Adult Literacy Program wants more learners, tutors

So far, the Adult Literacy Program of San Benito County has 80
participants
– 40 tutors and 40 English learners – with 20 more learners on
the waiting list.
So far, the Adult Literacy Program of San Benito County has 80 participants – 40 tutors and 40 English learners – with 20 more learners on the waiting list. In two weeks the program will have 15 more tutors trained.

The goal is to double the number of volunteers and learners by summer.

“We hope to have 100 learners because in theory, we grow to expand the program,” said Barbara Scott, the Adult Literacy Program’s executive director.

“There are a variety of people in need of these services – people who either want to read to their children and help them with their schoolwork or people looking to move up and get a better job,” Scott said.

She said she’s looking specifically for people who want to learn or get their GED because the entire community benefits from the program.

“Literacy is a huge social impact,” Scott said. “The literacy rate in prison is 58 percent, which proves a connection between the literacy rate and crime. A community benefits when their neighbors have these skills.”

In just a short time, the program has proven to be a valuable tool for businesses such as the Charles River Lab Co., where employees wanted to articulate their thoughts to their employer but didn’t have the confidence to speak up.

“This company is the model for others,” Scott said. “The plant manager, Don Moody, knows literacy is a good business decision.”

The ALP presents the program free of charge to employers in hopes they take advantage of it.

“They don’t have to spend any money on it, but they’re making an investment in their employee to improve their skills,” Scott said.

But it isn’t easy keeping up with the demand if there’s no money to support the programs, which is why the ALP is preparing for the day when state funding will no longer be available.

The state provides communities with seed money to run the programs for three years, but it’s up to the community to keep it going, Scott said.

The program’s budget began with $64,000. It was cut 2.9 percent last year, but next year the state will cut 75 percent of the program’s budget, Scott said.

“To keep the program going we have to operate at this year’s level,” Scott said. “We need at least $62,000.”

ALP is gearing up for its first fundraiser, a 10-kilometer run Saturday, June 14 – Flag Day – at 9 a.m.

“A lot of people we help are going for citizenship papers, so we thought Flag Day would be an appropriate date to have the run,” Scott said.

For more information or to make a donation to the Adult Literacy Program, call 623-2061, the San Juan Bautista Library at 623-4687 or the San Benito County Free Library at 636-4107.

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