In early January of 2008, Chatham Literacy began the process of forming an alliance with Central Carolina Community College (CCCC). Through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Chatham Literacy was charged with the recruitment, training, monitoring, and ongoing support of volunteer tutors. These volunteers would provide tutoring to adult learners, enrolled in CCCC’s program, who were identified by their instructors in need of one-on-one assistance in addition to class time.
CCCC would provide Chatham Literacy with facilities for meetings, training, and tutoring as needed. Furthermore, CCCC would provide referrals, and would work with Chatham Literacy to provide educational materials for students enrolled in the Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English for Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) programs. This provided a solid foundation and legitimacy for Chatham Literacy to move forward.
With the creation of the Board, initial funding, and the partnership with CCCC, Chatham Literacy’s focus turned towards community engagement and partnerships. This had to be a multi-pronged approach. First up, community awareness. A presentation, ‘Advancing literacy one person at a time’, was created and shared with over 20 community and government groups, plus many more individuals. Statistics were presented: 22% of Chatham County adults were reading at a fourth grade level or below; of the people who struggled to read and write, 70% had no full or part time job, 43% lived in poverty, and 17% received food stamps; and many were at risk.
In addition to canvassing the County, thanks to Bonnie Bechard, our website, www.chathamliteracy.org was created. It became, as it is today, a tool for outreach and awareness, referrals, and a repository of information for use by tutors. Through these efforts, additional grants were garnered from Chatham County, $7,500, and the United Way, $2,500.