June 15, 2012 > Local Partnerships Give Alameda Students a Chance to Succeed
Local Partnerships Give Alameda Students a Chance to Succeed
By Tiona Smith, Executive Director, Alameda County Library Foundation
The mission of the Alameda County Library is to ensure all county residents have access to basic educational resources and services-regardless of income level. To that end, we offer a wide range of programs that encourage learning and exploration at all stages of intellectual development. Importantly, these programs are free and provide educational opportunities that many low-income students could otherwise not afford.
One of our most valuable and requested educational services is the library's Homework Center Program which operates out of seven Alameda County Library branches and provides free homework support and tutoring. The end of the school day can be a distressing time for young students with homework to do and no safe place to go. For that reason, Alameda County Library established homework centers where students can safely and productively spend their after-school hours.
Our centers provide students with computers, school supplies, textbooks and online educational resources. Most importantly, dedicated volunteers give individualized academic attention, including homework assistance, reading and math tutoring, English language instruction and more for those who need the help. During the 2011-2012 school year, homework centers accommodated 15,000 student visits.
To continue our Homework Center Program and other free educational services, the Alameda County Library increasingly relies on partnerships with civic-minded businesses and organizations who embrace our mission. One local partner of note is the Fremont Bank Foundation, which recently awarded the Alameda County Library Foundation a $10,000 grant to ensure our homework centers will continue during the 2012-2013 school year.
The significance of this grant, and similar financial gifts, is immense because it helps maintain free educational services for children at the library. State funding for libraries and other public services continues to decline, but the need for access to basic educational resources and learning opportunities has never been greater. As a result, investments from local partners, while always important, are needed now more than ever.
As Alameda County Library looks to the future, our relationship with the Fremont Bank Foundation serves as a model for the type of partnership we hope to foster with more Bay Area businesses. For 12 years, the Fremont Bank Foundation has partnered with us as a natural extension of its deep commitment to the health and well-being of Alameda County communities.
In addition to funding a variety of specific educational programs, the bank's Foundation has funded a community resource library at many of our main branches and supported capital campaigns to build new branch locations, including the Castro Valley Branch. By taking a holistic approach to our partnership and investing in programs, resources and infrastructure, the Fremont Bank Foundation has helped Alameda County Library expand services, putting them within reach of more residents.
Local partners who support our work help ensure that income and location are not prohibitive barriers to basic educational opportunities. What's more, they promote the prosperity of local communities now and in the future. That's because a library is more than a building or a catalogue of books. It's a world of exploration and growth where lives are truly changed.
At Alameda County Library, we see that change every day in the faces of children who experience the wonder of discovery and the joys of learning. We are grateful for all those who give of their time, money and energy to make our work possible. Working together, we will continue to give all students of Alameda County a chance to succeed.