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Romona's Kids: Esperanza

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Esperanza Esperanza
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

In some Cleveland high schools, only 40% of students graduate. It's a troubling statistic, but Romona Robinson recently visited an impressive program that's helping students get their diploma. It's run by Esperanza in Cleveland's Hispanic community.

The project runs an after-school tutoring program at Luis Munoz Marin School on the West Side.

The Hispanic graduation rate in Cleveland has been historically very low, so Esperanza starts working with children in grade six.

"Think the biggest thing we're proud of is that in 3 years, the graduation rate in Cleveland for Hispanics has gone up over 20 percent. And students who participate in our program, graduate over 90%," says Victor Ruiz, Esperanza Executive Director.

Volunteer totors help kids succeed in the classroom in reading and math with fun games like Math Hoops, that teach kids by using NBA player stats.

"Esperanza" means "hope" in Spanish, and that's exactly what this program gives to students.

"It helped me a lot. I'm learning more math that I need more help in," said Jasmine, an 8th grader.

The program actually becomes like a second family to the children. "There's also that social emotional piece, we have a lot of volunteer mentors who come in from CSU, Baldwin Wallace, to work on that group mentoring that is just as important as that academic piece," said Kristina Haddad, Esperanza Program Coordinator.

Esperanza's high school program teaches students to be leaders and give back to their community. Leoneo Acosta takes time out from his studies at Lincoln West High School to mentor middle-schoolers.

"It's important to let them know education is key to having a better future, at the same time give them some personal fun time," said Acosta.

The mentors are inspiring the younger students to continue the tradition of service. "When I'm in high school, I'm going to come back here to Esperanza and help kids, because I'm from Esperanza!" said student Brianna Clinton.

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