What does the maker of hybrid cars and pickup trucks have in common with a nonprofit dedicated to families learning together? A twenty-five year partnership dedicated to building up communities on the local level. Toyota and the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) have partnered together for 25 years, working towards increasing literary, family bonds, and healthy communities. Their pioneer family reading program has already been successfully implemented in Bronx, N.Y.; Cincinnati; Denver; Detroit; Houston; Lincoln, Neb.; Milwaukee; Providence, R.I.; San Mateo, Calif.; and San Pedro, Calif.
This year, both Toyota and NCFL have awarded $175,000 in grant money to launch its signature family reading programs in five new places:
● Village of Promise, Huntsville, Ala.
● Broward County Public Schools, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
● Public Education Foundation, Las Vegas
● Louisville Free Public Library Foundation, Louisville, Ky.
● Plano Independent School District, Plano, Texas
A press release announcing the grants announces that “Toyota has invested more than $46 million to fund two-generation family literacy programs at more than 280 sites in 55 communities and 31 states.” The funding, mixed with an innovative and local-specific program, has been hugely successful. An independent evaluation found that, among families graduating from Toyota Family Learning programs:
● 90% of parents increased their engagement in their children’s education.
● 96% of parents became better teachers to their children.
● 75% of parents increased their English language skills.
● 34% of parents got a better job.
This partnership is a great example of the private sector working for the common good. Toyota and NFCL illustrate how combining the assets of a successful business with the developmental insight of a nonprofit can create opportunities for communities to flourish. As Alexis de Tocqueville, the French political scientist, understood, America thrives on the voluntary association of her citizens working to build up civil society.
This is also a great example of how the success of a community is tied to the flourishing of its families. The building block of civil society is the family; at the center of the Toyota/NCFL partnership is trust for parents. Let’s continue to trust parents and empower them not only to be lifelong learners themselves but also to instill the love of learning in their children.