Duncan Area Literacy Council receives grant for pandemic relief and recovery | Community

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) awarded a $7,070 grant to the Duncan Area Literacy Council (DALC) to address impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mary Brancich, Executive Director, said the grant has been used to purchase hand sanitizing stations and cleanable office chairs, but also went to help offer Digital Literacy Classes to teach basic computer skills.

Brancich said during the pandemic, groups were unable to meet face-to-face, and the need to be able to reach learners virtually was the only option, although many tutors and their students lacked the skills to do that.

In addition, these classes have given several in the community an opportunity to add this skill to their resume and enhance their job opportunities.

The next session of classes will begin at 10 am and last until noon June 6. It will take place every Monday and Wednesday until June 22. The classes and all materials are free and open to anyone in the community who is interested. Seats are limited.

ODL offered targeted grants to adult literacy organizations as part of the agency’s use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Leslie Gelders, director of the Office of Literacy Resources at ODL, said grants totaling $92,685 have been provided to 16 programs around the state.

“The pandemic was a major disruptor of adult literacy services in Oklahoma,” Gelders said. “Many local programs rose to the challenge by offering remote one-to-one and small group instruction to adult learners, but they still saw a drop in the number of students seeking reading assistance or English language instruction. These literacy programs also lost volunteer tutors, who tend to be older and who were most at-risk during the pandemic.”

Gelders said the grants are geared to help revitalize these important programs so they can continue to provide services to the members of their communities.

“We presented a number of options so these organizations could use the grant to address their greatest needs,” Gelders said. “Programs are using the funds to provide connectivity devices for virtual learning and maintenance of communication between tutors and students, to support outreach efforts to rebuild local volunteer corps and increase student enrollment, to purchase easy-to-clean tutoring stations, and procure online subscriptions to learning resources.”

The spending criteria was provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and based on ARPA legislation.

In addition to the literacy program grants, ODL is using ARPA funds to provide grants to public libraries, museums, and tribal libraries and cultural centers. ODL-sponsored ARPA projects in the works include an Online High School pilot with six public libraries, the launch of a telehealth pilot program, online resources for homework help, an early literacy program for 30 small and rural public libraries, and procurement of document scanning stations for selected libraries to assist patterns with online services.

For more information or to take part in the next class, call the DALC office 580-736-1170 or Branch at 580-467-6234 to save your spot.

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