a donor, student, tutor, and/or staff member would be a great way to show appreciation for all those who support us and to build a sense of community. A video blog would be great! Basically, we donâ€™t want our content to be static. Weâ€™d love the ability to change and grow the website as the organization grows. We would rely on the expertise, wisdom, and creativity of a Nerdery Team to help us realize our dream website!
How the new functionality will help
A more engaging website can help us accomplish our mission in several ways:
Itâ€™s the relationships that matter. East Side Learning Center staff members strive to maintain and strengthen relationships with educational partners, families, volunteers, staff, and funders. Good social media integration can help us interact with parents, tutors, and potential donors. A well-designed, engaging site can help us tell our story well. If we can communicate our passion for our mission, our love of children, and our outcomes for the kids we serve, we can attract more educational partners, donors, and volunteers. The more volunteer tutors we can engage, the fewer children weâ€™ll have on our waiting lists. The better funding stream we have, the more sites and more children we can serve. One of our strategic goals for the next three years is to explore opportunities to augment instruction with emerging tools and technology. We see the website as an important component of this initiative.
How our organization will use the technology
Who will use the technology
93 Messages from Supporters