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Tyler’s Literacy Council Hosts Dinner to Appreciate Donors

Supporters of the Tyler Literacy Council gathered at the Willow Brook Country Club on Tuesday for the nonprofit’s annual donor honors dinner.

Carolyn Hutson, President of the LCOT Board of Directors, thanked the participants that the heavy rain didn’t stop them from coming to show their support.

“We are incredibly grateful to our donors and community partners who make Literacy Council programs possible,” Hutson said.

The organization offers several programs including basic adult literacy; preparation for the exam; English language services; career paths; college prep and transition services; family literacy; and literacy in the workplace.

LCOT believes that every adult should have the opportunity to receive an education at any stage of life. As a result of numerous programs, the organization completed the GED; college becomes available; English is studied as a second language; jobs are provided; According to LCOT chief executive Whitney Patterson, the workforce is getting the best employees.

“Whether you are a donor, a current or former board member, a community partner, a volunteer, we thank you and are thrilled to have you here,” Patterson said.

Recognizing the importance of education, statistics have been highlighted to show the influence of the group:

n 61% of adults in Smith County read and write below 8th grade;

n 28% read and write below 5th grade;

n 16% of adults over age 25 in Texas do not have a high school diploma;

n 64% of all US jobs require a high school equivalent;

n and 6.5 million Texas residents—nearly 40%—speak a language other than English at home.

“On top of all that,” Patterson said, “we know that low-skilled adults are twice as likely to be unemployed, three times as likely to live below the poverty line, four times as likely to be in poor health, and eight times as likely to be in prison.”

True to its mission, the Literary Council is committed to helping adults reach their full potential by guiding them through the GED process, helping them earn certifications through their prep programs, and more.

In 2022, the non-profit organization helped 111 students take the GED.

Successes include former student Aidan Hunter, who arrived in Tyler with all his possessions and half of his high school education after leaving his marital status in Louisiana.

“I really wanted to continue my education,” Hunter said. “And they worked as a team to help me not only with my GED, but with my emotional maturity.”

On the recommendation of the Tyler Literature Council, through a cousin, Hunter was able to enroll immediately and then completed his GED program within a month.

Hunter said the LCOT staff and volunteers have always made him feel capable and confident.

“It might sound a bit complicated, but it really depends on the amount of time and effort you put into it,” Hunter said.

After completing the GED program, Hunter developed an interest in phlebotomy and enrolled in the Literary Council’s Career Pathways program.

As one of the many programs offered by the council, Career Pathways offers academic support, training, and the opportunity to earn a certificate at Tyler Junior College.

As of December, Hunter has received a phlebotomy certificate.

“Aidan is one of the many stories we have at Literature Council,” Patterson said, “and we want to continue helping people like him.”

Although Hunter has said that it is strange for him to hear such praise for his success, he is always grateful for the opportunity.

“It’s great to hear that people believe in you and appreciate you,” Hunter said.

In 2022, 1,870 people participated in various LCOT programs.

Also last year, with the assistance of 126 volunteers and 52 employees, 91% of students were employed or enrolled in higher educational institutions at the end of the year.

The council is ranked 4th out of 39 state programs in student achievement upon completion.

In addition, the council is currently ranked 9th out of 39 state programs for student enrollment based on population.

He continues to be a leader in his field with seven statewide training presentations hosted by LCOT staff. In 2022, he also hosted five East Texas training sessions with 215 participants.

Since its inception in 1990, the program began as a core adult reading program but has grown into numerous collaborations with other agencies in the field.

The expansion also included the addition of English as a second language class.

“People who want to get a GED are certainly stigmatized,” Patterson said, “but we want to create a supportive environment for adult students. We want to help them see their potential.”

In response to their growing success last year, the council expanded in partnership with Brownsboro ISD, Chapel Hill ISD, Lindale ISD and Tyler ISD to help parents learn. Some of the programs even offer childcare.

“Partnerships like this are game-changing for our communities,” Patterson said.

In addition to new partnerships in the program: student transportation assistance has been added; English classes at the Raines County Library in Emory; summer courses at the Christian Women’s Employment Corps; Quickbook Certification Course through Career Paths; conversational English lesson; Intermediate Career Pathways for Advanced English Learners and Internationally Trained Professionals for Internationally Certified Students.

“We are so proud of all the participants,” said Patterson. “And we can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.”

Tuesday’s lunch served as a reminder to longtime and new LCOT donors of the profound impact they have on adult students in East Texas. For information on how to get involved in one of the nonprofit’s programs, become a volunteer, or make a donation, visit lcotyler.org.

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