Richmond adults ‘LEAP’ toward success at graduation ceremony

Richmond surveys residents on planned renovation of Main Library
Photo of Main Library courtesy of Richmond Public Library.

By Kathy Chouteau

A group of Richmond adults will graduate from the Richmond Public Library’s Literacy for Every Adult Program (LEAP) tomorrow after fulfilling their academic goals to earn a GED or high school diploma. The graduation ceremony for 27 LEAP graduates will take place Thurs., Aug. 11 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. online on Zoom; watch it live by clicking here.

Literacy Program Manager Abigail Sims-Evelyn said that LEAP is available via the library free of charge and offers open enrollment, flexible hybrid online/in-person learning, guidance toward a participant’s specific goals and supportive staff and tools—like tablets and WiFi, as well as laptops that can be checked out of the library—to aid adults in their academic journeys.

“It’s free, and this program is designed to meet the needs of someone who is trying to improve their skills. So people come with different academic goals and our program is designed to provide individual needs and a very warm and supportive environment,” Sims-Evelyn added.

She said Thursday’s LEAP graduates are adults age 17-and-over who enrolled and “worked very diligently” to achieve their academic goals. For the program’s GED component, that involves studying in four academic areas and taking an exam to prove to the state that they’ve mastered the info in the areas of math, English/writing, history and science.

Other soon-to-be graduates who pursued high school diplomas did so via the library’s Career Online High School, which offers the “opportunity for adults to work on their high school diplomas at their convenience. It’s great for people who have to work or take care of their family,” said Sims-Evelyn.

One LEAP graduate this year is Richmond resident Maya Perkins, who will serve as the graduation ceremony’s keynote student speaker. Sims-Evelyn expects it to be a “heartfelt moment,” as Perkins will be the first person in her family to graduate from high school. Her mother, who struggles with physical ailments, will be watching online as Perkins celebrates her hard-earned achievement. 

Other LEAP graduates joining Perkins that day will be: Adriana Barriga; Jeny Euridice Rodriguez; Kelli Danielle Baskin; Alexis Abraham Rodriguez; Djuani Littleton; Kristian Alejandro Guzman; Erica Mejia; Kelly Fabiola Garcia Herrera; Jorge E Zaragoza Jr.; Mariela De Robles; Refugio Cabrera; Cynthia Cruz; Dustin Ray Motes; David Kyung Park; Taylor John Brandt; Jose Moises Valdez; Dora Francisca Lacayo; Mary Saefong; Natasha Nicole Adams; Mary Ann Castle; Adrian Gonzalez; Nathan Semakadde; Roberto Zaldivar; Marvin David Cabrera; and Alexander Lopez.

Roxanne Carrillo Garza, RCF Connects’ senior director of Healthy Contra Costa (formerly Healthy Richmond), will serve as the graduation ceremony’s keynote speaker. “She’s truly a champion in the community advocating for Richmond residents who need to access resources,” said Sims-Evelyn.

Sims-Evelyn, who grew up in Richmond and attended schools here, said she feel very fortunate to “serve the beautiful residents of Richmond because there are people who work very hard and they need opportunities like these to be able to realize their life goals.” She added, “Fortunately, the Richmond Public Library gets to be a part of a wonderful evolution of change.”

LEAP encourages adult Richmond residents who are interested in attaining their GED or high school diploma to contact them at 510-307-8084 to learn more about their free resources that cater to individual needs. The program also welcomes volunteers.