Lotus Bloom Child & Family Resource Center – Closing the Achievement Gap

Go Inspire Go (GIG) is proud to share this month’s Social Good Spotlight, to raise awareness of individuals and organizations doing good in their communities in order to inspire others to take action and ultimately make real social change. GIG believes everyone can find inspiration in helping others, whether it’s through doing small acts of kindness or working at an organization dedicated to making a difference. If you know of an individual or organization that you think should be featured, please email Marcia and help us forward their stories to inspire the world.GIG Social Good Spotlight: 
LOTUS BLOOM CHILD & FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER – Uplifting Children and Closing the Achievement Gap
by Marcia Estarija Silva

“Often times, I see parents and children smile more, talk more, and playing together more.  These are indicators that our participants are gaining new skills and building on their school readiness skills.” – Angela Louie Howard, Executive Director

What is Lotus Bloom Child & Family Resource Center?
Lotus Bloom is a multicultural organization based in Oakland, California that develops and provides a safe, loving environment for inner-city children and families, offering developmental play and art activities to children from 0 to 5 years of age.  Last year, the center served approximately 600 individuals, of which 144 children and 138 adults participated in its 0-5 year old multicultural playgroups.

What is Lotus Bloom’s mission? What big changes is it trying to make?
Lotus Bloom’s mission is to empower individuals to realize their full potential and transcend their dreams into reality. In education, the “achievement gap” refers to the differences in academic performance – academic grades, standardized-test scores, drop-out rates, college-completion rates – and is most often used to describe the performance gaps between students from low-income families and those who are better off. In Oakland’s San Antonio neighborhood, 86% of 3rd graders were not reading at grade level and kindergarten teachers reported that children entering school had no preschool or early care experience. To help fill this achievement gap, several local volunteers and social service providers came together to form Lotus Bloom in the Fall of 2006 to offer free access to playgroup and school readiness programs.

Counting and singing during circle time

How is Lotus Bloom using its power to help others?
Nationwide, the data is startling - 29 percent of 2-year-olds in poverty demonstrated proficiency in listening comprehension, compared with 39 percent of those at or above poverty, and 55 percent of those in poverty were proficient in expressive vocabulary, compared with 67 percent at or above poverty. The disparity increases in later years. Twenty percent of 4-year-olds in poverty were proficient in letter recognition, compared with 37 percent of their peers at or above poverty. Forty-five percent of 4-year-olds in poverty demonstrated proficiency in numbers and shapes, compared with 72 percent of their peers at or above poverty.

Dedicated to working with diverse populations and connecting people of different backgrounds to work collaboratively, Lotus Bloom promotes language development and early learning experiences through playgroups and classes, such as Asian Community Mental Health Playgroups, multicultural play groups by age, and Parent Child Yoga,. Many of these classes are free or offered or on a sliding scale of $1-$5 per child, per day.

Students learn about color mixing by blowing paint around on a canvas

What inspires Lotus Bloom to do this work?
“Seeing children and families make progress everyday inspires me to do the work, whether it is watching children play with other children, holding a pencil for the first time, or writing their first name,” said Angela Louie Howard, Executive Director.

The majority of the families that go to Lotus Bloom come from low-income backgrounds and third world countries and the concept of learning through play is a new concept to them. “I love to see parents in our programs get acculturated, learn new skills, new songs, count in different languages, and make new friends,” she said.

Getting their hands dirty on a field trip to Funk Town Farm, 
a local neighborhood farm in the San Antonio neighborhood

What is Lotus Bloom focusing on now? 
Lotus Bloom is working on a licensed community kitchen in order to help incubate small catering and food services within the community. The San Antonio neighborhood is plagued with fast food restaurants, such as McDonalds and Churches Chicken, and the organization wants to help the local neighborhood make use of their own cooking resources and build healthy and sustainable food programs. Food is also a great way to bring people together to share knowledge and culture and strengthen the community.

How can GIGSTERS get involved and support Lotus Bloom?
•Purchase a NSF certified oven/stove for their licensed community kitchen
•Volunteer and help by:
— Working on our backyard to build community garden
— Providing administrative support
— Starting and facilitating a parent leadership group
— Participating on Lotus Bloom’s Board of Directors
— Plan and administer two fundraisers
• Donate and provide financial resources to support our work

To volunteer or get more information on how to support Lotus Bloom, click here to fill out their contact form.

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About Toan Lam

Toan Lam, the creator of www.GoInspireGo.com is living proof that inspiration and hope trumps the unfortunate situations many of us face today. After nearly 10 years of television industry experience, both in-front and behind-the camera reporting in San Francisco as well as ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates around the country and California Heartland, a statewide, syndicated PBS magazine show, he was laid off from his major market news gig. Toan decided to stop his job search and combine his journalism chops and gift of connecting with people, to help his community. That experience led him to create a website featuring inspirational videos via a YouTube channel. At the end of the videos, there are resource links where viewers can go to help the featured people. His goal: To help everyone discover their power and inspire them to use their power (their resources and talents) to help others. When Toan is not on TV, he is blogging about his website content for the Huffington Post's Living and Impact Sections. Additionally, he is sharing his wealth of knowledge and experience as an adjunct professor, teaching on-camera talent and production classes at the University of San Francisco (his alma mater) and the Academy of Art. Toan is also a member of the Asian American Journalists' Association.