By Resonja Willoughby, Student Advocate, Second Start Adult Literacy
We are celebrating National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week to raise awareness of about the effects of not having the basic literacy skills to survive in a world that is forever changing.
I work for Oakland’s adult literacy program, Second Start. We have been in existence for 30 years and we have watched the demographics change. We are serving more immigrants from countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The region of South and West Asia is home to more than one-half of the global low-literate population (51.8%), while sub-Saharan Africa is home to an additional 21.4%. There are many changes for these communities, and literacy is one.
At Second Start we try to make the transition to America smoother. We help students access citizenship resources online, fill out forms, practice pronunciation and build vocabulary. While we don’t offer formal ESL instruction, we do help many adults -- who are conversational in English – to build literacy skills and achieve their goals.
Second Start also serves many people who were born in the U.S. but who have struggled with reading, writing and math their whole lives. Issues of race, disability, income and gender all impact whether someone had a chance to learn to read and write. According to one recent study, more than 35% of African American adults and 43% of Latino adults scored low in literacy, and one-third of adults struggled with “problem solving in technology-rich environments.”
Many adults come to Second Start needing help with basic writing skills or creating a resume with little work history. It takes a creative approach to help these students reflect their strengths and potential, so they have a strong resume and a solid job path.
And we couldn’t do it without you!
That’s why Second Start is working to make sure our volunteers reflect the community we are serving. We are especially interested in hearing from volunteers in the communities most impacted by low-literacy, as well as volunteers with expertise in job searching, GED preparation, computer literacy and other services for low-literacy adults.
You can help us get the word out to volunteers and students by sharing information on your Facebook, Twitter or email. Find us on our new Facebook page! Or call us to get involved today, 510-238-3432.
As a volunteer tutor you will be a partner in learning. Join us.
The National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, September 21-26, is sponsored by the National Coalition for Literacy. @NLCAdvocacy