All posts by Literacy Volunteers of Rochester

Digital Divide Persists Even as Lower-Income Americans Make Gains in Tech Adoption

From Pew Research Center Fact Tank Blog by Monica Anderson

Nearly 30 years after the debut of the World Wide Web, internet use, broadband adoption and smartphone ownership have grown rapidly for all Americans – including those who are less well off financially. But even as many aspects of the digital divide have narrowed over time, the digital lives of lower- and higher-income Americans remain markedly different.

Roughly three-in-ten adults with household incomes below $30,000 a year don’t own a smartphone. Nearly half don’t have home broadband services or a traditional computer. And a majority of lower-income Americans are not tablet owners. By comparison, many of these devices are nearly ubiquitous among adults from households earning $100,000 or more a year.  Read the full article

Here are two ways you can help shrink the Divide

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Digital Divide Spurs Demand for Volunteers

Rochester, New York. An explosion in demand for computer help has led to a critical shortage of volunteers who work to meet the need. Digital Literacy, which places volunteers in local libraries to help patrons learn basic computer skills and complete computer-essential tasks, is experiencing an ever-increasing demand for its services.

“Over the last three years,” says program coordinator Brian Kane, “we’ve gone from serving 600 people to nearly 3,500. There is a huge Digital Divide in the Rochester area. Our program relies heavily on volunteers, and we need more volunteers to help.”

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Digital Literacy trains volunteers and places them in local libraries, where they assist patrons in learning basic computer skills like navigating the web or using Word. They also help patrons complete computer-essential tasks, like creating online accounts, developing resumes, searching for jobs and getting social services.

According to the U.S. Census, about 20% (twenty percent) of Rochester households do not have computers. For the town of Greece, that number is nearly 11% (eleven percent).

Digital Literacy places and supports volunteers in 10 locations around the county. Volunteers need 3 years of experience on a PC, knowledge of Google and its apps, an ability to work with diverse people, patience and flexibility.

For more information about Digital Literacy, contact program coordinator Brian Kane

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Digital Literacy Expands to Gates

 

LVR announced today a new partnership with Gates Public Library. The partnership to provide LVR’s Digital Literacy services to library patrons is supported by the Greece Community Education Literacy Zone, which is funded by the New York State Department of Education.

Digital Literacy is a five-year-old program in which volunteer navigators work one-to-one with program participants and library patrons to teach basic computer skills or assist with computer-essential tasks. By the end of the 2017-18 program year, the program expects to reach nearly 4000 participants in Monroe County.

“We’re excited to see this program expand and be made accessible many more people,” said Nicole Viggiano, director of Greece Community Education.

According to Robert Mahar, LVR executive director, the service has expanded rapidly over the last three years. “We’ve seen growth because there is a strong demand by people who do not want to be left behind by the Digital Divide.”

State Senator Joseph Robach was repeatedly praised for his support during the event. Robach secured funding to install all new computers at the Gates library. Also, he has provided funding for Digital Literacy since its inception.

Greece Community Education Literacy Zone also supports Digital Literacy services at their Alcott Road (Greece) center and Lyell Branch Library (Rochester). All three locations are part of a Literacy Zone designed by the New York State Department of Education.

Digital Literacy navigators currently volunteer at city libraries (Arnett, Frederic Douglass, Lincoln, Lyell, Phillis Wheatley and Sully), Greece Community Education (200 Alcott Road, Greece), Veterans Outreach Center and LVR’s main office at 1600 South Avenue, Rochester.

Help sustain Digital Literacy or share your talents

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Tom’s Big Heart

Tom Weiler is a retired Cornell university professor. He recently became a LVR tutor and Digital literacy volunteer navigator. Previously, Tom served as a board member and tutor for the Literacy Volunteers program in Ithaca, New York. Below, he shares his thoughts about volunteering and giving:

“Experiencing students’ incremental successes, gains in confidence, and engagement in life is what I valued most as a university educator. That same path of accomplishment is true with adult learning, though student and tutor may meet only a couple of hours each week. I have been given the privilege of working with so many wonderful people. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to help a stroke victim realize his math skills were not diminished, just rusty – then pass a tool-and-dye company test and be asked to join the firm; or help a student with health challenges format her life story, “Sarah Never Gives Up” – a title she created; or work for 12 years with a gentleman who did not read or write because of a disability with word memory, as he learned to read phonetically and pursue interest in his family’s history.

Other students want to become digitally literate—learn to keyboard proficiently, navigate websites to search for information, apply for work, learn English-as-a-Second-Language and get news from their native country. Rochester is so fortunate in its new Digital Literacy Program, in which I volunteer, which addresses digital needs at sites throughout the city. I’ve learned to be a better teacher and person from program coordinators, fellow tutors, and the students themselves. The human dimension of tutoring—insights, interpretations, finding practices that work—is surprising and humbling.

Helping, however modestly, to fund adult literacy is another aspect of giving back. Literacy Volunteers is legitimate—certified by the State Department of Education. And, having been a member of a Literacy Voluntees Board of Directors (in Ithaca), I know how limited and fragile annual budgets are – statements of probable hope! Giving annually and at fundraisers helps sustain facility expenses, utilities, lean staffing, training, student intake and testing, education resources, basic supplies, and occasional initiatives.

Those are the reasons I engage with adult literacy—and that turns out to be quite a selfish act. For a few hours a week and some disposable income, I receive back so much more!”

Follow Tom’s example

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The Least Connected People In America

POLITICO
By MARGARET HARDING MCGILL 02/07/2018 05:04 AM EST
Photo by M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO

OROFINO, Idaho — Alexis Coomer’s house isn’t located in a remote area, at least not compared with many of her fellow Nez Perce tribe members on this reservation in north-central Idaho. She lives in the 3,000-person town of Orofino, the go-to place on the reservation where people load up on groceries and other supplies.

But when she needs to type an email, or help her daughter with homework, she drives 6 miles down the road, along the Clearwater River, and pulls into the Teweepuu Community Center, where she works as an administrative and events aide. There, she sits down in front of the computer she uses for work, which has the broadband hookup she lacks at home.

“It’s not that far, but I just hate having to leave my house,” Coomer said. “I’d rather just stay home.”

As broadband internet becomes more and more important in the U.S. — the way Americans do everything from apply for jobs to chatting with their relatives to watching TV — one gap has become more glaring: the difference between those who have broadband and those who don’t. An estimated 24 million people, about 8 percent of Americans, still have no home access to high-speed internet service, defined by the Federal Communications Commission as a download speed of 25 megabits per second. (That’s what the FCC says allows telecommuting or streaming high-definition video.) The overwhelming majority of those people live in rural areas, like farms or in big, poorly served areas like this one.

Read more …

You can do something tangible about the Digital Divide

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New LVR Services Coordinator

LVR is excited to announce it has hired a new Services Coordinator. Denise Smith comes to us most recently from Lifespan of Greater Rochester, where she served as the Intake Coordinator for the Finger Lakes Caregiver Institute. Denise is a graduate of RIT where she received both her Bachelors and Masters degrees (MBA). Additionally,  Denise has a Masters in Divinity (MDiv) from Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity and serves as an Associate Pastor at Baber AME.  Denise is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

Denise will be overseeing all intake and testing of new and current one-to-one students. She will be matching new and existing students, and providing support to both students and tutors. Starting in February, Denise will be scheduled three days/week until 8 PM to provide support for events and programs at LVR. With this new schedule, the LVR Bahler Library will be open on Wednesdays beginning 2/7/18 until 8 PM.

We look forward to Denise bringing her volunteer management experience to LVR. Welcome Denise! Reach Denise via email at: Dsmith@literacyrochester.org

Support Denise and hundreds of tutors, classroom and other volunteers who are helping students acquire English and math skills.

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Expanding the Scope of Literacy through Partnerships

Literacy Volunteers began over 50 years ago based on the concept of “Each One Teach One.” The program was based on a partnership of a learner and a volunteer, working together to help the world become more literate, one person at a time. The world, as we all know, is much larger and more complex in 2017 than it was in 1964. At Literacy Volunteers of Rochester (LVR) we continue to succeed because of our partners, and we’re pleased to share that LVR has a greater number of committed partners today who function in a wide variety of roles.

The base of our foundation are the partnerships that begin with program participants who are joined by dedicated volunteers. These volunteers include tutors, digital literacy navigators, class teachers and assistants, trainers, previewers, interviewers, librarians, family literacy assistants, board members, receptionists, fundraising event volunteers and everyone who helps support the literacy services we provide to those we serve!

In addition to the many volunteers are our program partners, community organizations, churches, school districts, libraries and fellow adult education programs who support our efforts. All organizations provide services and share resources in ways that support our goal of assisting adults to improve their reading, English language, math and digital literacy skills. These partners include Rochester Public Libraries, Rochester City School District, Greece Central School District, Rochester Educational Opportunity Center and Episcopal Diocese of Rochester.

Supporting these partnerships are those businesses and foundations throughout our community who have provided financial support of LVR and the work that we do. These partners include Wegmans, Paychex, Canandaigua National Bank, Thomson Reuters, Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation, Davenport Hatch Foundation, Wilson Foundation and Wilmott Foundation.

Behind the support of the mission of LVR and the cause of literacy are the leaders in our community. These are leaders in our organization (including our board and advisory board members) and in the community, who partner with LVR and others to help make Rochester a better community. For LVR, these leaders include Senator Joe Robach and Patricia Uttaro, Director, Monroe County Library System and Rochester Public Library, who have partnered with LVR and other community organizations to help make Rochester a more literate community.

This report and the accomplishments it outlines are dedicated to you, our friends, donors, volunteers, participants, and all our partners who are committed to literacy and who support LVR every day. Thank you for all you do!

Sincerely,

Margaret Sanchez, Board President
Robert Mahar, Executive Director

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Ruth Colvin, literacy pioneer, 101 years young

To Family & Friends, Happy New Year & Happy Holidays!

I’m now 101, well into the three digit numbers. I do count my blessings.

I continue my normal activities of being a life member of two boards (ProLiteracy and LiteracyCNY), in three book clubs, active in my church on the Mission Committee, gym twice a week, golf three times a week (when weather permits, higher handicap, shorter ball and even played with two of my doctors – I think they were curious to see if a 100-year-old could hit the ball), still teaching and doing research, travelled to the ProLiteracy national conference in Minneapolis and to California in February and March. And of course, lots of reading and now writing another book, looking back over my 100 Years of travel, my love, my life, and literacy, with hundreds of stories, personal and international.

The 100 birthday celebrations went on even at the ProLiteracy national conference, where I’m so proud to meet with so many dedicated students, tutors, and old friends. A most impressive celebration was when READ Santa Clara celebrated my birthday in California with a big cake, and instead of 100 candles they put 100 pencils in the cake, distributing them to students and tutors – what a creative group. And they skyped me, too, as they used my book “Off the Beaten Path” for their tutor/student book club. I’m delighted other affiliates are starting book clubs for tutors/students and using “Off the Beaten Path” as an opening door to learning of other cultures and people.

I’m working to keep a balanced life, as I write in my new book—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. I’ll always repeat “Age is just a number. It’s what you do with your number that counts.” My number gets bigger and bigger, and I’ll continue to do my best to help change lives.

How fortunate I am to have a loving and supportive family, now welcoming my 8th great grandchild. Even though they are “coast to coast,” they insist I email them every morning, and they call me every day. I’m blest to have so many caring friends who not only check up on me but are ready to help me when and if needed. I count my blessings that I have an active mind, that I’m physically fit, and that I can continue to contribute to life.

Happy Holidays, and peace and joy go with each of you, Ruth Colvin

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Rick & Olga

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When I joined the LVR Board, I also became an LVR tutor. As rewarding as it is to serve on the Board, for me personally, assisting others and giving back is my true calling. For you see, I always wanted to be a teacher.

Throughout my entire life I have been known as the individual that stands up and assists others. Even today, many describe me as a servant leader.

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to grow up on Webster Avenue in the City of Rochester, surrounded by a diverse group of people who had the ability to speak another language other than English, all who learned the English language upon arriving to the United States.

In fact, as a toddler I spoke Spanish even though my parents only spoke English. In my pre-teen years, I even had the opportunity to learn Greek and Sign Language-experiences I may have not had if I grew up anywhere else. It was through these life experiences, I learned the value of having the ability to read, write, and speak the primary language of the country one lives in.

Fast forward years later, I met my wife, Olga. The interesting thing about our story, we came to realize we grew up blocks apart but never recall meeting until we were adults. Her parents moved into the neighborhood when they migrated to the mainland United States from Puerto Rico. At that time, Olga was only seven years old and did not speak a word of English.

Because my wife didn’t speak English she was placed into English as a Second Language classes (ESL). Throughout the years, Olga and her entire family began to learn the English language. Eventually, she became a “mainstream” English student and today holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, which established the foundation for her very successful career in the field of Human Resources.

Success stories like Olga’s are made possible, in part, through agencies like Literacy Volunteers of Rochester. To offer the greatest possible future for our students we need your support. I ask that you please consider donating to LVR and help our students achieve their hopes and dreams. Through your generosity you open the doors of possibilities for others, which in turn benefit all.

Sincerely, Rick Nangreave

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Brain Game Breaks Record

Congratulations to Phillips Lytle LLP, winner of the 2017 Brain Game. The team toughed out serious trivia questions and bested more than 20 other teams to win the coveted Brain trophy.

And, Literacy Volunteers of Rochester (LVR) scored a major success as it surged passed it’s goal and set a new fund raising record. Over $45,000 was raised at the event.

LVR thanks its many sponsors and the over 300 people who attended the October 26 event.

Gold Sponsors

  • Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC
  • Digital Literacy Navigators
  • SMP
  • St. John Fisher College

Silver Sponsors

  • NetApp
  • Pivot Point Security

Patron of LVR

  • Al Sigl Community of Agencies
  • Marathon Engineering
  • Roofing Innovations, LLC
  • Stantec

Team Sponsors: Architectural Foundation of Greater Rochester; Avalon Document Services; The Bonadio Group; Brighton Securities;  EFPR Group LLP;  Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library; Harris Beach; Harter Secrest & Emery LLP; Monroe Community College; Monroe County Library System, Nazareth College; Nixon Peabody LLP; Phillips Lytle LLP; Rochester Institute of Technology; Thomson Reuters; Underberg & Kessler LLP; Wood Oviatt Gilman LLP

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