A Message from the Executive Director:
Happy New Year! All of us at Learn to Read hope your year will be full of literacy! We know ours will be, especially with some big changes ahead, and I am delighted to share with you our New Year’s resolution.
After 50 years, we will be sunsetting the Learn to Read brand and reincorporating as the Literacy Alliance of Northeast Florida. The half century of history and success the Learn to Read brand developed is one we are honored to have led. The student stories and success rates over that time speak for themselves. However, this change comes from listening to our students and hearing that, while they benefited from the instruction, they often found that our name compounded the embarrassment they already struggle with by pointing out their challenges. We want to empower our students in every way possible including ensuring that the organization is one with which they want to openly associate. With this change, they are more than our students, they are one of many members of the Literacy Alliance.
We also heard from supporters that the name can send the message that we are not respectful of our students and unfamiliar with the social stigma they face. The Learn to Read name appeared in 1969 and was popular in many areas throughout the country as the efforts to address adult illiteracy grew. But, it is a name that is literally from another era. Our fellow literacy organizations around the state long ago established different brands.
Literacy also takes on many forms and is not limited to reading. While we began as a provider of one-on-one volunteer reading tutors, and that is still a key part of our services, we also now provide small group classes and online learning tools including new smartphone apps that resulted from the national X Prize for Literacy and our partnership with ProLiteracy Worldwide. In addition to reading and writing, we also provide instruction in basic math, financial literacy, digital literacy, health literacy and family literacy.
The Literacy Alliance emerged from suggestions by students and from research done by the Florida Literacy Coalition about student retention. Over the next few months, you will start to see the evolution as we change logos, websites, and other outward signs of the changes. What will not change is our commitment to our students and opportunities for their learning. In fact, we plan to begin offering many new programs throughout the year.
Who makes up this alliance? All of you! Whether you are a student, instructor, tutor, donor, program partner or any combination of those, you are part of our alliance for literacy. As we all work toward upskilling the lives of our fellow citizens, we look forward to involving all of you. More literacy means more learning which means more opportunity. Thank you for being a part of the Literacy Alliance of Northeast Florida.
Yours in literacy,
Marcus Haile