Category Archives: Announcement

Summer REPRESENT Term Comes to an End

 

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The REPRESENT Class photo!

Seeking their Higher Purpose, the REPRESENT summer class completes its 8-week program today, July 28th, in literacy, visual symbology, personal finances, and job success.

While each of the five students will continue their studies in August at MCC-Penn Valley community college, their career goals vary widely:

Daniel’s plans include studying nutrition at Penn Valley and earning a personal training certificate.

Damika aims to become a registered nurse helping Alzheimer’s patients.

DeVonte, who will first complete the HiSET program, is interested in studying acting and wrestling.

Susannah plans to study voice and theatre at UMKC after completing her Associate Degree at Penn Valley.

Vyolla’s goal is to transfer to Stephens College after Penn Valley to study fashion design.

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Mentors, Coaches & Students relaxing on the last day of class with a pizza party.

Each REPRESENT student will meet with individual mentors on a regular basis as they undertake their next chapter in reaching their dreams.

As is his tradition, Instructor Phil Denver taught from the following poem, which never fails to arouse empathy:

Dreams By Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is a barren field

Frozen with snow.

We wish these five Star Students the very best success in achieving their dreams! To learn more, visit literacykc.org or call (816)333-9332.

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Program Overview: Career Online High School

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Literacy KC, in partnership with The Kansas City Public Library and Mid-Continent Public Library, is pleased offer a fully accredited, online high school program to selected, qualified adults via Career Online High School (COHS). We offer a small number of scholarships to adult learners 19 years of age and older who apply and meet the criteria established by our selection committee.

The COHS curriculum is offered entirely online and can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The program pairs students with Academic Coaches who are available via phone or email to help navigate curriculum options and monitor success.

In addition to a high school diploma, students will also navigate a career track, earning a certificate in one of the following areas:

  • Childcare and Education
  • Certified Protection Officer (Security Officer)
  • Office Management
  • Certified Transportation Services (Trucker/Commercial Driver)
  • Homeland Security
  • General Career Preparation
  • Retail Customer Service Skills
  • Food Service and Customer Service Skills
S- Tierra Lewis at COHS Launch 20160122

Student Tierra at the COHS launch in January

Literacy KC and partner institutions offer in-person study groups, social gatherings and feedback sessions to complement the online learning experience over the course of the year. Students who lack devices or connectivity may be eligible to use dedicated space and equipment at Literacy KC or one of our partner institutions for study and class attendance.

To be considered for the program, applicants must be over 19 years old, have a library card from either The Kansas City Public Library or The Mid-Continent Public Library, and show a willingness and ability to dedicate ten hours a week to coursework.

Literacy KC has 19 students with scholarships for COHS and one student recently became our first graduate from the program! For more information about Career Online High School:

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Literacy KC Term 1 2016 Recap

As we prepare for the Term 2 classes to begin, we reflect on the inspiring results from Term 1. Our students are consistently learning and growing with each day of class on their path to literary success. This past term, we had 13 Ticket to Read classes with 145 students enrolled! Take a look at the info-graphic below outlining some of the student goals achieved in Term 1!

Term 1 Results

Some of the other highlights from the term include:

  • 18 Students obtained a library card
  • 97 Students completed a free reading book at their reading level or above
  • 62 Students read a map or a bus schedule
  • 69 Students read prescription or medical information
  • 11 Students reserved a library book online
  • 22 Students participated in their child’s school parent organization
  • 28 Students had increased involvement in their child’s education/literacy activities

We are SO proud of the achievements by Term 1’s students! Are you interested in helping our students to achieve their goals? Get involved with Literacy KC today! Visit literacykc.org to learn more or call 816-333-9332.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Announcement, digital literacy, For Students, For Tutors, For Volunteers, In The News, Programs & Services, Represent, Uncategorized

A New Brand To Mark A New Era

A little over three years ago, the Literacy Kansas City staff and board underwent a comprehensive strategic planning process that resulted in two major goals: first, to become a more efficient and effective provider of adult literacy services; and second, to leverage community connections to better meet the need. In many ways, our immense progress toward the realization of these goals has resulted in a reinvention, and a more than doubling of size, of our organization. From our classroom-based program service delivery model and community partner collaborative focus, to a dedication to research- and evidence-based programs, and a diversification of services that offers comprehensive, student-centered approaches and outcomes, Literacy Kansas City has certainly come a long way.

Thirty years ago, Literacy Kansas City began as a dream and grew out of a passion to help people. A small group of volunteers perceived a need and created a tiny organization to provide literacy tutoring for adults. Operating from the basement of the Country Club Congregational Church at 64th and Brookside Boulevard, the program was operated with an all-volunteer staff until, a decade later, its first Executive Director was hired. Since then, Literacy Kansas City has remained dedicated to its mission of advancing literacy in our community through direct services, advocacy, and collaboration, and will forever owe a debt of gratitude to its founding members.

As we look ahead to the future of Literacy KC, we have again undergone a strategic planning process.  After many hours of organizational soul-searching, we have determined a common purpose and visionary goal: to become a premiere literacy service provider throughout our region, a model for adult literacy programs, and a leader in adult literacy education. And we are already well on our way.

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Executive Director Gillian Helm working hard with the Spelling Bee on preparing Literacy Kansas City’s new brand!

To commemorate the innovations in 21st century adult literacy curriculum; to acknowledge the progress toward creating a welcoming community for students, staff, and supporters; to acknowledge that literacy goes far beyond words; and to herald in a new era for Literacy KC, we will be launching a new brand at this year’s Spelling Bee. Our refreshed look and logo will help us to better convey the excitement, relevance, opportunity, and potential that we already know we have, and that a new brand will more fully showcase. Please join us on Thursday, April 28, at UMKC’s Pierson Auditorium to commemorate our 30th year of service to our community, to pay tribute to those who came before us, to celebrate the achievements yet to come, and to be one of the first to see the new and improved identity of Literacy Kansas City.

On Friday, April 29, our new signs to the brilliant future of adult literacy will be shown in full color here!

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Literacy Kansas City Chosen as Digital Inclusion Fellow City Host For A Second Straight Year

 

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Great news! Literacy Kansas City has been selected for the second straight year as a City Host for The Nonprofit Technology Network’s (NTEN) Digital Inclusion Fellowship!

Last year, NTEN announced its first ever Digital Inclusion Fellowship (DIF), in partnership with Google Fiber, which Literacy Kansas City was also chosen for. In an effort to increase digital literacy and broadband adoption in digitally divided communities, NTEN placed 16 Fellows in locally-based organizations in 8 cities across the country.

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Literacy Kansas City is proud to be one of the few organizations in the country to be selected to host a Digital Inclusion Fellowship! (Photo Source: Google Fiber)

This year, Kansas City is one of the now eleven cities to host a Fellow. Literacy Kansas City is honored to be chosen to host one of the 22 total Fellows in the country and excited to continue to develop our digital literacy program!

“NTEN’s Digital Inclusion Fellowship is a tremendous opportunity not only for our organization, but our local community as well,” said Gillian Helm, Executive Director. “We’re committed to helping improve adult digital literacy across the Kansas City area and look forward to welcoming our future Fellow this summer.”

“At NTEN, we see the impact that having a digitally engaged community can have on social impact work and want to be sure that every nonprofit and community based organization understands how to be part of the digital world and bring their communities along with them,” said Amy Sample Ward, CEO of NTEN.

You can apply today to be Literacy Kansas City’s Fellow! Applications are now open and interviews may be scheduled on a rolling basis during the application period. Fellow selection may happen before the application’s close date, which is May 13th, so we encourage you to apply today! You can learn more about the Digital Inclusion Fellowship, the available Fellow positions, and how to apply here.

In addition to adult literacy organizations (7 Fellows) like Literacy Kansas City, fellows will also be hosted by libraries (7 Fellows), organizations that provide affordable housing (3 Fellows), and other organizations that specialize in digital inclusion (5 Fellows). All chosen fellows will attend a week long orientation program where they’ll be trained on digital literacy best practices and work to develop leadership skills.

“As the lead sponsor, Google Fiber will again contribute more than $1 million to help administer the fellowship. Our current fellows have reached thousands of people lacking internet access, trained hundreds of volunteers, and received positive feedback from community members. And with the help of NTEN, we hope to continue our progress” said Andrew Bentley, Digital Inclusion Program Manager, Google Fiber.

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One of our digital literacy class students working to improve his typing skills in Literacy Kansas City’s computer lab.

Throughout the past year, our current Digital Inclusion Fellow, Sarah Bell, has worked with students to incorporate digital activities into Literacy Kansas City’s classes. Our digital literacy program focuses on helping our students feel more comfortable using computers and associated digital resources in order to enhance their literacy skills.

“In the 21st century, it is impossible to talk about literacy without mentioning the digital component. Many of the discussions about bridging the digital divide focuses on alleviating barriers, helping those individuals who cannot afford the Internet or a device or who do not have the necessary digital skills to navigate. But what about those individuals who also have low literacy as a barrier? For them, technology can be one more thing that has a lot of words and letters that they don’t have the skills to read, or the confidence to navigate. However, technology can also be a useful tool, and that’s what we are teaching our students here. I believe as we help students break down both sets of barriers, reading/writing and digital, we will see their confidence rise in all areas of literacy” said Sarah Bell, Literacy Kansas City Instructor & Digital Inclusion Fellow.

 

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Literacy KC Assistance Program

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.

Students Persevere

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.

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New Represent Program Launches 15 Student-Interns Toward Success

“The past is important because it makes me learn.” “The future is about trying to be successful.” “The present is here and I’m going to live it!”

These were thoughts voiced by three of the 15 dynamic, ambitious student-interns in the first cohort of Literacy KC’s new Represent program. The innovative curriculum, which began February 8, was designed by Instructor Phil Denver, Program Development Coordinator Anne Gatschet, and Volunteer Coordinator Kate Brown, to build academic reading and writing skills, career readiness, and confidence in students, ages 16-24.  Represent meets every Monday and Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Classes are assisted by five volunteer tutor/coaches, formerly with GEARS and/or Ticket to Read.

“Who would play you in a movie about your life?”

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Represent student-intern groups are joined by five volunteer tutor/coaches.

“Ice-breaker” questions like this were posed for team discussion in the first days of class.  Student-Intern Karahn English responded quickly to this one — Will Smith! Indeed, the outgoing, smart actor is a fitting role model for 16 year old Karahn, one of the first students to enroll in Represent. Karahn was recruited by his enthusiastic cousin Khalif Jones, whose brother Nicodemas Jones has also joined. All attended the Urban Community Leadership Academy, a Kansas City charter middle school forced to close in 2012 due to financial difficulties. The three young men attended a couple of different high schools but adjusting proved challenging.

All three are eager to move forward with their education and work goals. Karahn, whom Phil named “benevolent” in a reading context exercise, is interested in cars and cooking. Nicodemas, whom Phil called “buoyant”, has been interested in technology and construction since a fourth grade metalworking and electrical class. He also loves growing flowers. “Resolute” Khalif is headed for the law profession.

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Represent Instructor Phil Denver is a walking display of creative ideas from the student-interns about how to improve the classroom atmosphere.

All students will be matched with mentors compatible with their career interests. Literacy KC is recruiting mentors now. They will be introduced to the class the week of March 7 and will begin meeting with students once a week for the remainder of the workshop. The mentorship continues with bi-monthly career guidance meetings for a year. Represent will hold dinners through January 2017 for students and mentors to network and socialize. Civic leaders and professionals from diverse backgrounds will make guest appearances in Represent workshops, and give students opportunities for dialogue. Outings to professional and cultural sites are planned around the city.

Part of the Represent workshop is an internship. Students are given assignments that will assist the staff of Literacy KC and other area service agencies. To this end, each cohort of Represent serves on a Young Adults Council, bringing the cultural knowledge of their age group to the planning table to help answer questions about marketing, programming, and recruitment of Kansas City young adults. Student-interns will be paid a stipend of $500 upon completion of the workshop. This offers students the opportunity to earn a letter of recommendation and practice communication skills on the job.

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From left: Represent Student-Interns: Khalif Jones, Nicodemas Jones and Karahn English.

While civic awareness and workforce readiness are the basic themes of Represent, the core practice is literacy. All student-interns must complete 22 hours of Reading Plus outside of class before the 12 week workshop ends on April 27. Students also will write and complete a personal dossier, including a life philosophy statement, resume, cover letter, personality profile, and various writing assignments. The final weeks of the course focus on the financial literacy.

Represent partners with another local workforce readiness program, Culinary Cornerstones, to bring students fresh, healthful breakfast and hot lunch on each class day.  Culinary Cornerstones is a training program in cooking skills developed by Episcopal Community Services. In signature synergistic and community-oriented style, Literacy KC and this innovative culinary program have coordinated an impressive partnership. Huge thanks to Culinary Cornerstones for donating and delivering all meals to Represent.

A second Represent workshop for cohort 2 will begin in June at the same time as Term 2 of Ticket to Read begins.

“If other animals could talk to us, what would they say?”

Nicodemas knew what a bird would say: “I’m ready to fly!”

 

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Practical Steps Toward Achieving a Dream

A year ago, Tierra Lewis was enrolled in a GED class at an area community college, but feeling far from her dream of starting her own childcare business.

“It just didn’t work for me,” says the mother of a daughter, age 11, and son, 6.

Just by chance, Tierra passed by the Literacy KC offices on Armour Blvd. in mid-town Kansas City and stopped in. Later, she did a Google search for more information about what the nonprofit had to offer her.Tierra Lewis

“Cool beans, I’m for it!” she remembers saying, after reading about Ticket to Read and Family Reading Program classes. Tierra began right away by taking the Digital Life Skills prerequisite in Literacy KC’s computer lab before entering literacy classes.

She was also part of a student group who, with their children, attended Mayor Sly James’ summer reading event at the Sprint Center.

Today, Tierra is a pilot student in a new program called Career Online High School (COHS), a partnership between Literacy KC and both Kansas City and Mid-Continent Public Libraries, along with Gale Cengage Learning of Michigan, a leading educational content company. The flexible online education curriculum is designed to help qualified students earn an accredited high school diploma while gaining real-world career training.

COHS scholarships for 25 students will be awarded this year.  In addition to a high school degree, accredited by AdvancedED/SACS, recipients can work toward earning a career certificate in one of eight fields, designated as high-growth and high-demand. These areas include: Child Care & Education, Certified Protection Officer, Homeland Security, Food and Customer Service Skills, Office Management and more.  Academic coaches will be paired with each student. Biweekly online seminars focusing on 21st century skills and monthly career webinars for job market preparation will help students even further.

Tierra’s first online class is Child Development, toward her certificate in Child Care & Education.  “I’m learning about what’s behind interacting with children and how to actually be a business woman, from marketing to legal issues, for my own business,” she says.

Tierra’s next step will be to take the required courses she needs to obtain a diploma.

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Tierra Lewis at the Career Online High School Launch Reception, 1/22/16

Her goal is to complete the program in nine months, about half the average estimated time. The goal appears to be an achievable one.  Tierra is studying every weekday at Literacy KC from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., getting help from instructors, tutors and staff, as needed. In the evenings and weekends she volunteers as Boy Scout den leader for her son’s troop and for the childcare nursery at her church.

“I want to first run my own business in toddler education and daycare,” she says about her future. “Then I’ll go on to be a social worker and help others.”

http://www.careeronlinehs.gale.com/kc/career-certificates/

http://www.careeronlinehs.gale.com/kc/

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Filed under Announcement, COHS, Community Partners, For Students, In The News, Programs & Services, Student Spotlight, Uncategorized, Understanding the Need

Local Author Candice Millard to Speak at Literacy for All Luncheon

In honor of International Literacy Day, September 8, 2015, we are pleased to launch our new Literacy KC blog, Between the Lines. The Family Reading Program will continue its once-a-month blog here, and for the rest of the month we will host a weekly literacy potpourri of reflections, ruminations, information, and anything else we might be thinking. Expect to see interviews with and stories about our students, staff, and volunteers, views from inside our programs to show you how they work, information from LKC and other literacy programs across the nation, and whatever current news we might have on our minds. There might be humor involved, maybe even book reviews.

Speaking of book reviews, all of us are excited to hear what Candice Millard has to say when she speaks on September 25 at the Sixth Annual Literacy for All Luncheon. We’re pretty sure you know about and most likely have read her first two books. Both River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic were New York Times best sellers, and made the lists of “best books of the year” for the Times, the Washingon Post, Kirkus Reviews, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other reviews and lists, including those in The Kansas City Star.

Candice Millard

Candice Millard

We hope she’s going to tell us what’s happening as PBS makes documentaries on those two books for its American Experience series. And we’ll be disappointed if we don’t hear about her third book project, which is about the early years of Winston Churchill. Candice is a graduate of Baker University and lives with her family in Leawood, so it’s particularly nice to see her continued success in the world of serious literature. She has told interviewers that she’s an avid reader of other people’s books and that she mostly works on her books during school hours, like many another working mom with young children.

She’s often praised for her unusual ability to take a subject our youngsters might assume to be immensely boring, such as the life events of a U.S. President, and make the facts come alive in books that weave history into tales full of true adventure, mystery, and intrigue. We look forward to seeing her and you at The Gallery event space in the Power and Light District, from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday, September 25, at this annual luncheon held to benefit LKC.

We’ll be talking at you here about something or other, just about every Thursday. We hope you will be talking back. Don’t be shy, and don’t forget to send us ideas, concepts, and subjects you’d like to read about. We’ll do our best to accommodate you!

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