Three Questions is a new Next Stage series. Over the coming months, we will feature social good leaders from across the region who are partnering in new and innovative ways to create big community change.
1. Tell us about Charlotte Bilingual Preschools proudest accomplishment last year.
Our proudest accomplishment in 2021 was continuing to provide quality dual language education programming and workforce development for more than 500 students and family members. When faced with food and job insecurity, classroom building closures, and other COVID-19 challenges, our Charlotte Bilingual Preschool (CltBP) team worked diligently to support our comunidad through thoughtful adaptations and partnerships. Our teachers and families introduced numerous learning innovations to provide online instruction, digital literacy tools and training, and enhanced support for learning at school and at home. These efforts resulted in our highest-ever levels of student attainment during the height of the pandemic, at a time when, during the same school year, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students often saw dramatic drops in proficiency.
Our family programs, such as ParentChild+, Reading Bridge, and virtual Cafés, all saw increased participation in 2021, allowing us to continue growing our impact despite the ongoing pandemic. We continued to expand our Workforce Development Program, building career pathways in early childhood education (ECE) for CltBP family members to become trained, credentialed dual language early educators. Charlotte’s Leading on Opportunity’s recommendations to increase upward mobility in Charlotte include increasing Latinx access to quality ECE programs and promoting families as partners in improving children’s social-emotional and language and literacy development (Leading on Opportunity Report, 2017). We are doing just that, with 72 families currently enrolled in educational courses, and five paid Apprentices recruited from our school families gaining hands-on experience in our classrooms.
2. What do you hope to change this year?
After carefully refining our model of serving the Latinx community in Charlotte-Mecklenburg for more than 23 years, we are ready to design how we share our successes and lessons learned about best practices in 2-generation, dual language education. This year, CltBP will increase our reach by building a replicable model to guide other early care and education centers to deliver quality dual-language ECE services. We are actively pursuing partnerships and funding opportunities to expand and fulfill our goal of serving 1,500 Latinx children annually across Mecklenburg County by 2030. We will soon hire an Expansion Director and an additional Researcher, and work with nationally recognized experts in bilingual education to create an expansion/replication playbook.
The big idea is that CltBP will provide high-quality professional development and ongoing support so that teachers at other centers can create engaging, rigorous, culturally appropriate, and meaningful learning experiences for Latinx, Hispanic, and other Spanish-speaking children. CltBP will honor the uniqueness of every center and customize professional development experiences for the individual needs, character, and practice of each center’s community. Our aim is to ensure that our model will succeed in all types of settings: urban, rural, large, small, public, private, and charter. While expansion of this scale is no small task, we are prepared for
the challenge in great thanks to ongoing community support and strong partnerships with local organizations.
3A. Charlotte Bilingual Preschool is a nonprofit, but its mission is also highly applicable to the private sector. Why should companies care about your mission?
Our mission at Charlotte Bilingual Preschool is to prepare Spanish-speaking children for success in school and life by providing superior dual language, multi-cultural early childhood education. Our vision is that Charlotte-Mecklenburg is a place where differences in language and culture are mutually enriching, and all children have greater access to advantage and opportunity. CltBP’s Preschool proven 2-generation model leverages bilingualism, building from a child’s strength in their home language, and family engagement, learning, and career pathways to improve children’s academic success. We create a welcoming culture in which children, teachers, and families have all the support they need (nationally recognized curriculum, cultural competence, therapies) to reach their maximum academic and life potential.
CltBP is growing fast to meet the needs of the increasing Latinx population in Mecklenburg County. We have been meticulous in our research and planning to ensure that our 2-generation model and programming are ready to be deployed in the upcoming year. 2020 Census data shows that the Latinx community in Mecklenburg County is the fastest-growing ethnic population, increasing by 52% in the past 10 years (WCNC Charlotte). We have secured funding and support from national and international organizations such as Aspen Institute, Neighborhood Builders, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, who understand the need for increased dual-language ECE and workforce development in Mecklenburg County. Companies should care about our mission because we are preparing future leaders within the fast-growing Latinx community – their future workforce.