Sunday, May 29, 2016

Literacy – Spanning the US: Oakland MI :: Suffolk VA :: Chicago IL :: Baldwin, Whitehall Co PA :: Madison WI

Food fest and collector car show to benefit literacy group
Daily Tribune: 4.25.2016

Some 170,000 adults in Oakland County alone cannot read – which makes it harder to find gainful employment or build a legacy for generations to come.

Rectifying this epidemic has been a lifelong pursuit for Robert Gaylor, the 1984 founder of Oakland Literacy Council (OLC), the county’s only organization offering free, one-on-one literacy tutoring for adults age 18 and older.

The Oakland Literacy Council helps nearly 600 people every year learn to read. Every adult who comes to the program, whether an American native or foreign-born, is paired with a volunteer tutor. They meet weekly, focused on a goal of achieving literacy ease.

Illiteracy prevents people from getting a job because they can’t fill out an application. They can’t read signs. One student came to OLC because she couldn’t figure out which bathroom to use in a restaurant and had to wait outside the doors to see whether a man or woman emerged.

An estimated 60 percent of prisoners in U.S. jails read below a 6th grade level. It is nearly impossible to change one’s life path without the tools most Americans take for granted – a basic mastery of communication skills is a crucial key to success.  READ MORE @

Teach someone to read

Just about anyone who’s actually reading this newspaper would recognize the importance of the ability to read in modern society. But simply being able to keep up with current events through the newspaper is only a small part of what makes reading so important. From being able to follow a recipe to reading a map to understanding the instruction manual of one’s car, reading is a vital skill that makes life more livable.

It’s surprising, then, that one in six adults in Suffolk reads below a fifth-grade level. That statistic comes from Jessica Reitz, tutor coordinator for the Suffolk Literacy Council, an organization founded on a desire to stamp out illiteracy in the city.

The organization was honored recently, by extension, through an award given by the Pilot Club of Suffolk to Louise Ross, who has been tutoring reading students here for a couple of years since her retirement as a teacher and a nurseREAD MORE @

Erie House Program Bridges Language and Culture Divides
Erie House: April 25, 2016

Jubilar, the Spanish translation of retire, is derived from the Latin root jubilo. And seeing as jubilo denotes an “exclamation of joy”—think jubilation or jubilee
the Spanish translation seems more appropriate for the occasion. It is, after all, an opportunity to explore new places, try new things and meet new people.

So when Barbara Reed retired from a career working in the nonprofit sector, she was eager to take advantage of the new season of life she had entered. “One of the things I wanted to do was learn Spanish a bit more,” she says. Reed explains that she liked the idea of learning the language, and she knew it would open a new world for her both at home and abroad.

That journey began at Erie Neighborhood House after she received a referral during a trip to the dentist. “My dental hygienist speaks Spanish, and I told her I was trying to improve my Spanish skills,” she recalls. Familiar with Erie House, the hygienist encouraged her to explore volunteer opportunities there.

Reed first connected with Susana Ortiz, community literacy program coordinator at Erie House, and soon thereafter began tutoring and leading conversation groups in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood.

Ortiz’s program is funded by the Illinois Secretary of State’s Adult Volunteer Literacy Grant and taps into a strong volunteer network to provide individualized instruction and support to adult learners.  READ MORE @

Saving stories: Book project gives voice to refugees' history, culture
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 4.29.2016 by M. Thomas

Sometimes a project launched with one intent takes on a life of its own and becomes meaningful beyond expectation. That’s what happened with “Saving Stories,” which began as an aid teaching English as a Second Language in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District and now has the potential to become a national model.

The project collects stories, folk tales, songs and poems from refugees who have resettled into the district and prepares them for publication as bilingual books. Eight of the manuscripts are ready for print and four of those have been published. They premiered March 21 during an event that drew more than 100 to the Whitehall Public Library.

“It started as a way for my students to learn English easier and faster,” said Renee Christman of Whitehall, who teaches English as a Second Language at Paynter Elementary School. “It’s become a wonderful way to acknowledge the language and culture of our residents.”

Ms. Christman knew that people literate in their native language more easily learn a second one. Before resettling in the U.S., many refugees spend years in camps, which often lack educational opportunities, and she saw the book project serving the added purpose of renewing native literacy while familiarizing participants with English. READ MORE @

Literacy Network launches capital campaign - WISC-TV3: 5.03.2016 by David Dahmer

More than 55,000 adults who live and work in Dane County face major challenges with literacy. A high percentage live in poverty and those challenges with literacy hold them back from advancing in their jobs and in their lives and keeps them from increasing their contributions to their family and this community.

Literacy Network is a non-profit organization founded in 1974 in Madison. Staff, teachers, tutors, volunteers and donors work together to help adult learners improve their literacy in Dane County. They served more than 1,000 adults last year with the help of more than 800 volunteers who gave 30,000 hours of time. But Literacy Network Executive Director Jeff Burkhart knows they can do so much more.

On April 28 at their annual Reading Between the Wines fundraising event, he announced a new capital campaign that will bring Literacy Network into a newer, larger building and help them serve more people.

“Our campaign has raised about $1 million so far,” Burkhart tolds Madison365. “With this new push that started at Reading Between The Wines, we hope to raise another $2 million that will pay for the building’s renovation, technology installation and upgrades, and organizational capacity.  READ MORE @

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