Listos Scholarship Fund

Greetings! Today I want to tell you about Listos. The mission of this brand new non-profit preschool and childcare is "to provide a unique, inclusive, affordable Spanish-English preschool and childhood experience."

And guess what? It's the first dual language preschool in Rochester, Minnesota! There are some awesome preschools in Rochester - truly awesome. But there are no dual language preschools yet. (Gage is the one Rochester elementary school with a Spanish immersion program starting in kindergarten).

I am so thankful this preschool is happening. And I am also so thankful to have the opportunity to support its development. I only speak English. But my friend Anna speaks Spanish and English, and she is a huge inspiration to me! I've had other bilingual friends and co-workers along the way, and it has always been astounding. In seminary nearly all of my coworkers at the library were bilingual. And in both college and seminary I worked at language labs helping English-language learners with papers and speeches. I support the learning of any second language, and in Rochester, it's great to be able to provide a Spanish/English learning environment.

Listos is a Rochester-based preschool and childcare. It is a dual language preschool serving ages 3-5. Starting in September of 2015, classes will be held for 3 hours in the morning and again in the afternoon - with families opting for one session or the other. There is also childcare from 6am-6pm each day for ages 3-5. The school operates from September-May, and the childcare operates year round.

My friend, Christina Valdez, is starting the school and serves as its director. She previously worked at the Rochester Post-Bulletin before completing the additional training required for this new endeavor. Christina and her husband Miguel have two daughters, Lucy and Solana. I first met Christina a few years ago when I was at a gathering of Post-Bulletin folks. She has an genuinely encouraging, uplifting presence. She's the kind of person you meet and immediately say, "I want to be friends with her." I am so excited about this new endeavor, and I think it is pivotal to the Rochester community and its healthy, inclusive, diverse development.

Preschool-age children are in the prime language learning years of their lives! Preschool is a very formative time.

I was amazed to learn there are currently many children on the Head Start waiting list in Rochester every year. Our community needs more preschool providers - especially preschool providers reaching out to under-served populations. Here are some great bits of research on the importance of preschool/language learning:
Last year when I heard that Christina was starting a preschool, I contacted her to say that I'd love to help - and that I'd especially like to help raise funds if that was every required. There was something about this initiative that deeply compelled my heart right from the start of the idea.

She contacted me a few weeks ago to take me up on my offer. We sat down together at Dunn Brothers a few days back, and I got to hear all about the exciting Listos updates.

The location has been discerned: Peace United Church of Christ. The preschool will be non-religious, but it will be housed in a church. And awesomely, Peace is viewing this as an outreach of their congregational mission. They are allowing Listos to utilize the space at a very inexpensive rate, and they are supporting Listos in a variety of ways.

Christina talked me through the visioning and budgeting of Listos. Max enrollment will be 72 students with 36 coming from Spanish-speaking backgrounds. The cost of tuition will cover the organizational expenses, so all is set in place. The right people, the right environment, the right leadership. So exciting!

However - there are still financial needs; especially in terms of scholarships for students. This is a huge piece of the puzzle for Listos. The mission is that it will be an inclusive environment. And to ensure an equal ratio of Spanish-speaking students, Listos wants to be able to offer scholarships to make it feasible for every family interested.

Friends, Listos is eligible for a $20,000 grant, but in order to receive it, they need $5000 in pledges. They have $2000 so far, and need $3000 more by February 13. This money can be used for any purposes. Christina said that providing scholarships would be a great use of these funds. And I said: I WANT TO HELP MAKE THAT HAPPEN!

And now I'm saying to you: LET'S MAKE THAT HAPPEN!

A one-year, full-tuition scholarship to Listos would cost $2,595.

I think we can do that! Here's the official donation request letter from Christina.

I pledge $250. If you're interested in pledging with me, fill out the form below.

If you know of someone else who might be interested, you can send them to: http://bitly.com/listospledge. Pledges will be due to Listos by March 1, and Christina will be in touch with you directly between now and then.

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