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FOUNDATION SPOTLIGHT: My Learning Studio Outreach, located in Riverside, assists students and their families who cannot afford tutoring fees in attaining tutoring at low-cost or no-cost.
BY REBECCA K. O’CONNOR/THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
Published: June 26, 2015 Updated: 3:08 p.m.
[image0-FOUNDATION SPOTLIGHT: My Learning Studio Outreach]
When Lorna Jenkins founded the My Learning Studio tutoring business in 2008, she knew that she wanted to help as many children as possible achieve academic success.
Two years later, with the economy flagging, Jenkins found that many of her customers were struggling to pay tutoring fees and that some had to pull their children out all together. Not wanting to deprive these students of a leg-up in their academic achievement, she founded My Learning Studio Outreach and, as executive director, now offers low- and no-cost tutoring to those who are economically challenged.
Students whose learning is funded through the outreach receive the same programming as students who pay full price.
More than just for the students, Jenkins also feels that it is important to offer tutoring to parents. Adults often find that their math skills are rusty when helping their children work on their homework, she said.
Jenkins notes that academic achievement makes a broad spectrum difference in a child’s life even beyond self-esteem and better grades.
“Our students are like horses at a gate waiting for sessions to start,” she says. “They are so upbeat and happy here. And we have three kids now who are graduating because of what they have done in their tutoring.”
As an example, Jenkins points to a student who was struggling with his studies until getting tutoring through the outreach program. “He just turned 13 and is on the honor roll,” she says. “Even though he hasn’t even been in for tutoring in more than a year, because of his foundation in learning, he has stayed on the honor roll.” She states that this summer he will be attending the Review and Preview Integrated Math 1 program, a six-week course, normally nearly $150, which he couldn’t have done without the scholarship.
The outreach is supported through individual donations and grants. Recently, the program received support from the Youth Grantmakers Fund at The Community Foundation which gave 24 students the opportunity to attend the Review and Preview math course.
The organization has no salaried staff and is run by Jenkins, a small board of directors, and adult and high school volunteers.
“We like having high school students come in and volunteer,” Jenkins said. “Their grades go up as well and they serve as mentors to the younger students, not just tutors.” The organization is currently looking for additional board members and is always looking for volunteers.
“I want to help as many students as I can,” says Jenkins. “This includes all economically challenged kids, not just low income, but foster, adopted and court appointed children.”
To find out more about the outreach, visit MyLearningStudio.org or call 951-789-5402.
By MELANIE C. JOHNSON / CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Published: March 18, 2016 Updated: March 19, 2016 10:54 p.m.
ON THE AIR
What: The Riverside tutoring center My Learning Studio will be featured on the PBS show "Exploring the American Spirit."
When: Monday and Tuesday on The California Channel, Charter Channel 188 and the PBS affiliate, KVCR-24. Check local listings.
Lorna Jenkins started her business 10 years ago as a place for parents to bring their children for arts and crafts.
After parents asked for tutoring, she added the service at My Learning Studio in 2008.
And when the economic downturn ensued, Jenkins began offering discount tutoring and raising scholarship money for children whose parents couldn’t afford to send them to the studio.
Her tutoring center will be highlighted Monday, and Tuesday on the PBS television show “Exploring the American Spirit,” which is hosted by Mary Parks.
The popular show features individuals and organizations that make a difference in their communities.
“It was a beautiful experience,” Jenkins said of being on the show.
Jenkins met Parks through their mutual love of cars. Both drive convertibles and take part in car shows. One day they spoke about Jenkins’ business, and Parks offered to do a show on the center, focusing on Jenkins’ assistance for families in need, she said.
The center received several grants and donations to establish the scholarship program, including $456 from the Assistance League, $5,000 from the Riverside County Asset Forfeiture Special Fund, five laptops from Edison International Community Grants, $2,415 from the Community Foundation’s Youth Grantmakers Committee Fund and $500 from personal donor Jaybee Brennan.
A BIG DIFFERENCE
Perris resident Renee Key started bringing her fifth-grade son William Santeo to the center about four months ago after seeing a flier. His scholarship has been a big help financially, said Key, who added that William has greatly improved in spelling and reading.
“His vocabulary is better, and he is not missing as many spelling words,” the mother said.
George Perches, who was interviewed for the PBS show, started bringing his grandson Wyatt to the center more than a year ago. Perches said Wyatt, a sixth-grader, has always struggled in school, mostly because of his attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
“Regular school doesn’t have the time because they have so many students,” the Riverside resident said. “(Because of the tutoring), he has improved quite a bit, but he still needs work.”
The center, which also offers online tutoring, serves about 60 children a day, Monday through Thursday. A smaller group comes Friday through Sunday.
Riverside resident Chris Weems began bringing her children when the center opened. Her son R.J. has been tutored there since 2009 and benefited from one-on-one help in math and reading. His school also has seen a change in the sixth-grader, according to Weems.
“This year, they noticed a difference after he started school,” she said.
Jenkins, who worked for the state for 20 years, was inspired to start the tutoring because of her own difficulties.
“I struggled in school and didn’t read my first book for pleasure until I was 21,” she said.
The mother of five said that, when she found out her daughter had an auditory processing disorder, it prompted her to make sure her center had multisensory learning to address different learning styles.
“Once you see how you can help people with just one session, you want to keep doing it,” Jenkins said. “It feels good to go to work every day and see these kids thriving.”
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