More Children on Path to Success at Dunbar Learning Complex

Posted May 5, 2012
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Newsrelease dunbarreport 2012

Chil­dren at the Dun­bar Learn­ing Com­plex have shown sig­nif­i­cant gains in read­ing pro­fi­cien­cy and ear­ly child­hood devel­op­ment, and more are start­ing school pre­pared to learn, accord­ing to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The report, Climb­ing the Lad­der of Read­ing Pro­fi­cien­cy: The First Two Years of Atlanta’s Dun­bar Learn­ing Com­plex, describes the strides the Foun­da­tion and com­mu­ni­ty part­ners have made in one of the city’s most vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties. Home to the Ear­ly Learn­ing and Lit­er­a­cy Resource Cen­ter (ELL­RC) and Dun­bar Ele­men­tary School, the two-year-old com­plex serves chil­dren in south­west Atlanta from age 6 weeks through fifth grade. Geor­gia non­prof­it Shel­ter­ing Arms runs the ear­ly learn­ing center.

The learn­ing com­plex rep­re­sents the joint com­mit­ment of the Casey Foun­da­tion, Atlanta Pub­lic Schools and Shel­ter­ing Arms to sup­port chil­dren and fam­i­lies who are liv­ing in pover­ty,” said Gail Hayes, direc­tor of the Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site, which has been work­ing to improve con­di­tions in a sev­er­al south­west Atlanta neigh­bor­hoods for a decade. We’re thrilled it’s already mak­ing a dif­fer­ence and set­ting kids on a path to aca­d­e­m­ic and life­long suc­cess — and this is only the beginning.”

Some of the achieve­ments high­light­ed in Climb­ing the Lad­der:

  • Ready to learn: 55% of kinder­gart­ners enter­ing Dun­bar last fall were read­ing at or above grade lev­el, up from only 6% in 2010. The after-school pro­gram, which sup­ports strug­gling stu­dents saw a 20% increase in read­ing pro­fi­cien­cy among enrolled first-graders, while the ELL­RC wit­nessed a 38% jump among its chil­dren meet­ing or exceed­ing lit­er­a­cy expectations.
  • A healthy start: About 97% of chil­dren enrolled in the ELLRC’s health pro­gram are up-to-date on their immu­niza­tions, exceed­ing the lat­est-avail­able state aver­age by 20%; 99% have a pri­ma­ry care doc­tor — a major step for­ward in a com­mu­ni­ty where more than 50% of chil­dren are uninsured.
  • Nation­al recog­ni­tion: The ELL­RC has been select­ed to become Georgia’s first Edu­care cen­ter, join­ing an elite net­work of high-per­form­ing ear­ly learn­ing cen­ters that serve aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly at-risk kids.

I have nev­er seen par­ents as grate­ful as those who came into this build­ing two years ago, hope­ful that at last their com­mu­ni­ty could offer a bet­ter future for their chil­dren,” said Elaine Draeger, pres­i­dent and CEO of Shel­ter­ing Arms. I’m so proud of these results for the sake of those par­ents who put their faith in us and who have worked so hard beside us.”

Climb­ing the Lad­der also details how The Cen­ter for Work­ing Fam­i­lies, Inc., locat­ed near­by, helps con­nect Dun­bar par­ents to vital resources — such as the Earned Income Tax Cred­it and the Sup­ple­men­tal Nutri­tion Assis­tance Pro­gram — and devel­op the skills nec­es­sary to fos­ter fam­i­ly-sup­port­ing careers. Eighty% of ELL­RC stu­dents have a par­ent enrolled at the cen­ter, and near­ly 70 of the adults served have expe­ri­enced a 33% increase in employ­ment, accord­ing to the report.

The com­plex is the only one of its kind in Atlanta and part of the Casey Foundation’s broad­er effort to trans­form sev­er­al city com­mu­ni­ties by pro­vid­ing high-qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion to chil­dren from low-income fam­i­lies while also help­ing their par­ents find employ­ment and achieve finan­cial sta­bil­i­ty. It opened Jan­u­ary 2010.

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