I’m very pleased to announce the recipients of grants totaling $10,000 as
part of Ask Leo!’s 2010 – It’s
About Helping People initiative.
The recipients of these grants were selected from your recommendations and
represent a broad cross section of literacy efforts spanning the globe.
In addition, I’m announcing an additional grant to my own community in
support of its literacy efforts.
While I’d originally envisioned 4-5 recipients taken from your suggestions, it really ended up being too hard to cull – there were so many worthy organizations. I selected 7, and added an eighth that I discovered indirectly though a reader suggestion.
As it is, I feel bad that all recommended organizations couldn’t be a recipient, but such is the nature of the selection process. If the organization you recommended is not represented here, please do not be offended or take it personally. I generally favored organizations with demonstrable success, verifiable non-profit status (at least in the U.S.), and close alignment to my literacy goals.
That being said, the recipients are:
ProLiteracy – $2,500
ProLiteracy is a nation-wide organization that advocates for literacy and supports other organizations providing literacy education throughout the United States.
Whatcom Literacy Council – $2,500
I was pleasantly surprised to find WLC among your suggestions. Whatcom County is roughly 80 miles north of Seattle, and is where my wife was born and raised. Like many communities it has both significant need and opportunity.
Literacy Council of Norristown – $1,000
LCN, in Norristown Pennsylvania, makes use of over 100 volunteers to serve about 120 adult learners, providing English as a second language (ESL) classes as well as outreach to employees in the workplace.
Family Literacy Center – $1,000
Family Literacy Center serves Lapeer Michigan, about 40 miles north of Detroit. “The Family Literacy Center [offers] programs designed to help Lapeer County families who are concerned about the level of literacy in their homes and are looking for resources to help them.”
CPST, in Australia, is an example of computer literacy, specifically focused on helping seniors gain access to the incredible opportunities offered by today’s technology. Computer literacy speaks to me of course, but I have to admit that some of my most rewarding moments relate to helping some of our more senior citizens connect to family, friends and information online.
Action Read, in Guelph, Ontario, Canada is a community literacy program for adults and families, and also has a drop-in computer lab for reading and writing practice.
Literacy Source – $1,000
Coming back to the Puget Sound area, Literacy Source is a nearly 25-year-old organization that focuses on English literacy and life skills in the Seattle area.
My thanks to everyone who made a recommendation.
An Additional Grant
As you may or may not know, I’m honored to be a board member of a local non-profit social service agency: Hopelink. In fact, this year is my 6th and final year on the Hopelink board.
Hopelink serves what’s referred to as “the greater eastside and north” of Seattle. If you’re out of the area, Seattle is separated from communities to the east by a long and narrow lake, spanned by two floating bridges. Communities in that “greater eastside” include cities such as Redmond, the home of Microsoft; Medina, the home of Bill Gates; as well as Bellevue, Kenmore, Carnation, Fall City, Duvall, Bothell and many others, including of course my own home town of Woodinville. “North” includes the city of Shoreline, immediately north of Seattle.
Please don’t let the implied affluence fool you – there is most definitely need.
Hopelink is most commonly thought of as the local food bank, and indeed that’s often the point of first contact with community residents in crisis. However, Hopelink’s services also include transitional housing, employment assistance, energy assistance, transportation and more.
Including both English and computer literacy.
That’s why I’ve decided to include as part of this initiative an additional grant of $10,000 to Hopelink’s Adult Education and Literacy programs.
The Need and The Opportunity
As I’ve “done” Ask Leo! for the last 7 years, three things have slowly dawned on me:
A broad segment of our population does not have a high enough level of English proficiency to truly prosper and succeed in our English-speaking communities.
Too many students are leaving or even graduating from basic education in English speaking countries with insufficient English skills to prosper and succeed in their own communities.
The practical reality is that an immense amount of information on the Internet is in English, and improved English skills planet-wide can only serve to enable and empower people regardless of location, station or condition.
In short: English skills matter.
English skills matter more than most people realize, and they matter more globally than most people realize.
I hope that, by example, by repetition, or by whatever means it happens, that my grants here today do more than just support a few agencies in their important work. I hope that I’ve shined a light on what I believe to be a key component of individual success and achievement in our increasingly connected world.