Service with AmeriCorps is an enriching and educational experience that is unlike any other employment opportunity. A term of service lasts for 11 months, during which you will need to serve 1700 hours working with one of the Literacy Coalition's community partner agencies. It is a great opportunity to work in the Austin nonprofit community and network with many different nonprofit organizations. During your 11 month term, you will be paid a total of over $12,600, in bi-weekly payments of approximately $550. You will also receive free health benefits and many professional development trainings aimed at helping you develop teaching skills and other important skills such as networking and resume writing. Finally, upon successful completion of your 1700 hour term of service, you will receive an education award of over $5,900 that can be used to pay off student loans or to pay for future schooling.
This is a full time position where Texas Family Literacy AmeriCorps members become community educators and quality instructors. For adult, members teach/tutor in English as a Second Language (ESL), Adult Basic Education (ABE) (basic reading and writing), GED and workforce literacy. Members deliver family literacy programs for parents and children (under 5) and also provide early childhood literacy for children (ages 2-5). All programs are research-validated and operate through our network of 40+ community-based nonprofit partners. Members: 1. Teach classes or tutor adults in English as a Second Language, Adult Basic Education, or GED classes. 2. Provide Workforce Literacy for adults seeking to improve their employment and careers. 3. Provide early childhood interventions for low-income families. 4. Coach parenting program (called PALS) to promote cognitive and language development. Members also participate in team meetings, professional development, community service, and team building activities.
Community Need Addressed
Literacy efforts in Central Texas face two challenges: the number of people needing literacy services and the ability of local providers to respond.
• 1 in 5 native English speaking adults in Central Texas can’t read or write well enough to fill out a job application, and the trend of illiteracy is growing. (National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 2009)
• The Texas Workforce Investment Council predicts the need for adult basic education will double by 2040.
• Texas ranks near the bottom of the 50 states in adult literacy levels and spending on adult literacy per capita.
According to the US Census' 2006-2008 American Community Survey (ACS), over 160,000 adults (14.4%) in Central Texas lack a high school diploma or GED. The correlation between education and income is powerful: high school graduates in the US averaged $31,286 in annual earnings, compared to $21,484 for those without a high school diploma (US Census).
The problems that lead students to drop out and ultimately struggle with poverty can begin even before a child enters kindergarten. Children who have not already developed basic literacy practices when they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out. Hays Independent School District, located in the Literacy Coalition’s service area just south of the Austin metropolitan area, reports that about half of the students entering kindergarten are two years behind in age-appropriate literacy skills.
These challenges become more overwhelming when parents cannot help their children with homework or teach them to read. The National Institute for Literacy found that a mother's literacy level is one of the most significant predictors of a child's future success in school. When children enter school without the literacy skills to succeed, and their parents lack the resources to bridge this gap, they are more likely to remain behind, drop out, and eventually face poverty as adults. Parents of young children need access to literacy services AND information about how to help prepare their children for school.
Not only does a lack of literacy skills limit an individual’s earning potential, feeding cyclical poverty, but it also has a direct effect on a person’s health. Literacy level is the number one predictor of a person’s health status. Individuals with low literacy skills are four times more likely to be in poor health than those with higher literacy skills. In fact, research shows that today’s health information is presented in a way most people cannot understand. In 2004, the American Medical Association estimated that 90 million Americans lack sufficient health literacy to effectively undertake needed medical treatments and preventive health care. Although inadequate health literacy affects all segments of the population, it more profoundly impacts the elderly, the poor, members of minority groups, and people who did not speak English during early childhood. According to a 2007 Pfizer study, limited literacy costs about $238 billion a year.
The health literacy crisis is especially striking in Texas. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2009), 19% of Texans can’t read a newspaper, which means they also can’t read the label on a prescription bottle. Addressing these overwhelming health literacy needs can help improve the accessibility, quality, and safety of health care; reduce costs; and improve the health and quality of life for nearly 4 million Texans and 90 million Americans overall.
A large and growing population in Central Texas does not speak English, which affects regional literacy rates. Over 147,180 adults (12.1%) in the region struggle with English (ACS). These area families struggling with literacy needs rely on community-based literacy services. However, efforts to improve literacy levels in Central Texas fall short because the number of people needing literacy services far exceeds the ability of local providers to respond.
50 AmeriCorps members will leverage an additional 190 community volunteers annually to provide vital, high quality, evidence-based literacy instruction services to low-income adults and pre-school age children in the Austin and Houston regions of Texas. At the end of the service year, over 1700 economically disadvantaged individuals will receive remedial adult education and English language instruction and over 200 pre-school age children will receive literacy instruction. Our growing project will focus on the CNCS focus areas of Economic Opportunity, Education, and Capacity Building.
Childcare assistance if eligible, Education award upon successful completion of service, Health coverage, Stipend, Student loan forbearance, Training
Skills you will gain
time tracking, keeping, and management, teaching, team work, communication, conflict resolution, team work, data tracking and management, lesson planning, mentoring,
Competencies You Will Develop
Demonstrate sensitivity and empathy, Lead group discussion, Listen to and consider others' viewpoints, Maintain open lines of communication with others, Speak clearly, in precise language and in a logical, organized and coherent manner, Turn taking
Creativity & Problem Solving
Able to identify and define the problem, Capable of generating possible solutions, Communicate the problem to appropriate personnel, Improvise, Select and implement well-considered solution
Develop constructive working relationships and maintain them over time, Establish a high degree of trust and credibility with others, Interact professionally and respectfully with supervisors and co-workers, Stay positive and outcome oriented, Use appropriate strategies and solutions for dealing with conflicts and differences to maintain a smooth workflow
Accepts responsibility, Anticipate the consequences of decisions, Identify and prioritize the key issues involved to facilitate the decision making process, Involve people appropriately in decisions that may impact them, Quickly respond with a back-up plan if a decision goes amiss
Able to prioritize various competing tasks, Create environment of contribution, Create plan of action, schedule tasks so that work is completed on time, Demonstrate the effective allocation of time and resources efficiently, Drive decision making, Facilitate group planning, Set goals
Be pleasant, courteous, professional and respectful when dealing with internal and external customers or clients, Honor the privilege of being able to work with and for those being served, Provide personalized, prompt, and efficient service to meet the requirements, requests and needs of customers, Recognize the importance of maintaining privacy and confidentiality of those being served, Understand and anticipate the needs of others, Understand the importance of one's role in the functioning of the organization