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Learn English and Reading Now

Mission: The mission of Learn English and Reading Now is to increase opportunities for adults in the community through literacy.

Community Need: According to the 2016 U.S. Census Quick Facts, 9.2% of this area’s residents live in poverty, and figures from a 2015 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) show that nationally 43% of those with low literacy levels live in poverty.  A main link between low literacy and poverty likely results from unemployability or underemployability.  Also, according to the NBER, 72% of the school aged children coming from homes with low literacy rates also struggle with literacy in schools.  In addition, costs to society of low literacy include an annual loss of $225 billion in potential tax revenue and a loss of $232 billion in medical costs.  Illiteracy hurts those who are illiterate and everyone in the community.

Constituents Served: Anyone living in Staunton, Waynesboro, or Augusta County may request their free services.  After literacy evaluation, they will still provide services but may also refer them to other sources, such as the Adult Literacy Center.  Except in very rare cases, those they serve perform at or below the 3rd grade reading level.  In 2017 they served 75 people with the following age ranges: 18-24 (8); 25-44 (55); 45-54 (10); and 55-69 (2).

Primary Activities: Learn English and Reading Now trains and supports volunteers who teach adults (those over 18) in the community to read, write, and speak English through one-on-on tutoring or very small group classes.  Learners may be native English speakers who never achieved literacy or immigrants who want to learn English.  They also offer citizenship training, help with everyday living skills, as well as job search and employment skills.

Learn English and Reading Now goal for this year is to serve 100 learners while maintaining the quality of their offerings and at least an equal level of successful results.  They have been able to establish a pool of trained tutors who want to continue their work, but this expansion will require more funding to be able to buy teacher and student materials, which are expensive.  Each set of student materials costs over $40 and are consumable.  A student making good progress can progress through 3 sets in 1 year.

This year they opened a second site in the Verona to serve residents who live near there.  To date they have enrolled 12 learners who likely would not be receiving services elsewhere.  Right on the bus line, open with supervision at night, and with good resources close by, this is a site that has helped them serve more of those who need them.  They have also moved into new or deeper partnerships with the Staunton Public Library and Augusta County Schools.

Amount Requested: $3,000

Operating Budget: $36,330

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