The Trail CBAL office is located at 1160 Cedar Ave. Photo: Trail Times

The Trail CBAL office is located at 1160 Cedar Ave. Photo: Trail Times

Columbia Basin and Boundary literacy programs get a funding boost

Funds help create learning opportunities for families and adults across the Basin and Boundary

Adult and family literacy programs offered by CBAL (Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy) across the Basin and Boundary received a financial boost from the province with a Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP) grant designed to help people gain skills in reading, writing, math and digital literacy.

Desneiges Profili, Executive Director, says, “CBAL is grateful to the Province of BC for its continued support of community literacy initiatives. These funds help to create unique learning opportunities for families and adults across the Basin and Boundary, and the flexibility to be responsive to local needs.”

Locally, this branch of funding is used to support literacy and essential skills training programs for individuals and small groups through programs such as the Tech Learning Place and for families who attend programs like Parents as Literacy Supporters (PALS) and Come Read with Me.

“Our Community Literacy Planning Committee is made up of representatives from many different service providing organizations and is instrumental in informing the direction of literacy initiatives each year,” explains Carolyn Amantea, CBAL’s community literacy outreach coordinator.

“We are fortunate to be able to utilize CALP funds for programs unique to our community — what you see in Rossland and Greater Trail may not be the same as what you see in Castlegar, Nelson or Salmo.”

While she was not able to say just yet what CBAL programming will look like in the fall, Amantea assures locals that plenty of offerings are in the works for families, children and youth, adults, seniors and newcomers.

“The benefit of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic is that we have, as an organization, been able to develop a number of online services and host regional programs and workshops,” she said. “As always, we are able to support those for whom technology might be a barrier through providing access to hardware and assistance with personal mobile devices.”

For more information about CBAL programming, volunteering, and other opportunities, contact Carolyn Amantea by calling the Trail CBAL office at 250.368.6770 or email: trailcoordinator@cbal.org.

In all, 128 communities throughout B.C. received a slice of CALP’s $2.9M grant cycle for fall sessions, which includes a one-time top-up for next year. These types of programs are provided free-of-charge and delivered by community organizations, Indigenous-led organizations and public post-secondary institutions.

Literacy programming typically includes one-on-one tutoring and small-group instruction, which support all levels of literacy.

In 2020, many programs shifted to online service delivery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These programs focus on basic literacy, numeracy, life skills and employment preparation and can be a starting point towards high school completion or achieving academic credentials.

An estimated 700,000 people in B.C. have significant challenges with literacy, numeracy and digital literacy, according to provincial statistics. In 2019-20, CALP programs provided services to more than 4,900 learners. Of those learners 21.5 per cent identified as Indigenous, 68.3 per cent were female and 30.8 per cent were male.

Further, 38.9 per cent of those students were employed, 36.6 per cent were unemployed and 13.1 per cent were retired.

“The everyday impact of building literacy on our communities will be felt for generations,” states Anne Kang, minister of advanced education and skills training. “Literacy and numeracy programs help people fill out application forms, understand health information, help kids with their homework, establish household budgets, and read and understand labels. It goes beyond that, too,” she adds.

“For many adult learners, literacy programs are an important first step in an educational journey to post-secondary studies as they work toward career and life goals for themselves and their families.”

Read more: Columbia Basin families invited to the virtual sphere of ‘One World Story Time’

Read more: Importance of literacy for all, September is Literacy Month in Trail



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