While Place of Learning Coordinator Laura Ceja has applied for several grants to keep the program funded, if money doesn’t come in soon, the Brentwood tutoring center will be forced to close its doors by the end of the school year.
Located at 315 Orchard Drive in Brentwood, A Place of Learning offers its services free of charge to students who need a little extra help to keep up with their schoolwork. Thirty tutors assist 35 students, and 13 children are on the waiting list. Ceja would like to expand the program in order to eliminate the waiting list, but without funding, the entire program is at risk.
“We have amazing volunteers, but we rely heavily on grant money to help keep the lights on and pay for the insurances,” Ceja said. “We’re waiting to hear back on a grant that would bring in $15,000. It’s a grant we’ve received before and we’re hopeful that we’re selected again.”
The center is housed in a small community room owned by Contra Costa County's housing authority, which it leases to A Place of Learning for free. Ceja and the volunteers are grateful for the opportunity to operate in the building rent free, but since the center is tucked away on a side street off Walnut Boulevard, many are unaware of its existence and what it means to the community.
A Place of Learning was founded by Bill and Donna Foster. “Many of the students who come to A Place of Learning just need a little extra help with their homework,” said Bill, who remains on the board of directors. “With as big as classes get these days, its difficult for students to receive that one-on-one attention. For students who come from Spanish-speaking households, their parents might not be able to help them with their homework. That’s where we come in. These kids are smart. They want to learn. They just need someone to step in.”
Hundreds of students have benefited from A Place of Learning since it opened its doors. Most of them are at the elementary level, but tutors also work with students at the middle school level. Volunteer tutors require no special training – only a passion to serve the community.
Even with the financial constraints, Ceja is always willing to take on new tutors so that more students can benefit from the program. “We’ve seen so much success here,” Ceja said. “The students benefit from the help and the volunteers get the satisfaction of making a connection with a young person by helping them succeed in their classes. This is a really special program. We want to stay open.”
A Place of Learning is open Mondays through Fridays from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Those wishing to donate to A Place of Learning may send tax-deductible donations to A Place of Learning, P.O. Box 1043, Brentwood, CA 94513.
For more information about A Place of Learning, visit www.aplaceoflearning.org or call 925-240-5146.