Recently arrived refugee and immigrant youth experience tremendous barriers to success and self-sufficiency. According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, between 2008 and 2010, no 8th grade student from this demographic met reading, writing, or science standards in either the Washington State Measurement of Student Progress (MSP) or the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE).
These youth are usually one or more years behind their native English-speaking peers, which negatively impacts their self-esteem and learning outcomes. Immigrant and refugee students also lack direct support from their parents and other immediate family members, who themselves face a multitude of challenges, such as language barriers, poverty, and discrimination. As a result of these various factors, 1 in 10 of these students drop out of school each year, and half will not graduate from high school.
VFA’s programs in this area include:
- Working in close partnership with the Seattle World School (SWS) and other community organizations to provide after school program, Saturday English School and Summer Science Academy for youth at Seattle World School. Students who have participated in VFA’s academic programs have made strong academic gains. Over 85% of students have increased their math and English scores by the equivalent of half a grade level—as measured by standardized tests.
- Supporting Emerson Elementary by having a Cultural Navigator placed at the school. The Cultural Navigator provides support to parents of Wing Luke students to support their children at home, as well as support educators by coordinating cultural competency and other workshops and events to build bridges between the school and the families it serves.
- Working in partnership with Sound Childcare Solutions and Artspace to develop the first Vietnamese dual-language program, Hoa Mai, to open in early 2015.