Literacy Council Has New Moniker

November 16, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Kent County Literacy Council is unveiling today its new name and logo, the Literacy Center of West Michigan. The new name positions the organization for future growth of all its services to people beyond Kent County as its resources grow.

Specifically, the organization’s Customized Workplace English program, which helps companies improve the English language skills of their employees, is now being offered to businesses and organizations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties. As a fee-based service, the CWE program helps financially to sustain the Literacy Center of West Michigan, which also offers the Adult Tutoring and Family Literacy programs to adult learners in KentCounty. Through these programs, the organization helps hundreds of adults each year to learn to read and improve their English language skills.

According to a news release, the LiteracyCenter’s mission remains the same: “Building a literate community and transforming lives by strengthening reading and language skills.” The organization helps approximately 600 adult learners each year and has 250 trained volunteer tutors.

The organization has experienced growth through its 21-year history and the demand for its literacy services has continued to increase as the geographic area it serves has broadened. In addition to its traditional adult tutoring services and the workplace English instruction, the organization is now taking literacy into early intervention programs with parents of preschoolers. Its English as a second language program is also growing.

“Our new name and logo position us to take our literacy services to more people, not just here in KentCounty but throughout West Michigan, as our resources grow,” said Susan K. Ledy, executive director of the Literacy Center of West Michigan. “More and more companies are asking for our help in improving English language skills among workers. Since our Customized Workplace English program is fee-based, we are able to meet the demand for those services first. As our financial resources grow, we hope to expand the reach of our services for our other programs.”

Since 2002, master-level instructors have taken the Customized Workplace English program directly to more than 40 companies and organizations helping them to improve the English language skills of their employees. The Family Literacy program, the newest addition to the LiteracyCenter’s programs, helps break the cycle of intergenerational illiteracy by helping parents/caregivers become better readers to children through tutoring, workshops and family literacy events. The Adult Tutoring program provides free, one-on-one tutoring, pairing the adult learner with a trained volunteer tutor to improve reading or English language skills. 

The organization relies on donations from individuals, corporations, organizations and foundations for monetary support, and volunteers are a critical component in delivering services.  It costs $1,200 to fund all the materials, programming and operational costs to help one adult learner in the Adult Tutoring program; $250 to train one of the 100 new volunteer tutors recruited each year; and, $2,500 to fund one of the eight family literacy nights held each year.

In addition to donations, volunteers are needed. The Adult Tutoring Program seeks 100 volunteers as tutors. Individuals are asked to volunteer for 90 minutes a week and are given training.

The Literacy Center of West Michigan will continue to operate from its offices at the main branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library,

111 Library St. NE, Grand Rapids
, and will maintain the same telephone number.

The organization’s Web site address is now: www.literacycenterwm.org.

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