The late Antone Raymus liked to say he didn’t just build homes. He built communities.
And nowhere is that legacy living on with as much impact as the community-based non-profit Give Every Child a Chance free tutoring program.
Launched 20 years ago this October, GECAC served 67 struggling students with one-on-one tutoring during the initial school year it was up and running. Today there are more than 4,000 students being helped during any given week in Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon, French Camp, Weston Ranch, Tracy, and Banta. There are now 200 paid staff and 300 volunteers with a budget of $2.5 million cementing it as the Manteca area’s leading non-profit organization.
The last annual evaluation covering the 2015-2016 school year conducted by the San Joaquin Community Data Co-op shows that GECAC continues to deliver quantifiable results.
The effort to judge GECAC’s effectiveness in the last academic school year sampled the grades of 974 students involved in the various programs. Of those, 83.4 percent showed academic improvement in at least one subject and 82.5 percent in any primary subject.
Raymus was almost obsessed with the idea of finding a way to make sure every child had a chance to make it in life after he was part of a Manteca Kiwanis group touring the California Youth Authority prison north of Manteca. On that tour he saw a frustrated young man start throwing things in a shop class.
That prompted him to start thinking about how kids get into such a positon.
Raymus was looking for a way to prevent youth from ending up incarcerated. He figured if they could do better in school and felt better about themselves that it would produce results.
He would tell people about his own experience as an immigrant boy working on a farm while attending school in rural Manteca. He was struggling with school work and was getting discouraged to the point of wanting to quit until a teacher took time to work with him one-on-one after school. Raymus recalled not only did he start grasping concepts but it made him feel better about himself and gave him the impetus to try even harder.
For years he mulled various ideas in his head thinking a movie or someone writing a book might do the trick.
Then in collaboration with a longtime friend and former Manteca High teacher — the late Bob Camden —he came upon the idea of a free one-on-one community based tutoring program.
Not only did he bring various community leaders together to launch GECAC but Raymus bankrolled it with $300,000.
His investment paid off handsomely given GECAC is closing in on having made positive impacts on the lives of almost 50,000 youth.
The 2005-2016 student data results are the strongest by far in the nine years participating students’ grades have been surveyed. In the initial sampling conducted for the 2007-2008 school year, 77.7 percent of students involved in GECAC experienced academic improvement in any subject while 78.3 percent saw academic improvement in any primary subject.
In terms of specific subjects, 41.1 percent of GECAC students improved in math, 39.9 percent in reading, 43.2 percent in writing, 42.9 percent in science, 78.6 percent in history, and 39.8 percent in spelling.
Of those involved in one-on-one tutoring, 82.2 percent showed academic improvement in at least one subject, 100 percent of those in the Homework Assistance Program improved academically in at least one subject and 84.1 percent of those in the After School Advantage Program improved academically.
Student responses show 79.5 percent said their grades have improved, 77.2 percent said their self-esteem and confidence had improved, 80.4 percent said their attitude toward school work and homework had changed, 77.9 percent said they could work independently more often and 75.2 percent said their dally school attendance improved as the result of their GECAC experience.
Surveys of teachers and parents regarding GECAC participants’ performance and attitudes mirror the results of the student survey.