Believe it or not, poor reading skills create widespread problems within the entire community. According to ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, more than one-fifth of the adults in Corpus Christi lack basic literacy skills and many of them speak little to no English whatsoever.
But there’s help: The Corpus Christi Literacy Council (CCLC) provides free literacy opportunities to adult learners who need to learn or improve their reading and writing skills. In fact, for more than 36 years, CCLC has operated as a nonprofit organization whose main purpose is to combat illiteracy in the Coastal Bend and surrounding areas by identifying, developing and coordinating effective programs to address the ongoing need for the speaking, reading and writing of the English language.
“Literacy affects everyone in our community,” said Dr. Criselda Leal, executive director of CCLC. “Adults need strong literacy skills to raise children to have strong literacy skills, to be good employees and to keep themselves and their families healthy.”
To help with this, the Corpus Christi Literacy Council currently facilitates three programs: Adult Basic Education, which focuses on adults who want to improve their literacy skills, an English as a Second Language course and a U.S. Citizenship Preparation Course, which aids permanent residents in taking and passing the citizenship exam.
Students interested in enrolling will take an initial assessment to determine which course is most suitable for their needs and when the students’ literacy levels are high enough after working with tutors, volunteers will aid them in getting their GED or citizenship.
“Volunteers are the heart of the program and critical to its success,” Leal said. Getting involved is easy as Charity League of Corpus Christi is always accepting volunteers to tutor or teach English as a Second Language or Adult Basic Education. Volunteers do not have to have any prior experience nor need to be proficient in the student’s first language. Local supporters can also donate to help fund programs.
Most recently, the Charity League selected CCLC as its organization of focus for its upcoming fundraising cycle. “My first thought was disbelief, then I was emotional,” Leal shared, as she said the need for adult literacy is often overlooked and forgotten. “I am excited about what our students will experience with new technology and learning tools. CCLC is honored to be the recipient of Charity League’s 2023-2024 fundraising efforts.”
CCLC helps more than 300 students every year through the efforts of more than 60 program volunteers and zero dollars paid by those in need. The Literacy Council remains committed to promoting literacy as a life-enriching experience and as fundamental to the well-being of every individual, as well as an important economic driver in our community.