At The Literacy Cooperative’s 2Gen Summit in May 2019, we highlighted best practices in the two-generation approach to learning.
2Gen approaches build family wellbeing by intentionally and simultaneously working with children and adults in their lives together. Learn more about our 2Gen Initiative.
During the Summit, The Literacy Cooperative presented a 2Gen Call to Action that focuses on four key imperatives: involving parents and family members as equals in the planning process, expanding interagency knowledge among service partners, implementing referral strategies and shared databases across all organizations, and using these methods to incubate a 2Gen programming pilot to track results, scalability and sustainability.
One of the programs that exemplifies the goals of a 2Gen Approach is Cuyahoga Community College’s Saturday Family Academy (SFA), a free, non-credit course designed to promote education, empowerment and success to the entire family.
“The vision was to create an innovative model to educate and inspire multiple generations of a family, and take the whole family to the next level,” said Kenneth Hale, founder and former director of Saturday Family Academy. “We want to change the trajectory for some of these folks.”
Every Saturday morning families attend age-specific classes, which are different each year. After the individual sessions, all students gather to share what they learned and eat a meal together.
“It’s a learning community at Tri-C that doesn’t cost any money for the families, and the whole family can benefit,” Hale said. “It’s really been awesome.”
One of those families is the Thomas Family. Parents Duane and Theresa, with children Tamara, Sherelle, and Joseph, attended SFA during the Fall 2016 and the Spring 2017 semesters. Originally, they went to support dad Duane to get more comfortable with the college environment before going back to school – but soon found it beneficial for all.
Theresa and Duane took wellness and financial literacy classes together; Tamara prepared for college with ACT courses – something that her CMSD school didn’t offer; Sherelle and Joseph played chess and solved math problems to build critical reasoning skills.
Duane and Theresa said during their financial literacy class, they learned how to keep track of their money much more and expanded their knowledge on banking. Fun games weren’t just for the children, either – the financial instructor had his session set up like a game of Jeopardy.
Tamara not only prepped for the ACT but also gained skills both in and outside of the classroom that prepared her for her future, such as a connection to an internship and professional development made through the Saturday Family Academy.
She’s now a sophomore at Xavier University in Cincinnati. Her dad is also a sophomore, soon to earn his Associates degree from Cleveland State University. He wants to be a counselor, helping other students with their education.
“Being able to walk around that campus, I was able to see other people like me,” Duane said. “I was like, wow – it really doesn’t matter your age. Anyone can finish school.”
Sherelle is attending Tri-C as an 11th grader this year as part of her high school curriculum. Because of this experience with her family, she said she feels totally comfortable on campus.
The Thomas family said being able to share in their education as a family brought them closer together.
“You’re not just bossing around and prioritizing education for your children, but you’re showing them that you’re dedicated to education as well,” Theresa said. “It really put an emphasis on that.”
Myra Stone is one of the teachers at the academy. She taught at Rhodes High School for years. Now retired, she comes back every year to help kids.
“When you’re teaching high school, you see a lot of kids – intelligent kids – who just have some problems they’re working through,” she said.
But SFA is different than school.
“I do hip-hop with the kids, drama, and poetry,” Myra said. “Going into this I was aiming for laughter. A lot of these kids come to school with baggage, and that makes it hard to learn. But these small groups are a unique opportunity to engage more with the kids.”
With further partnerships with institutions and programs such as SFA, Greater Cleveland can continue to move toward operating under a 2Gen model to benefit families more effectively.
The fourth year of Saturday Family Academy begun September 21st at Tri-C’s Metro Campus and continues the next five consecutive Saturdays.