The AAUW Corpus Christi Branch held its November meeting on Zoom at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, November 7, 2020. After introductions of new members and a welcome by President Shirley Selz to the 22 members who attended, Kelly Gonzalez, chair of the Community Outreach committee, introduced our speakers:
- Dr. Criselda Leal, Executive Director at the Corpus Christi Literacy Council, earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. Her professional experience in education spans over twenty years, and she has been with CCLC since 2019.
- Nayibe Pena, Program Coordinator at the Corpus Christi Literacy Council, received a bachelor’s degree in Administration in Venezuela and an associate’s degree in Microcomputers for Business at Del Mar College. She has been with CCLC for 6 years. Nayibe is trilingual, speaking English, Spanish, and Arabic.
Dr. Leal opened her discussion with information on literacy levels in the United States. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, one in five U.S. adults (21%) have low literacy skills. Texas ranks the fourth lowest literacy rate, with 19% of adults lacking basic prose literacy skills. (For more information on literacy rates by state, read this article.) Locally, 17% of adults in Nueces county cannot read well enough to function in our society.
The Corpus Christi Literacy Council, housed at the Ben F. McDonald Public Library, was formed in 1987 by the Corpus Christi City Council’s Literacy Commission to address the needs of our local area. The governing body of the Corpus Christi Literacy Council is composed of volunteer board members.
The mission of the CCLC is to identify, develop, promote, coordinate, and deliver comprehensive programs and resources that will measurably reduce functional illiteracy in the Corpus Christi area. The core program provided by the CCLC is one-on-one tutoring. Volunteers from the community are recruited, trained, certified and matched with adults who are reading below a fifth-grade competency level. The Council provides training and literacy instruction to any adult, seventeen years and older, seeking assistance. An average of 300 students are served each year at various locations, and 80% of students are female. To get a perspective on the impact of Literacy Councils across the nation, watch this YouTube video.
Dr. Leal emphasized that volunteers are needed for the CCLC, as tutors and for office assistance and help with special events. If you would like to assist in any of these ways, please contact the CCLC at 361-826-7086, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers must be registered and must attend an orientation session at CCLC. Dr. Leal noted that tutors do not need to know the language of a non-English speaking student to work with them. More information about the CCLC can be found on their Facebook site. A website for CCLC is currently under construction.