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VOL. 128 | NO. 101 | Thursday, May 23, 2013

Changes Coming to Literacy Mid-South

By Amos Maki

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Major changes are on the way to Literacy Mid-South, which has been helping adults and young adults learn to read for nearly four decades.

Literacy Mid-South announced several changes Wednesday, including a move to a new location from its current Cooper-Young home.

(Photo Courtesy of Sarah Burgess)

During a breakfast announcement at Bryan Campus Life Center at Rhodes College, Literacy Mid-South leaders announced eight of the most significant developments in the program’s 40-year history.

For one, Literacy Mid-South, formerly known as the Memphis Literacy Council and Mid-South Reads, is moving from its existing home in the Cooper-Young area to the third floor of United Methodist Neighborhood Centers at 3000 Walnut Grove Road, going from 10,000 square feet of space to 1,700 square feet. The change in address is expected to save the nonprofit group around $60,000 annually, funds that will be plowed back into literacy programs.

In July, Literacy Mid-South will provide $50,000 to education and literacy groups from its Collaborations Fund. The Collaborations Fund will provide up to $5,000 in seed money for collaborations between literacy and education providers.

Also in July, Literacy Mid-South will donate $17,500 to literacy groups for training programs, allowing them to use training programs created by The Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence.

“We’re trying to build other institutions and their sustainability,” said Kevin Dean, executive director of Literacy Mid-South. “We want to make sure they can serve the community for the long haul and not just year to year.”

Acknowledging that Literacy Mid-South can’t tackle such a daunting task on its own – around 120,000 adults in the Memphis area read and write below a third-grade level, according to the organization – Literacy Mid-South announced an initiative called Read Memphis designed to certify nonprofit organizations, churches and even government agencies to provide pre-literacy GED programs.

“We realized the job is just too big for our organization to tackle, and we want to make sure we’re all collaborating to accomplish our mission.”

–Kevin Dean, executive director of Literacy Mid-South

After completing the certification program, Literacy Mid-South will provide each organization with up to $15,000 worth of seed money to jump-start their new literacy programs.

“We realized the job is just too big for our organization to tackle, and we want to make sure we’re all collaborating to accomplish our mission,” Dean said. “We’re basically becoming an intermediary, where we not only do our work but we help other literacy and education providers fulfill their work.”

Dean also announced that Literacy Mid-South this month was awarded accredited status by ProLiteracy, the national literacy organization that accredits adult literacy programs across the country.

Other announcements included the creation of Write Memphis, a program that improves reading proficiency through the development of writing skills that will begin in July. Also, later this year the organization will begin opening a series of pop-up retail shops catered to book lovers.

Finally, Literacy Mid-South is providing literacy and adult education resources and program information on its website, which is searchable by ZIP code, at literacymidsouth.org/resources/resource-map.

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