PALS Graduation - Summer 2017

We are proud to present the newest graduates of our summer PALS program and would like to ANNOUNCE OPEN REGISTRATION for our fall PALS program, which will begin the week of September 4th!

REGISTER YOUR FAMILY TODAY: 
Call our PALS Office at (512)-841-4671 and ask for Liliana Galvez, our PALS Program Coordinator!

PALS, which stands for Play And Learning Strategies, is our parenting program that builds the language and thinking skills of children 18 months to four years of age to ensure they are well prepared for kindergarten. By supporting both children and parents through group sessions, one-on-one coaching, and reflections, we help parents learn how to be their child’s best teacher! To learn more about PALS, click here: https://willread.org/parenting

***We are currently recruiting parents and children, who are under the age of 5, for our fall PALS program! Our program runs for 14 weeks and begins the week of September 4th. The deadline to apply is Friday, September 1st.

#PALS #Parenting #Literacy #LCCT

Spotlight Story - Mike Scully, Volunteer

"If you have the ability and opportunity, you should at least try to do something to help other people."

Mike Scully, a volunteer of LCCT has been working with Vernelle Elliott, one of our GED instructors, for nearly 7 years!

Mike Scully, a volunteer of LCCT has been working with Vernelle Elliott, one of our GED instructors, for nearly 7 years!

Meet Mike Scully, one of our dedicated volunteers and an alumnus of our AmeriCorps program!

In 2011, Mike retired as an engineer from IBM and began his year of service as an AmeriCorps volunteer at The Learning Center at the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas. Throughout Mike's first year, he helped adults working towards their GED and assisted with job skills training. He found that one of the most rewarding components of his service was being able to attend the program’s graduation ceremonies, where teachers, families, and friends alike come together to celebrate the achievements of the program's newest graduates! On his service term, Mike reminisces,"I wanted to do something meaningful, and AmeriCorps became that thing."

Today, Mike continues to volunteer with our GED programs while also lending his support toward our Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses. Between his AmeriCorps service year and his continued volunteer work with the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas, Mike has dedicated nearly 7 years to support our adult literacy programs! BIG thank you to Mike!

AmeriCorps volunteers, like Mike, help empower others through their direct service.

***We currently have 10 AmeriCorps openings that engage a spectrum of literacy services to adults, children, youth, and families!

To APPLY to become an AmeriCorps like Mike click here: https://willread.org/texas-family-literacy-americorps

#ServiceYear #MakeADifference #ServeAustin #AmeriCorpsWorks#AmericanDream

LCCT Hosts Annual Provider Meeting

This year’s Coalition Provider Meeting, which took place in June, featured beneficial information about local vocational training services, local and national advocacy, and exploring partnerships via Social Network Analysis.

Vocational Training panelists (below) shared about their organizations’ services and opportunities for Coalition partners to connect their clients with these programs.

·         Shawn Jamali, Austin Career Institute,  shawn.jamali@austincareerinstitute.com,           512-371-0010

o   HVAC and Electrical courses for ESL learners. Classes available in English and Spanish

·         Natalie Mazzie, Skillpoint Alliancenmazzie@skillpointalliance.org, 512-814-3261

o   CNA, HVAC, Electrical, Pipe Fitting

·         Addie Kellington,  Goodwill Career and Technical Academy,          addie.kellington@goodwillcentraltexas.org  , 512-557-0622

o   Offers a variety of certifications within the fields of Health Care, Skilled Trades, Technology and Business

 

Next, Cristina Masters, MPA, offered insight on how non-profits can engage in advocacy regarding issues that affect their clients. Find the slides from her full presentation here, or contact her here. 

Last, The Literacy Coalition of Central Texas introduced our Social Network Analysis, in which we explore and map out our relationships with service and resource providers, locally and nationally. We are inviting our local Coalition partners to participate in the SNA as well, and we’ll offer a workshop on this process at the next Partnership Info Session on September 15th. Please visit our Provider Resources page for more information on SNA’s.

The SEED's AmeriCorps VISTA, Tupac Alcateur, made a video about our gathering; view it on the SEED's website here!

 

Quitters Never Win

Ninety-three million Americans with low literacy skills are unprepared to enroll in the postsecondary education or job-training programs they need to enter the workforce. 1

The Literacy Coalition's Learning Center offers personalized one-on-one tutoring and social services for individuals at or below the ninth grade level who are planning on entering the workforce for the first time or re-entering after some time off.

Carl came to the Literacy Coalition’s Learning Center in October of 2007, when it was still called the Austin Academy. After facing disrespect from his supervisor as a telemarketer,  he decided to look for other jobs, but could not find anything he liked.

Carl was diagnosed and treated for severe health issues  just months after beginning his classes at the Learning Center. The instructor who patiently taught him helped him succeed in his most challenging subject—math. That semester, he not only completed a computer literacy course, but received a certificate in workplace competency. After finishing at The Learning Center in January of 2008, Carl stayed out of work for seven years, due to his health. In the fall of 2014, he was able to push beyond his circumstances and was hired at a local nonprofit, but his health got in the way and found it necessary to quit the following year. After much debate, he returned to The Learning Center in 2016.

I felt like going back to the place I graduated from before would be a little redundant...I decided to go back anyway.

“I felt like going back to the place I graduated from before would be a little redundant. After getting past the negative self-talk in my head I decided to go back to school anyway,” Carl said.  “I learned a tremendous amount of skills that allowed me to upgrade my knowledge within the job readiness program.”

Now a student in the Career Pathways Program at Austin Community College, Carl Milligan, a recent Learning Center graduate, feels confident about rejoining the workforce upon completion in May.

Carl works on school assignments on the computer at the Learning Center.

Carl works on school assignments on the computer at the Learning Center.

Though he does not know what his future holds, Carl is willing to take the steps necessary to succeed with a smile on his face.  The Learning Center stands behind Carl every step of the way, helping with his resume and cover letter, and providing him with job resources. Even after finishing his classes, he regularly visits The Learning Center to use the computers, and is even helping design a website.

“I always recite a quote that I read from a book that said, ‘Quitters never win, and winners never quit.’” he said. “My life has changed for the better at the Learning Center and will continue getting better and better.”

1. National Center on Education Statistics, National Assessment of Adult Literacy, (NAAL, 2003), U.S. Department of Education, 2005

Inspiring Students to Move Forward

After graduating college, Izamar Ocon knew she wanted to enter the adult education field, but did not know where to start until she joined the Literacy Coalition’s English @ Work program. She was then given access to all the resources the Literacy Coalition provides to its partners, including adult education instruction training.

The demand for high-quality adult literacy instruction far outpaces the supply. Nationally, only four percent of the adult English as a Second Language population
is served by state and federal programs. People in need of literacy services rely on community programs. And community literacy programs often lack the resources to provide their volunteer instructors with high-quality training opportunities. The result: less-than-optimal student outcomes.

I feel supported as an instructor through English Forward
— Izamar Ocon

The Literacy Coalition’s English Forward program provides comprehensive, high-quality and consistent English as a Second Language instruction training, curricula and classroom materials at zero cost to local community literacy providers.

“I feel supported as an instructor through English Forward,” Izamar said. “The ample resources they provided are an enormous help in my lesson planning and in addressing challenging classroom situations. There is also a network of instructors that I can access if presented with a challenge in my lesson or classroom.”

"Resources include webinars, teaching tips, more than 80 lesson plans, other classroom materials, and an instructor guide—all found in the English Forward web portal," Izamar said.

As an AmeriCorps service member, Izamar is now teaching English at several Literacy Coalition nonprofit and business partner sites. Aside from making a difference throughout our wide network of partners, Izamar is receiving the experience she will need to enter the workforce once her AmeriCorps term is over.

Local Nonprofits Get the Scoop about Immigrant Rights

Leaders across our Coalition Partner network in Central Texas gathered at the Literacy Coalition last week to hear attorney Faye Kolly's share her insight on immigrant rights and how to help protect them.

Representatives from organizations like, El Buen Samaritano, Manos de Cristo, United Way for Greater Austin, and many others came together to discuss their own rights as nonprofits as well as the rights of the various immigrant groups they serve. Faced with the changes of a new national administration, the nonprofits conceded on methods to prevent any unfair or unjust treatment towards the communities they serve.

Prior to the information session, attorney Kolly asked the group what their biggest concern was. The resounding question—what actions should be taken when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers knock on their doors?

Kolly encouraged the group to remain calm, reminding them to ask the officers to identify themselves and produce a warrant before anything else. 

Visting from De Mott, McChesney, Curtright and Armendáriz, LLP, Kolly practices in several areas of immigration law and is dedicated to providing legal strategies for representing clients with a wide range of immigration needs. In the past, Kolly, a frequent volunteer and presenter at immigration-related events, even gave public testimony before the Texas House and Senate Committees regarding business immigration and driver’s licenses.

“I always appreciate the opportunity to engage with those in the community who are doing so much for immigrants and fostering literacy” Kolly said. 

Mayor Steve Adler Recognizes AmeriCorps Program Success

Mayor Steve Adler thanks local AmeriCorps members for their service at the Texas State Capitol.

Mayor Steve Adler thanks local AmeriCorps members for their service at the Texas State Capitol.

On Monday, April 3, Mayor Steve Adler greeted hundreds of eager AmeriCorps members at the front steps of the Texas State Capitol Building to offer his support for the national service program.

The Literacy Coalition's team of AmeriCorps service members joined in on the activities and were thanked for their valuable service, addressing critical needs in our community.

Seeded in community-based service, the Literacy Coalition's Texas Family Literacy AmeriCorps program recruits and places over 40 national service members a year into nonprofits in Austin and Houston to teach English as a Second Language, Adult Basic Education, early-childhood literacy, parenting and GED preparation. The Literacy Coalition's AmeriCorps VISTA Initiative, placed 26 national service members into nonprofits across Texas last year, seeking to build organizational capacity through program evaluation, grant writing, fundraising and outreach activities.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)—which administers AmeriCorps—leads this annual effort in collaboration with local government officials, aiming to educate the community about the many benefits their services provide.

As the federal agency for service and volunteering, CNCS annually engages millions of citizens in service at 3,200 location sites across the state, through AmeriCorps and other service programs. For more information about CNCS, visit their website

At the state level, AmeriCorps aims to help the 3,700 members by giving them the opportunity to provide intensive, results-driven service to meet education, environmental, health, economic, and other pressing needs in communities.

Local AmeriCorps members supporting their chapter at the Texas State Capitol on April 3. 

Local AmeriCorps members supporting their chapter at the Texas State Capitol on April 3. 

The annual event has continued to gain support from a bipartisan group of mayors and county officials, with the number of participants growing four-fold since its inception in 2013. Those participating, including city, county, and tribal leaders, represent 194 million Americans, or nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population.

Hard Work and Determination Do Pay Off

Think back to the age when you believed you could do anything. The age you saw the world the way you wanted to. The age everyone around you tried to protect you from what was outside. 

While we all come from different cities, communities, and homes, we all share the experience of childhood. We are all made up of many different experiences that shape who we will eventually become.

But these experiences do not define us.

Taylor is 8. After facing difficulties at home as a child, Taylor is sent to live with her father and sister. Despite her beginnings, the little girl feels hopeful about her future. 

You believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.
— Taylor

Taylor is 17. Family life has continued to be chaotic for the young woman. After facing hardships at home with her father and sister, Taylor can no longer attend school.

Taylor is 31. She often finds herself becoming frustrated when helping her young daughter with her homework. When she looks at her daughter, she thinks back to her own childhood. She wants to do better for both of them, but does not know what steps she needs to take.  

Taylor is 35. As she walks across the stage, about to receive her hard-earned high school equivalency certificate, she is greeted with familiar smiles. Her daughter beams at her from the front row as she makes her way to the microphone to begin her graduation speech, a childhood dream fulfilled.

Taylor preparing for her graduation speech. 

Taylor preparing for her graduation speech. 

"Everyone in this room dedicates their lives, providing hope to make this possible," Taylor said. "You believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. But thanks to you, now I do--I believe in me!" 

Scared and timid, Taylor first walked into the Literacy Coalition's Learning Center last summer. Our Learning Center provides case management services along with a robust adult education program, offering high school equivalency exam preparation and job readiness classes. Taylor signed up for job readiness classes, where she built her resume and honed her interviewing skills. In three and a half months, she improved her reading by three grade levels. During that time, her math skills jumped from sixth to twelfth grade level.

"What takes an average student years of hard work took Taylor only six months," said Vernelle Elliot, high school equivalency instructor. "That is what I call resilience and determination!"

Our social worker referred her to our social and emotional support services, offering direct assistance for transportation, groceries and utilities, so she could focus on her school. 

Taylor is now on her way to Austin Community College to continue her education. Her long-term goal is to become a substance abuse counselor.

Though we are made of up many different experiences that shape who we will eventually become, it is our response to these experiences that shape who we are.

At the Literacy Coalition, we commit to tirelessly helping those like Taylor who strive daily to create a better life for themselves and their family.

Goals, Pride and Achievement

Walking into the Boyd Vance Theatre, our Learning Center's 2016 graduates were filled with mixed emotions. After balancing months of courses, jobs and responsibilities at home, it was the bittersweet moment the students had been waiting for. 

On January 19, the George Washington Carver Museum hosted the annual Literacy Coalition's Learning Center graduation, celebrating the lives of 22 hard-working students who kept us inspired in 2016. 

"Instead of an end to the students' time with the Literacy Coalition, graduation is simply the beginning of the life they have always wanted to live," said Ashlee Kraus, social services coordinator. "Although it is not always easy, it is always important to create time to help those who need assistance to become who they are meant to be."

At the Literacy Coalition, we make the time for people who make time for their families and themselves. In turn, we hope to encourage them to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Families Celebrate Parenting Milestone

To the world you are one person, but to your child, you are the world.”
— Victoria Osteen

On December 17, more than 100 families gathered at Allan Center to celebrate their milestone of the year: the end of their participation in our bilingual parenting program.

With 14 weeks of work under their belt, our parenting program participants took with them parenting strategies and the relationships they built along the way. And thanks to the generosity of our donors and supporters, every family with perfect attendance received a digital tablet.

Our parenting program, modeled after the nationally renowned Play and Learning Strategies (PALS) curriculum, takes place at many of our Coalition Partner sites. Through communication techniques, child psychology and hands-on practice, the program aims to be a catalyst to ensure parents set their children up for success at school and in life.

"While the PALS parenting program instructs adults on how to deepen their impact as parents, there is so much children can teach adults too," said Melissa Sanchez, PALS program assistant director. "As we grow older, we make time for work, but never to play. We practice our business, but never exercise our creativity. We seek to be rich without being rich in happiness. Children see the beauty in the world that adults often miss amidst the chaos of life. And that beauty is something worth holding onto. "

The Literacy Coalition Stands Behind its Clients

In the face of increasing violence and division in our country, and the uncertain times facing our staff and clients with the change in our national administration, the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas releases the following position statement to guide our decision-making and express support for the clients and communities we serve.

We, the staff and board of the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas, commit to...

Stand behind our clients.

  • We will tirelessly empower our clients to understand civic processes and be aware of opportunities to express their voices and exert their power and influence.
  • We condemn all hate crimes and hate speech and will confront hatred and marginalization when we see it.
  • We will not compromise the privacy and integrity of our clients and their personal information.

Work to rebuild trust.

  • We will actively seek out marginalized voices and perspectives.
  • We will work to rebuild trust between institutions and communities of color so all people feel safe in their neighborhoods and inside our doors.

Embrace diversity and be a place of respite. 

  • We are here to serve everyone who wants to learn, and we are committed to being a safe and supportive place for anyone who comes through our doors.

  • We value and embrace diverse cultures, perspectives, sexual orientations, gender identities, religions and backgrounds, as diversity leads to learning and understanding.

  • We will be a place of respite and love for any and all who feel scared, threatened, intimidated or alone—you matter; you are seen; you are loved.

STAND WITH US

If you feel compelled to act, here are four tangible things you can do to make a difference:

  1. Support our work: donatevolunteer.

  2. Get informed on refugee and immigrant rights. Visit Texas Here to Stay.

  3. Attend the “Know your Rights” session: February 12, 2017 at St. Helen's Catholic Church in Georgetown.  

  4. Learn about and consider supporting the work of our Coalition Partners.


La Alianza de la Alfabetización Apoya a sus Clientes

Ante la creciente violencia y división en nuestro país, y los tiempos de incertidumbre que enfrentan nuestros clientes y personal con el cambio en nuestra administración federal, la Alianza de la Alfabetización del Centro de Texas (Literacy Coalition of Central Texas) publica la siguiente declaración de posición para guiar nuestra toma de decisiones y expresar apoyo a nuestros clientes y a las comunidades que servimos.

El personal y la junta directiva de la Literacy Coalition of Central Texas se comprometen a...

Apoyar a nuestros clientes.

  • Incansablemente capacitaremos a nuestros clientes a entender procesos cívicos y a ser conscientes de las oportunidades para expresar sus voces y ejercer su poder e influencia.
  • Condenamos todo crimen de odio, así también como el discurso de odio. Daremos nuestra cara al odio y a la marginación cuando estos estén presentes.
  • Nos comprometeremos a la privacidad e integridad de nuestros clientes y a su información personal.

Trabajar para reconstruir la confianza.

  • Buscaremos activamente voces y perspectivas marginadas.
  • Trabajaremos para reconstruir la confianza entre las instituciones y las comunidades de color para que todas las personas se sientan seguras en sus colonioas y dentro de nuestras puertas.

Aceptar la diversidad y ser un lugar seguro.

  • Estamos aquí para servir a todos los que quieren aprender, y nos comprometemos a ser un lugar seguro y de apoyo para cualquier persona que entra por nuestras puertas.
  • Valoramos y aceptamos diversas culturas, perspectivas, orientaciones sexuales, identidades de género, religiones y antecedentes, ya que la diversidad conduce a la comprensión y al aprendizaje.
  • Seremos un lugar seguro y de amor para toda persona que se sienta asustada, amenazada, intimidada o sola – importas; reconocemos tu existencia; eres amado(a).

Reading Between the Wines 2016

On Friday, October 28, more than 400 people gathered in the historic Texas Federation of Women's Clubs' Mansion to celebrate literacy in Central Texas.

The evening began with young pianist Jimmy Chen, delighting guests with his magical classical touch. A silent auction, including an exotic safari trip to Africa and a wine tour through Napa Valley, entertained guests while tasting sponsors awaited in the grand ballroom.

The grand ballroom opened, and guests experienced delicious bites from Annie's Café & Bar, Juliet Ristorante and Nightcap, mouth-watering desserts from Miles of Chocolate, SRSLY Chocolate and Nothing Bunt Cakes. Tasting beverage sponsors included Locations Wine, Legato Winery, Pedernales Cellars, Texas Saké Company, Tequila 512, Herman-Marshall Whiskey, Revolution Spirits, 4th Tap Brewing Company, the ABGB--among many others.

We are incredibly grateful to those who came to celebrate with us and offered their support. Thanks to their generosity, we can continue ensuring families and individuals can gain the skills they need to reach their full potential


Reading Between the Wines Sneak Peak

RBTW.jpg

If you're wondering what our fabulous signature event can offer you, take a look at some of this year's featured items in the spirit of...

…Austin Fashion.  Shopping at Capra & Cavelli, Eliza Page jewelry, celebratory champagne

…A Derby Day.  Hermes scarf, wine rack, playing cards, flask, authentic bourbon

...Relaxation.  Milk + Honey spa day and basket of pampering products, scented candle, champagne

…The Gourmand. Private knife skills class, artisan locally made products, cooking spirits

…The Gentleman.  Shopping at Capra & Cavelli, 12-year Chivas Regal scotch, silver ice bucket

…Rejuvenation. At-home mani/pedi/facial supplies, month of free yoga, saltwater float sessions

...The Texas Longhorns. Dinner at Vince Young Steakhouse, autographed basketball and football

You will also be able to bid on fun Group Experiences including group tastings at:

  • Blue Owl Brewery                            
  • Dripping Springs Vodka                      
  • Bending Branch Winery
  • William & Chris Vineyards
  • Vom Fass

And if family entertaining is up your alley, don’t miss:

  • Supplies to host an amazing ice cream party and barbecue
  • Two family or individual portrait photography session packages
  • Passes for four to the Austin Bouldering Project
  • And trips to the following exciting destinations:

Disneyland, California

Alpha Omega winery in Napa Valley

South African Safari

PLUS MANY MORE EXCITING PACKAGES!

Learner Success Story: Gracie

Gracie Castro, a 2014 graduate, came back to visit a few weeks ago and to tell us about her new job. After completing Job Readiness and attaining her GED last year, she was looking to start a career. Because of our partnership in the Workforce & Education Readiness Continuum (WERC), Gracie was able to get help from Ed, a Job Developer, to find a job with Seton. She started out as a PRN and was quickly hired on full-time.

She is now earning more than $15 an hour with shift differential and plenty of overtime pay. She commented about how hard it seemed while she was working toward her goals at The Learning Center (formerly known as Ascend), and how there were times when she wasn’t sure she would be able to finish. But she did - and she is so glad she did. Now we hope to schedule a time for Gracie to talk with our current students about her experience, the challenges she faced and how she overcame them, and more about her promising new career at Seton. Way to go, Gracie!

CLIC HIGHLIGHT: LARRY

To celebrate big changes coming to our Learner Web program, we're highlighting the volunteers who have made the program possible since 20011. Check in with us everyday to meet our Computer Literacy & Internet Coaches (CLICs) throughout the month of June!

Here's Larry, a CLIC since April 2011, which is just about when the program began. Thank you for helping us bridge the digital divide in Austin,  Larry!