Posts Tagged ‘asheville’

New name, new goals

Click the image above to watch the event, enter passcode: Literacy2021!

The Literacy Council of Buncombe County
is now

 Literacy Together

FAQs
Moving Forward: 2021 to 2025

Why did the Literacy Council of Buncombe County change its name?

The Board of Directors started a strategic planning process in January 2020. As we reached out into the community to solicit input, we realized something important:  Those who know us hold us in high regard, but we are not that well known.  For those who don’t know us, The Literacy Council of Buncombe County can be a confusing name, and it raised a number of questions:  Are you an advisory group?  Are you part of County government? Will you only serve people who live in Buncombe County?  What exactly do you do?

In response, the Board decided to undertake a rebranding process:  A new name; a fresh logo; and a focused approach to marketing.  In short, a plan to attract and engage more people in our vision of creating a community in which literacy is accessible and achievable by all.  

What about the history of the organization?  Won’t that be lost?

We have a deep respect for the 35-year history of this organization and the incredible accomplishments of those who paved the way to where we are today. We will ensure that the values, integrity, and rich history move forward with us. There will be a clear link to associate the past with our new name.

How will the public know how to reach you if they still only know your old email addresses and website link? 

For the next year, our new logo will include a line that states “formerly the Literacy Council of Buncombe County”.  Anyone logging on to our former website address will be automatically directed to the new site, and emails addressed to staff at their previous addresses will also be automatically forwarded. 

Rebranding can be expensive. What did all of this cost? 

We run on a tight budget, so this was a major consideration. We are pleased to say that last May, we won a contest sponsored by Kudzu Brands for $10,000 in pro bono rebranding services.  They guided us through the process and created the new logo. In addition, we received a foundation grant to cover the cost of new marketing materials such as banners and brochures. 

Did you change the Mission and Vision of the organization? 

The heart of our mission and vision remains the same. We have updated the statements to better reflect where we are today:

Our Mission is to transform lives and communities through the power of literacy.

Our Vision is a just and equitable community in which literacy is accessible and achievable by all.

Our Core Values include:

  • Lifelong Learning
  • Individual Dignity
  • Equity and Justice
  • Leadership and Innovation

What are the program goals for the 2021 to 2025 strategic plan?

The primary goal of our 5-year strategic plan is to do more of what we do well. Our four programs meet a critical need in the community, and we have not been able to keep up with the growing demand.  So before we move into any new areas, we will first strengthen and grow our current programs:

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

When immigrants work with a volunteer tutor to learn to speak and read English, they can participate in school conferences with their children, improve employment opportunities, learn to navigate the health care system, or prepare for the citizenship exam. This is our largest program, serving over 225 families in a typical year.  Year after year, we have a continuous waiting list of 6 months or more. We play an important role in the immigrant community.  We want to expand this program to reduce or eliminate the wait.

Adult Literacy

Our adult literacy program provides volunteer tutors for people who function at a low literacy level. 43% of low literate adults live in poverty.  When our students improve their ability to read, write, and do basic math, they gain the power to reach their educational goals, find sustainable employment, and better support themselves and their families.  

We recognize that literacy is only one critical piece of the path out of poverty, which is why we partner with multiple organizations: AB Tech, Goodwill, NC Works, Open Doors; the YWCA and many more. We can only truly move forward through partnership and collaboration.

Youth Literacy

Volunteer tutors provide intensive tutoring for youth who read below grade level and struggle to keep up with their peers. With support and encouragement, they gain the skills and confidence to achieve academic success and remain on the pathway to high school graduation and beyond. 

The Center for Education Statistics estimates that 66% of 4th graders read below the proficiency level. That is why we decided to focus our Youth Literacy program on grades 4 to 6.  We want to reach struggling students before they hit middle school to ensure they do not become one of the 8,000 kids per day in the U.S. who drop out of high school.  

We collaborate with another strong literacy program in our community—Read 2 Succeed. They focus on grades K to 3, which complements our plan to focus on Grades 4 to 6.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Through this program, free high-quality books are mailed every month to children under the age of five, targeted to families with limited incomes. A book a month from birth to age 5 builds a home library of 60 books designed to help parents instill the love of reading at an early age.  We collaborate on this program with Buncombe Partnership for Children and we are currently reaching 3,800 families.

What new areas are you exploring for the future?

As resources permit, we will watch for opportunities to move into the following areas:

Family Literacy

Family literacy refers to a continuum of programs that address the inter-generational nature of literacy. In this approach, parents are supported as the first teachers of their children.

There are generally three components to Family Literacy:

  • Adult Literacy and ESOL
  • Parenting education
  • Early childhood education for preschoolers.

We are interested in exploring this approach to literacy, but only through collaboration with other organizations. We would not be the lead agency, since we do not have the capacity to offer parenting or early childhood education.  However, we can offer the adult education and ESOL piece as a component of a larger initiative.  

Health Literacy

Literacy is a critical social indicator of health. It is basic to the ability to read a prescription medicine label; follow written health and nutrition instructions; and navigate the health care system for appointments or insurance claims. 

There are a number of innovative programs and curricula available for replication that are written at a 4th to 5th grade reading level suitable for both ESOL and Adult Literacy Students.  They allow students to acquire the knowledge to make informed choices regarding their family’s health and nutrition while also advancing their basic literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking skills. 

There is a strong potential to collaborate with local health care providers who recognize the critical connection between literacy and health.

Digital Literacy

Basic digital literacy skills are essential for tasks many of us take for granted:  To complete an online job application; establish an email account; or to access information through the internet. The need is even more evident during this time when it seems the whole world operates online.

We already have a small computer lab with equipment that would need to be upgraded, but that is ready to be used to teach basic digital literacy to our students. In addition, we could utilize resources in the community through the library system and other organizations.

Literacy Minnesota developed a curriculum designed for ESOL and Adult Literacy students to master the basics needed to work, learn, and participate fully in today’s online world. We want to offer this to our students as another critical piece towards success in reaching their personal goals.  

How has the COVID pandemic impacted your work?

Did it slow us down?  It definitely did.  But did we hit the pause button to wait it out?  Not for a moment.

Our volunteer orientation and tutor trainings are all now online. Tutors in all of our programs continue to work with their students through a variety of technology formats: Zoom, Google Classroom, Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, and even just pen and paper combined with conversations over the phone—whatever it takes to keep moving forward.

Our program numbers are still lower than normal, but we are quickly regaining ground.  

Once we pull through COVID and go back to in-person tutoring, our training programs will be stronger than ever.  In fact, we will continue some of our training and tutoring services online in addition to in-person.

So why is your work so important?

There are two key statistics that tell the story of why we do what we do:

43% of adults with low literacy live in poverty. For those with families, 72% of their children read at the lowest level compared to their peers.

We have to break through the generational cycle of poverty, and the only way to do it is by working together—-staff, board, volunteers, program participants, partner agencies, community leaders, and public officials. Together we can create a more literate, equitable, healthy, and vibrant community.

Download FAQ (PDF)

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2019 Auction Item Preview

We are receiving so many exciting donations for the 12th Annual Authors for Literacy Dinner & Silent Auction and we’d like to offer a preview of just a few of the items that will be up for bidding. Enjoy!

Lexington Glassworks Appalachia Vase

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Literacy Council Executive Director Position Announcement

Our Vision

A community in which literacy is highly valued and achievable for all.

Our Mission

To increase comprehensive literacy and English language skills through
one-on-one and small group instruction by trained volunteers and access to literacy resources.

The Organization

The Literacy Council of Buncombe County is seeking an experienced and passionate candidate to lead the organization as executive director and add to its exceptional 30+ year history.

The Literacy Council of Buncombe County teaches individuals of all ages basic reading, writing, and English language skills through specialized instruction provided by trained volunteer tutors. Students gain self-confidence and develop self-sufficiency to transform their lives as individuals, parents, workers, and citizens. 

The Literacy Council, a non-profit organization accredited by ProLiteracy and serving the community since 1987, provides highly individualized tutoring to fit the needs of over 300 students annually through the skilled instruction of over 250 volunteer tutors. The Literacy Council is governed by a 17-member board of directors and staffed by five highly skilled professionals and one AmeriCorps member. The organization has an annual budget of $355,000. The organizational culture is collaborative, hardworking, mission-driven, and service-oriented. 

The Region

The Asheville area’s prime location in the spectacular mountains of Western North Carolina and the high quality of life enjoyed in the region makes it attractive as a place where lifestyle complements business opportunity. The area’s consistent and steady growth is the result of the collaborative vision of economic development and strong community partnerships. Health services are known to be the best in the region. In addition to being Western North Carolina’s business hub, the Asheville area is world-renowned as a bustling tourist destination, named one of “15 Coolest Places to Go” in the world by Forbes Magazine. Western North Carolina offers an eclectic arts and music scene and a wide variety of year-round outdoor activities.

The Position

The Literacy Council is poised to move to the next level of growth effectiveness with the inspired leadership of the right individual. The incoming ED, in partnership with Board and staff leadership, will be focused on long-range planning, strengthening and diversifying fundraising efforts, and growing the capacity of the organization. The ED is also the public face of the organization and is instrumental in recruiting new volunteers, tutors, donors, board members, and community partners.

The new ED must have proven, significant, and successful organizational development, fundraising, and nonprofit leadership experience, the ability to oversee day-to-day operations, and the skill to work collaboratively with the board to guide the organization. The ED must also possess the talent to communicate effectively and build relationships with multiple constituencies, including the board, staff, donors, government officials and community leaders.

Organizational Priorities

The Board of Directors of the Literacy Council of Buncombe County has identified the following as the highest priorities for the new executive, the board, and the staff over the next 12 to 18 months:

  • Conduct a financial sustainability assessment
  • Develop a 3-5 year strategic plan for growth
  • Continue to diversify fundraising efforts
  • Improve engagement and effectiveness of the board
  • Maintain the high level of organizational culture

Ongoing Responsibilities

  • Vision, Mission, and Strategies – Work closely with the board and staff to translate the Literacy Council’s mission and vision into clear strategic directions, goals, and initiatives.
  • Accomplishment of Management Objectives – Oversee operational and program objectives that support the organization’s strategic goals and lead the staff in their implementation.
  • Fund Raising and Resource Development – In partnership with the board and staff, develop and implement appropriate and diversified fund-raising and financial development strategies.
  • Fiscal Management – Ensure that solid planning and budgeting systems continue so that income is managed wisely and that the organization’s goals serve as the basis for sound financial planning. Ensure that systems and staff are in place to accurately monitor, assess, and manage the financial health of the organization.
  • Human Resources Management – Foster and maintain a strong staff built on teamwork and collaborative decision-making in a positive and empowering environment. Oversee staff development activities that build leadership skills and motivate performance. Ensure adherence to the personnel policies in all hiring and employment practices.
  • External Liaison and Public Image – Serve as primary spokesperson and public face for the Literacy Council, representing it locally and regionally. Develop dynamic working relationships with diverse constituencies, including government, education and nonprofit groups that support the work of the Literacy Council.

Required Qualifications

  • A history of leadership or management success in the nonprofit sector
  • Strong fundraising and relationship building skills with proven experience in foundation, government, corporate and individual giving
  • A high degree of financial literacy and management experience
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills, strong interpersonal and public speaking skills, and experience with diverse populations and multiple constituencies
  • Collaborative leader with an exceptional ability to foster a spirit of cooperation with external partners and among board members and staff
  • Demonstrated ability to work with and facilitate strong board development and leadership
  • An innovative problem solver, flexible, and capable of adapting to changing priorities
  • A visionary leader with strong strategic thinking, organizational development, and planning skills
  • Strong organizational skills
  • A working knowledge of office technology including Microsoft Office suites, Quick Books, Gmail suite, and other technology-based systems
  • A demonstrated commitment to a strong culture of teamwork and staff development
  • A selfless and inclusive leader with a bias for action

Preferred Qualifications

  • Background in human services, childhood or adult literacy, or nonprofit organization leadership
  • Leadership and coordination of a volunteer, service-based workforce
  • Program evaluation experience
  • Marketing and PR experience
  • Experience in working with diverse communities and cultures
  • Bilingual skills
  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher

Compensation

The salary for this full-time position is $55,000.  The Literacy Council offers a flexible work environment and a generous time-off package.

Application Process

To apply, please send a letter of interest, resume, and salary history via email only to: edsearch@litcouncil.com. Please, no phone calls.

Submissions have now closed.  August 18, 2019

Download Position Description PDF

The Literacy Council of Buncombe County is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to recruiting a diverse pool of qualified candidates for the position.

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Authors for Literacy in the media

The Literacy Council’s Authors for Literacy Dinner & Silent Auction with keynote speaker Barbara Kingsolver has been featured in multiple publications! Click below to read or view each feature.

Photo credit: Steven L. Hopp

Mountain XpressBarbara Kingsolver keynotes annual Authors for Literacy Dinner

WLOS Spotlight Carolina: Literacy Council of Buncombe County

The Laurel of Asheville: Barbara Kingsolver to Keynote Annual Literacy Council Dinner

Citizen Times: Kingsolver, coming to Asheville Nov. 29, captures paradigm shifts

DePauw University: Barbara Kingsolver ’77 to Keynote Literacy Fundraiser in NC

 

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Literacy Council Corporate Partners share “An Hour with Author Wayne Caldwell”

Author Wayne Caldwell keynoted an event for the Literacy Council's Corporate Partners Monday, Jan. 23, 2017

Locally acclaimed author Wayne Caldwell keynoted an event for the Literacy Council’s Corporate Partners Monday, Jan. 23 aimed to both inspire new strategies for working together and provide a special experience for current partners. 

Wayne Caldwell’s Teachers Inspired His Craft

Caldwell spoke about the early influences that provided him the impetus to not only learn to read, but to read great works of literature. These influences included his adoptive mother and many teachers in the Enka community. A high school teacher even encouraged him to “write the Great American novel.” Caldwell knows that she would be proud, as his novel, Cataloochee, is a 2013 James Still Award winner and a Southern Independent Bestseller Award winner. Caldwell attributed his success to the encouragement he received throughout his childhood.

The Literacy Council Can Support Local Businesses

Robert Foster, of Biltmore Farms Hotels, presented about how his company has partnered with the Literacy Council for the past two years. During this time, the Literacy Council has provided English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes at the DoubleTree Biltmore hotel for housekeeping employees. Robert shared stories of employees who had previously declined offers to move into higher positions because they were not confident enough in their English language skills. After spending time in ESOL classes, Robert now found the same employees approaching him more confidently and asking for new positions, in English! He found a way to encourage these employees to take the classes by lightening their workload the day they have class and providing lunch during class. Robert says he has seen such a benefit to his business that he plans to expand the program to other Biltmore Farms Hotels.

How Your Business Can Partner with the Literacy Council

A partnership between a corporation and the Literacy Council can be a critical step toward improving basic literacy and English language skills for employees or other contacts, which in turn improves employee retention, productivity, and promotability. Ultimately, adults with increased literacy and English language skills positively impact our local workforce, economy, and community.

To learn more about starting an on-site class or referring an employee in need of assistance, contact Ashley@litcouncil.com.

To learn more about how to support with the Literacy Council through your business, click here.

Special thanks to Malaprop’s Bookstore, Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, Lenior Rhine University, Sierra Nevada, and Biltmore Wines for contributing to the event.

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