I recently attended the Proliteracy Conference where I was able to learn from colleagues across the US. One of the sessions I attended was led by a leader of ValueUSA. An adult learner himself, Marty, reminded me that our students have many talents, skills, and resources. Our students are at the heart of what we do, we are learner-centered. Our students may lack literacy and/or English skills, but they do not lack the potential to be leaders among us. That is why we have started our Student Advisory committee, a group of student leaders who will help to ensure we are helping everyone we serve reach their full potential. These students will be the voice of our adult learners as our Board begins its strategic planning process this fall.

In addition to beginning our Strategic Planning process, we have been very busy launching new programs:

Family Literacy, the first multi-generational program of its kind in our community, Project Search, a collaboration of community partners to ensure young adults with disabilities have job skills to live independent successful lives, and our newest program is a partnership with the County to provide literacy and life skills to inmates within the County Detention Center. You will be hearing more about this program as we measure its impact. We do know that for every $1 spent on education programs for the incarcerated there is a $5 savings to the local tax payer!

We are proud of the work we do to help educate adult learners throughout our community. We cannot do this work without you, so thank you for believing in the potential of your neighbors who struggle with low literacy - you are making a difference.

Blue Ridge Literacy Council welcomed four new board members at its May meeting.

Elected to three year terms were Vivian Bolanos, Market Manager, Asheville Savings Bank; Keith Johnson, Financial Advisor, Edward Jones; Lorin Page, Business and Taxation Law ,Strauss Attorneys; and Nancy Keswani, retired corporate marketing professional.

Judy Hansen has provided Blue Ridge Literacy Council with a decade of service, first as a tutor and then a Board Member. As she concludes her time of service with us, we are grateful for her past leadership.

Judy shared with us what it has meant to volunteer with the Literacy Council over the last decade.

In Judy's words:

My first full program year as the Executive Director of Blue Ridge Literacy Council came to a close on June 30, 2017. It was an awe inspiring year to say the least. I continue to be amazed at the length and dedication of service given by our volunteers, tutors, and board members. Our students' endurance and courage have been inspirational.

This small non-profit makes a big impact in our community, and I am grateful for your involvement with us. This is a great place to be because of the people!

We have a lot to look forward to in this new program year, including a new website, multi-generational programming, and overall program growth. We hope this new quarterly newsletter will help to keep you, our stakeholder, and the community at-large informed.

The Blue Ridge Literacy Council is excited to announce that we are seeking to host an Americorps Member through the Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education (SCALE) North Carolina Literacy Corps for 2017-2018. SCALE is a program that seeks to mobilize and support college students and campus-based programs to address the literacy needs of this country.