The Comox Valley Lifelong Learning Association hopes to retain government funding that has supported the group the past several years.
The association — a group of individuals with a vision to increase awareness and raise literacy levels in the Valley — had been receiving about $30,000 per year the past several years. The money enabled the organization to co-ordinate programs and events such as Family Literacy Week.
“That’s a big event in the community,” said Danielle Hoogland, CVLLA literacy outreach co-ordinator. “We’re able to give away a lot of books to families, which is a big part of our Literacy for Teens campaign. So far this year we’ve been able to distribute about 1,000 books.”
The association had initiated a letter-writing campaign urging Comox Valley MLA/Education Minister Don McRae to have funds reinstated for literacy outreach co-ordination to Decoda Literacy Solutions, the provincial literacy body.
The CVLLA grew out of the 2010 Legacies Fund. It received money through Literacy Now: $30,000 for co-ordination and another $30,000 for implementation for three years.
“Which was fantastic,” Hoogland said. “We’ve been able to work with that money to do some pretty great things in the community.”
The ministry had been giving $2.5 million to support co-ordination around the province. Last year, the amount dropped to $1 million. Decoda made up the other $1.5 million. This year, government again gave $1 million, but this time Decoda could not make up the difference.
Fifty-five communities were cut from funding, which Hoogland said has been “devastating” across B.C. “It’s been really difficult.”
On the bright side, Hoogland said McRae is “confident and committed to reinstating the funds. It has been brought up in the legislature. I do know that Don McRae is doing everything in his power to reinstate the funding and to find the funds wherever they may be.”
The CVLLA will find out about the funding situation at the end of March.
In partnership with other organizations such as the school district, college, the Adult Learning Centre and the Wachiay Friendship Centre, the association supports family literacy programs and employment readiness, particularly essential skills.
“We’ve done programs for young adults in transition into the workforce or post-secondary education,” Hoogland said, noting 40 per cent of Canadian adults do not have the literacy skills needed to function day to day in a “knowledge-based” economy.
“It’s such a hidden issue. People have incredible coping skills. Our organization, we address the gaps in literacy service in our community.”