By Stacey Kuhnz
Dallas has a ‘Big Word' problem. Currently, 1 in 5 adults in North Texas cannot read. With the anticipated growth of the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex over the next fifteen years, more than one million people will be illiterate and it is Literacy Instruction For Texas or LIFT’s mission to Bend the Trend of escalating illiteracy.
The DFW Writers’ Workshop is doing its part by partnering with LIFT to help promote their amazing organization and help foster a home grown community of new readers.
Since 1961, LIFT has been the most successful and self-sustaining non-profit organization that caters to the functionally illiterate adult population. After opening their doors over 50 years ago, LIFT has taught more than 45,000 low-literate adults to read. Today LIFT continues to enrich lives and strengthen communities through literacy, serving over 5000 adult learners with over 330 volunteers.
LIFT’s learning programs target Adult Literacy, GED Preparation, ESL and Family Literacy. LIFT offers a vertically integrated curriculum from basic phonics that progresses through GED prep. The ESL model begins with basic English and progresses through advanced literacy and conversation.
Lisa Hembry, President/CEO of LIFT called Family Literacy, “A very important piece to the puzzle.” Family Literacy is a means to prevent and combat the problem at the source. By engaging academically at-risk students of parents enrolled in LIFT’s Adult Literacy programs, the hope is to instill an intrinsic love of reading and the value of independence through the ability to read.
The organization wants to remove the stigma of illiteracy. “Many adults feel a tremendous amount of shame for being unable to read,” explained Ms. Hembry. Removing the stigma and raising awareness will encourage more learners to join the program to better themselves, their families and their community.
LIFT’s programs are available to adult learners at almost no cost. Adult learners are asked to contribute a very small amount with enrollment, with the understanding learners are investing in their future.
LIFT’s organization model relies on very limited resources, yet serves thousands of adults annually through dedicated volunteer teachers, strategic networking and collaborations with other organizations – like the one made with the DFW Writers’ Workshop.
Help foster your local community of new readers by offering your time or donating to their cause. All adult learning classes are led by volunteers - no teaching experience is necessary - with a one or two class a week commitment. LIFT also needs volunteers to fulfill roles as Adult Learner Mentors, Office Support, Fundraising and Community Development, Study Hall Leader, Computer Lab Adviser, and Special Projects. With LIFT’s self-sufficient organization model, monetary donations go a long way to help the cause. A gift of only $25 dollar buys books for 1 adult learner for one class. $50 buys bus passes for 1 term. $500 trains ten new trainers. $1000 provides ESL training to twenty-five adult learners.
The DFW Writers’ Workshop is chipping in by hosting a spring supply drive.
Specifically, LIFT is in need of composition notebooks or journals and calculators, but office and school supplies of any kind would be a wonderful contribution. Please bring them to workshop!
In the fall the Workshop will host LIFT’s Banned Book drive and look ahead to help kick-off their 2017 Awareness Campaign. For more information on way to Volunteer, Donate, or Collaborate please visit lift-texas.org.