Toyota may be a year away from opening its Plano headquarters, but the automotive giant already is impacting its new community through Toyota Family Learning, a multigenerational family learning initiative that aims to empower both children and their parents.
“This is a unique program that is beneficial to our Plano families in so many ways,” said Dr. Brian Binggeli, superintendent of Plano Independent School District.
Led by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) and funded by a $175,000 grant from Toyota, parents and their preschool aged children at Plano Family Literacy School and Sigler Elementary involved with the initiative spend 20 hours a week learning together.
“Toyota Family Learning makes an impact that will be seen and felt for decades to come,” Sharon Darling said.
“Toyota Family Learning makes an impact that will be seen and felt for decades to come,” said Sharon Darling, president and founder of NCFL. “Parents and children need to learn in real-world context, and this initiative does just that, generating service learning benefits that have major implications for both generations’ learning and employability skills.”
Nationally, Plano is the 11th community to become part of Toyota Family Learning. To date, more than 200 community members have enrolled.
Building Tomorrow’s Talent
As many as 3,000 Toyota employees are expected to relocated to the DFW-area when the company opens its new headquarters next Spring. Bringing Toyota Family Learning to Plano, demonstrates that the company aims to build a pipeline of talented new future employees for generations to come. And it aims to do so from within its new DFW community.
“We are proud to stand with NCFL to make a real difference in the lives of families across the country,” said Latondra Newton, group vice president and chief social innovation officer for Toyota Motor North America, Inc. “It is especially exciting to bring this program to Plano, site of our new headquarters.”
According to the Center on Education and the Workforce, 65 percent of all jobs will require training beyond high school within the next four years. Yet, despite the DFW’s having the largest year-on-year job growth of the 12 largest metropolitan areas, only 54 percent of DFW adults 25 and older have some college education or higher, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“We are proud to stand with NCFL to make a real difference in the lives of families across the country,” Latondra Newton said.
Additionally, while leaders, parents, and educators across DFW have worked tirelessly to prepare students for success in an ever-competitive 21st-century economy, 70 percent of Dallas County high school seniors do not earn a two- or four-year degree within six years of completing high school.
Toyota Family Learning is a proven source of inspiring families and communities to turn around such statistics. For example, from 2014-15, families who participated in a Toyota Family Learning saw 20 percent engagement in literacy activities and a 90 percent increase in engagement in education overall.
“By offering ways to learn that are innovative and engaging, we are able to bridge the gap between classroom and lifelong learning so that people can find success on the road of life,” Newton said.
In that sense, Toyota not only is building a pipeline of future talent for its own purposes, it is helping build a budding DFW generation that will empower and strengthen the entire community.
Toyota Family Learning Empowers Parents
Toyota Family Learning is a pioneering approach to education, specifically educational inequity, because it considers not only the whole child, but also the whole family.
“My life is better now than it was before. At school, I practice my English; now, when I go to the store or talk to teachers, I am much more comfortable,” said Mireira Escobar, who attends Toyota Family Learning classes with her preschool daughter, Maggie.
Escobar is among the 96 percent of parents involved with Toyota Family Learning who have become better teachers to their children, ensuring kids get the support they need in the classroom and at the kitchen table.
“It has helped my entire life –- both at home and out in the community,” Mireira Escobar said.
“What is key is that parents and children learn together. Whether it is reading or engaging in skill-building activities, they do them with each other,” Binggeli said. “It strengthens the parent-child bond and improves our community at the same time.”
The initiative goes beyond kids, and also has been shown to immediately benefit adults. Last year, 75 percent of parents impacted by Toyota Family Learning increased their English language skills. Thirty-four percent learned the skills needed to land a better job.
“It has helped my entire life –- both at home and out in the community,” Escobar said.
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