Sunday, December 4, 2016

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Delaware Co PA ::Dane Co WI :: Cleveland OH

Literacy council celebrates its ‘champions’ at fundraiser
DelCo Times: 11.013.2016

“When you don’t have literacy, you can sit in darkness, without access to the light of knowledge… without access to opportunity.”

Pennsylvania State Representative Margo Davidson shared this moving perspective via video message at Delaware County Literacy Council’s (DCLC’s) Oct. 26 Champions of Adult Literacy fundraising event. She emphasized the importance of education and literacy for her constituents, saying she is dedicated to helping them have “access to their best life.”

Davidson was honored as one of this year’s Champions of Adult Literacy for her work in support of her constituents in Pennsylvania’s 164th Legislative District, a district where over 70 different languages are spoken. Because the State House was in session in Harrisburg that evening, Davidson sent her remarks via a broadcasted video message, and her Chief of Staff, April Rice, accepted the award on her behalf.

The other Champions celebrated at the event also had an impact on the lives of local immigrants.  READ MORE @

Dane County program opens new center to address low adult literacy
One in seven Dane County adults struggle with low literacy
Badger Herald: 11.15.2016 by Maija Inveiss

A local nonprofit organization addressing adult literacy has moved into a new center which will give expanded options for providing services to adults in need.

The Literacy Network is a Madison nonprofit dedicated to addressing community and workplace literacy. According to its website, one in seven Dane County adults struggle with low literacy — around 55,000 people.

Jeff Burkhart, the executive director of the Literacy Network, said they serve more than 1,000 adult learners every year, mainly through working on improving their English language skills. He said 90 percent of those they work with are low-income people of color.

The Literacy Network provides a chance to reduce poverty and gives people a way to help fulfill their own personal goals, said Burkhart.

“We help the population we work with to get better jobs, to communicate with their kid’s schools, to help their kids with reading, to connect with the healthcare system to get better care — so really essential things people need for their lives,” Burkhart said.

Students include immigrants from 68 different countries, Burkhart said. Others were refugees who weren’t able to attend school.

Most people are working to improve English language skills to get better jobs and cultivate other skills that can help benefit their day-to-day lives, Burkhart said.  READ MORE @

2016 is a year of honor for GED graduate
WKYC: 11.17.2016

Seven years and six attempts;  that’s what it took for 57 year-old Margo Hudson of Cleveland to pass the exam to earn her GED.

Hudson, a Chicago native, dropped out of high school before the age of 16.  She joined Job Corps to escape a troubled home.

“I didn't have a good childhood,” says Hudson.  “There was a lot going on in the home … sexual abuse, mental, physical abuse and I was a victim of that.  I just didn’t feel good about my life.”

Job Corps took Hudson to different cities through the years landing her in Cleveland in 1978.

“I was so happy they found me a job,” says Hudson.  “I didn't think I needed a GED or high school diploma so I just went on about my life in various jobs.”

Her mindset changed in 2005 when she was working at Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

“I was cleaning planes,” says Hudson.  “You’re out there in the elements when it’s raining, snowing, really hot.  They was only paying $7.25."

Unfortunately for Hudson, minimal wage jobs was all she could get. Research shows an adult without a high school diploma earns 42% less than adults with a diploma.

"As I was getting older I said I didn’t want to do this for the rest of my life,” says Hudson.  "I need to get my life together."

At 45 years-old Hudson decided to commit herself to earning a GED.  She turned to local non-profit Seeds of Literacy for help.   WATCH VIDEO 📹

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Bangor ME :: Guilford Co NC :: Santa Clara CA

Literacy program working to help voters
WLBZ2: 11.05.2016 by Shawna Newcomb

According to the Department of Education, 36 million American adults cannot read or write above a third-grade level, which might make it difficult to mark up a ballot on Election Day.

The Literacy Volunteers of Bangor worked to change that Saturday by hosting a “Tool Kit for Tutors” event.

Mary Lyon, the nonprofit's executive director, says the ballot box is an intimidating place if you don't read well.

“I mean, I have difficulty reading parts of those tough referendum questions and understanding them,” she said.

But there's a solution, Lyon says.

“Some people think that their votes don't matter, but we know that every vote matters and this is the one way you can exercise your voice when you may not feel like you have one,” Lyon said.

With the help of more than 400 volunteer tutors, dozens of Maine adults are overcoming their literacy challenges and in time for the big election.

As a resource center, the Literacy Volunteers program offers the easy-to-read Voter Guide which breaks down difficult political jargon. But the tutors, Lyon says, are the real heroes here.

“They really hold some of the key pieces that can really help spark the learning for adults who come through their doors,” she said.  WATCH VIDEO 📹

Guilford County program helps improve adult literacy
MyFox8: 11.09.2016 by Katie Nordeen

Cecilya Sitatr has always loved reading. But she normally does it in Portuguese.

"I love reading, but when I read a book in English it takes me a lot more time than when I read in Portuguese, so it`s not that pleasant," she said.

She's originally from Brazil and recently moved to the United States after marrying her husband.

"I learned English in Brazil, or so I thought," she said. "And when I started living here I realized that my accent was a huge problem. Americans couldn`t understand me."

A couple times a week, she works in a small group with a tudor [sic] through Reading Connections -- North Carolina's largest adult literacy program. It helps adults learn to read, write and speak better.  WATCH VIDEO 📹

Two Santa Clara City Library Associates Win Awards and Receive Grants for Read Santa Clara
Santa Clara Weekly: 11.09-15.2016  by Cynthia Cheng

One award ceremony took place during a pre-game at the Levi’s Stadium and the other occurred over 2,000 miles away from Santa Clara in Detroit, Michigan. Both awards ceremonies recognized outstanding women associated with the Santa Clara City Library and more specifically, Read Santa Clara, the library’s free adult literacy program.

Betsy Megas, former library trustee board member and current literacy volunteer for Read Santa Clara, was a finalist for the 49ers Community Quarterback Award. Nominated by the Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends, Megas was a guest at a Sept. 21 luncheon, also attended by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Bono. Here, Megas received a large trophy depicting a football player and the library foundation received $1,000, to be used to support Read Santa Clara. During an Oct. 2 pre-game at Levi’s Stadium, Megas and the other award winners were publicly recognized at the 50-yard line.

Also involved in Read Santa Clara is Ellin Klor, who has served as the family literacy librarian at the Santa Clara City Library for the last nine years. On Oct. 18, at the National Center for Families Learning Conference in Detroit, Michigan, Klor was recognized as the 2016 Toyota Family Literacy Teacher of the Year runner-up. She received a plaque and a $5,000 grant for Read Santa Clara. Klor was nominated by Shanti Bhaskaran, the library’s literary program supervisor.  READ MORE @

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Birmingham AL :: Lansing MI :: Kenosha WI

A Conversation with “Mr. Fred,” 86-Year-Old Learning to Read
WBHM: 11.01.2016 by Dan Carsen

Fred Oliver of Birmingham is 86 and a world traveler. He served in the Korean War, spent time in Japan, and has held more jobs than he can count. He loves to visit far-off places, but as we reported yesterday, his latest odyssey is close to home, at the Literacy Council of Central Alabama: he’s learning to read and write. Mr. Fred says he’s enjoyed the whole long adventure of his life, but the conversation starts on a sad note – losing a companion who’d helped him when life demanded reading and writing.

“All my kids are real educated — I’m the only guy that’s behind the times.”

“No. No! I’m not embarrassed. I’m a man. I ain’t no wimp out here … I’m trying to pull myself up … If you’re dumb and you want to stay dumb, ain’t nothing I can tell ya. There’s help out here. You’re not living in the 1800s. So get out and help yourself. If you don’t help yourself, you’re lost.”  LISTEN🔊

Neighbors in Action: Capital Area Literacy Coalition
WKAR: 11.02.2016 by Katie Cook

For Neighbors in Action, we talk with John Leask of the Capital Area Literacy Coalition, also known as The Reading People.  LISTEN🔊

Literacy Council addresses diversity through education
Kenosha News: 11.01.2016 by Ron Stevens, Guest Columnist 

As we enter the final days of America’s presidential election campaign, it would be easy to give up. So much negativity; so much pessimism about who we are and where we are going.

Sometimes I, like so many other Americans, feel like I need to take a shower after getting my nightly fix of presidential politics. How are we ever going to bring America back together?

When I begin to feel overwhelmed by cynicism and all of the problems that we as a country face, I need only look to the Kenosha Literacy Council to regenerate my sense of optimism. This organization, which helps immigrants assimilate into our country and city, is based on the premise that people are inherently good. For more than 50 years, the Kenosha Literacy Council has been helping people from more than 40 countries throughout the world speak English, gain American citizenship and find their place in Kenosha’s job market and community.

The Kenosha Literacy Council’s role has never been more vital. Many of the serious problems our country faces are the result of a lack of understanding of different cultures. Terrorism, bigotry and racism are byproducts of those differences that people fear. The Kenosha Literacy Council addresses those differences through education. It is helping to nurture America forward to a better place for our children and grandchildren by helping us to get to know each other.  READ MORE @

Friday, November 25, 2016

Health literacy Can Be a Matter of Life or Death

Health literacy can be a matter of life or death
The Conversation: 11.18.2016 by Keegan Shepard

The basic ability to read is essential in looking after one’s health, especially when managing a chronic illness that requires various treatments and medications. It is estimated that patients with low health literacy cost anywhere from US $106 billion to $238 billion each year in the US alone, which equates to roughly 10% of the healthcare budget. In the UK, it’s estimated that the financial cost of low health literacy is 3% to 5% of the yearly NHS budget.

Health literacy is defined as the degree to which a person has the capacity to obtain, process and comprehend health information in order to make decisions about their own health. Around 75% of health information is written at a high school to undergraduate reading level.

This presents serious problems – take the US for example, where the average reading ability of adults is between grade 8 and 9, with around a quarter of adults reading at a grade 5 level and below. In England, the current research shows that approximately 43% to 61% of English working age adults regularly experience problems understanding health information.

As a result, most healthcare information is written at a level more advanced than the reader’s ability. Imagine the anxiety caused by not understanding what your doctor has said, or by being puzzled by your prescription, all with the knowledge that your health is at stake. Or if you’re a parent and making the health decisions for your child, that you could end up making a mistake that puts them at risk. READ MORE @

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Gloucester Co NJ ::Pleasantville NJ :: Birmingham AL

New Jersey 10.27.2016 by Community Bulletin

Maricela Mojica immigrated to the United States from Mexico 16 years ago with dreams of finding greater opportunities here and a better life.

She became a U.S. citizen this summer in hopes of securing a brighter future for her family. She is eager to vote in her first U.S. election on Nov. 8.

"I feel part of this great country," Maricela said. "I am excited to vote in our next elections."

Maricela is one of more than 5,100 adults receiving services through Literacy New Jersey, which provides adult literacy programs and U.S. citizenship classes with the help of volunteer tutors. In the last year, more than 150 Literacy New Jersey students became citizens.

"For so many of our students, improving their literacy skills is just the beginning. It opens doors for them," said Literacy New Jersey CEO Elizabeth Gloeggler. "They are able to navigate their daily lives more easily. They may get greater opportunities at work or a promotion. They may feel more comfortable at doctors' appointments and in speaking with their children's teachers. Some, like Maricela, become U.S. citizens and vote."

A Hammonton resident and mother of two, Maricela, 42, has attended English conversation groups at Literacy New Jersey in Gloucester County for the last year, meeting for five hours a week with instructors and other students to work on her pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar.  READ MORE @

Literacy Volunteers work to improve lives beyond words
Shore News Today: 10.28.2016

Literacy Volunteers Association Cape-Atlantic Inc. provides volunteer-based literacy education for adults aimed at helping them become more successful employees, parents, consumers and citizens.

It strives to create a culture where 100 percent literacy is the norm.

Group classes are held at the LVA office in Pleasantville and at libraries, schools, churches and municipal buildings.

Tutor training is held four times per year at different locations and times to accommodate as many volunteers as possible. On average 40 tutors are trained and 250 students are served each year, according to the organization.

In the fiscal year ending June 30, students received 7,726 hours of free education valued at $348,000. Twenty seven students got jobs this year, and 122 students kept their jobs (all data is tracked in the LACES Department of Labor database).  READ MORE @

Fighting Adult Illiteracy, One Reader at a Time
WBHM: 11.01.2016 by Dan Carsen

Imagine not being able to read an email from your family. Or a job application. Or medication labels. How about a simple road sign? Adult illiteracy is a complex, stubborn problem. Based on conservative estimates, in the five-county area around Birmingham alone, there are more than 90,000 adults who have trouble reading and writing. And there are almost as many reasons as there are people.

“When I was little, my family didn’t have time for me,” says Janie Morgan, 61, of Bessemer. “So I had to try to learn as much as I could on my own. And then when I went to school there were so many kids there that they really couldn’t just help just one person.”

Essie Johnson, 59, of Birmingham adds, “My mom … she was a good mom. [But] my dad and her broke up, and she became an alcoholic. I had to take care of her and my brothers. I didn’t go to school a lot because I had to help them. I missed out.”

Fred Oliver, 86, also of Birmingham, thinks back to the late 1930s: “I was doing good in school, but when the old man died, I had to get out and work.”

Oliver, who goes by “Mr. Fred,” started working all kinds of jobs in Birmingham when he was a child. He never really learned to read, and that lasted most of his life. When the decorated Korean War veteran’s wife died two years ago, he lost someone who’d helped him with any reading and writing that came up. Now he jokes that he’s tired of relying on his children.

“My kids take care of all my business, all my stuff, but I’m getting ready to kick ‘em all out!”

But as we talk, he gets more serious.

“I’m still learning,” he says. “You’re never too old to learn. And you’re never too old to learn how to read better. And do better in your life.”

Mr. Fred and about 150 other learners are doing that through The Literacy Council of Central Alabama. The 25-year-old Birmingham-based nonprofit is a United Way agency funded by donations from foundations, corporations and individuals. As volunteers work one-on-one with learners, In-House Programs Director Adrienne Marshall describes her motivations.  LISTEN @

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Volunteers Provide America $184 Billion Dollars in Value

How do you provide America $184 billion dollars in value?
Volunteering and Civic Life in America

National, State, City, and Demographic Information

This site is home to the most comprehensive look at volunteering and civic life in the 50 states and 51 cities across the country. Data includes volunteer rates and rankings, civic engagement trends, and analysis.

Overall, the volunteer rate remained steady as 62.6 million Americans volunteered 7.8 billion hours last year. Based on the Independent Sector's estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour ($23.56 in 2015), the estimated value of this volunteer service is nearly $184 billion.  READ MORE @

Top 10 States
1    Utah
2    Minnesota
3    Wisconsin
4    South Dakota
5    Idaho
6    Nebraska
7    Kansas
8    Vermont
9    Alaska
10  Iowa