Literacy Volunteers of Beaufort County
Literacy Volunteers of Beaufort County Program
Literacy Volunteers of Beaufort County is a non-profit, volunteer organization whose primary goal is to promote literacy in Beaufort County. The mission of the Literacy Volunteers of Beaufort County (LVBC) is to empower the citizens of Beaufort County by providing free, confidential, one-to-one tutoring in reading, writing, English, and mathematics to undereducated legal adults. This is done through one-on-one or small group tutoring of adults. This service is free and confidential. Tutoring takes place in public places such as Brown Library, BCCC Learning Resource Library, churches, and other public locations. All tutors must take either the Basic Literacy Workshop or English as a Second Language Workshop prior to any tutoring, and most are soon matched with a student depending on availability. Follow-up support is provided to both the student and the tutor. LV-BC provides free in service training sessions for tutors during the year.
The nonprofit LVBC was established in October 2001 in response to the great need for adult literacy services in this poor, rural county. According to nationally accepted estimates of literacy, 27% percent of the county’s adults are considered Level 1(non-readers) and an additional 34% are only Level 2 (marginally literate). www.casas.org/lit Census 2000 data indicated that among adults 25 years of age or older, 8.4% completed less than nine years of schooling; another 16.5% attended high school but did not graduate. Only 16% of the county’s adults attained a Batchelor’s Degree or higher. The individual poverty rate at the time of the 2000 Census was 19.5%. number of Beaufort County residents who do not speak English as their primary language has risen sharply in the past decade, with a 1500% increase in the county’s Mexican population since 1990. A variety of other languages are spoken among the county’s newest residents including Chinese, Korean, Urdu, and Russian.
Literacy Volunteers of Beaufort County was legally incorporated in May 2002 and has 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. LVBC is an affiliate chapter of ProLiteracy America, formerly known as Literacy Volunteers of America. The organization is governed by a 15 member Board of Directors that meets monthly. In its earliest months as an organization, LVBC operated out of the home of founding President, James Pressley and his wife Frances, who served as the group’s first Executive Director. The organization outgrew the Pressley’s kitchen table within four months and was offered a free cubicle at the Beaufort County JobLink center in exchange for tutoring services the group provided to JobLink clients. JobLink is an employment counseling and placement service located within the offices of the MidEast Commission, a state/federally funded community development organization. The relationship proved highly productive, with volunteers staffing the LVBC desk four days per week.
Eighteen months later, the LVBC realized a need for more space in which to serve clients, store teaching materials, maintain records, and administer the organization. JobLink agreed to remodel a portion of its office complex to accommodate the group with the understanding that LVBC would begin paying monthly rent for the additional space. At the same time, the all-volunteer office staff became unable to keep pace with the increasing demand for adult literacy services. The group employed a part-time administrative secretary to assist the unpaid Executive Director with numerous duties including student testing and placement, record keeping, tutor training and matching, student and tutor recruitment, fund raising, and public relations.
LVBC has established partnerships with numerous organizations and agencies including Mid-East Regional Commission, JobLink Center, Beaufort County Schools, Beaufort County Community College, Beaufort County Health Department, Employment Security Commission, Beaufort County Developmental Center, Brown Library, Beaufort-Hyde-Martin Regional Library, Partnership for Children/Child Connections and Beaufort County Department of Social Services. The Mid-East Commission provides the group with tutoring and office space for a minimal monthly cost that includes phone service, photocopier usage, Internet connectivity, and utilities. LVBC trains tutors free-of-charge using various locations. . The local libraries, Health Department, and other agencies offer rooms in which tutors can assist students. Educational and service providers including Beaufort County Community College, Department of Social Services, Employment Security Commission, Developmental Center, and others refer students and LVBC undertakes a vigorous publicity campaign when finances permit.
The organization has received grants from sources including Wal-Mart, U.S. Cellular, Newman’s Own, Havens Charitable Trust, Dollar General, and the National Book Scholarship Fund. LVBC has been a United Way agency since 2002 and annually receives a portion of its support from that source and an allotment from the Beaufort County Commissioners. All other operating expenses are met through an aggressive fund raising campaign that includes money-generating events and direct solicitation.
The organization’s approximate annual budget is $21,000 with the main expense the $250/monthly rent and salary of a part time Program Coordinator.
LVBC is somewhat of an invisible organization, as its services are provided through student-tutor pairs at many different times and locations. Working with adult learners is a unique challenge. Many adult students live difficult lives. Becoming a student brings promise but also brings complications. The attrition rate can be as high as 63 percent (national average). Many adults persevere with tutoring against great odds. LVBC believes that tutoring should be student-centered. The LV-BC method focuses on student goals and experiences. David Harman wrote in Illiteracy: A National Dilemma (1987). “Adults are discriminating learners. Their learning mechanisms operate only in those areas where the adult has decided to apply them.” The flexibility that LVBC is able to offer its learners is one of its greatest strengths.