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26th Annual Spelling Bee Breaks All Records!

Congratulations to Just Deserts from Pack Memorial Library who won the Bee in a heated spell-off round with the six remaining teams.

It was a packed house at the Salvage Station with 14 eager teams and an enthusiastic audience. Emcee David Ostergaard brought his best punch lines, keeping the teams on their toes and the audience in stitches. He somehow manages to make even the recitation of the spelling bee rules hilarious.

Rezaz team

Much Ado About Sofra, Team Rezaz

There was a Shakespeare-inspired song by Katie Kasben and intermission improv entertainment by The Reasonable Endings, a collective of various improv groups in Asheville. All spellers received valuable prizes, as well as some audience members.

This year broke all records raising $12,000 for Literacy Council programs. Funds were raised through team entry fees and “cheat” purchases, audience tickets, and a hilarious auction of items from emcee David Ostergaard’s home.

We could not have done it without the teams, the audience, our Spelling Bee Committee, and volunteers.

Winning Team: Just Deserts, Pack Memorial Library
Highest Fundraisers: The ‘NUTty Bees, Chestnut/Corner Kitchen
Second Highest Fundraisers: Much Ado About Sofra, Rezaz
Best Team Costume: Just Deserts, Pack Memorial Library

A huge thank you to all the teams that participated this year!

Asheville Citizen-Times
Chai Pani
Diadasias of WWC – Warren Wilson College
Just Deserts – Pack Memorial Library
Much Ado About Sofra – Rezaz
The ‘NUTty Bees – Chestnut/Corner Kitchen
Taming of the Rhu – Rhubarb
SEO & Juliet – JB Media
Simply Macbest – Kendra Castle
The Spell Casters – Calvin Allen
Three Blind Mice – Katherine Cross
Tragically Malicious – Malaprop’s Book Store
UNC Bulldogs – UNCA Alumni
The Wise Fools – Soomo Learning

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Mi Historia: Latinos Today in Western North Carolina

mi historia

Sueños is the name of the mural created by El Centro of Henderson County youth in 2003. It shows the beauty of the Latino culture in the United States. Photo courtesy of El Centro.

Join the Literacy Council for the opening reception of the “Mi Historia: Latinos Today in Western North Carolina” exhibit on Monday, April 24th at 5:30 pm. All volunteers, tutors, students, and community members are welcome to participate in the event as we offer a glimpse into the important stories of the local immigrant population.  Light hors d’oeuvres, beer, and wine will be provided. 

What is the exhibit about?

This stunning collection of personal testimony and imagery covers everything from why individuals left their home countries to the realities of day-to-day life in the United States. You can expect to learn more about how Latinos have contributed to the state economy, navigated identity conflicts, overcome language barriers, and shared important aspects of culture, such as religion, food, holidays, and art. 

Can’t make opening night?

This exhibit is on loan from the Center for Diversity Education at UNC Asheville and will be available for viewing during regular business hours through the end of May. If you have an extra 30 minutes, stop by the Literacy Council for a self-guided tour of the display. Activity guides will also available to help facilitate reflection.

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Join the Literacy Council Team in 2017/18

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Position Filled

Are you looking for the opportunity to make a difference? The Literacy Council has an exciting opportunity to join our team for a year! Apply today to become the Literacy Council’s next Recruitment and Awareness Coordinator through AmeriCorps.
 

Position Description

Join AmeriCorps and “get things done”! Become a NC LiteracyCorps member at the Literacy Council of Buncombe County and improve literacy and English language skills in our community.

NC LiteracyCorps members provide literacy tutoring to youth and adults while building program capacity through volunteer tutor recruitment and management. The LiteracyCorps member working with the Literacy Council of Buncombe County will have the opportunity to:

  • provide direct service tutoring,
  • recruit and orient volunteers,
  • recruit and support students,
  • develop and enhance community partnerships,
  • conduct visibility campaigns,
  • manage a book gifting program, and
  • participate in national days of service.

The Literacy Council’s NC LiteracyCorps member will begin in August 2017 and complete their service year in July 2018. Over the course of the year, the member will become an integral part of the Literacy Council’s full-time team, providing 1,700 hours of service.

The new application period begins Aug. 22 and closes Sept. 8. 2017. 

AmeriCorps LogoBenefits to the Member

NC LiteracyCorps members receive a living allowance of up to $12,630 and qualify for limited health insurance reimbursements. Upon completion of requirements, they are eligible to receive an educational award of $5,815. NC LiteracyCorps members receive training in volunteer management, literacy issues, tutoring strategies, diversity, and leadership skills. The member placed with the Literacy Council will also have a professional development stipend to participate in conferences and seminars throughout the service year.

Qualifications

To serve with the NC LiteracyCorps, the member must:

  • be at least 17 years old
  • have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • successfully pass statewide and national criminal background checks
  • be a U.S. Citizen, National, or Legal Permanent Resident of the United States

Preferred qualifications are:

  • a deep commitment to providing educational opportunities to economically disadvantaged adults and youth and/or those who are from other cultures
  • excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to work effectively with staff, volunteers, and members of the community
  • outstanding written and oral communication skills
  • a working knowledge of office technology including Microsoft Office suites
  • ability to work independently and collaboratively
  • creative, strategic thinker with excellent organizational skills and ability to track deadlines
  • available to work occasional evenings

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Two Calls to Make This Week in Support of Literacy Council Operations

Call #1: Support AmeriCorps

The Literacy Council of Buncombe County has hosted four AmeriCorps members through the NC LiteracyCorps. These four members have:

  • AmeriCorps LogoContributed over 60,000 hours to the Literacy Council’s programs
  • Tutored 11 ESOL, Adult Education, and Augustine Project students
  • Oriented over 450 new volunteer tutors
  • Updated our website (twice!)
  • Managed our social media accounts
  • Launched and managed Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
  • Taught early literacy workshops for 75 families

We hope that anyone who appreciates this worthwhile program will contact Congress and ask them to protect the federal investment in our national service programs like AmeriCorps. This nonpartisan program means so much to our tutors, students and community. Call or contact your congressional representatives online. Click here for a resource to make it easy for you.

Call #2: Oppose the Repeal of the “Johnson Amendment”

The “Johnson Amendment,” in place since 1954, lays out the ground rules that help insulate 501(c)(3) organizations from partisan politics. The law provides that charitable nonprofits:

  • Tutor and Adult Education studentcan’t endorse or oppose candidates for office;
  • can’t coordinate their activities with candidates, political parties, or PACs; and
  • must refrain from making political campaign contributions. 

“Eliminating the law would mean that individual 501(c)(3) nonprofits could come to be regarded as Democratic charities or Republican charities instead of the nonpartisan problem solvers they are,” said David Heinen from the NC Center for Nonprofits. “…this would diminish the public’s overall trust in the nonprofit sector and consequently would limit nonprofits’ effectiveness in carrying out their mission-related programs and activities. The law also ensures that donors’ charitable contributions are used for the charitable, religious, and educational purposes for which they are intended rather than being diverted to political parties or candidates.” Click here to read more from the NC Center for Nonprofits.

Please consider calling your congressional representatives and ask them to protect our nation’s nonprofits by preserving current federal tax law protections that prohibit 501(c)(3) organizations from endorsing, opposing, or contributing to political candidates.

Update 3/31/17: The Literacy Council of Buncombe County joined other nonprofits across the nation in signing on to a Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship. Read it by clicking here.

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Mountain Xpress: Groups cooperate to help kids learn to read

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Graphic by Lori Deaton

We at Read to Succeed Asheville and the Literacy Council of Buncombe County welcome an ongoing conversation about the achievement gap. This disturbing and repressive characteristic of school systems is marked by disparity in children’s educational performance based on their socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, native language and other factors. Thank you, [Blair] Fielding, for your voluntarism and your response [“Augustine Project Also Helps Young Readers,” Feb. 1, Xpress] to the Jan. 11 [Xpress] article, “Closing Asheville’s Achievement Gap.”

Our two organizations enjoy a cooperative relationship that continues to grow and evolve. One important element of our partnership is cross-referring students so that children who struggle to read receive the best service possible for their unique needs. The passionate and well-trained volunteer tutors at the Literacy Council’s Augustine Project and R2S fill a critical need within our community. They help students overcome barriers to educational success, building the child’s confidence alongside their reading, writing and spelling skills. These outcomes are truly life-altering.

An important correction: R2S seeks to serve students of color who live in poverty and are on the losing side of the achievement gap. About 60 percent of participants live in Asheville’s subsidized housing, and the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville is a longtime supporter of R2S. Subsidized housing residence is not a requirement for participation in the program.

Both organizations welcome qualified volunteers who wish to train to be tutors. Please contact the Literacy Council at 828-254-3442 and Read to Succeed at 828-747-2277 for more information.

— Ashley Lasher
Director, Literacy Council of Buncombe County

— Pat Bastian
Director, Read To Succeed Asheville

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