Province restores funding for BC literacy groups

Literacy Now South Okanagan Similikameen, along with similar groups around the province, is seeing their funding restored

Literacy Now South Okanagan Similkameen got a surprise from the provincial government Monday, along with similar groups promoting literacy throughout the province.

The B.C. government is providing Decoda Literacy Solutions with a $1-million grant, bringing the group up to the same level of funding as in its first three years. Last month, Decoda cut funding completely to 55 of the 102 literacy groups it supports through government funding around B.C., including Literacy Now.

The Literacy Now board met on March 14 to begin discussions on how they would be able to continue operations without provincial support, expecting to finalize their strategy at a special meeting on April 16. Those plans will have to change now that full funding is restored.

According to Joan Chambers, the literacy outreach co-ordinator for the local group, a letter received from Decoda said they are preparing to reverse the funding cuts.

“We are preparing our contribution agreements for the same amount as last year for all the communities that were notified that funding would not be available to them,” reads the Decoda letter. New funding agreements are expected to go out after the Easter long weekend.

“It feels like we are getting support for this important work,” said Chambers. “So the fact this decision was reversed and it will go forward is great news for us and our literacy initiatives we are currently working on.”

Education Minister Don McRae made the announcement on March 25 at Decoda conference in Vancouver on literacy and essential skills in the B.C. labour market.

“Although we faced tough choices to remain fiscally responsible, I committed to working with Decoda to try and find additional funds for their co-ordination of community literacy programs,” said McRae. “I believe strongly in the work they are doing and I’m very pleased that we were able to provide this grant so that Decoda can continue its important literacy outreach programs in every region of the province.”

Decoda Literacy Solutions is B.C.’s provincial literacy organization. In 2011, Literacy B.C. merged with the literacy department of 2010 Legacies Now to become Decoda Literacy Solutions. Decoda supports literacy and learning in communities throughout B.C.

“When you think about it, it is a small amount of funding that is leveraged by 102 community group,” said Chambers. “In our community, we have so many great supporters. So many organizations that think literacy is a vital thing. They provide space, they provide volunteer time, they provide resources.”