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Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 3:05 am | Fair 46º


Santa Barbara Partners in Education Celebrates Successes of 2011 at Annual Breakfast

Executive Director Ben Romo says Partners programs and community volunteers have proven to be invaluable resources for local students

Children in Santa Barbara classrooms feel the impact of Partners in Education volunteers and programs every day, San Marcos High School teacher Jeremy Vaa said Tuesday at the annual Business and Education Partnerships Breakfast.

Partners in Education has placed more than 3,500 volunteers in local schools since 2007 and on Tuesday celebrated 2011’s programs.

Vaa’s Advancement Via Individual Determination class at San Marcos, which helps high-potential, low-income students, has reaped the benefits of volunteers, Computers for Families and fundraising efforts. He said every student in his AVID class of ninth-graders are, four years later, waiting on acceptance letters after applying to colleges across the country, in part because of the support from community programs.

Partners in Education is run by the Santa Barbara County Education Office’s Center for Community Education. Executive Director Ben Romo and his staff organize volunteer efforts, the Computers for Families program and paid internships for high school students.

Romo didn’t want to gloss over the challenges facing school districts at a time when more jobs than ever require a college degree. Six million people in their 20s live with their parents, a 25 percent increase from the start of the recession, he said.

Thirty percent of children in Santa Barbara live below the federal poverty level, but despite the challenges, all Title 1 schools boasted increased test scores last year.

The community’s support of schools through volunteering an hour of time is invaluable to student success, Romo said, adding that though the “collective stress” of the economy could really be felt in 2011, it was a good year for Partners in Education.

Computers for Families gave 600 computers to low-income families, hundreds of volunteers went to classrooms and after-school programs, and the Santa Barbara Triathlon chose Partners in Education as the fundraising recipient for a total of $40,000.

The organization’s President’s Council members each contribute at least $2,500 per year to help fund programs and services and had the most yet in 2011, including ABC-CLIO, Antioch University, AT&T, ATK Space Systems, Coastal Resource Management, Community West Bank, Cottage Health System, Cox Communications, D.D. Ford Construction, ExxonMobil, Fielding Graduate University, Frank Schipper Construction, The Key Class, MarBorg Industries, McGowan Guntermann, MedBridge Development, Montecito Bank & Trust, Noozhawk.com, Pacific Western Bank, ParentClick.com, QAD, Rabobank, Raytheon, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Santa Barbara Teachers Federal Credit Union, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Southern California Edison and Venoco Inc.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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