Professor James Smith
For the past several years, the UC Urban Community-School Collaborative has increased the visibility of the University by combining forces with the community and local schools. This alliance will provide assistance to enhance the work and vision that is already underway by a small volunteer group of lay people and a professional educator.
The intent of this proposal is to make a small-scale change, at the very least, for the betterment of less advantaged school children. While a large-scale difference can be hoped for over time, demography and the dispersion of the housing pattern in Santa Barbara affect the targeting of selected student populations as reflected in the mix of cultures and social classes in the school attendance areas. In response to cultural and social diversity, the Santa Barbara School District is not a layout of grids with blocks of highly concentrated domains of cultural homogeneity, as typically found in larger urban centers. The one exception appears to be Latinos as evinced in the rising enrollment of this group.
This proposal was designed to provide support services through Lucys Learning Center to enhance the academic performance of underachieving urban students, Pre-K through 8, from the Santa Barbara area. Lucys Learning Center can be considered as a partnership for investing in the future development and achievement of its families children, youth and adults. For many years a sector of the community, represented within the membership of the Second Baptist Church, recognized the need for a non-religious based outreach educational center to address the educational needs of a segment of the communitys urban population. After much discussion and interaction, steps were initiated in that direction, but were later relinquished to the Alliance for Community Development, a non-profit social services organization that expressed similar goals in expanding its services. Unfortunately, this organization became defunct several years later. After the demise of the Alliance, the Second Baptist Church reactivated its efforts to pursue its earlier goal, hence establishing the Lucys Learning Center.
While the center currently provides a comprehensive list of services to its attendees, the main focus of this project is on assisting students with homework, hands-on activities in mathematics and science, and parenting sessions for adults (especially teenage parents). Emphasis is given to strengthening and reinforcing students understanding of fundamental concepts as well as approaches to problem solving in mathematics and science. Enrichment exercises are incorporated to stimulate quality thinking and reasoning. When appropriate, cooperative learning strategies are employed to maximize results.
Mathematics and science are core subject areas for children to explore in the Parent-Child Pre-K Readiness component, which is linked directly to the parenting training for active participation and observation.
The church membership has renovated a house for the Center at its own expense, which is a major ongoing sacrifice. It is operating on a part-time basis through volunteerism, small contributions, and various local grants. Office, classroom furniture, and equipment have been donated by participating families and friends, and some local vendors. Jamaal Wilkes, former NBA player, awarded a grant to help support client scholarships. Although membership of the church is small, parishioners pay the mortgage and have continued to do so through monthly pledges. The church members, along with the 40 plus volunteers, have dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to the project. I, as the Director/Principal Investigator of the project, will continue to explore the many funding agencies and exhaust all possibilities in my ongoing efforts to secure stable, if not permanent funding sources to ensure continued operation.