TIGER (Training Individuals for Grassroots Education Reform)
December Program Spotlight
The 2018 TIGER Graduates. Photo by Aaron Bicart.
The Power of TIGER
It is a sunny Saturday in Los Angeles, and some two hundred and fifty parents are waiting patiently for their names to be called. Soon they will be getting up on stage at Loyola Marymount University to receive their certificate for completing Learning Rights' TIGER Program.

For some of the parents, this will be their first time on stage for a graduation ceremony. For all of the parents, this will be a chance to celebrate. Most have struggled for years to advocate for their children with disabilities. An aide, school-based mental health services, speech or behavioral therapy can drastically influence a child's success in school and in life. After all, children who receive a meaningful education have a higher chance of achieving economic self-sufficiency later in life. Children with high school degrees earn 30% more than those who drop out of high school, and adults with a college degree will earn three times as much. Parents know this, and dedicate hours of their time each month to learning about their children's rights, and about the skills they can use to ensure their rights are protected.

Among the volunteers at this year's graduation is Mayra Jimenez. Mayra has been to the graduation ceremony many times, but her first was as a graduating student of the Watts Beginner class in 2014. Her son Bryan had been discriminated against based on his ADHD and central auditory processing disorder, and his school district had denied him proper services for over ten years. With the skills she learned in the TIGER Program, Mayra was able to enforce Bryan's rights and secure him the education he deserves. After that, "Bryan started blooming. He is enjoying learning."
Mayra Jimenez, with her Beginning TIGER class graduates in 2014. She is in the middle of the back row, in black.
Learning Rights Law Center created the TIGER Program in 2005 to help students like Bryan. The only program of its kind on the West Coast, the TIGER Program uses intensive, year-long training and mentorship to help low-income parents become better education advocates on behalf of their children. In addition to TIGER, Learning Rights sponsors Community Groups for parents who are looking for resources and support.

Parents who have learned how to advocate can share this knowledge with other parents at monthly TIGER Community Group meetings. Through Community Groups, parents end up playing an integral role in their communities – supporting one another, sharing resources, and mentoring leaders. Four current TIGER Community Group leaders head the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) in their own school district. CACs maintain an ongoing interaction between educators and parents and advocate for effective special education programs. Their efforts and impact are starting to be recognized. The National Legal Aid & Defender Association and National Legal Service Program bestowed the TIGER Community Group Parent Leaders with its 2015 “Client Contribution Award” for their extraordinary efforts in advancing justice and civil rights of children in their communities.

After seeing the benefit that TIGER provided to herself and Bryan, Mayra was determined to share what she learned with other parents. She helped start a TIGER class at the Tichenor Clinic for Children in Long Beach. Additionally, she started up her own Community Group in Long Beach. Mayra dedicates hours of her time each month to ensure that parents are as skilled an advocate as she is.

Her work is well noted within the community. This fall, the Carl and Roberta Deutsch Foundation awarded Mayra with their HALO Award! The award recognizes volunteers who are doing exemplary work in their community, and we are proud to say that Mayra is doing just that.

We are excited to see how the parents who graduated this year will use their knowledge to support their communities. To support our TIGER Program and help parents like Mayra discover their voice, donate here .
Mayra Jimenez providing a parent's perspective on the special education system at Learning Rights' 2018 Jeffersonian Dinner. Photo by Aaron Bicart.
Thank you to Loyola Marymount University for hosting our TIGER Graduation ceremony!
Learning Rights Law Center seeks to achieve education equity for low-income and disadvantaged students in the public education system in Southern California. We change the lives of at-risk students who have disabilities, face discrimination or are involved in the foster care or juvenile justice systems by providing free legal services, education advocacy, and community training.