Home Community Catholic Charities Expands After-School Learning Programs Thanks to SJ Learns Initiative

Catholic Charities Expands After-School Learning Programs Thanks to SJ Learns Initiative


On December 3, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo announced an expansion of after-school learning programs at 16 San Jose schools in underserved neighborhoods. As part of the SJ Learns initiative, these programs will provide more than 650 K-3 students with opportunities to continue learning after the school day ends. Mayor Liccardo was joined by local education officials and community stakeholders, including Gregory R. Kepferle, CEO of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County.

Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County will partner with both the Franklin-McKinley School District and the San Jose Unified School District to implement SJ Learns through their after school program called CORAL (Communities Organizing Resources to Advance Learning).
“We are honored to be a partner with the school districts and the City of San Jose in improving the educational outcomes of the most challenged students,” said Kepferle. “Independent research from the University of Notre Dame’s Lab for Economic Opportunity for our innovative after school model of balanced literacy shows that our students increase their literacy skills at twice the rate of students not in the program.”

With multiple community partners in the two schools in the San Jose Unified School District, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County will be able to expand the CORAL balanced literacy model with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) enrichment.

“We also know that a lower teacher-to-student ratio makes a difference,” continues Kepferle. “Thanks to the grant from SJ Learns, in the three schools in the Franklin-McKinley School District, we will have one instructor for every 10 students versus the standard 1 to 20 and will better link the after school instruction with teaching during the school day.”

Mayor Liccardo launched his SJ Learns initiative earlier in 2015 to expand the reach and quality of extended learning programs across the city and reduce the achievement gap. In June 2015, the San Jose City Council approved allocating $2 million from the city budget to support the SJ Learns initiative and fund an initial expansion of after-school learning programs.

As a result, the following after-school learning programs will launch over the next two months:

Franklin-McKinley School District and Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County will launch “CORAL Learns” at Santee Elementary, Los Arboles Literacy and Technology Academy, and McKinley Elementary. Through this program, 90 underperforming 3rd grade students will participate in intensive, small group reading lessons and receive one-on-one academic support tailored towards students’ individual needs.

Alum Rock Union Elementary School District will partner with THINK Together to expand its existing after-school learning programs to include kindergarten students. These “Kinder Academies” will focus on helping students improve sight word recognition and math automaticity skills and serve 180 students at the following six schools: Adelante Dual Language Academy, Hubbard Elementary, Linda Vista Elementary, McCollam Elementary, Russo/McEntee Academy, and Painter Elementary.

Evergreen School District will partner with the YMCA of Silicon Valley to expand the after school learning program at Katherine Smith Elementary to include kindergarteners and launch a new program for 1st-3rd grade students at Holly Oak Elementary. This expansion will allow 104 additional students to participate in Project Based Learning activities that will help them develop their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.

Silicon Valley Education Foundation and Oak Grove School District will integrate 2.5 hours of daily math-focused curriculum for 210 3rd grade students who participate in after-school programs at Christopher Elementary, Edenvale Elementary, and Stipe Elementary. This curriculum, Elevate [Math], has been developed by the Santa Clara County Office of Education to help students develop fluency in math concepts and skills needed to perform at grade level.

San Jose Unified School District will launch a new STEAM program at Anne Darling Elementary and Olinder Elementary. The program will engage another 100 K-3 students (who are not currently participating in after-school programs) in hands-on activities that explore science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics in ways that will help students increase literacy and mathematics.

These programs were selected through a competitive grant process that was administered by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Emmett Carson, Ph.D., CEO and President of Silicon Valley Community Foundation was joined by San Jose City Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco and Matt Hammer with Innovate Public Schools in leading the SJ Learns Working Group.

The after-school providers will also track and report on participating students’ academic gains and participate in a SJ Learns collaborative with other school districts and community partners – both of which will help inform the initiative’s ongoing strategies to innovate, scale, and sustain after-school programs throughout the community.

This critical initiative will help prevent the cycle of poverty by intervening at a critical time in a child’s education. Catholic Charities is thankful to Mayor Liccardo for his vision and to the City of San Jose for funding the initiative. Catholic Charities is also grateful to the students of Santa Clara University’s Arrupe Center and San Jose State University’s CommUniverCity and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs for their volunteer tutoring and support to these after school programs.