Literacy Together (formerly Literacy Council of Buncombe County)

Transforming lives and communities through the power of literacy.

Asheville, NC   |  https://lit-together.org

Mission

Mission To transform lives and communities through the power of literacy. Vision A just and equitable community in which literacy is accessible and achievable by all. Core Values: Lifelong Learning Individual Dignity Equity and Justice Leadership and Innovation

Ruling year info

1993

Executive Director

Cindy Threlkeld

Main address

31 College Place, B-221

Asheville, NC 28801 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

58-1696409

NTEE code info

Adult, Continuing Education (B60)

Remedial Reading, Reading Encouragement (B92)

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Improving our community, our economy, and individual lives. Literacy and English language proficiency are tools that help people move out of poverty and get better-paying jobs to support their families. Literacy allows parents to read to their children. Improved literacy skills benefit not only the struggling reader, but everyone in our community regardless of age, race, gender, or background.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Adult Literacy

The Adult Literacy program teaches reading, writing, and math to adults who read at or below a basic skills level. Volunteer tutors work one-on-one with Adult Literacy students. All tutors receive training in the proven Orton-Gillingham methodology -- a phonics-based reading method -- and use the Wilson Reading System curriculum.

Population(s) Served
Adults

The ESOL program teaches oral English, reading, and writing to adults who have immigrated to the U.S. from around the world. Trained volunteer tutors work with ESOL students one-on-one and in small group environments.

Population(s) Served
Adults

The Youth Literacy program provides volunteer tutors with intensive, research-based training in the foundations of literacy and matches these tutors one-on-one with low-income K-12th grade students who read below grade level. The program curriculum is research-based and designed specifically for at-risk and dyslexic students.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library seeks to positively impact the pre­literacy skills and school readiness of children under the age of 5 in Buncombe County, by mailing a free age-appropriate book to registered children each month until they begin kindergarten. The Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program creates a home library of up to 60 books that instill a love of books and reading from an early age.

The Literacy Council of Buncombe County launched a Dolly Parton's Imagination Library replication in November 2015, with support from the Buncombe Partnership for Children. Through this program, not only will registered children in Buncombe County receive a free book in the mail each month, but participants’ parents will also have the opportunity to attend quarterly workshops to learn how to use the books to promote early literacy skills with their children. Parents in need of literacy assistance themselves will be encouraged to receive tutoring through the Literacy Council’s adult programming.

Population(s) Served
Infants and toddlers

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

Sector Stewardship Award from the NC Center for Nonprofits 2013

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of adults who received literacy services

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Ethnic and racial groups, Social and economic status, Age groups, Sexual identity

Related Program

Adult Literacy

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Literacy Together's Vision
A just and equitable community in which literacy is accessible and achievable by all.

Core Values

Lifelong Learning

We believe the pursuit of knowledge is a lifelong journey for our students, tutors, staff, board, and community.
We offer transformative learning experiences to people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities.

Individual Dignity

We believe individuals have the power to reach their own potential through teaching, learning, and community involvement.
We trust and believe in our students when they share their experiences, goals, insights, and vision.
We co-create learning environments where the dignity, worth, and complexity of each person is honored.

Equity and Justice

We believe access to lifelong quality education is the cornerstone of a more just and equitable society.
We commit to diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our organization and recognize that racism is a major barrier to achieving a community where literacy is accessible to all.
We serve as equal partners with students, tutors, staff, and board to help students reach their goals.

Leadership and Innovation

We respond to a changing landscape, creating new pathways for groups and individuals to reach their full potential.
We initiate collaboration in a nonpartisan manner to engage the community in advocating for the change required to create a more literate Buncombe County.
We commit to the highest standards of professionalism, honesty, and integrity in all individual, business, and community interactions.

We believe that literacy changes lives for the better. In fact, we know it. Literacy and English language proficiency are tools that help people rise out of poverty and get better-paying jobs to support their families. Literacy allow parents to read to their children. Improved literacy skills benefit not only the struggling reader, but everyone in our community regardless of age, race, gender, or background. We offer our students personal instruction and top rate materials. As a result, we improve our community, our economy and individual lives.

We serve students in three core programs through free tutoring by trained volunteer tutors:
Adult Literacy
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
Youth Literacy

We also send books to over 3,000 children birth to 5 years old through Dolly Parton's Imagination Library® program.

Literacy Together provides research-based curricula and instruction is contextualized to life and work, making it highly relevant to the adult learner, even those at the lowest literacy levels. Staff and tutors encourage students to set realistic personal literacy goals and provide students with the information and support to pursue these goals. Literacy Together has provided these services in Buncombe County for the past 30 years, and consistently meets or exceeds state benchmarks for adult student improvement.

For low-income school children who read, write, and/or spell below grade level, The Youth Literacy program provides similar research-based curricula utilizing Wilson Reading System and Orton-Gillingham methods. Pre- and post-tests historically show a 100% success rate.

We are also the only organization in Buncombe County that provides US Naturalization exam tutoring.

Since 1987 the Literacy Together has served thousands of students. Starting out with the Adult Literacy program, teaching reading, writing, spelling, and math to adults who read at or below a basic skills level.

The council expanded to serve English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). The ESOL program teaches oral English, reading, and writing to adults who have immigrated to the U.S. from around the world. We also provide US Naturalization exam tutoring.

In 2010 the council become an Augustine Project replication site to serve low-income students who read, write, and/or spell below grade level. In 2018 we restructured this program and serve the same population under the new name of the Youth Literacy program.

In 2015 Literacy Together became an affiliate of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, serving 200 children. The program now serves over 2,800 children birth to 5 years old who receive age appropriate books each month.

Literacy Together will continue to serve Buncombe County by providing ongoing, hands-on, and accessible tutoring for its students and the resources and training needed for its volunteers. Our donors will witness the positive impact for both the individual and the community at large.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    We serve students regardless of age, race, gender, or background through four programs; Adult Literacy English for Speakers of Other Languages, Youth Literacy, and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We are contributing to systemic change in education. The efforts of this intensive after-school reading initiative pilot targeted children of color who are most impacted by the opportunity gap. Asheville City Schools had the fifth-largest achievement gap in the nation (source: Carolina Public Press, Feb. 2019). We are also training young adults of color to serve as tutors, providing work experience, pay, and the opportunity to mentor younger children of color. Studies have demonstrated that students taught by those who share their identities and look like them benefit both academically and emotionally (source: Teach for America, June 2019). This program contributes to closing the gap in existing systems and serves as a model for the school system locally.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback,

Financials

Literacy Together (formerly Literacy Council of Buncombe County)
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Literacy Together (formerly Literacy Council of Buncombe County)

Board of directors
as of 11/8/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Marilyn Lindsley Cortes

Kindred at Home

Term: 2021 - 2024


Board co-chair

Debbie Motz Bryenton

Retired

Term: 2020 - 2022

Zurilma Anuel

Carolina Small Business Development Fund

Kevin Baxter

Buncombe County Schools

Page McCorkle

AB-Tech

Susan Perone

Retired trial attorney

Jim Blanton

Buncombe County Libraries

Ben Fehsenfeld

Pisgah Legal Services

Janell Lassiter

YTL Training

Becky Stone

Green Prints

Nora van Arkel

Volunteer tutor

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/08/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 01/05/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.