Tutor a child, change a life.

An unmet need and a substantial waiting list

The Literacy Council of Buncombe County’s biggest current need is additional volunteer tutors for the Augustine Project. This program serves low-income children who read, write, and/or spell below grade level.  The current waiting list has more than 50 children seeking tutoring. Tutoring is one-on-one and every new tutor we train will be matched with a student from our waiting list who desperately needs literacy tutoring to catch up with their classmates.

New training model makes it easier to become an Augustine tutor

We have made the training commitment easier, working with current and potential volunteers to restructure the timing, content, and delivery of the volunteer training. 

Augustine Project volunteer tutor training will take place Jan. 14-18, 9am-4pm. After training, tutors will spend two hours per week with their student. New tutors can typically be matched with students at schools of their choice.

Contact Rebecca to sign up today! rebecca@litcouncil.com or 828-254-3442 x202

Create the impact of a lifetime

“The Augustine Project and Mary Fraser (my son’s tutor) have been an answer to our prayers…  This program has helped Graham’s reading  immensely, and his self esteem has also improved. Our family is truly blessed by this program and by the help that Mary has provided.” 

Barbara, an Augustine Project student’s mother

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Reaching Children Who Need Books the Most

A program designed for all children

The Literacy Council of Buncombe County currently has the capacity to enroll 1,905 children in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library thanks to funding from Buncombe Partnership for Children and the NC state legislature. This book gifting program mails a free, age-appropriate book to enrolled children every month from birth until they turn five years old. The program is designed to be open to all children under the age of five in a service area. 

Partners are key to enrolling
hard-to-reach children

At the Literacy Council of Buncombe County, we know that more literate and middle-to-high income families tend to hear about the program more frequently through social media and the internet; have access to computers, printers, and postage stamps to submit the enrollment form; and have the literacy skills needed to fill out the enrollment form.

In order to ensure that we are also reaching children who live in households without these resources, we have developed partnerships with organizations that can assist families in high-needs, low-income, and/or low-literate homes in filling out the enrollment paperwork. By doing so, we are working to ensure that children from homes with few books can start receiving free books in the mail each month.

A new partnership reaches recently-homed families

Local nonprofit Homeward Bound has two programs that offer housing to individuals and families currently living in shelters, their cars, or on the streets. To welcome formerly homeless people into their new homes, Rezaz is donating a “first meal,” and the Literacy Council is enrolling any children under the age of five in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.  Together, these partners are providing housing, food, and children’s books to families as they enter the safety and comfort of permanent housing.

Other referral partners

Nonprofits that meet a variety of needs in Buncombe County are enrolling their clients in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. These organizations include:

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2018 Spelling Bee is a Happy Success

The Literacy Council’s 27th Annual Spelling Bee crowned Malaprop’s Buzz Killz as this year’s winners.

The Buzz Killz in all their crowned glory.

The Imagination Librarians judged the event with aplomb despite the weight of their wigs.

JB Media provided the entire judges panel this year, The Imagination Librarians, left to right: Sarah Yerkey, Tara Mele, Dolly Parton, Leah Shapiro, and Mandy Gardner.

It was a fierce competition that came down to the final three teams: The Words & The Bees (Soomo Learning), The Phonetix (ESOL Tutor Team), and The Buzz Killz (Malaprop’s). After The Words & The Bees were eliminated, The Phonetix and The Buzz Killz went head to head to the finish.

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HUGE thanks you to all the teams that competed this year!

Bee Magic—Lily Stejskal Beenut Butter Spelly Time—Buncombe Partnership for Children & Spellbound Bookshop The Buzz Kills—Malaprop’s Book Store The Phonetix – ESOL Tutor Team led by Ben Fehsenfeld The Stone Cold Jane Austens—Pack Memorial Library Tremendous Tutors—ESOL Tutor Team 2 led by Sarah Oram Scattered & Smothered—Jasper Adams The Words & The Bees – Soomo Learning

BIG bee hugs and thanks to all our in kind donors!

Asheville Bee Charmer Asheville Tourists Barbara Swell Chestnut Cosmic Groove Grail Moviehouse Harvest Records The Hop JCC Kilwin’s LaZoom Moog Nantahala Outdoor Center The Gorge/ Green River Adventures Southern Highland Craft Guild YWCA

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Learning About Building Equity and Social Justice

equality vs equity smaller

The Literacy Council staff is investing time in learning about building equity and social justice within the Literacy Council, in the nonprofit sector, and in our local community. Here are some resources that we are using to equip ourselves with knowledge and educated opinions. Volunteer tutors may be interested in learning through these same resources, and possibly even sharing what they learn with students in lessons, as they see appropriate.

More info at eji.org

What’s White Got to do With It Part I (recorded webinar): Explore the socio-political and historical contexts of whiteness and how the white dominant culture by which most nonprofits operate was constructed and has been upheld through policy, legal decisions, and Eurocentric cultural values.

What’s White Got to do With It Part II (recorded webinar): Take a deeper dive into the extent that white dominant cultural tendencies have been internalized and operationalized within our nonprofits and the role that gatekeepers have in perpetuating or disrupting non-inclusive practices and policies. We’ll explore tactics that unite your staff and board in prioritizing equity and looking at the organization’s work and culture through a racial equity lens. 

YWCA Asheville Racial Justice Workshop (in-person workshop): This 90-minute workshop takes place on the second Tuesday of each month at 11:30 am at the YWCA, open to anyone in our community looking to grow their understanding of racism and racial justice.

Hood Huggers (walking or driving tour): Asheville’s black history and art tours, offered weekly

White Supremacy Culture: Treachery and Transformation (recorded webinar): Webinar hosted by the NC Center for Nonprofits.  Promotes a shared understanding of what white supremacy culture is and how it manifests in our organizations so we are better positioned to challenge it.

Personal Self-Assessment of Anti-Bias Behavior (worksheet): Published by the Anti-Defamation League, this worksheet encourages anti-bias self-reflection and goal creation.

Project Implicit: Social Attitudes Associations Test (online test): Developed by researchers interested in implicit social cognition, this tool helps identify personal “blind spots” in an effort to become aware of one’s own implicit biases. 

Impact > Intention: Understanding Implicit Bias (recorded webinar): Webinar hosted by the NC Center for Nonprofits “Are we practicing what we preach? Or is our implicit bias negatively affecting our decisions in spite of our good intentions?” Presented by Ivan Canada and Michael Robinson of the National Conference for Community and Justice of the Piedmont Triad

When Racial Equity Gets Real: Moving Beyond Theory to Daily Practice (recorded webinar): Webinar hosted by WNC Nonprofit Pathways. “Tamiko Ambrose Murray, a community-based researcher, cultural organizer, facilitator and consultant and Marisol Jiménez, founder and lead consultant for Tepeyac Consulting, dive into some ‘real talk’ about racial equity and hear the experiences and perspectives of other nonprofit leaders in their efforts to move from theory to practice.”

Rain in a Dry Land (documentary): Screened in the Literacy Council office on 2/7/18, available to rent from YouTube Video. “An intimate portrait of two families who leave behind a legacy of slavery in Africa to discover new challenges in 21st-century America.”

The Waters & Harvey Show (podcast): “The Waters & Harvey Show, co-hosted bDr. Waters and Dr. Marcus Harvey, is produced by Dr. Waters at Blue Ridge Public Radio. The show offers listeners informed conversations and interviews about history, culture and their impact on current affairs. According to Waters, ‘Our series is committed to giving voice to historically marginalized people and communities. Through our lively conversations, we hope to encourage a deeper understanding of our vibrant community.'”

How to Think Differently about Diversity in Nonprofit Leadership: Get Comfortable with Discomfort (article): Article published by Nonprofit Quarterly. “This article is part of an ongoing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Project by the publication [and it] addresses ways of thinking differently about a variety of issues affecting the nonprofit sector.”

Boards in Motion: Moving from Diversity to Equity (recorded webinar): Webinar hosted by WNC Nonprofit Pathways. “Tamiko Ambrose Murray (Center for Participatory Change) and Kate Pett (Asheville City Schools Foundation) explore the role of racial equity at the board level and delve into one board’s story on the road toward achieving greater equity.”

Scene on the Radio: Seeing White (podcast): Events of the past few years have turned a challenging spotlight on White people, and Whiteness, in the United States. This series explores what it means to be White. By John Biewen, with special guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.

Scene on the Radio: The Land That Never Has Been Yet (podcast): The season-long series will touch on concerns like authoritarianism, voter suppression and gerrymandering, foreign intervention, and the role of money in politics, but we’ll go much deeper, effectively retelling the story of the United States. 

Local Support

Asheville Black owned businesses – compiled by AVL Today

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