r By Gary Brodeur
A project to strengthen local funding for an adult literacy program is being launched this spring.
The effort, titled Friends of Project Read, will help increase long-term funding for Project Read, a 33-year-old Orem-based nonprofit organization.
“I don’t know that people recognize we have an adult literacy problem in Utah County … and they have an opportunity to change lives,” said Project Read Executive Director Shauna K. Brown.
Project Read officials recognize the time has come to create a solid funding base for the organization through consistent and increased community contributions, so they are launching the Friends of Project Read effort.
Donors who initiate their support for the project through June 30 will be recognized as founding members. Friends will be recognized at seven levels of giving, from $10 to $1,000 a month or more.
The contributions can be made through the Project Read website at projectreadutah.org/donations/. Donors may choose a level of giving at which they are comfortable. Each level, starting at $25 a month, also lists the benefit to the organization’s students or the community. For example, the $25 level helps meet the cost of materials for the Project Read library.
One can join the Friends of Project Read effort at any time and specify a monthly contribution amount other than those suggested. And for every dollar spent boosting adult literacy, the local economy benefits by $3, Project Read officials say.
Despite its universities and high-tech industries, the county of 561,000 residents has about 28,000 adults who are functionally illiterate, Brown and Project Read Development Director Patti Beardsley said.
Their organization’s target for client achievement is ninth-grade-level reading and writing. At that point, people can transition into higher education or a better job, Brown said.
The organization has expanded its offerings during the past several years from providing only one-on-one learning to include small-group instruction and post-graduation services that help qualifying students 16 and older to make their next move.
“It’s all about the next step,” Beardsley said of the individualized instruction provided.
The organization serves about 100 students a year who come from all walks of life. Each student typically spends six months to two years improving his or her reading and writing skills.
“People are very generous with their time” in supporting Project Read, Beardsley said. Students and tutors meet at the Provo, Orem and Payson city libraries or other public spaces.
The budget of the nonprofit organization hovers near $115,000, with about $35,000 coming from grants, Brown said. She expects grant funding to be cut 17 percent starting July 1. Additionally, AmeriCorps VISTA will end its four-year term of support after June 2018 when two personnel will leave Project Read.
“The thing I love about Project Read is we’re getting to the root of a lot of problems,” such as family difficulties related to work, health and helping children in school, Brown said.
To find out more about the organization and its sustaining funds program, Friends of Project Read, go to projectreadutah.org or call 801-448-READ (7323).