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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Listening to the Community: Working Together to Give Kids a Chance

People can be a powerful force in making changes.
By Edutopia Staff

Before it opened in 1992, the Vaughn Family Center asked residents of its San Fernando, California, neighborhood how it could help improve the community. The center's governing board, comprised of parents and social service providers, listened to the community and heard its pleas for economic renewal.

As a result, in addition to programs to help keep children healthy and thriving, the center adopted economic development as one of its goals. One result of this focus is a program known as the Urban Village, which offers job training, computer classes, and employment counseling. In an effort to provide productive alternatives for youth gang members, the Urban Village helps them acquire the academic and job skills they need to become employable and then helps them find jobs.

The Family Center is located at the Vaughn Next Century Learning Center, a charter elementary school. Its presence has helped improve relations in the community. Most of the Center's activities, including childcare, medical and dental screenings, parenting classes, and a variety of soccer leagues and other recreational activities for children, operate in a bilingual format.

The center has become a safe place in a troubled neighborhood, according to its director, Yoland Trevino. "Parents feel that they are being heard, that their experiences are important to someone else, and that everyone can make a difference."

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