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Project Read spelling bee supports literacy program for adults in Utah County

Sep 07, 2017 06:00AM
By Bettyanne Bruin

PROVO — With 28,000 adults struggling with basic literacy skills in Utah County, Project Read continues its 33-year effort to help those in need to learn to read and write. These skills open up opportunities for educational and employment advancement. Project Read students report the following successes so far this year: 29 students increased at least one grade level, 9 entered employment, 7 improved employment, 47 retained employment, 5 entered post-secondary education/training, 3 passed the TOEFL, 1 obtained a high school diploma, 3 obtained a driver’s license, 1 was called on an LDS Service Mission, 1 was a first-time voter, 1 passed the CNA exam, and 5 graduated from Project Read, and we couldn't be happier.

One of the “funnest” fundraisers in Utah County is Project Read’s Annual Spelling Bee. The event will be held Tuesday, September 19th, at 11:30 a.m. in the ballroom of the Provo Library. Now in its 11th year, the Spelling Bee brings together individuals and corporations to enjoy lunch and engage in the ultimate word challenge. With 25 tables available for sponsorship, contestants battle to spell words like “gladiolus,” the winning word of the first National Spelling Bee, held in 1925. Sponsors such as Northwestern Mutual, Caldera Engineering, Intermountain Healthcare, Green Dot Bank and CrossPoint Church have already claimed their spot to support Project Read.

One of the many faces of Project Read is Troy Smothers. After dropping out of school at age 15, Troy worked in construction for minimum wage. He came to Project Read but faced two problems: how to afford tutoring and how to fill out the form. When he discovered tutoring was free and the staff helped fill out the form, Troy enrolled. He met with a tutor twice a week for two years. Achieving the literacy needed to fulfill his dreams, Troy earned his contractor’s, pilot’s and insurance licenses. Today, Troy is a successful entrepreneur who credits Project Read for launching his success.