Learn4Life Provides Flexibility to Students from Agricultural Community
In rural areas, many families depend on their older children to either babysit while parents are harvesting or work the fields alongside them and contribute to the family income. Therefore, Flexibility is a key component of learning in rural communities like Mendota.
Mendota is an agricultural town with a population of 11,000 situated 35 miles west of Fresno city. The town has no bank, no pharmacy, and most of the rural students still lack technology and internet access. The city is infamous for its high poverty rate and high crime statistics that makes it the least desirable place to live, according to USA Today.
Despite being ranked at the top of the 50 worst cities to live in, Mendota is home to one of the most innovative and successful methods of delivering education. Learn4Life, a network of nonprofit public schools, has been serving students through its personalized learning model the past 10 years and helping rural students graduate through its one-on-one support and flexible schedule. It focuses on at-risk students and former dropouts and started serving students in Mendota to help reduce the high dropout rate.
Research says 36 out of 58 rural California counties, and approximately 6.2 million or 4.5% of students attend rural schools throughout the state. Rural students between 12 and 17 have the highest level of drug use in this age group and suffer from poverty and mental health – all which contribute to high dropout rates.
Davina C., Learn4Life student, best describes her town as “friendly but limited because there aren’t many jobs available other than harvest work.” California is the largest producer of fruits, vegetables and nuts, generating more than $50 billion business in the state. The 25.3 million acres stretched farms and ranches take millions of people to work – including rural teen students who struggle to attend high school.
In addition, this Central California town will soon have a permanent classroom for its rural students. It’s a novel concept that brings a host of community wraparound services under one roof. The new 20,000-sq.-ft. Center opens next month and will house much-needed community benefit organizations, agencies and nonprofits – including Learn4Life – that will provide essential services including medical, dental, mental, social, family and youth services.