PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County is hosting its 5th annual Literacy Links Golf Tournament to benefit the organization's many programs that help children and families with the reading skills they need to be successful in life.
It is a key fundraiser for the Literacy Coalition, happening a little later this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It feels great to be able to bring people together in an outdoor environment, being together with other link minded people who like golf and want to support literacy," CEO Kristin Calder says. "We have to secure funding for the programs we provide, especially our Literacy AmeriCorps program where we partner with the school district, the library system, and other community-based organizations. But the Literacy Coalition has to fundraise to provide parts of that program to support the Literacy AmeriCorps program."
The golf tournament also supports the Literacy AmeriCorps Program, family literacy programs in Belle Glade and Delray Beach, as well as the Building Better Readers program which works with first through third graders to improve reading skills.
The learning losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic make the coalition's mission all the more important right now.
"The funds that we raise are really used to help adults, children, and families throughout Palm Beach County improve their reading skills so they can be successful in school and in life," Calder says. "We have a huge impact, we serve about 29,000 children and families each year and we know if we weren't doing and providing the programs we do, a lot of students and their families wouldn't have these kinds of services. We know nearly half of the students in Palm Beach County are not reading on grade level, and that is only compounded by the COVID slide and the challenges we've had in the last year so we are working to see how we can be a part of the solution."
Calder says they are hoping to offer even more programs for those who are struggling, and virtual tutors will return to in-person sessions by the end of the month, providing critical one-on-one help.
Lucas Oswald from Chicago has been living in Palm Beach County for the past year, working as a Literacy AmeriCorps member. He's one of 40 from around the country that has come to the community to train and become a graduation coach, reading tutor or mentor through the program.
He has spent the past year working at South Tech Prep Middle School, spending time in an intensive reading class working with students who need extra help. "I've always tried to be a very encouraging tutor, I think that my students have grown so much in confidence this past year which is so great to see," Oswald says. "At the beginning of the year a lot of them were a little dejected almost, they seemed less than willing to put in the effort to learn and advance to the next level. I think with my help and South Tech Prep's help, we've been able to get at least some of these students feeling more confident and feeling more comfortable. They brighten my day every day and it's great to be able to build these connections and relationships with these students."