2009-06-03 / School News

Literacy program revives after funding slashed

By Anne Marie Kyzer annemariek@thatruecitizen.com

Dollar General manager Elizabeth Myers presents a $10,500 check from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to Allene Reed and Linda Bailey for the Burke County Family Literacy Program. The program was recently revived thanks to local partnerships and grant funding. Dollar General manager Elizabeth Myers presents a $10,500 check from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to Allene Reed and Linda Bailey for the Burke County Family Literacy Program. The program was recently revived thanks to local partnerships and grant funding. A program that helps local parents earn their GEDs is back in business following a six month hiatus due to a lack of funds.

Last June, Burke County's Even Start stopped offering classes when the U.S. Department of Education cut some $200,000 that had been allocated annually to run the program. For eight years, Even Start offered parents free childcare, transportation and parenting classes while they earned their GEDs.

Program director Allene Reed was determined not to let the program close its doors. Since last fall, she has rallied support through partnerships and grants to revive the service as the Burke County Family Literacy Program.

Her main hurdle was securing funds to pay teachers. But a partnership with Augusta Technical College's adult literacy program solved that problem and she was able to start offering classes again in March.

"It turned out to be a win-win situation," Reed said, referring to the arrangement with ATC. "It was the collaboration of that partnership that allowed me to start back up again."

ATC is providing a teacher for the GED classes, and the college's early childhood care and education program is providing interns to help with the childcare portion of the literacy program.

Though the program had to move to half-days and the parenting classes are no longer offered, Reed said the core of her mission remains intact. She wants parents to become literate despite the challenges of lacking childcare and transportation.

"I want them to become independent learners," she said. "When they take ownership of their learning, they see how important education is for them in the future."

Reed also continues to search for support and funding, especially locally.

The program receives considerable in-kind contributions from the Burke County Board of Education, which provides building space and acts as the fiscal agent. Burke County Board of Commissioners and DFCS also support the program.

In addition, Dollar General awarded the program a $10,500 grant to upgrade GED teaching software and buy new instructional materials.

"Hopefully, there may be other non-profits in the community that may want to partner with the family literacy program," Reed said.

BURKE COUNTY FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAM

Next quarter: Begins July 8 (Aligned with Augusta Tech's quarter system)

Hours: 8 a.m.-noon, Monday- Thursday

Childcare: Available for children ages 9 months to 4 years old Transportation is available

Location: Third wing of Burke County Alternative School campus, 500 Park Drive (Same as Even Start location)

For more information, contact

Reed at 706-551-1181

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