Friday, November 07, 2008

Literacy Coffee with the Mayor

Mayor Coss held his monthly Morning Coffee with the Mayor this week. He established this tradition soon after being elected. There is always a pertinent topic dealing with issues in Santa Fe that will draw dozens to almost 100 concerned citizens and workers in the area being discussed.

This Coffee focused on literacy and a wide range of providers and concerned community groups attended. Someone asked me if I attended every one as they had seen me at several. I do try to attend in order to get the Library’s message out about our resources and ascertain ways that the Library can be more involved to serve the community.

The Library’s literacy efforts begin with infants in caregivers’ arms hearing stories and learning finger plays. We try to engage the entire family in this pre-reading program.

The statistics on literacy just in Santa Fe County were staggering—almost one half of Santa Fe County residents read at below the 5th grade level. Of 13,000 students in the Santa Fe Public Schools, almost half are early English language learners. It is estimated that in New Mexico, 50% of the population is functionally illiterate.

But the good news is that once an adult took part in a literacy program, many got jobs. One out of five adult students who enrolled in a literacy program was no longer receiving public assistance. The connection between literacy and the economy is clear. Literacy is tied to quality of life—not just for the learner, but their family and the community.

The New Mexico Coalition for Literacy and Literacy Volunteers of Santa Fe train volunteers and work to enroll those who need help. Some businesses in Santa Fe provide their staff with time off to work with literacy volunteers on the job site. What a win-win situation.

So if you can volunteer or donate to Literacy or have your business host a class, you are taking a step for a better community.

by PCH @ Main

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