Vision: Changing Lives Through Literacy
Mission: To equip non-English speaking adults and their young children with English literacy and life skills to promote self-sufficiency and the overall well-being of our students, their families and the greater community.
Literacy Achieves (founded as Vickery Meadow Learning Center) was established in 1997 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to help adults learn English in Vickery Meadow, a low-income neighborhood with thousands of immigrants and refugees.
Since its founding, Literacy Achieves has experienced steady growth - increasing our impact through award-winning programs while expanding our services to include a children's program and sites in additional Dallas neighborhoods.
Today, Literacy Achieves serves approximately 1,100 adult students and 330 young children annually at campus locations in Vickery Meadow, West Dallas and East Dallas. More than 300 compassionate and dedicated volunteers teach all adult classes, work in the computer lab, assist in the office and support the children's program while providing respect, support and encouragement to the students. As demand for English literacy programs continues to soar, Literacy Achieves will strive to address this critical community need.
Organizational Strengths and Uniqueness
• Removing Barriers to Learning - Literacy Achieves understands the difficulty many English Language Learners have in finding the time, transportation, childcare or money they need in order to attend classes. Literacy Achieves seeks to remove these common barriers.
o Convenient Scheduling and Locations - By providing morning, afternoon and evening classes, students may enroll in the program which best suits their work and family needs. Our sites are located in the neighborhoods where our students live, eliminating transportation difficulties and allowing Literacy Achieves to foster a strong sense of community in the neighborhoods we serve.
o Meeting the Needs of Parents with Young Children - Our daytime classes provide concurrent programming for adults and children creating a valuable synergy which enhances learning for the entire family and lets parents model the importance of learning to their young children.
o Programs are Free of Charge, yet Accountability Driven - Instruction is provided at no charge; however, students are encouraged to make a contribution to cover the cost of their books. Regular, on-time attendance is required in order to stay in the program.
• Structured Program Approach - Literacy Achieves has a unique program design with a formal enrollment process, daily classes and multiple class levels.
o Formal Enrollment Process - Students enroll at Literacy Achieves during specific enrollment periods during the school year. Students are tested and placed into the appropriate level at the beginning of each term, with the opportunity to advance to the next level upon successful completion of each class.
o Daily Classes - More intense frequency of instruction gives students the opportunity to progress quickly and not fall drastically behind if they are absent on occasion. Many community-based ESL programs only meet once a week making it difficult to keep up when a student misses a class. In addition to daily classes, ongoing Enrichment Programs give students the opportunity to practice their new language skills in meaningful ways while developing cultural knowledge and confidence to communicate.
o Multiple Class Levels - Many students attend Literacy Achieves for three years or more, which is necessary to truly learn a new language. Students may repeat a level before advancing to the next, giving them the opportunity to fully master each level.
• Effective Use of More than 300 Weekly Volunteer Teachers - Compassionate and committed volunteer teachers give students much needed support and encouragement. Throughout the semester, volunteers and students develop mutual respect and understanding for one another though a structured curriculum which can be tailored to meet the specific needs of students. Students are also exposed to a variety of teaching styles through their volunteer teachers, thereby increasing their opportunity to learn the complexities of the English language.
"I love Literacy Achieves because it is a wonderful place to learn English. Everybody treats us with love, patience and respect. They always help us with anything we need. Now, thanks to them, I can speak more fluently, without being so scared, and I won't have that terrible sensation of feeling so desperate looking for somebody else to come and ask for what I need or to translate for me."
Last fall, Gloria turned her efforts to giving back at Literacy Achieves by becoming a volunteer teacher at the East Dallas campus.
"I think that learning English is very important because if we come to this country we must learn the language. That way we can communicate with each other. I personally encourage all of the students to persist in their dreams, until they see them come true. Very often I tell my class that each of us is very talented, and the only difference between us is that everyone has a different talent. We just have to share our knowledge."
She also uses her Spanish and English skills as a volunteer at The Perot Museum.
"No matter how busy you are, you always find time to do something you are passionate about. It's both exciting and satisfying to help and serve others. And at the same time, I benefit from learning new things. I also look forward to meeting new people and knowing there will always be someone I can help."