LEELA SHANKAR

Daily Point of Light # 2165 May 22, 2002

The United States is the richest and most prosperous nation; however, there are many living here who cannot read. The Literacy Volunteers of America, Newark and Essex County (LVA) were founded to meet a social need; their mission was to teach people to read. LVA is a nonprofit, volunteer educational organization dedicated to addressing adult literacy and problems related to the same. The main offices are located on the campuses of Seton Hall University, South Orange and Essex County College, Newark. LVA provides free literacy services to adults 15 years and older. The services include instruction in basic literacy, English conversation and family literacy.

There are various groups who are served by LVA. Adult students participating in the Basic Literacy program have been identified as reading below the 6th grade. The adult students in the English Conversation program have been recognized as needing to learn to understand, speak and write English in a more proficient manner. The students that take part in the Family Literacy program read at a low level and have children who have learning difficulties. In addition, all adult students have the opportunity to develop employment and life-coping skills as well as a working knowledge of community resources available in their area.

LVA wishes to provide a comprehensive program in basic reading and English conversation. To accomplish this, LVA recruits and trains volunteer tutors. They have pre-test, post- test and instructs adult students along with providing continued in-service training to tutors. LVA also provides peer group seminars for students and tutors and ongoing communication with the community it serves. LVA believes once the students have gained the valuable basic skills, a knowledge of their community resources, and life-coping skills, they will be better able to effect their personal, educational and career goals.

LVA has developed a family literacy model designed to complement existing adult literacy programs to further provide an all-inclusive program in family literacy. “Reading With Children” (RWC) forms the basis of this model. RWC’s target audience is pre-school and elementary school children, adults who read at 1QW levels and professional teaching staff. The RWC training model uses seven simple reading strategies that professional staff and parents alike are trained to use as they work as a team to teach children. The parents will hopefully become motivated to participate as students in the Basic Literacy or ESL programs of LVA.

LVA is aware they will be more effective if they mobilize resources and network. Thus, they have formed many partnerships with community agencies to reach their goals. Some of their community partners are: Babyland Family Services, East Orange Department of Human Services, East Orange High Schools, East Orange Public Library, Essex County College, FOCUS/Hispanic Community Center of Newark, Haitian Center of Irvington, Ironbound Community Corporation of Newark, La Casa of Newark, The Leaguers, Newark Adult School, Newark Preschool Council, and New Jersey Department of Education.

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