Some have the means, but not the dream, while others have the dream and no means in sight. For some college is a fact of life, while for many others college is a dream that, at times, seems to be unattainable. But as ordinary as it might sound, nothing is impossible, and one thing is for sure, if young person has a great support they will go to college and many will even graduate. Young people who are first to attend college in their families need even more support and help from everyone around them. That is why it is such as joy to know that East Moline School District #37 has such a great program called “One by One.”
One by One was created three years ago by two Glenview Middle School teachers, Charlene Upchurch-Taylor and Margarita Mojica.
“Margarita and I watched so many of our students not achieving and lacking the enthusiasm for learning. It was after much discussion that we decided to pursue this program to instill in our students of color the knowledge and excitement of higher learning,” Ms. Upchurch-Taylor explained their reasons for creation of One by One program.
The students, this program sets out to help, are mostly Latinos and African Americans, who will be the first to attend college in their families. At the moment the program focuses on Middle School students (7th and 8th graders). Through this program young people go to visit college campuses and it teaches them necessary steps to attend college. Among other things students learn the following through One by One Program: ways to pay for college, necessary courses to take in high school to enter college, understanding the GPA (Grade Point Average) and others.
In 2013, when One by One was just picking up, they were putting their attention to 8th grade students and they took them to look around to different universities and colleges of surrounding areas.
“At that time, our focus was to take students beyond survival and into success,” Ms. Upchurch-Taylor said.
Community leaders acted as chaperones and mentored the students. Students themselves got a chance to learn about computer coding and mentoring.
By 2014 One by One program added something called Brown Bag Lunches.
“The purpose of these Brown Bag Lunches is to bring in community leaders of color so that students can hear their struggles on their road to success,” Ms. Upchurch-Taylor explained the new addition to a program.
Many students attended these lunches in the library once a month. One by One Program also encourages students to maintain a high GPA. Students cannot participate in field trips unless they maintain a certain GPA level. Those who do not reach the certain GPA level are still welcomed to participate in Brown Bag Lunches. And as any school program out there One by One requires the students to behave.
“Our success rate has been extremely positive. Our students are rising to meet these goals and expectations we have set for them. One by One students’ goal is to represent at all times our family, our school, and ourselves in a positive light. One by One we will make the difference,” Ms. Upchurch-Taylor explained.
It is thanks to these goals of helping and supporting students on their way towards their dream of college and thanks to help and support of LULAC Moline that One by One and Glenview Mariachi Band received Ford Driving Dreams Through Education grant. Ford had partnered with LULAC to help more Latinos graduate. This year ten LULAC Councils from all over the country received 2015 Ford Driving Dreams Through Education grants. LULAC grantees are all those who work together to promote on-time graduation from high schools and increase college enrollment among Latinos. The winners of the $20.000 grant, that is to be used over the course of two years to introduce a program that would prevent a high school dropout and that would work with in partnership with some educational entity, were announced during LULAC’s 86th Annual National Convention in Salt Lake City.
Margarita Mojica got a chance to attend LULAC National Convention in Salt Lake City, where she represented One by One and GMS Youth Mariachi Band while receiving the grant. Ms. Upchurch-Taylor explained that Ford Driving Dreams Through Education grant will be used to fund transportation to different colleges and universities, food for the Brown Bag Lunches and other. The GMS Mariachi Band will have a chance to buy necessary equipment and supplies.
Thanks to Ford Driving Dreams Through Education grant One by One can continue encouraging students not to think that college is an impossible dream, but rather it is a fact of life. In the words of Ms. Upchurch –Taylor: “One by One is an excellent program for EMSD#37 and the community. This is terrific news for EMSD37 students and the community.”
Keep up the good work Ms. Upchurch-Taylor, Ms. Mojica and students!