Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bank of Texas, Half Price Books and LIFT

I mentioned in a previous post that Bank of Texas was conducting their annual "Caring for Kids" drive during the month of June and is donating the books to LIFT. This morning I met Danielle Workin, Marketing and Community Relations Coordinator at Bank of Texas, at Half Price Books and we loaded up more than 1,000 children's books donated by our good friends at Half Price Books. That is in addition to the 1,000 books another LIFT staff member, Rudy Murillo, picked up at Half Price Books yesterday. Yowzah! And this doesn't even count the books that are being donated at all Bank of Texas branches. The branch collecting the most books will be treated to an ice cream and brownie party (using my very special and popular recipes! - yes, these are the brownies that bring Jody Dean and the morning team at KLUV to their knees)

The generosity of Bank of Texas and Half Price Books ensures that the LIFT Family Literacy Workshops will be able to continue. The donated books will be used in the workshops where parents are taught how to read to their children. Then each child whose parent(s) participate in the program are allowed to choose a book to take with them. For many of these children, this is the very first book that belongs to them. Can you imagine being five years old and never having even one book that is your own? Thank you Bank of Texas and Half Price Books for helping make a generation of readers. As Emilie Buchwald said, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

P.S. Pictured in the photo, left to right are Half Price Books Donations Assistant Mgr Cesar Gonzalez; Danielle Workins Marketing & Community Relations Coordinator Bank of Texas; Leslie Clay Director of Community Development, LIFT; Half Price Books Donations Mgr Scott Ward

Monday, June 22, 2009

Student Poetry

Best selling author and former non-reader, John Corcoran, pointed out that once non readers learn to read, the desire to write poetry bubbles to the surface. Below are examples of poetry written by our Voyager (4th - 5th grade reading level) adult learners. The poems followed an exact format using their names and information about themselves. Enjoy!

Fun, nice, hardworking, friendly
Son of Mary and Tom
Brother of Herbert, Joan, Robbie Ray
Who feels glad to be in class
Who likes to learn to readna dwrite better
Who needs help to read and write better and get my GED
Who lives in Dallas, Texas

Sweet, kind, loving, dignified
Daughter of Lisa Stuart
Sister of Mary Smith
Who feels good
Who likes eggs and toast
Who needs church and money
Who lives in Irving, Texas

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Few Words Says It All

"I want to learn to read and write so I can send my wife an e-mail and tell her how much I love her."

That is the goal of a LIFT adult learner. No other words needed.

Monday, June 15, 2009


What can you do to encourage your volunteers and supporters to donate when they feel like they can't write you a check? LIFT encourages our friends and partners to use Goodsearch and Goodshop.

Goodsearch is a search engine that will donate $.01 to your designated charity. All you have to do is visit the website and choose Literacy Instruction for Texas as the charity you "search for". Then every time you use Goodsearch as your search engine, LIFT receives $.01 per search.

Goodshop operates on the same principle, but is used for online shopping. Instead of going straight to the online shopping website of your choice, go through It only takes 2-3 more seconds and the retailers will donate a portion of your purchase, which can run from 1% to 6%, to the charity you "shop for". I call this no impact fundraising. It costs the donor nothing, but can mean a great deal to the charity.

What could you do for LIFT if you used Goodsearch as your exclusive search engine? Check it out!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bank of Texas Book Drive

If you are a Bank of Texas customer or even if you are not, drop by any Bank of Texas branch during the month of June and donate a children's book to their "Caring for Kids" book drive. This year Bank of Texas has chosen the Family Literacy Workshops at LIFT as the recipients of the book drive.

Parents in the LIFT Family Literacy Workshops learn how to read to their children. Children whose parents participate in the program are allowed to choose a book of their very own from donated books. For many of these children, the book they choose is the very first book they have ever received.

A parent is a child's first and best teacher. Thank you Bank of Texas for getting our children off to a good start by encouraging literacy in the home.

Monday, June 8, 2009

LIFT Day Manager Receives Accolades

Tomorrow night, LIFT Day Manager, Melissa Gray is being honored by the Roy Stanley Masonic Lodge here in Dallas for her work on behalf of LIFT adult learners. Each new leaner to LIFT meets one on one with Melissa for their initial assessment which determines which class they will enter. Melissa exhibits such grace and patience under fire. In addition to meeting with every new student that walks through the doors here at the Main Street Site, Melissa keeps everything humming smoothly along in the Main Street site. She keeps adult learners and volunteers informed of any closings, changes in policies and needs. Most of all, she is the ultimate cheerleader for LIFT's adult learners and many of these people have not had a cheerleader in their life. She encourages the learners, urges them to try just once more and celebrates their successes. Melissa, hats off to you - you deserve this accolade!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Teaching a Person to Fish/Teaching Someone to Read

The adage that teaching someone to fish will feed them for a lifetime was driven home this week. Our youngest son landed a paying (yay!) internship for the summer, but it is in another city from where he has been renting an apartment for the school year, so the mad scramble was on to find accomodations. I sprang into full "mom" mode and started reaching out to anyone I knew in the city asking if they knew of anyone who might have a garage apartment or extra bedroom for rent. Not much luck, but did find someone who had a friend who had a friend. I was all prepared to relay this information on to our son when an e-mail popped up. He had found someone who was renting a room to students for what he had determined was a pretty decent price. How did he know it was a good price? Because he researched furnished apartments, extended stay hotels and furnished rooms near his new job. He even researched what it would cost him in gas to drive from this rented room and how much time it would probably take him. It hit me - he learned much more by doing his own legwork than if I had just handed him a piece of paper with an address and said "here is where you will be parking for the next two months."

When LIFT adult learners come to us to learn to read, it is the same thing. Learning to read as an adult is hard work. It would be so much easier just to drift along, letting someone else read your important papers or worse, not knowing what you needed to be able to read. So many times the adult learner has tried and failed, but at LIFT we make sure they are successful and when you are successful what do you do? You keep on trying! We learn from doing our own legwork, or in the case at LIFT, from doing your own bookwork.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Endings and Beginnings

I was on vacation last week, hence no blog posts! But I am back now and in full throttle.

Today marks the beginning of the new fiscal year at LIFT and with all new beginnings, you also have a time of reflection. I have been at LIFT a little more than a year, having come on board February 20, 2008. I have had all my firsts - first Volunteer and Donor of Distinction Luncheon - a mere eight days after I started work; first Spelling Bee - two months after coming on board; first Champions of Literacy Luncheon - you get the drift.

I remember when I first started at LIFT we were quoting "6,200 adult learners served". We are now quoting "more than 8,000 adult learners at LIFT". It is common knowledge around here that I am no math wizard and calculating percentages is not my forte. One deciding factor in the college I chose to attend was at that time, I would not have to take any math once I got there. I know for a fact that has all changed! But I digress... even I, the math illiterate, can tell you that is phenomenal growth in the past 12 months, serving 6,200 adults then and more than 8,000 now.

What else has LIFT accomplished this year in addition to serving more adult learners? We launched GED Direct, the only on line, interactive GED preparation course in the entire country geared to a reading level below fifth grade. If you can read at a 9th grade level (and 49% of the adults in Dallas County cannot), you can attend GED prep classes in the DISD or several other places. But what happens if you are in that 49% that reads below a fourth grade level? LIFT is the only game in town. Since launching GED Direct, LIFT has seen a tremendous increase in our upper level classes.

LIFT also implemented a Volunteer Newsletter this past year that goes out to more than 500 active volunteers. It is just one way to keep them informed and connected to LIFT. Our programming staff has also started Round Table Discussions where our volunteers share ideas and best practices. In turn, this information is shared among all the teachers, not just those attending.

LIFT has increased its awareness in the community in several ways. In January we received donated air time for our classes on several radio stations and we could barely field the 1,000+ phone calls we received. We have also had donated ads on the Dallas Bus and DART trains - four times this year alone. LIFT has also started a series of Breakfast Club meetings where we bring different groups in to learn about LIFT. These have proved highly successful. The Dallas Morning News, the Advocate and the Dallas Business Journal have all been wonderful about printing our press releases and giving LIFT much needed publicity.

Donations are down, that is for sure, but we are working smarter and leaner. I look forward to the next fiscal year and the new possibilities it brings. I predict this time next year, I will be reporting to you "more than 9,000 served in the past twelve months". Won't that be exciting? - being part of offering a permanent fix to a lifelong problem - adult illiteracy - to more than 9,000 households! Wow - keep watching!