Sunday, August 21, 2016

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Fort Worth TX :: North SC :: Upshur Co WV :: Fon du Lac WI :: Ozaukee Co WI

Literacy Connexus worker honored as volunteer of the year
Baptist Standard: 7.26.2016 by Ken Camp

Pam Moore never expected statewide recognition for her work as a literacy ministry volunteer. Until a few years ago, she never gave literacy much thought.

Moore, a member of First Baptist Church in Copperas Cove, has volunteered more than five years with Literacy Connexus, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Texas Baptists’ Christian Life Commission. Literacy Connexus offers training and resources for English-as-a-Second-Language and literacy ministries. Moore—who edits Literacy Connexus newsletters, writes content for its website, submits grant applications on its behalf and provides technical support for its conferences—will receive the Volunteer of the Year Award from Literacy Texas at the statewide organization’s annual conference, Aug. 2 in San Marcos.

“Pam has endeared herself to volunteers by sharing timely information and encouraging stories to undergird our mission of helping churches help persons with literacy needs,” said Lester Meriwether, executive director of Literacy Connexus. “She is an invaluable team member and is very deserving of the recognition of Literacy Texas’ award.”  READ MORE @

'We give them wings':
The Challenge Center prepares residents for better jobs, quality of life
T&D: 7.29.2016 by Tad Mitchum

The Challenge Center for adult literacy, also known as the North Family Community School, has a long history of helping area adults improve the quality of their lives and job opportunities through education.

Founded in 1993 by Sandy Sigmon in honor of her father, the center has been in several different locations over the years. Its new headquarters is at 4589 Savannah Highway in North.

Currently, The Challenge Center and its staff are preparing for the 2016-2017 academic year. Visitors are greeted by decorative butterflies on the walls throughout the building that have special significance.

“We believe that, as teachers, we have two choices concerning our students. We can push them down with dogma or we can give them wings so they can soar to success,” Sigmon said, alluding to the symbolism of the butterflies. “We want them to soar.”

Sigmon said most of the services offered at the center are free, but added, "We do have some costs that must be covered."  READ MORE @

Upshur County resources address illiteracy
WDTV: 7.28.2016 by Renata Di Gregorio

Sometimes the first step to accomplishing something is asking for help and knowing you're not alone. The Upshur County Literacy Volunteers director says one in five adults in the county can't read above a fourth grade level. As the director searches for more tutors, 5 News dove into the situation to see how bad it is and what's being done about it.

Director Erin Richardson says the problem in the county is great and people are also great at avoiding it. She's seen her students get around illiteracy by talking into smartphones and having the phone write in text.

"The problem with that is that they can't fill out a job application," she said. "Because they can't read 'what is your name?'"

Applying for and being qualified for jobs is the end objective for the county's Adult Learning Center. But the first step in getting there is being able to read and write. The adult education resources in the county work separately, but also refer students to each other. However, one instructor says the hardest part for people is walking through the door.

"They realize that we're going to be able to offer them something to overcome that obstacle," said Tammy Shreve, Adult Education Instructor at the Adult Learning Center. "They begin to relax and they begin to understand that this is something that they can do."

Both Shreve and Richardson have personal stories to back up that it's doable and that it doesn't matter what got someone into the situation where they can't read or write. Richardson says they tutor people from sixteen years old to in their eighties. Recently one woman who started under a fourth grade reading level tested three grade levels higher by the end of the year.  VIDEO

Language skills: Fond du Lac Literacy Services honors long-term tutor, sets annual fundraisers
Fon du Lac Reporter: 7.31.2016 by Taima Kern

The average length of time that a volunteer tutors with the literacy program is 1.92 years. Marguerite Soffa is an outlier on that graph and was recently honored by Fond du Lac Literacy Services for her tenure of more than 30 years as a volunteer tutor with the organization.

Soffa, 91, tutored several people in her three decades, but she predominantly worked with a single tutee, Mary. Together the pair read books, worked on vocabulary, spelling, grammar and composition and completed workbooks provided by Fond du Lac Literacy Services.

“I found it rewarding,” Soffa said of the experience. Their favorite educational method was the reading of novels and books, and as such, Soffa was always on the lookout for good option to introduce Mary to.

“I remember one time we chose ‘To Kill A Mockingbird,’” said Soffa. “I selected it because Scout (the main character) was telling the story, and Scout is a child, so the language wouldn’t be too difficult. But, of course, I was wrong,” Soffa said, laughing. “But it was a good experience for her, I think.”

Soffa worked with other tutees during her time with the organization, including one which she remembers was nearly impossible to teach.

“I asked the organizers if they could find me someone else, because I (was) not able to get through to her. Years later we passed on Merrill Avenue and she stopped me and said ‘Do you know why you couldn’t teach me? I was dyslexic.’”  READ MORE @

Nonprofit literacy program educates Ozaukee inmates on job readiness
Journal Sentinel: 7.31.2016 by Patrick Thomas

The classroom Patty Puccinelli teaches in is much different from the one she envisioned when she was earning her PhD in English from St. Louis University, where she also taught for 11 years.

Puccinelli no longer teaches college students. She took a break from teaching to become a full-time parent, moved to Milwaukee, and when her kids got older started looking for part-time work. She started teaching night classes at Milwaukee Area Technical College, and in 2013 heard about the Ozaukee County Jail Literacy Program.

"At first, I was a little hesitant. It was unnerving to have the doors slam with such force, but I really enjoy interacting with the students," said Puccinelli, who teaches a variety of classes to the inmates in the program.

"Many of the students did not experience much of any success in school, but in our program, because we can teach them individually based on their specific needs, they succeed."

Located in the jail itself, the small nonprofit literacy program aims to help inmates learn skills to get a job, improve their literacy and achieve their GED or HSED. It is the only private agency in Wisconsin that provides education at the jail level.

Since 1992, 297 students have graduated from the program with either a GED or HSED. More than 900 students have taken classes.  READ MORE @

Thursday, August 18, 2016

White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans :: NBC News

Get LIT(erature): Supporting a Lifelong Love of Reading
NBC News: 8.13.2016 by David Johns  and Andrene Jones-Castro

Growing up as a little Black boy in Inglewood, California, books provided me with opportunities to escape the jungle I called home.

I encountered new places and characters in the pages of my favorite novels, which were quite different from my childhood neighborhood. Literacy helped me find words to express my feelings, birth new ideas, and make sense of the loneliness and isolation that comes with being the only black boy in a classroom.

I saw myself in characters like Richard Wright's "Bigger Thomas" or in the young James Baldwin struggling to find self in the pages of "The Fire Next Time." I became acquainted with places I longed to explore. Developing a love of reading was much more than learning ABCs and sounding out words. Reading affirmed certain aspects my identity and equipped me with tools for success.

My journey is not unique. Many African Americans share their love of reading in their lives—both personally and professionally. For African American families, creating and supporting children's lifelong love of reading has lasting impacts.

To maximize literacy development and in support of multiple forms of literacy for Black children in the 21st century, The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans supports The U.S. Department of Education's efforts to encourage everyone to #ReadWhereYouAre.  READ MORE @

David J. Johns is the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Andrene Jones-Castro is a graduate intern at the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans and is a doctoral student studying education policy at the University of Texas at Austin.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

National Value of Volunteer Time 2015 :: $23.56 per hour

National Value of Volunteer Time: 2015

Estimated Value of Volunteer Time for 2015: $23.56 per hour

The estimate helps acknowledge the millions of individuals who dedicate their time, talents, and energy to making a difference. Charitable organizations can use this estimate to quantify the enormous value volunteers provide.

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 62.8 million Americans, or 25.3 percent of the adult population, gave 7.9 billion hours of volunteer service worth $184 billion in 2014.2 For the latest information, please see

For more information on the economic impact of nonprofits by state, please visit our state profiles portal.

Value of Volunteer Time by State 2001-2015.pdf

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Springfield MO :: Guilford Co NC :: Ridgewood NJ :: Fayetteville NC :: Calaveras Co CA

Literacy non-profit needs volunteers to help meet growing demand for services
KY3: 7.05.2016 by Shayla Patrick

The latest study by the U.S. Department of Education finds roughly 32 million adults in the United States can't read, that's just under 14 percent of the population.

"Every basic function in life requires the ability to read. To drive a vehicle you need a drivers license, to fill out a resume, to take a prescription," said Eva Patterson, Executive Director for the Ozarks Literacy Council.

"We often take reading for granted, but an individual who can't read doesn't have access to basic things in life," she explained.

The Ozarks Literacy Council was created to help get people in this demographic back on track. They pair clients with tutors who work with them to increase reading levels.

"I have to say that I admire the people that come here and have the courage to admit they can't read. It's a difficult thing to admit that," said Holloway.

Vickie Holloway is a volunteer tutor with Ozarks Literacy Council who says she's amazed by what the learners achieve.

"Probably the most rewarding thing is when you see someone struggle with something that's very difficult for them and that moment when the light bulb comes on and they realize, I can read this word," Holloway explained.  VIDEO

If You Can Read, Volunteer! Literacy Tutors Needed
WFMYNews: 7.06.2016 by Lauren Melvin

If you can read, you can volunteer! You can help your community when it comes to literacy.

Reading Connections, the largest community-based adult literacy agency in NC, needs literacy tutors!
=The agency provides free literacy services to adults in Guilford County who wish to improve their basic reading skills through trained volunteers working as one-to-one tutors and small group instructors.

Around 1 in 5 adults in Guilford County – about 75,000 individuals – lack the basic skills to fill out a job application or read a children’s book. Another 25 percent cannot read at a high school level. Adults with low literacy are more likely to be unemployed and to live in poverty.

Reading Connections provides programs focused on basic reading and writing, math, GED preparation, essential employment readiness skills, basic computer use, family literacy, and English skills for speakers of other languages.  VIDEO

Ridgewood Library ESL tutors earn Adult Literacy awards
North Jersey: 7.15.2016 by Alexandra Hoey

Ridgewood residents Linda Keesing and Kathy Garden were among the eight English as a Second Language (ESL) tutors honored at the 28th annual Adult Literacy Awards Ceremony on June 16, hosted at Bergen Community College.

In the ESL program, volunteers serve as tutors to teach new citizens or visitors from other countries basic English speaking skills. Although Garden has been an ESL tutor for 30 years and Keesing, three years, both women exuded the same passion and dedication to teach and learn from their students.

Keesing knew three years ago, after retiring from her 22-year-long career in education, that she wanted to tutor. Friends who participated in the program spoke highly about their experiences, but especially as a former educator, who at one point also taught high school level Spanish and French, Keesing wanted to continue teaching in any capacity.

Tutors do not need to have a background in teaching nor do they need to be bilingual, but for Keesing it certainly helped.

Since then, she’s worked with at least 15 students.

A majority of Keesing’s students range in the intermediate level, so her classes, which are usually composed of five students, are spent increasing vocabulary words, teaching idioms and getting her students comfortable with speaking conversationally.  READ MORE @

Meet Susan Keels:
This literacy instructor builds more than sentences
Fay Observer: 7.16.2016 by Alicia Banks Staff writer

There's something Charles Roberts, 65, forgot to master in his youth.

It wasn't a sport or playing an instrument.

For the Fayetteville native, it was reading.

He dropped out of school when he was 16 before working at and retiring from Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

"I was able to get around it because they needed someone with a strong back," Roberts said through a sheepish laugh. "But it has been a struggle, and it was hard. You're going to come across something where you're going to have to read and know what you're signing. I had to trust people I was dealing with."

In 1994, Roberts started attending night classes to improve his literacy.

He read at a second-grade level.

Working made sticking to the routine difficult. That changed in 2013 when he met Susan Keels. She's an adult literacy volunteer and an English as a Second Language tutor at the Fayetteville Urban Ministry. She also oversees the center's front desk once a week, answering calls and questions.

Roberts credits her with knowing the definition of two words he always heard: travesty and analytics.

"She's a real nice person, and she cares," Roberts said. "I had to learn to read as an adult so it's harder, but I've come a long way with her."  READ MORE @

Retired prison warden revives adult literacy program
Calaveras Enterprise: 7.25.2016 by Isabella Cook

Phil Gutierrez, 59, a retired prison warden, is going back to his early professional roots as the man hired to revive Calaveras County’s adult literacy program.

Gutierrez began working as the literacy coordinator in May, replacing former coordinator Pat Ross, who left in February. He said that the months without a coordinator brought much of the program to a standstill.

“I think the people probably stopped going because they thought it was gone,” said Gutierrez.

Gutierrez previously worked as a Spanish literacy instructor for the Federal Correction Institute in Arizona. His first literacy group was comprised of Cuban inmates who had been thrown out of their country by Fidel Castro. Gutierrez went on to become education supervisor at the Federal Corrections Institute in Dublin for eight years. There he worked exclusively with women.

“To this day, when people ask me what my hardest job was, I’ll say working with the women,” he said.

Gutierrez was promoted out of education and worked as a warden for the Federal Correctional Complex in Victorville for several years.

At 57, Gutierrez retired and moved to Valley Springs to be closer to his children and grandchildren. He saw an advertisement for the position of literacy coordinator.

“I hadn’t worked with education in 30 years,” he said. “I jumped right back in.”

Based on a 2003 survey, the National Center for Educational Services estimated that 9 percent of Calaveras County adults could not read or write.  READ MORE @

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Indianapolis IN :: Lake Co CA :: Siskiyou Co CA :: Putnam Co IN :: Salt Lake City UT

Indy Reads can help people achieve their dreams
IndyStar: 6.26.2016 by Tom Miller Director of Programs, Indy Reads

The June 19 article by Dana Benbow about Alvin Clark, the pastry chef at Banker's Life Fieldhouse was truly inspiring. He has a fantastic story showing that people who struggle with reading and writing throughout their lives can overcome those obstacles to find their talents and live their dreams.

His story also serves as a reminder about all those who don’t ever get the opportunity to improve their lives, and live their dreams, because the inability to read makes them feel like they are stuck in a hole that they can never escape. Clark had his wife and daughters to help him learn to read. But without those connections, where else can an adult go?

That is where Indy Reads comes in. We are an adult literacy program that works with individuals to become better readers and writers so that they, too, can possibly fulfill a dream or a career goal. Clark’s story is all-too-familiar — living in an abusive household, in a home where education is a luxury and not a life-necessity. Clark found, and worked, his way out. Too many others struggle to find a way to escape. We offer that helping hand.  READ MORE @

Library program helps reading, writing skills
Record Bee: 6.15.2016 by Jason Morash

At the main study area in the Lakeport Library, new volunteer tutors for the Lake County Library Adult Literacy Program were given copies of a simple, one-paragraph transcription of a student’s interest in quilting.

“One time me and sis made the log cabin pattern quilt and it won first prize at the fair back in Missouri,” the six-sentence story concluded. “We was proud of them ribbons.”

With its grammatical errors and basic vocabulary usage, most would suspect the writing of a pioneer, or perhaps of an elementary school student beginning to describe and navigate life’s reality. Hardly the rhetoric of an adult.

But just as words have various meanings determined by the context, program coordinator Ginny DeVries and staff sees the aptly-named “experience story” differently. To those intent on helping build language skills, it is a bridge to connect some Lake County’s struggling residents to the critical skills of reading and writing.

The story and other learning methods are part of the program’s philosophy of student-centered teaching where the curriculum is customized to fit the needs of the pupil.

There are no textbooks. In fact, learning materials can be found throughout Lake County Library’s collection of books or magazines.  READ MORE @

Wanted:Volunteers to teach a powerful skill
The Yreka branch of the Siskiyou County Library offers a program through California Library Literacy Services that is a vital resource for adults looking to learn.
Siskiyou Daily: 6.03.2016 by Danielle Jester

The Yreka branch of the Siskiyou County Library offers a program through California Library Literacy Services that is a vital resource for adults looking to learn. The learning service can assist people in a variety of educational areas, including learning to speak English, learning to read or becoming more proficient in reading and writing. The service is free and available to anyone age 17 and up who needs it.

Sherrill Moore, Siskiyou County coordinator for the program, explains that the library learning service depends upon volunteers who work one on one with students. The program, Moore said, caters to the individual needs of each student, noting, “It’s not our program, it’s theirs.” Moore said the learning service volunteer teachers understand that students “have lives, jobs and kids,” and emphasized that volunteers work around the students’ existing schedules.

The learning service tutelage begins with assessing the student’s learning needs. Moore explained that it is up to the student to decide what he or she wants to learn. Moore schedules a time to meet with the student and a tutor that she chooses based on compatibility with the student and his or her needs. Moore spends time with the student and tutor until the two become comfortable working one on one. From there, the student and tutor decide on their own meeting schedule.

Moore stressed that the learning environment is free of judgement, and that the students are not graded on their work. The students do receive a Roles and Goals sheet that helps track their progress. Moore stated that a key tenet of the program is setting goals, as it helps students to achieve continuously, keeping them engaged and motivatedREAD MORE @


For some, learning money management is complicated and foreign
Deseret News: 7.04.2016 by Jasen Lee

Becoming skilled at money management can be challenging for anyone. But it's more challenging for those who start from a position of unfamiliarity with the culture, customs and monetary policies of a new country.

Percy Mejia, 53, emigrated from Peru to California 18 years ago and moved to Utah about three months ago. He said despite living in the U.S. for nearly two decades, he still has much to learn about managing personal finances in America.

“I want to learn where to put my money so that it will work for me in the best way in the future,” he said. Among the things he is focused on his how to pay for health insurance and saving for retirement, he said.

“The cost of insurance is getting more and more expensive, and if you don’t save enough to pay for it, it can be a problem,” he said.

Mejia attended a class on financial literacy at the Hunter Library in West Valley City last month. Salt Lake County Library Services offers a free financial literacy program called the Family Prosperity Initiative.

The program is designed to help all community members to better understand finances and financial transactions — with a special emphasis on refugees and newcomers, said Liesl Seborg, senior librarian for Adult Outreach and Programming.  READ MORE @