Connecting information and ideas with people working for change in New Mexico
sharenm.org                                                                     March 2019
Literacy and learning involve many skills that develop over time. This needs to start early. Children coming from a literacy-rich home enter school with a vocabulary ten times larger than those who do not. And the learning process needs to continue over time. From health to the economy, to children's welfare to civic engagement, every important issue is impacted by adult literacy. 
Start Early

I nspired by her father's inability to read and write, Dolly Parton started her Imagination Library in 1995, sending free books to the children within her home county. Today her program spans four countries and mails over 1 million free books each month to children around the world, including New Mexico's children.

The  Imagination Library of Grant County was the first to open in NM. Since 2011, it has  delivered over 100,000 age-appropriate, high quality books to children from birth to age 5.  A  child who is registered at birth will accumulate a library of 60 free books by their 5th birthday. The fact that books are mailed to homes is important, says Nancy Stephens, since many families don't have ready access to libraries. 

At the request of the Dollywood Foundation, Grant County is  spearheading the effort to make Imagination Libraries available to  all  of New Mexico's preschool children. To date, the Imagination Library of NM has 35 active affiliates in the state including 16 on Tribal lands. There are also several independent affiliates serving Santa FeOtero County and Albuquerque's South ValleyOver 10,900 children in the state are now enrolled and receive a free personally addressed book in the mail each month. 

In Albuquerque, Libros for Kids currently mails out books to children living in the zip codes 87105 and 87121 (Albuquerque's South Valley), with hopes of expanding the program to other parts of the county.  South Valley schools, libraries, clinics, and individuals help locate and enroll children in the program. Currently, more than 550 children are receiving a book each month. The website has links to English and Spanish videos for parents with ideas for interacting with their children and books.

Albuquerque children also benefit from Read to Me, which has provided over 500,000 gently used books to children over the past 15 years. Volunteers pick up, sort and distribute these books to Title 1 schools and learning centers, hospitals, clinics, government offices waiting rooms, community centers and events. Books have been loaded onto city buses and the Railrunner. While donations are accepted year-round, the annual book drive is underway from now until March 31st. More information and drop-off sites are here

The consensus among those working in early childhood development is that reading to our preschool children is the single most important activity to prepare a child for school. Take advantage of these opportunities available to our New Mexican children and families. 
Adult Literacy and Education

Not all New Mexicans have benefited from early literacy programs and have some catching up to do. Basic literacy, High School Equivalency, English language skills and computer skills improve employability, family life, and life skills. 
 
There are many options for adult education programs in New Mexico. The NM Higher Education Department funds 24 Adult Education and Family Literacy (AEFLA) programs throughout the state, most of them at community colleges. Individuals aged 16 or older can learn via classes, face-to-face tutoring and/or online, designing individual learning plans. Some of the Adult Education locations also offer citizenship classes. See statewide contact list and map.
 
One AEFLA program,  WNMU Adult Education Services, assists adults with reading and math literacy skills, high school equivalency (GED, HSE, HISET), computer skills, college preparation, and job readiness (resumes, practice interviews, etc.). Face-to-face tutoring is offered by WNMU to residents in Deming, Silver City and Truth or Consequences. WNMU's online self-paced Adult Ed services are offered to residents of Catron, Grant, Hidalgo, Luna and Sierra Counties, and are customized to student level. In addition, employers are invited to participate in "workplace literacy" in which they refer their employees to WNMU for Adult Ed services. 
 
The New Mexico Coalition for Literacy (NMCL) provides funding, training, and technical assistance to community-based adult literacy programs throughout the state that offer literacy instruction for adults who read at or below the sixth grade level. Throughout New Mexico, "between 3,500-4,500 students are served by volunteer-based literacy programs in a given year." (NMCL Literacy Facts)   
 
And always turn to your local library system as well, for information about many creative programs offered for adult learners. The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Library website highlights several literacy programs available to residents.
 
To find more information on literacy programs in the SHARE Resource Directory, add your city, town or county to a keyword search for "Literacy."
 

Track Legislation for Learning

The 2019 legislative session doesn't end until noon on March 16th. There is still time for YOU to contact our legislators to voice your support or concerns with legislation addressing early childhood education and adult learning. 

This list provides quick links to the latest status on bills still in play, as well as to their sponsors. 

Early Childhood
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION & CARE DEPT.
MEDICAID HOME VISITING SERVICES AND COUNCIL  
PUBLIC PRE-KINDERGARTEN ACT
PERMANENT FUND FOR PRE-K  
 
Adult Education
COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY ACT CHANGES  
INCREASE CERTAIN SCHOLARSHIP AMOUNTS  
HIGHER ED & WORKFORCE CAREER PATHWAYS

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