LOGAN SQUARE — A record number of Parent Mentor graduates were honored with flowers and diplomas during a Logan Square Neighborhood Association award ceremony.
Principals, teachers and program organizers were in attendance, along with local politicians, to honor and celebrate the hard work of the hundreds of parents who tutored children daily in 67 schools throughout the state this school year.
Organizers also celebrated “a funding victory,” according to the association’s Joanna Brown. The state Legislature included $1.5 million for the program in its new budget, an increase from $1 million and “a strong sign of investment in this parent leadership program” after an independent evaluation of the program last year.
The evaluation found that “teachers and principals in the participating schools reported overwhelming support for the program and an appreciation for its contribution to the school climate, student learning, and parent-school-community engagement.”
This year’s class was the largest in the program’s 19-year history, according to the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, thanks in large part to funds from the Illinois State Board of Education, which allowed the program to expand from its home at the association and the SouthWest Organizing Project two years ago.
The Parent Mentor Program is a partnership between schools and community organizations in low-income neighborhoods, according to Brown. The groups recruit, train and place parents in early grade classrooms to help the students who are furthest behind.
The neighborhood association founded the Parent Mentor program in 1995 at Funston Elementary School and it spread by parent and principal demand to other Logan Square schools and then in 2005 to the SouthWest Organizing Project's schools on the Southwest Side.
Parents volunteer daily throughout the year in a structured program. They receive a stipend of $500 per semester, and attend workshops weekly.
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