Washtenaw Literacy Says Annual “World in a Basket” Fundraiser a Success

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40 Years Strong, the Agency fights on against adult illiteracy

Disbelief is a common reaction from people who hear that one in every three working-age adults in Michigan are low-literate, impacting their ability to find jobs sufficient to support a family. We need to face this head-on.

Washtenaw Literacy, a non-profit organization founded in 1971 with a goal to end adult illiteracy, has grown to an organization servicing over 1900 learners through the dedicated efforts of over nearly 700 volunteer tutors. The agency provides a critical service in the face of real crisis in Michigan—steep unemployment figures coupled with high levels of adult illiteracy.

On October 14, Washtenaw Literacy’s 2011 World in a Basket event, an annual fundraiser featuring silent and live auctions, attracted more than 300 guests, providing an important indicator of community interest and continuing support for the agency. Newly appointed Washtenaw Community College President Rose Bellanca and Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley served as honorary hosts for the event, which raised 20% of the group’s budget for the year. Bellanca and Riley spoke passionately about the foundational role that literacy plays in fulfilling life goals and dreams, endorsing the good work of the Agency. Yet the need in Washtenaw County is great, and there is a long journey ahead in the fight to end illiteracy.

“Disbelief is a common reaction from people who hear that one in every three working-age adults in Michigan are low-literate, impacting their ability to find jobs sufficient to support a family. We need to face this head-on,” says Amy Goodman, Executive Director. “Michigan unemployment remains too high and low-literate adults face the hardest challenges of all in their search for employment. We must do more to help. At Washtenaw Literacy, we have a unique opportunity to shine a spotlight on the impact low literacy has on our community and what we must do about it—how wonderful it would be to eliminate illiteracy in the county altogether!”

Goodman notes that during the coming year there will be many opportunities to get involved in the goal to end illiteracy. These events include Power Tutor training, Support Literacy Now in May, World in a Basket 2012 in October, and much more. “There are many ways to help…tutoring, financial contributions, committee work, corporate sponsorships, and in-kind support,” said Goodman. “It will take all of this and more to help end adult illiteracy in Washtenaw County.”

To explore how you can join the fight against illiteracy, please call Washtenaw Literacy at (734) 879-1320 or go to http://www.washtenawliteracy.org.

About Washtenaw Literacy
Washtenaw Literacy’s purpose is straightforward: we help adults change their lives through literacy. Our organization has devoted the last 40 years to helping men and women improve their reading, writing and English as a second language skills. Our 40th anniversary provides a special opportunity to recommit to ending illiteracy in Washtenaw County.

Our core program is one-on-one tutoring. This is the approach our first volunteer tutors used in 1971. The reason we still use it today is because it works. Over 90% of adults in our one-on-one tutoring program reach one or more of their goals. Part of this success stems from our “designer tutor” approach. We train each of our volunteer tutors to plan lessons according to the learner’s strengths, needs and goals. Adult learners in our program are motivated because they are setting, and meeting, their own standards for success.

This focus on individual goals makes our program unique in the county. Washtenaw Literacy is a critical part of our community’s educational continuum. Someday we hope to have no need for our services. Until then, we’ll support our volunteer tutors as they help low-literate men and women improve their skills and their lives.

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Beth Dempsey
Dempsey Communications Group
800.521.0600
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