The Northwest Oklahoma Literacy Council was recently awarded an $8,886 Community Literacy Grant from the Literacy Resource Office of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries to enhance local literacy services in the community.

Grant funds will be used to pay for coordinator funding and education, computer classes for students and membership with Pro-Literacy Worldwide.

“These funds will allow the Northwest Oklahoma Literacy Council to expand its resources to better meet the needs of the community while maintaining current literacy services and programs,” said Cathy Johnston, the literacy council coordinator.

Northwest Oklahoma Literacy Council is a volunteer-based literacy program that offers free instruction in basic reading and writing skills to adults age 16 or over.

“We also serve Harper and Ellis counties a swell as Woodward,” Johnston said.

Johnston said the organization currently has around 10 students in its ESL class each Monday at High Plains Technology Center plus, “another eight that we’re doing one-on-one tutoring with right now.”

The classes each Monday start at 6 p.m. while one-on-one tutoring is set up at the convenience of the student and tutor, Johnston said.

Some of the grant funds will help the council offer computer classes at High Plains for students and to also provide a translator for Hispanic students, Johnston said.

The literacy council recently held some tutor training sessions.

“We had about six people come to the workshops and we had three students that dropped in to kind of help a bit. We also had four trainers,” Johnston said.

One of the council’s goals is to reach some students that may not be aware of the program or afraid to tell someone they can’t read.

“I think there is a group we’re not reaching,” Johnston said “Whether they don’t know about us, are worried about confidentiality or are too busy.

“Everything is confidential. If someone comes to us and wants to learn now to read, it is totally confidential. We want them to come here and learn how to read, and we also need tutors to teach them.”

Literacy remains a problem in Oklahoma.

A report from the National Institute for Literacy estimates nearly one in five Oklahomans lack the most basic reading, writing and computational skills necessary for functioning in everyday life. The report also says that 16 percent of adults in Woodward County and 15 percent of the adults in the city of Woodward function at the lowest level of literacy.

To become a volunteer tutor or for more information about the Northwest Oklahoma Literacy Council contact Johnston at 580-254-8582.