Literacyworks in the News: December 2016

Literacyworks 2016 Wrap 

Happy Holidays from the Literacyworks Staff!

Literacyworks staff and participants have had a fabulous year. We once again (is this starting a tradition?) offer our own Literacyworks “Top Ten List” (in no particular order) of all the great things that happened in 2016 and a few for which we're grateful.

Let the countdown begin!


#10. LINCS Region 4 Regional Professional Development Center: After 21 years of successful professional development training for the US Department of Education, our LINCS Region 4 Professional Development Center grant ended in September. This final year we conducted over 28 trainings events in 12 states for 621 adult educators, which translated into 4,404 hours of training. As we say goodbye to the RPDC4, we say hello to new business, Literacyworks Professional Development. We are providing professional development opportunities to ABE and ESL professionals with access to over 130 researched-based ABE and ESL PD workshops and with over 40 National Subject Matter Expert trainers in adult education and literacy topics.


 #9. The Literacyworks Center: The Center had a total of 162 students participate in the program in 2016. We handed out the Adult Literacy Award (thank you anonymous family foundation) to all our students, administered through the Santa Rosa JC Scholarship Programs office. To date, the Center has a less than 10% student dropout rate compared to a historically 60% dropout rate for this at-risk population at community colleges. This demonstration project is proving that we can make a difference in keeping low income, highly motivated adults stay in school and become career and college ready.

#8. Peter Coyote, actor, author, director, screenwriter narrator and Literacyworks honorary board member, was the keynote speaker at our Peter Coyote Fundraising Event on Sunday, October 2nd, 2016 on Santa Rosa Junior College's Petaluma Campus in the Carole L. Ellis Auditorium. Big thanks to our staff, students, volunteers and many sponsors who made this fundraising event inspiring and profitable. 

#7. Literacyworks Board: We sincerely appreciate the support and wisdom of our Literacyworks Board: Elizabeth Howland, President, Eric Backman, Secretary, William Soper, Treasurer, Jeff Asher, Amy Critchett, and Gloria Cruz McCallister

#6. Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey: Lynn is our Literacyworks Center founder/partner and Honorary Board Chairperson. She continues to be our biggest supporter.

#5. Founding Friends of the Center, the Friends of the Literacyworks Center and Program Partners: Again this year, many people and organizations helped to make Literacyworks and the Center successful including the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Santa Rosa Junior College, Center Point, North Bay Children’s Center, West Marin Community Services (Pt. Reyes Station), and our Center donors, both individuals and organizations, including Codding Foundation, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Marin Community Foundation, Clover Stornetta Farms, AT&T, Xandex, Jackson Family Wines, The W Foundation, Sobel Communications, Bank of Marin, WestAmerica Bank and Schwab Charitable Giving.

#4. SRJC: The Petaluma Campus staff and administration have been very supportive of the Center with particular thanks to Jane Saldana-Talley, Vice President, Petaluma Campus, whose assistance was and is invaluable, Matthew Long, Dean of Student Services, Catherine Williams, Dean of Instruction and Enrollment Management, and Yesenia Rodarte-Hurtado, ELL Outreach Coordinator. The SRJC Santa Rosa campus staff has been great to work with also. Thanks to President/Superintendent Frank Chong, Rachael Cutcher, SRJC Manager of Scholarship Programs, Dean Cathy Prince, Instruction & Strategic Program Development and the Hispanic Serving Institution programs, and Enedina Vera, HEP recruiter.

#3. Our Center participants: 162 of our adult students received our Adult Literacy Awards to assist them in school and have enrolled to date. Many more are scheduled to sign-on in the Spring Semester 2017. Also, high-fives to our volunteer tutors who will start helping our students succeed with one-to-one tutoring in 2016. We held our first workshops and attended the SRJC Circle of Honor where our students came with family and friends.

#2. Staff: Thanks to our talented Center staff: Chris Schultz and Rita Sorpranith and Literacyworks staff Kelin Backman, Marty Ferrini, and Lisa Thompson.

#1. You: We are mostly grateful for all the Literacyworks supporters, both anonymous and public, and particularly you!

Literacyworks is helping underprivileged and underrepresented adults secure better jobs, become better parents, and contribute more to their community. Thanks for all your support this year and next.

Paul Heavenridge
Executive Director

P.S.  Today, we launched our 2016 Year-End Campaign. Our goal is to raise $25,000 in order to keep receiving the donor’s scholarship funding by matching it with funding for staff and operations.  This will allow us to reach our goal of to help 200 motivated low-income low literacy adults get on our program in 2017.  We can’t do it without your help.  Will you make a gift?  To make your donation now, go to or contact Rita at to be mailed a remittance envelope.

Literacyworks in News: November 2016

Peter Coyote Event a Success! 

Peter Coyote speaking on the importance of literacy.

Peter Coyote speaking on the importance of literacy.

Peter Coyote, actor, author, director, screenwriter and narrator of films, theatre, television and audiobooks, gave an inspiring talk on Sunday October 2nd in the Carole L. Ellis Auditorium on the Santa Rosa Junior College Petaluma campus.

With over 150 attendees, this event supported our low literacy, low income adults in their quest to acquire basic skills so they can access and complete college programs.

Before Peter spoke, Dr. Jane Saldaña-Talley, Vice President of SRJC Petaluma welcomed the crowd followed by remarks by SRJC President/Superintendent Dr. Frank Chong, Literacyworks Honorary Board Chair Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, Literacyworks Executive Director Paul Heavenridge, and Chris Schultz, Literacyworks Center Director. Our featured student speakers were David Bowen-Farwell from Center Point and Rebeca Gutierrez formally of North Bay Children's Center. Thanks to our Friends of the Center, our Board, volunteers and to all our sponsors for helping make this event a success! Click here for our sponsor list.

Literacyworks Center Featured in Argus-Courier Article 

Rebeca Gutierrez Center Student at SRJC

The article Promoting a path to Scholastic Success: Petaluma Literacyworks Center links Adult Students with Services appeared in the Argus-Courier on 9/22/2016 featuring the Center and one of our students, Petaluman Rebeca Gutierrez. Rebeca has struggled in working on a degree in child development at SRJC while raising her two sons. She credits The Center with helping her remain in the program and achieve success by providing her with our Adult Literacy Award funding and guidance by the Literacyworks Center staff.

To read the full article, click on this Argus-Courier link.

November in History

Mark Twain

November was the ninth month of the ancient Roman calendar. November retained its name (from the Latin novem meaning "nine") when January and February were added to the Roman calendar. November is a month of spring in the Southern Hemisphere and autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.

  • There is no mention of the month of November in any of Shakespeare's plays or sonnets.
  • November 2 is the only date on which two US presidents were born: Warren Harding (born 1865) and James Polk (1795).
  • Gettysburg Address delivered by Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863.
  • November has been designated National Novel Writing Month and National Blog Posting Month. Always wanted to write a novel? Do it. And do it during the month of November. Add your name at and commit to writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch. You officially start writing at 12:00:01 am on November 1 and write your last word by 11:59:59 pm on November 30.
  • Mark Twain was born on November 30, 1835. He said: "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter". 

Also remember: this is Donate to Literacyworks Month :-)

Literacyworks in the News: September 2016

Literacyworks Center Students at Circle of Honor

Our Fall 2016 Adult Literacy Award Center students, staff, and supporters attend the Circle of Honor on Wednesday, August 17th, 2016 at the Santa Rosa Junior College with Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey Literacyworks Board Honorary Chairperson and Literacyworks Center co-founder.

Circle of Honor Literacyworks Center w/ Lynn Woolsey
Honoring the generosity of SRJC donors and dedication of SRJC students, the Circle of Honor provides an opportunity for donors to learn more about the educational goals of their student recipients, and for students to express appreciation for their scholarship award.

What is the Literacyworks Center? 

  • The Center is a project of Literacyworks, an educational non-profit.
  • The Center assists low literacy, low income, highly motivated adults in the North Bay to become career and college ready.
  • The Literacyworks Center helps students succeed by providing scholarships, counseling and support.
  • The Center is a cutting edge, innovative, research-based demonstration program.
  • The Center works with community partners who identify and refer motivated adults.
  • To date, the Center has a less than 10% student dropout rate compared to a historically 60% dropout rate for this at-risk population at community colleges.

Learning is power. Information is liberating. Education is progress.

The Center is transforming lives through literacy; creating opportunities; and strengthening families and communities

Literacyworks Benefit with Peter Coyote

Literacyworks is having a benefit with special guest Peter Coyote, actor, author, director, screenwriter and narrator of films, theatre, television and audiobooks, on Sunday October 2nd in the Carole L. Ellis Auditorium on the Santa Rosa Junior College Petaluma campus from 3p.m. to 5p.m.



This Month in September

September 9, 1776     The U.S.A. came into existence as the Continental Congress changed the name of the new American nation from the United Colonies to the United States
September 9, 1850     California became the 31st state
September 19, 1893    New Zealand became the first country to grant women the right to vote
September 25, 1897   Birth of William Faulkner (1897-1962), considered by many the greatest U.S. author
September 8, 1966     Star Trek premiered on television

"My favorite poem is the one that starts ‘Thirty days hath September’ because it actually tells you something” - Groucho Marx

June 2016 News: Congressional Acknowledgement and Center Retrospective on Year One

Certificate of Special Recognition

Last October, Literacyworks received a special Congressional recognition by Congressman Jared Huffman on the opening of our new Santa Rosa Junior College Center classroom saying: “Your collective work to ensure that all individuals have the skills, support and opportunities to thrive in a complex and inter-connected world through literacy is making a positive difference in many, many lives. Thank you for your effective programs and generosity of spirit, and congratulations on your grand opening.”

Jared Congressional Declaration.jpg

Literacyworks Center News

As the spring 2016 semester comes to an end and Literacyworks Center completes its first year of operation, we have served 76 successful students. Our participants are taking ESL classes, English and GED classes and many are focusing on Early Childhood Education classes. This amazing group of individuals is redefining themselves and their future through education. It is humbling to work with these motivated folks facing significant challenges who now are doing what it will take to improve their literacy skills so they can improve their career opportunities. Some are taking only one class and taking full advantage of Santa Rosa Junior College’s support services, such as tutoring, computer labs and counseling services.

The Center’s focus has moved from working with our referral partners to identify motivated adults who qualify for our program, to an emphasis on persistence and success. Much of the staff’s efforts will be directed in individual and small group support to ensure all our students succeed.

The retention rate in community college for individuals with low literacy skills is only 40%. All of our students have stayed in school and completed their coursework this semester. We are looking forward to serving more students in the 2016 fall semester and assisting them in reaching their educational goals.


Chris Schultz, Literacyworks Center Director

Iconic painting of the Tomales Town Hall by local artist Kathryn LeMieux

Iconic painting of the Tomales Town Hall by local artist Kathryn LeMieux

It was a breezy early evening on a Friday night when the staff of Literacyworks Center arrived in the town of Tomales on the northern edge of Marin County along the coast. Cristina, a community advocate from Tomales Elementary School, met us with open arms and a bright smile. She, with the help of the West Marin Community Services, the Point Reyes Library Branch Manager Bonny White and the Marin Community Foundation helped make this evening possible. We met and spoke to 12 adults interested in joining our program in the fall. Many of their children were present to share in the presentation. After many questions and a fair amount of translation, we had signed up all 12. The sense of gratitude, excitement, possibility was palpable as we packed up to head back to Petaluma. These motivated individuals were willing to embark on a somewhat intimidating education experience to learn English so they can read to their children, participate in society more effectively and talk to their boss on the ranches where they work. A good day's work.

Student Voices

Here are a few examples of how grateful our students are for the support the Literacyworks Center is providing them. All these quotes are from letters written to us this year:

‘I would like to express my deepest appreciation to you for your financial support, through the Literacyworks program. I am a single mom of two and I care for my grandma too while working full time as a preschool teacher. Because of your caring and generosity am able to attend Santa Rosa JC and accomplish my dream of obtaining a college degree. So on behalf of my family and I, thank you.’
'I want to thank you. The Literacyworks award means more than you will ever know. It shows me that someone else believes that I can and will succeed, and gives me much encouragement to keep pressing forward with my education. It’s people like you that keep young people like me working hard because we know that someone is ready and willing to invest in our future.’
‘My goal is to pay it forward and offer help to someone who will be in my shoes in the future and bring them as much joy as you brought me. Bless your heart and thanks again.’
‘I am a single mom. I want to study Child Development with the goal of working as a teacher’s aid. The financial aspect of attending college on one income was starting to make me reconsider my choice. The award you donated will eliminate that burden and allow me to continue on and finish my degree. Thank you. I will always be grateful.’

June in the News

  • Fly a Kite Day: Ben Franklin's Kite Experiment happened on June 15, 1752. 
  • Sand Paper invented by I. Fischer Jr. on June 14, 1834.
  • Typewriter patented by Christopher Latham Sholes, a Milwaukee printer whose first “type-writer” was patented in June 23, 1868.
  • Caldecott Medal first awarded In June 14, 1938.
  • First U.S. Space Walk by Ed White on June 3, 1965.
  • World Egg Day June 10. The first World Egg Day was celebrated in 1996.