LALA de New Mexico takes inspiration from the UNESCO award-winning “Yo Sí Puedo” adult literacy program, which has taught more than 6 million people to read and is currently in use in more than 30 nations.
LALA is proud to be the first United States literacy organization to utilize this incredible, effective and innovative program.
“Yo Sí Puedo” means “Sure I Can” in Spanish. The “Yo Sí Puedo” program was developed by educator Leonela Relys of the Latin American and Caribbean Pedagogical Institue (IPLAC) in Havana, Cuba, and is in use in many countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Spain, Jamaica, Argentina, Uruguay and more. Astoundingly, the program was used in Venezuela to make 1 million people literate in just 5 months.
The “Yo Sí Puedo” program was created in 2001, to aid Cuban educators who were sent to Haiti to teach literacy and numeracy to impoverished adults living in third-world conditions. The program is intense and quick – anywhere from four weeks to three-months – and is designed to foster a strong sense of self-worth along with literacy and numeracy skills in a highly flexible and culturally appropriate setting.
“Yo Sí Puedo” uses 17 videos, containing 65 classes, and a manual, with guidance provided by a highly-trained and, in our case, paid facilitators. The program is effective in large part because of its flexibility; it was designed to be highly adaptable to different languages, cultures and social realities.
“Yo Sí Puedo” works because it requires facilitators to tailor their regional version of the program to the economic, emotional, social and psychological needs of its students.
For LALA de New Mexico’s constituents, this will mean a free, bilingual program that provides on-site before-class, nutritionally rich, culturally appropriate meals; childcare and homework help for the minor dependents of our students while their parents are in class; safe transportation to and from class; and supplemental nonperishable food boxes to take home. To achieve these ends, LALA de New Mexico will need to employ a full-time team of dedicated educators, child care providers, food and business managers, cooks and administrators; we will also need to purchase a mobile restaurant (aka food truck) for on-site catered meals.
The methodology of “Yo Sí Puedo” is divided into three areas: Brand-New Readers; Emerging Readers; and Advancing Readers. After successful completion of the program, students will participate in a festive graduation ceremony, complete with cap and gown, certificate and, in some cases, special branded honors named for our sponsors.
LALA de New Mexico will launch four pilot terms in four New Mexico towns and cities in 2015. Given that New Mexico is ranked the poorest state in the United States, with the nation’s highest percentage of Hispanic population (nearly half), and given that our state has the nation’s second-highest high school dropout rates (Nevada beat us by one percentage point) we are confident that the Yo Sí Puedo program is perfect for our population. Many Hispanics in our state eke out an existence without running water, electricity, or decent sanitation, living what is essentially a third-world life in the richest nation on earth.
Each LALA de New Mexico program will include three classes, covering all three areas, and will last 10 weeks. Classes will be held in public schools in the evenings, twice a week for two hours each session, with each class limited to no more than 20 students.
To achieve these goals, LALA de New Mexico will need to hire a core staff of employees by the end of 2014, and we’ve begun searching for qualified candidates now. If you are interested in coming to work for us – and in working not just for an organization, but for an important cause and mission – please visit our Jobs page to see if we have something right for you.
LALA de New Mexico will contract with an independent outside firm to analyze and report upon the success of our programs, in order to continue to secure funding for coming years. We believe our programs will be successful, and that LALA de New Mexico will continue to grow in order to serve more people in our state, and perhaps even enough to expand into other parts of the nation.
* Please note that the United States trade embargo against Cuba does not pertain to educational or cultural exchange programs such as “Yo Si Puedo.”
** Also note that LALA’s use of the Cuban “Yo Si Puedo” program is not an endorsement of anything but the program itself; it does not reflect our organization’s political or ideological stance, nor is it an endorsement of the Cuban government. LALA is a nonpartisan literacy organization whose only mission is to provide effective and affordable literacy and numeracy programs to those who need them.