Telling our Story:
Rural Literacy Coalition: Serving South Central Texas
formerly Tri-County Coalition for Literacy and Community Services
What is the Rural Literacy Coalition (RLC)—think Tri-County Coalition with a new name that is easier to say, tells where we serve, and allows us to grow! This is only one of many changes, projects, stumbles and accomplishments that have happened since Denver!
What did we do in the first twelve months? Here is our “Top Ten Count down….!”
Completed a training grant from USDA/RCDI that funded the RLC Capacity Building and Technical Institute. 503 community leaders and programs trained in the goals of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading at monthly sessions all working toward our CSAP objectives.
Developed the CPB/PBS Kids mobile lab partnership and distributed 3,500 free apps to pre-school and kindergarten students.
Supported the development of First Book sites in all counties to increase numbers of books in children’s home libraries.
Created a health literacy task force that developed the coalition’s health literacy plan.
Further developed the Gulf Coast Foundation Collaborative partnership and received funding for an executive director and a fund development director who will assist partners in increasing resources for CSAP objectives.
Developed the concept of rural community learning center hubs serving families and supporting children’s success in school.
Piloted the Results Based Scorecard and prepared initial data for 12 school districts.
Raised awareness across the three country area with a newsletter and media information to keep the community informed about ways to improve early childhood success.
Applied for and received our 501c3 and spun off from the United Way as an independent separate collective impact backbone organization.
Participated in CGLR sessions and webinars and distributed information and got great advice and support from our Liaison, Sammy Moon.
What do our partners say about us?
Gulf Coast Medical Foundation: The beauty of the Rural Literacy Coalition (RLC) for us funders is that the collective impact of the coalition has the potential of leveraging our support for local non-profits from government sources and from large foundations. Gulf Coast Medical Foundation, Trull Foundation, Matagorda County Community Foundation, Dobson Foundation and Stanzel Family Foundation have invested in staffing the RLC and have supported the offering of leadership opportunities for community partners in order to build up the organization in its infancy. The RLC, which was developed under the umbrella of the Matagorda County United Way, now has its own 501(c)3, has hired an excellent grant writer, has developed a strong board made up of community leaders and led by a county judge, has policies and procedures in place, and is ready to jump into fundraising for the benefit of its stakeholders, the local non-profits who, on their own, don't have much chance at procuring funding outside their local resources. The RLC especially focuses on serving rural students with limited literacy and English language skills. This benefits the community at large.
Wharton County Junior College: “The RLC provides support for the network of rural nonprofit providers, in partnership with their school districts, to provide increased opportunities for teacher training and student instruction.”
Texas Department of State Health Services: “Because there is a strong and direct correlation between educational attainment and health outcomes, we view our partnership with the Rural Literacy Coalition as an effective mechanism to work together to create broad social change in Colorado, Matagorda , and Wharton counties. The Coalition has evolved into a non-profit organization over time and their focus on improving educational outcomes for all ages will impact the health status of the populations we both aim to serve.”
First Book Matagorda County: “The RLC has helped us develop new programs that reach hundreds more children every year to help them prepare for success in school.”
City By The Sea Museum: “In rural communities small museums are vital in preserving the history and culture of the region and offering educational opportunities and activities to children and families. The opportunities afforded by the RLC to include museum educational programming are exciting especially the edutainment link planned by the coalition.”
Northside Education Center – Northside Education center is happy to provide the space and support staff needed by the Rural Literacy Coalition for its USDA Training and Capacity Building Institute. The program has trained over 500 local educational leaders, instructors, teachers, nonprofit volunteers and civic organizations.
Palacios Community HUB: “We are the newest of the RLC’s partners and one that has strong support from The Trull Foundation which is headquartered in Palacios. The HUB’s location in the center of town has good space for a community learning center. Thanks for your help RLC! We will be able to offer all sorts of support services to our local families.”
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: “The RLC brings many opportunities in the form of literacy, health and wellness, nutrition, and workforce education as well as family and youth educational opportunities. We are pleased to partner with the RLC.”
Just Do It Now, Dawson Community Resource Center: “Our primary goal is to improve the lives of the people of our community. JDIN is a rural community hub which gives us a unique opportunity to be a leader for individual, family and community change. The RLC has provided us with an AmeriCorps member for tutoring our students and to establish a family literacy program. In return we provide the coalition with office space.”
E4E, Bay City: “We have been a long-term partner of the Rural Literacy Coalition and we were one of two on line computer learning pilot sites donated by Aztec Software last year through the coalition. We are grateful to be included in RLC events and projects that help our children succeed in school.”
Eagle Lake Chamber: “Four years ago, the Eagle Lake Chamber of Commerce started on a new journey with a renewed vision of hope for the Eagle Lake area. By the end of 2010, the Chamber had collaborated with USDA-RC&D to bring in a Resource Team of experienced consultants to evaluate Eagle Lake and open our eyes to the “reality” of the conditions that existed in our community. Having a community Learning Center in Eagle Lake will open doors that we only dream about. “
Strive: Once the RLC became a member of Strive we learned more about the unique opportunities and challenges that rural partnerships face in order to meet Theory of Change Benchmarks. Strive supports the RLC knowing that trainers and community leaders can substantively increase training quality and effectiveness with an effective backbone coalition.”
Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Ready to Learn: The partnership with CPB/PBSKids has created wonderful opportunities for our developing family literacy initiative and CPB is working with us to determine the linkages through PBS Channel 8 at the University of Houston to add direct learning and training with the University distance learning sites. “Thank you for the visionary work that you and the Rural Literacy Coalition have implemented in partnership with Houston-PBS as part of public media’s Ready to Learn Initiative. The mobile media lab as well as math and literacy resources that you have brought to low income children and their families and providers in rural Texas have been impressive. As I see it, the awareness and training events implemented by the coalition at the El Campo Library and the Northside Education center and the other rural partners plays a central role in fostering the growth and capacity of educators and caregivers. Your work has been a vital component of a growing national network that has helped CPB disseminate hundreds of thousands of free educational apps.”
National Center for Family Literacy: “NCFL is particularly excited about the family engagement aspect of RLC work because student achievement is so often contingent upon parental involvement. Research indicates the most effective forms of parent involvement are those which engage families in learning activities at home.”
Literacy Powerline: Literacy Powerline provides the coalition with pro bono support through the technical assistance grant is has from the Campaign for Grade Level Reading funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Our mission, at Literacy Powerline, is to increase literacy levels through effective and sustainable community collaboration and engagement. We work with educators, business and labor leaders, philanthropies, civic and faith-based groups, policymakers, literacy providers and students to demonstrate that everyone thrives when a community is committed to 100% literacy.”
The RLC holds trainings each month for our partners from across our three counties. Over 500 have received this service in the last 18 months and these meetings will continue. Topics have included; Increasing 3rd Grade Reading Success, Funding Your Organization, Building Great Boards, RLC Health Literacy Community Plan, Early Learning Apps and Development Resources from the Natl. PBS System, Grant Writing Skills, Increasing Organization Financial Sustainability, WorkReady Training, Establishing a Logic Model for Your Organization, Legislative updates, How to Start a First Book Program, Increasing Organizational Cultural Competencies, Successful Early Childhood Programs, Managing Fed & State Benefits through the Benefit Bank, and Wharton County Junior College l ABE/GED programs.
The RLC begins September 2013 with a new Executive Director and a Fund Development Manager as well as a family literacy AmeriCorps volunteer. The future looks bright and we look forward to further activation of our CSAP during the coming year. Check out our website at www.ruralliteracycoalition.org