The Guadalupe Learning Lab is run by volunteers with the goal of helping local students graduate high school and prepare them for what’s next.
Sitting between Phoenix an Tempe, the town of Guadalupe is a center where cultures are combined and celebrated. The town’s roots are in the Yaquis, Mexicans and descendants of the original farmers. However, the children of the town are falling behind. Sixty one percent of Guadalupe kids graduate high school compared to the 79 percent statewide.
“We asked the community where I lived what do you want,” Director of Guadalupe Learning Lab Marina Gonzalez says. “How can we help? They needed help with homework. A lot of the parents didn’t know how to help them.”
Gonzalez didn’t graduate from high school, and neither did her parents. She wanted that trend to stop at her. She says the only way she could make sure her kids graduated was by investing her time in their education. Once she started investing her time into her own kids, she felt inspired to help other kids as well.
“I felt like there were programs out there to help them, but if you don’t have that relationship with people they’ll never go to them,” Gonzalez says. “I felt like the most important thing is to have a relationship with the people you’re going to work with and the people you want to help.”
The kids will often teach each other. The older students will work with the younger ones in between finishing their own homework. There are also members of the community who enjoy spending their free time by tutoring at the learning lab. Gonzalez says if you can sit and listen to someone read, you’re a tutor.
“There’s one girl over there today that part of the reason she graduated from Corona was because of my helping her,” Rick Mason, a volunteer at the learning lab, says.
Adelina Valencia’s children attend the Guadalupe Learning Lab after school. She says it’s a family-oriented environment. Most of the kids grew up together, and they enjoy helping each other succeed.
The learning lab has been open for six years and has moved three times because they keep outgrowing their space. They’re opened three days a week during the school year and offer summer programs. Keep up with the learning lab on Facebook.