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Literacy program receives $12,000 from United Way

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- The mission to eliminate illiteracy in the community has gotten a boost.

United Way of Southwest Georgia on Tuesday presented a $12,000 check on behalf of the MillerCoors Foundation to the Dougherty County Family Literacy Connection.

"It's very exciting," said Sandy Bamford, executive director of Dougherty County Family Literacy Connection.

Bamford said the money will be used to help maintain funding for the center's programs, including adult services and family visits.

Family Literacy Connection, founded in 2002, works by giving support for families as a whole. In order to do this, children under 8 years participate in a four-component literacy program. Additionally, mothers come into the center on weekdays with their preschool children to participate in basic adult education and GED preparation classes.

Parenting classes are also a part of the adult instruction. Daily adult education classes include instruction in academic subject areas as well as individual learning activities, GED interactive software and opportunities for individual learning.

In short, the idea is to give a hand up to families by using a broad-based approach to removing educational barriers for low-income families so they can eventually become self-sufficient.

"In order to help children, we have to help parents," Bamford said. "In order to break the cycle, we have to help parents."

The program initially started as a community partnership with an Even Start grant. Each year, approximately 50 families are served through the center.

MillerCoors has been known to be a significant contributor to United Way. The organization wrote a grant to the company so it could help families, United Way CEO Dwayne Myles said.

Myles also added that contributions such as the one given Tuesday tie into the organization's goal of helping families achieve financial stability.

"United Way's mission is to improve people's lives," Myles said. "This ties into our community model, and (Family Literacy Connection) does a great job.

"With this program, you are dealing with the whole family so the cycle won't continue."

United Way is currently in the process of developing a model to help its agencies with outcome and impact measurements. More specifics are set to be announced at the organization's campaign kick-off in September, Myles said.