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EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY

PROFILE

EDUCATION TRANSFORMS LIVES BY CYNTHIA GAT TORNA A Stepping Stone Foundation transforms lives through quality education. We are a local 501c3 charity providing a strong, loving stepping stone for Hispanic families who are on their journey to the American Dream. Founded in 1989, we are proudly celebrating our 30th year of serving our community. One of our hallmark programs is our family literacy preschool, called Literacy Elevates Arizona Families (LEAF), where two generations can learn together. While our preschoolers are in session, the parents attend classes to help them with their own English literacy and to be their child’s best first teacher. The parents also work in their child’s classroom once a week and participate in monthly home visits throughout the school year.

Josie and her family exemplify the long journey A Stepping Stone embarks upon with our families. When they leave LEAF, a modest college scholarship waits for their preschooler upon high school graduation. We reconnect with our families when their children are in high school to tell them about the scholarship and to provide another stepping stone geared toward facilitating post-secondary education access through our Stepping into College Program.

This case study is best told through one mom’s own.

“…I was a parent in the Stepping Stone Foundation classroom and my daughter was a student [there]. As part of the program, I made a commitment to participate in the family literacy program. Thanks to that [decision], our family has a second chance in life.

Our family had no goals; we had no future and were living day by day....I was an older parent starting all over again with a new family and I did not know how to care for them or how to manage a marriage. In Parent Time, I learned that I could do anything I put my mind to. I also learned to set reasonable goals for my family and myself.

In addition to our college access and family literacy programs, A Stepping Stone Foundation facilitates a Two-Generation-Education Affinity group that has been meeting in the Valley metro area for three years. Policymakers, practitioners, elected officials and funders come together to network and work together to make our community better.

I started GED classes with a third-grade level in 1999 and in May of 2003, I received an Associate in Applied Science in Child Care Administration and a CDA [Child Development Associate] and I am still working toward my Bachelor’s [degree]. My self-esteem has become a part of who I am. I take reasonable challenges and always strive to do the best for my children’s education.

2019 UPDATE Josie not only earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, she went on to receive her master’s degree and currently still teaches in the Phoenix school district where her child attended A Stepping Stone family literacy program. Her daughter, who had been enrolled in our LEAF program, graduated high school and won a college scholarship from our Billie Gannaway Memorial Scholarship Program in 2017.

I try to volunteer in my children’s classrooms as much as possible and make regular visits with their teachers just to let them know that I am interested in what’s going on. I never participated in school with my other children and they did not get much out of their education. Now we have books all over our house and my children actually sit down and read them.

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I actually voted in our last presidential election. My husband and I donate blood and we visit the library often. We try to give back by making donations of clothing to Interfaith Shelter….I am giving back to my community by working at Isaac Preschool. I was employed…as an instructional assistant and now I will help others succeed by applying my experience and education in teaching children and parents skills [they] need in life.”

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602-843-8281 www.asteppingstone.org FACEBOOK: facebook.com/ASteppingStoneFoundation TWITTER: @AStepStoneAZ

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T H E S T AT E O F A R I Z O N A’ S H I S P A N I C M A R K E T

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