Qwest Gives Literacy Program Financial Boost

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The Rim Country Literacy Program received a grant Friday from Qwest that will allow the program to buy much-needed supplies.

It was the second time Qwest provided funding to the program, which is unique for the company.

"It is unusual to repeat grants," said George Favela, Qwest director of community affairs. "We try to spread the grants as much as we can."

Favela said the program was chosen because adult education satisfies needs for economical development and education.

Su Connell, RCLP program director, said the organization has a wish list of things it needs.

"This money enables us to do things like replace the copy machine," she said. "We need new chairs, we need an overhead projector for presentations. And textbooks are so expensive. Most students can't afford them."

Half of RCLP's budget goes to student supplies, as many of the students can't afford to buy the supplies themselves.

In 2003 the program enrolled nearly 300 students, most of which were learning English. The RCLP has taught English to students who speak Chinese, German and Russian.

The program also offers General Education Diploma preparation, Adult Basic Education and the Family Literacy Program.

"You're never too old," said Nancy Althoff, RCLP Board President.

"I think sometimes people don't realize how important [a GED] is until they get into the work force."

All of the instruction is free, and is available to all students over 18 years old, with the exception of the FLP.

A volunteer tutor who gives individualized instruction teaches each student.

"We offer creative, one-on-one instruction tailored to the need of the student," Althoff said.

Many students come to the program after having left high school years before. As a former high school counselor, Althoff said she watched many kids walk away from high school, and the literacy program is an opportunity to see them come back.

"It's wonderful to see someone attain a goal," she said. "They feel better about themselves."

While most of the staff is unpaid volunteers, the experience is payment enough.

"I don't think there's anything more worthwhile than this," Althoff said.

Upcoming RCLP events include a used-book sale in October and a spelling bee where local professionals are the contestants in January.

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