Writer: Edna Ruiz
Published February 24, 2023
Macon-Bibb County News
“It says a lot when you get a group like together to do what’s right for our children,” Mayor Lester Miller told nearly two dozen community leaders gathered to discuss how to improve literacy across the county. “I know this is going to be successful b/c this isn’t a one and done year for us.”
The group was gathered for the initial Strategic Planning session of the Macon-Bibb Mayor’s Literacy Alliance. The session was facilitated by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, and they focused on five areas: family literacy, workforce development literacy, digital literacy, environmental literacy, and re-entry literacy. After discussing the opportunities, resources, and challenges for each, they worked to come up with 3-5 priorities for each that would be discussed at the next session on April 6.
“Today went extremely well. Everyone was fully engaged and deeply committed to identifying our community’s top priorities in each area.” says MLA Executive Director Jim Montgomery. “This work is too important for each of us to do it alone; this is a team effort requiring us to work more closely together if we are to make the strides needed.”
“Literacy is at the core of all that helps people be successful…it’s not just about being able to read,” says Mayor Miller. “In order for us to make sure we are helping all people be successful, we must better understand the needs of people, the available resources, and the gaps that currently exist.”
In attendance during the first Strategic Planning Session were WorkSource Macon-Bibb, Middle Georgia Regional Library, Central Georgia Technical College, Bibb County School District, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Mentors Project of Bibb County, Department of Juvenile Justice, Civil and Magistrate Court, Habitat for Humanity, Mayor’s Council of Clergy, Que Pasa, YKK (U.S.A.), Inc., Communities in Schools, Habitat for Humanity, and Macon Mental Health Matters.
“We were excited to have so many community leaders assemble to continue discussions about literacy in Macon-Bibb,” says Dr. Wanda West, Special Projects Manager for Adult Education at Central Georgia Technical College. “As we undertake this critical work, it is important for us to remain intentional if we are to reach viable solutions to address everyone’s literacy needs.”
“This collaborative effort will allow us the chance to better identify the literacy needs, set targets, and plan our steps to improve literacy for children and adults,” adds Montgomery. “Students will be more prepared to start school if we do this work early.”
Other partners working with the MLA include The Knight Foundation, Macon Magazine, MidSouth Community Federal Credit Union, Macon Housing Authority, Bibb Community Partnerships, and Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful.
About the Mayor’s Literacy Alliance
Macon-Bibb County, Central Georgia Technical College, and the Bibb County District launched the Macon-Bibb Mayor’s Literacy Alliance (MLA) in September 2022 as a partnership with Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC) and the Bibb County School District (BCSD). Its goal is to help increase the graduation rate, decrease the drop-out rate, and lower the adult illiteracy rate by 50% over the next 10 years.
MLA serves as an umbrella for key organizations from public and private sectors of Macon-Bibb to collaborate as a Certified Literate Community Program (CLCP). It is reaching out to existing area schools, colleges and universities, community organizations, volunteer community leaders, students, and adult learners (public / private) to develop and implement a community plan for addressing literacy needs. They will each work to strategically raise community awareness and engagement by utilizing a focused agenda for improving literacy.