By: Patty Chavez.
Limited English skills, under-employment and years of economic challenges have been the reality for the community and children of Castle Park. This neighborhood is one of the most struggling communities in the City of Chula Vista where about 67% of adults have not graduated from high school, 50% of families are under-employed, 44% of families are female-headed households and 27% of children live in poverty. However, Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood, with its strong collaboration of partners, plans to turn these statistics around to make children, their safety, health and education number one.
In 2012, Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood (CVPromise) was selected as one of 12 Promise Neighborhoods in the nation. Coordinated by South Bay Community Services, one of the largest community based nonprofits in San Diego's South County, CVPromise brings together partners focused on family, education, health and community to provide children and the families of Castle Park with the kind of opportunities they need for success in school, college, career and life. By being on campuses, CVPromise can provide support to struggling students as well as resources and support to our teachers, counselors and administrators.
CVPromise's early interventions provide newborn home visits, parenting support and a preschool specially designed for English Language Learners. Support extends from kindergarten to sixth grade with in school and afterschool tutoring, age appropriate college and career related activities and parent workshops so they can prepare and learn more about college. All students at Castle Park Elementary are also receiving in school music instruction.
In just a year and a half, Castle Park Elementary sixth grade chronic absenteeism declined from 11 percent to 3.4 percent. For the younger children, parents are reporting an increase in reading three or more times a week. There has also been an increase of Castle Park elementary third-grade students reading at or above grade level. In mathematics, growth is even greater with an amazing movement from 6.5 percent to 36.9 percent proficiency for third grade students.
CVPromise Academic Advocates work closely with students and their parents to support their academic achievement and plan for higher education. More than 80% of students are "first in their family" to attend college, so the idea of college can be intimidating, confusing and even feel completely unattainable. Each Academic Advocate supports 50 students and stays with them and their family as they advance through school and continue to serve as mentor through college.
Since the programs began, graduation rates are increasing with the latest graduation rate showing an increase from 86.5% to 96.8%. Their first senior had an 87% acceptance to post-secondary schools with 44% of these attending a four-year university.
For more information: www.CVPromise.org or (619) 422-5005.