Early Childhood Literacy & Equity (ECLE) The issues we seek to address- academic success, opportunity gaps, diversity, equity and social inclusion- are all determined by access and the quality of opportunities we are given in the earliest years of our lives. At the heart of our service advocacy is a community-engaged initiative and action in Early Learning. Our Early Learning services and advocacy deeply seeds from the fact that Early Learning gaps emerge early for disadvantaged students.We provide evidence-based family and community engagement and empowerment through trainings and intergenerational leadership development. We educate the families on the values of high-quality preschool, early literacy and parent-child interactions. The goal of CAIRO’s Early Childhood Literacy & Equity (ECLE) program is to ensure high-quality parent-child interaction experiences for our African immigrant children and families throughout the Prek-3 (P3) continuum. The SPACE Program The SPACE (Schools, Parents and Communities Engaged) Project provides mentoring and academic support for school-aged children, while offering training opportunities to the near-adults (parents and teachers) to ensure school success. The diagram below helps our parents and schools visualize CAIRO’s impacts agenda and a bold theory of change, emphasizing the big picture of what it takes to improve outcomes for our African immigrants’ youths in Oregon’s public schools. The focus on building the capacity for our K-12 programs reflects a belief that moving “the small gear” is critical to achieve a collective impact. We emphasize that addressing one outcome (e.g., higher graduation rates) in an attempt to improve outcomes for our youths requires the engagements and thus the support of both parents and wider communities. Doing this requires commitments to new partnership structures designed to support the collective seeing and learning needed for schoolteachers and leaders to arrive at solutions that break down all forms of barriers for refugee youths and families’ success. Youth Mentoring & Leadership Our multi-level mentorship program is aimed at supporting young people to manage their own learning in order to maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become citizens with value. We believe that every young person deserves a chance to participate in development and this can only become a reality when they have the right skills and a platform to engage. Our mentorship program’s aim is to harness leadership opportunities on personal, career and entrepreneurial development through linking aspiring youth to accomplished youthful leaders for empowerment through both the formal and informal mentoring. We connect the youths by connecting them with young adults, adults, and professionals. Youths are matched with mentors, who depending on the individual needs may have had similar life experiences, barriers, share a common cultural heritage, or interests or goals in life. Appropriate measures are put in place to ensure that our young people are supported to meet their goals. We provide support to youths to: Increase their chances of life and career success Reduce the likelihood of becoming involved in high-risk activities Enhance educational performance through academic and career guidance. Parent Leadership Council (PLC) Often agencies and parents themselves limit the parent role to that of consumer or client; they view parents as receivers of services developed and provided by professional practitioners. This kind of thinking needs to be transformed to create partnerships that work differently and are authentic and long lasting. At CAIRO, we firmly believe that our parents are our resources, advocates and experts of and for their own families and communities. For our immigrant and refugee parents to become effective co-leaders, we understand that they need to be empowered with applicable knowledge to exercise their voices in meaningful ways, and they need to be organized. CAIRO’s Parent Leadership Council (PLC) is a center based, organized group of current, past, and future beneficiaries of our programs and services organized to improve our service delivery while gaining the tools and resources to collaboratively lead with us in our efforts to advocate for and act to increase equitable opportunities for African refugees and immigrant children, youth and families to thrive. We understand that when our refugee and immigrant parents gain the knowledge and skills, they become the catalysts for building collaborative leadership roles and present a “parent voice” to help strengthen families, create effective policies and programs, and contribute to the wellbeing of their communities. Our PLCs engage in a culturally specific, structured continuous learning forums where they accumulate the experience, knowledge and ultimately power to speak and act publicly to ensure policies and institutions respond to their lived experiences and build capacity for communities to create equitable opportunities for all families. Our parent leaders consequently become well-positioned to transfer the gained experiences, knowledge and skills to other parents and families and have meaningful impact on the programs, agencies and organizations designed to support them. As our PLC members build trustful relationships with service providers in respectful and inclusive environments where they learn and practice new skills and share their experiences, they gain a sense of empowerment. This can lead them to extend their leadership capabilities beyond themselves and their own communities and become partners with the programs in which they are involved. We believe that when these parent and agency leaders work from a position of equal responsibility and commitment, there is a higher probability of eliminating barriers to equitable opportunities.