If you are reading this page, it is probably hard to imagine what it would be like to be illiterate. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (“UNESCO”) calls literacy “a fundamental human right and the foundation for lifelong learning. It is fully essential to social and human development in its ability to transform lives. For individuals, families, and societies alike, it is an instrument of empowerment to improve one’s health, one’s income, and one’s relationship to the world.”*
So, to deny someone literacy, whether through an act of omission or commission, is to deny them the opportunity to become a full contributor to society. Through its supported organizations, The William K. Warren Foundation engages and empowers children to become literate and, thereby, fully develop as a whole person.
In pockets across the nation, there are places where English is not spoken. In fact, throughout U.S. history, it has always been this way. The difference today is that the pace of global knowledge is moving faster than ever. In addition, the sheer volume of immigrants has dwarfed the nation’s ability to assimilate many of its new residents. As a result, many are being left behind.
In 2012, 6.7% (44,593) of Oklahoma’s public school children were participating in English as a second language, high intensity language training, and bilingual education (“ELL”).** Yet, the public schools system, in most circumstances, is not putting a satisfactory level of resources into developing these children and empowering them to become full contributors to society.***
**U.S. Department of Education, 2014
***Oklahoma State Board of Education
A-F School Report Cards
Through San Miguel School of Tulsa, The William K. Warren Foundation helps fund the operations of a middle school dedicated to empowering English language learners, 100% of whom qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program, to become fully developed members of society. Limited class sizes, 100% parent participation in quarterly learning team meetings, and 300 more hours per school year than their peers in public schools are yielding amazing results: 90% of the students graduate from high school or receive their GED, (versus 76% of public school peers); and, 88% of the school’s college-age graduates are either in post secondary education or working in productive careers (50% and 38%, respectively).* Together, San Miguel and the Foundation are preparing these students for a fast-moving world.
*San Miguel Data, 2014
“Ernesto” (name changed to ensure privacy) is from a tough neighborhood where poverty is the norm. A native Spanish-speaker, San Miguel represented a way out of his circumstances. With intensive English literacy training built into his math, language arts, social studies, and science curriculums, Ernesto became a star student. He went on to a prestigious high school where he won the school’s award for the senior who represents the ideals and goals of the school. He participated in three sports, the school musical, worked on the campus to help pay his tuition, and was a spiritual leader and role model to his classmates and teachers alike. He even went back to San Miguel and mentored students there. Today, he is in college. Ernesto embodies the aspirations of Catholic education to develop a student’s body, mind, and spirit.