Collaborative Planning Key to Improving Literacy

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YPEP, developed by the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy and numerous local partners, is an example of how literacy services have expanded since Cranbrook joined 2010 Legacies Now's Literacy Now Communities program. This innovative program, created by 2010 Legacies Now in partnership with the Province of B.C., guides local literacy groups through a process to create a literacy plan that meets their community's specific needs.

Betty Knight, regional program manager (East Kootenay) for the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL), says collaborative planning and partnership-building have been instrumental in creating and sustaining local literacy programs.

"We have definitely experienced a lot of growth over the last five years," says Knight. "The Literacy Now Communities planning process was a huge boost. It formed the basis for the way our group works with community members and groups."

Partnering with the school district, the Cranbrook task group has incorporated the community literacy plan into the district literacy plan. Knight says by working together, educators and community groups can identify gaps in services, avoid duplication, and meet people's needs more effectively.

Cranbrook's literacy group, which includes representatives from the local library, school district, college, CBAL, Ktunaxa Nation, employment services and family services, is one of 101 around the province taking part in the Literacy Now Communities program. These task groups represent more than 400 communities and neighbourhoods and work with more than 1,000 community partners across B.C.

Knight says partnerships will continue to be paramount in Cranbrook. Without them, learners would not have options like the Young Parent Education Program. "Organizations like CBAL can do very little on their own, and it's the same for our partners in the task group. Together, we can do a lot."

Literacy Now Communities guides communities through a planning process to identify and address local literacy needs. The program focuses on building partnerships, networking and sharing best practices within BC's communities and regions.

There are currently 96 task groups throughout BC working to improve local literacy. Literacy Now Communities is supported by the Province of British Columbia.