Thursday, November 30, 1989

Ventura Co Library - Officials Seek Federal Grant for Adult Reading Programs


Adults who read at lower-grade levels would benefit from a $25,000 federal grant Ventura County library officials want to augment adult reading programs.

The Board of Supervisors has approved applying for the money from the U.S. Department of Education but it won't know until June 1990 if its programs are selected for funding, said Pat Flanigan, coordinator of the county Library Services Agency's adult literacy program.

"It takes a long time," Flanigan said. "They have to read through grant applications from all over the United States. We have to compete with them, and we're never sure we're going to get what we ask for."

The grant would be used, in part, to set up a new adult reading center at Oxnard Adult School facilities at the Camarillo Airport and to expand use of the Adult School's reading lab in Oxnard, Flanigan said.

Some money will go to buy easy-reading books that appeal to adult interests, and increase training for volunteer reading tutors, according to the grant application.

While earlier local programs have targeted people who cannot read at all, the county now is trying to find people who can read, but only at a low grade level, Flanigan said.

"We're discovering that there are many people who have some basic education, but it's just not enough to meet the goals - social or professional - that they've set for themselves," she said.

Often, such people had to drop out of school at an early age, or suffered learning disabilities that prevented them from progressing past basic reading levels, she said.

According to state Department of Education figures, an estimated 82,000 or more county residents read below the fifth-grade level, and of those people, nearly 58,000 can't read at all, Flanigan said.

People who have basic reading skills are easier to reach than non-readers
because they can read newspaper articles and advertisements geared to reach them, and because "they don't feel as stigmatized as people who don't read at all," she said.

Flanigan said that it is hard to convince non-readers to participate in the reading program because they are embarrassed to admit they can't read.

But many lower-level readers are often eager to increase their skill.

The county has some books for adult readers and plans to spend a recent $5,000 gift from Bank of A. Levy and much of the $3,500 raised during a fund- raising spelling bee in October on new purchases, Flanigan said.

In the early days of adult literacy programs, available books catered to elementary school-aged children, but since a national push began to teach illiterate adults to read, publishers have been turning out more books on adult subject matter, she said.

"We have more adult materials available now than we ever had," she said.

Since the county's adult literacy program began in 1984, more than 1,500 county residents have been interviewed, tested for reading proficiency and either referred to other community programs or matched with tutors. Volunteers have donated more than 15,000 hours of tutoring time, she said.

Monday, October 30, 1989

Glendale Library :: Joins Reading Improvement Effort

LIBRARY IN GLENDALE JOINS READING-IMPROVEMENT EFFORTDaily News: October 22, 1989 by Denise Haddix-Niemiec

The Glendale Public Library Adult Reading Program and 45 other libraries have pooled their financial resources to fund two public-service announcements aimed at people who want to improve their reading.

The Glendale program contributed $500 in California Adult Literacy Campaign funds to $14,000 gathered to produce 30- and 15-second television commercials set to be broadcast on independent and national stations statewide sometime this month, said Georganna Ahlfors, coordinator of Glendale's tutor service.

"About one-third of the people in California need reading-and-writing help," Ahlfors said. "It is the (people with reading problems) that we need to reach because they don't read the newspaper and they don't read billboards or signs, so we need to reach them in a different way."

Bea Lewis, manager of public service for television station KNBC, said the station received their tapes of the commercials this week.

If the messages are cleared for air time, the spots could be broadcast on Channel 4 within two weeks, Lewis said.

Ahlfors said there are always tutors volunteering, but the ratio is 200 prospective teachers to 100 students.

This disparity prompted the Glendale Library System to spend part of their $79,000 annual operating budget on the promotion that is geared to finding readers who need help, she said.

The Santa Barbara-based Bradley Mansfield Agency and Los Angeles director Daniel Berkowitz developed the concept for the commercials which depict black- and-white images of adults who have reading problems and its effect on their job and family situations.

The final color segment shows the learners getting help in a library setting.

Glendale officials hope that the commercials will expand awareness of their program's offerings because the state library system plans to start phasing out the funding.

Wednesday, August 30, 1989

Ventura Co Library - Ventura Spelling Bee To Aid Adult Literacy

VENTURA SPELLING BEE TO AID ADULT LITERACYDaily News: August 6, 1989 by Carol Bidwell

The Ventura County Literacy Coalition is trying to line up businesses for an unusual spelling bee - and the group hopes the event spells M-O-N-E-Y for adult literacy programs.

Companies are being asked to pay $300 to sponsor a team of two spellers for the Oct. 17 Executive Spelling Bee, said Pat Flanigan, coordinator of both the 2-month-old coalition and the county Library Services Agency's reading program for adults.

This is the first year for the event, which Flanigan called "a lighthearted adaptation of the traditional school spelling bee you either loved or hated as a kid."

Executive Spelling Bee is modeled after a similar event held last year in Santa Paula, in which teams of civic leaders and business representatives tried to outspell each other to raise money for literacy.

As a special gimmick to add a bit of fun - and to raise more money for adult literacy - teams that misspell a word or do not want to try can buy a new word for $100. Or for $100, a team can pass along a particularly difficult word to another team of its choice. That team can either take a whack at spelling the word, or pay $100 to pass it along to another team.

School spelling champions from several communities will also attend, and a team can pass its word along to their area's champ by paying $100, said Flanigan.

Companies that want to sponsor spelling teams can call Flanigan at (805) 652-6294. The event will begin at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Doubletree Hotel, 2055 E. Harbor Blvd.

The evening will also honor volunteer tutors and adult learners in five local learn-to-read programs, Flanigan said.

Since the county's adult literacy program began in 1984, more than 1,500 county residents have been interviewed, tested for reading proficiency and either referred to other community programs or matched with tutors. Volunteers have given more than 15,000 hours of tutoring time, said Flanigan.

Still, the literacy program is reaching only a small number of county residents who cannot read, Flanigan said.

According to state Department of Education figures, an estimated 82,000 or more county residents read below the fifth-grade level, and of those people, nearly 58,000 can't read at all, she said.

"For one reason or another, they just fell through the cracks when they were young," Flanigan said. "Sometimes, they've done a lot of moving around as children, from one school to another . . . or the home didn't have the right atmosphere for learning. Often, the parents couldn't read themselves. Sometimes the parents had learning difficulties themselves."

Some of the adults who cannot read had vision or hearing problems as children that made learning difficult.

"For the most part, they have normal intelligence," she said. "They just didn't get enough attention when they were kids."

There are many reasons adults decide to finally learn to read, Flanigan said, but most of them are job-related. One of the men in the program said recently he chose to enter the program before his boss discovered his inability to read, she said.

"He had been giving things to his secretary, telling her, 'You'll need to know about this. Read it and let me know what you think,' " Flanigan said. ''And she would report back to him, which is how he would know what was in the paper.

"He's been doing this for a long time, but he said he thinks his boss is catching on to the fact that he can't read," Flanigan said.

It takes six to 18 months for adult learners to complete the program, and about 75 percent of those who begin tutoring complete the full course, compared to 45 percent of adult learners nationwide, Flanigan said.

"We get the most motivated people," she said.

Although many of the county's homeless residents are probably in need of tutoring, none of them have enrolled in the program, Flanigan said.

Sunday, July 30, 1989

San Diego Public Library - People with determination and sensitivity - like Conchita Gutierrez - are crucial to teaching the illiterate to Read on!

People with determination and sensitivity - like Conchita Gutierrez
- are crucial to teaching the illiterate to Read on!
Evening Tribune: July 5, 1989 by Greg Joseph
read complete article @

CONCHITA GUTIERREZ sees learning as the great hope in life, and the ability to
read and write as the surest means of fulfilling that hope.

It is an opportunity, she believes, that everyone deserves.

So Gutierrez -- a 63-year-old widow, mother of four and grandmother of one -- knew what she had to do last year when she heard that the San Diego Public Library was launching its READ/San Diego adult literacy program to help people with impaired reading and writing skills.

Gutierrez, a homemaker from University City, went to READ/San Diego headquarters in East San Diego and volunteered to do anything she could to make the program succeed.

That was in June of 1988.

Since then, Gutierrez has spent more than 1,000 hours as a volunteer in the program -- or about five times the amount of time devoted by most volunteers, according to officials -- doing everything from tutoring a young mother several times a week to working in various administrative and clerical capacities at READ/San Diego headquarters.

And she's far from finished. She will become manager of a READ/San Diego center to open in North Park in September, even while continuing with her present duties. All will be on a volunteer basis.

For her efforts, Gutierrez was just honored as the program's volunteer of the year.

In all, 425 volunteers have participated in the program and helped about 350 people, according to Chris McFadden, adult literacy coordinator for READ/San Diego.

. . . Continued
There are 27 million Americans who don't know how to read -- 4 1/2 million functionally illiterate in California and an estimated 350,000 such people in San Diego County.

READ/San Diego is staffed by literacy professionals who oversee volunteer reading tutors, who in turn receive comprehensive training and generally meet their students twice a week for a total of three hours at one of the 32 San Diego city libraries or at a mutually convenient tutoring site.

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