Leaders Explore Two-Gen Approach



A class held at Alta Vista Elementary has helped 55 single mothers become certified nurses, according to the Community Foundation of Sarasota, but could this program for adults also help young kids learn to read at a higher level? Philanthropic leaders see a connection, and the success here is being held up now as an example of Two-Gen approach to solving social problems. After enrolling hundreds of kids for reading programs over the summer offered at the same time the nursing program, officials say a dramatic increase in the percentage of children reading at grade levels. “The rate has gone from 53 percent reading at grade level to 78 percent,” said Roxie Jerde, CEO of the Community Foundation. “That’s enough to say ‘Whoa, that program might be working.”

Guest speakers from around the nation are gathered in Sarasota right now for a Two-Gen Summit exploring ways to align and integrate early education programs with educational efforts for adults, and the Alta Vista programs are a single example of that combination of services producing results. Ann Mosle, executive director of the Ascend program at the Aspen Institute, has been working on two-generation solutions for a long time. “I think Two-Gen is the next level of play,” Mosle said. Her group supports finding ways to teach children basic information but also empower parents who need more financial resources at home. “The system has to lead toward family outcomes or it is just an abstract conversation,” said Mosle. 

Aspen officials now travel the country looking for new ways to integrate this Two-Gen approach around the nation. Whether it is in pairing manufacturing training jobs with STEM education programs or efforts like those being tried successfully at Alta Vista, Mosle is hopeful for a future. Workshops continue today at the Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota County, and event speakers include Aisha Nyandoro from Springboard for Opportunities, Ann Silverberg Williamson from Utah’s Department of Human Services and William Serrata of El Paso Community College.

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