Monday, April 27, 2009

Another LIFT Adult Learner Earns GED

LIFT's fabulous programming staff brought to my attention last week that another LIFT adult learner has earned her GED. Since LIFT launched GED Direct in July 2008, we have seen a 12% increase in the number of adult learners who come to use for the upper level (translates to GED preparation) classes. This shows us that GED Direct, an on line interactive GED preparation class geared to lower level adult readers (those who read at the 5th grade level) is just what adult learners are looking for.

LIFT partnered with Aztec Software to develop the software and GED Direct is the only program of its kind in the United States. Other GED prep courses are geared to the adult learner who reads at the 9th grade level. Our adult learners tell us they love the program - most of them leave class here and continue their studies at home for several hours.

At the present time, LIFT offers GED Direct for free to 13 partner agencies and like all our other classes, there is no charge to the adult learner.

Kind of exciting to be on the front lines with new technology that is improving the lives of so many North Texans.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Full of Possibilities

The last couple of days have been absolutely glorious, weather wise, here in North Texas. In spite of the economic downturns we have all been facing, it is easy to forget them for a moment and just enjoy the sunshine and clear skies.

That spirit of possibility bleeds over into the workplace. I am not going to gloss over the current fundraising environment - things are tough for non profits and LIFT is not exempt. Rather than dwell on what we don't have, I am choosing to view this time as the opportunity to discover new funding sources.

And I see hope when I come to work. I see hope on the faces of our adult learners as they wait every morning for the doors to open. I see hope in their posture when they realize "hey - I CAN do this. I CAN learn." I see hope when our oldest student has decided at the age of 76 that she can learn to read. I see hope when our adult learners go on to earn their GED and then enroll in college. I see hope when one of our adult learners tells me he and his granddaughter do their reading homework together and help each other.

Instead of dwelling on what is not, let's dwell on what is and the positive impact LIFT has on its adult learners. These are people who are choosing to enhance their lives and the lives of their families. They are becoming literate and a whole new world of opportunities await them.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Double Gifts to LIFT

On May 20th, you will have the opportunity to double the gift you make to LIFT. On that day, DonorBridge, an on line resource for donors, will launch and to celebrate, Communities Foundation of Texas and The Dallas Foundation, have established the first-ever Dallas Giving Day and will match, dollar-for-dollar, donations given through the DonorBridge website ( These two foundations have earmarked $200,000 to be used for the matching funds, so you want to make your gift early in the day before the matching money runs out.

Non profits that offer services to people (food, shelter, clothing, education) have seen at least a 30% increase in requests for services while at the same time donations are drastically down. That is why Dallas Giving Day is such an important event. A $25 gift becomes a $50 gift when made through

Only a couple of caveats apply:
$25 minimum gift
Must be made through the DonorBridge website at
Maximum matching contribution per individual is $2,500 (but you can donate
as much as you want.)
Matching dollars only available as long as they last on May 20th.

So, donate early, donate often and double your gift to LIFT

Thursday, April 16, 2009

LIFT Has Visitors

This morning at LIFT had some very distinguished visitors, the President of El Centro Community College, Paul McCarthy and Dallas City Council Member Sheffie Kadane. President McCarthy and Councilman Kadane were joined by Sandra McCarthy and Patricia Weidemier for a breakfast meeting and facts about LIFT. We thank all our guests for taking time out of their busy schedules to learn more about LIFT and we appreciate their commitment to helping LIFT raise adult literacy rates in Texas.

Monday, April 13, 2009

LIFT Adult Learner Earns GED

Tonight at LIFT we are having a little party. We are going to celebrate the fact that one of our adult learners has earned his GED.

Ernest could read - a little. After all, he completed school through the eighth grade and could read at a sixth grade level, but Ernest wanted more from his life. He wanted to go to college and to own an electronics business. To achieve these dreams, Ernest knew he would have to learn to read at a much higher level. Ernest turned to LIFT in 2006 to get what he needed to move his life in that direction.

Ernest attended GED classes four nights a week for three years. Imagine - is there anything you do that takes you away from home four nights a week AFTER working a full time job? That you do willingly? That is determination and dedication.

Learning to read garnered Mr. Piper a job promotion. Previously employed as a janitor, he is now trained as a Crisis Hotline Counselor.

Ernest is all set to enter college . Congratulations Ernest. We wish you the best of luck!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Adult Learners

Last Thursday night I have the privelege of attending a graduation for adult learners in LIFT ESL (English as a Second Language) at Aldersgate Methodist Church in Arlington, TX. I have mentioned in earlier posts that I am in awe of our adult learners who persevere learning to read. Now imagine learning to read and speak and write a totally new language as an adult. At the same time you are trying to learn the customs, laws and social norms in a new place. Such is the life of many of the adult learners in LIFT ESL classes.

LIFT operates literacy classes in 39 sites in Dallas, Tarrant and Collin counties. More than 8,000 adult learners will go enroll in classes and more than 60% of the enrollees will complete their course of study (compared to the national average of just 10%). And the majority of LIFT ESL adult learners are illiterate in their native language also. Many of them never attended school in their home countries.

It is hard of us who are literate to imagine not being able to read. You might be tempted to imagine what life is like if you couldn't speak the language by equating it with a trip you take to Spain, France or Germany. But it is much harder than that. If you or I, being literate in our own language, landed in a European country we still might be able to figure out some of the words. At least we would know the alphabet.

Life for the illiterate non English reader would be closer to us being dropped into Japan or China - trying to figure out what these characters are and which way is up.

Food for thought.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Adult Literacy Teacher Tips

A recent Rount Table Discussion at LIFT where staff and volunteer teachers exchanged classroom hints and tips yielded these nuggets for working with adult learners. Please feel free to post any additional suggestions you might have for the classroom on this blog as a comment.

  • Bring a recent article from the newspaper for all to follow along as the teacher reads. This is a good way to show sentences and paragraphs. Reading Workshop classes can circle the letters they are studying in class even though they cannot read the article.

  • Classes that are working daily with goals show greater retention. One class identified themselves as “The Go Getters!”.

  • Class retention improves when students bond and call each other when absent. Consider passing around a sign up list for students to print their first name and phone number. Make copies and share.

  • Welcome each student by name when they arive. Don't scold them if they are late or absent, but always praise them for attendance and being on time. As the old adage goes, you get more flies with sugar than with vinegar.

  • Soon LIFT will have worksheets and suggestions on how to work with students to learn how to tell time. It was suggested that you start with a digital clock.

  • When dealing with page numbers, write the page number on the board and repeat the number, while pointing to the digits, i.e. "fifty four, five four".

  • Practice alphabetizing by having the students alphabetize the spelling words assigned for each lesson

  • When new words are introduced in the Texas Scottish Rite curriculum, identify these words by their parts of speech. After some practice, when new words are introduced, challenge the students to identify the parts of speech for the new words.

Did you know that LIFT computers allow students to record while they read? You can also record your reading, and then let the students record their reading as they practice fluency and fluidity. Details are in your Teacher Notebook.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

North Texas Future Fund Bridge Award

Little late in posting this week - things have been hopping at LIFT.

Exciting news at the LIFT office - we have been selected to receive the Community Advocate Bridge Award presented by the North Texas Future Fund. This award is given to individuals, literacy providers (that's us!), organizations and corporations who have made significant contributions to improving literacy in North Texas.

Rumor has it we were the only organization to receive nominations from three totally different entities. Thank you to those who nominated us. We will receive our award on Tuesday, April 7th at the Renaisance Worthington Hotel in downtown Fort Worth.

As always, we acknowledge that we couldn't have reached more than 8,500 adult learners in the past year without the support of our donors and volunteers. Thank you!

The North Texas Future Fund is a 501(c)3 organization created by the North Texas Commission to identify, study and seek long-term solutions for issues facing the North Texas region affecting education, economic development, workforce development and population change.

The purpose of the North Texas Commission is to enhance and promote the economic vitality and quality of life of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex by providing leadership; acting as the catalyst for regional cooperation; identifying regional problems and issues; and helping create solutions for these problems and issues.The North Texas Commission is a regional non-profit consortium of businesses, cities, counties, chambers of commerce, economic development entities and higher education institutions in the North Texas Region. The Commission is the one and only public-private regional organization committed to enhancing the overall economic vitality and quality of life of North Texas.