It is designed for students in preschool through 5th grade. Older students will use Strategies for Older Students of the original Lexia Reading program. To purchase Lexia Reading for $174.95 for a one year subscription, click here.
Organizing a Family Literacy Center
ORGANIZING A FAMILY LITERACY CENTER
Manager, Family Literacy Centers, inc.
Organizing a Family Literacy Center can be one of
the most rewarding achievements of a lifetime.
To prepare, find out all you can about Family
Literacy. Take the opportunity to tour one or
and talk to other directors, or visit the Family
Literacy Center web site at www.flcinc.org.
Read the materials that have been prepared or
visit with the Family Literacy board or staff
members. Family Literacy’s web site supplies a
wealth of information on obtaining funding,
writing proposals, working with schools and civic groups, finding and training tutors, identifying
and assessing students,
and so on.
Another thing you can do is view all the training
videos also found on our website. With this background you will be ready to proceed.
Remember that staff members from Family
Literacy Centers, Incorporated are available to
advise and assist in starting and operating
To insure success in organizing a Family Literacy Center, a number of steps should be followed.
These steps vary somewhat depending upon circumstances. For example, the procedure for opening school centers is may differ from civic
or library centers. Also the steps don't always
follow a given order.
This article will summarize some of the most
important actions that nearly every director
For details relating to your specific circumstances, it will be important to study the accompanying
booklet that is available on our website. The
main steps are these:
Present a proposal to community leaders or
school administration. The purpose is to explain
the program and gain support. An example of a successful proposal is included in the print
materials. A major concern is funding.
Determine how much a center will cost and
where the money will come from.
Another obvious need is for space—for tutoring,
office, materials and equipment. Even the
smallest center needs a few basic materials and furnishings. Tables and chairs, computers, copy machines, white boards, paper and pencils, filing cabinets, and of course, books.
Decide how many individuals will be served and
how they will be identified. Determine how many people will be needed to direct the program. A secretary or assistant director can contribute
greatly to your success. Organize a literacy
board consisting of influential and interested
people from the community.
Since one-on-one tutoring is vital to program
success, develop a strategy for recruiting and
Finally, because parent support is essential, plan
a strategy for informing and working with parents. We’ll briefly discuss each of these steps in turn.
A first step is gaining support, often through a presentation to community leaders or school administrators and teachers. The presentation
should be brief, clear, and very well prepared.
An example of such a presentation is included in
the booklet accompanying this article.
Since a center is a group effort, it’s wise to
establish a relationship with those who will
listen to your proposal so that you can adapt the presentation to them. If you are organizing a
Center in a library or civic building you’ll want to
meet the mayor or members of the city council.
If you’re establishing a school center seek the
support of the principal and teachers.
To convince prospective partners of the need
for a Center, consider collecting data on the
literacy needs of local children and families.
This data helps immensely in gaining support
Concerning funding, it helps at the outset to know what kind of money a center requires. Of course, costs vary with individual centers, but here are
some ballpark figures. First-year costs range
from about $10,000 to $30,000, depending on
the number of paid staff and equipment and how much will be donated by an organization or
individual. Much of this represents a one-time
cost, making the first year the most expensive.
Those expenses include about four thousand
dollars for supplies, materials and equipment.
Here are some estimates for specific needs: Development and training, approximately one thousand dollars. Salary for a director ranges between five hundred to a thousand dollars a
month. Some centers, however, have been able
to manage with less. Where does the money
come from? Schools sometimes have district and state funds available. Cities often have money available in their budgets. Private donors can be a great resource. In most cases, getting the money requires writing a grant. Many of our directors
have become very skillful at writing grants.
Lots of help is available. An example of a
successful grant is included in the print materials available on our website.
Directors learn to be creative in raising money. Finances need to be tracked and managed
carefully. For this reason we recommend
engaging an accounting office to facilitate the
payroll and accounting. The fee is approximately
1.5 per cent of the funds in the account.
Also, a nonprofit organization, such as Family
Literacy needs a 501 (c) 3 status.
This designation allows donors to receive tax incentives. Many Centers have been created
under the umbrella of Family Literacy Centers Inc.
If your organization desires to apply for this status, detailed information can be found both in the handbook and on various websites.
Several sites are listed in your training manual.
As funding is being explored, it's necessary to
locate the space, such as in a library, a
community center, or senior citizens' center.
If you are opening a center in a school, you
need a room available after school hours. In our crowded schools, space is often a challenge.
Often, a little creativity solves a problem.
If you have to start small, remember that some programs began in a school closet. As the
program expanded, they moved first to a small
room in an old city library, then to a church, and finally to state of the art quarters in a new city
Whether in a school or community facilities a
Center needs furnishings and materials, the
amount depending upon the situation and the
number of students. You’ll need tables and chairs,
of course, as well as other furniture and equipment.
A school may already have much of this.
A community center might have less.
Reading materials are a must. The basis is a
set of Family Readers from Family Literacy
Centers, Inc. Along with basic readers, the
program has available other books on various
subjects and reading levels. If this represents
too large an investment, books can be
obtained from schools, libraries, private
collections, auctions, or thrift stores.
Assessment tools are essential in placing
students and evaluating progress and needs.
Family Literacy Centers materials list several
For writing, white boards and felt tipped colored
erase markers are very useful. If there's money,
plan to purchase computers, computer software,
and other training materials available from Family Literacy Centers, Inc.
Naturally you’ll need basic office equipment and supplies—a computer for the office, a printer and
copy machine. Also paper, pens and pencils, stationary and stamps, sticky notes, record books
and so on. Also helpful are training materials
prepared by Family Literacy Center Inc., and
available at very low cost—binders, videos and
CD's to assist with parent and tutor training.
Various print materials and manuals are also
Early on a director needs to have an idea how
many children and adults will be using the Center
and how to identify them. School teachers are a good source of information. So are parents at
PTA meetings. A simple advertisement in a local newspaper will bring in students. If you start a program with a handful of children, you’ll find
that others will soon come. The challenge is
usually too many students rather than too few.
As the program expands, you may need additional staff. Besides a director it may be helpful to
engage a tutor trainer, a secretary and perhaps
other assistants. At this point additional funds for salaries may be needed. Because recruiting and training tutors is a large responsibility, a staff
member in charge of tutors can be of great help.
Also, the work is much lighter with the help of a literacy board. These volunteers form committees
for finances, tutors, students, out-reach programs, community awareness and the like. A governing board is necessary for non-profit status. Board members should be people who are friendly to the cause of literacy and skilled in the areas of public relations, finances, and legal affairs.
Guidelines for who can become members are
given in the bylaws. An advisory board is also
helpful in expanding administrative capabilities - especially in the areas of fund-raising, graduation ceremonies, and in equipment and facilities procurement. They are also helpful in securing community awareness and support.
An important step in setting up the program is recruiting and training tutors. Tutors can be
recruited from a number of sources. One
successful director, in her characteristically
determined manner, has been known to stop
potential tutors on the street. Others have been successful recruiting from local colleges or high schools, and from local senior centers or local churches.
Once tutors are recruited, they are matched with students, taking into consideration interests and backgrounds. A director or tutor trainer orients prospective tutors and teaches them their responsibilities. Tutors must be oriented and then taught how to keep accurate records ,how to
relate to students in a positive manner, and how
to teach reading and writing effectively.
To accomplish this, the trainer models a lesson
and then observes as tutor and student work
together. Also, Family Literacy Inc. has produced
a variety of print and video materials with valuable suggestions for tutoring.
The tutor training videos are also extremely
helpful in explaining the program, providing
teaching models, and suggesting ways to relate to students. Tutoring is not difficult. Anyone who
can read and is a caring person willing to learn
some basic skills, can tutor. They just need the confidence to try.
Programs work better with the cooperation of
parents. They need to understand how much
their child’s progress depends on help and encouragement at home. Parents desiring help
may come to the FLC and have their children’s
reading ability assessed. A program may then be recommended for the children and a tutor
assigned. Parents are usually very enthusiastic
and eager to cooperate because they so desire
their child’s success. A few, however, are absent, uninvolved, or don’t know what to do.
Then what? Parent training videos are helpful in
It’s wise to establish some guidelines and parent expectations from the beginning.
When expectations are not always fulfilled,
a positive attitude goes a long way with parents.
The beauty of the program is that as step-by
step lessons are taught, parents strengthen
their own reading and writing skills, thus
benefiting the entire family.
This article has explained briefly the main steps required in setting up a Center. As we’ve indicated, specific details can be found in the training manual.
A previous article in this series has shown how to manage a Center on a daily basis.