San Antonio Commission on Literacy
Joseph R. (Roy) Kaiser
c/o Literacy Services Division
700 South Zarzamora Street #LL1
San Antonio, TX 78207
FAX: (210) 207-4075
ci.sat.tx.us (go to: Services: Services
Listing : Literacy Centers)
(Note: this coalition is not incorporated) 1987
Vision and/or Mission
Vision: The San Antonio Community will achieve literacy to function
successful as responsible students, parents, citizens and self-sufficient
Mission: Recognizing the value of self sufficiency and lifelong learning to individual
success, the mission of the San Antonio Commission on Literacy is
Enhance through advocacy, community awareness of the dimensions of
the urban literacy needs:
family literacy and increased proficiency in educational skills needed
to enter the workforce and/or to progress in the high performance
workplace of the 21st century;
promote, and coordinate service provider efforts;
Develop and maximize resources; and
Promote multi-level literacy partnerships between citizens, agencies, and
In August 1987, the City Council of San Antonio appointed a fifteen-member
advisory Commission. Eleven members were appointed by the Mayor and
ten City Council District representatives; four others were appointed
as ex-officio from organizations related to literacy. The Commission
was appointed to advise the City Council on how to combat adult illiteracy
which, at the time, was at 22.5 percent among the adult population.
The appointment of the Commission was triggered by the discovery that
a local adult education cooperative was returning funds back to the
state because its "role was supportive to provide instructional staff
and materials, not organizing new service providers."
Representatives from various sectors (i.e., primary/secondary education,
higher education, community-based organizations, business, media,
adult literacy providers, the public library, San Antonio Youth Literacy,
and the Greater San Antonio Literacy Board (now the San Antonio Coalition
of Literacy Service Providers). Today, membership on the Commission
includes representatives from all four local Adult Education Cooperatives.
Developed an adult
literacy program which recognizes that the problem of illiteracy belongs
to the entire community and that the solution to the problem lies
in the ability of community resources to work together, to invest
their respective resources, and not worry too much about who gets
the credit. The concept requires extensive collaboration. The City
Council approved and funded this proposal in 1988, which included
a citywide referral service and a Learning and Leadership Development
Center in each Council district.
A strong volunteer program providing tutoring in basic literacy was
Opened the first
Commission-operated Learning Center in February 1989.
Created a 225-READ
Central Referral Center which now connects clients and volunteers
to 238 literacy provider locations throughout the city.
of a Libraries Expansion/Learning Centers Bond Issue which has provided
$5.8 million for the construction of eight learning and leadership development
centers. Seven have been built, each offering up to 30 classes per week.
in the literacy movement had to make the operational concept shift from
exclusivity (my client, my funding, my resources, my turf) to inclusivity
(our client, our funding, our resources, our turf).
It was a challenge
getting the business community to support the effort.
The Commission reached a major milestone when we opened our first
Learning Center that had been financed through the bond issue, in
May 1990. Extensive collaboration had been required to complete this
We started with basic literacy, adult education and GED preparation,
and are now evolving to include technology, job readiness, financial
literacy and job placement. We also engage in public/private partnerships.
literacy provider sites operate in the San Antonio area.
Staffing is supported
by the City of San Antonio and includes administrative personnel as
well as personnel in the seven bond-funded Learning Centers and in the
$1.7 million budget.
Offices in city
a staffing agency to create the Better Career program that provides
an intensive three-week skills upgrade program with commitment to
place learners in jobs paying $7.00 to $9.00 to start.
Launched the NEFE
Financial Literacy course at three Learning Centers.
performance measures, reporting on a monthly basis.
Awareness Month Events which include the Literacy Awareness Business
Breakfast, the San Antonio Run/Walk for Literacy (to support a GED
Financial Assistance fund), and an annual Convocation of literacy
Has a Financial
Assistance Fund for students.
annual GED graduation ceremony for graduates of the city-operated Learning
Next Steps - Managerial
and begin operations at an eighth bond-supported Learning Center.
Northeast ISD has agreed to lease the land, at no cost, to the city.
Find ways to
increase staffing at the Learning Centers.
and more effective working relationships with the local workforce board.
Open the Learning
Centers seven days a week so that more community members have access
to technology and the Internet.
public/private special projects on weekends (such as Literacy for
Life, Project SUCCESS, and TRIAD).
Find ways to
meet the growing business demand for workplace literacy services.
Advice to Other
Define the extent to which illiteracy is a problem in your community.
Collect, organize, and analyze all pertinent information: who is doing
what, where, when, how? Consider all resources (religious, public
private). Bring these resources together to talk about the issue and
develop collaborative strategies for implementation. Develop an implementation
plan where all players know and commit to carrying out their respective
roles. Finally, continually monitor your progress. Make course corrections
as appropriate. (Remember, collaboration requires a major shift in
attitude. It requires building trust, and it requires discipline,
no matter how long it takes, before you can see tangible results....
Nothing that is worthwhile is every easy.