A national two-generation family learning program aiming to provide a solution to the educational challenges facing low-income and ethnically diverse families was unveiled in Plano. Toyota gave a $175,000 grant to fund the program, which is led by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL). Plano Independent School District (PISD) is working together with NCFL to execute Toyota Family Learning.

The program is currently running at Plano Family Literacy School and Sigler Elementary, where collectively over 200 family members have been enrolled since September. Parents, caregivers and their preschool-aged children dedicate 20 hours a week becoming more engaged in the schools and community with help from the empowering program. The adults gain skills to help their kids succeed in and out of the classroom, but also learn technology, language literacy and job skills through the free program.

bingelli pisd
Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Brian Binggeli. Courtesy of PISD

“This is a unique program that is beneficial to our Plano families in so many ways,” said Dr. Brian Binggeli, Plano ISD superintendent of schools. “What is key is that parents and children learn together. Whether it is reading or engaging in skill-building activities, they do them with each other. It strengthens the parent-child bond and improves our community at the same time.”

Plano is the 11th community to be part of Toyota Family Learning. Four other cities will be unveiled this year. In total, Toyota has committed $10 million over a six-year period for this national education initiative.

Mireira Escobar, who attends classes with her pre-school daughter, Maggie, said the program is beneficial in many ways. “My life is better now than it was before. At school, I practice my English; now, when I go to the store or talk to teachers, I am much more comfortable. It has helped my entire life – both at home and out in the community.” Her nine-year-old daughter Jackie also benefits, made evident by her grade report and being accepted into an Honor’s math course.

Independent evaluation shows that among families graduating from Toyota Family Learning in 2015:

  • 90% of parents increased their engagement in their children’s education.
  • 96% of parents became better teachers to their children.
  • 75% of parents increased their English language skills.
  • 34% of parents got a better job.

This year, NCFL and Toyota celebrate 25 years of partnership, helping more than 2 million families in nearly 60 cities across the U.S. in that time.

The Toyota Family Learning initiative also includes two online learning communities: Family Time Machine, which encourages grantee site families to learn and thrive together, and Toyota Family Trails, a website that inspires families nationwide to learn through family exploration and adventure.

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Colbea Smith

Colbea Smith is a young professional who grew up in Plano and loves the community she will always consider “home”. She is a proud alumna of Texas State University – Go Bobcats! – who spent most...