By Emily Hane, Programs Manager
One of the most difficult literacy skills to master is perseverance. The ability to come to class consistently, complete daily homework, and turn page after page is critical to improving literacy. Too often, the most dedicated adult learner has his or her studies interrupted, not due to lack of motivation or persistence, but because life gets in the way.
When student budgets are tight, a flat tire can mean two weeks of missed classes.
Volunteers in Action
Instead of sitting back and lamenting the challenges faced by our adult learners, Literacy Kansas City volunteers sprang into action. Less than a year ago, the inaugural meeting of the Student Needs Committee created a vision for helping all Literacy KC students reach their academic goals, regardless of the barriers they face.
The committee began by researching what services are already offered in the Kansas City community and forged partnerships with other agencies that offer emergency assistance or can provide basic needs such as work clothing, help purchasing prescription medication, or food.
Despite the plethora of resources in Kansas City, the Student Needs Committee agreed that there are still major gaps. Our students deserve access to assistance that can alleviate the simplest barriers, like bus passes and personal care items, and thus the Literacy KC Assistance Program was born.
Literacy KC Assistance Program (LAP)
The Literacy KC Assistance Program is a fund that provides direct assistance to our students to alleviate barriers or enhance learning opportunities. Upon tutor or instructor recommendation, students complete a brief application detailing their current financial need and what is required to ensure consistent class attendance. Applications are reviewed by committee members in a timely manner, so that students have as little disruption to their learning as possible.
Once a request is approved, Literacy KC staff secures the granted item or makes the necessary financial transactions. Students are eligible to receive up to $50 of support to eliminate barriers to class attendance or increase access to learning tools, like purchasing a home computer.
So far, the LAP has made three grants to students in need. For example, one enterprising student who was able to get rides to class but unable to get home, was granted 24 single-ride bus passes to ensure that he can make it home after hours of studying. This small, direct student assistance ensures that our learners are able to continue to preserver, despite the obstacles that life throws their way.
This volunteer committee and fund exemplifies what we do best: bring people together to support our students.