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

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Santa Fe NM :: Columbia SC :: Dallas TX

Literacy Volunteers

Our view: Step up for reading

In reading and literacy, as with so many things, Santa Fe is a tale of two cities.

It’s a town where a local newspaper still thrives and where independent bookstores prosper — words matter here. Yet, U.S. census figures indicate some 34 percent of the population is illiterate with 31 percent of the people having only a basic understanding of English. That’s 20,000 or so of our neighbors who need help reading, writing and speaking English. Many citizens of Santa Fe can’t, don’t and won’t read, missing the opportunities for joy, promotion at work and entertainment that reading can provide.

That’s why Literacy Volunteers of Santa Fe does what it does, provide free tutoring to adults who want to become better readers or who desire to learn English. Now in its third decade of providing such essential services, the nonprofit is sponsoring its annual Santa Fe Reads on Sunday.

A literate, educated population is key to improving the economy and building citizens who are informed about the issues of the day (surely, this election season has shown how necessary an educated populace is). That’s where Literacy Volunteers contributes.

Since 1985, more than 4,287 trained tutors have provided some 464,969 hours of instruction. That has assisted more than 12,629 adult students obtain essential skills. All told, this effort represents volunteer contributions close to $10 million.  READ MORE @

Free Program Teaches Adults How to Read and Write
WLTX: 10.26.2016 by Lana Harris

Some people may not be able to imagine living their entire lives without knowing how to read, write or do arithmetic, but that is the reality for many people in the midlands. Turning Pages, a nonprofit adult literacy organization, is trying to change that.

"Things that we take for granted, adults with learning challenges face all the time," said Chris Matthews, the director for Turning Pages.

Matthews says it is more than just not being able to read a book. The inability to read makes it difficult to navigate a grocery store, follow street names, or read labels on food and medicine.

"Those words are too difficult for them," Matthews says, "It's like they're living on an island of misunderstanding."

"It's hard," said 39-year-old James Pratt, "You have to be around somebody who knows how to read."

Pratt says he was passed through his high school classes without ever knowing how to read.

Matthews says a person is never too old to learn how to read or write. Their eldest student is 86-year-old Eartha Halmon.  VIDEO

Dallas needs to step up efforts to reduce illiteracy
Dallas News: 10.28.2016 Editorial

Education is the best way out of poverty. But if you can't speak English, the paths to a prosperous future are very limited.

In Dallas, demographics and the lack of basic English-language skills work against too many of our neighbors. Literacy Instruction for Texas projects that by 2030, about 1 million of Dallas County's projected 3.5 million residents will not be literate in English. ---That's nearly a third of the projected population. 

Even now in Dallas, more than 35 percent of adults in households that make less than $12,000 annually did not complete high school; half of them read below a basic level.

Experts project that much of the illiteracy rate, which is expected to grow faster than the population rate, is driven by immigration. Dallas must fully recognize this brewing crisis and find new ways to help people obtain the language skills that would make them — and the city — more prosperous.  We must strategically invest in expanding the quality of and access to language skills.

"It is going to take an intense intervention to turn this ship around," said Lisa Hembry, president of Literacy Instruction for Texas, which runs adult literacy programs in North Texas.

If you think this doesn't affect you, think again. A city with a growing number of people who lack basic English skills is a city in crisis. Illiteracy discourages business relocations, puts pressure on the tax base, contributes to the crime rate, escalates health care costs and keeps our fellow residents from reaching their full potential. An adult who is unable to read or write in English is likely to stay poor and mire the next generation in a hard-to-break cycle of poverty, too.

A 1 percent rise in literacy scores more than doubles labor productivity, experts say.  READ MORE @

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Oxford Word of the Year 2016 :: post-truth

Word of the Year 2016 is...

After much discussion, debate, and research, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 is post-truth – an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

Why was this chosen?
The concept of post-truth has been in existence for the past decade, but Oxford Dictionaries has seen a spike in frequency this year in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States. It has also become associated with a particular noun, in the phrase post-truth politics. 

Here are the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year shortlist choices:
glass cliff  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Newton Co GA :: Norwalk CT ::  Des Moines IA

Literacy is an important attribute for the entire community
Covington News: 10.16.2016 by Sandra Brands

Literacy is one of the primary skills needed to graduate high school, earn a college degree or land a decent job, yet, according to Newton County Reads, 90 percent of area employers report they cannot find qualified employees, and 56 percent say it’s due to a lack of basic education.

Surprisingly, almost 20 percent of, or one in five, adults in Georgia have not graduated from high school. Though the number of Georgia adults 18 and older without a high school diploma has dropped — from 1.2 million to 1 million statewide — Piedmont Healthcare in its Community Health Needs Assessment said Newton County has a 49 percent illiteracy rate. Of that, 25 percent could not read above a fourth-grade level.

And, though high school graduation rates in Newton County are slightly higher than the state average, according to Laura Betram, Executive Director of the Newton County --=Community Partnership (NCCP), each year 250 students drop out.

“When you add those numbers over years, if you lost 250 students a year, you’re adding a lot of people to an unqualified workforce,” she said.

Looking at people who are unable to read, also translates into poverty. Action Ministries, a non-profit organization that has a branch here in Newton County, cites literacy and adult education as a way out of poverty.

“Action Ministries hopes to pilot two initial locations for adult basic education and GED Preparation classes …  READ MORE @

Opinion: Dismantling of library’s Literacy Volunteers is illogical
NancyOnNorwalk: 10.20.2016  by Bonnie Dubson, Norwalk Public Library-Literacy Volunteers, ESOL Coordinator

An open letter to Mayor Harry Rilling:
Dear Mayor Rilling,

I am writing to bring to your attention the likely demise of one of the Norwalk Public Library’s most beloved and needed resources for its immigrant population: Literacy Volunteers. Despite its size and dedicated following of volunteers, Literacy Volunteers is facing a funding crisis, and is being paralyzed by inaction on the part of library leadership.

With a cadre of more than 80 volunteers, Literacy Volunteers currently provides free English as a Second Language (ESL), basic literacy, and citizenship classes to adult learners from over 30 nations across the globe who now call Norwalk home. 

I have been an ESL volunteer tutor with Literacy Volunteers at the Norwalk Public Library for over five years, and have also had the great honor of coordinating the program.

During my two-year tenure as a manger of Literacy Volunteers, we have more than doubled our student enrollment to roughly 500 adult learners from 250 in October of 2014, and have had a 50-percent increase in volunteers. We have expanded our offerings to keep pace with the needs of our student population.

As you know, the library board voted earlier this year not to continue funding Literacy Volunteers. In response to this crisis, I have been asked by the library board and leadership to dismantle classes that are ongoing, and are being by provided free-of-charge and without any cost to the library. This course of action is illogical, as demand for classes continues to rise.

That being said, I wanted to bring to your attention some basic facts about the program:

Susan Wallerstein  (1 of 10 comments)
October 20, 2016 at 9:18 pm
I serve as Chair of the Library Board’s Ad Hoc Committee on Literacy Volunteers. Contrary to the misinformation contained in this letter, the Library Board of Trustees has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to continuing the Literacy Volunteers program. To suggest otherwise is irresponsible. The Board’s ongoing efforts to ensure a financially stable, high quality program are evident in our public monthly meeting materials e.g., agendas, minutes, etc.  READ MORE @

Adult Literacy Center to celebrate 40 years of service
Drake University: 10.25.2016 – School of Education News Release

Drake University’s Adult Literacy Center will celebrate 40 years of service to the community this week with a celebration, during which they will announce a brand new literacy program.

Since its founding in 1976, the Adult Literacy Center has taught basic literacy skills to about 2,500 adults through the work of more than 2,100 volunteer mentors.

The center will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a reception at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, in Parents Hall on the upper floor of Drake’s Olmsted Center, 2875 University Ave.

The reception will double as the formal launch of a new Workplace Literacy program. The Adult Literacy Center will partner with local employers to provide on-site literacy training for employees who require additional English reading, writing, and speaking skills.

“We are honored to celebrate 40 years of service,” said Anne Murr, director of the Adult Literacy Center at Drake University. “Drake’s School of Education has been a wonderful partner for all these years, and we’ve been privileged to offer personalized instruction to so many students in central Iowa."

National data show about 1 in 6 people adults lack functional literacy in English. Demand for the Adult Literacy Center’s services continues to increase.

The center has served nearly 150 students this year, compared to 125 students last year, through its one-on-one volunteer mentor program. The new Workforce Literacy program has been tested with about 10 employees at a single employer; the program has additional capacity and is currently seeking additional employers with whom to collaborate.

“We are always seeking new ways to serve the community,” Murr said. “The need is there—and we welcome new ways to increase our outreach. We certainly don’t want to be Des Moines' best-kept secret."