Higher level grade requirements discourage adults to be part of literacy programs but at the Yankton Area Literacy Council (YALC), adults who cannot read beyond a third-grade level are welcome.
"Yankton adults don't need a driver's license to get in the program," said Ms. Bev Calvert, YALC program coordinator. "We understand they can't get a driver's license without reading and writing skills."
This is one of the major successes of YALC. Ninety three percent of adults in Yankton County are trained in reading, writing and speaking English as a second language. In Clay County, 6 percent of adult learners are American while in Bon Homme, the percentage of Americans stands at eight. All other adults are ESL learners. In a 2003 assessment, more than 550 Clay County adults lacked basic literacy skills.
Students work individually with a tutor for a minimum of two hours per week. None of the students are charged. Tutors are volunteers. Students and tutors set up times and locations to meet at the Yankton office.
"Students start at a lower level and do assignments. Their progress is assessed for about a half-hour by their tutors each time they meet," said Calvert. "We have been blessed in Yankton. We have some wonderful teachers in Yankton."
YALC is planning on coming to Vermillion.
"We are trying to set up for readings in Vermillion if we find a small location and funding will be best to go along with it. We buy books for students and each book costs about $25-30," she said.
Community programs are held in malls and libraries to encourage kids to read so that they force their parents to read.
YALC also holds literacy programs in Yankton County and surrounding areas to inform people about their literacy activities. In September, a week-long 'Adult Education and Family Literacy Week' was held in Yankton to remind people that YALC helps students of any educational background to improve their literacy throughout the year. The second annual "Scrabble Tournament Spellebrate for a Good Cause" Scrabble tournament is set for Jan. 29, 2012, to raise funds for and awareness about the program.
Brochures are also issued to get the message out about the YALC. People who wish to volunteer or know someone in need of literacy services complete the form at the end of the brochure and send it back to the YALC. The brochures are available at the Yankton library and YALC office.
YALC is a volunteer-based organized founded in 1987. It organizes literacy programs in Yankton, Bon Homme, Charles Mix and Clay counties. Its work is funded by United Way and Volunteer Services of Greater Yankton and by community fundraisers.