• October 2011

Raising the Grade at Greenbrier Learning Center

By Gail Meighan
Board Member
Greenbrier Learning Center

It’s tough to avoid getting behind a good cause. That’s why I couldn’t help but volunteer a decade ago at the “Greenbrier Learning Center, which is based in the heart of Arlington, VA. Who’d have thought that I’d still be here.

Quite honestly, I can’t help myself. The kids, the staff, and the mission are all near and dear to my heart.

Fostering Academic Achievement

This organization was founded in 1994 at the request of parents, teachers, and community members seeking after-school tutoring and enrichment activities for the children of South Arlington. The Arlington Community Foundation, the Greenbrier Baptist Church, and several local corporations partnered to create the nonsectarian, independent 501c3 organization.

“Greenbrier Learning Center’s mission is to promote education, youth leadership, and strong families through structured enrichment programs beyond the school day,” says Courtney Reeve, executive director of GLC. Reeve notes that by utilizing a community-driven approach, the organization successfully fosters academic achievement and personal growth among our after-school students, acts as a resource for youth and adults, and increases collaboration among service providers in Northern Virginia.

“In the last year, 87 percent of our students improved their reading by at least one grade level, and 62 percent of students improved by two or more instructional levels,” Reeve shares, noting that is one reason why the organization has twice been featured in the Catalogue for Philanthropy as an outstanding nonprofit (2005-06, and 2010-11).

Plus, she notes, almost all of the students had strong homework grades, and 80 percent of students earned Outstanding or Satisfactory homework grades.

The Name of the Game

Our motto is, “Learning ROCKS!, bolsters students’ academic achievement, and fosters their social-emotional development.”

So, in addition to providing homework help, the staff dedicates 30 minutes each day to language and literacy activities with the goal of improving students’ reading instructional levels.

This is critical because upper-elementary is when students shift from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”—a big challenge for our students, as most are English-language learners and currently reading below grade level.

Greenbrier Learning Center also implements a variety of lessons promoting healthy lifestyles (making positive choices), and exploring other academic and enrichment opportunities. For example, each year, we host a science fair for our students after working with students on the scientific method and testing hypotheses for eight weeks.

All lessons and activities are organized to support four themes (named by the students):

  • Rockin’ Reading and Writing (Language and Literacy)
  • Got Skills? (Academic and Study Skills)
  • Healthy, Wealthy, & Wise (Life Skills)
  • Out of This World (Culture and Community)

In addition, GLC provides 17.5 hours of weekly out-of-school programming to the children of South Arlington throughout the school year. All told, this equals 40,950 hours of academic and social support.

Sign up to help!

Greenbrier Learning Center is proud to announce that it is partnering with Acumen Solutions for their 3rd Annual Race for a Cause™ 8K and 1 Mile Fun Run on Sunday, October 16, 2011, in Arlington, VA.

There are three ways you can help:

Register: Click HERE to register for the 8K or 1 Mile Fun Run. Be sure to choose GLC as the nonprofit you wish to support.

Sponsor us: Not able to make it to the race? You can still help GLC win by sponsoring a student, parent, or AmeriCorps member to participate in the race. Click HERE and choose whom you wish to sponsor.

Spread the word: Tell family members, friends, and co-workers about this amazing opportunity to support a local nonprofit by potentially turning $25 into $25,000! Check out GLC’s promotional video by clicking here.

More Good News

Greenbrier Learning Center is a finalist for several awards this year, including the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.

Of the 471 nominations from 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, we were named one of 50 finalists by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Programs selected to receive the award will receive a $10,000 grant and an invitation to an awards ceremony at the White House hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. We are so excited to be distinguished as one of the top arts- and humanities-based after-school programs in the nation.

Greenbrier is also a finalist for the Center for Nonprofit Advancement 2012 Board Leadership Award, which honors organizations that are well led, well supported and responsive to the people and communities they serve.

“We are one of two finalists, and are really excited about that given the number of nonprofit organizations with budgets under $2 million,” says Reeves.

For more information, visit Greenbrier Learning Center at www.greenbrierlearning.org.

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