Bridging the Opportunity Divide

At This School, Parents and Kids Learn Side-By-Side

January 20, 2015
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At This School, Parents and Kids Learn Side-By-Side
Briya prides itself on being a one-stop shop for education and public assistance for disadvantaged adults. Facebook/Briya
Briya educates the entire family.

School is in session, but at the Briya Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., the students are certainly not who you’d expect to be roaming the hallways. Instead of just kids, there’s adults in attendance, too.

Back in 1989, Briya began as a family literacy center run by and for immigrants, but it gained charter school status in 2005, reports National Journal. Since then, the school has doubled as a place for both adults and young children to learn, as well as a day care for the adult students’ young children. While not a requirement, most students are immigrants, who attend for free.

The philosophy behind Briya? That the only way to stop the cycle of low-income families is for parents and children to have access to the same essential resources: education, health care and work skills. So Briya combines all three of those into one, offering classes for adults in English language, basic computer skills and parenting. While classes, which are held each day for two-and-a-half hours, aren’t compulsory, it’s expected that adults will attend for at least one year (some may enroll again the following year).

Through its “two-generation” approach, Briya is aiming to tackle the problem of poverty at its core: the family.

“They’re getting English classes, and someone’s going to take care of [their] kid,” Briya Executive Director Christie McKay tells National Journal. “They want [their kids] to do well in school, better than they did.”

And for many, that’s the first step to success.

MORE: Why Tony Wagner Thinks Merit Badges Should be Given Out in Every Classroom

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