“LaAmistad” began assisting Hispanic students with homework and their parents with ESL (English as a Second Language) in 2000. The unlikely hero was the Director of Recreation for a Gym @ Peachtree Presbyterian Church who saw a need and jumped to helped.
Over the years, “LaAmistad” (Friendship in English); a religious based non-profit based in Buckhead has grown into a multidimensional high-performing organization, the largest community based ESL program in the state (info provided by Jennifer O’Pry, Site Director) and recipient of two A+ Community Achievement Awards from Atlanta Public Schools serving over 160 students every day.
While many of us do not see Buckhead as having a high concentration of Hispanic students; the numbers tell a different story. Out of the 3,200 Latino children served by APS, 1,700 are served by the “North Cluster” (Bolton Academy, E. Rivers, Garden Hills, Morris Brandon, Sarah Smith, Warren T. Jackson, Sutton Middle School and North Atlanta High School.)
“LaAmistad” serves Hispanic/Latino kids with mentoring, tutoring, homework assistance, and resources for their families to encourage and promote academic success at the following locations:
Garden Hills Elem.-64% Hispanic
High Point Elem.-50% Hispanic
Sara Smith Elem.-16.7% Hispanic
Warren T. Jackson Elem.-5.8% Hispanic
Sutton Middle School-24.7% Hispanic
“LaAmistad” feels that the schools with smaller Hispanic populations are in high need of our program since those students are not taught by teachers who have ESL learners at the forefront of their lesson plans and teaching strategies; so their staff and volunteers step in to provide “English for Successful Living” as a requirement for the parents as well as parenting workshops aiming to build families with strong communication skills that in the end strengthen their mission of providing a comprehensive support system that incorporates physical, and personal growth.
Additionally, all families have access to a computer lab, internet, and library that are located at Peachtree Presbyterian Church as well as a Parent Resource Center where information on additional outreach programs, and resources available to them in Spanish.
“LaAmistad” spends 17% of the funds raised in administration (including fundraising) which is a great ratio by non-profit standards. They rely heavily on volunteers with over 450 committed students and professionals offering their time and skills every year.
“LaAmistad” also works hard to help families manage the education system in Atlanta and has secured full scholarships for high achieving students in some of the best private schools in the city: The Westminster School and Pace Academy.
The graphic below illustrates the impact their approach has on the students enrolled in their programs. Perhaps, it should not come as a surprise since “La Amistad” sees their work as a partnership with parents and in spite of the following statistics, 100% of the parents want their children to go to college.
- 60% of LaAmistad families earn less than $30,000 per year, while 40% earn less than $20,000.
- 88% of LaAmistad families have no health insurance.
- 70% of LaAmistad families have 5 or more people in the household. Many live two-bedroom apartments
- 75% of LaAmistad children receive free or reduced lunch at school.
Interested in volunteering, donating or learning more? Contact LaAmistad.
I leave you with a nice video Univision produced on the program (Spanish only)
CORRECTION: I had mentioned “LaAmistad” was a religious based organization. I have been corrected that even though its programs are housed in churches, “LaAmistad” is not titled religious based, but instead educational. I have edited the article to reflect this clarification.