Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
There’s no upbeat or positive spin on New Mexico’s literacy problem, and the statistics are overwhelming.
About 76% of fourth graders are not proficient in reading, 79% of eighth graders are not proficient in math, 26% of high school students do not graduate on time and 12% of teenagers are neither in school nor working. And almost one-third of adults in the state, about 29%, read at the level of a 5- to 7-year-old.
Children who do not read at grade level by fourth grade are far more likely to become high school dropouts, and dropouts and people with low literacy levels face a dismal economic future, receiving the lowest median weekly pay.
But there is help out there, programs and services often tailored to the individual child or adult and their specific needs.
Oddly, there is no central clearinghouse or database that offers a comprehensive list of all literacy programs and services in New Mexico.
The following is the Journal’s beginning and ongoing effort to compile such a list. It is a yearlong work in progress, and we are asking that our readers, if they know of a program in their community that is not listed, please contact us with that information at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com. And remember to use your local library as a good place to ask about programs in your area. The Journal plans to keep this growing list available at ABQJournal.com.
The goal is to help connect those who need help and those who want to help with the appropriate services.
We start with a dozen programs, many of them linked to additional services. We will continue adding to this resource list throughout the next year and post the updated list at ABQJournal.com.
ALBUQUERQUE ADULT LEARNING CENTER INC.: With four locations around the Albuquerque area, the center was founded in 2010 as a
grassroots, community-based organization to provide free adult education and literacy as preparation for students to get their Higher Secondary Certificate, or HSC, or their General Educational Development, or GED, certification. The centers serve people ages 16 and older, regardless of what level of literacy they have. Class sizes are limited to 15 students, with morning afternoon and evening blocks. To learn more, call 505-907-9957, or go online to abqalc.org.
ADULT EDUCATION AND LITERACY PROGRAM and NEW MEXICO ADULT LITERACY PROGRAM : Both programs are operated by the Adult Education Division of the New Mexico Higher Education Department. They are taught out of college and university campuses and at nonprofit organizations statewide.
The Adult Education and Literacy Program, available at 24 locations, takes place in classroom settings. Serving all adult learners who enter anywhere on the literacy spectrum. Another main focus is on workplace readiness skills to help people participate in the workforce.
The New Mexico Adult Literacy Program is available at 15 locations around the state with instruction mostly on a one-on-one tutoring approach. It is geared for adults who may have goals other than jobs or college, such as “a desire to support their children in their schools and being able to help them with their homework, or being able to read a newspaper or to become a U.S. citizen,” said Amber Gallup Rodriguez, HED’s director of adult education.
For a list of adult education programs through the Higher Education Department, go to
ALBUQUERQUE READS: This is a project of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and works in conjunction with the Albuquerque Public Schools to provide one-on-one tutoring of kindergartners and first graders. The program currently targets three APS elementary schools – Bel-Air, Whittier and Atrisco – that have been identified as high priority Title 1 schools with high numbers of low-income children who are at risk of reading failure. Albuquerque Reads has more than 300 volunteer tutors trained by certified teachers. For further information, call 505-843-7323, or go online to abqreads.com
ALBUQUERQUE ARCA LITERACY PROJECT: This program offers customized literacy efforts from professional tutors on reading and writing, as well as training in the use of basic computer skills, for people with barriers to traditional learning. ARCA partners with Central New Mexico Community College and other agencies to provide mentors who tutor the students at CNM or via online learning platforms. For more information, call 505-332-6700, or visit www.arcaopeningdoors.org/services/literacy-project.
BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS OF CENTRAL NEW MEXICO: With one location in Albuquerque and one in Rio Rancho, the clubs offer a Summer Brain Gain program and a school year Power Hour program. Cost for Summer Brain Gain ranges from $75 to $100 per week, and includes breakfast lunch and snacks. Financial aid is available for qualifying families. The Power Hour program allows kids K-12 to go to club sites, where before they engage in fun sports, games and other recreational activities, they must sit down and complete their homework or work on some type of educational enterprise. Club staff members and volunteers are on hand to offer assistance. Cost for the Power Hour program is $35 a week and scholarships are available for qualifying families. The fee includes membership to the Boys and Girls Clubs and all its activities. The clubs also plan to offer an after school Power Hour program in the 2021-22 school year at select elementary schools. To learn more call 881-0777, or go online to www.bgccnm.org.
CATHOLIC CHARITIES, ALBUQUERQUE: This faith-based organization provides literacy programs and a learning center for non-speakers of English, including immigrants and refugees. The primary vehicle for this is classes in English as a second language. Skills taught include reading, writing, comprehension and preparation for high school equivalency certification. Catholic Charities also provides after-school care for children ages 5 to 12, an adult education program to help students improve their literacy skills and get their high school equivalency certification, and job training and apprenticeship programs. For more information, go to ccasfnm.org, or call 505-724-4670.
DISCOVER A BOOK: This program operates through the ABQ Ride bus system. Racks on 185 city buses are regularly replenished with books for young children to look at or read, or for parents to read to their children while riding the bus. They may take the books with them when they depart the bus. Books may be dropped off at any Albuquerque Public Library branch. For information, visit ReadToMeABQnetwork.org.
To request free books, send a message to BookDrive66@gmail.com
LIBROS FOR KIDS: This grassroots nonprofit gets books into the hands of kids under age 5 who live in Bernalillo County, and serves as the local affiliate for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The Imagination Library provides one new book each month to kids under age 5. Half the cost must be paid for by a sponsor in most cases. Qualifying children receive the monthly book directly through the mail from the Imagination Library. Libros for Kids also engages in other projects to provide books, particularly for kids in the South Valley, Downtown and the International District. To register, go to librosforkids.org.
LUTHERAN FAMILY SERVICES: This is another faith-based organization that offers English as a second language to non-speakers of English. The focus is on teaching enough English to write a résumé, fill out job applications, find work or start their own business. Lutheran Family Services also teaches their clients about how banks work, about credit, how to avoid predatory lending and how to create personal budgets and pay bills on time. The vast majority of participants continue to attend ESL classes around their work schedules, either at Lutheran Family Services, CNM or other institutions. For more information go to Lfsrm.org, or call 505-933-7032.
OASIS ALBUQUERQUE, INTERGENERATIONAL TUTORING PROGRAM: The focus is on students in first through third grades who are not reading at grade level, although tutors will work with students in the fourth and fifth grades, as well. The students who need reading assistance are identified by teachers at about 65 schools in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Belen and Bernalillo. Oasis is able to call on a pool of 600 volunteers, who typically go into the schools and work with students individually for one hour each week. For more information, go to Albuquerque.Oasisnet.org
READ TO ME: This program is intended to put books into the hands of very young children to encourage reading and to help them build their own home library. A yearly book drive generally collects about 60,000 or more new and gently used books that are distributed to local nonprofits, schools with large numbers of low-income students and homeless shelters. Read to Me also provides books for distribution on city buses and on the New Mexico Rail Runner Express. For information, go to ReadToMeABQnetwork.org. To request free books go to BookDrive66@gmail.com
STORY TIME IN THE PARK: This Albuquerque Public Schools program is geared toward elementary school children and their families. The intent is to encourage children to read, and parents to read to and with their children, thereby encouraging literacy and academics during the summer. Held daily from June 7 to July 15 at 28 parks in the Albuquerque area, as well as in some community centers and low-income housing communities. Free lunch will be provided Mondays through Fridays, and free books and related lesson plans with reading strategies and parent tip sheets will be distributed Mondays through Thursdays. For Story Time in the Park locations and times, go to www.aps.edu/title-i/story-time-in-the-park.