BASIC's SUMMER READING ACADEMY!
These images were taken during the first week of the 4-week-long Reading Academy for 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders held at the Steele/Burnand UCI Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center in August 2016. Looks like happy yet engaged faces to us! The backpacks were supplied by Umpqua Bank and the food was being prepared by Kendalls.
To read the Report Card for the 2017 Reading Academy, please download the file shown above.
BASIC'S FIVE-PART CRADLE TO GRADUATION (C2G) PROGRAM
Each year the State of California assesses the academic performance of its public schools and assigns them a score from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. The Borrego Springs Elementary School ranks 2 and the Middle School ranks 1. More than half of our second and third grade students are not reading at grade level. Only 10% of our 8th grade students passed the required proficiency exam in general math in 2013. The local school system, the administration and the teachers are dedicated to closing these learning gaps but the challenge is substantial. In the Borrego Springs Unified School District, 89% of students are English Language Learners and/or living in poverty. These children are not the offspring of transients. Their families have lived in Borrego Springs for many years, but, because of educational deficits, most of the children have not been able to escape poverty.
Borrego Springs California is a small desert community of ~3500 permanent residents located on the east side of the coast range in San Diego County, ~2 hours from San Diego and Palm Springs. It is surrounded by Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the largest state park in the nation. The Park is about the size of Rhode Island. Borrego Springs is so isolated that we do not even have door-to-door mail delivery, or a stoplight. The population consists mainly of two groups. “Snow-bird” retirees fleeing the winter weather in northwestern United States and southwestern Canada come because they feel that they have been transported back to the 1950's, to a well-kept town where neighbors know each other and are secure enough that many do not bother to lock their doors. The second group consists of families seeking to improve their lives – and their children’s lives, by emigrating from farms and small towns in Mexico. Most jobs are in hospitality, landscaping, home maintenance and housekeeping and are more plentiful during the winter “snow-bird” and tourist months. Hard working, mostly Hispanic families are living with just the basic necessities. They are people who want to get ahead. They want to see their children be and do more, to succeed.
BASIC (Basic Assistance to Students In the Community) is a charitable 501(c)(3) organization committed to empowering youth and adults in the Borrego Springs community to pursue educational opportunities and achievement by providing grants, scholarships and programs that will help these students reach their potential and realize their dreams.
For 20 years, our organization has sought to identify and fund the most educationally sound and cost-efficient strategies to improve educational outcomes for the inhabitants of Borrego Springs. Like many organizations, we began this endeavor with scholarships, thinking that if we provided some needed funding for students to attend college, they would gain the foothold they needed to pursue their dreams. Even though our community is small, our organization has managed to raise over $350,000 over 20 years to award 305 scholarships. Some BASIC scholars have graduated from vocational school, community colleges and 4-year universities, even graduate schools. But some never got past the first college class, often a remedial one. Thus, several years ago, we realized that while scholarships are indeed part of the answer to Borrego students’ educational journey, they are not sufficient. Much more needs to be done to prepare more students for success in college or vocational school, and ultimately for success in life.
BASIC’s board of directors and committee members, all volunteers, have had distinguished careers as educators and business leaders, and are fully committed to helping our students reach their potential. We raise funds for our programs through donations from individuals and charitable organizations, and profit from the Circle of Art, a juried fine art show and sale held annually in Borrego.
BASIC’S RESPONSE TO THIS CHALLENGE
We embarked on a two-year search and study period to identify the points at which Borrego students experience the most significant problems in their education. We have identified discrete strategies to intervene at five junctures, and we are fundraising to support these interventions. We have continued our 2-part scholarship program (start school and stay in school scholarships), but we have also identified three additional junctures where strategic intervention is critical. We have learned that having books in the home increases the preschool child’s performance in elementary school and beyond. We have learned that competency in 3rd grade reading and 8th grade math are absolute requirements for success in life. We have learned that early intervention has been shown to be the most effective way to improve reading and math skills in children. It is also the least expensive. BASIC now incorporates into its mission the following five interventions that we believe are critical to a successful progression from cradle to graduation, or C2G.
BASIC’S PROGRAM: C2G – Cradle to Graduation
Part 1, Pre-School Learners Intervention: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library – to start kids on a good track
Books in the home for pre-schoolers: Research is clear on the value of having books in the home that parents and older siblings can read to preschoolers. Kindergarten readiness improves, and there is a positive effect on reading well into the third grade. BASIC is now sponsoring the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for children who reside in the Borrego Springs Unified School District. Enrolled children receive a free gift of an age-appropriate book monthly in their home from birth until age five. All their parents have to do is to make sure their children are read to. Parents tell us that their enrolled children look forward to the arrival of their monthly book, and enrollment continues to grow: now 93 children.
Part 2, Elementary School Learners Intervention: Reading Academy – to help those who are having trouble reading at grade level get on track
Reading Support for Third-Graders: More than 50% of the 3rd grade students at Borrego Springs Elementary School fail the statewide proficiency exam in reading. This ground cannot be made up from grades 4 through 12, because learning in those grades focuses on higher skills in all subjects. Third grade is the transition year from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”. In 2016, BASIC launched a summer Reading Academy, replicating a summer third-grade reading program now in its 10th year in Indiana that has been effective in increasing literacy skills of young students (please see http://everychildcanread.org/ for details). In 2017, we continued the Reading Academy for 2nd and 3rd grade school children and also launched a third literacy class for older children. 52 children have attended Reading Academy; 52 children have improved literacy skills.
Part 3, Middle School Learners Intervention: in-the-classroom teacher’s aide – to help those who are having trouble with middle school math get on track
Middle School Math Support: The need for more teaching power in math at the middle school is great. Introducing Common Core Math into the curriculum in 2014 placed an additional demand on both teachers and students. Increasing teacher-student interaction in middle school math classes using an instructional aide is an established effective intervention. BASIC has now supported a teacher’s aide for math classes for three years.
Part 4, High-School Learners Intervention: Scholarships to start school
Part 5, Adult Learners Intervention: Scholarships to stay in school
High School and Adult Learner Scholarships: We accept applications from graduating high school students and recent graduates; we also accept applications from adult members of our community who wish to return to school to further their careers (Start School Scholars). We encourage those students who make it through their first year of school to continue their studies (Stay-in-School Scholars). The primary criteria we use to evaluate our applicants are: financial need, past academic success and the desire to accomplish his/her goals. Most applicants come from large families with incomes less than $40,000/year, far below the federal poverty line. The BASIC Scholarship Committee, a group of community leaders each of whom has had a distinguished career in education, reviews each application. Over 300 Borregans have been awarded over $300,000 in scholarships over the past 20 years.
We believe that implementing and sustaining the five interventions described above not only will immediately benefit Borrego students and their families, but also allow continued evaluation of each program that will be useful to other school districts. Unlike urban areas that are subject to enormous turnover in schools and communities, the Borrego community is small and stable. Children usually remain in the school district throughout their K-12 education and stay connected to the community even after school. We have an opportunity to review objective criteria of performance and also to collect experiential and anecdotal evidence so that we can evaluate the effect of our programs on our students’ preparedness at every level of learning. The opportunity for long-term evaluation will allow us to identify which strategies are most effective in enhancing outcomes beyond secondary school to college and vocational studies in underprivileged communities. Importantly, this program is “scalable”.
Our thinking has been substantially influenced by these proven truths:
- “Reading to children daily...has been documented as a contributing factor to long-term literacy and school performance”
- Reading to young children is associated with differences in brain activity supporting early reading skills. 
- Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a milestone on a child’s path to high school graduation and later success because it makes the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”. “Connecting the dots from elementary school to adulthood tells a sobering story. A student who cannot read on grade level by 4th grade is four times more likely to drop out of high school than his or her proficiently reading peer. Add poverty to the mix, and a student is 13 times more likely to drop out.”
- Owning books in the home is one of the best things a family can do to promote academic success.
- “If we want to dramatically increase the proportion of students graduating from high school with high-level, globally-competitive skills, then we must dramatically increase the number of students who achieve proficiency in Algebra in their middle school or early high school years as a gateway to the advanced high school coursework that is the driver of high school graduation, college readiness, and post-secondary completion rates.”
- Students who leave eighth grade not knowing how to compute with fractions enter high school as remedial math students. Students who leave high school lacking proficiency with fractions are inadequately prepared for college mathematics. 
- In their landmark study showing the impact of basic skills on adult earnings, Richard Murnane and Frank Levy conclude, "Mastery of skills taught in American schools no later than the eighth grade is an increasingly important determinant of subsequent wages."
- “Every student who does not complete high school costs our society an estimated $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes, and productivity.” 
OUR REQUEST TO YOU
If you want to do something that really matters, join us and provide support. We are working in a community that is small (about 30 students in every class K -12) and relatively constant over time. We can watch and evaluate our program over time to determine if these five discrete interventions perform as anticipated. We have access to students, parents and the school system. We are becoming a living laboratory that can be evaluated and replicated. BASIC is committed to the parents and children of Borrego to show them that if they successfully engage in school for 12 years and graduate, they can have a positive future. BASIC will provide support with books before starting school, at the 2nd and 3rd grade to improve reading, in middle school to improve proficiency in math skills, and rewarding it all with scholarships upon graduation, but only with your help.
PRE-SCHOOL: This program costs $25 per child per year and BASIC typically supports 60 children each month. $1500 each year.
READING ACADEMY: All common barriers to a child attending Reading Academy must be removed, such as providing daily transportation and meals and snacks. BASIC's budget projection for this program for the summer of 2018 is $91,800: $62,800 faculty & staff salaries & benefits; $10,000 student breakfasts, lunches & snacks; $8,000 academic & classroom supplies; $7,000 bus transportation; $2700 use of teaching facility; $1300 insurance.
In-the-classroom MATH AIDE: Salary and benefits for a qualified teacher aide for 3 hours/day (6th, 7th and 8th grade classrooms), 5 days/week, 30 weeks/year total ~$8000. BASIC contributes $2500 towards this cost.
SSS and SISS SCHOLARSHIPS: Over the past 20 years, BASIC has granted 305 scholarship awards totaling over $350,000 to Borrego Springs high school graduates and adults wishing to continue their education. In 2017, we awarded $31,500 to 27 worthy students, the second highest amount in our 20 year history. We strive to repeat this success.
TOTAL BUDGET FOR THESE PROGRAMS FOR 2017-2018 : $126,800
We invite your partnership in support of our C2G program. Your donation will make a difference! To send a check, make it out to " BASIC " and mail it to:
PO Box 1914
Borrego Springs, CA 92004-1914
Please indicate if you wish to direct your donation to Scholarships, The Dolly Parton Imagination Library, the Reading Academy, in the classroom math aide or “where it is most needed”. We promise that 100% of your donation will go to program.
BASIC is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
Within the limits prescribed by law, your contributions are tax deductible.
Visit us at www.borregobasic.org Questions? email J Ingwall at firstname.lastname@example.org
 The latest year of available data is for 2013: http://school ratings.com/schoolRatings.php?schName=Borrego+Spring+elementary+school
 Meeting with Elementary School Principal and teachers, February 2016
 Bus et al., 1995; Mol & Bus, 2011
 American Academy of Pediatrics News-2015
 New York Times, December 6, 2015
 New York Times, December 6, 2015
 Brookings Institute
 Annie E Casey Foundation “Early Warning Confirmed: A Research Update on Third-Grade Reading”
Fund raising event....SAVE THE DATE
CIRCLE OF ART: MARCH 10-11, 2018
Saturday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Christmas Circle, Borrego Springs. Enjoy the work of over 60 outstanding artists of the southwest and support the future of our local scholars, both youth and adults.
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