Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County
How have you seen the need for LC change in the 20+ years since it was founded?
In a recent interview with the Literary Coalition of Palm Beach County, here is what Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator Jeanne Heavilin had to say about the past, present and future of the organization.
The primary focus of the Literacy Coalition in 1989, when it was founded, was on adult literacy. That is always our base as we know the best way to educate children is to ensure that their parents are fluent readers. However, to meet our goal that all adults and children in Palm Beach County read well, we have realized that many diverse programs are needed to reach everyone. Also, in the past twenty years, the need to teach English literacy, in addition to basic reading skills, has increased significantly.
How has the organization grown during that time with regard to programs and who you serve?
In addition to referring adult learners and volunteer tutors to local literacy programs, the Literacy Coalition also goes into businesses and community sites taking instructors who teach classes in reading and English to employees and clients. We are in 28 pediatric clinics giving books and early literacy guidance through pediatricians to more than 20,000 families each year. We train staff in after school programs how to teach reading, math, science and anti-bullying through the power of dynamic children’s literature. We work with 400 three year old children engaging them in books and early literacy strategies. Through the Parent Child Home Program, we work with more than 200 families in an intensive home visiting program giving books, toys and parental guidance. In Belle Glade and Delray Beach, we have family literacy programs that meet the educational needs of the entire family. In addition, forty Literacy AmeriCorps members serve in thirty sites all over the county teaching and tutoring adults, children and youth.
What is the Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee?
The Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee is an event that involves local businesses and civic organizations in competing as teams of three to raise awareness and funds for literacy. It will take place September 13 at The Harriet Himmel Theater at CityPlace. It promises to be a most fun time for those who spell and those in the audience who cheer for their favorite teams. For more information, call 561-279-9103 or visit www.literacypbc.org.
Are there any opportunities to partner with LC in the future?
The Literacy Coalition has more than 130 community partners. We invite anyone or any organization that has an interest in literacy to contact us to see how we can work together to extend literacy into new areas of our community. It is through our community partners that our work through the years has expanded to meet literacy needs.
Where do you see LC in the next five years?
The Literacy Coalition is near the end of a capital campaign to build a new Literacy Center for Education, Training and Outreach. We have secured property in north Boynton Beach. The new Center will, for the first time, give the Coalition a training room where adult tutors can be trained, where volunteers can tutor kids needing reading and homework help after school and where home visitors, Learning Partners and AmeriCorps members can be trained on a regular basis. The Literacy Center will give a permanent home for literacy in Palm Beach County and will be a hub for literacy programs and activities to meet the ever increasing needs of the community. We invite the public to help us make this Center a reality!
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