From sight words to the SATs, multiplication tables to trigonometry, Paramount is there, helping students succeed at three schools in its Los Angeles neighborhood and giving them the skills they’ll need to thrive as adults.
Its Kindergarten to Cap & Gown program is dedicated to seeing students through their entire school experience, from kindergarten all the way through high school graduation. Launched in 2009, it sends volunteers from the studio into the schools to help younger students learn to read and to act as mentors for older ones. More than 210 Paramount employees volunteered in 2012, working with 3,000 young people.
The program is having a powerful impact on students and volunteers. “When I see [my mentee] Jorge on Tuesday mornings excited for the next adventure in his Pokémon books,” said Craig German, a Paramount mentor, “I realize how much this program means, both to him and to me.”
In 2012, more than 210 Paramount employees volunteered in schools, working with 3,000 young people.
Kindergarten to Cap & Gown takes a different approach at each level of education. At Santa Monica Boulevard Community Charter Elementary School, the focus is on literacy. Volunteers work one on one with students twice a month to practice reading, spelling and grammar. Every Friday, Paramount employees read aloud in K-3 classrooms.
At Le Conte Middle School, the goal is to increase school attendance, boost self-confidence and combat the negative peer influences that often arise in early adolescence. Volunteers meet with students each month, working in small groups on projects like anti-bullying workshops and multicultural celebrations. In 2012, the program staged a career panel featuring employees from divisions across the studio business.
And at Helen Bernstein High School, Paramount employees serve as mentors for individual students, helping teach and reinforce the personal and social skills that are necessary for success in the adult world. Mentors and students meet every two weeks, sometimes in groups, to nurture basic abilities like goal setting, restaurant etiquette, job interview skills and public speaking.
The high school program is also devoted to giving students an expanded view of the opportunities that exist for them. In addition to college and career fairs, it hosts a Job Shadow Day for students to go to work with their mentors. From sitting in on meetings to helping complete daily tasks, students experience a day in a professional environment, getting a view of life at work and gaining an understanding of office etiquette.
All of the 2012 high school seniors in the program — who make up Kindergarten to Cap & Gown’s first graduating class — received their diplomas along with college scholarships from Paramount. Most are now enrolled in four-year universities, and all are using skills they honed in the program.
“It’s helped change the students and motivate them to continue high school and into the next step of education,” said Eduardo, a student at Helen Bernstein High School. “I have learned many things from this program that I’ll carry throughout my life, such as living on your own, how to interact with people and how to be interviewed for a job.”
Paramount is looking forward to seeing more and more graduates in coming years, and will take special pride in those who have been with the program since their first years in school.