I donated in support of this campaign.
I donated in support of this campaign.
"All children should have equal opportunities, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to make that a reality."
"Challenge gift from EMC Insurance Foundation"
CultureALL has set a goal to raise $10,000 by the end of 2017 – and You Can Help.
We're more than halfway to our goal: make your tax-deductible donation before midnight on Sunday, December 31 to and help us educate Iowa's next generation of globally-minded kids.
Read the story below – or watch the video – to find out how the Power of Diversity – and a CultureALL after-school program – helped change the life of a little girl in Central Iowa:
She was "The Girl in the Pink Parka."
Lia* is a child of an immigrant family who was struggling last year to adjust to her new school in Iowa. CultureALL Program Director Stacey Kimberlin could not help but notice Lia among her classmates at the after-school program at Morris Elementary. It wasn't that she was especially active or vivacious – in fact, Lia was so shy she rarely said a word to anyone. What Stacey noticed was that Lia always wore her pink parka to class like a suit of armor. Even though the classroom was warm, she wouldn't take it off. She even wore the hood pulled close around her face.
One afternoon, Stacey pulled Lia aside just before class. She couldn't talk Lia into taking off the parka, but she did learn a few things about her. Lia didn't like school very much. Everything and everyone seemed so different in Iowa, and Lia said she hadn't made any friends. Not one. Lia's teacher had suggested that she sign up for the CultureALL after-school program in the hope that it would help Lia connect with other kids at school.
Over the course of a few weeks, Stacey watched Lia interact with the CultureALL Ambassadors who had come to share their cultures with Lia and her classmates. Like Lia, many of the Ambassadors had come to Iowa as immigrants. But instead of rejecting them because they were different, Lia saw that her classmates were fascinated by the Ambassadors and their languages, music, dances, foods, and customs. Lia was fascinated, too.
Shedding her "Armor"
As the weeks went by, Lia began to come out of her shell – and out of her parka. At first she just took down the hood. But one day the whole coat came off, and Stacey could see that Lia was becoming part of the class. She had even begun to form a tentative friendship with one of the other students.
One afternoon as Stacey arrived at the school she met Lia and her mother in the parking lot. They were on their way home.
"Oh, no!" Lia gasped. "Is it CultureALL day today? Mama, I have to be there!"
Her mother seemed surprised. "Are you sure you want to go back?" she asked.
"I can't miss CultureALL!"
Instead of going home early, Lia walked back into school with Stacey for her CultureALL class.
Over the course of a few weeks, Stacey watched Lia transform from "The Girl in the Pink Parka" who hid in the corner to Lia – the girl who was excited to come into the classroom to learn and interact with her classmates. Even her teacher noticed that Lia was blossoming and saw that paying off during the school day. Lia was starting to be more attentive in class. She was even making friends.
How CultureALL Helps Kids Like Lia
Research shows that when kids feel that their cultures are valued at school, they become more engaged at school. This makes it more likely that kids like Lia will want to stay in school, and thus more likely that they will reach graduation. CultureALL is helping to make sure that Iowa kids of every culture feel valued by bringing their cultures into their classrooms. Our CultureALL Ambassadors are role models who show kids that every culture – and every individual – has value, and no matter where you come from, you can be a respected, contributing member of the community.
When the new school year started, Stacey ran into Lia when she was visiting her school. She seemed happier and more confident than she had been last year in her "pink parka" days. She told Stacey that she had made "a lot" of friends.
How You Can Help, Too
Each year, CultureALL is helping students like Lia to become more engaged in the classroom and forge friendships across cultures, and helping schools create a more inclusive environment where all students feel, welcome, valued, and inspired to succeed. Last year, our education programs served nearly 35,000 students in 16 Iowa school districts. But there are many more schools – and more students like Lia – who need these programs. CultureALL works to keep its program fees affordable, especially for schools that serve children from low-income families. That's why we need your help.
Your tax-deductible gift of $50 supports one student in five sessions of an extended program like the after-school program that Lia attended at her elementary school. Extended programs have the greatest impact on students – because they have more time to learn (usually with more than one CultureALL Ambassador), there is greater likelihood that what they learn will stick with them longer.
With your support, more students like Lia can benefit from interactive learning experiences that help them connect to the power of diversity by helping them to connect to culture – both their own culture and the cultures of others. Together we can help them understand that Diversity doesn't Divide Us – it makes us Stronger.
* We changed Lia's name to protect her privacy.